FiveTwo: Spiritual Montanans

On a flight from Nice to Amsterdam, the man next to me and I talked about our work. After a while he exclaimed, “You have four companies.” “Four companies,” I said as a question, not knowing where he got that idea. “You talked about your farm?” “Yes,” I said, never having though of the farm as a company. “And you talked about the software you produce?” “Yes,” I said. “And then there is your practice of law?” “Uh huh.” “And you talked about writing, speaking, and consulting in the online legal information industry?” “Sure.” “Well, you have four companies.”start your business

“Companies,” I asked. “Well sure. You’re required to have permission in a charter for all those things.” “Uh, no, not in Montana. If I get up in the morning and jolly well decide I want to learn how to develop software in my spare time, and sell applications, I just do it. If I decide I want to write reviews of new online legal information systems and submit them to editors, I just to it. The only thing to stop me is the market, if what I offer doesn’t sell.”

He had explained his boat building business, and now he showed me his business card, The Royal Dutch something or other company. He said, “We have to get a charter to do this business. If my business should go bankrupt, still the charter itself as a bare shell would be worth a great deal of money, because it provides permission to build these boats. I could sell the charter.”

“Permission,” I exclaimed in disbelief. “We never would put up with that in Montana. We do what we jolly well want when we jolly well want. Sure, we form a corporation, but that’s not permission. That’s just part of sound business operation for which we need no permission.”

So, there we were, both stupefied. We couldn’t understand each other’s world.

And that is what’s going on between confessional Lutherans and the FiveTwo network. In a manner of speaking, my new yacht builder friend had been called into an office of yacht building by royal charter. That is a serviceable picture of Augsburg Confession, Article XIV, “Order in the Church.” The King of Holland has the prerogative to say how the economy will be ordered, and he expresses that through charters. The King of the Kingdom of Heaven has the prerogative to say how the Church will be ordered, and He does that through rightly ordered calls into the office of public ministry.

In the economic context, I like being a Montanan. Nobody’s telling me I can’t do something without a charter or a call. But in the context of the Church, I become Dutch. We’re not building yachts. We’re leading people to heaven or hell. We’re shepherding defenseless sheep. The Devil, the world, the sinful self, and the Law misused are out to kill, and they’re good at it.

So, while I love entrepreneurship in economics, I can’t afford “sacramental entrepreneurship,” the meaning of which is now clear. It means spiritual Montanans who don’t want anyone telling them they can’t do something without a rightly ordered call. They want to teach in the Church and administer the Sacraments contrary to the confessions.

In other words, it’s a glossy marketing campaign for rebellion, a rebellion against the King.

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