St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer on Harrison’s call to local church

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch/stltoday.com religion writer Tim Townsend has a new article today on LCMS President Matt Harrison (right) accepting a call as an assistant pastor at a local church here in St. Louis. You can click the link to go to the complete article, Missouri Synod president to assist at Ladue parish church. I’ll just post some excerpts here. CH]

As a student of synod history, Harrison knew that no president of the church had simultaneously helped pastor a church since John Behnken in the 1950s. He also knew, as the author of a book about the church’s first five leaders, that for the first century of the denomination’s history, it was common practice for a synod president to have a pastoral role in a local congregation. . . .

In a move not seen in the synod for 60 years, Harrison will not only manage the second-largest Lutheran denomination in the country, but he’ll also get his uniform dirty.

“The Missouri Synod has been stagnant for 40 years,” Harrison said. “There are many different reasons for that, but this is a public affirmation of the importance of a local parish, and local pastors.”

On Oct. 11, after Village Lutheran called Harrison, he let it be known to his nearly 3,000 Facebook friends that he’d been asked.

His status update said he was “deeply humbled by the fidelity, confidence … and love of these saints & Pr. Kevin Golden. I and my family request your prayers.”

And he got them — in 80 comments (along with 194 “likes”).

“What a wonderful possibility that a Synod President could have one foot in the parish!” one person wrote.

“Even the prez needs to keep his preaching chops!!” wrote another.

“Am I dreaming?” another asked. “Is this my grandfather’s church?”

A few were more realistic. . . .

“Hate to break out the ice water,” one person commented on Harrison’s Facebook page. “But that old country saying about riding two horses with one behind comes to mind. You’ve saddled up the largest parish in the world. All 2.4 million of us. I know how you love a challenge and if there is a mortal man today who could do it all, it’s you. Praying for you Matt; real hard.” . . .

Village Lutheran will install Harrison as its assistant pastor at its 10:45 a.m. service on Jan. 9. His first duty will be to officiate during Communion. . . .


Comments

St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer on Harrison’s call to local church — 43 Comments

  1. Reporter Tim Townsend describes in the article how the call as an assistant pastor came about:

    Soon after his installation this year as the new president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Rev. Matthew Harrison was studying the responsibilities of his office in the denomination’s constitution and bylaws. One paragraph jumped out at him….

    Harrison approached the pastor of his new parish, Village Lutheran Church in Ladue, and asked for his thoughts.

    “We sat down and talked to make sure we were on the same page, but I wasn’t too concerned about that,” said the Rev. Kevin Golden, Village Lutheran’s pastor since mid-2009. “I was familiar with where he stood theologically and we have mutual friends who reassured both of us that we were on the same page.”

    Golden sat down with the 200-member church’s board of elders, who were unaware that the president of the synod could help pastor a church.

    “But as soon as we started talking about it, they saw that it would be a very healthy thing to have the president grounded in a local congregation,” Golden said.

  2. I was just about to post this and am glad Pr. Henrickson did. Really glad to see this kind of press coverage of our church body.

  3. Village Lutheran will install Harrison as its assistant pastor at its 10:45 a.m. service on Jan. 9. His first duty will be to officiate during Communion.

    The claim of (obviously nonLutheran) Townsend is incorrect. In the Waltherian (and Missouri Synod) understanding of the ministry and the call, Pastor Harrison’s first act was mention in Townsend’s subsequent paragraph:

    In a Dec. 19 letter to the denomination’s 35 district presidents, Harrison said he had accepted Village Lutheran’s call that morning

  4. Blessings on Pastor-elect Harrison upon his call to serve the flock of Christ. This will help his administrative work, as well. We are blessed to have our version of President Teddy Roosevelt in the flesh and moustache. He will speak loudly and will carry a soft stick in his administration of God’s law and gospel.

  5. Theory and practice require one to do both in order for progress to occur in either. Good for Pastor Harrison for keeping his feet on the ground. Having watched a wonderful Pastor simultaneously and effectively serve District and parish for over 40 years it is clear that it can and should be done.

  6. The fact that President Harrison was considered to be a “Pastor” on the synod’s clergy roster while serving as a (may I use the term?) “synod bureaucrat” at the Purple Palace and not as a pastor of a congregation when he was elected synodical president last year demonstrates that, since a 1962 synodical constitutional amendment separating the Office of the Public Ministry from the local congregational pastorate, the LCMS has been tacitly practicing the WELS doctrine of the Ministry without being honest enough to admit it. The same was true in the case of Chaplain Wohlrabe when he was the “conservative” candidate for LCMS president in 2007; neither he nor “Pastor” Harrison were pastors of local congregations at the time they were candidates for synodical president, but serving in “other ministries.” At least now President Harrison appears to be willing to return to the former practice by which those district/synodical officers and college/seminary professors who wished to remain in the Office of the Public Ministry while serving in those offices accepted calls as assistant pastors of local congregations, and for that I commend him.
    However, it would be nice if the LCMS, and especially the synod’s “conservatives, would finally make up their mind if they are “old Missouri” on the Doctrine of the Ministry or rather “new WELS.” As things stand now in the LCMS in practice, the synod repudiates the doctrinal content of the Brief Statement #31 “Of the Public Ministry,” which defines the Office of the Public Ministry in the following words: “By the public ministry we mean the office by which the Word of God is preached and the Sacraments are administered BY ORDER AND IN THE NAME [italics in the original] of a Christian congregation.” NO mention of district or synodical offices, chaplains (the synod rejected the military chaplaincy during World War One and only approved of it just before World War Two,) those involved in “para-church ministries,” etc. Apparently in the old days it was assumed that, in order to remain in the Office of the Public Ministry in the Missouri Synod, those serving as district/synodical officers or college/seminary professors were supposed to have calls as pastors/assistant pastors of local congregations while serving in those offices. It is to be hoped that President Harrison’s example will provide a model for the synod as it hopefully decides whether or not it is “old Missouri” or “new WELS” on the Doctrine of the Ministry.

  7. @Mr. Malach: No one is called a “pastor” on the Synod’s “clergy roster.” Not even pastors. The term is “Minister of Religion, Ordained.” That may sound bureaucratic, but it cannot be criticized for calling anyone a pastor.

  8. Dear Mr. Kleinschmidt: The classification “Minister of Religion, Ordained” is a relatively-recent innovation in the designation of the Office of the Public Ministry by the LCMS by which the modern synod has embraced the Doctrine of the Ministry of the WELS, without the honesty to admit that it has done so. The classification repudiates the Doctrine of the Ministry taught by the Missouri Synod in section #31 of the Brief Statement, a document which the modern LCMS has NEVER repudiated for teaching a false doctrine of the Ministry. Do you, Mr. Kleinschmidt, agree with the Brief Statement’s definition of the Office of the Public Ministry, or with the WELS (and, apparently, the modern LCMS) in considering district/synodical officials and college/seminary professors to be in the “ordained ministry” simply because they were ONCE ordained but current may have NO valid call from a local congregation, the Missouri Synod having historically taught from Scripture that the congregational pastorate was the ONLY divinely-mandated form of the Office of the Public Ministry? If the modern LCMS wishes to be WELS on the Doctrine of the Ministry, just as it is on the Doctrine of the Church by recognizing entities other than local congregations as being “church” which can issue valid calls into the “ordained ministry,” it should at least have the honesty to do say so and repudiate the doctrine taught by the Missouri Synod in the Brief Statement and until the synodical constitutional amendment of 1962.

