Licensed Lay Whatchamacallit? Let Gottesdienst help you understand the issue.

whatchaThis year’s convention of the LCMS has a few key issues.  One of them is the issue of Lay Ministry, allowed in the LCMS officially since 1989 in opposition to the plain teaching of the Augsburg Confession (Article XIV).  To Synod’s credit, they realized it needed addressing (2013 Convention) and Pres. Harrison following the 2013 Convention put together a task force to study it.  (I know the frustration over why things must be “studied”, but whatever, progress towards faithfulness is good, even if slow).  Gottesdienst, one of the best online (and in print) groups for Lutheran theology of worship and the ministry put together a conference this past week.  The videos are now online for people to view.  Take a look at them.  The presentations are very good.  Pres. Harrison also was in attendance and took some time to explain the changes suggested by the Task Force in an understandable way.

The videos can be found here.

For those of you wanting to know more about it, these videos are a great resource.  For those convention delegates (especially the ones getting the sort of propaganda like the Northwest District has been putting out) this will be very helpful in figuring out the faithful alternative to the mess the LCMS has found herself in.  Here’s a tip – if the material you read or hear on this issue seems to promote “class warfare” between Clergy and Laity you are hearing from the wrong sources – rather Marxist ones – which ought not be heard from again in Christ’s Church.

Take a look or listen to these presentations.  They are worth your time.

 

 

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

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Licensed Lay Whatchamacallit? Let Gottesdienst help you understand the issue. — 4 Comments

