Taking Every Fluid Ounce Captive

Churches have specific associations with bodies of water. This Lutheran Church Missouri Synod writer claims the Mississippi (but I wonder if Mark Twain would let him not to mention what Lutherans in Germany might think about rivers in the United States):

A lot of evangelicals are swimming these days. They’re slipping on their metaphorical fins and masks and churning their way across bodies of water to emerge on the other shore as members of a different faith community. Those that move from evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism are said to swim the Tiber; those that become Orthodox swim the Bosporus.

Reasons for their aquatic activities vary. Some like the art and architecture associated with the ancient faiths. Some like the ceremonial aspects–the liturgies, the veneration of icons, the Eucharist. Some like the history that oozes from Catholicism and Orthodoxy, a history that travels through great saints of yesteryear–through Augustine, Ambrose, Chrysostom, and Gregory of Nazianzus–but goes largely forgotten in contemporary evangelicalism. . . .

But evangelicals interested in “swimming” to a different tradition should consider traversing a body of water much closer to home: the Mississippi River, on which is located St. Louis, Missouri, and the headquarters of the premier conservative Lutheran church body in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

This raises at least one question: what body of water should Presbyterians identify with for their denominational affiliation?

American Presbyterians would likely claim the Delaware River since the first presbytery and General Assembly met in Philadelphia. But the Chesapeake might also apply since some of the earliest congregations settled by Ulster Presbyterians were in Maryland.

European Presbyterians, if the look to Geneva, probably invoke Lake Geneva.

The Scots likely think about the Firth of Forth (I was thinking it was a Fifth) given the estuary’s proximity to Edinburgh.

The Irish? They may have the hardest time attracting converts if crossing the North Sea is necessary for being a Presbyterian in Northern Ireland. I’m not sure swimming the Belfast Lough is any less challenging.


10 thoughts on “Taking Every Fluid Ounce Captive

  1. Presbyterians? Swimming? Immersed in water? Surely not: sprinking (or at most pouring) is the way to travel.


  2. I don’t think I ever expected to see a Peter Gabriel era Genesis reference on Old Life. I’m not complaining.

    Would crossing Lake Michigan heading east be representative of going from non denom evangelicalism to Reformed… and vice versa?


  3. Presbyterians need immersed in the confession and a little less sprinkling from the culture and the would do swimmingly!


  4. Walt, probably because there is no longer much of a “Lutheran” church left in Germany to swim across to. Whereas, this writer seems to “think” that there is one worth swimming to across the Mississippi (LCMS), even though it’s split down the middle and many of their congregations look more like run-of-the-mill evangelical types nowadays than they do traditional Lutheran.

    Maybe when these eeee-van refuge types swim the Mississippi they could cross the river right South of Tower Rock, preferably when ‘Ol Miss is at flood stage (round and round she goes).


  5. George,

    I went to one today in Munich. There are others here affiliated with the LCMS. IMO Lutheranism is small in Deutschland and small in the USA when you count who actually attends with most of the attendees in both countries having gray hair.. The pastor here said we need to pray for each-other’s countries and preserve the unity of the body of Christ. It was a wise suggestion.

    I can’t get on board with “Swimming the Mississippi” – it fails some basic viral meme tests. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue like “Swimming the Elbe” plus it doesn’t refer to Luther or Lutheranism directly. “Mississippi” evokes thoughts of catfish and Huck Finn.


  6. BTW, did you see Darryl’s tweet about the latest ELCA abomination? Which direction can we look that we won’t turn into a pillar of salt? Up, I guess


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