WMLTblog — Concerning the President’s Duties

Found over on WMLTblog.org:
[[ Our constitution/bylaws can be found here ]]

 

Dear Friends,

Because we know the Gospel of full forgiveness by the blood of Jesus, we also recognize the voice of our Savior in Holy Scripture. “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27). Saying “yes” to the Gospel in faith and to His voice in Holy Scripture, we must also say “no” to what is not true and to what the Scriptures reject (Titus 3:10).

At this moment, I would invite all of you to note what you, the church, expect of all members of the Synod, including review panels, and of the Synod’s President. What follows are excerpts showing how our church has put into practice (however imperfectly) the infallible directions of Scripture (including freedom and love).

Note especially the following words about the president’s duties.

(c) [The President] shall call up for review any action by an individual officer, executive, or agency that, in his view, may be in violation of the Constitution, Bylaws, and resolutions of the Synod. [LCMS Bylaw 3.3.1.2 c.]

Also:

2. It is the President’s duty to see to it that all the aforementioned [officers, employees, individual districts, and district presidents of Synod] act in accordance with the Synod’s Constitution, to admonish all who in any way depart from it, and, if such admonition is not heeded, to report such cases to the Synod.

3. The President has and always shall have the power to advise, admonish, and reprove. He shall conscientiously use all means at his command to promote and maintain unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of the Synod. [LCMS Constitution, Article XI, B. Duties of the President]

Note also that the bylaw on “dissent” from the doctrine of Synod does not grant any church worker the right to teach contrary to the Synod’s public doctrine.

1.8.1 While retaining the right of brotherly dissent, members of the Synod are expected as part of the life together within the fellowship of the Synod to honor and uphold the resolutions of the Synod.

1.8.2 Dissent from doctrinal resolutions and statements is to be expressed first within the fellowship of peers and then brought to the attention of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations before finding expression as an overture to the convention calling for revision or recision. While the conscience of the dissenter shall be respected, the consciences of others, as well as the collective will of the Synod, shall also be respected. [LCMS Bylaws]

What follows, for your study and consideration, are the pertinent words from our Synod’s Constitution and Bylaws, as they appear within their larger context.

Matt Harrison

______________________________

LCMS Constitution, Article II (Confession)

The Synod, and every member of the Synod, accepts without reservation:

  1. The Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and of practice;
  1. All the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God, to wit: the three Ecumenical Creeds (the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Large Catechism of Luther, the Small Catechism of Luther, and the Formula of Concord.

LCMS Constitution, Article III (Objectives of Synod)

The Synod, under Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, shall—

  1. Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Eph. 4:3–6; 1 Cor. 1:10), work through its official structure toward fellowship with other Christian church bodies, and provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Rom. 16:17), and heresy;
  1. Strengthen congregations and their members in giving bold witness by word and deed to the love and work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and extend that Gospel witness into all the world;
  1. Recruit and train pastors, teachers, and other professional church workers and provide opportunity for their continuing growth;
  1. Provide opportunities through which its members may express their Christian concern, love, and compassion in meeting human needs;
  1. Aid congregations to develop processes of thorough Christian education and nurture and to establish agencies of Christian education such as elementary and secondary schools and to support synodical colleges, universities, and seminaries;
  1. Aid congregations by providing a variety of resources and opportunities for recognizing, promoting, expressing, conserving, and defending their confessional unity in the true faith;
  1. Encourage congregations to strive for uniformity in church practice, but also to develop an appreciation of a variety of responsible practices and customs which are in harmony with our common profession of faith;
  1. Provide evangelical supervision, counsel, and care for pastors, teachers, and other professional church workers of the Synod in the performance of their official duties;
  1. Provide protection for congregations, pastors, teachers, and other church workers in the performance of their official duties and the maintenance of their rights;
  1. Aid in providing for the welfare of pastors, teachers, and other church workers, and their families, in the event of illness, disability, retirement, special need, or death.

LCMS 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.

3. Regular call of pastors, teachers, directors of Christian education, directors of Christian outreach, directors of family life ministry, directors of parish music, deaconesses, certified lay ministers, and parish assistants and regular election of lay delegates by the congregations, as also the blamelessness of the life of such.

4. Exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda, hymnbooks, and catechisms in church and school.

5. A congregation shall be received into membership only after the Synod has convinced itself that the constitution of the congregation, which must be submitted for examination, contains nothing contrary to the Scriptures or the Confessions.

