I happen to be a firm believer that history repeats itself. I believe this happens in fairly specific fashion around rise and fall of certain generational archetypes. I am, of course, navel-gazingly interested in my own generational archetype, that of the “reactive” generations (according to Strauss-Howe generational theory). And so, when a large fight breaks out among members of my own generation - Generation X - within my own church body, I am interested.
Recently, such a fight broke out as LCMS pundits began their saber-rattling around the twitter hashtag “#wiki14”. Wiki14 relates to the Wiki Conference put on by the LCMS-originated church planting collective, FiveTwo. As the #wiki14 hashtag gained in popularity, some of the more theologically vague tweets were called into question, leading to the usual LCMS social media storm of passive-aggressive tweets, blogs, and facebook posts. I can confess to one of those in deed, and several more in thought.
The argumentative social media posts were predictable enough. Questions about the reframing of theological terms into business lingo seemed to rule the day, followed up with angry accusations of apostasy concerning worship practices (because this is very important to Lutherans).
The reason that I’m interested in this kerfuffle is that it bringing to bear one of the things prophesied via generational theory. Reactive generations, like Generation X, who have brought most of the soldiers to the field in this particular battle - have a purpose, and that purpose is to burn things to the ground.
The generational logic here is that of a “controlled burn”. In a controlled burn, a forester will start a fire in order to burn away the undergrowth and encourage the ecosystem to develop new life. One might say it is the same logic as the divine logic of Crucifixion and Resurrection. God speaks like this several times in Scripture - refining things through crucibles and fires. It’s getting rid of the dross.
Flame wars between chasuble wearing incense burners and skinny jean wearing Christo-hipsters should go towards reassuring us that God is still at work on us. They should reassure both sides in the proclamation that those involved in the flame wars will be swallowed up in the flames. Those who live by the sword, will not only die by the sword, but by the particular swords found on their chosen battlegrounds. Your enemy will fall. So will you.
And God will go on doing what God does, raising the dead. He will raise stones to cry out if need be. The end of this generation of the LCMS will look like the end of Hamlet - a stagefull of those who fell by poison or steel. But God will still be there, writing the story, perhaps with some new characters who have learned from the carnage into which they were born.
Posted on Sunday, September 28th 2014