25 May 2008

"Ablaze!, the Movement"

Check out the essay by David Berger that details some of the theological (and other) streams of the so-called "Ablaze! Movement" promoted by LCMS leadership. You can read Berger's essay over at Concordia Theology.

Here's Berger's opening paragraph to grab your attention and interest:
Several aspects of Ablaze! have raised the yellow flag of caution in Lutheran hearts and minds. Surely no one would discourage proclaiming the Gospel message to a world in need of it. Neither is that the intent of this essay. Yet, certain words and the means put forth as integral to the "movement" pose serious questions that merit careful thought and analysis.
I, for one, have heard words of castigation that go something like this: "How can we be opposed to proclaiming and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ?" Sorry, but that's not the issue. Let me say for the record, that's *not* where the proper and needed critiques of "Ablaze!" lie. As Berger says, no one is discouraging the proclamation of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

The problem with "Ablaze!" is that a) it finds its theology in foreign ecclesial circles, b) it relies much too heavily on the thinking and lingo of the business world, c) it is too driven by the financial bottom line, and d) most dangerously, it assumes that what has been done for centuries past in proclaiming the Gospel must needs be revamped and overhauled. (Always a precarious proposition!)

As Berger rightly reminds us, the Church grows best and proclaims best when it keeps its heart and mind focused on Jesus Christ and His deeds of salvation, especially as they are given in the Gospel and the Sacraments in the Church. After all, when you have the Good News of God's love in Christ Jesus, it's quite natural to proclaim it in word and deed, and it really doesn't take that much money. It's more like the newly engaged bride-to-be. Does anyone really need to tell her to show off her engagement ring? It's more like the person who has just seen an excellent movie or read a really good book. Does anyone really need to tell that person, "Thou shalt get out and tell about that movie/book?" No. It happens quite naturally, freely, and "organically."

Whoever has ears to hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, whoever rejoices in the new life given in Holy Baptism, whoever regularly feasts on the Lord's Body and Blood will most certainly, and most gladly, speak of that new life to others.

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