There is no doubt that we live in a time of unprecedented cultural, religious and technological change. In a number of situations, the state has become antagonistic to the faith of the Bible by advocating and advancing views of society and culture that are inconsistent with natural and revealed law.
Consider Emperor Constantine who converted to Christianity in A.D. 312. Shortly thereafter, the Church began to experience all sorts of privileges with the governmentmoney, property, buildings, power, access and tax breaksmuch of it the very antithesis of what Jesus said about the Church in the New Testament. While Christianity became a powerful force, the Church meddled in government, and the government meddled in the Churchall to the detriment of the Gospel.
Or take the formerly Lutheran state churches in Europe, which are a theological disaster. Only the tiniest fraction of the populace is attending church. State privileges for the Church are withdrawing, and states once heavily influenced by Christianity are becoming antagonistic to the faith. The Constantinian era, during which the Church in the West had become privileged by the state, is now slowing creaking toward an end. But the Church will continue, even thrive. Jesus promises that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). The Church flourished in the earliest centuries under stiff government and cultural opposition, and it still does.
Thats our current context. Must the Missouri Synod decline? No. There are several key factors affecting the stagnancy of the growth of the Missouri Synod.
The era of the Church and of Christianity is far from over. It wont be over until the return of Christ. But our privileged position in state and culture is drawing to a close. So be it. The Christian faith flourishes as an opposition movement. And the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.
Lets go! Mark 1:38
Matthew C. Harrison
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