Oh No She Didn’t

I am an absolute failure at telling people I disagree with them.  I hate conflict and I hate making people feel badly.  Assuming people are going to feel badly about themselves because I have a different opinion than they do is an arrogant assumption I know. I’m working on it. It’s that angle or I don’t want them to feel badly about me… I get those two confused some times.

It really is all about me most days. I just hate debating issues. I’m not good at it and I rarely win. I can tell a person what I think and feel, but if I have to defend that in such a way that it feels like the other person wants me to convince them I’m right? That’s another story all together. Most times I chose not to say anything at all and that situation has me in hot water a lot these days.

I’m in hot water because now I have all this feeling behind the opinion. And I have opinions people aren’t used to hearing. I am getting better though.

One thing I need to work on this year — getting over the whole pastor phobia deal. No seriously, you know how some people have snake phobias? Well, I have pastor phobias… especially if they are wearing that black and white death suit of theirs.  Reminds me of Darth Vader… chills.

Imagine having a pastor phobia, being in a speech class under a pastor and you hear her say THIS… to another student, loudly enough that she is obviously engaging the class:

“Well you know that Martin Luther doesn’t believe in works, right? I mean EVERYONE knows he wanted the whole book of James removed from the Bible. Lutherans only believe in Grace.” —

It really seemed like one of the pastors adamantly agreed with her. And now I am faced with two pastors on one side and I felt like defenseless cheese. 

We’re talking feelings here and not necessarily facts.

I didn’t agree with her and I wanted to throw up.  Pastor phobia, remember? That and I was wracking my brain trying to remember the REAL story behind Martin Luther and the book of James.. 

What struck me though — after I sifted through the names I wanted to call her adn how I sat there and said nothing, but stewed for two days — is I had paid almost $2,000 to be in the particular class.  My instructor is erroneously bashing Martin Luther and as a result, I feel insulted to the point that I missed every thing else she said. She had my bio, she knew I was Lutheran. My anger at her comments had rendered me speechless.

I spent a long time being angry with myself for not speaking up and now I also realise that:

1. She was incorrect not only in her theological history but in her attitude as well.

2. Her actions were  unprofessional.

And I felt powerless to do anything about it.

I want to handle things differently next time. I’m not sure how I’ll go about it yet. But I’ll figure it out.

Have you ever been there? What would you have done? How would you have handled it?

6 thoughts on “Oh No She Didn’t

  1. Frank — This does bring out other thoughts — aside from the obvious issue I have debating with ordained clergy, I also wonder how many times we as Lutherans trash other denominations. I see a lot of that down here anyway.

    With LCMS wanting to plant 2,000 new churches, a lot of the people coming to these plants aren’t as much unchurched as they are over churched. I wonder if we become a stumbling block for them?

    Case in point, a lot of Lutheran pastors are afraid to talk about Mary (mother of God) in a positive light because we don’t wish to be perceived as too Catholic. What we wind up doing is talking primarily about her sinfulness and discounting the amazing roll she played in God’s redemptive plans.

    It’s a common cross denominational issue really. Lack of knowledge and understanding of other faiths. We even trash ALCA for their recent changes == but that is a blog post for another day I suppose. ;-D

    I don’t know — do you see that where you are? How well do your area pastor’s speak about other faiths, or do you know?


  2. How would I handle it? I would have reminded, no, informed this person that yes Luther did in fact have an “issue” with the book of James as did many of the church fathers because it could not actually be tied directly to one of Christ’s disciples. But, and this is a HUGE but, Luther did in fact believe it was part of the accepted canon and did include the book in his translation into the vernacular German from the Latin. If he didn’t want his German speaking readers to read James he could’ve left it out of his translation, but he didn’t and it’s in there.
    Lutherans do indeed confess that we are justified by grace alone but to say that we do not confess that works are not an outward fruit of faith and a necessary sign of faith only shows a lack knowledge of the facts (the Lutheran confessions have stated this plainly for almost 500 years so your instructor can’t say this is anything new!) at best or an outright falsehood if we are less charitable.
    I find myself being overly charitably when correcting my misinformed neighbors about what Lutherans believe, teach, and confess. However, I’m less charitable and a bit more… blunt when it comes to people (even pastors (who should know better!), church workers in my denomination’s synodical or district employ, or people who claim to be qualified to teach while demonstrating a less than impressive understanding of the material) who should know better.
    I know we should always present our argument in such a way that how we say it doesn’t become the focus of the debate but sometimes blunt confrontation is necessary and required.
    Sorry for the long diatribe…


  3. Thanks Joan. I appreciate your kind words.

    Rena – You are definately on to something. My first, well maybe second thought, was in fact that the instructor was trying to draw me out. I struggled because I wasn’t confident in the facts and because I had no clue that people out there believe the things they believe about Lutherans. Missouri Synod Lutherans are very very conservative, believe good works grows from faith and salvation, and what not. It’s not the I have grace so I can live however I want, mentality that a lot of people apparently perceive.

    The silver lining? I researched the snot out of her accusations. Now I know something new. Luther had issue with James’ geneology (can’t be verified) and not his writings. That is good to know.


  4. It is very difficult (and often impossible) to “defend” an issue when it comes at you with no warning. The key is to NOT let your emotions be the “Speaker of the Mouth”. It is, in my humble opinion, better to fall short than to fall down, causing others to laugh at you and your Faith. If I might offer some advice on confrontations…do not “defend” anything. Too often you will have to agree to disagree. If someone is on the offensive, they have an agenda. This particular case, I believe she is trying to draw you out. Reread your material and then, one day, out of the blue, tell her that you have been offended by how she says……and that you would like to enlighten her with the facts.
    You are in the same boat with many of us when it comes to being “defensive”. There is a fine line betwenn “defensive” and “confidence”


  5. Wow, Deana. I just read your blog. What raw, honest, and refreshing (thank you!) sharing. I do identify. As a result, I have so many words and thoughts tumbling around inside me, that I don’t know how to respond just now! Still I wanted to tell you how I appreciate your message and sharing.


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