  9. As an addedum to my last post, permit me to offer the Scriptural evidence for the teaching of the Missouri Synod in the “old days” that the congregational pastorate was the ONLY divinely-mandated form of the Office of the Public Ministry, a Word and Sacrament ministry through which the Office of the Keys was publicly administered in both the narrow and the wider senses of the term. In Titus 1:5 the Apostle Paul charges Timothy, who acted under the extra-congregational authority of Paul’s Apostleship (a unique and now no-longer-existing Office) to “ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.” The New Testament synonyms for “elder” are “bishop/overseer” (compare Acts 20:17 with vs. 28) and “pastor” (1 Peter 5:2: verb forms of “pastor/shepherd” and “bishop/overseer” addressed to “elders” in vs. 1.) That this ONE Office of the Public Ministry was divinely-mandated is also proven by Acts 14:23, where it is written that during the Apostle Paul’s First Missionary Journey, he and Barnabas, returning “again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,” (vs. 21,) “ordained them elders in every church.” That this ONE Office of the Public Ministry involved, besides teaching, the administration of the Sacraments and Office of the Keys in the narrow sense of the term in a local congregational setting–as opposed to a district/synodical office or a college/seminary classroom–is proven by Matt. 18:15-20 (cf. vs. 17: “tell it to the church” met together to deal with a matter of church discipline, as proven by the context,) compared with 1 Cor. 5:4-5, the context of which is also a congregational assembly to deal with a matter of church discipline, the very description of the gathering in 1 Cor. 5:4 being similar to that in Matt. 18:20.

    The Office of the Public Ministry understood as the local congregational pastorate which publicly administers the Office of the Keys in the narrow sense of the term was the ONLY ministerial office which the Apostles themselves instituted (Acts 14:23) and which they ordered to be instituted (Titus 1:5.) Other “ministerial offices” are referred to in the New Testament (cf. Eph. 4:11,) some of which had an extra-congregational focus, as with both the Seventy commissioned by Christ in the Gospels and the Office of Apostle itself, but the ONLY Office of the Public Ministry which God Himself directly established through His Apostles was that of the local congregational pastorate, and that is the ONLY Office of the Public Ministry which has, by divine providence, survived to this day, the rest mentioned in the New Testament being either not of divine institution or not surviving in their New Testament form (e.g., compare the NT diaconate with the modern liturgical or church administrative “office.”) That the Christian Church, visibly gathered in local congregations, has the freedom in the Gospel to by HUMAN institution gather in such extra-congregational gatherings as synods/church bodies and establish for local congregations or such extra-congregational gatherings other “ministerial offices” is NOT in question. The question is this: “Upon the basis of Scripture Itself, as taught by the old Missouri Synod in such statements as the Brief Statement of 1932, can anyone OTHER than a local congregational pastor–e.g., such as district/synodical officials or college/seminary professors who are NOT serving as pastors/assistant pastors of local congregations–be considered to hold the SCRIPTURAL Office of the Public Ministry? The “old” Missouri Synod said “No,” the modern LCMS, along with the WELS, apparently says “Yes.”

  10. @Warren Malach #10

    A couple thoughts:

    First, I think the issue at hand is not just the definition of the Office of the Public Ministry; it is the definition of “Church.” Is a seminary or university a “church” in the sense that it can administer the sacraments, call rostered church workers as professors or other professional staff, etc.? Is a so-called “parachurch” organization a “church” in the sense that it can call rostered church workers to professional staff positions? Is the Synod itself a “church” in the sense that it can call rostered church workers to professional staff positions? The seminaries and CUS schools get around this question by having a “host congregation” for communion which generally doesn’t have much connection to the actual communion service. Is this practice “in good order?”

    Second, you mentioned the practice of a professor or synodical bureaucrat having a call as assistant pastor at a local congregation. In my understanding, this only meant that the professor in question was “on the books,” so to speak, at that congregation. He did not have any duties; he did not even have to show up there. In my personal opinion, that does far more damage to the Office of the Public Ministry than a professor only being called as a professor. By using the “status call” system, the church body is saying that the Office of Ministry comes from the congregation, but does not have anything to do with the congregation: Sure, the person is called by the congregation, but he doesn’t actually have to be connected with the congregation apart from that piece of paper. As an interesting tidbit, the “status call” is also practiced by the Roman Catholics: Several of the Pope’s closest advisors are cardinals who receive appointments as “bishops” of small dioceses close to Rome. The “bishop” has no administrative duties; those are carried out by an assistant bishop. The call is merely so the cardinal stays on the books as having the status of bishop.

    Third, when a pastor “retires” (I know, there’s no such thing as retirement!), does he remain a pastor? I know that many “retired” pastors still preach on occasion or are active in ministry in some form (LSS, local congregation, etc.). Is it right for a “retired” pastor to preach and administer the sacraments when a pastor goes on vacation or is otherwise unavailable?

  11. The issue of the call to the pastoral ministry was addressed in a statement taken from C.F.W. Walther’s Draft of a Paper on Church and Ministry (Preaching Office) included in Post #70.

  12. “Concerned Seminarian” raises some very valid and pertinent concerns. Yes, the Doctrine of the Church IS intimately involved in any discussion of the Doctrine of the Ministry, especially with reference to the issues of what “grouping” of Christians may issue a Scriptural call to a Scriptural ministry. And yes, I quite agree that the “assistant pastorates” to which district/synodical officials and college/seminary professors are called in order for them to “be in the Office of the Public Ministry” CAN be abused. Of course, my own concerns about the “modern LCMS Doctrine of the Ministry” beg the fundamental question of whether or not the modern LCMS even HAS a SINGLE Doctrine of the Ministry, as it has long appeared to me that, in this matter as in so many others in the LCMS, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” (Judges 21:25b.) I continue to believe that it would be profitable for the LCMS to explain what really separates the “modern LCMS” from the WELS with regards to the Doctrines of the Church and the Ministry. Does or does not the modern LCMS believe that ONLY the local congregation and the local congregational pastorate are divinely-mandated forms of the Church and the Ministry? Does or does not the modern LCMS believe that there are ANY divinely-mandated forms of the Church and the Ministry? Once again, I want to stress that I am NOT calling into question the right of congregations to form church bodies and other church organizations, and for congregations and church bodies to create offices of ministry, just as long as these are recognized upon the basis of Scripture as being de jure humano and NOT de jure divino, the local congregation and the local congregational pastorate being upon the basis of Scripture the ONLY forms of Church and Ministry that are de jure divino.

    “Carl Vehse” is to be commended for his citation of the Walther passage on the “duration” of the Office of the Public Ministry. President Harrison is to be commended for his own translation of the writings of the orthodox theologians of the Missouri Synod’s past. I also want to offer a personal thanks to LCMS Pastor David R. Boisclair, who has added to the English language resources available for the study of the Doctrines of the Church and the Ministry with specific reference to the controversy between the old Missouri Synod and the WELS by making complete translations of: (1) the 1911 Theses by WELS Northwestern College President August Ernst against the “new doctrine” of the Church and the Ministry being taught by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Professor August Pieper, said Theses being translated in an abridged version by J.P. Koehler in his HISTORY OF THE WISCONSIN SYNOD; (2) the “Anmerkung” from Walther’s PASTORALE cited by Franz Pieper in the third volume of his CHRISTIAN DOGMATICS in defense of the Scriptural Doctrine of the Church and the Ministry; and (3) the previously-untranslated 1922 version of the Brief Statement by Francis Pieper, which was prepared for the 75th anniversary of the Missouri Synod in 1923. Thanks to Pastor Boisclair, we now have available translations of all 4 versions of the Brief Statement, known to most only in its final 1932 version. We continue to stand on the shoulders of those orthodox theologians of the past as we strive to remain faithful to the Formal Principle of the Lutheran Church!

