Word From the Center: Friday, April 20, 2018
Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue…
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, A BLESSING WE MUST DEFEND FOR US, FOR ALL!
One of the phrases we use at the LCRL about our work here in Washington D.C. is that we are here “putting our temporal liberties to work to defend the church’s right to proclaim the eternal liberties of Christ publicly, for all.” In that sense, the LCRL is merely fighting for the Church’s right to be itself on God’s terms for others. The LCRL is fighting for at least a “live and let live” perspective in the community that protects the Church’s ability to be itself for its adherents as well as its goal to be an authentic voice of its beliefs in the community.
What has changed today? Today the “Live and let Live” reality is giving way to the weaponization of politics. Today, diverging viewpoints on moral or cultural issues, especially those from a Biblical perspective, are not to be tolerated. In fact, they are systematically being silenced by law. And such legislation is not merely in New York, or Los Angeles, the latest example is from St. Louis. The architects of this new weaponization of politics aren’t regional anymore. (See the Article here)
The use of government as the coercing arbiter among differing moral positions is becoming more common today than ever. And, that is not a good thing. The phrase, “Don’t impose your morality on us,” is one that is commonly used in the arguments against traditional viewpoints like those from the Church. But, ironically, the Church never does. It seeks to persuade others to its message, to speak the truth in love. It has rarely had the political power to stifle opposing views to its own. Contrast that with the abuse of power in St. Louis where law makers are legally forcing their personal opinions on churches and free organizations who are free to assemble according to their beliefs and covenants.
As God’s people, we are prayerfully being called to defend religious liberty once again. And such defense is familiar to our church body. Those who founded the LCMS emigrated from Germany because of religious persecution at home and religious freedom in America. America provided an opportunity where the Church could be free to faithful to God and to neighbor in His name. And, when that liberty was under attack, our church defended that right not just for us, but for all. When the Lutheran Hour was under attack by the FCC in the 1940’s, the Lutheran Layman’s League and Walter Maier defended our Religious Liberty to be on the radio with a program faithful to the Gospel and the Word of God. When a worker at one of our churches sought to undermine the Church’s right to hire and fire it’s workers according to its standards of confession and behavior, the ruling went all the way to the supreme court where religious liberty was defended for all. (See the Hosanna Tabor Lutheran Church Case). The point? We are called to defend religious liberty in this culture for the sake of all, especially as it pertains to our being able to proclaim the whole Scripture in its truth and purity. What a joy to live in a culture where we can defend the right to let the Word of the Gospel “go forth” not just among us, but for out for all the world to see and hear. Exercise those liberties for the sake of the public proclamation of the eternal liberties of Christ, it’s not just a coastal thing anymore!