Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"He is Risen, Indeed!"

In my ever-increasing impatience with simple tomfoolery and growing gnosticism in liturgical practices within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (and plenty others, lest anyone think that I single out one denomination for special blame), I have been extremely aggravated by a practice/usage in my own congregation. At the vigil, the pastor proclaimed (3 times), "Christ is risen! Alleluia!" and the people were instructed (per the bulletin) to respond, "Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!. Now, at the end of mass, the same dialog between assisting minister and congregation is printed in the bulletin.

I don't know whom to blame -- whether our pastor, with his concern for political correctness, or the ELW (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, the "new" worship "resource" in our denomination), with its disdain for any masculinity in any reference to God (whether the Son or not). What is clear is that the dialog runs close to heresy: Without the masculine personal pronoun in the response (and so: "HE is risen, indeed!") we run close to saying that it was not the man Jesus who was raised from death and out of the tomb, but rather some force, spirit, or entity other than the fully-masculine Jesus of Nazareth who went abroad after the Ressurection . And that, to my mind at least, is utter faithlessness. You simply cannot be a Christian and raise any doubt, concern, upset, political objection, sexist claim, doubt, or anything else about the identity, form of being, gender, physical status, or psychic awareness of the one who was raised: It was either the man Jesus or our faith is in vain.

This political correctness surrounding whether we can say "he" extends from such mucking around with language, to the nonsense of bowing at the non-gloria-patri that doesn't name the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, but instead references one or more of them by a function, a title, or an understood pronoun. ("God, and Son, and Holy Spirit" is one of the stupid of the formulations: Exactly how are Jesus and Holy Spirit not "God"?) It is possible to worship according to the ELW's alternatives without once naming God as Father-Son-and-Holy-Spirit. I think that's wrong. But it is avoidable among people of faith. And we need to educate others around us as to the facts and the implications of our acts so as precisely to avoid falling into these ancient quick-sand traps toward heresy.

But this is fundamental: When we disdain the masculinity of the risen Lord, we deny that it is Jesus who was raised and who is Christ. .

And that brothers and sisters is the opposite of our faith.

"Christ is risen! Alleluia!"
and let the people say:
"He is risen, indeed! Alleluia"


-C said...

Don't even get me started on this topic - your points are all good ones. Sadly, to mention it in trendy ELCA circles will soon have you dimissed as an insensitive dinosaur.

Indeed He is Risen! (as we say)

Lee said...

If it's any consolation, in my very liberal ELCA church, the people proclaim "He is risen indeed!" with gusto.

Anonymous said...

FWIW - I agree and were it up to me it would be "He".