  13. Warren Malach :
    The question is this: “Upon the basis of Scripture Itself, as taught by the old Missouri Synod in such statements as the Brief Statement of 1932, can anyone OTHER than a local congregational pastor–e.g., such as district/synodical officials or college/seminary professors who are NOT serving as pastors/assistant pastors of local congregations–be considered to hold the SCRIPTURAL Office of the Public Ministry? The “old” Missouri Synod said “No,” the modern LCMS, along with the WELS, apparently says “Yes.”

    I just want to make sure that I understand you correctly by restating this in different words…

    What one congregation is permitted to do alone (i.e. call a pastor), it is NOT permitted to do (or, perhaps a better summary of the position you are asserting, is forbidden from doing) in cooperation/conjunction with another congregation (or twelve, or 152, or 2,600+). Is that a fair summary of your point?

  14. “PPPadre,” I have been trying to distinguish between the “old Missouri” doctrine of the Ministry as taught by Franz Pieper and other orthodox theologians of the Missouri Synod and summarized in #31 of the Brief Statement of 1932, and the current position of the LCMS. Individual congregations and extra-congregational “groupings” of divinely-mandated local congregations such as synods are free to create humanly-instituted ministries, but the Missouri Synod of Franz Pieper, I believe upon the basis of Scripture, carefully distinguished such ministries from the divinely-mandated local congregational pastorate understood to be the Office of the Public Ministry. District/synodical officials and college/seminary professors were NOT considered to hold the Office of the Public Ministry UNLESS they also served as local congregational pastors/assistant pastors. The Office of the Public Ministry understood from Scripture to be the local congregational pastorate, being divinely-mandated, is ESSENTIAL to the Visible Church, all humanly-instituted ministries are NOT essential and ONLY exist by human authority and possess humanly-devised authority which is LIMITED to the congregation or the extra-congregational “gathering” which devises such other ministries. Therefore I must conclude that, unless the LCMS now believes that ordination conveys a Romanistic “indelible character” which exists apart from a Scriptural call from a divinely-mandated local congregation, someone like President Harrison who did NOT have a call from a local congregation when he was elected president of the LCMS last summer was NOT in the Office of the Public Ministry when he was elected president of the synod, but only held a humanly-devised synodical office under the humanly-devised designation of “Minister of Religion–Ordained,” without the authority of Scripture to carry out the responsibilities of the Office of the Public Ministry. That is why I find President Harrison’s acceptance of the call to become assistant pastor of a local congregation to be so intriguing.

  15. @Warren Malach #15
    Was that a yes or a no?

    Based on your latest response, I will revise my question slightly:

    According to the “old Missouri” doctrine of the Ministry, what one congregation is permitted to do alone de jure divino (i.e. call a pastor to exercise the Office of the Public Ministry), it is NOT permitted to do (or, perhaps a better summary of the “old Missouri” position, is incapable of doing) in cooperation/conjunction with another congregation (or twelve, or 152, or 2,600+). Is that a fair summary of your point?

  16. @Warren Malach #13

    It appears to me that we have a very “Lutheran” (read “contradictory”) definition of the “Office of Public Ministry.” On the one hand, we say that the only requirement for being “in the office” is to be called by a congregation (for example, a man who receives a call despite not being certified by the Seminary faculty technically has a valid call because it was issued by a congregation). By this definition, any man can be called by a congregation as a pastor, and that man has a valid call; he just isn’t an LCMS pastor (I think we would even apply that to “pastorettes” who a called by an Extremely Liberal Church of America congregation: It’s a valid call; it’s just not biblical).

    However, we also say that in order to be a rostered LCMS pastor, you must be certified by the faculty of one or the other seminary (coloquuy, M.Div., alternate route, etc.). Once you are, you can be ordained, at which point you can administer the sacraments. But even if you are only a vicar, you can still administer the sacraments with the permission of your supervisor, DP, congregation,… But even then, it’s only because it is an emergency and no other pastor is available to administer the sacraments for that congregation… but you still have a supervisor (who is an ordained pastor…)…

    Along those same lines, we also say that you are still a pastor once you leave your last call (assuming it is not because the call is rescinded), and as such you can still administer the sacraments and preach as a “substitute” pastor. But a regular layman cannot administer the sacraments and preach when the pastor is out of town; only a “retired” pastor, pastor in a non-congregational call, seminary student (except for the “administer the sacraments” part), or commissioned lay-dude (I know some districts commission laymen to preach in the absence of a pastor as “pulpit-fillers”).

    Getting back to the “old Missouri” position on the OotPM, did seminary professors in papa Pieper’s day normally have calls as assistant pastors? If not, were they still permitted to “pulpit-fill”? Also, were pastors without calls to local congregations permitted to “pulpit-fill”? If the answer to the last 2 questions is “no,” when did they become common practice in the LCMS?

  17. @Concerned Seminarian #17

    To avoid misunderstandings about the “Lutheran (read ‘contradictory’)” bit, here’s what I mean:

    “Is it bread and wine or body and blood? Yes, it’s both.”
    “Am I a saint or a sinner? You are both.”

  18. PPPadre’s question about the calling of a pastor (i.e., a man authorized according to AC.XIV by a divine call to publicly preach the Word and administer the Sacraments to a congregation) was address previously in Post #60. A group of congregations can (and have) called a man to a mission field and to serve as pastor to those Christians gathered in that mission until they organize into a congregation and then call their pastor.

    However, a SP or DP does not have such a divine call as part of his elected corporate office to publicly preach and administer the Sacraments to any congregation without the consent of that congregation and its pastor. The synodical or district presidencies are not, in themselves, the offices of a bishop. The Synod is not an episcopal polity (much to the angst of Loeheists).

  19. “…Lutheran” (read “contradictory”)…

    The contradiction was put into the Missouri Synod by Resolution 6-35 adopted by the 1962 synodical convention held in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to that time, there was no ordination done in the Missouri Synod without a divine call. That Resolution allowed ordination to be done without a divine call. This opened the door to all kinds of Loeheist hanky-panky and confusion about the Office of the Ministry.

    Despite the 2001 affirmation of C.F.W. Walther’s Kirche und Amt as the official understanding of the Missouri Synod on the doctrine of church and ministry, so far there has not been a peep about overturning that resolution by confessional synodical leaders and seminary theologians. Go ahead, ask them.

  20. Very excellent news. It’s about time. The church has no place for full time bureaucrats or full time (is part-time even thinkable?) “administrators” unless “administrator” has something to do with “ministering” something. That something had better be nothing but Word and Sacrament. Now to purge the church body of any and all stupid falsifications of Word and Sacrament.

  21. @Carl Vehse #20

    To which part of the resolution and which part of the contradiction are you referring? I may be reading it wrong, but I read Resolution 6-35 as clarifying the previous position. The only additions I noticed were:

    1. “He shall have completed the prescribed courses of study and have received a diploma from one of the church’s seminaries, or have fulfilled the requisites for a colloquy according to the Synodical Handbook” (6-35.a.1.)
    2. 6-35.b.

    It does seem as though 6-35.a.4-5. are opening ordination to include more than “a certain congregation,” though I think it makes it contingent on “the regulations of the Synod.” Is this part what you mean?

  22. @Concerned Seminarian #17
    we also say that you are still a pastor once you leave your last call (assuming it is not because the call is rescinded [for a Lutheran reason, which would mean removal from the LCMS roster***]), and as such you can still administer the sacraments and preach as a “substitute” pastor.

    ***[It’s an indication of the sad state of affairs in Missouri, that Pastors can be forced to resign under threat of rescension, or have their calls rescinded if they ask for a Lutheran reason for the request to resign. They remain on the clergy roster, which is silent admission that the removal (by any label) was improper and they do pulpit supply.

