There was a terrible atrocity. There was an attempt on the part of our civic leaders to have prayers. But, being that we don’t have a state religion, everyone had to be invited. It was a religious buffet almost unequaled. You had prayers and readings from the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics; for those not Christian, there was a Jewish Rabbi and a shofar; if you preferred eastern religions, there was a Hindu and a Sikh; despite the attackers being universally Muslim, an Islamic prayer was offered as well. Pick and choose your god, for all gods were welcomed, and all were invoked.
A Lutheran leader, with the full support of the synod president, also offered a prayer. Our synod has moved on. The president in question was replaced. The leader in question has retired. But from time to time, it comes up. I saw today a new effort to justify the idolatry. “No other Gods before me” does not mean “in front of me” as if to say “don’t worship them more than me.” Before me is a Hebrew idiom that means “in my presence”. No mixing. No limping between two opinions. It’s called syncretism. God judges Jereboam for it in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Paul tells us that light must have nothing to do with darkness.
And still, people defend it. I’ve read every single defense of that event I can get my hands on. I’ve tried to find some scriptural or theological justification for it. But it is always and only emotional appeals. There is no Word of God, only feelings. That’s not a defense. The ancient church called it Montanism. Today it’s Mormonism. But it’s not a method of theology that leads to the things of God.
People think I enjoy this. For the last couple of months, I’ve faced a pretty steady barrage of criticism for questioning the presence of dogs in holy places. Now we’re back to Yankee Stadium. This isn’t fun for me. I don’t get up in the morning and say, “What trouble can I cause today? How can I lose friends and make people hate me more?” But when I wake up and one of the first things I see (After my morning bikeride) is someone defending idolatry, it’s time to once again be reminded of what the word of God says. And the Word of God is clear. This young pastor is defending idolatry. He is leading people away from God and to damnation. Scripture calls such men hirelings. And as a pastor in Christ’s church, I have a responsibility to speak against that. If I lose friends, that’s the hazards of the job.
For those who aren’t clear on this, I offer a document I signed – freely, and without compulsion – to make clear what scripture teaches. Every so often I review it, in light of scripture. And every time I do, I find that it is absolutely 100% in accordance with the Word of God. I confess what this confesses, I reject what is here rejected. If that’s offensive, your problem is with the Word of God, not with me. And that’s just the way it is. You can get mad at me if you want. You can hate me for speaking the Word of God. You can call me all sorts of names, and claim that this is somehow a pleasurable thing for me. It isn’t. I don’t enjoy calling people out for sin. I don’t enjoy when Satan sows disunity in the church. I don’t enjoy calling out false teachers. But that’s what I am called to do as a pastor.
This is still my confession. I’m content to stand before God on the day of judgment based on this. And I pray those who disagree will repent of their sin and return to the Lord.