...The best lack all conviction, while the worst,
Are full of passionate intensity...
--The Second Coming, by W.B. Yeats
Huzzah to Mollie Ziegler Hemingway for this fine exposition of why confessional Lutherans take their faith seriously enough not to engage in public worship with those who don't share it.
We live in an age which has no problem believing that other people's religions are true; we just have trouble believing that our own is true. Our shallow, theraputically-oriented and post-modern society confuses tolerance and broad-mindedness with a lack of conviction. And when good people lack conviction, evil has a field day.
Women kill their own children as a means of birth control. People of the same gender are granted a right to "marry" few of them have any thought of acting on. People ignore the evidence that living together before marriage is destructive of the relationship's future- and (surprise!) the relationship eventually self-destructs. People believe that marriage is based on the emotion of love instead of committment and the real love that soldiers on even when it wants to quit in order to fulfil its responsibilities to the beloved, and the marriage ends when- predictably- the emotion does.
Why does all of this happen? Because we have become a people convinced that truth either doesn't exist or doesn't matter, and that therefore one person's concept of truth is no better and no worse than any other's. The result is a world in which it's actually possible for a teacher to have the experience a good friend of mine- a Lutheran pastor- had while teaching a community college course in Comparative Religion: a class which unanimously said that they would make different choices themselves than Adolph Hitler did, but that they had no right to judge the choices he made
When Jesus said, "Judge not, lest you be judged," He wasn't speaking of behavior. He was speaking of people. But alas, such distinctions are beyond the lazy, cowardly and insipid ethical code of our day.
Somebody once asked Mendelssohn why he wrote the Reformation Sympthony. "In those days," he replied, "people had convictions. Today, they have opinions."
What we desperately need today is convictions. There transformation by intellectually sloppy relativism and brain-dead post-modernism into insipid and loosely-held opinions is a knife at the throat of our culture.