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Kevin Swanson | Parker, Colorado
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Thank God for the Lutherans and Charismatics!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 01, 2007
Posted by: Generations Radio | more..
429,300+ views | 500+ clicks
BLOG ON: SERMON Charismatics and Lutherans
Generations Radio
Kevin Swanson
My work in the homeschooling movement has provided me a unique opportunity for cross-denominational ecumenicity.

Of course ecumenicity can be a means to synthesis that drains the salt of its savor. At the same time, those who are so thickheaded as to think that the Spirit of God is utterly absent in every expression of the Christian church except for their own could use a little growth themselves in the area of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, and MEEKNESS (capitols intended).

Actually, I have found myself and my family greatly edified by the contributions of brothers from other denominational backgrounds. Granted, all of them represent a reforming element within their own denominations, as they have already recognized a present-day antithesis in the godless education system and have addressed it via the homeschooling method. All of them have already adopted an orthopraxy that takes serious the discipleship of their own children in the Deut. 6:7 and Eph. 6:4 principle, and for the most part this produces a robust piety as long as it is rooted in an on-fire passionate love for God. (I would note that both Deut. 6:4-7 and John 21:15 associate love for God with feeding the lambs.)

That said, here's what I have learned from my brothers from other Christian traditions:

1. The Mennonites gave us Rod and Staff Curriculum with a reading program well-integrated into the Bible. We have used Rod and Staff curriculum for years.

2. The Baptists emphasized application in the messages and the will in worship. Maybe they played the call to commitment and the altar calls a little too heavily, but they certainly did not want anybody making it out of the service a mere hearer of the Word.

3. The Charismatics emphasized the value of the heart in worship. Any man with a heart should be able to weep in worship on occasion without being labeled a sentimental fool. But the heady world of the theologically astute, trained in the sterile classrooms of the seminary wouldn't permit even the crack of a voice from the pulpit unless it was carefully orchestrated. Emotion in worship is received by many to be disorderly, shocking, undignified, and contrived. But if you read the psalms, you will get a picture for what God wants in worship. Occasionally even the king should feel free to strip down to his tunic and dance a jig before the ark.

Maybe our Charismatic brothers added a little irregularity to the worship because they weren't all that accomplished at weeping on cue as part of a liturgy. But where in the Word does it tell us we must always emote on cue?

4. As the Baptists emphasized the will and the Charismatics the emotions, the Presbyterians gave us a worldview to think about. They wrote really big books. The Christian worldview ministries that proliferate across the country today trace their roots either directly or indirectly to the works of conservative Presbyterians like Francis Schaeffer, R.J. Rushdoony, Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark, Greg Bahnsen, and the like. Remember it was P&R Publishing that had the courage to publish The Genesis Flood in 1960.

For the Presbyterians, the sermon is central in the worship, the mind was the focus, and they did what they could to make us comfortable with the apparent paradoxes and the incomprehensibility of God.

5. The Lutherans emphasized the fear of God and the corporate-ness of worship. In a world consumed by individualism, where everybody had to express their emotion individually, the Lutherans provided a careful check. Isn't corporate worship supposed to be well. . . corporate? Why can't we respond to God as a corporate body?

You simply cannot miss the holy awe that attends the majestic music and liturgy of the Lutherans. In a day where the fear of God is hardly seen anywhere, it is refreshing to at least see it within the church. Christian worship should contain both love and fear. Since fear is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, love is going to be hollow without that fear. That is why the reforming of education and life is not going to happen without the fear of God, and without a sense of that fear in the worship of the church.

As a Lutheran friend told me once, "When the Lutherans apostatize, they apostatize very slowly." Part of this is due to their liturgy. When a liturgy has a strong biblical basis and it is thoroughly engrained amongst the people, it is hard for anybody to change it. The Lutherans are a steady folk and their high regard for the church and liturgy produces a long term commitment to the church. Thus, in an age of flimsy ecclesiastics, the Lutherans can help us with this strong corrective.

Tradition is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, as long as the tradition is biblical and the true meaning of it is retained in the heart, the liturgical traditions can preserve a people of God. But when the meaning is lost to the heart - drowned out by pure rote, and when the people fail to hear the Word of God preached as it applies to the particular antithesis that is ripping the Christian soul out of the nation, the church will inevitably fall to the modern heresies. The antithesis morphs into new forms over time, and unless the church can apply its preaching and liturgy to the new heresies, the church will be consumed by humanism, existentialism, egalitarianism, statism, and all the other counter-philosophies.

Might we assume a little humility to acknowledge that God may be working in some way in a denomination that doesn't happen to bear the same name as mine? I think so. Of course, wisdom requires that we retain a firm grasp on the major issues, and the character traits of humility and love will help in that discernment.
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