The Sleeping Giant and the Sleeping Nephilim

Another hit by Publius Aequillus:

From Professor Howard Hill and the “Music Man” to visions of the 1970s with the echo of “Survey Says” from the Family Feud, the President’s BRTFSSG has provided us nostalgic reflection on American cultural references of yesteryear. The dated, stodgy, and tired metaphors continue to dribble out of President Kieschnick’s Office. Recently, we have learned that the President has authored a book titled Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Birth, Growth, Decline, and Rebirth of an American Church. According to Google Books, Waking the Sleeping Giant will be published by Concordia Publishing House in 2009, although CPH’s catalog presently does not list the book. The release of the book in late 2009 or early 2010 certainly coincides nicely with the Pre-Convention Gatherings and the Convention itself in July 2010. This is the first book to be published under Kieschnick’s name.

Since Google Books only provides the books title, author, publisher, and date, we have not had an opportunity to read or review the book. We eagerly await the book’s release so that a review of its contents can be made available. In the meantime, the book’s title Waking the Sleeping Giant is ripe for comment.

Any title containing the words “sleeping giant” likely evokes the apocryphal story that Billy Graham, the famous Baptist evangelist, once called the Missouri Synod a “sleeping giant.” (If Billy Graham did, in fact, call the Missouri Synod a “sleeping giant”, we were not able to uncover any hard evidence – such as a date, a quote, a location, or an event at which such a thing was said. He was fond of the phrase “sleeping giant” and I’ve heard that he used the phrase for Andre the Giant, who was indeed sleeping when he met him; New York’s football team, which at the time was having a bad season; as a term of endearment for his beloved wife.)

What a quick search on Google will reveal is that since the late 19th century through the first half of the 20th century, a number of churches including the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Anglicans, and the Episcopalians were called “sleeping giants.” Anyway, considering that the “evangelical” and “mission society” movements of the late 19th century emerged from these traditions, it is not surprising that they call themselves “sleeping giants” waiting to be awakened to establish Christ’s kingdom on earth. In the 1960s and 1970s, even Rome got to be called a sleeping giant. So who knows? Missouri, at least apocryphally, has been called a “sleeping giant.” And certainly people would rather be called a sleeping giant than a slumbering sloth. But what a tired metaphor! Considering that President Kieschnick is famous for saying, “It’s not your grandfather’s church,” sleeping giant sure evokes a grandpa, 1950s image rather than something more trendy or cutting edge. It makes the way our great, great grandfathers (Pfotenhauer, Pieper, Schwan, Wyneken, and Walther) spoke of the church and her mission seem downright cutting edge.

So what of the “sleeping Nephilim”? How does one rouse a sleeping giant? Lighting the proverbial fire under the butt might wake the giant. Setting the sleeping giant Ablaze surely should wake the giant, or perhaps kill it with heterodox, evangelical theology. More than likely, the smoke from the smoldering Ablaze will simply irritate the giant. “It’s Time” for change in Missouri.

When it comes to “sleeping Nephilim” in the Bible (Genesis 6), the only solution was a worldwide deluge. Noah and his family were saved in the Ark. The Lord’s sharp Word must kill us and bring us to repentance and then make us alive, trusting always in his forgiveness. Baptism now saves you. Let us trust in the waters of Holy Baptism and Christ’s forgiving and powerful Word. Christ is Lord of his church, sleeping or not.

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