Unionism: What Is It?

In the comments section of Friday’s post by Pastor Rossow titled “Per DP’s Advice LCMS Pastor Cancels Participation in Joint Service but Still Supports Unionism,” arguments were made that having a joint worship service with congregations of other fellowships, such as Methodists, or Baptists, or Presbyterians, is not unionism.  Holy Scripture, our Confession, Lutheran theologians, and our own synodical statements disagree with that position.  Here are a few quotations from across the centuries to illustrate the point.

From the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Constitution:

“Article VI Conditions of Membership

“Conditions for acquiring and holding membership in the Synod are the following:
1. Acceptance of the confessional basis of Article II.
2. Renunciation of unionism and syncretism of every description, such as:
a. Serving congregations of mixed confession, as such, by ministers of the church;
b. Taking part in the services and sacramental rites of heterodox congregations or of congregations of mixed confession;
c. Participating in heterodox tract and missionary activities.” [emphasis added]

The official position of the Synod from “Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod”:

“28. On Church-Fellowship. – Since God ordained that His Word only, without the admixture of human doctrine, be taught and believed in the Christian Church, 1 Pet. 4, 11; John 8, 31. 32; 1 Tim. 6, 3. 4, all Christians are required by God to discriminate between orthodox and heterodox church-bodies, Matt. 7,15, to have church-    fellowship only with orthodox church-bodies, and, in case they have strayed into heterodox church-bodies, to leave them, Rom. 16,17. We repudiate unionism, that is, church-fellowship with the adherents of false doctrine, as disobedience to God’s command, as the real cause of the origin and continuance of divisions in the Church, Rom. 16,17; 2 John 9.10, and as involving the constant danger of losing the Word of God entirely, 2 Tim. 2,17 ff.”

From the Christian Cyclopedia on the LCMS website:

“Religious unionism consists in joint worship and work of those not united in doctrine. Its essence is an agreement to disagree. In effect, it denies the doctrine of the clearness of Scripture.” (Quoted from The Concordia Cyclopedia, St. Louis, 1927)

From the 1974 CTCR document “A Lutheran Stance Toward Ecumenism”:

“C. On the Congregational Level

“When congregations become members of the Synod they voluntarily accept certain limitations of their autonomy. For the sake of good order and the benefit of all, congregations consent to regulate the exercise of their rights according to a compact freely entered into and mutually accepted. Congregations, for instance, agree to be served only by such pastors as have been certified for placement by the Synod’s seminary faculties and who are members of the Synod. Similarly, congregations agree that they will practice fellowship only with those congregations which belong to a church body with which the Synod is in fellowship. Once such an agreement has been made, confusion and disorder result when congregations act
independently by practicing selective fellowship. The Synod has, therefore, on several occasions stated its position on selective fellowship. Key sentences from a resolution adopted in 1969 give the Synod’s position:

“WHEREAS, The members of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod have voluntarily united in a fraternal agreement to determine fellowship relations with other church bodies or congregations, not individually but through convention action (Handbook 1.21) . . .
   ” Resolved, That the Synod urge all its members to honor their fraternal agreement with all members of the Synod by refraining from practicing altar and pulpit fellowship with congregations of church bodies with whom the Synod has not yet declared fellowship.

“D. On the Individual Level

“1. In the exercise of their office pastors will follow synodical policy. Except in emergency situations and in such cases where their action cannot rightfully be construed as disregard for pure doctrine, for the responsibilities of their office, or for the concerns of their brethren in the ministry, pastors will ordinarily commune only those individuals who are members of the Synod or of a Lutheran church body with which the Synod is in fellowship. Pastors will not participate in joint worship services with pastors of denominations with which the Synod has not established fellowship relations. When pastors affiliate with ministerial alliances or associations, they will participate in such activities and service opportunities as do
not imply ecclesiastical fellowship where it does not yet exist.”

From the 2001 CTCR document “The Lutheran Understanding of Church Fellowship”:

“The promise not to participate in worship services with those not in church fellowship with the LCMS applies particularly to pastors, who are the official representatives of both their congregations and the LCMS. Their solemn commitment to the scriptural and confessional position of the LCMS must be their guide and will supersede personal feelings or preferences. Trust among LCMS pastors, congregations, and leaders allows everyone to carry out their commitment to fellowship practices to which they have mutually agreed. This trust is undermined when these commitments, as they are set forth in the official documents of the LCMS, are openly violated. Public knowledge of such violations strains relationships and makes reasoned discourse of real issues difficult. This in turn hinders pastors from exercising discretion in unclear situations.”

