Archive for January 14th, 2013

people in churchOur “progressive” culture avoids any return to the past.  Questions and dialogue about traditions — or beginnings — are not generally welcomed.  This is arrogant… and deadly.

Until we go back to or re-visit things of the past, how will we know what works and what doesn’t?  Why we are where we are?   Until we re-visit our beginnings — either as human beings or as people with a particular worldview or ideology — how will we know who we are, or upon what we stand, or why?  If I see that my culture is in decay, can I really be of help to family, neighbors, or community if I don’t know why I believe what I say I believe or do what I do?  Many of us speak of what is “traditional” (in worship, marriage, morality, etc.), but if we can’t explain it, how can we defend it when someone wants to tamper with it?

For this reason, I am extremely grateful to my pastor.  Some people see him as “too catholic” or “inflexible.”  Some ask, “Why do we have to sing old hymns?”  Or, “Why do we have to use a liturgy?”  Or, “Why do we have to learn creeds or attach ourselves to the doctrine of a bunch of dead Europeans?”  Some wish he would just “lighten up” and “get with the movement of our day.”  Oh, how thankful our little flock should be that our shepherd resists the “movement of our day” in order to teach us why Christian Lutherans believe what they believe and do what they do.

My pastor has been gifted with a pair of worldview glasses that help him contrast God’s Word with the ways of the world.  My congregation is blessed — whether it knows it or not — because our pastor is not afraid to return to the past.

In his book, A Free People’s Suicide,” Oz Guinness writes,

A return can be progressive, not reactionary.  Each movement in its own way best goes forward by first going back.”

What does Guinness mean?  National, church, or even family  renewal happens by going back to its beginnings.  To its reasons for being in the first place.  Martin Luther knew this.  The Puritans knew this.  Thomas Jefferson knew this.  History, writes Guinness, “shows that when it comes to ideas, it is in fact possible to turn back the clock.  Two of the most progressive movements in Western history — the Renaissance and the Reformation — were both the result of a return to the past, though in very different ways and with very different outcomes.”

It is, in fact, a law of physics that things are preserved from destruction when brought back to their first principles.  Guinness calls this innovative thinking “outside the box” because it is “back to basics and not a mindless espousal of the present or a breathless chase after some purported future.”  Guinness states,

The most creative re-makings are always through the most faithful re-discoveries.”

I am a Biblical Christian of the Lutheran bent living in a hurting world.  For the sake of my grandchildren, I need to help re-build, in church or society, by re-discovering things of the past.  There is no embarrassment or intellectual shame in this endeavor.

So, thank you my dear pastor, for taking me back so that I might better move forward.  Thank you for helping me re-make what is good and right and true by re-discovering who I am.  Upon what I stand.  And why.

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