  23. “PPPadre,” I apologize for not directly answering your question in my earlier post. Since the Office of the Public Ministry is filled by a valid call from a local congregation to which that call is limited, then I would answer “No,” that a gathering of local congregations in the human institution of a synod CANNOT fill the Office of the Public Ministry because such a “grouping” doesn’t have the Scriptural authority to do so. Such a humanly-devised “grouping” can only create and fill humanly-devised, extra-congregational offices, since a synod is an extra-congregational–and thus humanly-devised–gathering. Local congregations “pooling together” CANNOT fill a divinely-insituted CONGREGATIONAL Office because they are acting in an EXTRA-CONGREGATIONAL capacity.

    The danger in looking for Scriptural examples of extra-congregational “synodical” ministries which could be considered the fulfilling of the Office of the Public Ministry is that such ministries no longer exist by divine authority–they ceased to exist–and therefore cannot be Scriptural examples for “ministries” to be considered the fulfilling of the congregational Office of the Public Ministry today. The Office of the “Seventy” or “Seventy-Two” called by Christ no longer exists, the Office of Apostle no longer exists, the Office of Prophet no longer exists; from the list given in Eph. 4:11 ONLY “pastors and teachers”–ONE office, when compared to the rest of the list, which lacks a similar use of the word “and,” a LOCAL, divinely-instituted office (Acts 14:23, 20:17 & 28, Titus 1:5, 1 Peter 5:1-2) office, still exists. Those who attempt to use the extra-congregational offices mentioned in Scripture as the basis for considering extra-congregational offices the fulfilling of the Office of the Public Ministry today are analogous to the heterodox Pentecostals and charismatics in trying “revive” gifts of the Holy Spirit that ceased in the early Church in fulfillment of the Apostle Paul’s divinely-inspired prophecy in 1 Cor. 13:8: “…whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge [a divinely-given “word of knowledge,” cf. 1 Cor. 12:8,] it shall vanish away.” Some of these heterodox groups have also tried to revive the Office of Apostle–my late Pentecostal pastor brother-in-law was considered to be an “Apostle” by his congregation!

    We do have in the New Testament the example of a local congregation being used of God in the fulfillment of the Apostles’ direct commission by Christ in Acts 1:8. God commissioned Barnabas and Paul for their extra-congregational, unique Office of Apostle through the congregation in Antioch, recorded in Acts 13:1-3. In Acts 18:27, Apollos was assisted by the local congregation in Ephesus when he was “disposed” [led by the Holy Spirit?] to continue the Apostolic ministry of Paul in Achaia; Paul listed Apollos with himself and Peter, both Apostles, in being used as “party leaders” by factions in the Corinthian congregation in 1 Cor. 1:12, along with “Christ” Himself. But these extra-congregational Apostolic ministries no longer exist and cannot be used as examples for the fulfilling of the Office of the Public Ministry today.

  24. @Warren Malach #23

    I just want to make sure that I have this correct…

    The logical conclusion of your assertion is that Missouri has always acted contrary to the “Brief Statement” because dual (or three-point, or four-point) parishes have placed men into a pseudo-pastoral human office when they, as a grouping of congregations, extend a call to someone to preach and administer the Sacraments among them and refer to him as “Pastor.”

    If this is not the logical conclusion one can draw from your statements, please show where I have misunderstood you.

  25. “PPPadre,” I figured that I was being led into some kind of a trap by the way in which you were wording your questions, but if that’s the best you can come up with, it was hardly worth the effort!

    Was Dr. C.F.W. Walther called to be a half-time-ONLY or one-third-time-ONLY pastor of the associated congregations in St. Louis, or was he called to be THE pastor of the associated congregations, such that, with or without assistant pastors, HE was responsible for the spiritual care of ALL congregational members, and not of merely this congregation now and another congregation at some other time, especially in the case of emergencies? Is the pastor of a two- or three-point association of congregations today called to be a half-time-only or one-third-time-only pastor, or is he called to be THE pastor of the associated congregations, responsible for the care of ALL members at ALL times, especially in the case of emergencies? Because such associations function as ONE congregation in the calling of ONE pastor, the situation would be covered by Titus 1:5, where the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy, who functioned under Paul’s extra-congregational Apostolic ministry in Crete, to “…ordain elders IN EVERY CITY, as I had appointed thee.” “PPPadre,” were there only ONE congregation per city in Crete at this time each served by ONE pastor, or were there possibly MORE than one congregation in some of the cities, served by several or possibly only by ONE pastor? Is it possible that some of the congregations in Crete had MORE than ONE pastor serving them, or that ONE pastor served MORE than ONE congregation? The inspired Words of the Apostle Paul cover a number of different potential situations.

    You’ve heard the saying, I’m sure, that “The exception proves the rule.” If you are simply trying to find an example which proves the EMERGENCY NEED for small, poor congregations to function as ONE congregation in the calling of ONE pastor to serve ALL of their members BECAUSE of their small size and poverty, is your example anything more than an exceptional situation and NOT what either the congregations, the districts, or the synod would desire and which would NOT otherwise occur EXCEPT for such an EMERGENCY situation created by small size and poverty?

    Let’s review your assertions: (1) “Missouri” has NOT always acted contrary to the Brief Statement, because #31 “Of the Public Ministry” in speaking of “the office by which the Word of God is preached and the Sacraments are administered by order and in the name of a Christian congregation” is NOT speaking of some humanly-devised, extra-congregational office such as that of a district/synodical official or a college/seminary professor, but of the Scriptural Office of the Public Ministry, the local congregational pastorate by which “the Word of God is preached and the Sacraments are administered.” District/synodical officials are chosen to be district/synodical administrators, and college/seminary professors are chosen to be teachers in institutions of higher learning, neither of which situation being carried out “by order and in the name of a Christian congregation,” but rather by order and in the name of a district/synod and its educational institutions. (2) The pastor of an association of congregations which have functioned as ONE congregation in the calling of ONE pastor have NOT filled a “pseudo-pastoral human office” but rather the ONE divinely-insituted Office of the Public Ministry, the local congregational pastorate, by which “the Word of God is preached and the Sacraments are administered,” as per the Brief Statement #31.

    I’m sorry, “PPPadre,” but in your zeal to find an exception in order to disprove what I have written, you left your “logic” behind.

  26. @Warren Malach #25

    I’m sorry, Mr. Malach, if you think that my questions are illogical. I’m just trying to wrap my brain around what you are posting here. If we are not allowed to ask questions to clarify things, I’ll stop.

    If, however, this is a forum for discussion, I would like to point out that the statement –

    Comment #23 :
    Local congregations “pooling together” CANNOT fill a divinely-insituted CONGREGATIONAL Office because they are acting in an EXTRA-CONGREGATIONAL capacity.

    doesn’t easily lend itself to the interpretation of

    Comment #25 :
    such associations function as ONE congregation

    You have asserted (in Comment #7) that Chaplain Wohlrabe was not a pastor when he was called to preach the Word of God and administer the Sacraments “by order and in the name of“the 2600+ congregations which comprise the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, even though in doing so, these 2600+ congregations are pooling together and functioning as one congregation for the purpose of tending to the spiritual needs of their members in the military – no single congregation having sufficient military membership to warrant the calling of an assistant/associate pastor dedicated to that sole purpose. It does not follow in my mind how multi-point parishes can pool together to call a Pastor to serve them full time, but the congregations that comprise the Synod cannot pool together to call a Pastor to serve their members stationed in the military.

    I will agree with you that the offices of Synodical/District President and Seminary Professor are, eo ipso, not the Office of the Public Ministry. But I think your (over) emphasis on a single local congregation is too narrow of an ecclesiology and thus puts limits on what the Synod has historically taught and on what Scripture teaches.

