Well at Least We’re not Debating Whether or not Jesus was/is Divine

Dr. Dale Meyer, current president of Concordia Seminary, relates that one of Dr. Dean Wenthe’s favorite stories was of a cab ride he shared with the president of another denomination’s seminary. Wenthe asked what the hottest debate was on his campus, and he answered “whether or not Jesus Christ was/is divine” (“Pedagogy for a Politicized Church,” Concordia Journal, Winter 2014, 6).  cup-1435999-mWell, we aren’t debating whether Jesus was/is divine. We’re doing worse than that. We’re not debating at all, and we don’t regard the debatable things between us as divisive of church fellowship.

We’re not debating at all because resolutions sent in to synodical conventions by congregations and whole districts to get the debate on the table, like whether we should continue to be fellowship with the AALC are kept off the convention floor.  A floor committee consisting of a handful of people effectively forestalls the debate, but in truth, even if such things made it to the convention floor only about 11% of the LCMS pastors and congregations are represented there.  N.B. 100% of LCMS bureaucrats are.

Worse than our non-debate is our continuing to go to communion together when we know we are not of the same mind as Scripture pleads with us to be (1 Cor. 1:10).  Into the beautiful union Christ gives to us in His Body and Blood we bring our human disunity.

As there is no possibility of light having fellowship with darkness, so there is no possibility that open Communion has any fellowship with closed Communion.  Moreover, Jesus doesn’t say both that His order of creation pertains to home and church but not at all to world and that it pertains to all three.  Also, Jesus doesn’t say both that Christians pastors may pray with pagans to spread the Gospel and that they may not. Finally, Jesus doesn’t say the world was created in six days and that it evolved over billions of years. When those who hold such contradictory teachings commune together, they are either saying that Jesus doesn’t care about the differences or that He is speaking out of both sides of His mouth.

One of the main points of Meyer’s article is that discussion between pastors is to be theological not political.  I agree.  And the very first theological thing that ought to be spoken by our leaders is a plea for us to stop going to Communion together when we know we do not agree.  Stop pretending a koinonia exists where we know it doesn’t.      As Elert’s Eucharistic and Church Fellowship abundantly demonstrates, even the Arians and other heretics wouldn’t do that. Neither would the orthodox of course.  The only ones who were in favor of continuing and even forcing opposing theologies and contradictory truths to commune together were the politicians of the State and later of the institutionalized church.

Finally, what bugs me with the “well at least we’re not” argument is that it is contrary to Paul warning us not of big bugs in loaves of bread but of a little leaven that leavens the whole lump. Besides the argument for pure doctrine can never be one of degrees.  There is no such thing as being close enough to the truth.  If you’re close to the truth you’re still in error.


Comments

Well at Least We’re not Debating Whether or not Jesus was/is Divine — 111 Comments

  1. Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. :What still ticks me off is the fact pastors will be petty and refuse to commune with one another, yet in the end, as we teach our flock, if there are truly sins of an unrepentant nature on the soul, perhaps better to stay away from the Holy Meal until resolved.

    Do you mean to imply that pastors are always being petty when refusing to commune with other pastors?

    Are you talking about a lack of repentance on the part of the pastor refusing to commune or the one(s) with whom he is refusing to commune?

  2. @Nathan #49

    Lots of comments assume there is an “AALC position”. Of course there is. But the official position is of very limited use (if any) if it is not upheld in practice. Practice trumps official position. The use of the official position is that the pastors will call their practice that, more or less regardless of what it really is. As someone else wrote, no pastor will admit his practice is “open communion” even if it is, as long as the official position is “closed”. This way to act is a confusing blurring, conscious or unconscious.
    And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? </i)(1 Cor. 14:8)

  3. @Joe Dapelo #3
    It did not teach what that paragraph said. The AALC continues to develop a position paper regarding the administration of the sacrament. I serve our CDCR and pray that this can be clarified soon.

