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What about the fourth 'R'?

—Renew...Reform...Reflect...Resist?

by Pastor Randy Freund (WordAlone board member)

May 30, 2003

During two recent public meetings, I heard two different perceptions regarding the current direction of the WordAlone (WA) movement. They are representative and worthy of mention.

The first comment came from one of our five candidates for bishop in the Southwestern Minnesota Synod during a question and answer forum. The question asked went something like this: “What do you think of the direction of the WordAlone movement? I was pleased that all five candidates had positive things to say about the WordAlone movement. However, one candidate remarked that he was pleased to see that WordAlone had “‘matured’ from being a protest movement to being a movement of reform.” I gulped, bit my tongue and felt a redness crawling up my neck. He implied that there was some clear distinction between a ‘protest’ movement and a ‘reform’ movement.

Luther would beg to differ. The favorable comments the candidate made about WordAlone were based on the assumption that reform could somehow come without resistance.

The second comment was made during a local WordAlone chapter meeting. A participant shared her perception that the movement was now focused totally on the “homosexual issue” (a direction she was not happy about). Not only was she worried about resistance and division, but also since this was a topic, “Jesus never talked about,” why should we? The more she talked, the more I realized that she would make the same claim about "Called to Common Mission" (CCM), the full communion agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church USA. I began to understand that her purpose for attending the meeting was to offer a negative critique of the WordAlone (as a resistance movement).

We have heard (ad nauseam, perhaps) that WordAlone is you. But it’s a point that still needs to be made. Jaynan Egland clearly made it once again at the April WA convention in her president’s report.

What is also clear is that there are implications of WordAlone’s “Three Rs” that address the above perceptions. As Isaiah 55:11 assures us, the Word will not return empty. That “sounds” nice. But when the Word is unleashed, actively accomplishing its work, it will meet resistance. Count on it. Plan on it.

While the theological implications of CCM are still a primary concern for this movement, the Word of God will bump up against, invade, pursue, challenge and expose many other issues and false gods. And there will come resistance whether that is one of WordAlone’s “Three Rs” or not. Becoming more “mature” or avoiding difficult theological issues doesn’t protect anyone from the authority of the Word of God.

As a new board member, the only label or perception that I want to stick regarding the WordAlone movement is “faithful.”

Being faithful to the Word of God alone is sure to meet resistance. This is not a simple matter. This is not an easy road.That other “R” hasn’t gone away because this Word alone cuts its own course in this world. It will challenge and resist anything or anyone rising up to challenge its authority. And just so we’re clear, this Word is Jesus Christ.

Thank God, come what may, this Word does not return empty.