The following quote is taken from the September 18, 1917 edition of The Lutheran Witness. It points out that the LCMS would have no joint worship services with other Lutheran synods on the Reformation Jubilee, because there was no unity in doctrine. Obviously, this refusal to hold joint worship services with other Lutheran synods would also apply to other non-Lutheran denominations:

“Joint Reformation Celebrations. — Many of our congregations will take part in joint celebrations of the Jubilee. The churches of the Synodical Conference in many centers of population will gather in imposing union services. But there will be no participation of our churches in general Lutheran or Protestant gatherings.
“The reason for this position of our Synod has been stated before, but in view of the approaching celebration demands restatement.
“We hold it to be self-evident truth that, where there is no unity of faith, there ought to be no unity of worship. If the texts of Scripture which forbid unionism (for example, Rom. 16, 17; 1 Tim. 6, 3 ff.) do not apply here, they are devoid of meaning.
“We hold it to be a truth that may be readily verified by investigation that there are real differences in doctrine between the synods composing the Synodical Conference on the one hand and, for instance, the Ohio Synod, the Iowa Synod, the General Synod, the General Council, and the United Synod of the South, on the other. [The predestinarian controversy is mentioned.]
“…There are other differences, as, for instance, on the Sabbath question and other adiaphora (liquor question, etc.). The evolution doctrine is taught in some church-papers. For a full discussion of these differences and others read Prof. Bente’s book: Was steht der Vereinigung der lutherischen Synoden Amerikas im Wege? which contains a sufficient array of facts to convince the Christian reader that there are very real and effectual bars to Lutheran union. But where there is no unity, there can be no joining worship nor joint celebrations of the Jubilee.
“The question is not: What do individual Christians in these bodies believe? but this: What is the public and official stand of these synods in matters of Christian doctrine? We believe that there are true Christians in all these Churches, because the essentials of the Gospel are still preached. Even so there are, no doubt, children of God in the Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, even in the Episcopal and Roman Catholic Churches. But all these Christians are permitting men who have departed in some point from the Gospel of Christ to determine the public and official doctrine of their bodies. These Christians are misled. They follow blind leaders. We may make every allowance for human weakness, and thus, in a measure, condone their fault. We recognize the stress of circumstances. But we cannot do one thing: we cannot enter into relations of fellowship with them so long a they do not obey the word of Jesus and proclaim their undivided adherence to His teachings.
“These words are not written for the purpose of instructing our own people, to whom all these statements are commonplaces, but for the benefit of the outsider. No Missouri Synod Lutheran rejoices in the fact of division. But he recognizes the fact. And by dispassionately exhibiting this fact, we appeal to the conscience of all good Christians who are now separated from us because of affiliation with men who teach falsely, and would have them remove the offense from their midst in order that there may be Lutheran unity throughout the length and breadth of the land.
“There is no other possibility of the removal of division except by speaking plainly to Christians concerning the error which they support by their membership. In the performance of this duty we must not grow negligent, not even in this year of Jubilee.”

Hermann Sasse, “Concerning the Unity of the Lutheran Church,” Letters to Pastors, No. 25, translated by Matthew C. Harrison:

“True ecumeny, which sees the one church of Christ wherever the means of grace are yet preserved—through which the Lord calls to His church—even beyond the boundaries of one’s own ecclesiology, stands opposed to false ecumeny, which treats Christians of all denominations as brothers in faith. This false ecumeny tries to make visible and tangible that which we humans cannot see and touch, the church as the people of God, as the Body of Christ, as the temple of the Holy Spirit. This false ecumeny changes the ‘article of faith’ about the church into an ‘article of sight.’ It understands the unity of the church, which only the Holy Spirit can create and maintain, as something which we humans can produce. And it tries to produce this unity, in that it works to realize the one faith, the one baptism, the one sacrament of the altar as a compromise of various forms of faith, various interpretations of baptism, and various understandings of holy communion. In so far as it does that, this false ecumeny overlooks [the fact] that the various understandings of the means of grace are not only different possibilities of understanding the truth, but rather that soul-murdering errors and church-destroying heresy also hide among them. True ecumeny sees this. Therefore, it is able to recognize the true unity of the church only there, where it recognizes the one correct faith, the one correct baptism, the one communion of the Lord Christ. True ecumeny asks, therefore, not first about unity, but rather about truth. It knows that where the true church is, there, and there alone, is also the one church. In this sense it understands the high priestly prayer of the Lord, too, in which the ‘that they may all be one’ is linked inseparably with ‘sanctify them in Your truth; Your Word is the truth’ (John 17:17, 21).”

