Take care of me --- I don't want to get involved
Take, for instance, the recent demonstrations around the world protesting the rising fuel prices. A couple of questions come to mind... (1) How will using fuel and time, snarling up traffic, driving from hundreds of miles away, spending your hard earned money to get to a protest, help these people's individual financial situation or decrease demand (and thereby decrease prices)? (2) What do they really expect to accomplish? Do they expect the government, who is running deficits year over year and racking up debt to just print money and issue them checks to decrease the burden? (err.... I guess that might work...)
Moving closer to home....
When I heard about the planning of a gathering at the International Center, intended to get a response regarding the cancelling of Issues, Etc., I wrote an essay which I did not publish at that time because I did not want to be a "wet blanket" on the enthusiasm that seemed to have the potential to make a difference and get people involved. Also, in discussion about this piece with a friend, the question was posed, "What do you think people should do instead?" I'm, frankly, not smart enough to answer that question. However, I would imagine, of the 75 or so people who showed up, if they were to have sat down and started thinking about the question, "What project can I start or be involved in that would contribute to others hearing a clear articulation of the Gospel and a clear refutation of false teachings?" several good ideas would have emerged.
The following essay (originally written 4/5/08) is not intended to impugn motives, but to point out the results of the course taken. The momentum on the part of individuals has subsided. Our zeal has run cold. Most of us have returned to our "normal lives" which has been made poorer by the loss of Issues... This includes even those who vociferously pointed to how many people came to know the glorious light of the Gospel and the truth of the Reformation faith through the work of Todd and Jeff on Issues, etc.
The situation surrounding the sudden cancellation of Issues, Etc. and the efforts that have followed have caused me to grapple with a number of topics.
The biggest, and probably most difficult, of these topics is the relationship between politics and the Gospel. I will admit no small amount of disappointment at the transformation of this situation from a crisis for the Gospel into a political cause. This is not to say that the political questions being raised are unimportant. On the contrary, they are very important. It is of the utmost importance that those structures which have been established to promote the proclamation of the Gospel are held to the highest level of accountability. And while I am unsure of how I feel about the tactics being used, the fact is that these questions need to be asked and fully answered.
By any reasonable person's reckoning, the shows cancellation meant the silencing of a clear articulation of the Gospel and a thoroughgoing defense of the faith. This, in itself, is a travesty - and those responsible should give a clear and complete explanation for what can be described as nothing less than an attack on the Gospel.
However, while there are efforts underway to re-establish what has been lost and attempting to put Todd back on the air and Jeff back in the producer's seat, the immediate and short-term effort is not directed at caring for those souls who have been cut off from the "Christ Centered, Cross Focused" work that Todd and Jeff were doing. Rather, the immediate and short-term effort seems to want to use them as pawns - considering their souls expendable for political gains.
I must commend Todd for his wise and measured public statement. In it, he has pointed out what is really important: "If you want to carry on the legacy of Issues, Etc., you already know what to do: Pastors, go to the pulpit and the altar, be faithful to God’s Word and the Lutheran Confession in everything you preach, teach and practice. Preach Christ crucified for sinners. People of God, require your pastors to do nothing less and nothing more than that. Hear the Word, trust Jesus, live for your neighbor. ... The only story I’m interested in telling is the story of the one Martyr, the story of the Lamb of God. That story has all the death and blood I will ever need."
While I don't know him personally, based on this statement, I think Todd would agree, EVERYTHING else is secondary - not unimportant, but secondary.
And therein lies my disappointment. I'm sure that those pastors involved in the various efforts are not neglecting their congregations in any way. They continue to preach faithfully and administer the sacrament rightly. They continue their teaching and their catechesis. But, since ISSUES has been unplugged, what about those thousands who listened and downloaded the show and listened regularly - those sheep without faithful shepherds? What did they do wrong?
It would seem that they have not only been abandoned by those who decided to silence a good, faithful proclamation of the Gospel by yanking the show from the air without warning, but, for now at least, by those who make claims that that this action was a blow to the Gospel. We fuss and lament that it took ten days to get a political explanation for a "Kingdom-of-the-Left" decision.
The "Kingdom-of-the-Left" work to seek an adequate explanation and resolution will continue for a long time. No doubt, there will be long, drawn-out battles over whether or not the decision was politically motivated, who made it, were they competent to hold the position they did, were the directed by someone else.... and the list goes on. In the mean time, the rumor mills will continue to churn. Like many other circumstances, conspiracy theories will continue to exist.
My question is, how long must it be before we take up the cause of the Kingdom of the Right on behalf of those who have been left alone, to their own devices, or to the ambiguity of "Christian Radio" (so called)?