I hope to work my way through the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure and Governance’s (BRTFSG) Final Report (pdf) one section at a time and provide some analysis and commentary. We begin with the introductory pages where we find a disturbing revelation. The proposals to remake our synod are based on the advice of non-Lutheran consultants, one of whom is religion and cultural pluralist David Roozen. Cultural pluralism and its cousin multiculturalism are sociological approaches to understanding human behavior which promote a diversity of viewpoints (truth systems) and reject the idea that there is one foundational truth.
As far as I can tell the content of pages 16 -19 of the Final Report have never been seen before. I was studying this document with my elders Monday night and was surprised to learn that this non-Lutheran consultant had great amounts of input into the process even before the original proposals were written. Every member of every LCMS congregation needs to know that synod money and time was spent on hiring consultants who do not understand nor subscribe to the truth of the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions and that their ideology is at the heart of the proposals.
Here is the introductory quote on the Task Force’s use of consultants:
As the members of the task force deliberated, we sought to understand what other Christian denominations are doing in the areas of structure and governance. To facilitate that research, the task force engaged external consultants known for their work with other church bodies in these areas. The following summarizes the findings from the consultations that guided the task force in ultimately arriving at the recommendations contained in this report. (p. 16)
So our Lutheran Church Missouri Synod BRTFSG proposals to restructure our denomination are guided by what other Christian denominations are doing and the work of Dr. David Roosen, a cultural and religious pluralist. Here is the first paragraph from Dr. Roozen’s faculty page on the Hartford Institute website.
“There is as much ignorance as there is concern about intolerance today. The most fully developed literature we have on the subject is that of dealing with race and ethnicity. Although of critical importance in its own right, this literature also provides a necessary foundation for our engagement of other “others” – e.g., gender, faith, class, sexual preference. They and We: Racial and Ethnic Relations in the United States by Peter I. Rose, a text I use in my American Pluralism course, is a readily accessible introduction to this literature.
Isn’t it nice to know that a religious and cultural pluralist has guided the proposals to restructure the LCMS? Here is some of his garbled sociological speak:
Organizations that optimize the participatory and relational aspects of their work tend to be more adaptive today than those that optimize efficiency and control. (p. 16)
Accordingly, national denominational identities and related structural issues become less important to increasing numbers of laity. If such national matters are to receive attention at all, therefore, it will be, by default, from clergy. (p. 16)
That last quote has the founder of the LCMS, C. F. W. Walther, rolling in his grave. Walther, drawing from Luther and the Biblical theology of the Reformation created a structure and governance model for the church that placed laity and clergy together under the headship of Christ and His word. Roozen uses sociology to conclude that the clergy need to have a stronger role and this principle shows up in the proposals as a move to centralize power in the synod. (We will have more on that in future posts.) It is also important to note that keeping the laity ignorant and elevating the clergy in the current generation of the ELCA that brought about the vote of apostasy in that church body last month.
Here were a few of the conclusions that the Task Force drew upon from Dr. Roozen. These made my elders chuckle as we studied the final report together.
Build an explicit recognition of local and personal predispositions into major initiatives. (p. 17)
In other words, ask them what they want and give it to them. This is the typical tactic of the Church Growth principles that have been bringing the LCMS down in the last several years. Here is another one:
Hire “story-tellers” who can engagingly and narratively connect LCMS history and identity to the real life experiences of members. Make the sharing of such stories a priority concern of LCMS national communication effortsâ€”personal, electronic, and print. (p. 17)
When you need to hire “story-tellers” to get your denomination members to feel attached to the synod you have already lost the battle. There is something stinky and smelling in the LCMS that has brought this about. It is the very pluralism that Dr. Roozen represents that has caused our laity and even pastors to give up on the parochial nature of the LCMS that has been our strength from the days of our grandfathers. President Kieschnick and his Church Growth principles are the problem, not the solution. Pluralism weakens the denomination. Parochialism strengthens it. By the way, I am not just talking about parochialism for parochialism’s sake as Dr. Roozen does. This is no sociological truth. I am talking about Biblical parochialism, the scandal of the particularity of the cross that Dr. Hummel so convincingly taught in years gone by in our synod. This is the same scandal of the cross that is effectively and Biblically portrayed in the traditional liturgy of the Divine Service and that is absent in President Kieschnick’s new measures of seeker sensitive “worship.”
Getting back to Roozen’s proposals here is a downright scary one that I can’t wait for all the Concordia trained teachers to read (Speaking of parochialism, hopefully this recommendation will turn the vast army of day school teachers in our synod against the silly sociological approach to church structure proposed by President Kieschnick’s Task Force.)
Determine whether the LCMS parochial school or the Concordia University System is more important for sustaining a strong LCMS identity. (p. 17)
Ironically, as a commenter pointed out yesterday on another string, some of the sociological principles set forth by Dr. Roozen actually fly in the face of the more prominent initiatives of President Kieschnick. Dr Roozen suggests that we
Deepen clergy’s capacity to connect LCMS history, identity, and ministry to local ministries. (p. 17)
But President Kieschnick says that we need to undo our grandfather’s church.
Dr. Roozen places a high value on parochial education of the clergy:
Give priority to clergy-training support and supervision. (p. 17)
But President Kieschnick has sought to undo clergy education by inventing his own short cut into the ministry which gets men ordained in one fourth the time of the traditional model of our grandfather’s church (the Specific Ministry Program).
I encourage you to read carefully pages 16-17 of the Blue Ribbon Final Report. They are scary. Confessional pastors and laity have known for years that President Kieschnick and his cadre of Church Growth consultants and pastors have been building the church on secular principles but it is down right stunning to see his Task Force (President Kieschnick appointed the entire BRTFSG) come out and say so clearly say that they have built their recommendations on the recommendations of a practitioner of pagan multicultural sociology.
As I will demonstrate in future posts, there are several BRTFSG proposals that are harmful for the LCMS. But even before going there it is disappointing to see already in the introduction that the proposals were driven by an unchristian sociological approach to religion and culture. This is the stuff of the 1970’s rehashed folks. In the 1960’s through the 1970’s the LCMS allowed liberalism to creep into our denomination and we gave up on the inerrancy and efficacy of the word of God by allowing science to convince us that most of the miracles of the Bible were not true. Now in the 1990’s and 2000’s President Kieschnick has allowed liberalism back into the sheepfold, this time allowing the liberal sociological principles of multiculturalism to drive the restructuring of our church.
You, the members of LCMS congregations are being deceived. You are being told that this is only a matter of structure and governance and so it is not a matter of great theology. This is why the BRTSFG thinks they can rely on a multiculturalist for advice. But Luther and Walther did not think that church structure was a matter of mere sociology. Luther staked his life against Rome’s heterodox theology of church structure. When Walther writes about church structure (The Proper Form of a Christian Congregation) his work is dripping with scripture. The BRTFSG plops in a few scriptural principles at the beginning of the document and then one hardly sees anymore scripture after that and even worse they then trump scripture with multicultural sociology. Wake up Missouri, your church is being taken away from you!