Justin Long-Lived

That wasn’t his nom de guerre. Martyr was. There was a reason for that. He was an apologist not a satirist. About the same time Justin Martyr was making a defense for the Christian faith Juvenal was satirizing the Roman Empire. Justin was martyred for his apologetics; Juvenal might have been exiled, but he wasn’t murdered. I watched a Lutheran satire on Mormons.  It is spot on regarding the point of attack, but I still wish I hadn’t watched it.  Let me tell you why.

I’m not in favor of making points by satire for the same reason that I was not in favor of making Pro-Life arguments with gruesome pictures. I said at the time, 25 years ago, that the Pro-Abortionists would respond with kinder gentler pictures, and they did.  I think non-Lutherans are better at satirizing then Lutherans and unbelievers are best of all.

Many of our cherished Lutheran points can be satirized.  So you believe in a Real Presence that you admit has no physical manifestation? You believe that the Gospel cannot be accepted but that it can be rejected?  You believe that salvation is solely by grace and that God is gracious to everyone but all are not saved? You believe the finite is capable of the infinite, that 25 pounds of flour can be stuffed in a 5 pound sack?

Picture a scene like the one in the Lutheran Satire video featuring the two grizzled Lutherans and the Mormon Missionaries. Have it be two Reformed pastors in Geneva gowns and two Lutheran pastors in albs. Have the dialect flow fast and furious between the two Reformed pastors with them directing yes and no questions to the Lutherans.  Our position will be made to look at least funny and maybe ridiculous.

My second reason for not teaching by satirizing is that we train our people to think satire makes points, wins arguments, or advances truth. The end result is we train them to learn from it rather than simply be entertained by it. We train them to be more vulnerable to satire.

Just because you can laugh at something doesn’t mean you have overcome it or won the day. The early Church had apologists and martyrs. They left the satirizing to the unbelievers. I say we leave it to Saturday Night Life, Family Guy, and The Simpsons.  What is worth dying for is worth being laughed at; this you could learn from Justin Martyr. Not everything that can be laughed at is worth dying for. This you could learn from Juvenal and this is not what we want to teach.

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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