Rev Raymond Schultz, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.
ELCIC congregations are welcome to republish this material in their church publications. Please acknowledge its original publication by including the credit line:
Canada Lutheran, July/August 2004
More of Bishop Ray's writing can be found in From the Bishop including texts from sermons and addresses.
This is the second in a series of three articles on the National Church's strategic directions.
Our vision is that the ELCIC will be a church in mission for others as we:
When someone misquotes a public figure's speech in a letter to the editor, that person's office writes a letter correcting the misrepresentation and explaining the real intent of the speaker's position.
When a racist attack is made on one of the organized ethnic minorities in Canada, the spokespeople for those associations write to the paper correcting the prejudicial misrepresentations and confronting the hateful behaviour.
When someone writes to the editor grossly misrepresenting Christianity or stating unsubstantiated opinions, the action is usually unchallenged. Christians, and in particular, Canadian Lutherans, have lost the ability to explain themselves in the public forum. When a few reactions are voiced, they sometimes represent ideological positions that do not represent the historical faith.
Our society is interested in religion the way it is interested in hobbies. People snip and paste, shopping for components they assemble for themselves to make up some kind of preferred "spirituality." The popularity of the Gnostic novel, The Da Vinci Code, demonstrates how easy it is for the component-shoppers to be confused about what is authentic. The Da Vinci Code is a pseudo-academic critique of Christianity, based, in part, on fictional ancient documents and on speculative opinions of the author.
If we are to share the gospel in such a society as this, how are others to know of this gift if we do not reveal it?
…how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:14-15
This public representation of ourselves calls for several activities: Evangelism, Education and Engagement. We need to speak from our faith on religious, political, social and ethical matters. We need to be present with and among people in the political, social and ethical arenas. We need to defend ourselves when the gospel is misrepresented or discredited.
Thankfully, the Lutheran Church is a pastoral church, able to listen to the needs of secular society and able to appreciate other value systems. Christianity, in being good news for some, is obviously bad news for others-we challenge governments, business practices and some assumptions of the scientific community. Doing so calls for sensitivity. We are not fundamentalists and are called to recognize that sin and sainthood are interwoven in this society. The parable of the weeds in the wheat (Matthew 13) reminds us that we do not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Unless otherwise agreed, we engage in this activity as a church body. We speak through our conventions, councils and elected bishops on these matters. This is, therefore, a highly strategic activity for the National Church.
Bishop Raymond Schultz
Canada Lutheran, July/August 2004