  1. A Reaction to Task Force 4-06A
    On the 6th of May, 2016, the LCMS Office of the President sent a video via e-mail that supports the ordination of licensed lay deacons pursuant to Task Force 4-06A. The tenor of the video is that licensed deacons have been and are performing the duties of the Office of Public Ministry and therefore they ought to be ordained and given the title “pastor” for the sake of “certainty.” Not one of the bureaucrats who spoke on the video cited Scripture or Concordia. The fault for placing uneducated men in the limbo position of discharging pastoral duties without the de jure authority of the Office lies with the Council of Presidents and Convention for approving a licensed diaconate in the first place. In opposition thereto, I quote a Spanish saying “aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda,” that translates as, “although a monkey dresses in silk, she is still a monkey.”
    Synodical President Harrison, and all the church bureaucrats who support the ordination of licensed deacons are asking duly educated and qualified ordained clergy to meekly accept yet another incremental step leading to the Office of Public Ministry complete deterioration. Not once in the video presentation did anyone refer to how this proposal comports with AC XIV, “. . .no one should publicly teach, preach, or administer the sacraments without a proper [public] call.” See Ap. XIV¶1. Not a single speaker except Harrison even referred to Concordia at all, and Harrison merely made a passing reference to “the Confessions,” as if his stating an awareness of the requirement is supposed to cause all to conclude that this proposal passes confessional muster.
    Bill Schutte, an Arkansas licensed deacon, appeared on the video. He cited Luke 9 wherein John told Christ that they (the disciples) tried to stop a man from casting out demons in Christ’s name because he was not one of their company, and Christ said they should not have prevented him because “. . . the one who is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:50). “Casting out demons” is not one of the Office of Public Ministry’s specified duties. It is not a “Mark of the Church,” either as taught at CTS (preaching the Word, forgiving sins and administering the sacraments) nor is it among the duties on Martin Luther’s longer list. By citing an irrelevant scriptural passage in attempting to justify licensed deacon ordination, Schutte openly and publicly proved his theological incompetence. Misapplying Scripture proves that he should not be preaching in the first place; he does not rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). It therefore goes without saying that he, and those like him, ought not be ordained as pastors. Ordaining them would show the world that LCMS as a body is theologically incompetent.
    The repeated message in the video that these deacons ought to be ordained and called pastors because they want to serve smacks of the sin of Korah and his company. They too “wanted to serve” by offering incense at the Tabernacle, knowing full well that duty had been assigned to Levi. The Lord caused the earth to swallow them all and drag them alive to Sheol. Numbers chapter 16. In this matter the question must be asked whether all these theologically incompetent deacons and the church bureaucrats who are supporting their ordination might have a similar fate awaiting them, either in this life or hereafter. No one could wish such a thing, but the clear import of Scripture should give them reason to be concerned. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked.” Galatians 6:7.
    No matter what Synod says, I will not be agreeing that these licensed deacons are pastors even if Synod punishes me by removing me from roster. Better that than to offend conscience and burn forever in the Abyss.
    On the 2nd of May, 2016, Southern District President Schultz sent out a message concerning the resolutions for the upcoming Synodical Convention. Concerning Task Force 4-06A he quoted the aforementioned AC XIV. He quoted the President’s (Harrison’s) report that among the LCMS Council of Presidents members there is a significant divide between the older pastors who see Concordia as “descriptive” while the younger pastors insist that the Confessions are “prescriptive.” Schultz did not disclose where he stood.
    There is nothing discretionary about Concordia’s requirements. By quoting the relevant AC passage Harrison demonstrated that fully understands the regular call requirement for ordination. What he did not address is the vow that each pastor is required to make at ordination and at each installation. That vow, made before the congregation and the altar of God Almighty reads in relevant part as follows (from Lutheran Service Book Agenda):
    P: Do you confess the Unaltered Augsburg Confession to be a true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church? And do you confess that the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord—as these are contained in the Book of Concord–are also in agreement with this one scriptural faith?
    R: Yes, make these Confessions my own because they are in accord with the Word of God.
    P: Do you promise that you will perform the duties of your office in accordance with these Confessions, and that all your preaching and teaching and your administration of the Sacraments will be in conformity with Holy Scripture and with these Confessions?
    R Yes, I promise, with the help of God.
    The solemn oath in The Lutheran Hymnal and Lutheran Worship agendas are slightly different but substantially identical. Thus, all currently serving LCMS clergy have taken this oath at least twice.
    Whether Concordia is characterized as “descriptive” or “prescriptive” matters not at all. The oath that each pastor takes makes supporting and defending the expressed terms of Concordia of 1580 mandatory, binding, obligatory and compulsory. It matters not at all whether the solemn promise is made wholeheartedly or with reservation. Each of us who was ordained and installed in sacred office repeatedly made the vow with full knowledge of the content of what was being pledged. Each of us freely and without duress publicly confessed the 1580 Concordia to be his own because (quia) it is in accord with Holy Scripture. If any pastor has subsequently changed his mind, the only honorable and honest course of action available to him is to quit the office.
    The solemn promise each pastor made at his ordination and each installation also compels him to denounce the treacherous hypocrisy of every fellow Missouri Synod pastor who has departed from his solemn promise. This obligation especially applies to every ordained cleric who serves as an ecclesiastical bureaucrat and claims the power of “ecclesiastical supervision.” The vow taken by every Council of Presidents member obligates him to call upon every vow breaking pastor to either repent or be removed from roster.
    All Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastors we should reaffirm to each other and to their congregations their (our) unqualified quia subscription to the 1580 Concordia. Second, all congregations and their pastors should inform the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod Council of Presidents of their unanimous opposition to the ordination of licensed deacons. Third, we should call upon the Council of Presidents to compel all ordained members of Synod who have departed from the 1580 Concordia to either repent or move to have them removed from roster.
    Because I call for a public reaffirmation, I should be the first to do so. Therefore, I confess before God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that the Unaltered Augsburg Confession is a true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. I confess that the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord—as these are contained in the Book of Concord–are also in agreement with this one scriptural faith. I again promise that I will perform the duties of my office in accordance with these Confessions, and that all my preaching and teaching and my administration of the Sacraments will be in conformity with Holy Scripture and with these Confessions.
    Wesley Tetsuji Kan, pastor, Redemption Lutheran Church – Panama City, Florida

  2. In a section with the oxymoronic (per Tr.67) title of “Background (Laymen Serving in a Pastoral Role in the LCMS)” (p. 3), the Task Force Report refers to the Lord’s mandate for the pastoral office, as attested to in Scripture and the Confessions, as well as the understanding contained in C.F.W. Walther’s Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der Frage von Kirche und Amt (Church and Ministry) and its many supporting sources, and then states:

    Such an array of biblical, confessional, and historical witnesses to the necessity of a rightly called office of the ministry has led many in the LCMS to voice significant discomfort and objections to the practice of lay preaching and administration of the sacraments which is present in some LCMS congregations.