Wilhelm Loehe in Three Books About the Church:

“Let the great ‘It is sufficient’ with which the Augsburg Confession insists upon unity in doctrine and sacrament be our war cry, our watchword, our banner.”

Dr. Franz Pieper, from “Unity of Faith”, an essay delivered at the 1888 Convention of the Synodical Conference, translated by E.J. Otto:

“We dare not allow any other concept of unity to arise among us than the unity of faith which is in harmony with Scripture, the agreement in all articles of Christian doctrine.”

Charles Porterfield Krauth, from “The Right Relation to Denominations in America,” in Lutheran Confessional Theology in America:

“When the Lutheran Church acts in the spirit of the current denominationalism it abandons its own spirit. It is a house divided against itself. Some even then will stand firm, and with the choosing of new gods on the part of others there will be war in the gates. No seeming success could compensate our church for the forsaking of principles which gave her her being, for the loss of internal peace, for the destruction of her proper dignity, for the lack of self-respect which would follow it. The Lutheran Church can never have real moral dignity, real self-respect, a real claim on the reverence and loyalty of its children while it allows the fear of the denominations around it, or the desire of their approval, in any respect to shape its principles or control its actions. It is a fatal thing to ask not, What is right? What is consistent? but, What will be thought of us? How will the sectarian and secular papers talk about us? How will our neighbors of the different communions regard this or that course? Better to die than to prolong a miserable life by such compromise of all that gives life its value.”

Johann Gerhard, quoted from Cyberbrethren, trans. by Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes:

“Not just any unity of faith and doctrine is a mark of the Church, but only the unity of true faith and doctrine, that is, of prophetic and apostolic doctrine, for that alone is of immovable and perpetual truth. Therefore the unity of faith that is a mark of the Church must be based on one foundation of doctrine: the apostolic doctrine. Accordingly, the Church is said to be ‘built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles’ (Eph. 2:20). It is said about the heavenly Jerusalem that “its wall has twelve foundations and on them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb”( Rev. 21:14). Accordingly, in Zech. 8:19 ‘truth and peace’ are joined. In fact, truth is set ahead of peace so that we may understand that God approves of only that peace, concord, and unity which enjoys the foundation and bond of truth. John 8:31: ‘If you remain in My Word, you are truly My disciples.’ John 17:21: ‘That they may be one in Us.'”

Johann Michael Reu, from the pamphlet “In the Interest of Lutheran Unity'”:

“We find this attitude of tolerance quite frequently among unionists. It is often used to assuage a troubled conscience, one’s own as well as that of others; for the unionist declares that every one may continue to hold his own private convictions and merely needs to respect and tolerate those of another. This attitude is totally wrong, for it disregards two important factors: (a) in tolerating divergent doctrines one either denies the perspicuity and clarity of the Scriptures, or one grants to error the right to exist alongside of truth, or one evidences indifference over against Biblical truth by surrendering its absolute validity; and (b) in allowing two opposite views concerning one doctrine to exist side by side, one has entered upon an inclined plane which of necessity leads ever further into complete doctrinal indifference, as may plainly be seen from the most calamitous case on record, viz., the Prussian Union.”

Dr. Theodore Graebner, from his essay “The Leprosy of Unionism”:

“No one believes that any Missouri Synod man would dare to propose at this time (1918) official synodical collaboration with the Reformed sects in church-work. That is a late development at which one does not arrive at a jump. On the other hand, the danger is ever present that on the specious plea of advancing the cause of “Lutheranism,” we be tempted to enter into fellowship with members of synods Lutheran in name, but only partly Lutheran in doctrine and practice. There is danger that we get a taste of applause and flattery; that we become eager for “recognition” as a great church-body; that we compromise our doctrinal stand for the purpose of meeting emergencies. And the time to become aware of that danger is NOW.

