The flap over "Issues, Etc." has now been going on for several weeks. Perhaps it's worth taking a step or two back from the fray: to consider what this flap, and the arguments being made, reveal. (Note: if anyone asks why I should care, please see my post on that topic.)
For this exercise to work, it will take time to think and reflect on one point, before moving to the next.
1. Make a list of the arguments being made by each side. What is the nature of the pro-"Issues" arguments? What is the nature of the con-"Issues" arguments? (My suspicion is that you'll find the pro-"Issues" main arguments are theological and churchly; the con-"Issues" main arguments are drawn from corporate life.)
2. How has each side responded to the arguments of the other? (The pro-"Issues" side tried showing popular support with a demonstration and petition drive, has raised questions of corporate malfeasance and has threatened to withdraw financial support; the con-"Issues" side dismisses the demonstration and petition as a blip on the screen and, by and large, has maintained corporate silence.) What does the nature of each side's response reveal about that side's own deepest-held assumptions?
3. (I raise this point with some hesitation. Only one who's actually gone through the loss of a job knows the anxiety you experience when you give up safety for the sake of the truth. I assume here that, in the case of a theological strife one puts life and living on the line--the "So take they then our life, goods, fame child and wife" strategy; but in the case of a corporate policy with which one disagrees, one learns to "eat it" or find another job.)
- Assuming that there are some pro-"Issues" people living in the belly of the corporate offices, how have they responded to the whole thing? Do their actions or non-actions reveal this whole affair as, at bottom, a theological strife or a corporate kerfuffle?
- Some pastors have said, "I'll stay until they boot me out." But they live at a relatively safe distance from ground zero, in terms of their livelihood. As long as their people are happy, there's little that the corporate office can do to them.
This third point cuts close to the bone, I'll grant. But the corporate and theological sides of the LCMS have grown together so closely, for so long, only such practical cutting can reveal the underlying reality.
4. What do ##1-3 reveal about the nature of the entity in which this tempest has arisen? Is it, at bottom, a corporation with churchly decor?
a. How is it that the cancelling of a radio program which talks about theology and worship is so much more distressing than the cancelling in practice of theology and worship, across thousands of parishes?
b. Would leaving to make a new corporation solve any fundamental problem with the picture?
c. What, then, follows from all this?
When you wrestle a pig, you get dirty and the pig stays happy.