Sinful Separatism or Proper Rejection of Unionism?

Adorned with freshly laced Brooks Adrenalines, I stepped off the hotel elevator and ran into one of my confessional pastor friends. He obviously wasn’t ambulating towards the convention center for the Friday morning District Convention worship service. I “gently chided” him for his lack of attendance. His response:

I don’t do sectarian worship.

Of course, I don’t do sectarian worship either, which is why I was heading out the door for a beautiful run along Portland’s Willamette River. A block later I spotted another pastor friend walking westbound on Multnomah. Could he be making his way towards the convention center? Yes, he was. He explained, somewhat sheepishly, that his congregation had a youth delegate attending the convention this year. He didn’t want to set a bad example by skipping church. Either the old man or the new man in me, I’m not sure which, couldn’t help but wonder which was the greater sin.

My District seems to have more than its fair share of LCMS people who support women’s ordination, open Communion, evolution, and other non-Scriptural ideas, some of whom are District leaders. This year’s teaching from the convention dais coronated vision and leadership while vocation’s sublime crown of freedom was cast aside. Where the doctrine of vocation and the needs of the neighbor are cleaved, Lutheran theology has left the building, and self-made works fill the void. The question then becomes, “Should I commune with these people or not?” Holy Communion is the ultimate confession of unity, and unity means agreement in doctrine. If I don’t commune, would this decision constitute sinful separatism or proper rejection of unionism? I’d be interested in hearing what you’d do, and why. For the sake of discussion, let’s use the Christian Cyclopedia’s definition of unionism: co-organization, joint worship, and/or cooperation between religious groups of varying creeds and/or spiritual convictions. Please be polite, avoid judging motives, and consider that this decision is a matter of individual conscience.

Image credit: Saint Joseph on flickr; Creative Commons license 2.0.



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