America has three gods. They are the three C’s: Choice, Control, and Compensation. You mess with any of these and you bring a firestorm of popular resentment against you. And herein is the problem. Confessional Lutherans dash these idols to the ground every Sunday. At least our confession does. As for how it goes in practice, I confess to not throwing them down with the all the vehemence, venom, and viciousness they deserve.
What ‘choice’ do we give poor miserable sinners when we preach there is no such thing as free will in things above them? What ‘control?’ (“Take back control of” something, usually government, is a popular theme in America; I suspect it comes from her acolytes the psychologists who though quick to identify a controlling person are that in spades.) What ‘control’ do we admit fallen mortals have when we preach that our God knew every one of our days before we even lived one of them? And compensation? What compensation do we preach when we trumpet let the one who does all that he has been told to do say, “I’m only doing my duty?”
Going and growing churches pander to all three “c’s.” Hey, it would take a blind fool not to see the gods of our society. Just watch commercials. They pander to one if not more of the three c’s of Choice, Control and Compensation. I think it has almost become passé to pander with sexuality in a society that is awash in it to the extent that not only does it have to be taught in schools it has to be treated by a doctor.
Churches knowingly or not indulge the three “c’s” in various ways. When churches say, “We know you have a choice of where to worship and we’re happy you chose us,” they’ve tipped their hat to the god choice. When blurbs on their website or on contact cards say that “you can control the amount of contact we have with you,” they’ve paying their due to the god control. Compensation is a little trickier. Only the crass use the “if you give to God He will out give you” ploy that was popular in the 80s. No, the pitch now is along the lines of what Macy’s does at Christmas. You will feel good about yourself for giving this gift to that person. The compensation for giving to God or His church is you will feel better about yourself, and in a society that has probably two dozen pills claiming to do just that, that is a good deal of compensation.
You will know the times you’re not paying ode to the Big 3 by the screams. When you preach the bondage of the will, election, and divine monergism you pretty much bury choice, control, and compensation, and you know you do because you can hear your old Adam screaming for air.