“From Sea to Shining Sea: A Christians’ Perspective on America and its Politics”
While polite conversation carefully avoids discussions of religion or politics, both will be center stage as we explore the complexities of being Christian in America. There is much to consider:
What’s the proper relation and separation of “church and state”?
Can any political party (Democrat, Republican, or Tea) claim a Christian mantle?
How involved should a Christian be in the political system?
Is America God’s chosen nation?
What does God really think of politics?
These and many more pertinent questions will be answered using the dynamic and ever-relevant insights of Martin Luther and his heirs. Exploiting the great reformer’s legacy, the distinction between the two realms will provide a powerful tool for simplifying what often seems quite complicated, and for unraveling what can become unnecessarily confused. Participants are urged to come with questions, and will return to their lives better equipped for the work of living faithfully as Christian citizens of America.
This series of studies was offered on campus as part of Concordia Seminary’s “Lay Bible Institute” in October, 2011. The video files are now available.
Norman Teigen July 1, 2012
I want to thank Prof. Biermann and the Seminary for presenting this lecture series. I have listened to all of the lectures and recommended their use to as many as possible. I also want to thank the Seminary for making President Meyer’s essay on the subject available to the public.
On a recent blog the comments on the subject were hot and heavy and I recommended to the audience that a theological study break be taken and that Prof. Biermann’s lectures be read. There is been an unprecedented uproar within the conservative Lutheran community on the topic.
I intend to continue my study by reading the Niebuhr book and following up on Benne. I will go back and re-read Herman Sasse on the subject as well as reread Luther’s relevant writings.
I will also follow up and review the relevant threads of American history which figure into the discussion. I am particularly interested in reading that little known American, Roger Williams. Williams, said, of course, that the state had no business in telling the church what to teach. The church, on the other hand, pollutes its sacred message by becoming secularized. Sasse said pretty much the same thing.
The comments which follow are perhaps nit-picky and should not detract from my over-all favorable impression. The questions, first of all, were distracting. I couldn’t hear what was being said. My impression of the questions was, to use an old Army term, somewhat off-the-wall. Prof. Biermann did a good job in answering these questions and getting the topic back on track.
Biermann has a higher opinion of Richard John Neuhaus than I do. I promise to go back and work on Neuhaus. I see Neuhaus, Dobson, and Cardinal Dolan as having too great an importance in current conservative Lutheran faith. (I am a member of an ELS congregation.)
Biermann is particularly to be honored for advising the audience members to be smart and careful in dealing with the topic. Distinction and not divorce. Cooperation and not confusion is important. Sentimentalism is to be noted and avoided.
I am working with my pastor in dealing with these issues, some of which in recent weeks and months, have been especially troubling.
The need for public testimony is clear. The danger of public testimony, however, might be seen in the tendency of some for straight line thinking. My personal opinion is that this straight line thinking has resulted in is an unfortunate journey (an aberration if you will) on the part of the conservative Lutherans into the political arena.
I perceive that cynical politicians and social leaders have utilized the conservative Lutherans by paralleling their own interests into a recent expression of political involvement and desired social policy.
The rule of law with which we are privileged to have, as Professor Biermann correctly points out, is the consent of the governed. This may sometimes be sticky and may result in an apparent conflict. But, as the good Professor points out, we live in an imperfect world. Professor Biermann would probably agree that the lessons of history point out the better good of the rule by the people than the rule by kings, bishops, and rulers.
Thank you, Professor Biermann and Concordia Seminary, for this public service.