“It is a bad sign when hearers become angry at their pastor for “preaching against other churches.” It is a worse sign when pastors, bowing to such disapproval, begin to withhold instructions concerning the errors of the sects. It is a most alarming symptom when pastors and parishioners fraternize. . . with those who represent a different conception of Lutheranism. It becomes denial of the Truth when they associate with such for the purpose of “making church-work more effective” or “keeping the Lutheran Church on the map.”

“As we love our church, let us so teach our people so that they will fear the contagion of error as they would fear to breathe the air of a small-pox hospital. Let us exhibit to them the damnableness of false doctrine. Let us preach Luther on this point, who saw only the work of Satan in every deviation from the truth of Scripture. If our people learn to recognize every false doctrine as a snare of the devil, spread to catch victims for hell, they will not need to be held with a rein lest they stampede into unionism. .. .

“Let it be understood that any undertaking or activity which is, in effect, the doing of religious work jointly with those from whom we ought, according to Scripture to separate, is unionism. Here, if ever, the old sayings must apply: “Nip the evil in the bud.” Our first duty is that of watchfulness. There is no higher duty now because there is no greater danger.”

Dr. Martin Luther, quoted in F. Bente’s Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions:

“Whoever really regards his doctrine, faith, and confession as true, right, and certain cannot remain in the same stall with such as teach or adhere to false doctrine.”

About Scott Diekmann

Scott is a lifelong LCMS layman. Some of his vocations include husband, dad, jet driver, runner, and collector of more books than he can read. Oh, and also chocolate lover. He’s been involved in apologetics for over a decade, is on the Board of Regents at Concordia Portland, and is a column writer for the sometimes operational Around the Word Journal. He’s also written for Higher Things Magazine, The Lutheran Clarion, and has been a guest on Issues Etc. as well as the KFUO program Concord Matters.

Comments

Unionism: What Is It? — 71 Comments

  1. After playing around on YouTube & Google, regarding this & Pr. Hendrickson’s post,
    I think these are the perfect examples & reasons, why unionism is wrong, dangerous to both laity, Pastors, & any Confessional Lutheran Denom. The door should be shut & a
    serious inventory taken of any Church that is part or parcile of LCMS or WELS, and a spring cleaning comence.

  2. Carl Vehse :
    Resurrection Church’s (even they don’t call themselves Lutheran) “Associate Pastor” Matt Duddleston is not listed on the LCMS roster. Pastrix Kim Kyle is also not listed on the roster as a commissioned teacher, DCE, or any other type of minister.
    Will DP Jon Diefenthaler or SP Matthew Harrison do anything about it?!?
    crickets

    Just a thought. For how many years was Trinity Lutheran Church in New Haven Missouri served by a non-rostered pastor? With that as an example, it would seem that the DP and Sp have little recourse in this matter.

  3. Scott,
    You obviously put some time into this post, and I thank you for it. I am one who tends to try and boil things down to simple statements. In short, all the information you posted boils down to one thing. To engage in public worship with a heterodox church weakens our confession.

    Think how it looks to the laity when a pastor consistently teaches the importance of a sound understanding and confession of Holy Scripture, and at the same time he stands with the heterodox as if the sound teachings are not important. A very wise man (My Dad) once told me that people pay a lot more attention to what we do, than to what we say.

  4. @David Hartung #3: “For how many years was Trinity Lutheran Church in New Haven Missouri served by a non-rostered pastor? With that as an example, it would seem that the DP and Sp have little recourse in this matter.”

    The bylaw rules were different back then than now. It’s an apple/oranges thing. Furthermore, there were attempts to suspend or expel Trinity by LCMS officials. From a July 26, 2012, article, “BREAKING NEWS: Pastor Herman Otten leaving Trinity Lutheran Church after 55 years“:

    When Trinity, New Haven, which he [Rev. Herman Otten] had been serving as a student while doing his graduate work, would not remove him as pastor when ordered by LCMS officials, Trinity was suspended several times and then expelled from the LCMS.

    Each time the suspensions and expulsion were declared invalid by the LCMS Board of Appeals, which consisted of 5 attorneys and 6 pastor/theologians elected at LCMS conventions. This same Board of Appeals ruled after interviewing professors under oath that the seminary had not shown just cause for not certifying Otten for the ministry.

    The board found Otten had told the truth about the liberal professors. The vote in 1984 was unanimous for Otten. However, even though the LCMS Handbook required the LCMS and Concordia Seminary to accept the ruling, they refused to certify the pastor of Trinity.

