A Leap out of the Faith

I commend to you the 1993 Steve Martin move “Leap of Faith.”  If Steve Martin is not enough to grab your attention try Debra Winger, Liam Nielsen, and Phillip Seymour Hoffmann.  The error a leap of faith, portrayed so well in this movie, is illustrative of the current leaping out of the faith the LCMS is currently bounding for.

What follows I don’t think is a spoiler, but if you’re phobic of stumbling upon such don’t read on.  You’ve been warned.

Steve Martin is exposed before the whole town by the sheriff played by a stunningly young Liam Nielsen as the travelling huckster, con man, false prophet that he really is.  And you know what?  The people just don’t care.  They still flock to him.  They still listen to him.  Martin defends what he is doing to Nielsen by saying, “Look people pay 65.00 for a Broadway show they may or may not like.  They pay a lot less than that for me and they almost all come away with a good feeling.  What’s wrong with that?”

Confessional Lutheran pastors often feel, though not look like, Liam Nielsen.  We expose the pastors who welcome to their altars anyone and everyone.  We expose the apostasy of Christians having prayer services with non-Christians.  We expose how Scripture is being flaunted, ignored, or changed when it comes to the roles of women.  We expose how our confession that no one is to preach, teach, or administer the Sacraments without a regular Call is circumvented.

And who listens?  Who cares?  Who is willing to do anything about it?  Lay people who self-identify as confessional Lutherans will describe pastors who practice open Communion as “good” pastors.  Pastors who share funerals with Christian pastors not in fellowship with us or baccalaureate prayers with Muslims are popular.  As for the role of woman and layman, put a fork in us we’re done.

In 2012 we have taken seriously what was meant as a joke by Irving Berlin in 1946.  In his musical “Annie Get Your Gun,” he has a male and female engaged in lighthearted dueling bravado singing: “Anything you can do I can do better.”  Now it’s regarded as seriously true: women can preach, teach, and lead better than men and laymen can better than a pastor.

Depending on how you define “better,” these might be true statements.  But still; it’s a leap out of the faith.  Whereas the huckster’s leap of faith will probably land you on your face, a leap out of the faith will land you on your feet.  It’s where you’re standing that’s the problem.


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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