A Social Justice Warrior Litany for a Unionistic Endeavor

sundaycityThe Southeastern District (SED) of the LCMS has a reputation for Liberalism. As if to underscore the deservedness of that reputation, the SED has published an oddball litany for 9 August 2015 in support of its “Sunday for City” event which has unionistic perils.

The SED litany is an abuse of Philippians 4:4-8, but a secularist’s dream as it brims over with social justice bromides and hollows out Lutheran doctrines. Strangely, it has a crushing amount of law rather than the gospel reductionism one might expect from the long tail of Seminex that continues to haunt us, especially in the saltwater districts.

This is the closing responsive prayer:

People: Give us the courage, O God, to face the fear and insecurity of our sinful nature which too readily builds walls and barricades between ourselves and others. Give us the wisdom to admit that people rarely fit into our preconceptions. Give us a double measure of patience to work at understanding the people with whom you surround us, so that we can appreciate them as they really are. Let our words and actions incarnate your love. Amen and amen!

When the author says, “Let our words and actions incarnate your love” he is clearly not talking about preaching, baptism and the Lord’s supper. It is the sort of self-justifying litany and prayer that the ELCA or Unitarians would be only too happy to have.

Either of the prayers available for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity (historic lectionary) or the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (three-year lectionary) are far superior to SED’s offering.

Unionism?

Sunday for the City is organized by the SED and LINC Baltimore. Whilst the SED litany plucks at Unitarian heartstrings, the event itself has unionistic overtones:

  • Sunday for the City will bring together communities of believers
  • All are invited to join in a ministry
  • New Bethlehem Baptist Church… will be joining us for the event.

The wording is clearly cautious to avoid appearing to be in fellowship. Yet the implications of the marketing are clear — if you believe in something, participate. It does not say that you have to be a believer in Jesus in the sense of Matthew 16:15. In fact the promotion does not mention Jesus at all, although the Sunday for the City Facebook page is at least more explicit.

Critics will point out that as long as there is no partaking of the sacraments, then a charge of unionism is false. However, for Baptists, prayer is a sacrament in the sense that it is the power to change the will of man to accept Christ. So, when Sunday for the City is prayer walking with mixed faiths, what is being proclaimed? If a blended Lutheran-Baptist group encounters someone during the prayer walk who says, “what must I do to be saved?”, who will give the answer and by what authority?

Similarly, how are participants to apprehend pure doctrine when the senior pastor of New Bethlehem Baptist Church is a woman, Lisa Weah? Her theology is nothing that Law and Gospel can coexist with.

Once again, Lutherans are guilty of giving the wrong impression, and being strongly suggestive that the holy Christian Church does not require the maintenance of Word and Sacrament ministry in whole.


Comments

A Social Justice Warrior Litany for a Unionistic Endeavor — 18 Comments

  1. au·to·sug·ges·tion noun: autosuggestion; noun: auto-suggestion/the hypnotic or subconscious adoption of an idea that one has originated oneself, e.g. through repetition of verbal statements to oneself in order to change behavior.

    This litany is not a prayer. It is autosuggestion, “…to look in the mirror at our own reflection” (from the ‘litany’). Not only what is suggested and encouraged in this dialogue is wrong, but so is purporting this dialogue as prayer.

  2. I hear that giant sucking sound (à la Ross Perot) of the Synod being sucked into the vortex of the church growth movement, which has built up a head of steam and is not looking back. What would Klemet say/do?

  3. @Pr. Mark Schroeder #1

    Indeed– I was thinking something very similar. But this trend of using public prayer as mass manipulation is rampant with liberal and evangelical churches, so it doesn’t surprise me that it shows up in our various districts where liberalism and evangelicalism are either embraced or tolerated.

    Really, it’s not that different than the nauseating prayer that begins, “Now everyone repeat after me…” or ends with “… and all God’s people say: AMEN!” One coerces the words, and the other coerces affirmation. All are simply manipulation, and not really even prayer.

    Ah, well.

  4. Exactly what is it about “prayer walking” that is somehow inherently more spiritual or superior than prayer at home or church?

  5. Perhaps our synodical leaders, president or vice presidents, could step in and help them re-write this. Or will they turn a blind eye and pretend there is nothing wrong.
    Oh..wait…you want me to re-write this? Since we are dealing with one of our liberal districts, here goes:
    O dear God,

    thank You.

    You are such a good God to us, a kind and gentle…

    and accommodating God.

    And we thank You, Osweet,

    sweet Lord of hosts…

    for the…

    smorgasbord…

    You have so aptly lain at our table this day…

    and each day… by day.

    Day by day by day.

    O dear Lord,

    three things we pray.

    To love Thee more dearly,

    to see Thee more clearly,

    to follow Thee more nearly…

    day by day… by day.

    Amen. Amen.

  6. @J. Dean #4

    I don’t know of anyone who claims that prayer walking is superior to praying at home or at church. What makes it different is that you are praying immediately in response to what you see, hear, touch and maybe even smell.