    The rulings in favor of Otten and Trinity were a major reason who LCMS officials worked to get the LCMS to change its entire judicial system where evidence was carefully evaluated, a transcript made, witnesses sworn in, examined, and cross examined. Now the LCMS’s Council of Presidents is the final authority and the Board of Appeals is gone.

    Officials of the LCMS say Trinity is currently under the threat of expulsion from the LCMS and Pastor Otten “is an impenitent sinner on the road to Hell.”

    When Matthew Harrison was installed as president of the LCMS, Pastor Otten was banned from communing and participating at the installation. Some 200 pastors participated in the installation/communion service. No liberal promoting evolution was banned. Harrison came for more than six hours to New Haven to urge Christian News to support him for president.

    He gave Otten many of his books and writings, which were then reviewed in Christian News. For more than a year Christian News regularly promoted Harrison for president. Other LCMS presidents have also requested the support of Christian News since this publication was the only newspaper reaching all LCMS congregations and later convention delegates each week. Once elected, these presidents kept their distance from Christian News and wanted Trinity to remove him as pastor….

    Trinity, New Haven is a member of the Washington Circuit. This circuit petitioned the LCMS to have Concordia Seminary certify Otten for the pastoral ministry. LCMS officials ignored the petition. During Otten’s years at Trinity at least six of the circuit counselors asked for Otten’s certification. Top LCMS officials disagreed with all six.

  5. @David Hartung #3
    @Carl Vehse #6

    Yes, in effect Herman Otten was grandfathered in. The best disciplinary action that synod can do now is to withhold his certification. But when New Haven goes into vacancy, things may change. I do not know all of the settlement. If it is centered on Pr. Otten, then the exemption ends with him, and in order to remain in synod, Trinity will need to call someone certified on our roster. If they don’t, they could be removed from the LC-MS. But if the settlement is centered on Trinity, then it will always be open, and they can all whomever they chose, whether ELCA, or Methodist, or whatever, and be immune from disciplinary action. I would hope not for the latter, as that would enable a permanent schism(?), and allow a particular congregation to have special rules. Not good for Koinania.

  6. Pastor Otten is not exactly a diplomat ( 🙂 ) but has he lied? When the liberals accuse him of breaking the Eighth Commandment, they usually mean he said something about them that was not nice. This is most certainly true! What he said about them was not nice, but it was true. You know, like when he accused the professors at our seminary of teaching false doctrine. It took the bureaucrats until the ’70s to react, but Marquart and Otten exposed the false teaching in the ’50s.

    Otten’s detractors like to discredit him by calling him a “Holocaust Denier,” but that is not true. He questions the number 6 million and asks for more evidence than just announcing that “everyone knows it was 6 million.” He believes that 6 million is an estimate that was greatly inflated for political purposes. I’m not saying he’s right or wrong about that number, just that he’s not a deranged lunatic who denies the Holocaust ever even happened.

    On the contrary, the LCMS owes Pastor Herman Otten a huge debt of gratitude that we are not theologically identical to the ELCA today.

    Besides, how hypocritical is it to deny Herman Otten certification when you’ve got Dave Benke and his ilk still serving, not only as a pastor in the LCMS, but as a District President?

  7. Pastor Crandall,
    I appreciate what you said regarding Pr. Otten’s opposition to false doctrine, and his influence on the LCMS. We do owe him a debt of gratitude for this. But I have to disagree with your description of his views on the Holocaust.
    Pastor Otten does not accept that the Nazis had an organized plan to eliminate the jewish population. He does not believe that the Nazis were systematically gassing jews, and incinerating the corpses.
    Pastor Otten has never been secretive about his beliefs on this.

  8. @Dave Schumacher #9

    I’ll confess that I haven’t kept up with Christian News lately, so I’ll defer to your description of his views. I apologize for whatever errors I stated about his views on the Holocaust.

    And I stand by my statement that it is hypocritical for the LCMS to refuse to certify Pastor Otten. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

  9. @Pastor Ted Crandall #10
    And I stand by my statement that it is hypocritical for the LCMS to refuse to certify Pastor Otten. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

    Gratitude seems to be the emotion most easily forgotten,
    (then and now, if the report is accurate).