    And on p. 4, “The practice of non-ordained men serving pastorally has resulted in questions, objections, and debate.” At most the Task Force admits (within a paragraph on p. 12): “Unfortunately, the result [of Resolution 3-05B] has been confusion and division, rather than order and harmony.

    It seems that the Task Force cannot bring itself to publicly admit that the 1989 Synodical Convention delegates who voted for the Lufauxran Resolution 3-05B, adopting the Lay Worker Study Committee recommendations and guidelines, were simply wrong to do so. And of course, the Task Force cannot admit they were wrong, because on p. 19, the Task Force recommends that the Resolution 3-05B practice of licensing non-ordained lay deacons for Word and Sacrament ministry continue (!) at least until 2018.

    The Task Force also redefines the quia subscription to the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in Scripture and exposited in the Book of Concord of 1580… y’know… that Article II thingy in the Missouri Synod Constitution required for all individual and congregational Synod members (not to mention all communicant members of those Missouri Synod congregations).

    Yes, you still have to subscribe at confirmation and ordination to the confessions of the Lutheran Church, but the Task Force proclaims that you don’t then actually have to apply it in practice, at least not all the time (p. 20):

    The Task Force cautions those who may believe that there should be an immediate cessation of Licensed Lay Deacon programs and the current practice, in some places, of having deacons serving congregations in a pastoral capacity. Concern for practice that is fully consistent with doctrine is always appropriate, but it is also necessary to recognize that teaching and “convincing” require time. It is most important that there be a theological consensus on this matter within our Synod that is scriptural and confessional. Only on that basis can real progress toward common practices be achieved.

    The Missouri Synod is in sad shape. 🙁

  3. Carl Vehse commented on the Task Force’s redefinition of a quia subscription by writing, “. . . you still have to subscribe at confirmation and ordination to the confessions of the Lutheran Church, but the Task Force proclaims that you don’t then actually have to apply it in practice, at least not all the time (p. 20).” This matter that Brother Carl brings to our attention is far more serious than it appears at first blush. The Task Force, an official commission of Synod, seeks not merely for LCMS to passively acquiesce to pastors and other church workers breaking their solemn promises. It seeks to compel all to affirmatively and expressly accept the departure from a quia subscription as legitimate. The Task Force is attempting to compel Missouri Synod Lutherans to accept traitors. Breaking with a quia subscription to Concordia is not merely a personal decision. The Miriam-Webster Dictionary definition of traitor states in relevant part, “1. one who betrays another’s trust or is false to an obligation or duty.” According to the dictionary definition and in light of the unconditional subscription that is required of all members of Synod, all those who depart from a quia subscription are traitors. It also follows that all who seek to excuse, exempt or exonerate traitors are apologists for those who commit treason.
    For those who would accuse me of violating the Eighth Commandment in failing to speak well of my neighbor or failing to put the best construction on everything, I would respond by asking them how they would have me place the best construction on treason. I find a weakness in the Small Catechism commentary on the Eighth Commandment in that it should have had a proviso add, “. . .in keeping with the truth.” I, for one, will not speak well of my neighbor and place a construction upon his treachery because that would depart from the truth. Christ have mercy upon me if I err.
    For those who would accuse me of violating the letter, or at least the spirit, of the Koinonia Project, I demur. When I was installed as pastor on St. Lawrence Day, 2003, I was asked, “Do you solemnly promise that you will perform the duties of your office in accordance with these Confessions, or Symbols, and that all your teaching and your administration of the sacraments will be in conformity with the Holy Scriptures and with the aforementioned Symbols?” I responded as required, “I do.” I do not recall ever making such a pledge to the Koinonia Project, and if I did, I renounce that pledge to the extent that it violated the oath to uphold Concordia, the Unaltered Augsburg Confession in particular because it “is a true exposition of the Word of God” as I affirmed in the same oath.

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