    That being said, I have never actually done prayer walking in a group. But I have purposefully walked through my suburban neighborhood with eyes and ears open for opportunities to pray. As a result, I pray a little more, connect with my neighbors a little more, and love a little more. I recommend it.

  7. “Strangely, it has a crushing amount of law rather than the gospel reductionism one might expect from the long tail of Seminex that continues to haunt us, especially in the saltwater districts.”

    This is statement demonstrates that most “conservatives” in the LCMS do not really understand the ELCA or theological liberals much at all.

    The so-called “liberals” are not Antinomian or opposed to the Law but are rather 100% Law all the time! They are not “anything goes” people by an means but rather have many new, self-made laws and rules that must be beleived and practiced in order to be a “genuine” Christian. Most of these made up rules come from their socialist/secular political correctness.

    They are not opposed to the “Third Use of the Law” but are ONLY and ALWAYS totally about the Third Use of the Law!

    This “social justice” movement is simply Works-righteous and self-justification.

    They don’t “reduce” the Gospel but eliminate it entirely since if everything depended on Christ alone it would leave zero room for their self-chosen works and self-generated righteous.

    Here is a link to a good article that describes these new fanatical “enthusiasts”:

    http://gnesiolutheran.com/paulson-against-the-holy-blasphemers/

  8. “[T]hose who deny the third use of the law essentially make the gospel into law and become legalists of a high degree.” – Pr. David Speers, July 29, 2002.

  9. As to the prayer: It has become a practice by some to turn the confession into one of the Propers and make it fit the theme of the day. This may be well meaning, but it leads to all kinds of problems like the one at the convention. It also leads people to have to mouth a confession of a sin they don’t really believe they have committed. We do much better to stick to the standard common confession.

  10. @Carl H #6

    Okay, but I’m assuming that you don’t take stock in prayer walking as a “magic charm” that I saw in my times in the charismatic church (in other words, the prayer is more effective because I’m moving about or laying my hands on the particular thing, and I’m more spiritual because of it).

    Prayer while moving is fine. I’ve said a prayer after seeing a horrendous car accident. I’ve asked God for safety in travel while driving. I’ve walked away after hearing about a bad situation and asked God to be with that situation while my feet are moving. But what I DON’T do is conclude that my prayer while walking/moving wouldn’t be heard by God if I were simply to do it at my desk or beside (or even in) my bed.

  11. Prayer Walking, to me, seems like an exercise in Active Righteousness. I don’t believe it is the intention of anyone in SED to insinuate that because they are involved in this practice that they are somehow “more holy,” their standing before God is any different, or even that their prayer is more worthy/heard than one spoken from any other place.

    What prayer walking does communicate, in my opinion, is a public showing of care for the neighborhood it is conducted in, and the people that are encountered. The point isn’t to seem holier-than-thou (or even to make one’s church seem better than one that prays inside it’s own walls), it’s to exercise an opportunity for witness to the community. It’s a particular method for evangelism and witness in the community that is tied to prayer. Just another way to exercise Active Righteousness and carry out God’s command to “pray without ceasing.”

  12. Adopting popular terminology from pop-Christianity like “prayer walking” is placing a stumbling block and an offense before Christians.

    When the term is adopted the theology is adopted.

    The only places people will learn about “prayer walking” is from doing net searches or in Christian bookstores on shelves next to heretical luminaries like T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, or John Hagee. Fortunately for the google searcher one of the results is from gotquestions.org where the practice is called into question. But the rest of the answers are from enthusiast groups promoting prayer walking as a more effective way of praying for your neighbor. It rests in mysticism and denies the means of grace.

    Adopting the term forces the partakers to assume the most widely accepted theology behind the term is acceptible. Even with the one result from gotquestions.org calling the practice into question, the acceptance and promotion of the term will be understood as acceptance and promotion of the theology behind the term as it originated and promoted in pop-Christianity.

  13. @Pastor Joseph Abrahamson #13

    I know all about him, living out east. He’s been to my congregation, used to run district mission summits… When I used to be somebody (BOD) I worked with the guy a little. I believe he did a workshop in Michigan a few years ago.

    He’s big on house churches, almost too ahead of the curve. Acting as through we are back to Roman times, where the govt has already confiscated and closed down our churches, and we need to act like the Chinese meeting in hiding. I know Jesus said it will get very bad at the end, but I’d rather go down fighting for the faith than rolling over. I personally am not ready to just abandon our church buildings. I find them to be quite useful for churchly stuff.

  14. @Pastor Joseph Abrahamson #11

    “Let our words and actions incarnate your love.”

    In some contexts, incarnate simply means “put (an idea or other abstract concept) into concrete form.” (Apple, Dictionary application, MacOS 10.10) The usage seems a bit awkward here, but isn’t it every true Christian’s desire is to demonstrate God’s love by helping and serving our neighbor in concrete ways?

  15. @Pastor Joseph Abrahamson #11

    “Adopting the term forces the partakers to assume the most widely accepted theology behind the term is acceptible [sic].”

    In my case, I was not so forced and never so assumed.

    Can we prayerfully walk through our neighborhoods in ways that please God?

    If you find the term problematic but not the activity, what term would you find acceptable?

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