Regarding the Biblical Causes for the Removal of Ministers from a Call

Whereas our forebears in the faith consistently followed the orthodox Lutheran practice of only removing a pastor, teacher, or other church-worker from his or her call for three biblical causes: teaching false doctrine (Titus 1:9); scandalous conduct (1 Timothy 3:1-7); or willful neglect of official duties (2 Timothy 2:2 and 1 Corinthians 4:1-2) (see John Fritz, Pastoral Theology [CPH, 1932], 55; see also Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici [CPH, 1989], 2:703; Martin Chemnitz, Enchiridion [CPH, 1981], 37; Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry: Part One [CPH, 2011], 252-260; C.F.W. Walther, Pastoral Theology [LNI, 1995], 278-279; Mueller & Kraus, eds., Pastoral Theology [CPH, 1990], 54); and

Whereas our forebears also consistently followed the orthodox Lutheran practice of waiting for a call to arrive in situations where they fraternally urged their pastor, teacher, or other church-worker to accept another call more suited to his or her abilities, when either the work grew beyond his or her abilities, or he or she lost competence due to age, sickness, or accident; an exception to this being dismissal due to complete disability (see Fritz, Pastoral Theology, 55, discussion re. “inefficiency”); and

Whereas our forebears also consistently followed the orthodox Lutheran practice of waiting for a call to arrive in situations where they fraternally urged their pastor, teacher, or other church-worker to accept another call, when on account of his or her own frailties and shortcomings the church-worker had lost the confidence of a large portion of the congregation; an exception to this being cases where an evil-minded person had embittered the church-worker, in which case the evil person was dealt with and the church-worker encouraged to stay (Romans 12:21) (see Fritz, Pastoral Theology, 52-53; discussion re. “accepting a new call”); and

Whereas in the past twenty years, congregations of the LC-MS have increasingly abandoned these practices of the orthodox Lutheran church, have removed their church-workers without a valid biblical cause, or pressured their church-workers to resign prior to receiving another call in the type of cases described above, leaving such faithful and competent church-workers in the status of “C.R.M.” for an indefinite period of time, where they have lost their position, their call, their reputation, and their livelihood; and

Whereas in recent years, some congregations of the LC-MS have removed their pastors or pressured them to resign, because their pastors upheld the biblical position that cohabitation is sexual immorality, even though such pastors offered several reasonable options for those involved in this sin (for such options, see Matthew C. Harrison, Second Thoughts about Living Together [CPH, 2005], 26); and

Whereas continued acceptance of the practice of removing pastors who oppose cohabitation will result in congregations being unable to resist homosexual marriage, since the same Bible passages that condemn homosexuality also condemn other sexual immorality; and

Whereas continued acceptance by the synod of the practices of removing church-workers without a valid biblical cause, or pressuring them to resign prior to receiving another call in the type of cases described above, will result in an erosion of respect for all offices in the Lutheran church, a decrease in the number of people willing to serve as pastors and teachers, the lifelong enmity toward the synod by former church-workers, their spouses, and children, and ultimately a decline in the effectiveness and success of the Gospel outreach of the synod; be it therefore

Resolved that The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod reaffirms the orthodox Lutheran practice that congregations and their schools may only remove a pastor, teacher, or other church-worker from his or her call for three biblical causes: teaching false doctrine (Titus 1:9); scandalous conduct (1 Timothy 3:1-7); or willful neglect of official duties (2 Timothy 2:2 and 1 Corinthians 4:1-2); and be it further

Resolved that the synod reaffirms the orthodox Lutheran practice that congregations and their schools wait for a call to arrive in situations where they fraternally urge their pastor, teacher, or other church-worker to accept another call more suited to his or her abilities, when either the work grows beyond his or her abilities, or he or she loses competence due to age, sickness, or accident; an exception to this being dismissal due to complete disability; and be it further

Resolved that the synod reaffirms the orthodox Lutheran practice that congregations and their schools wait for a call to arrive in situations where they fraternally urge their pastor, teacher, or other church-worker to accept another call, when on account of his or her own frailties and shortcomings the church-worker has lost the confidence of a large portion of the congregation; an exception to this being cases where an evil-minded person has embittered the church-worker, in which case the evil person will be dealt with and the church-worker encouraged to stay (Romans 12:21); and be it finally

Resolved that all bylaws, policies, rules, regulations, and documents of the synod that pertain to these issues, especially those used by District Presidents and Circuit Counselors, be revised accordingly.


Respectfully submitted for consideration by the synod in convention, on behalf of my dear brothers and sisters in the Gospel ministry, i.e., the Ordained and Commission Ministers of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, by the Rev. Martin R. Noland, Ph.D., Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Evansville, Indiana.

For the July 2013 LC-MS Synodical Convention; deadline for submission is March 2, 2013.


Comments

Regarding the Biblical Causes for the Removal of Ministers from a Call — 103 Comments

  1. @James Warble #50
    By the way, when Walther talked about teachers being in an auxiliary office to the pastoral office, he did not have in mind pious Mrs. Schmidt who integrated her faith into math. He had in mind theologically trained men whose job it was to make and keep schools Lutheran. It is anachronistic to appeal to historical precedent that math teachers hold an auxiliary office without such necessary qualification.

    Nothing is glossed over as often in the last 80 years as the fact that Lutheran schools were primarily aimed to make Lutheran boys into Pastors and they were taught by Pastors or laymen with a theological education. My college in the 1930’s had a “ladies seminary” (composed of pastors’ daughters, primarily) which took classes with the college but lived elsewhere. The college was a pre-seminary school taught by ordained men. Women did not become members of the college until the 40’s, (when they were the means of keeping it open).

    Women might teach elementary school prior to that time, if they were spinsters. Again, the war years “allowed” (made it necessary) for women teachers who had married to come back to the classroom.

  2. I can think of the name of at least one LCMS pastor who has been “forced out” for no reason whatsoever, other than members/staff of a congregation being unwilling to hold themselves accountable for their failings… and it’s only happened three times to this certain individual!

    Just an observation from my close experiences with these matters… more often than not, pastors get thrown under the bus by the higher ups for the sake of “saving” the congregation.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a diehard Lutheran, but the LCMS is killing itself from within in the very same manner as the United States is killing itself. I’d be happy to delve more into it, but I have a feeling eyes might be watching…

  3. What are the consequences of a pastor in the LCMS who has not only libeled and slandered someone, but has also intentionally lied upon swearing upon an oath under penalty of perjury in a civil matter?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.