When you put it that way…

There are some questions that puzzle Lutheran pastors.  They argue and debate over them endlessly because, quite honestly, they don’t really know the answer themselves.  Back in my seminary days, there was a great dispute over third use of the law.  We debated the proper place of it, how to preach it, etc.  Finally, someone asked one of the professors about the difference between third use of the law and sanctification in preaching.  His answer was stunningly simple :

Third use of the law is law.  Sanctification is Gospel.

When you put it that way, it starts to make sense of the whole thing, doesn’t it?

One of my favorite things to do in any setting today (liberal, conservative, evangelical or liturgical nazi,) is to bring up the topic of catechesis and confirmation.  Just about every pastor knows it is broken, but trying to decide what to do about it is a morass of waffling – pastors just don’t know.  A certain nameless organization is now pushing a computer-based curriculum for “confirmation”.  (The instruction leading to, not the event itself)  It has everything an academic curriculum should have.  And it will have zero good effect on the church.  Why do I say this?  Here is my bit of wisdom, which should help clear up some of the confusion :

Catechesis should be primarily proclamation, not instruction.

I hope that helps.

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One Response to “When you put it that way…”

  1. thanks for posting a true nugget for the confirmation debate. You are right to say that confirmation isn’t working because we’re trying to instruct about God in the most cases rather than proclaiming Christ who died and rose for us. I’m work in a confirmation program that has 3 equal parts worship, service in church and community, and learning time about scripture and catechism. I’m convinced most classroom only programs don’t make the grade and computer based instruction will fall short too of welcoming our younger sisters and brothers into the church.

    I’d argue that confirmation hasn’t worked for almost 2 generations because we’ve been more concerned about instruction for people we pressume are alreay inside the church. The bulk of the kids in our culture are already part of families who are drifting away from the church.

    There’s bad news ahead demographically for Lutherans. Dave Householder dose a great job diagnosing the situation in his blog http://robinwoodchurch.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/the-lutherans-sterben-aus-die-out/. Changing our orientation from instruction to proclamation in confirmation will be part of the solution.

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