Over the past Thanksgiving break, I was offered the chance to attend the Lighthouse Youth group at Woodside Bible Church no less than three separate times. Yet, to many people's surprise, I rejected every single offer. How could someone like me turn down something as seemingly great as Lighthouse? Well, I have a simple reason for never setting foot in this popular hangout. I am a Lutheran. Its pretty plain and simple. I believe in Lutheran doctrine and uphold Lutheran values that Lighthouse does not. I have held these beliefs my entire life, and I have no intention of ever changing. I am willing to take a stand for what I believe in, because what I believe is backed up by Scripture. This little concept of mine has started several arguments with people who do not consider themselves associated with the Lutheran church, or any denomination for that matter. They do not want to be “restricted” by denominations and petty church politics. I think its a cop-out. From what I can tell, most of these new found nondenominationals simply don't have the guts or desire to take a stand and possibly offend someone. Why can't we just all be friends and sing kumbya? Who cares about small stuff, like when to baptize someone, or whether The Lord's Supper is a symbol or not? Well, first of all, I can't stand that song, and second, I believe simple Lutheran characteristics such as infant baptism and communion cannot be ignored. These practices are too important for me to turn my back, no matter how “cool” or “relevant” Lighthouse may be. Their reasoning lies outside of the Bible, and focuses on feelings and emotions. The Great Commission at the end of Matthew 28 says that we are to “go and make disciples of all nations baptizing and teaching everything I have commanded you.” Not just a few parts of the Bible that we pick and choose, but we are to teach everything Christ has commanded us. When he says “This is My body”, I believe its Christ's body. If Genesis says the world was created in 6 days, then that's what I believe. End of story. See, I'm not big into picking and choosing or interpretation like so many leaders of the new Christian movement. Yes, I believe if you have faith that Jesus Christ is your savior you will go to heaven, but that doesn't mean my strong Lutheran beliefs have no bearing. I am a die-hard conservative, Reagan politics, pro-nuclear power, confessional Lutheran, college kid. I will not apologize or compromise my beliefs to fit into what is currently popular.
This Lighthouse trend appears to have affected a large number of LHN graduates and current students. This is sad, and fits my belief that Lutheran High School North has become Occasionally Lutheran High School North. Now, Occasionally Lutheran High School North isn't the worst place in the world; Christian values are still preached for the most part throughout the halls every single day. In chapel, students will occasionally get the law and gospel (about one in 5 chapels) if they are fortunate. A few teachers still hold strong to Lutheran doctrine, and some do an excellent job at it. Yet, most Lutheranism has died. In the pressure of the bottom line, the school has slacked off in one of the most important parts of its very existence, Lutheranism. Don't push Lutheran doctrine too hard, or all of the Catholics and other denominations will flee in terror (and their pocketbooks too). I believe the reason many students (including former Lutherans) have turned to nondenominational churches stems directly from the apathy involved with some of the religion department. For example, last year, as seniors, we were not equipped to enter the college world as Lutherans prepared with Lutheran theology, but rather as Christan debaters, ready to attack any fool who dares believe anything but Christianity. If the theme of one of my religion classes is a DC Talk song, then we are in serious trouble. The lack of a Lutheran education was glaring. For two of my four years, there was a non-Lutheran as Christian growth chair on Student Council. Another was elected this year. How many times did we watch universalist Rob Bell's blasphemous Nooma videos in chapel and in class? How many times were Lighthouse and Kensington Church promoted by students and teachers? How many times did we have non-Lutheran teachers? Was a Lutheran source ever used to defend Christianity last year? No. The Bible was rarely used, instead being replaced with an apparently better book for defending your faith, The Case For Christ. As we tried desperately to provide evidence and sources to “prove” Christianity, the power of the Holy Spirit and a little known noun called faith were dismissed as a cop out or a weak argument (Apparently I overestimated the Holy Ghost. Silly me!) And don't even think about using the Bible to defend your faith; you will be devoured alive by all of the brilliant atheists waiting in the shadows of your dorm. Welcome to Occasionally Lutheran High School North. As the child of an English teacher, I understand the dangers of word repetition, but in this case, I will repeat the word “Lutheran” until you are dizzy because, believe it or not, the high school on 24 and Romeo Plank is supposed to be a Lutheran school! (At least that's what the sign says.) Unrelated Note- What was the deal with the”Ask us about our Mormon Ties” sign??? Do I have to investigate something else at OLHN? Hello Mitt Romney? Did Steve Young replace Pastor Ball? Eieie.
So here we are, 5 months after graduating, and many of the students of Lutheran North theology have migrated to nondenominational worship. This sad fact is a direct reflection on the school. The excuse was that we got all of that Lutheran stuff out of the way junior year with Pastor Ball, and now it was time to move onto the “real world” where we will be in constant debate with all kinds of pagans, atheists, Buddhist monks, and rap artists. That is the response I expect. Or something about Lutheranism still being important, but not totally applicable to apologetics. Well, I am 3 months into college, and the only debates I have gotten into over religion were with fellow LHN grads as I defended Lutheran doctrine. If students are willing to so easily give up their longtime Lutheran beliefs within a few months, how much longer will it take to compromise even further? Lutheran doctrine is extremely important to me, but apparently not to some of the LHN staff as shown by their pitiful attempts at chapel. As a Lutheran, I will continue to hold steadfast in the Lutheran beliefs demonstrated by Luther's Small Catechism, no matter how much pressure I receive to leave my scripturally based Lutheran beliefs.
Epilogue- Can I have an epilogue without a prologue? I hope so. Anyway, after that rant, I would like to add a few additional points. First, I do not believe that Christians outside of the Lutheran Church are going to hell. John 3:16 tells us that anyone who believes in Christ will live eternally. I just know that Lutherans have the most scripturally accurate denomination. Second, I do not believe all teachers have failed me and my classmates in teaching proper Lutheran doctrine. Many tried very hard to stick to the Biblical truth, and I greatly appreciate that. Third, I am not exactly sure of the religious culture of the school right at this moment; I am basing many of my arguments on my career from 2004-2008. If things have changed (hahaha, “things”. Its a blog, who cares), please let me know. But I doubt it. And lastly, thanks for reading.
Much platonic love,