That Kenny Rogers is a talented singer/song writer. He sings of war causalities, “Ruby,” racism “Reuben James,” and love burning “Something is Burning.” He paints when he sings. Well something is burning in the LCMS and I think it’s our theology.
The presidents of our two seminaries have now said that they find nothing “inconsistent” with Scripture in the Ablaze! movement. This is a pretty hearty endorsement. Not only is there nothing muddleheaded or false, there is nothing even “inconsistent” with Scripture. Surely they jest, or they don’t read the same Scriptures I do.
Take “Fan into Flames.” From the Synod’s own web site we read, “This effort reflects the urging of St. Paul to young Timothy to boldly use the gifts that God conferred on him.” What ‘effort’ is being referred to? Again from Synod’s web site, “Fan into Flame is the capital fundraising campaign endorsed by the 2004 Synodical Convention that will secure $100 million in new money (over and above current World Mission budget) to help reach the Ablaze! goals.”
Let’s actually read St. Paul’s words to Pastor Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6) and see if this is a legitimate application of the passage. “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” Paul’s earlier words to Pastor Timothy in I Timothy 4:14 let us know that Paul isn’t referring to some specifically apostolic action by him but to Timothy’s ordination. There we read, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders [pastors] laid their hands on you.” So a verse that refers to a gift pastors receive at ordination is used to encourage lay people to give millions of dollars. Nothing inconsistent with Scripture there. What really, as they say in New Mexico, chaps my rear is that Missourisynodom will not allow a pastor to think anything at all was given him in ordination. No gift was given there to neglect or fan into flame. But Ablaze! has discovered that the gift of money giving is latent in all laypeople just waiting to be fanned into flame.
Isn’t using Scripture like this doing what St. Paul specifically said he didn’t do? Isn’t this “handling the Word of God deceitfully (2 Corinthians 4:2)?” Don’t we all know that the fund raising firm whom the Synod hired for 10% (That’s 10 million dollars if they succeed in reaching their 100 million dollar goal.), cast about for a Bible passage that goes with Ablaze! “Fan into flame” is a natural.
Let me tell you a true story. Rev. Bryan Sullivan in Elgin, Texas will verify this. When a representative from the fund raising company was in his office telling him that his congregation’s goal was to raise 25,000 dollars to spread the Gospel, Sullivan asked him, “Do you know what the Gospel is?” The young man replied with a polished answer about the Good News of salvation in Jesus. Then Sullivan, who does not normally use the Kennedy method asked him, “Are you sure of your salvation?” This was a poignant moment. Sullivan reports the young man fumbled about for words, his eyes grew moist, and then he said, “No…not really, but I would like to be.” Sullivan than proceeded to preach the Gospel. In our zeal to reach 100 million people with the Gospel by 2017, it seems we might have overlooked one.
Synod is Ablaze! and we are fiddling with Scripture, souls, and our theology. Something’s burning alright.