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Types of Societies (Congregations) Kenneth W. Inskeep, Research and Evaluation, ELCA, April 2008. The Exchange.

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Presentation on theme: "Types of Societies (Congregations) Kenneth W. Inskeep, Research and Evaluation, ELCA, April 2008. The Exchange."— Presentation transcript:

1 Types of Societies (Congregations) Kenneth W. Inskeep, Research and Evaluation, ELCA, April 2008. The Exchange

2 The Role of The Exchange in American Religion The Characteristics of American Religion ●The Heartfelt ●Religion as a Means to an End (God has high expectations, which if met, yield positive and significant rewards.) ●In this sense religion also functions as a means of gaining control. The Reward The Good Life = Personal Peace + Affluence Kenneth W. Inskeep, Research and Evaluation, ELCA, April 2008.

3 Lutherans and The Exchange One view is that Lutherans offer little in The Exchange. Life is hard and difficult and one should expect little in return. Garrison Keillor: I'm expecting Mr. Fellows to come over. The music director at Third Lutheran. Sue Scott: Oh? Where is Third Lutheran? I never heard of it. GK: Well, it used to be called First Lutheran, but — you know — they're Lutherans. They were more comfortable with being Third. SS: Oh. That sort of big boxy church that looks like a storage facility. GK: That's it. Anyway, they've asked me to compose an anthem for Lent. http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/2007/02/17/scripts/bob.shtml

4 Lutherans and The Exchange The Anthem It is Lent According to the New Testament, An event that is meant As a time to repent. Repent! And lament Man's descent. And as a time to sacrifice, Like instead of sirloin steak you could eat brown rice. To embrace poverty in a land of plenty— Like instead of a venti You could have a grande latte, and instead of whole milk, you could ask for two percent. http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/2007/02/17/scripts/bob.shtml

5 Lutherans and The Exchange It is possible to draw a very different conclusion. Lutherans should be the most positive people around. Finding the good life has little to do with meeting the expectations of a demanding God, but instead, the good life comes through faith in the goodness of God. “So you see that the gospel is really not a book of laws and commandments which requires deeds of us, but a book of divine promises in which God promises, offers, and gives us all his possessions and benefits in Christ.” (Luther, “What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels,” Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, p. 107, Timothy Lull, editor.) Kenneth W. Inskeep, Research and Evaluation, ELCA, April 2008.

6 Lutherans and The Exchange Faith in Christ Jesus leads us as Lutheran Christians to focus on the promises of God. And, “since these promises of God are holy, true, righteous, free, and peaceful words, full of goodness, the soul which clings to them with a firm faith will be so closely united with them and altogether absorbed by them that it not only will share in all their power but will be saturated and intoxicated by them.” (Luther, “Freedom of a Christian,” Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, p. 601, Timothy Lull, editor.) Kenneth W. Inskeep, Research and Evaluation, ELCA, April 2008.

7 Lutherans and The Exchange What is the promise? Lutherans believe that Jesus is a “wonderful, indescribable, unfathomable gift from God.” Jesus shows “the great fire of the love of God for us, whereby the heart and conscience become happy, secure, and content.” “This is what preaching the Christian faith means.” (Luther, “What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels,” Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, p. 106, Timothy Lull, editor.) Kenneth W. Inskeep, Research and Evaluation, ELCA, April 2008.

8 Lutherans and The Exchange Lutherans are long on hearts and consciences that are happy, secure, and content, and this happiness actually sets us free from the pursuit of affluence (control). Lutheran happiness comes from the absence of need, not in fulfilling needs. Lutherans are happy, secure, and content, precisely because Christ has already done everything that needs to be done. In Christ, we have everything. We are set free from gaining or preserving our possessions. For Lutherans the good life is faith in Christ. This faith alone brings us happiness, security, and contentment.

9 Lutherans and Letting Go As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Mark 10: 17-22.

10 Lutherans and Letting Go Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’ Mark 10: 23-27.

11 Lutherans and Letting Go The world is a strange place. It is a place where Lutherans live in happiness and contentment. In a world longing to hear this good news of the gift of Christ, and Lutherans should speak up and reach out. It is not our job to protect anything as if we can preserve it or take it with us. Trying to preserve and protect what we possess- material and otherwise-will makes us anxious. It will destroy our countenance and leave us sorrowful. Sell what you have and give it to the poor. If you do, you will inherit life for the ages. If you don’t, God will love you and go about God’s business. Kenneth W. Inskeep, Research and Evaluation, ELCA, April 2008.


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