6. Pastors, teachers, directors of Christian education, directors of Christian outreach, directors of family life ministry, directors of parish music, deaconesses, certified lay ministers, or candidates for these offices not coming from recognized orthodox church bodies must submit to a colloquium before being received.

7. Congregations and individuals shall be received into membership at such time and manner, and according to such procedures, as shall be set forth in the bylaws to this Constitution.

LCMS Constitution, Article XIII (Expulsion from the Synod)

  1. Members who act contrary to the confession laid down in Article II and to the conditions of membership laid down in Article VI or persist in an offensive conduct, shall, after previous futile admonition, be expelled from the Synod.

LCMS Constitution, Article XI. B. (Duties of the President)

The President has the supervision regarding the doctrine and the administration of

a. All officers of the Synod;
b. All such as are employed by the Synod;
c. The individual districts of the Synod;
d. All district presidents.

  1. It is the President’s duty to see to it that all the aforementioned act in accordance with the Synod’s Constitution, to admonish all who in any way depart from it, and, if such admonition is not heeded, to report such cases to the Synod.
  1. The President has and always shall have the power to advise, admonish, and reprove. He shall conscientiously use all means at his command to promote and maintain unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of the Synod.
  1. The President shall see to it that the resolutions of the Synod are carried out.
  1. When the Synod meets in convention the President shall give a report of his administration. He shall conduct the sessions of the convention so that all things are done in a Christian manner and in accord with the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod….

LCMS Bylaws on the Duties of the President

3.3.1.2 The President shall oversee the activities of all officers, executives, and agencies of the Synod to see to it that they are acting in accordance with the Constitution, Bylaws, and resolutions of the Synod.

(a) He shall at regular intervals officially visit or cause to be visited all the educational institutions of the Synod and thereby exercise oversight over their administration as it relates to adherence to the Constitution, Bylaws, and resolutions of the Synod.

(b) He shall meet regularly with the Council of Presidents and, as deemed necessary, with individual district presidents or small groups of district presidents, to see to it that their administration is in accordance with the Constitution, Bylaws, and resolutions of the Synod. He shall receive regular reports on this subject from the district presidents.

(c) He shall call up for review any action by an individual officer, executive, or agency that, in his view, may be in violation of the Constitution, Bylaws, and resolutions of the Synod.

(1) If he deems appropriate, he shall request that such action be altered or reversed.

(2) If the matter cannot be resolved, he shall refer it to the Synod’s Board of Directors, the Commission on Constitutional Matters, and/or the Synod in convention as he deems appropriate to the issues and party/parties to the matter involved.

(3) This provision in no way alters the President’s constitutional duty to report to the Synod those who do not act in accordance with the Constitution and do not heed his admonition, as prescribed in Constitution Art. XI B 2.

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, LCMSsermons.com, 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 KNFA.net.


Comments

WMLTblog — Concerning the President’s Duties — 17 Comments

  1. The glaring omission here is Article 2.15 the authority of the president to initiate expulsion from synod of a district president.

    This could have been done years ago. The only reason I have heard that it wasn’t done is that it would have caused division in the synod. Matthew Becker and President Linnemann caused the division. The right thing to do was to address it as soon as the division was caused.

  2. Charlie,

    I do not understand why. Why did it have to play out?

    For how long has Becker been teaching false doctrine?

    How long should false doctrine be tolerated?

    For how long has President Linnemann harbored this false teacher in his district?

    Does Article 2.15 give the synod president the authority to initiate the expulsion of a District President who will not rebuke false teaching in his district?

    I am very glad President Harrison has made such a strong statement against the false teacher Matthew Becker.

    I am very glad he is drawing our attention to the authority of the synod president.

    I am surprised that he omitted the strongest authority that we have given him when he made a list of his constitutional powers.

  3. Pastor Tim Rossow :
    I am surprised that he omitted the strongest authority that we have given him when he made a list of his constitutional powers.

    It appears to me that what Pres. Harrison wrote is a direct response to the DayStar article, which stated, “President Harrison has clearly gone beyond the Constitution, Bylaws, and standard operating procedures (which require that no publicity is to be given to such settled cases) in order to visit his own judgment on the matter.”

    The DayStar article was about Becker, not Linnemann. So it doesn’t surprise me that Pres. Harrison didn’t reference his authority to initiate the expulsion proceedings for a D.P. because what he was (presumably) responding to wasn’t in direct reference to a D.P.

