The Gavel Fell Too Soon – More Words with No Action, This Time from All the LCMS Presidents, by Pr. Rossow

Scott Diekmann has posted the Council of LCMS Presidents (COP) recent statement on the Matthew Becker situation with an apt introductory commentary.

People are waking up. The statement of the COP is a wake up call. The LCMS is dying for lack of action.

These are our leaders. They can say the right things but they do nothing. Where is their call to action? They should have lived by the words they published by calling DP Linnemann to repentance for harboring a false teacher in his district.

How can they possibly publish words about the truth but not act? They lack courage. They have now clearly demonstrated that they do not have the capability to exercise supervision.

We have now heard a second round of fine sounding words and not a one of the Presidents, SP or DP’s have actually lifted a finger to do anything. President Harrison and the rest of the presidents on this council should be ashamed of themselves.

The gavel should NOT have fallen at that meeting until the false doctrine in our synod was dealt with by the presidents according to the very words of truth contained in the statement of the presidents.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Administrative Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church and School in Naperville, Illinois. He is the founder of the Brothers of John the Steadfast. He is also a partner in Wittenberg Church Consultants. He enjoys watercolor painting, gardening, and watching college football and basketball. He has an M Div from Concordia, St. Louis, an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a Doctorate of Ministry from Concordia, Ft. Wayne.

Comments

The Gavel Fell Too Soon – More Words with No Action, This Time from All the LCMS Presidents, by Pr. Rossow — 37 Comments

  1. Pastor Rossow,

    You speak the truth. Thank you for posting your words. The recent statement by the COP wreaks of politics. Based on their words and actions, the vast majority of our current “leaders” are knee-deep into bylaws and resolutions instead of scripture and our confessions. At this point, it not only appears they are unwilling to act against heterodoxy if such actions contradict the idiotic bylaws, but they refuse to publically stand against the rampant false teaching within the synod. It’s the same old story being played over and over again. At this point, addressing heterodoxy with more resolutions is tantamount to treating Bronchitis with Mustard Gas. Men who are willingly bound to [by]-laws at the exclusion of scripture and the confessions are acting contrary to what it means to be a confessing Christian. Sure I pray for these men. One of my prayers is that they cease behaving like impotent and innocent bystanders.

    Randy

  2. Dear Randy,
    One for you. Yes, politics seem to get involved and that word should not be involved with Scriptures, but it seems to always get involved of late (and times gone by).

    But you act politically because of possible lawsuits, etc. Can this be a part of the equation?

    When I was involved in the removal of a pastor from office for cause, the slander and bad tone was all over, of course until the facts came out. Then you rarely get an “I’m sorry”.

    Yet it was done properly, but funny, the lawyers did threaten me, and threatening me threatens my family.

    God has worked it all out over time to a point. Even through the bad comes good. So Helen, you wonder why I get a bit worked up.

    So maybe it must be acted upon politically, because when you do go and act for the good of the Confessions and Scripture, you find out how alone you can become.

  3. Yes the statement from the DP is weak and smacks of a statement written by a lawyer. Thus let us remember why we have the mess we have.

    #1 Lawsuits. The dispute resolution process we have flows from lawsuits in early 90’s and maybe latter.

    #2 Fear of speaking the truth in love. We are afraid to call something a sin, “it might offend a person.” Their is fear among many to say to a person “you are wrong” because it is not loving, when it can be one of the most loving thing to do by calling a person to repentance. We need to get rid of that fear. There is right and wrong teaching.

    #3 Also because it come from the council of presidents does it mean that all agree with the statement? I know that one of the DP’s before becoming a DP brought before a District Convention a resolution concerning Dr. Becker while he was still at Portland. Please note that all were not in favor of this resolution for various reasons, some were worried we were witch hunting, others I am not sure, but it was not unanimous vote to bring charges which passed.

    #4 we have too many Pastor’s and DP’s who are more worried about being popular then faithful.

    #5 As individual Pastor’s speak the truth about the issues, and if we run into Rev. Becker ask him to repent and if shows up for worship say no to him taking communion. (Yes this wont happen for 99.99% of us, but we are making a statement of the truth.)

    #6 God’s Word will will out. Be patient and look at those who are working on this issue that it be resolved scripturally. No reason for gloom and despair, Jesus is the head of his church.

  4. Pastor Prentice,

    Your case is another disturbing series of events. I’m sorry for what you had to deal with. Therefore, I think we’re both making the same point. When a synod has reached the point that politics and bylaws are the go-to source for resolution and the only viable option, then perhaps we’re just beyond repair. Politics have won the day in the LCMS. That’s the unfortunate case right now. It seems that the only scripture that LCMS Inc. consistently and frequently gravitates towards is the 8th Commandment. The latest “Statement of Assurance” from the COP makes it clear that LCMS leadership has no idea how to properly address issues.

