Pastor Beisel at One Lutheran . . . Ablog! writes about what he sees as a "confessional awakening" in the LCMS and suggests that for it to be truly fruitful confessionals need to be able to have meaningful discussion:
"There is so much fear out there still–fear to say the wrong thing. Fear to offend, or to take a position that is not popular, or to offend this group or that group of friends. If we are really going to take this confessional awakening into the end zone, then I think this is the key. We have to be willing to stand up and take a stand on things, and not just give 'thought-provoking' papers, or write 'provocative' essays, but to actually bring the Word of God to bear."
I think he's right on. Problem is, I also think the fear that he speaks of is well-founded. In my experience, those who take a stand for what they believe in risk ridicule and marginalization. If they dare to chart a course that departs at all from the narrowest of confessional paths, their "confessional credibility" is likely to be questioned. If they stand up to those with more power or influence or popularity, they risk being labeled as difficult, volatile, or not a team player. If they don't play by all of the confessional rules, their club membership may be summarily revoked. In the long run they are turned out, no longer included in the discussion, no longer invited to the table. No wonder there is fear.
Before he was elected, the new LCMS president Rev. Matt Harrison outlined something called the Koinonia Project, which as I understand it would be an ongoing effort to address some of the questions that are dividing our synod with the hope of finally bringing some measure of resolution to them. I have always looked at the Koinonia Project as something aimed at bringing together the so-called "liberal" and "conservative" wings of our church body. But more and more, I think we may need a Koinonia Project for just us "confessionals." Before we can even begin to think about coming together as a synod, we need to learn to communicate in love and kindness and openness with one another. How to make that happen, I have no idea. Sometimes I despair of it ever coming to pass.