    They are “studying it”.
    LCMS knows that means all congregations haven’t been arm twisted yet, but as soon as the majority are, the liberal position will prevail. [Meanwhile, they can do anything, without discipline, “becuz it’s being discussed”!
    See “Koinonia”.]

    Lord, have mercy!

  4. Frasius,

    “the official position is of very limited use (if any) if it is not upheld in practice. Practice trumps official position.”

    This is profoundly true.

    +Nathan

  5. @Ted Crandall #50
    Hmmm, yes, Pastors can be petty, we can hold grudges, we are sinners, and I have been all too.

    Yet, unless we decide to flee from the true Lutheran (LCMS) teachings of proper Scriptural and Confessional doctrine, we then are still “team” LCMS pastors. And a team squabbles, we argue, and I think we do it because of our love for His people, the lost and dying.

    Now we may go off in some improper directions, then we call one another out, as we should.

    Yet as the battle rages, knowing what we know about the Holy Meal, we should pause in the skirmishes we have and dine together when able.

    And if we choose not too, for whatever reason, keep it silent; I do not think Jesus would be happy using His Body and Blood as an instrument of punishment. Now that is petty.

    Take the disciples as an example, the squabbled, they complained, they were all sorts of things I bet; but Jesus loved them, kept them in line, and fed them, body and soul.

  6. Actually Helen, it means that the AALC has not developed an official statement because we are a young church body. We thought early on the confessions were enough. The LCMS has 130 years on us, and yet they felt it necessary in 1999 to study and clarify the matter of Admission to the Lord’s Supper. We don’t have that power struggle in the AALC regarding this matter. We simply have never made an official statement. What was on the website should never have been on there. It was someone’s idea but never approved by the AALC. Here is what the Minneapolis Thesis (a document from 1925, quoting Chicago Theses of 1919), which was a foundational document for the AALC founders said: “Our Church, therefore, regards it as a matter of principle that it’s members attend services in their own churches, that their children be baptized by their own pastors, and that they partake of the Holy Supper at their own altars, and that pulpit and altar fellowship with pastors and people of other denominations are to be avoided, as contrary to a true and consistent Lutheranism.” That is our history. We have banked on that history though never writing a new statement. That’s the truth.

  7. @Joe Dapelo #6
    the AALC founders said: “Our Church, therefore, regards it as a matter of principle that it’s members attend services in their own churches, that their children be baptized by their own pastors, and that they partake of the Holy Supper at their own altars, and that pulpit and altar fellowship with pastors and people of other denominations are to be avoided, as contrary to a true and consistent Lutheranism.” That is our history. We have banked on that history though never writing a new statement. That’s the truth.

    You don’t need to write a new statement; you need to put that one on your web site. 🙂

    As for LCMS, it piles up “by-laws”, CTCR documents and CCM decrees (pure dictatorship!)
    and neglects Scripture and the Confessions. We need to remove the logs from our own eyes, but it’s more fun to pick at your specks. 🙁

  8. @Joe Dapelo #6

    Helen is right.  The excerpt from the Minneapolis Thesis is totally clear and easily understood.  If that is your general practice, please put it on your website.  It erases a lot of misunderstanding.

  9. @ Norm Fisher #9

    :
    “Our Church, therefore, regards it as a matter of principle that it’s members attend services in their own churches, that their children be baptized by their own pastors, and that they partake of the Holy Supper at their own altars, and that pulpit and altar fellowship with pastors and people of other denominations are to be avoided, as contrary to a true and consistent Lutheranism.”

    The first part “in their own churches” has its antithesis in “other denominations”. Of course they can commune by other churches within the fellowship. That’s the point being in fellowship. But outside the fellowship there should be no fellowship! This looks like a truism, nevertheless so often neglected today…

  10. I realize that I should use my real name instead of Frasius. Then you Americans can (rightly) assume I am a foreigner being mild and forgiving if I use some wrong words, prepositions etc.

    Frasius/Jakob Fjellander

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