Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Conservative Lutherans affirm Bill Maher's agnosticism

I was listening to some podcast discussions from KFUO, the radio station of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LC-MS), the more politically conservative wing of American Lutheran Christianity. The host of this program and his pastor-guest were giving a pretty moving account of a bible passage about Jesus' passion.

Then the guest brought up a discussion he had seen on TV with Bill Maher. The pastor's quote went like this: [paraphrase from memory]
"Bill Maher is one of those liberals who hearts his heart on his sleeve. I saw him on a TV show and in reference to some perceived moral offense, he said, 'Jesus doesn't stand for things like that.' Now Bill and a lot of folks want Jesus the moral philosopher but they don't want Jesus the divine one crucified for our sins."

Overall, this pastor gave a pretty good defense of the orthodox position in Christianity, that Jesus is not just a philosopher but God incarnate and that his death is not an inspiring political act but a work that saves us from our sins. The problem is that I think that the pastor gave the strongest possible reason not to take Christianity seriously in that above quote.

He could have said, "Bill Maher was talking about a moral problem. It's not just a moral problem, but a sin that separates us from God, and that separation is only repaired by the work of Christ on the cross." Instead, the pastor primarily belittled the law written on Bill's heart by calling it a "perceived moral offense." Who wants a God who cannot see the grave sins that even the most resolute atheist can see? Who needs to be saved from nominal and childish, from abstract sins? It's almost as if he couldn't both witness to Christ crucified and affirm that Bill could have seen something as Very Wrong and it being an offense to God. I think that is where a political conservatism, an ingrained defense of the status quo, becomes an impediment to our witness.

Luther wrote, "By making our sins small, we make Christ small."

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