Bumper Sticker Theology

You can tell a lot about a person by their bumper stickers.  That must be what people mean to happen when the put them on their car.

In Austin the bumper sticker that spells coexist using Islam’s crescent, the hippies’ peace sign, a male/ female gender symbol, Judaism’s star, an “i” made with a Wicca/Pagan or Bab/Bah’ai symbol, an “s” from Taoism/ Confucianism, and a “t” out of the Christian cross is popular.  It looks like this.

Coexist bumper stickers

If this means to promote peaceful living between religious faiths, confessional Lutherans are all for it. If it’s a symbol for melding them together, anyone serious about their confession of faith ought not to display it.  Judging, that’s right I said “judging,” by the cars I see this sticker on and the people driving them (the cars not the stickers), I’d say they’re not very serious about anything other than their “feelings.”

The same can’t be said about all who confess their faith, or lack thereof, by bumper sticker.  In my neighborhood, one car displays the heights and the depths of Roman Catholic theology.  One bumper sticker reads “I’d Rather Be Confessing,” the other, “Warning: This Car Breaks for Eucharistic Processions.”  Go on; I’ll give you time to process this and sort it out.

The “confessing” this Roman Catholic would rather be doing is Private Confession, Penance or lately the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  But the driver can’t be confessing while driving because he must have a priest.  Any other Christians could be confessing while driving which has to be safer than texting.

The second bumper sticker is a welcome riposte to those who would break for cats, dogs, squirrels, et al. but not humans.  A Eucharistic procession is done by humans.  But that’s not the main breaking point for our confessing Catholic.  What’s being processed about is.  If a Eucharistic Procession is to take place after the Mass an extra host is consecrated.  It is placed in a monstrance and then carried about.  The bumper sticker confessor is confessing that he breaks for the Real Presence.

Is this true? Not according to our Lutheran Confessions.  “But this ‘blessing’ or the recitation of the Words of Institution of Christ by itself does not make a valid sacrament if the entire action of the Supper, as Christ administered it, is not observed (as, for example, when the consecrated bread is not distributed, received, and eaten but is instead locked up [in the tabernacle], made into a sacrifice, or carried around in a procession” (FC, SD, VII, 83, emphasis added).

In sum, our bumper sticker apologists would be breaking for them not Him all the while wishing he were confessing instead.  It’s his faith that at least has him breaking for humans, but it’s also his faith depriving him of being able to confess anywhere.

I’m thinking of adding this sticker to his bumper : “Be a Confessional Lutheran; Do Both.”

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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