LCMS president on immigration issues

Cuban immigrants head to Ysleta Lutheran Mission in El Paso, Texas

Cuban immigrants head to Ysleta Lutheran Mission in El Paso

When it comes to immigration issues, there is the obligation of the State to enforce the law.  But, for the Church, there is also the obligation to minister to those in need.  Now that President Trump is cracking down on immigration–rightly so, many of us would say–our Lutheran Hispanic congregations and our various Hispanic ministries are dealing with a sense of panic and insecurity among many of those to whom they are ministering.  LCMS president Matthew Harrison has written a letter of encouragement and support to synod members in Hispanic ministry.

The letter has a lot of nuance, but it is full of sympathy for the immigrants’ plight.  Read it after the jump.

Note the reference to an official study of the issue from the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, written back in 2012:  “Immigrants Among Us: A Lutheran Framework for Addressing Immigration Issues.”

 

Photo by Erik M. Lunsford, LCMS News & Information

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“The crowd is untruth”

Soren_KierkegaardIn our discussion of yesterday’s post The Problem with Crowds, Stefan Stackhouse linked to an essay by Søren Kierkegaard, The Crowd is Untruth.  That essay is shockingly profound,, with great resonance for today.

The Danish Lutheran/proto-existentialist takes a theological, as well as ethical, view of crowds.  He points out that the Bible says, “Love thy neighbor”; not “love the crowd.”  He deals with “the daily press” and its creation of an abstract “public” that assumes an authority over what we are supposed to consider true.  He critiques those whose profession it is to lead a crowd and how they often ignore an individual in need because of their obsession with big numbers.   He addresses preaching.  (Yes, one can legitimately preach to a hundred thousand, as well as to ten.  But don’t let the desire to attract a hundred thousand determine what you are going to preach.)  He warns against the “numerical”–attending to numbers as your main criterion.

Pastors of big churches and of small churches should read this essay, excerpted after the jump.  So should church growth consultants, who often give the direct contrary advice.  (Large congregations don’t have to be “crowds” in this sense.  And small congregations should be appreciated, though they too can turn into smaller “crowds.”)

You don’t have to agree with Kierkegaard on everything to appreciate the force of his argument here.  But let me raise a question:  How can we avoid the danger of the crowd being untruth while acknowledging the corporate nature of the Christian faith?  Some Christians do have a completely individualistic understanding of Christianity–as in Tom T. Hall’s song “Me and Jesus”–with no need, as in that song, for the Church.

I suspect Kierkegaard’s answer would be in terms of how Christianity is for “the one,” yet “everyone can become that one.”  And in what he says about the love of neighbor.  Does this solve the dilemma, or is he taking individualism too far?

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Fake News 

fake-1903774_640Both sides of our political divide are accusing the other of spreading “fake news.”

Rev. Tim Pauls, writing for LCMS News & Information, says that of course making up facts and believing whatever we want to is going to be a problem in a culture that rejects objective truth.

He gives some striking examples and some insightful analysis from a Christian perspective.  He then gives some Biblical texts that address this issue and suggests how Christians can handle it. [Read more…]

German government vs. Christian converts

refugees-B-INThe German government is mistreating ex-Muslim immigrants who have converted to Christianity, according to Rev. Gottfried Martens (a Lutheran pastor in fellowship with the LCMS) who has evangelized and baptized over a thousand of them).

He says hearing boards on their immigration applications are testing their Christianity by asking them questions such as “what are the names of the two sons in the parable of the Prodigal Son?” and “What did Martin Luther die of?”  And they are mocking what they say about Christianity, about how Christ has died for their sins.

Pastor Martens has written a letter detailing his charges.  Read what he is complaining about after the jump. [Read more…]

Discovering a different way of doing youth ministry

conference-image-homeMost youth ministries are shallow at best, and youth worship is even worse.  An evangelical worship leader lamenting those conclusions happened upon some YouTube videos from the Lutheran youth ministry Higher Things.

Read the whole post, linked after the jump, which includes videos of both the worship services he is decrying and the worship services from Higher Things conferences.

Also read the comments, which record other amazed and appreciative reactions to Higher Things and their approach to youth ministry. (Note especially Dave’s remarks on the singing.)
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Nationalism joins Islam as reasons for Christian persecution

ARUNPATHAK5Open Door, an organization that monitors Christian persecution, has released its annual report for 2016, which it calls “the worst year yet” for violence against Christians.

The biggest part of the persecution is still committed in the name of Islam.  No longer just a matter of the Middle East, Islamic persecution has risen dramatically in Africa.

As nationalism re-emerges worldwide, ethnic nationalism has become an excuse to persecute Christians.  This is happening especially in Asia, including India, Bhutan, and Laos.

See highlights of the report and a link to an article about the report after the jump. [Read more…]