    So I would ask that you please not point the gun at Pres. Harrison. He’s not the false teacher. He may not have operated as swiftly as many of us (myself included) would have liked him to act, but at least he is taking action, doing his best to stay within the governmental structure that we have given him.

  4. Rev. Mo,

    I am not pointing the gun at Pres. Harrison. I am asking why he has not used the authority we have given him. Why hasn’t he used the authority of 2.15? What am I missing.

  5. Rev. Mo,

    The lynchpin in the constitutional process has always been Linnemann. Our by-laws keep the SP out of individual members lives because we all have our own supervisor, our DP. Wisely, they did not leave an open hole however. They gave the SP the power to initiate expulsion against an erring DP.

    We elected a confessional president and in his own words, gave him authority to deal with these situations. I am surprised he has not used the strongest authority we have given him.

  6. Reverend Mo:
    It appears to me that what Pres. Harrison wrote is a direct response to the DayStar article, which stated, “President Harrison has clearly gone beyond the Constitution, Bylaws, and standard operating procedures (which require that no publicity is to be given to such settled cases) in order to visit his own judgment on the matter.”
    The DayStar article was about Becker, not Linnemann. So it doesn’t surprise me that Pres. Harrison didn’t reference his authority to initiate the expulsion proceedings for a D.P. because what he was (presumably) responding to wasn’t in direct reference to a D.P.

    Exactly. That’s how I read it too. Either a response to, or anticipation of, the Daystar accusations or similar accusations by liberal members of the COP, who are meeting now as we speak.

  7. Pastor Tim Rossow :
    Rev. Mo,
    The lynchpin in the constitutional process has always been Linnemann. Our by-laws keep the SP out of individual members lives because we all have our own supervisor, our DP. Wisely, they did not leave an open hole however. They gave the SP the power to initiate expulsion against an erring DP.
    We elected a confessional president and in his own words, gave him authority to deal with these situations. I am surprised he has not used the strongest authority we have given him.

    I agree that Linnemann has not only been the one holding the system together (i.e., the linchpin), but he has also been the one who has been turning the system on its head.

    For the sake of good order, I don’t blame Harrison for not going after Linnemann sooner. He needed to see how the whole process with Becker would play out before he could make any additional moves. He needed to see what Linnemann was going to do.

    Now, it can be argued that we all knew what Linnemann was going to do. He’s been publicly protecting Becker for decades.

    But in order for the system to work (or not work, as the case may be), the system must be allowed to play out.

    Now that the system has played out and Linnemann has played his hand and made his moves, it would be appropriate for Harrison to initiate expulsion proceedings against him.

    But, for the sake of good order, the system needed to be played out.

    I despise the system with a passion. It’s horrible. It’s entirely dysfunctional.

    But that doesn’t mean that we just throw it out the window when it doesn’t do what we want it to do. We still operate within its boundaries and restrictions.

    And, to be clear, I am not saying that the system is superior to the Word of God. (I could see someone inferring that from what I have written.) Indeed, it is not.

    But the system is what we have agreed to use by virtue of our membership in the synod. We are not free to abandon it (apart from abandoning our membership in the synod).

    If everything in the system fails and heretics are still permitted to openly teach, then we must make a decision as to where our loyalty lies (as was implied at the end of Pres. Harrison’s statement following the “exoneration” of Becker). Then we have to decide if this is where we want to stay.

    There are still options available to both Pres. Harrison and the synod at large, especially with a convention coming up in a year and a half.

    Will it be slow? You betcha. Do we want it to move faster? Of course.

    But it’s not always about what we want. It’s about standing up to our commitment to abide by the constitution and bylaws of the synod. Becker and Linnemann have forsaken that, as have all of the signors of the DayStar letter. But just because they have it doesn’t mean that we should, also.

  8. Note that Harrison’s post is titled “Concerning the President’s Duties.” It is indeed about his CONSTITUTIONAL authority, but does NOT go into detail about the Bylaws. What he quotes from the Bylaws is the one section that is most directly relevant to the Powers and Duties of the President, i.e., Bylaw 3.3.1.2. So at that broad level, I think his post hangs together. To quote and go into Bylaw 2.15, when that was not the subject of Harrison’s recent posts referring to the Becker case–which are, in turn, what the Left is objecting to at the moment–that would not make sense. Harrison’s February 10 post is, I believe, anticipating the grief he is probably getting right now from the liberal members of the COP, meeting as we speak.

