Who can forget the iconic landing of President George W. Bush on an aircraft carrier ablaze with a banner proclaiming MISSION ACCOMPLISHED? Who does not now know how utterly naïve or perhaps impolitic it was? The banner referred to the 10-month deployment of that particular aircraft carrier being completed not to the Iraq war.
Though Bush did say in his speech that major combat operations were ended, who doesn’t know that this president never did finish combat operations in Iraq? Who doesn’t know that this president never did track down the cause célèbre of the war on terror? Who doesn’t know that we’re dipping our combat boots into the river that runs back to combat operations in Iraq? Who doesn’t think this president did a foolish thing in landing on that aircraft carrier under that banner? Dr. Dale Meyer, president of the St. Louis seminary, that’s who.
Of course, I don’t know Meyer’s political bent, but he does in a theological way what Bush did in a political way. In the Spring 2016 Concordia Journal he says the following in an article titled “The Recruitment Admission”: “The new generation of pastoral leaders are keen to worship but are not interested in debating worship styles, as older people often do. The come from congregations of different worship styles. Some grew up using Lutheran Worship or the Lutheran Service Book, but others come with absolutely no experience with hymnals (as everything is printed or projected on a screen). On campus, they come together in chapel and experience the range of Lutheran worship. The graduate with little interest in the ‘worship wars’ of older generations but with a passion for worship that focuses the congregation on God’s ministry to his people and through witness and service to their communities” (103).
“The Worship Wars Are Over” the banner reads over the good ship Missouri that Dr. Meyer wants to land on as president. There should be a footnote appended to it: “And my side won!” We’re not going to fight any more about what worship is or isn’t or whether it is accurately reflecting what we as Lutherans believe, teach, and confess. We’re just going to be passionate about doing it.
Concordia Seminary, according to this article, is teaching our future pastors two things about worship. There is no such thing as Lutheran worship but only an amorphous range of Lutheran worship. (Can you say clown ministry and Polka Communion?) Second, worship is one part’s God’s service “God’s ministry to his people” and two parts the congregation’s service of God “witness and service to their communities.”
The only part I agreed with Meyer is that this is post-churched America. However, I firmly believe it is the theology and the preaching of men like him that bear a heavy responsibility for this reality among LCMS young people. Ironically it was during Meyer’s tenure as speaker of the Lutheran Hour that “and the nations to the Church” was added to the Lutheran Hour theme “Bringing Christ to the Nations.”
Why do I believe men like him bear a heavy responsibility for the unchurched LCMS? Read his article. It reeks of what every liberal prophet I ever met in the LCMS does. I smelled it on the 60s graduate from Concordia Seward who wanted to “rap” with my youth group in the 70s. I smelled it on those who have been in charge of the LCMS Youth Gathering for over 30 years as they incorporate whatever is hip, modern, new, different into their youth “ministry.” I smelled it on members of the CTCR and seminary professors whose unspoken assumption was that we must change our methods because the times have changed all the while assuming that changing methods won’t infect, affect, or effect the message.
Elect this man to the presidency of the LCMS and you are electing a man who thinks Brave New World is a recipe for changing the world rather than a warning about how the world is changing.