martin van Buren

Martin Van Buren – considered to be the creator of the Modern Democrat Party and a man of no opinions.

President Harrison of the LCMS  noted after a major Lutheran body declared that driving SUV’s was sinful, that while some churches had a statement about everything, the Missouri Synod had few statements on anything.  Discussion ensued and the interesting proposition appeared that the Church, in speaking on public issues needs to make sure that a definite “thus saith the Lord” quality is present.

Two problems emerge from such a proposition.  First is that in an issue like driving an SUV I am not sure what the Lord would saith.  I can assume that the good First Article gifts (clothing shoes meat and drink etc) made it possible for us to have SUV’s and therefore they are a good gift, unless I use them to plow down pedestrians at a parade.  It takes a chain of causality to get to an SUV being a blessing.  It takes a political choice to get to it being a sin.  The second problem is that the public to whom we are making the statement usually couldn’t care less what the Lord saith even if He makes it clear.  Christians have been know to disregard the clearest statements of Scripture, like “forgive one another as God in Christ has forgiven you”, what do we expect from pagans?  Rather than putting the quietus to an argument, “This saith the Lord” will probably start a new one.

What to do?  I suppose we could try and not have opinions and just get by in an increasingly divided country and world.  Todays politics demand an opinion or statement on everything from ISIS to gender to the minimum wage, to who can use what bathroom.  Interestingly the man who began taking us down this path since he was the inventor of the Democrat party, Martin Van Buren, would do anything he could to never give an opinion.  The story is told that a couple of senators made a bet that one of them could get Van Buren make a public stand on an issue, any issue.  They approached him and said, “there is a rumor that the sun rises in the east.  What do you think”.  Van Buren supposedly said, “I have heard that rumor as well, but since I never get out of bed since well after dawn I have no useful opinion on the matter”.

It would be nice to be that facile.  The Christians response to modern pagans must be the same as the ancient Christian confession that “Christ is Lord”.  It is not the politicians who are Lord, or the State that is Lord, or the emperor, or the entertainers who are Lord.  Jesus is Lord.  “Witnessing to Jesus as Lord connects the Church’s hope with the death of our Lord, with that Lord Jesus who on the night in which He was betrayed took bread and wine and gave Himself, His body and His blood, in all their redemptive significance, to His own (1 Cor. 11: 23); with that Lord of glory whom the princes of this world crucified (1 Cor. 2: 8). It grounds and builds our hope on the ministering life and death of Him who gave His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20: 28) “.  (Martin Franzmann)