Operation Reconquista: An Affirmative Response

Can mainline denominations be reconquered from theological liberalism?  A group named Operation Reconquista has emerged to attempt such a thing, and they are offering tactics on just how to proceed.

I had never heard of the group until asked to write about them and offer some thoughts.  To get the full scope of what they believe and what they are attempting to do, please click here to visit their website.  In a nutshell, their methodology is this: 1. Identify a moderate to conservative mainline congregation.  2. Attend there and become involved in leadership.  3. Work to strengthen that congregation in the orthodox Christian faith.  4. Resist any attempt to inject secular liberalism/progressivism.  5. Let the more liberal/progressive congregations die–as they will invariably do. 

They believe this reconquest is necessary given the historical contributions mainline denominations have made to the American society; their cultural power; the beauty of their traditions and liturgy; and their historic buildings.  “…Restoring them to the Gospel will revive the culture and reverse the persistent decline of religion in the West,” according to their website.1

The group has targeted seven mainline denominations including the ELCA, and on Reformation day, they “posted” 95 Theses to each of these denominations calling on them to reform.  They reportedly sent these theses to every congregation in these denominations; however, I must also report that my congregation did not receive a copy, email or otherwise.  Perhaps my reputation as a CORE contributor preceded me.

For the remainder of this article, I would like to affirm the goals of this group and share my positive reactions.  I also found numerous things to critique, and I will share those in the next CORE Voice newsletter.

I truly admire the chutzpah of this group and their goals.  I too share with them the thought that most mainline denominations have departed from the orthodox faith and are in major need of reform. 

Like them, I agree that the liberal/progressives played the long game in their takeover of the mainline.  In a way, this group is seeking to give them a taste of their own medicine.

Like them, I agree that schism is not the optimal response, and neither is leaving except in extreme circumstances.  An extended quote from the Lutheran subgroup is appropriate here:

Stay in the ELCA. By leaving your church you let it dissolve into Liberalism, and eventually die out. The percentage of churches without pastors is noticeable, and because of this, entire churches, congregations, and even denominations simply melt away to Atheism or other denominations such as becoming an Evangelical.

If your church is truly very heretical and you are not being fed, go to your nearest Lutheran church, especially if its [sic] in the ELCA, rinse and repeat until you find a church you are comfortable retaking. If this means you must go to a WELS or LCMS church, then that’s fine, but if possible, go attend an ELCA church.2

No small amount of digital ink has been spilled by those who have advocated for orthodox Christians to leave more liberal/progressive denominations and congregations, and I get it.  I know that some have faced pressure from bishops and pastors to leave, and others have been kicked out.  If that were happening to me, I would get out as well.  However, I am also of a mind that the greatest weapon we wield is the Word of God and its preaching.  That Word can and does change hearts and minds even within more secular progressive/liberal denominations, and this group shares that conviction.

There is a real sense of conviction, daring, steadfastness and a willingness to go to battle, that Operation Reconquista seems to embrace.  This, in my estimation, is particularly appealing to men, both young and old, who have been dismissed, vilified, and objectified by a great majority of leaders in mainline churches.  In fact, young men currently are the majority of members in Operation Reconquista, and given the lack of young men’s involvement in the mainline, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It shall be interesting to see if this group has the stamina to have long-term success in their endeavors.  If it is indeed powered by the Holy Spirit and is a movement of reform, they will eventually become a force to be reckoned with–and so I leave with a partial quote of the great rabbi Gamaliel in Acts 5, “Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

1. https://www.operationreconquista.com/blank-1

2. https://sola-elca.squarespace.com/faqs  SOLA is the Society of Orthodox Lutheran Advocates.

REST, INC., Part 2

Finding Rest in (and for) a Restless World

Dear Friends—                                                                                                    

When did so many of the mainline denominations begin to go adrift and lose their way? Why? How? What happened? Today hundreds, if not thousands, of those same churches and now non-denominational expressions of the Church, are adopting wokeism, universalism, neo-paganism, etc., and arrogantly moving from any form of Christian orthodoxy, all while simultaneously and carelessly hitching a ride on the slippery slope upon which our present-day culture is sliding. Absolute madness, and at lightning speed … at any cost! So many questions. It’s important to raise such questions because history will, inevitably, repeat itself. We are not exempt, especially if we don’t remain vigilant and deeply rooted in Christ, being well-rested for these disquieting days.

No doubt, many of you have considered a vast array of possible responses to the fore-mentioned questions—Maybe it was because we shifted from the centrality/primacy of the Word of God, or perhaps it was how we began compromising on many ‘social issues’ in the name of compassion but forgetting that this compassion should remain grounded in Christ-centered orthodoxy, or possibly it was because of our introducing various forms of ‘contemporary’ worship to reach the bitter-battered-bored, but compromising truth. The list goes on. Maybe these responses will not provide definitive answers, but they can certainly help us to navigate a more effective and faithful future.

However, there is one obvious response that I hear little, if any, conversation about: Maybe it was because our leadership, as a whole, did not lead or work out of life-giving rest, but only found this rest after leading and working and doing … and doing some more, thereby losing its way. It seems that we’ve struggled with the age-old challenge of doing and not being, like Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 19:9-12) and so many witnesses before us, forgetting about just being still and resting in the grace of Christ, and daring to ‘hear’ His Voice, in the midst of it all!I’m convinced that we would not be where we are today, with a large portion of the Church no longer practicing traditional Christian orthodoxy, had its leaders maintained a posture of resting—IN Christ. Without spending time in this place of rest—praying (not petitioning!), waiting, and abiding—at the very least, our senses become dull and we can lose our ability to discern the spirit of this present age (cf. Romans 13:11-14). A restless world, indeed! Perhaps, that’s why the author of Hebrews is so concise about the necessity of rest: “So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from His. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience.” What does this mean to you, here and now, in your present context?

So, yes, I am writing this brief article, more as a personal letter, as a follow-up to the article I wrote for the November issue of CORE Voice Newsletter called REST, INC. As your colleague, I’m simply inviting you to re-evaluate your own personal pattern of building rest into your daily schedule. Many years ago, I became intensely aware of my own unhealthy pattern of not taking time to rest and choosing instead to live out my ordained calling through the obligatory production of parochial reports, and so much more! It was about then that I bumped into Acts 6:1, 2 where it reads, “ … the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word (and later in v. 4, “ … we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”) to serve tables.’” For many reasons, this passage spoke volumes to me in how I would “do” ministry henceforth. I would stop waiting on tables, putting out fires, meeting all expectations, etc. I would, instead, begin the practice of rest.

Rest will not only serve as the antidote to help us, in our pastoral-prophetic roles, to avoid the slippery slope of which I spoke in the opening paragraphs, but it’ll greatly enhance our ability to attend to the paramount work of disciple-making and mission. Find the rest you need, and even fight for it. There is much on the line.