    Dear COP, You stated:

    “The Council of Presidents also cautions that members of Synod be careful in their analysis of matters of ecclesiastical supervision, especially in social media and blogs, lest we sin against the Eighth Commandment, marring reputations and making public what is required to be private.

    Trust me, your comments “assure” me of two things. First, that you will continue to handle matters of false teaching in the same way that you have for years – either not at all or politically. Second, I should hush and let you continue playing soothing and reassuring music on the deck of the sinking SS Missouri….

  5. It seems that the only scripture that LCMS Inc. consistently and frequently gravitates towards is the 8th Commandment.

    Step 1, invoke 8th Commandment.

    Step 2, misapply it.

    The language of the document posted by Diekmann flatly states a commitment to right doctrine and practice even as the document assents to keeping Becker whom they know teaches false doctrine and practice.

  6. Randy wrote, “It seems that the only scripture that LCMS Inc. consistently and frequently gravitates towards is the 8th Commandment.”

    Yes, and (as Mrs. Hume points out) even their favorite Scripture they misapply.

    “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.” (Large Catechism, Eighth Commandment, 284)

  7. Whether by intent or cowardice these “Men” are doing the Devil’s work. I have yet to meet any DP or higher LCMS leader I can respect. The Lord wants us to spit them from among us. If Harrison is so upset then he needs to take action not just write opinions which are hollow and meaningless.

  8. Pastor Roepke,

    So, Jesus did not say, “Perfect fear casts out love”? Perhaps it was the other way around…

  9. Politics from politicians. What are we to expect?
    [#4 we have too many Pastor’s and DP’s who are more worried about being popular then faithful.]
    And they are afraid from losing $$ from churches and recongized service organizations who help pad their salaries.
    It is time for action and remove DP’s and member of the BOD’s who don’t subscribe to the confessions of the LCMS. It is time for action.

  10. The Church has the Office of Keys and Confession. The LCMS has Missouri Synod Bylaws. The Church has Law and Gospel. The LCMS has Missouri Synod Bylaws.

  11. As I understand this, a LCMS Pastor is promoting women as Pastors. Here is what I don’t get, there are any number of denominations that accept women as Pastors. Why not just join one of those denominations? Why is there this need to take down another denomination. I accept what God says. Why the need to supplant what God says with what a man says. The only thing I can think of is validation. We like lots of company in our denial. If you convince other people that you are correct, then your view is validated.
    Satan said to Eve, take and eat. Seize from God what He told was not good for you. To me, the word is like the air hose that connected a deep sea diver to his air supply. The Word is like that air supply. God works through the Word. When you cut that air hose, you are in huge trouble.

  12. I believe it is not serving the good of the cause to make such a statement: “President Harrison and the rest of the presidents on this council should be ashamed of themselves.”

    We have had a death ward drift into evangelicalism and modernity for generations. We had a convention mandated top to bottom reorganization. We had a financial crisis that had been kicked under the rug practically since the 1970s. We had a college and university system adrift. We had seminarians financing the Seminaries. I could go on. . . But now, just 4.5 years into Pres. Harrison’s leadership, we have dramatically reduced overhead while increasing career missionaries. We have paid back the internal borrowing ($16M+) and have a nominal cash reserve. We have Dean Wenthe as the helm of the Concordia University System. We have a renewed emphasis on visitation and accountability. Pres. Harrison followed the rules and the rules let him and us down but the work of accountability is not over. It does nothing for the cause to paint with a broad brush. The mere fact that the COP and Praesidium made such a statement is a very helpful step in the right direction. This will take a generation to undo and there are people resisting all the way. It is not serving the cause of orthodoxy to speak in this way.

  13. Dear Pastor Peters,
    Yes, the good ship LCMS is afloat and not sinking. It is hard to fix up a big old ship without going into dry dock, we are making changes still afloat, in battle with the world and culture launching wicked salvos of sin. OK, perhaps a bad analogy to many.

    I support my Rev. President Harrison, and all my leaders; and will call on them to stay the course and keep making changes for the good of God’s people. What a task.

    And now I was elected to the Synod Convention next year for my Circuit as pastoral delegate, and I will take that task assigned and do my best to make sure we stay the course and follow God’s orders. Yes, one man of many; I pray I can help.

    Oh boy, I may ask “what have I gotten myself into?”

    One thing, I will study and take good notes, and keep an internal blog to self for the ongoing task.

