Saturday, April 26, 2008

When the Coin in the Coffer Rings, Another Number on the Counter Dings

After reading some interesting information on the Wittenberg Trail's Confessing Resistance Group, I started thinking about the financial situation of the Synod. One of the reasons given for the cancellation of Issues, Etc. was that the program was costing more money than it was bringing in. Well, if that was the actual money situation, I guess I can understand what they are saying. Times are tight. Heck, I am paying $3.70 for plain regular gasoline. I understand the crunch. However, as most have pointed out, there seems to be no reason for the cancellation of *this* show because it had the highest listenership and the means to bring in the most money compared to all the other programs on the KFUO radio. If it wasn't the numbers, well, then what was it? It has already been said by the folks in charge of the Synod that it wasn't a political decision. Well, I believe that is a half truth. It wasn't just political. It was financial, too. The Synod is in financial trouble and Issues, Etc. was making it worse.

But it wasn't making it worse in the way that the Synod was saying. During the Reformation, Luther spoke out against indulgences. The sale of indulgences could absolve anyone from any sin. Convenient? You bet! The sinner was able to do anything s/he liked. I am sure church officials figured that people would commit these sins anyway, and they were just helping point them to Christ when they did finally commit the sin they have pondered in their heart. How pastoral and thoughtful of them to meet the sinners with the gospel in the aftermath of their sin! Oh, and let's not mention the financial gain from all of this. Forgiveness as such came with a price, and that price funded the tyranny of Rome. Luther was dangerous because he threatened the money flow. Forgiveness of sins isn't found in a piece of paper but in the Word of God, Jesus Christ.

Five hundred years later, little has changed except the scenery. The sale of indulgences isn't the sin of the LCMS but rather it is the "bringing the Gospel to all the world". Noble in it's ambitions, yet shallow in the action, numbers is the name of the game. Churches only have worth as long as their attendance can be measured against concerts, baseball games, and tv viewing audiences. However, numbers like that can only be achieved by way of scratching itching ears. People don't want to hear that they are sinners. They can do nothing for their salvation and that Christ has done it all. This is offensive, especially in a time where being self-sufficient is a measurement of success. So, instead, more "user friendly" methods are being used, where people learn to use God to find success in life. After all, this numbers game has been used by the general protestant population with great "success". With this success has come the money. Although Ablaze will state that the money given goes to missions, I highly doubt that is the case considering they are cutting programming like Issues, Etc. that teaches actual theology. This theology was about teaching people that "You're Best Life Now" and "The Purpose Driven Life" isn't worth the paper it is written on. These models are the big money makers, and Issues was tanking that quickly by teaching the common person about theology, something that is lacking in the mainstream Protestant publications. As the Synodical President's salary is worth three or four pastor's salaries combined, and conferences go extravagant to show great hospitality, a shortfall in money is hardly what the Synod needs right now.

To sum it up, the love of money has usurped the love for Christ just as it did in Reformation times.