  27. @T Lung #21

    I think this is the kind of thinking which Pres. Harrison was trying to guard against in his letter to the DPs explaining why he accepted this call. We need administrators. In fact, any large organization needs to have people working to make sure everything runs smoothly. The Synod has a full-time president and a full-time vice president because being in charge of the LCMS is a full-time job. Back in Walther’s day, the Synod was much smaller than it is now, so the Synod President’s job only involved visitation (hence his entire budget was for travel expenses and postage).

    It’s not that the Synod needs to retain the same amount of bureaucracy it currently has; far from it. But I think that for the Synod to be able to continue to carry out Word and Sacrament ministry on the synodical, national, and international levels, someone’s gotta be running things in the Purple Palace!

  28. “PPPadre,” small, impoverished congregations which form an association ONLY for the purpose of calling ONE pastor to serve MORE than one congregation are NOT functioning as an “extra-congregational entity” such as a church body or synod, they are functioning as ONE congregation to fill the Office of the Public Ministry with ONE pastor. It would be QUITE a different matter if they were functioning as member congregations of a synod in commissioning a military chaplain to serve members of the synod elsewhere.

  29. “PPPadre,” when 2 or three congregations associate to call ONE pastor, are they functioning as a separate, distinct synod, as a separate, distinct churchbody, to commission people for extra-congregational offices? NO, they are NOT! They are calling a pastor to serve EACH congregation as EACH congregation’s ONE pastor, something which they manifestly CANNOT do on their own, or they would NOT be doing do so! PLEASE, give me an example of more than one congregation which COULD afford to support their own pastor associating with other congregations to call ONE pastor! I am NOT claiming that Scripture forbids such a thing; obviously, Scripture is silent on what several, nearby congregations may do in order to fill the divinely-instituted Office of the Public Ministry, but such associated congregations do NOT thereby become a separate, distinct synod or church body by doing so, since they are filling the Office of the Public Ministry which is the local congregational pastorate, and NOT humanly-devised, extra congregational offices.

    Where in Scripture do we see a church body or synod, as opposed to congregations which cooperated in sending offerings to the poor under the direction of the extra-congregational, unique ministry of an Apostle? The “Council of Jerusalem” in Acts 15 was a congregational meeting of the “mother” congregation in Jerusalem which at least several of the Apostles attended or served, to which delegates from the congregation in Antioch were sent for guidance regarding the demands of the “Judaizers.” The decisions of the “Council in Jerusalem” were not decisions of ONLY the Apostles themselves, but deliberated upon by “the apostles AND ELDERS, WITH THE WHOLE CHURCH,” (vs. 22; cf. 16:4: “they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles AND ELDERS which were at Jerusalem.” The Apostolic, and therefore extra-congregational, authority of the Apostles was something OTHER than the local congregational pastorate (cf. Eph. 4:11: “apostles…prophets…evangelists…pastors and teachers,”)–the “elders” of Acts 15:22–and the Office of Apostle ceased, along with the other extra-congregational offices of the “Seventy” or “Seventy-Two,” prophets, and evangelists such as Philip (and possibly Apollos?)

    Chaplains and missionaries are humanly-devised, extra-congregational offices, which the humanly-devised “grouping” of a synod or church body are FREE to create and fill, as “Carl Vehse” has pointed out that the Missouri Synod did, functioning as a church body. Congregations are also FREE to create and fill such humanly-devised offices as will help them carry out their congregational mission and ministry. NEITHER of these situations, however, involve the filling of the divinely-instituted Office of the Public Ministry which is the local congregational pastorate. A “second pastor” is obviously a PASTOR, someone fulfilling the Office of the Public Ministry in a local congregation.

    With reference to the post of “Concerned Seminarian,” YES, church bodies “NEED administrators,” and, with reference to the LCMS, “someone’s GOTTA be running things in the Purple Palace!” Larger bodies of ANY kind, secular OR ecclesiastical, need more administration. However, the specific problem in the modern LCMS which I have been trying to address in my posts is that, in order to be faithful to Scripture as the “old Missouri Synod” was in its day, the modern LCMS needs to CLEARLY and CAREFULLY DISTINGUISH between, on the one hand, what pertains to the ONE divinely-instituted Office of the Public Ministry which is ONLY the local congregational pastorate and which ONLY divinely-instituted congregations can fill through a divine call, and, on the other hand, what pertains to the humanly-instituted, extra congregational offices which the human-devised entity known as the “synod” can create and fill.

  30. @Warren Malach #31

    I am having difficulty reconciling these two statements:

    @ Warren Malach #31 :
    Chaplains and missionaries are humanly-devised, extra-congregational offices, which the humanly-devised “grouping” of a synod or church body are FREE to create and fill, as “Carl Vehse” has pointed out that the Missouri Synod did, functioning as a church body.

    @ Carl Vehse 19 :
    … [A]bout the calling of a pastor (i.e., a man authorized according to AC.XIV by a divine call to publicly preach the Word and administer the Sacraments to a congregation) … A group of congregations can (and have) called a man to a mission field and to serve as pastor to those Christians gathered in that mission until they organize into a congregation and then call their pastor.

    You assert that missionaries do not hold the divinely instituted Office of the Public Ministry but a humanly-devised, extra-congregational office, which humanly devised groupings of congregations are free to fill. To support your case, you cite “Carl,” who says that missionaries working among those who are not yet organized into a congregation do hold the divinely instituted Office of Public Ministry in accord with AC XIV. Can a missionary hold the divinely instituted Office of the Public Ministry or not?

    Another thing which confuses me: in one comment you assert

    @ Warren Malach #29 :
    [S]mall, impoverished congregations which form an association ONLY for the purpose of calling ONE pastor to serve MORE than one congregation are NOT functioning as an “extra-congregational entity” such as a church body or synod, they are functioning as ONE congregation to fill the Office of the Public Ministry with ONE pastor….

    but in your last comment, you state

    @ Warren Malach #31 :
    [W]hen 2 or three congregations associate to call ONE pastor, … [t]hey are calling a pastor to serve EACH congregation as EACH congregation’s ONE pastor, something which they manifestly CANNOT do on their own, or they would NOT be doing do so!

    So are they functioning as a single congregation calling a single man to serve that single congregation gathering in many places (as you state in comment #29) or are they each separately calling the same man to occupy each congregation’s pastoral office simultaneously (as stated in comment #31)?

    @ Warren Malach #31 :
    PLEASE, give me an example of more than one congregation which COULD afford to support their own pastor associating with other congregations to call ONE pastor!

    That would have been the two congregations just to the south of me. The one was a smaller congregation where things were a bit financially tight, but they could still afford a pastor. The other was a little bit larger, but with the school and having to pay teachers, they were looking for a way to help ease the financial burden. They called a single pastor for a while as a dual parish. (Then the smaller congregation decided that they could ease up the financial burden a little more if they became a preaching station instead of a dual parish, but continued contracting with the same congregation’s pastor for services. That agreement ended when the man serving as pastor in the larger congregation had health problems and was physically unable to serve both congregations.)

    I have visited numerous other dual parishes that claim to not be able to afford a pastor on their own, but their stewardship is atrocious! They could easily afford their own pastor, but choose not to rock the boat of tradition, continue the dual parish agreements and give so that 90-95% of the budget is covered each year through regular contributions until the “year-end miracle” donation keeps the books in the black. “How can we afford to call a pastor on our own, we barely make budget as it is!?!”