  14. “I believe it is not serving the good of the cause to make such a statement: “President Harrison and the rest of the presidents on this council should be ashamed of themselves.”
    We have had a death ward drift into evangelicalism and modernity for generations. We had a convention mandated top to bottom reorganization. We had a financial crisis that had been kicked under the rug practically since the 1970s. We had a college and university system adrift. We had seminarians financing the Seminaries. I could go on. . . But now, just 4.5 years into Pres. Harrison’s leadership, we have dramatically reduced overhead while increasing career missionaries. We have paid back the internal borrowing ($16M+) and have a nominal cash reserve. We have Dean Wenthe as the helm of the Concordia University System. We have a renewed emphasis on visitation and accountability. Pres. Harrison followed the rules and the rules let him and us down but the work of accountability is not over. It does nothing for the cause to paint with a broad brush. The mere fact that the COP and Praesidium made such a statement is a very helpful step in the right direction. This will take a generation to undo and there are people resisting all the way. It is not serving the cause of orthodoxy to speak in this way.”

    Pr. Peters is, as always, the much needed voice of reason. TW

  15. Pr. Peters: I believe it is not serving the good of the cause to make such a statement: “President Harrison and the rest of the presidents on this council should be ashamed of themselves.”

    I agree.

  16. mark†,

    The question should also be posed the other way round, to the conservatives: There are a certain number of denominations that don’t accept women as Pastors and don’t accept their pastors or members to claim they should be ordained. Why not just join one of those denominations?

    Why ask others to solve a problem (unionism) in a way (to leave) that you are not comfortable with for yourself?

  17. Ok Rev. Fjellander I’ll take the bait.
    The LCMS has already made several statements on WO and some people just can’t stand that positon.
    I think the thing that bothers me most is that they vow to uphold the BOC AND the position of the synod when they join. This is the position of the LCMS.
    It’s not all about WO either.
    My mother would have said to me. “If you don’t like the rules of my house, then you need to find another place to live!”

    John

  18. I stand by my comment and think it is accurate and helpful.

    Put simply, the presidents have issued a confusing statement. They say that x,y, and z are wrong but they still allow x,y and z. This is not how pastors are to handle sin. On top of that, By-law 2.15 makes it clear that we have given the president of the LCMS the authority and responsibility to supervise the district presidents and to initiate expulsion against those who practice false doctrine and practice.

    Imagine if a pastor would go to his church council and convince them that there is an associate pastor in the congregation who is teaching false doctrine and they all agree to tell the congregation that what he is teaching is wrong but they let him continue to teach. Huh?

  19. It’s kind of like the LCMC group departing from the ELCA because of their stand on homosexuality, but still allow for the ordination of women. Huh?

  20. Larry Peters,

    I agree with you that this will take 10 years or more to fix. The first step and the step that must be done by Scriptural command is to expel the false teacher and those who harbor him. We have given the authority to the synodical president to initiate the expulsion of an erring district president.

  21. Does anyone know where St Paul seys to warn a false teacher several times over several years? I’m still searching for that one!

  22. Missionaries are here defined as career missionaries and not short term folks teaching ESL classes (though not to disparage this work which is good and salutary but not a substitute for the missionary on the ground). I think in particular of the several pastors from Tanzania who have earned degrees from CTS and their own churches liberal drift into the ELCA orbit has been halted and turned around. Teaching pastors of these church bodies is also a profound mission which will endure for generations to come.

    Neither I nor most of the DPs I know would say the circumstance of this pastor and his teaching in conflict with Missouri was acceptable. Pres. Harrison has clearly stated that it is not. We do not have little buttons in Missouri but long, tedious and often complex processes to follow. You may not have voted for them nor did I but they are the covenants in which we live and work. Give them at least the same time it took to get into this mess before dismissing all their efforts. That is all I am saying.

  23. Mr Hoos,
    “I think the thing that bothers me most is that they vow to uphold the BOC AND the position of the synod when they join. This is the position of the LCMS.”
    Well, isn’t that the position of every nominally Lutheran denomination? Church of Sweden, for example, has ordination vows for the priests, to follow the Bible and BOC. By the practice of Church discipline is made clear what is meant by that. Words is just words. Does a Baptist become a Lutheran just by saying: “I believe everything in the Bible”? Should a Lutheran stay in the Baptist Church he was born just because they claim to believe in the Bible?
    A great deal of pastors in Church of Sweden who have been defrocked in latest times have been so because of their involvment in the Mission Province – a conservative group in Sweden. Some have also been defrocked for moral issues. The disciplinary action taken shows the content of the vows.