    @Jason #7
    Yes, in effect Herman Otten was grandfathered in.
    The best disciplinary action that synod can do now is to withhold his certification.

    No good deed goes unpunished!
    The Beckers and the Benkes, OTOH…. 🙁

    [Strange, Martin Marty was part of this, but he gets admiring comments now and then even though he defected to ***a.]

  10. A question for all, if I may.

    In my neck of the woods, Lutherans are few and far between. Due in part to this scarcity, many Lutheran young people wind up with spouses from other church bodies. Suppose the Pastor’s daughter were to marry a man from a church not in fellowship with the LCMS. Is it appropriate for the Father to participate by walking his daughter down the aisle?

    What about funerals? If a close friend were to die, and his funeral is held in a Baptist church, should the Lutheran pastor refuse to attend?

  11. David,

    No problem walking the bride down the aisle. That is a left hand kingdom matter. It also not a matter of “taking part in the service.” That would be a matter of being involved in the liturgy or preaching. Same with attending a funeral. Neither of those is unionism.

  12. @Pastor Tim Rossow #14: “No problem walking the bride down the aisle. That is a left hand kingdom matter… Same with attending a funeral. Neither of those is unionism.”

    What about a Missouri Synod pastor’s employment as an associate professor teaching church history and doctrine at an interdenominational Protestant divinity school? Is a professorship at a non-Lutheran divinity school analogous to a left-hand kingdom matter of a pastor walking his daughter down the aisle at a Romanist church wedding?

    This is not a question concerning the professor’s teachings or publications, but about the relationship between the professional employment itself at a non-Lutheran divinity school and the divinity school’s stated purpose and mission.

  13. @Tim Rossow #16: Good question. Do they let him teach confessional doctrine?

    The specifics of the divinity school’s employee contract are not known. Again, there is no suggestion or inference in my question that the Missouri Synod pastor, as a divinity school professor, is teaching anything contrary to Lutheran doctrine. The question is about being employed as a professor in a non-Lutheran divinity school.

    The divinity school states: “Our mission is to prepare God-called men and women to serve as ministers in the Church of Jesus Christ, to worship the Triune God, and to encourage the practices of Christian spirituality.”

    The divinity school’s public “Confession of Faith” states “‘The Baptist Faith and Message’ (1963) was adopted… as the confessional standard for the school.” Regarding non-Baptist faculty members, the school’s Confession also states: “We all agree to teach in accordance with and not contrary to those evangelical essentials of the Christian faith, such as the Holy Trinity, the person and work of Jesus Christ, salvation by grace alone, and a life of discipleship and faithful obedience to God’s word. Members of the divinity school faculty who are not Baptist by denomination submit in writing their own convictions concerning those articles in the statement of faith that touch on denominational distinctions. In this way, we seek to preserve both the theological integrity and the interdenominational variety of our faculty as set forth in the founding documents of the school.”

  14. Pastor Tim Rossow :
    David,
    No problem walking the bride down the aisle. That is a left hand kingdom matter. It also not a matter of “taking part in the service.” That would be a matter of being involved in the liturgy or preaching. Same with attending a funeral. Neither of those is unionism.

    Pastor Rossow, I thank you for the answer, but again, I must ask a question. You seem to be saying that to attend a service in a heterodox church is acceptable, so long as one does not take a leadership role, such as lector, choir, liturgist, preacher etc. Do I understand correctly?

  15. How does “unionism” or “syncretism” become a factor for those LC-MS Pastors that preach and teach using curruculums from non-denominational and other denominations, therefore “mixing/confusion of doctrines to their members”, such as “the theology of glory” with our “Theology of the Cross”?

  16. Nice article, pastor. I found this blog, oddly enough, because I did a Google search including the words “isolationist” and “unionist”.

    I had no idea, till today, that word “unionism” appears in the LCMS Constitution. (In part because I’m not Lutheran – not that I have anything against Lutheranism, mind you, but I’ve never been interested in joining it. And I really love the PNCC.) For some reason, that term doesn’t seem to be used in very many discussions of ecumenism. (I believe, historically, the word is mostly associated with the “unionist party” among the Eastern Orthodox, in the 1440s, that favored uniting with and submitting to the Pope of Rome, including accepting the Council of Florence.)

  17. Thank you for the comment Peter, though I’m actually a layman. Most LCMS Lutherans don’t know that the word “unionism” appears in the LCMS Constitution either!

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