‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.’
The Lutheran Church has come down very hard on the fact that the will of man cannot produce a pure act, a pure choice. But we have not been equally as firm on whether the mind can produce a pure thought, or proposition, or expression of the truth. There is something fraudulent about this. We have been quick to point out that to say I have done a pure act is a form of pride. We have not been quite as willing to apply the same conclusion to those who claim to produce a pure proposition or statement of truth. Yet, this claim can also be a reflection of pride. It has gotten the church into all kinds of trouble and continues to do so.
In the late nineteenth century, for example, the Norwegian Lutheran tradition was torn apart by what was called the ‘Election Controversy’. One group emphasized the sovreignty of God. Another group focused on the responsibility of man. Both sides stubbornly insisted on the truth of their position. It was not until 1917 that the rift was healed, but only in part. Statements by both groups were developed and approved. Although each one cancelled out the other, the church decided to live with both positions. This is but one example of numerous church conflicts that reflect the consequences of the pride of the mind, of thought, of reason.
The Biblical view of man and woman is that of a creature that has been heavily compromised by sin. It is not only our actions that reflect this (and they are clear enough) but also our minds (this tends to be less clear). But pride, whatever form it takes, always has destructive, divisive consequences.
Churches continue to hold doggedly to propositions of truth to such an extent that other churches are held at arms length or are shut out altogether. I confess, this is something I struggle with. At the same time I wonder: Are the truths we hold and confess best held in the proud battlements of the mind or in the humble synthesis of faith and love?
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”