  9. Reverend Mo: Now, it can be argued that we all knew what Linnemann was going to do. He’s been publicly protecting Becker for decades.

    For the record, Paul Linnemann has been NOW DP only since 2009. But it is true that his predecessors as NOW DP, Warren Schumacher and Erhart Bauer (both of them signators of the Daystar letter), likewise have been protecting the false teacher Becker for decades.

  10. Charles Henrickson :

    Reverend Mo:Now, it can be argued that we all knew what Linnemann was going to do. He’s been publicly protecting Becker for decades.

    For the record, Paul Linnemann has been NOW DP only since 2009. But it is true that his predecessors as NOW DP, Warren Schumacher and Erhart Bauer (both of them signators of the Daystar letter), likewise have been protecting the false teacher Becker for decades.

    Thanks for the correction. I went back and checked the history. I knew that Linnemann was involved back in the late-90s, but his involvement was just that he was the one who was appointed to replace Becker as the district secretary when Becker left.

    See @Harry Edmon #4 from another discussion.

  11. Rev. Mo,

    Does good order trump the presence of false doctrine?

    You guys have still not answered the simple question. Why did the Becker thing have to play out? Did Harrison not know about Becker until it “played out?”

    I can tell you for sure that he has known about it for years.

    I am glad that you see that it is now time to initiate expulsion. Where is that? Why does he not list that in his list of constitutional duties?

    Speaking of good order, 2.15 also says that the SP can announce this action for the sake of unity in the synod. It needs to be done pronto.

  12. Pastor Tim Rossow :
    Rev. Mo,
    Does good order trump the presence of false doctrine?

    Of course not. But our good order has a system for dealing with false doctrine. Since we agreed to use the system, the system must play itself out.

    You guys have still not answered the simple question. Why did the Becker thing have to play out? Did Harrison not know about Becker until it “played out?”

    Because the system is what we agreed to use.

    I am glad that you see that it is now time to initiate expulsion. Where is that? Why does he not list that in his list of constitutional duties?

    Again, it appears that he was writing in response to the DayStar article, which has nothing to do with Linnemann. It only deals with Becker. From a response standpoint, stating that he has the authority to initiate expulsion proceedings against a D.P. goes beyond the scope of the conversation at hand.

    Speaking of good order, 2.15 also says that the SP can announce this action for the sake of unity in the synod. It needs to be done pronto.

    This is true, but there may not be anything to announce yet. I am sure that as you have need to know about it you will be informed. And I am also sure that Pres. Harrison is seeking counsel from his most trusted advisers.

    One other thing to keep in mind is that a simple majority of the COP can remove Pres. Harrison from being the one to commence this action. See Bylaw 2.15.4.1.

  13. Excuse me if reading all of this, in the context of the entire matter . . .

    It seems I am reading a Monty Python skit.

    Sheesh!

  14. Pastor Tim Rossow :The glaring omission here is Article 2.15 the authority of the president to initiate expulsion from synod of a district president.
    This could have been done years ago. The only reason I have heard that it wasn’t done is that it would have caused division in the synod. Matthew Becker and President Linnemann caused the division. The right thing to do was to address it as soon as the division was caused.

    A few months ago, I was reading the final report of Pr. Oscar Gerken (MO District VP) on the case of John Tietgen (Seminex). The report didn’t really clear Tietgen of false doctrine. I only got the impression that they agreed to disagree, or the accused said “that’s not what I meant when I said that…”, and that Pr. Gerken didn’t go any further to avoid any division in the Synod. I will note that the Synodical Convention did rule on the matter:

    (This is standard procedure for liberal members of Synod: trump Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions with By-Laws and Procedures).

    After the LCMS Synodical Convention declared his position to be one that ‘could not be tolerated in the Church of God’, Seminary President John Tietjen stated to the Convention: “I believe I have been grievously wronged by the Convention, and I should like to state a number of reasons why. The Convention Workbook contains any number of overtures which ought not to have been included in that workbook because they are unconstitutional in that there are provisions in the constitution and bylaws for handling the concerns that were expressed in those overtures.”

  15. @Reverend Mo #13
    “Of course not. But our good order has a system for dealing with false doctrine. Since we agreed to use the system, the system must play itself out.”

    There is a whole generation of sheep being victimized and scandalized while the “system*’ plays itself out.”

    I’ll point out that such a “system” cannot possibly be “good order.”

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