  31. “PPPadre,” we are obviously dealing with different understandings of such basic concepts in the doctrine of the Church & Ministry as “congregation” and “synod” and “pastor.” As I have tried to explain my position, you have been parsing the ways in which I have rephrased what I was trying to explain. I really don’t see any reason to continue the discussion because we really aren’t communicating “on the same page.” I believe that to be the case because we are approaching the subject from two very different positions because of the profound changes in doctrine and practice which entered the LCMS beginning in the 1940s. If you wish to persist in advancing what even you must admit are exceptional situations to try to refute the doctrine and practice of the Missouri Synod until the constitutional amendment of 1962 relative to such things as multi-point congregations served by one pastor, be my guest. You are, apprently, a pastor in, and satisfied with, the doctrine and practice of the “modern” LCMS. I graduated from CTSFW in 1982, when the late Dr. Robert Preus was president and the seminary was trying to uphold a “conservative” position, and it was already obvious to me then that the “modern LCMS” had significantly departed from the doctrine and practice of “old Missouri,” especially in the doctrine and practice of Church & Ministry, particularly regarding fellowship, the role of women in the Church, and the Office of the Public Ministry. It took me 25 years on the LCMS clergy roster to finally realize that the very “conservatives” with whom I had been actively associating in “conservative” LCMS organizations were, in fact, more responsible for the deterioration of the synod’s doctrine and practice over the decades than any “liberals,” because of the “conservatives'” heterodox doctrine and practice of fellowship (i.e, inability to apply Rom. 16:17 to the synod even after decades of admonition for heterodoxy, as taught in the Brief Statement #28 & 29,) and their complicity in turning the LCMS into a secular political party to be eternally fought over by “conservatives” and “liberals,” as it has been since the 1960s. Almost 4 years ago, I finally applied Rom. 16:17 to the LCMS because of its heterodoxy and left it to join a congregation which belongs to the “old Missouri” Concordia Lutheran Conference. It is the “old Missouri” doctrine of Church & Ministry, which I believe to be Scriptural and therefore orthodox, which I have been trying to enunciate in this forum, to compare it with the doctrine and practice of the “modern LCMS.” Because the modern LCMS does not uphold the “old” Missouri Synod’s orthodox doctrine and practice, I finally had to leave it. It is my hope and prayer that, under the presidency of Matthew Harrison, the synod may finally return to the orthodox doctrine and practice which the synod upheld until the 1940s, but until that happens, I must be separated from it according to Scriptural admonition: Amos 3:3, Matt.28:20a, 1 Cor. 1:10, Rom. 16:17.

  32. @Warren Malach #33

    I’m sorry that you feel that the discussion has been futile. It has been very enlightening to me.

    I would agree that we are not on the same page on Church and Ministry. I think our difference is not in our understanding of “congregation” or “synod” or “pastor,” but something much more fundamental than that: CHURCH. As I stated before at comment 27, I think we are operating from different ecclesiologies.

    I would glean from our conversation that the definition of Church with which you are operating is “the local congregation.”

    The definition of Church under which I have been writing is “the gathering of saints in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.”

    If you wish to persist in advancing what even you must admit are exceptional situations to try to refute the doctrine and practice of the Missouri Synod until the constitutional amendment of 1962 relative to such things as multi-point congregations served by one pastor, be my guest.

    I do not admit that the situations I have been citing are exceptions, as one does not have to make exception to the definition of the Church (AC VII) or Ministry (AC V). I will readily admit that the application of these definitions is most commonly seen in the local congregation. Multi-point parishes and missionaries (under which I include chaplains) are much less common, to be sure, but are included within the ecclesiology of AC VII and the doctrine of the Ministry of AC V and not exceptions to it.

    When one takes as the marks of the Church God’s Word and His Sacraments (Matthew 18:20), one does not have to make “an exception” for multi-point parishes or missionaries. If one includes in his/her ecclesiology a particular polity (as Rome does with her papistic/episcopal polity, as others do with their consistorial polity, and as others do with their congregational polity), then one finds exceptions that must be made all over the place for many and various things. God does not include polity in His definition of Church, neither should we. Polity is quite useful, to be sure, that things may be done in good order, but polity is not God-breathed.

    Since this is apparently the end of our conversation, I pray that all be well with you, and that God would continue to enlighten us and all His saints by the power of His Holy Spirit to the truth of His Word, that our sinful limitations would not hide what God has revealed nor proclaim as unhidden what God has not revealed. Pax in Nomine Jesu. Amen.

  33. “PPPadre,” you have demonstrated the point I made at the beginning of my posts, that the “modern LCMS” has adoped the “new” WELS doctrine of Church & Ministry without admiting it. “Old” Missouri taught from Scriptural example that the only divinely-instituted form of the Visible Church was the local congregation and that the only divinely-instituted form of the Office of the Public Ministry was the local congregational pastorate. This was the consistent teaching of Walther, Pieper, AL Graebner, JT Mueller, EWA Koehler, and of the synod in its public documents when it was still an orthodox church body, consistently derived from Scripture. The Lutheran Confessions follow Scripture and must be interpreted according to Scripture, since the Confessions are the norma normata and not the norma normans. It has served the purpose of those who have changed the doctrine and practice of the “old” Missouri Synod to appeal to the practice of the Lutheran churches in Europe where the state “Lutheran” churches have remained under the control of the civil government since the Reformation, rather than stay with the nuda Verba of Scripture as Walther did in his works on Church & Ministry, especially Die Rechte Gestalt, and say that they are being “confessional.”

    Once again, permit me to say that I commend President Harrison for his willingness to accept a call to serve as an assistant pastor of a local congregation and thereby return to the Scriptural model of “old Missouri” in upholding the local congregational pastorate as the one divinely-instituted form of the Office of the Public Ministry. I pray that such a decision evidences a willingness to work to return the LCMS to the Scriptural doctrine and practice which it upheld when it was a truly orthodox Church Body, as confessed in the Brief Statement of 1932.

  34. I only got through about half of these comments tonight, gentlemen, but it is both enlightening and inspiring to read your thoughts, and those of our forefathers, about the Office of the Ministry. While to some it might seem as if this is arguing about trivialities, the issue of how the visible church and the pastoral ministry are defined and practiced is a matter of fidelity to God’s Word, therefore a matter of great importance. The actions of the Holy Ghost, Village Lutheran-Ladue and President Harrison have been a blessing to our Synod to encourage all of us to think about what it means to be a “pastor” in the LCMS and in Christ’s Church.

  35. In the Brief Statement #44 “Of Open Questions,” the orthodox Missouri Synod of 1932 taught that the doctrine of the Church and the Ministry was “not to be included in the number of open questions,” along with the doctrines of Sunday, of Chiliasm, and of the Antichrist, “these doctrines being clearly defined in Scripture.” The orthodox Missouri Synod of the Brief Statement rejected the “new” WELS doctrine of the Church and the Ministry which denied that the local congregation was the only divinely-instituted form of the Visible Church, and that the local congregational pastorate was the only divinely-instituted form of the Office of the Public Ministry, and therefore also the “WELSian” doctrine of the Church and the Ministry now being taught by the “modern” LCMS. Because I believe that the “old Missouri” position is fully Scriptural and therefore orthodox–and not having heard any SCRIPTURAL evidence being introduced in this current discussion contrary to that Scriptural position, but only an attempt to appeal to the Lutheran Confessions rather than to Scripture, when the Confessions MUST be interpreted ACCORDING to Scripture in order to be confessionally Lutheran–I must consider the “new” WELS doctrine of the Church and the Ministry, as well as the “WELSian” doctrine of the Church and the Ministry now being taught by the “modern” LCMS, to be heterodox and therefore divisive of fellowship, according to Amos 3:3, Matt. 28:20a, 1 Cor. 1:10, and Rom. 16:17. Along with the heterodoxy of the “modern” LCMS position on fellowship and the role of women in the Church, the heterodoxy of the “modern” LCMS doctrine of the Church and the Ministry finally forced me to apply Rom. 16:17 to the LCMS almost 4 years ago, after 30 years in the synod and 25 on the clergy roster. I continue to pray that the synod will be restored to the orthodoxy which it once held, as confessed in the Brief Statement, and that President Harrison will be used of God to assist in that process.

