Bible or Bylaws? (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

June 16th, 2010 Post by

In reading the answers of the candidates for synod president, a number of people have noted how the leading candidate, Rev. Matt Harrison, makes frequent and able use of the Bible, while Rev. Jerry Kieschnick does not. This is not to say that Rev. Kieschnick does not believe the Bible is the Word of God; I’m sure he does. But, based on nine years of observation, I don’t think he is as capable of using the Scriptures–putting them into use, freely, fittingly, and on his feet–as is Rev. Harrison.

Instead, for these past nine years under President Kieschnick’s leadership, we have been bogged down in bylaws. Commission rulings, novel interpretations of Handbook subsections and clauses–these have been the Kieschnick administration’s stock-in-trade. And this tendency shows no signs of letting up. Indeed, the Task Force and now Floor Committee on Structure and Governance–groups that President Kieschnick himself selected and appointed–these have presented us with a Blue Ribbon Boondoggle that has been a colossal waste of time and money, that would move power away from congregations and circuits and up the ladder to presidents’ offices, and that would engulf us into even more years of bylaw haggling and massive reorganization. How tedious and tiresome!

By way of contrast, if Pastor Harrison is elected, how refreshing it will be to have a synod president who is thoroughly conversant with the Holy Scriptures and knows how to use them! A time of refreshment and forward movement in the Word of God! That’s what we need! And, under God’s blessing, Pastor Harrison is the man to lead us in that. He is excellent at bringing the Word of God to people in a lively and winsome way, both in his writings and in his public speaking. “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” And Harrison readily speaks the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Savior, applying it to the life of the church, from a heart and mind saturated with Scripture.

Bogged down in bylaws or bubbling with the Bible? Bible or Bylaws? As a convention delegate, I know which way I will choose!

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  1. helen
    June 16th, 2010 at 13:36 | #1

    God bless the worker and the work, Pr. Henrickson!

  2. Todd Wilken
    June 16th, 2010 at 13:50 | #2


    Good post.

    Another difference? Bylaws can be changed; the Bible can’t.


  3. June 16th, 2010 at 14:40 | #3

    @Todd Wilken #2

    Or to phrase Todd’s answer another way,

    The Bible can be relied upon and trusted not to change; Bylaws can’t.

  4. Keith
    June 16th, 2010 at 14:56 | #4

    First: I’m not LCMS (though much of my family is), so maybe I am missing something.

    Pastor Harrison is the only one who sprinkled Scripture throughout his answers. I think that’s great! But isn’t implying that because President Kieschnick didn’t on his answers also imply that the other 3 candidates can’t, as well? None of the other candidates are even close to Pastor Harrison in their Scripture quoting in their answers. I know that it appears to be a two-horse race, but doesn’t the line of thought (at least, not without more emphasis on the last 9 years of leadership) imply, however unintentionally, that Dr. Gard, President Mueller, and Dr. Fickenscher are also not as adept at using Scripture – or at least, their levels would be similar to President Kieschnick?

  5. Rick
    June 16th, 2010 at 16:09 | #5

    “Bogged down in bylaws or bubbling with the Bible? Bible or Bylaws? As a convention delegate, I know which way I will choose!” – Charles Henrickson.

    “Bubbling with the Bible” is probably not the right way to say it. I’ve seen others before who are quite able to “bubble with the Bible.” From what I’ve seen in videos by (future president) Matt Harrison, not only does he know His Holy Bible well, but he knows what to best use in what context. He is re-assuring, and has authority which comes from the Word he proclaims. From what I’ve seen and read, he seems humble, and not focuses on his own authority. I agree, a Harrison presidency would be a blessing to our church, and would truly be refreshing, as you pointed out.

    To be sure, there is a time for bylaws and the like, but they should never be front and center. I appreciated President Barry, and believe President Harrison would also keep the synod’s priorities in proper perspective. We have real divisions which need to be attended to with Holy Scripture, not “a Blue Ribbon Boondoggle.”

  6. June 16th, 2010 at 16:20 | #6

    @Rick #4
    “Bubbling with the Bible”

    Hey, I was just going for a little alliteration there, that’s all. ;^) The point being, Rev. Harrison is quite good at just naturally “bubbling over” with excitement at the wonderful gospel opportunities our church has, and he laces his speech with the Word fitly spoken.

  7. Rick
    June 16th, 2010 at 16:46 | #7

    “Bubbling with the Bible”

    James Robertson at The Wittenberg Trail posted:
    “fons sapientiae verbum Dei The fount of knowledge is the word of God.”

  8. Helen
    June 17th, 2010 at 07:02 | #8

    @Keith #4
    THere are only two horses in that race.
    Five candidates are required, so the others let their names stand to complete the slate. (They were nominated for other positions.)

    You might say that Harrison works with/for the Gospel;
    Kieschnick’s reaction to any situation is to create more ‘Law.’

  9. June 17th, 2010 at 11:21 | #9

    @Keith #4

    Keith, I did not mention Revs. Mueller, Fickenscher, and Gard–all of whom I have great respect for–because this election is, as you put it, “a two-horse race.” Realistically, barring any unforeseen circumstance, it’s going to be either Rev. Harrison or Rev. Kieschnick who is elected. And I based my comparison of the two not just on the candidates’ answers to the questions but on a much longer track record, going back nine years.

  10. Reed
    June 17th, 2010 at 15:23 | #10

    I agree, why is a church being governed by a man who puts by-laws over biblical understanding of how the church should be ran? If Rev. Harrison is voted in I may just return to the LCMS again where all 3 of my kids were baptized and Me and my wife first heard the Gospel of Christ. Ever since Rev. Kieschnick got into office I have seen LCMS go down hill further than ever before and I doubt under further administration Rev. Kieschnick will not fail at ruining more of the lovely Christian church I grew to love so well and now am watching go the way of just another liberal church with a leadership that just does not care about the flock of Jesus Christ. I hope and pray by God’s will Rev. Matt Harrison will be voted in and a revival of the LCMS will come about.

  11. mbw
    June 17th, 2010 at 16:12 | #11

    @Helen #8

    > Kieschnick’s reaction to any situation is to create more ‘Law.’

    If there is anything worse than too much law, it’s too much MAN MADE law.

  12. Just a Layman
    June 18th, 2010 at 07:54 | #12

    Bible- talk about your softball questions! Thanks for all you do Pastor.

  13. Anonymous
    June 18th, 2010 at 15:09 | #13

    Why did Gard and Fickenscher let their names stand?

  14. June 18th, 2010 at 15:17 | #14

    Anonymous :Why did Gard and Fickenscher let their names stand?

    Because there have to be five names on the ballot, according to bylaw. So many had declined, it came down to Fickenscher with five nominations and Gard with three. If they had declined, it might have come down to me, with zero nominations!

    Everyone understands, though, this election is really between Harrison and Kieschnick.

  15. Michael L. Anderson
    June 20th, 2010 at 14:43 | #15

    Because there have to be five names on the ballot, according to bylaw. — Pr. Henrickson

    That “bylaw” thing fits, extra-ordinarily well. “There [had] to be five names on the ballot.” I mean, it’s the law.

    I’m surprised no one nominated Genesis,, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers or maybe even the ever-popular Deuteronomy.

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