No Mudblood – Purity of Religion

The enemy in the Harry Potter stories is a character called “Voldermort” or “He who must not be named”. Harry wasn’t scared to name him and neither should we be.

My intention is to compare one characteristic of Voldermort with what I see in our world and then finally do the unthinkable and name the enemy.

The photo above is of some Kangaroos at Rockingham Golf Course. The unfortunate thing about progress is that natural habitats dwindle away and animals like Kangaroos get hemmed in by expanding suburbs. I think they have a fair bit of land to roam in with the Lake Cooloongup Reserve but certainly, inbreeding will become a problem. Voldermort came from a line of inbreeders, purity of the bloodline I guess was important. This kind of purity is the characteristic that I will be looking at.

Part 1 – Purity of religion

When we voted on our churches constitution awhile back I was curious about a statement in the opening paragraphs:

“In common with the LCA, the Church regards unity in doctrine and its application in practice as the necessary prerequisite for church fellowship, and it rejects religious syncretism or unionism in all its forms.”

My ears pricked up because I had heard the term “sinful unionism” somewhere before. I was considering getting up and making a song and a dance requesting that this be removed from our constitution but I had left it too late.  For me the term “sinful unionism” is a fear of mixing blood, a fear of muggle blood. The idea is that it is a sin to hold an opinion that is theologically wrong and seeing as though we as Lutherans are the “right ones” we must maintain a separation. Otherwise we will get infected. For this reason the constitution also says that Lutheran pulpits are for Lutheran Pastors only and Lutheran altars are for “Lutheran communicants” only. The origins of these statements display an arrogance  and hatred that doesn’t need to remain in our constitution. As an example read from an essay written in 1918 by Dr. Theodore Graebner:

“There is a spiritual leprosy. We commonly call it unionism. Unionism is a diseased condition of the church. And it is a fatal disease. It ends in spiritual tuberculosis or a state of coma, the precursor of spiritual death. . . Moreover, and this makes the present subject so vital – we all have within us the germs of unionism.” 

“The simple words of Scripture are too powerful; the Truth is ours, and those who deny it depart from the evident sense of the inspired Word. There can be no compromise. “Get thee behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23) Thus we can escape the infection.”

If your interested in reading the full essay you can click here.

Rather than put divisive statements like this into our constitution we need to recognize the diversity of opinion within our walls and embrace it in real unity. You can try and force people to have the same opinions, and that is what churches have done in the past. To some extent this is exactly what Mike Semmler is trying to do with the issue of womens ordination, but to do so is a mistake.  For the moment we are expected to live as hypocrites, say one thing in our consitution and do another.

Part 2 is coming………..

8 Responses to “No Mudblood – Purity of Religion”
  1. Pastor says:

    Well, Tapio, I have taken an occasional glance at your blog and chosen not to make comment. In this case, it demands it. Your understanding of the place of a constitution is very limited indeed. In fact, if you took that kind of thinking to any local club you might choose to use as an example, such limited thinking would immediately be exposed. A given group comes together because they are like-minded on a particular issue/subject/interest. If they are not like minded, they don’t come together! Simple! Now, apply that to a church which holds to a confession and you will see that your assertions simply do not stand on pure logic alone. The “arrogance” and “hatred” you ascribe is therefore misguided entirely as is your final paragraph.

    • Tapman says:

      Thanks for the reply, Wally. I am glad you have dropped by every now and then. I know the words arrogance and hatred are over the top – and I believe not many would be guilty as charged. But I believe the origin of the concept of “sinful unity” is arrogance and hatred. Maybe I could have used less emotive words. I still stand by what I have said for two reasons – According to the constitution our church is currently living in sinful unionism – more than 50 percent of our Pastors believe it would be good to allow women to be Pastors, consequently the application in practice varies greatly from congregation to congregation. This is only one of many areas that could be mentioned. I don’t believe unity means everybody having the same opinion. You and I are not like minded but we are brothers in Christ. We are both trying to obey God the best way we can and I think the constitution needs to reflect the reality. There are quite a few issues that are not central to justification/salvation and congregations already operate outside the bounds of our constitution. Either we change the constitution or do what the LCA constituion says about church discipline. Hypocricy isn’t really an option is it.

      • Pastor says:

        Not sure that you have understood my point. People join together under a common statement because they are of like mind. That is what the constitution reflects. If they are not of like mind, then I wonder why they are still there, be that the footy club, the knitting club or the Lutheran Church. Yes, there are cases where people operate outside of what has been agreed upon. Rather than put the ultimatum that you put, it might be better to reflect on the grace that has been shown by not enacting blunt discipline. I think the Church has been extremely gracious in more than a few cases. If the option is that every time someone disagrees with an aspect of that agreement (the constitution) that the rest must therefore agree to change that agreement, then we are not only on uncertain ground, but in real danger. There will be no certainty, no stability and disorder will become the order of the day.
        I have worked with the Constitution of the Church for something like 20 years now. In that time, we have had some major pushes to change some things – often without thought for their implication, only to then find that it doesn’t work. We even had a motion passed at Synod to re-write the Constitution entirely. I and members of my committee threw up our hands in horror at first – then we sat back and waited (we were not tasked to do it – it was a separate committee). Guess what? Nothing happened! Reality obviously took over eventually and it was realised that it was not what it was cracked up to be.
        So, think very carefully before you come up with these wonderful ideas – they may well be anything but that. The statements that you suggest be changed are much more fundamental to who we are than you obviously realise. If someone wants to dismantle who we are as Lutherans, then that’s what you would do. I certainly don’t want to do that, because it reflects who we are as people of the Gospel, people of the Reformation – it is our clear identity.

      • Tapman says:

        Thanks Wally you have made me think atleast – I think I have understood your comment, still disagree, we haven’t formed around a constitution we are God’s family – and every family has a black sheep – perhaps that is me

      • Wally Schiller says:

        Disagree with what? All of what I said?
        You know what? There is a great deal of confusion here. The more I read some of these blogs, the more I am becoming convinced of that. You have stated that “the church is a little too obsessed with maintaining Lutheranism – to the point of actually contradicting the Gospel”. For a start, what do you mean by that? Spell it out – don’t just make a broad unsubstantiated accusation! In other cases, the church is lambasted for taking the time to turn to Scripture. Now, both can’t be right!

      • Tapman says:

        Sorry if I was a bit vague, my last few posts are part of a trilogy with a grand finale coming in a few days. I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag. I’ll expand in my next post, hopefully substantiate what I have said 🙂

      • Wally says:

        Stick to photography – you post great pictures!

  2. Tapman says:

    I may not have understood you entirely…….I don’t think changing a constitution will make much difference, my intent with the post was not really to discuss the constitution as such. I am suggesting that the church is a little too obsessed with maintaining Lutheranism – to the point of actually contradicting the Gospel.

    The tone of Dr. Graebners essay was very harsh, and it was arrogant. I don’t know whether you clicked on the link but it was interesting to note that the writer changed his tune later in life. I was trying to google more information about him but haven’t found any so far.

    I am proud of my identity as a Lutheran to a point, but am not so proud of what is happening at the present moment – particularly with womens ordination and gay marriage. Does that mean I should move on to a church that has views similar to mine? What if the Lutheran Church is actually wrong on this or other issues? – The attitude I am talking about would hinder positive change. Perhaps we would prefer to live in ignorance if it means we can maintain unity? Anyway, will think about what you wrote.

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