  24. Larry,

    The LCMS defines missionaries as anyone who goes overseas in the name of the LCMS. There are only twelve ordained men in all of Africa and a third of them are beauracrats. The LCMS says there are 27 missionaries in Africa. That list includes a librarian, a photographer and the like.

  25. Larry,

    President Harrison knew about Matthew Becker before he even became President. That was five years ago. How long are we supposed to wait?

    President Harrison has the authority in Article 2.15 of the By-Laws to initiate the expulsion of an erring DP and that same article says that for the sake of the unity of the synod he can announce this publicly. This should be done now and announced now for the unity of the synod.

  26. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I apologize for not commenting on this sooner, but sometimes us pastors are just too busy, and the influenza virus, snow days, etc., etc., has not made things easier.

    In my opinion, the COP Statement of Assurance is not bad. I was glad to see they clearly affirmed our doctrine of Scripture, Creation, prohibition of women’s ordination, and position on homosexuality; also that they intend to evaluate the discipline process to make it more effective.

    Reading today’s online Reporter article on the COP meeting, it seems like some district presidents complained loudly at the meeting about President Harrison “interfering” (my term) in Northwest District affairs. He rebutted with Constitution Article XI.B.3, which gives him universal powers within the Synod to “advise, admonish, and reprove.” And this especially with respect to matters of “unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of the Synod” (same article). So in this respect, President Harrison is going by the “playbook” given to him by the synod, and the protesting DPs should sit down and be quiet.

    I also agree with the measured way in which Harrison is dealing with the offending member. Francis Pieper writes that the Lutheran Church’s understanding of unity is apparent also in the manner in which it deals with the erring and the weak within its own fellowship. It does not throw these overboard; that would be dreadful. But it also does not say, “It makes no difference if someone errs in this or that doctrine.” . . . Thus it always keeps in mind that the God-desired unity consists of agreement in ALL articles of Christian doctrine. (Francis Pieper, Unity of Faith, essay at the 12th convention of the Synodical Conference, Milwaukee, August 8-14, 1888, tr. E.J. Otto [Ft Wayne: CTS Press, 1980], 3).

    I’ll make some further comments, in a bit, on the post about DP Linneman’s letter.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  27. Martin,

    Could you ever get away announcing in your parish that there was a false teacher in their midst, teaching falsely and then in the same breath say to your parish you were not going to do anything about it?

  28. @Martin R. Noland #32

    Pr Noland,
    I appreciate your referring to Pieper. He is always well worth reading. I think, however, that it’s crucial here to distinguish between weak brothers and false teachers. We must be very patient with weak brothers. We must not be patient with false teachers.
    But how can we distinguish between those two kinds? – A weak brother does not defend error. He might be involved in error, but doesn’t justify it. An example: If a member says to me: “Pastor, I’m not sure I believe that God created the Universe in six days”, would I excommunicate him? No, I would instruct him, patiently. If a member publicly says: “Pastor, I don’t believe that God created the Universe in six days”, then I would correct him boldly, talk to him and carefully make sure that I understand him correctly and that he means what he says (this would include that I pointed out the biblical teaching and tried to instruct him, because he is under my supervision). And if he continues to defend the false doctrine, then I would have him excommunicated.
    In your qoute from Pieper (“It does not throw these overboard; that would be dreadful”), Pieper is not talking about false teachers, he is talking about weak brothers. False teachers should be thrown overboard, be excommunicated and avoided. Pieper writes in “The Distinction Between Orthodox & Heterodox Churches”: It is blindness if you suppose that you are still a witness bearer for the truth, when you continue in fellowship with openly known errorists. It is an absolute contradiction to be both a witness-bearer for the truth, and an associate of false teachers.
    (http://www.goodshepherdrogers.org/beliefs/the-distinction-between-orthodox-and-heterodox-churches/)

  29. Rev Rossow

    I agree with your comment, “The LCMS is dying due to lack of action.”
    The action needed is to follow Christ’s command in the Great Commission.
    In all of Jesus teaching He clearly emphasizes the importance of being an active church in spreading the gospel. Why doesn’t your “Confessional” theology do this?

  30. @mark† #13

    Here is what I don’t get, there are any number of denominations that accept women as Pastors. Why not just join one of those denominations? Why is there this need to take down another denomination.

    The answer to that is simple: Becker likes attention.
    He gets a lot of it for his heretical views, from confessional LCMS.
    And Daystar fawns over him for his support of women’s ordination.

    If he moved to any of the unorthodox denominations, he would disappear like a raindrop into a pond, totally indistinguishable from the rest of the water. How dull!
    [The devil, I’m sure, finds Becker useful in LCMS where there are still souls/congregations to subvert. In the “progressive” denominations, even the devil wouldn’t need him.]

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