The Hat Makes the Man

Another great post from Stand Firm by Scott Diekmann:


On the October 14th Issues, Etc. Comment Line, a listener phoned in with show suggestions (35:20 into the clip below), one of which was “How can the LCMS appoint kingdom of the left administrators, give them kingdom of the left job titles, like ‘District President’ or ‘Synodical President,’ and give them kingdom of the left job descriptions, and then be surprised when they utilize the most recent kingdom of the left methodologies to come to conclusions that make absolutely no sense in the kingdom of the right.”

Pastor Wilken’s response has a ring of truth to it:
…The words we choose mean things. They actually shape what happens. You know if we want Bishops, if we want ecclesiastical supervisors, and that supervisor simply means “Bishop,” that’s what the word Bishop means, it means overseer, a shepherd. If we want Bishops, then let’s have Bishops. If we want presidents, administrators, bureaucrats, functionaries, cogs in the wheel of a bureaucracy, synodocrats, then let’s be prepared to live with the consequences. Now, we can go one of two ways, and I think there’s actually wisdom in going one rather than the other way. Everybody’s for Bishops in the church until it comes to the question of who should be the Bishop. I generally operate on the theory that guys who favor Bishops, I mean full-blown Bishops in the church do so because they think that it is they who will be crowned with the miter when all is said and done. When they talk about “I think we ought to have Bishops in the church” what they’re really saying is “I should be Bishop in the church.” Honestly. But it’s not, we cannot create a hybrid between this ecclesiastical office and this bureaucratic office. We can’t create it. We tried, and what has always in every case won – you can’t serve two masters. What has always in every case won is the bureaucrat. The bureaucrat kills the Bishop, if we tried to make one man embody both offices. It, in the best of men, in the most sincere of men, even faithful unto death men, in actual practice, day to day, how things are done, how decisions are made, even in the best, the bureaucrat kills the bishop, if we try and have one man embody both. There’s a certain wisdom in going one way or the other. And look, I kind of like the idea, of maybe, if we want to have bureaucrats, then let’s really do it, and let’s just toss aside the façade of doing all this stuff as church, and just say “look, we’re kind of like the military. We’ve got the, we’ve got the actual soldiers, the pastors out there, who really do what needs to get done, and then we have a civilian leadership that sits in the office and thinks about what needs to be done.” Right? That would be a great division to make in the church.


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About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


The Hat Makes the Man — 54 Comments

  1. Excerpted from C.F.W. Walther’s First Presidential Address (1848, translated by Prof. Paul F. Koehneke):

    “Can we, therefore, my brethren, be depressed because we in our American pastorates are endowed with no other power than the power of the Word and especially because no other power has been granted to this assembly? Most assuredly not. This very fact must arouse us to perform the duties of our office and to carry on our present labors with great joy; for in this manner the church also among us preserves its true character, its character of a kingdom of heaven; in this manner Christ remains among us as what He is, the only Lord, the only Head, the only Master; and our office and labor preserves the true apostolic form. How could we lust for a power which Christ has denied us, which no apostle has claimed, and which would deprive our congregations of the character of a true church and of the true apostolic form?….

    “It is true, if our congregations had granted us full power to decide and decree in their name, it apparently would have been easy for us to give all of the congregations of our territory the form of truly Lutheran congregations, whereas with our present constitution our hands appear to be tied. But this only seems to be the case. Even though some congregations may use the liberty they possess of rejecting our recommendations even if they are salutary; thereby they indeed deprive themselves of a blessing. But what would be the result if such congregations by their entrance into our organization had obligated themselves to submit to all of our orders? The exercise of our power would have laid the foundation for constant dissatisfaction, for constantly reviving fear of hierarchical efforts, and thus for endless friction.”

  2. @Ted Crandall #48
    Synod is advisory only, therfore not binding if not in accordance with the Scriptures “or if it appears to be inexpedient as far as the condition of a congregation is concerned.”

    But all the CCM decrees of the last decade are “binding on pastors and congregations unless overturned in the next convention” which, (as the conventions were rigged), had a snowball’s chance in Houston in July?

    And, if I remember correctly, Pastors may not criticize decisions of convention, even when they contradict Scripture and the Confessions. [E.g. Lay ministry which ensures a supply of men who will “work well with the DP”.]

    Which is it?

    Truthfully, St Louis grads were polluted by higher criticism for 20 years prior to the 70’s.
    The battle for the Bible might have been won, if JAO and associates had just split the synod between CSL and CTS pastors and let the congregations decide if they had landed in the right place or if they needed to call the appropriate Pastor and move. 40 years of talk have just eroded the confessional position and enabled seminex sympathizers to take over the COP.
    COP has become a “college of cardinals” which, unless things change, will overthrow any “Pope” who doesn’t do their bidding.

    I would really like to be all wrong here!
    End of rant.

  3. Helen, I pray we’re wrong, too. What you outline here (#52) illustrates clearly how some can argue that the LCMC already has an episcopal, Romish government.

  4. @Ted Crandall #53
    LCMC already has an episcopal, Romish government.

    Now that is funny, [strange, not ha ha!] because the end goal of all this “restructuring” power-to-the-top has been with the intent of turning lcms into a general protestant church.
    [I won’t insult any denomination by using their label; it’s non-denom “willowcreek”- “worship your CEO in a collar”. Or a polo & khakis, in the congregation, although the fancy dress has been aped at the “highest” levels.] :(

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