  36. Warren Malach :
    and not having heard any SCRIPTURAL evidence being introduced in this current discussion contrary to that Scriptural position,

    Nearly every Scriptural citation you have given I would cite as support of the position I hold. For example, you cite in Comment #10 that Matthew 18:20 is a description of the local congregation. I cited that same Scripture in Comment #34. Could you please describe for me the Scriptural passages which indicate that the two or three who are gathered must be from the same local congregation?

    What defines “local congregation?” Is it those who are “come together” (synagmenoi – Mt. 18:20, Versammlung/congregatio – AC VII) in Christ’s Name around Word and Sacrament, or is it those who gather around Word, Sacrament, and a Congregational Charter/Constitution?

    Walther’s argument was with those who claimed that the local congregation was less than the divinely-instuted Church, and I join him and the Brief Statement in rejecting that error.

    But can one really hold from Scripture that when congregations congregate, they are no longer a congregation? The Brief Statement doesn’t teach that:

    24. We believe that there is one holy Christian Church on earth, the Head of which is Christ and which is gathered, preserved, and governed by Christ through the Gospel…

    27. Local Churches or Local Congregations. — Holy Scripture, however, does not speak merely of the one Church, which embraces the believers of all places, as in Matt. 16:18; John 10:16, but also of churches in the plural, that is, of local churches, as in 1 Cor. 16:19; 1:2; Acts 8:1: the Churches of Asia, the church of God in Corinth, the church in Jerusalem. But this does not mean that there are two kinds of churches, for the local churches also, in as far as they are churches, consist solely of believers, as we see clearly from the addresses of the epistles to local churches; for example, “unto the church which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified, in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,” 1 Cor. 1:2, Rom. 1:7, etc….

    The Brief Statement itself contradicts your assertion that the Church is ONLY local congregations, since the Church “embraces the believers of all places.”

    Another doctrinal resolution of “Old Missouri” also contradicts this assertion of yours. Thesis One on the Church of Kirche und Amt clearly states (emphasis mine)

    The Church, in the proper sense of the term, is the communion of saints, that is, the sum total of all those who have been called by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel from out of the lost and condemned human race, who truly believe in Christ, and who have been sanctified by this faith and incorporated into Christ.

    I’ve said it before, and I will say it again:

    @ PPPadre #27 :
    I think your (over) emphasis on a single local congregation is too narrow of an ecclesiology and thus puts limits on what the Synod has historically taught and on what Scripture teaches.

    “Ordinarily”… “Typically”… “Usually”… “Primarily”… These are all adverbs that could be applied to your assertions and still be in accord Scriptural position of the LCMS as it has been historically expressed in the “Brief Statement” as well as Kirche und Amt. I would even go further and say that one or all of those adverbs ought to be applied to your statement in order to accurately convey the historical understanding of the LCMS of the teaching of Scripture in this matter. But your insistence on the use of “only” places your position outside of that historical expression of the “Brief Statement” and Kirche und Amt.

    It is probably a good thing that you left the LCMS, since you so firmly hold a position contrary to that which she has historically taught.

  37. I’m sorry, “PPPadre,” but in your citations you apparently cannot distinguish between the Invisible Church and the Visible Church, of which the only divinely-instituted form is the local congregation according to Scripture. The orthodox Missouri Synod understood Matt. 18:20 to refer to the local congregation within the immediate context of the Steps of Admonition in church discipline, Matt. 18:15-20, as confirmed by the reference to the congregational process of church discipline in 1 Cor. 5:4-5. Your position reflects the “WELSian” position of the “modern” LCMS in rejecting the Scriptural position of the orthodox Missouri Synod and its teachers and trying to make the local congregation only one of several “groupings” of the Visible Church which might possess the Keys. By that logic, any casual gathering of Christians “in Jesus’ Name,” or any group within a local congregation or a church body, is the same as a local congregation.

    If you are going to take the “modern” LCMS position on Church & Ministry, you must repudiate the clear, Scriptural teaching on the subject of Francis Pieper in his CHRISTIAN DOGMATICS, AL Graebner in his OUTLINES OF DOCTRINAL Theology, JT Mueller in his CHRISTIAN DOGMATICS, and EWA Koehler in his SUMMARY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, as well as that of the orthodox Missouri Synod in its public position that the only divinely-instituted form of the Visible Church is the local congregation and the only divinely-instituted form of the Office of the Public Ministry is the local congregational pastorate. They followed Walther in teaching these things from Scripture, and the Brief Statement of 1932 has to be understood in light of their clear, Scriptural exegesis. You are attempting to “read into” Walther and the Brief Statement support for the position of the “modern” LCMS, when the contrary position of the orthodox Missouri Synod is easily demonstrated by the teachings of the orthodox theologians who followed Walther and prepared the final version of the Brief Statement. As I have asserted before, the “modern” LCMS has adopted the “new” WELS doctrine of Church & Ministry without the honesty and integrity to admit that it has done so, and has even gone so far as to “adopt” Walther’s KIRCHE UND AMT in a recent synodical convention without publicly admitting how the modern synod departs in its doctrine and practice of Church & Ministry from the Scriptural teaching of Walther and the orthodox Missouri Synod teachers who followed him. You do not reflect that orthodox teaching, “PPPadre” along with the rest of the “modern” LCMS. I must also assume by your membership in the LCMS that you agree with the synod’s heterodoxy on fellowship (the toleration of unionism: joint work or worship including prayer fellowship without doctrinal agreement, including “cooperation in externals,”) and with the synod’s heterodoxy on the role of women in the Church (woman suffrage and incrementally-increasing office-holding,) and therefore, on the basis of the Scriptural citations previously given about the requirement for full agreement in doctrine and practice drawn solely from Scripture for fellowship, and in agreement with the Brief Statement #28 & 29, I have to apply Rom. 16:17 to you and the rest of your synod, while continuing to pray for the “modern” LCMS to return to its previous orthodoxy. Yes, it WAS a “good thing” that I left the LCMS, because I left a heterodox church body in order to obey Scripture and the Brief Statement, #28 & 29!

  38. @Warren Malach #39

    I am able to distinguish between the Visible Church and the Invisible Church just fine, when such distinction is called for. All of the references I made above were of the Invisible Church, since Pieper himself acknowledges that “When we speak of a Christian congregation, or local church, we always mean only the Christians or believers in the visible communion. The congregations, too, consist only of believers.”

    The distinction you seem to be incapable of is the distinction between the Universal Church and the Particular Church. Again, citing Pieper – “[T]he Church Universal consists of all the local churches plus those believers who are prevented by circumstances from joining some local church.”

    “A congregation is the assembly of believers who congregate about Word and Sacrament at a particular place,” says Pieper. But what is that place? Is it a particular building? Is it a given geographic area? How large or small does that geographic area need to be before it is no longer considered a “particular” place?

    Congregations congregating are a congregation. Congregations are not required, by divine institution, to congregate with other congregations in order to be a congregation, but congregations congregating are a congregation.

    (By the way, I do not consider the 1850s, when Kirche und Amt was adopted by the Synod as a doctrinal statement, to be “recent.”)

    I am not going to air a long laundry list of errors held by those sinful men whom God has gathered into His Church. The Church is not infallible, only the God who has called her. There are those within the Synod who are in error, and we continue to fraternal admonish and call to repentance.

    And for someone who said the conversation was over three days ago, you certainly have posted quite a bit.

