If you’ve ever had sushi in Japan, you’ll realize something when you taste the wasabi. There’s something wrong with it. Or more correctly there’s something wrong with the wasabi that you’re used to. The stuff that they serve at your favorite sushi restaurant in the United States, well, isn’t wasabi. It’s a horseradish blend with a few other spices. It is fake wasabi.
But we like fake wasabi. Most Americans who try real Japanese wasabi don’t like it as much as they like the American imitation. We can prefer imitations of a lot of things, but that doesn’t make them real. Of course the imitation “feels” real to most of us, even more real perhaps than the real thing itself.
The question is, do we want what is real, or do we want what we’ve gotten used to? With something like wasabi, that’s probably a matter of personal preference. But with Christianity, we probably want what is real, we don’t want the imitation. Lutheran theology has always had a preference for the real, even at the expense of the discomfort of setting aside the imitation. That is why we hold Scripture in such high regard – it isn’t even that Scripture itself is “the real thing” (in this case) but that Scripture shows us what is real, what we can really put our faith in, what is really authentic.
Lutherans have poor brand identity. We’re not real good at talking about who we are in a way that the rest of the world can understand us (which is ironic, given the guy whose name we bear in our denomination). This is something that we could actually use to explain who we are to the world. What is a Lutheran? A Lutheran is a Christian with low tolerance for imitation theology and a high regard for authenticity. Because this stuff matters.
Take your wasabi however you like it, but make sure your theology isn’t fake. It’s too important.