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Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

25 June 2005
  Lutheran-Eyed or Lutheranized?
Sometimes, it's all in how you look at it.

There's a certain class of Christians which tries to "baptize" every useful or interesting item crossing its path. Sometimes this happens with things of the world (such as psychology or sociology or music). These "Christianizers" attempt to keep as much of the original as possible, merely painting over the secular body with a thin gloss of religion. A good, if grating, example of this is "Christian Rock"—something which often ends up being not much of either.

A more subtle form of the practice occurs when members of one confession, synod, or denomination see something in another that they just have to have. For exhibit one, see David Luecke's Evangelical Style and Lutheran Substance. In this book, Luecke attempted to wed conservative Protestant spirituality with Lutheran dogma, apparently not realizing that eventually one or the other must out. Such behavior isn't new: C. F. W. Walther, first president of The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod warned 19th Century Lutherans of the dangers of incorporating Methodist hymnody into worship. He realized that if a church sang, prayed, and worshiped like another church, it would eventually become that other church. He knew that you can never "convert" false doctrine or Lutheranize a non-Lutheran world view.

However, while we cannot "Christianize" or "Lutheranize" every secular thought and practice, we can be Christian-Eyed and Lutheran-Eyed. That is, when we know Scripture and Confessions, we can unflinchingly examine the world around us, often finding object lessons and illustrations of theological truths even in the most secular of circumstances.

Literature, theater, and motion pictures all provide ample opportunity for us to exercise critical theological thinking while still enjoying the subject at hand. For example, the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?—the product of two secular Jews from the northern United States concerning the lives of Evangelical, Bible Belt people—"drips" Baptismal theology. Note how Pete and Delmar "get saved," choosing to be baptized by the "lotus eaters" in the river. Meanwhile, the more "sophisticated" Everett mocks their superstition, holding to modern thought and science as keys to success. Finally, when facing certain death and utter destruction at the hands of the Devil (Sheriff Cooley), all three are saved, paradoxically and quite "Lutheranally," by the destructive power of water as the TVA flood sweeps over them. None of them chose this baptism; all three were saved by it.

So be Christian-Eyed. Find Scriptural, theological touch-points in the everyday world. Just be careful what you drag into your heart and your church.
 
Comments:
I was raised a Lutheran girl. However, I wish that I had a better understanding of what it means to be a Lutheran. (I was baptised, confirmed and taught Sunday School in my church, I also wish it had given me strength when I lost my mother to Leukemia 9 wks ago.

However now that I'm an adult, I'm not sure there is a God at all.
 
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