  39. “PPPadre,” are you ignorant of the fact that the 2001 LCMS synodical convention, in adopting 7-17A “To Affirm Synod’s Official Position on Church and Ministry” stated that it was accepting’s Walther’s “Church and Ministry” “…as the definitive statement under Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions of the Synod’s understanding of Church and Ministry,” even though the synod’s doctrine and practice of Church & Ministry had been contrary to Walther’s position since the synodical constitutional amendment of 1962? You should read your “recent” synodical history to avoid such egregious errors. It is to correct such errors on your part that I must continue to post in this thread of this forum.

    Please show me where the phrase “particular church” is used in the Brief Statement “Of the Church #24-30, which you have been quoting. Obviously the phrase “particular church” refers to the Visible Church, and depending upon the context could refer to a divinely-insituted local congregation or a humanly-insituted “grouping” such as a synod or “church-body,” both being within the category of the “Visible Church,” or, as is stated in #26, “external church communions.”

    Please explain what you mean by the sentence “Congregations congregating are a congregation.” Are you referring to the specific case of several small congregations functioning as one congregation in the calling of one pastor, as previously discussed, or of a “church-body” or synod made up of congregations, to claim that a synod is a divinely-instituted form of the Visible Church along with the divinely-instituted local congregation? Your sentence is unclear.

    Since the “modern” LCMS has been heterodox on the doctrine and practice of fellowship since the 1940s, on Church & Ministry since 1962, and on the role of women in the Church since 1969, the time for “fraternal” admonition rather than the application of Rom. 16:17 to the synod as per the Brief Statement #28 & 29 is long past. That you are unwilling to recognize this demonstrates that you hold the “modern” LCMS’ heterodox doctrine and practice of fellowship, which refuses to recognize that the Scriptural doctrine of fellowship involves the application of Rom. 16:17 to heterodox individuals and the congregations and church bodies which tolerate them. It is the failure of the “modern” LCMS to uphold the Scriptural doctrine of fellowship since the 1940s which opened the synod to other heterodoxy, including the false doctrine of Scripture taught by the CSL “faculty majority” in the 1960s and 1970s, the results of which in the “modern” synod’s heterodox doctrine and practice of Church & Ministry and of the role of women in the Church are, along with the heterodox doctrine and practice of fellowship, sadly still present in the synod, and the synod must therefore be “marked and avoided” as per Rom. 16:17 because of that heterodoxy.

    As long as you continue to publicly affirm the errors of the “modern” LCMS, I believe it to be my duty to refute you from Scripture and the doctrine and practice of the orthodox Missouri Synod which is based upon that Scripture. Your “modern” LCMS is the latest version of the General Council of a century and more ago, which was a “conservative” church body rather than a truly orthodox one as with the Missouri Synod of the Brief Statement. You apparently are satisifed to be “merely conservative” rather than truly orthodox. “Conservative,” being a relative term, means one thing in one era and another thing in another era; what was considered “liberal” in the LCMS of the 1940s is considered “conservative” today. True orthodoxy, being faithful to Scripture, doesn’t change when secular society changes and the church bodies which follow it also change, as with the “modern” LCMS position on fellowship and the role of women in the Church.

  40. @Warren Malach #41

    1. You stated that the Synod recently “adopt[ed]” Kirche und Amt. An affirmation is not an adoption. The theses were adopted in the mid 19th century, which I correctly pointed out is not recent. They have been affirmed many times since then, some affirmations more recent than others. But an affirmation is not an adoption.

    2. The phrase “Particular Church” or ecclesia particularis is a phrase used by Pieper, not specifically the Brief Statement. (You were the one who had invoked Pieper into the argument. I was merely following your lead.) “When we speak of a Christian congregation or a local church, we always mean only the Christians or believers in the visible communion. The congregations, too, consist only of believers.” (Dogmatics, Vol. III, pp. 419f.) This means that the ecclesia particularis, like the ecclesia universalis, is invisible “because the constitutive factor of the Church, faith in the heart, is invisible for men and known only to God (I Kings 8:39; Acts 1:24).” (ibid., p. 408)

    3. “Congregations congregating are a congregation” – I would have thought that it was plain enough… Believers gathered in faith around the marks of the Church are believers gathered in faith around the marks of the Church, even when they used to gather in faith around the marks of the Church in separate groupings and probably will gather in faith around the marks of the Church in separate groupings in the future.

    4. Does your application of Romans 16:17 include your interactions on blogs? Because you have been here for quite a while and it is quite clear that we do not believe, teach and confess the same. We view the same texts (both Scripture, the Confessions, the history and doctrinal statements of the LCMS, and even Pieper’s Dogmatics) as each supportive of our own position. Neither of us is going to acquiesce to the other’s logic (or lack there of). Why don’t we concede an impasse? That way I can go on enjoying the company of my fellow bloggers on this site who do not “create obstacles contrary to the doctrine [I] have been taught,” and you can return to your conference of half a dozen or so congregations who do not “create obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have been taught.”

  41. “PPPadre,” (1) Do you confess your ignorance of the 2001 LCMS convention action regarding Walther’s CHURCH AND MINISTRY and how it contradicts the teaching of Walther, as with the Pharisees in the Gospels paying “lip service” to the Old Testament prophets but repudiating their teachings in practice, as Christ condemned them for doing?

    (2 & 3) Are you trying to claim that ANY gathering of Christians is as divinely-instituted as the local congregation, or, that NO gathering of Christians is divinely instituted at all, as taught by the WELS and the “modern” “WELSian” LCMS, or do you believe that only the local congregation is the divinely-instituted form of the Visible Church, as taught by the orthodox Missouri Synod and its teachers?

    (4) Are you ignorant of what unionism is, that it is joint work or worship without doctrinal agreement, and NOT “earnestly contend[ing] for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” (Jude 3) as when an orthodox Christian contends with a heterodox Christian like yourself in a public place such as an online forum such as this? Will YOU engage in joint work or worship, including prayer fellowship, with others without doctrinal agreement? Do you believe that the “modern” LCMS teaches and practices correctly on fellowship, on Church & Ministry, and on the role of women in the Church (woman suffrage and office-holding)? Do you beieve that there is ANY limit to the process of admonishment of a heterodox church body, and the application of Rom. 16:17 to it as taught in the Brief Statement #28 & 29? Do you believe that this forum should not permit posts which demonstrate how the “modern” LCMS has departed from the doctrine and practice of the orthodox Missouri Synod, while the “modern” LCMS, like the Pharisees in the Gospels, still pays lip-service to the orthodox Missouri Synod and its teachers? Do you participate in a forum such as this as a “mutual admiration society” in which all posters should demonstrate their “loyalty” to a humanly-devised institution such as the LCMS, rather than to God and His Word, and NEVER have to hear “a discouraging word” about their synod? Can you TOLERATE Scriptural criticism of the “modern” LCMS? Do you despise small church bodies because of their size, when compared to the size of the LCMS?

    Since what I have posted has not been disproved from Scripture nor from the writings of the orthodox Missouri Synod, I stand by what I have posted, including my commendation of President Harrison for accepting the call to be an assistant pastor of a local congregation and thus be in the Office of the Public Ministry as taught in Scripture and by the orthodox Missouri Synod, and my prayers that this event will be a step towards the LCMS returning to the true orthodoxy which the old Missouri Synod upheld. Thus far, “PPPadre,” your own posts have demonstrated to me yet again that it is the “conservatives” in the “modern” LCMS who are and have been the REAL enemies of true orthodoxy in the synod, through their slavish “institutional loyalty” to their man-made synod and their acquiescence to the heterodoxy which is taught and tolerated by the “modern” LCMS and their employment of secular political action, contrary to the Scriptural doctrine of fellowship, as confessed in the Brief Statement 28 & 29.

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