Continued Cooperation in Externals?

July 5th, 2011 Post by

I recently read the Reporter article about continued LCMS-ELCA talks (see it here.)

This post is a continued discussion based upon my previous posting at BJS entitled “Is it Cooperation in Externals..

Some good things about the article:

Our chaplains may be getting a break in the forthcoming documents put out by Synod.

RSO’s will be reviewed a little closer for doctrine and practice.

Thank God for that progress.

 

Some questionable things about the article:

Synod is not going to be taking any steps away from the Inter-Lutheran agencies.  These agencies have both LCMS and ELCA cooperation.  I fail to see how such cooperation helps us proclaim the pure Gospel to the world.  Are we satisfied with having our witness tainted by association with error?

It is very disappointing that these conversations continue in this format, especially when the ELCA representatives flaunt their false beliefs about church unity in the meetings.  They make note of their full communion with other denominations like the RCA, PCUSA, ECUSA, UMC, and so forth.  More than any decision about human sexuality, these union agreements are insults to what the Scriptures teach about dealing with the erring.

It was sad to see from the article that an area of agreement that is notable is our mutual stand against human cloning.  That is a good stand, but sad in that we have to go that far before we find ourselves in agreement.

Couldn’t this be a good time to engage these other emerging Lutheran church bodies (like LCMC and NALC who have demonstrated some willingness to depart from error) in order to possibly call them back from the errors that they still have?

Don’t we have a hard enough time defining ourselves as “not those Lutherans” among the greater world in which we live bearing witness and showing mercy without confusing those whom we serve with such strange working relationships?

 

As I suggested in my previous post on this topic, our Synodical leaders need our prayers and encouragement on these matters.

 






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  1. July 7th, 2011 at 13:23 | #1

    @Anonymous #100
    I haven’t seen them as separable but I have most surely seen the love come before the instruction.
    Pax
    John

  2. Jason
    July 7th, 2011 at 13:44 | #2

    @John, an Unlikely Pastor #101

    but after love is there any attempt to get to the instruction?

  3. Jason
    July 7th, 2011 at 13:56 | #3

    Here is my take on some o fthis.

    I do have a big p[roblem with working with e_ca. We are tryin got be a lamp but we are sitting next to a dirty window. So when we try to shed light into the world, it gets occluded by the dirty window and isn’t anywhere near a bright, and therefore cannot shine as far and illuminate as many people. In marketing terms, that too many in our synod desire to use, e_ca damages the Lutheran brand name. And we let them! In some of our externals (LSS and gay adoption) we are complicit in enabling (supporting?) their heterodoxical (heretical?) public proclamation of what church and ministry are. So how do we possibly display what our (shoudl be Christ’s) beliefs are, when we do not cling to the cross and Scripture? Do we not trust and have faith in God’s Word and direction? (cliche alert) When you lie down with dogs you can expect to get fleas.

    I read over at ALPB how Catholic Charities is ending an association with Illinois over the adoption and gay issues. Karl Hess linked this article form a Catholic bishop. There is a dig at the refomation traditions, but I appreciated the article because he told his Catholic audience what it means to be a Catholic charity. He stated what it should mean to have your faith guide your works. He can express things better than I.

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/renewing-the-mission-of-catholic-charities/

  4. Pastor Joshua Scheer
    July 7th, 2011 at 14:12 | #4

    @Andrew #98
    Good point, either side is extreme, and both need to be guarded against. Just because the Old Adam will abuse something however does not mean we shouldn’t do it. Think of the Lord’s Supper – many complain about more frequent offering by saying that “people will take it for granted”… Should that concession to the Old Adam be made and not offer the Supper more often? Offer it, will sinners abuse it, certainly, but we still are called to offer it faithfully.
    Will some use contentment as a cover for complacency, certainly – should that cause us to not seek contentment and remain in coveting mode? God forbid.

  5. Pastor Joshua Scheer
    July 7th, 2011 at 14:17 | #5

    @Matthew Mills #95
    Thanks for your discussion Matthew, I would encourage your warning about mercy work actually becoming the “gospel” as those in more liberal denominations do. It is also a good warning about a lot of the “do” discussions. AC IV should always be in mind. Good works (in this case, acts of mercy done in faith) should follow faith (which alone justifies, and being justified already in the eyes of God we can be free to serve our neighbor as they have need).

    A difficulty here is that when churches find their identity (or unity) in what they do rather than what they believe (or who it is that called them together into the Church), a mixture of grace and works is inevitable.

    Thanks for your warning, and you are wise to consult your God-appointed soul-shepherd.

  6. Matthew Mills
    July 7th, 2011 at 14:47 | #6

    @John Rixe #97
    No, we should scrupulously avoid doing works of mercy as a means of sharing the Gospel. Lutherans don’t do “bait-n-switch” evangelism.

    @Anonymous #100
    If you believe we make disciples through our works of love, then you are a synergist. Lutherans are monergists.

    Quod scripsi, scripsi,
    -Matt Mills

  7. Chris
    July 7th, 2011 at 14:49 | #7

    Ok, my reasons that I would not be able to work with ELCA on charitable reasons. I am a strict Confessional and I take those convictions seriously. The ELCA are outspoken in their convictions as well. I cannot join with darkness regardless of how the ELCA uses the name ‘Lutheran’ in their denomination. With all the reasoning I have seen to defend the externals with the ELCA, the LCMS might as well do externals with Satanist, Pagan Covens, and Athiest. I just have a bad time believeing light can work with darkness. On this issue I strongly do not honor the LCMS and at this time and am proud to be a member of the WELS. At least we don’t meet with the ELCA on anything.

  8. July 7th, 2011 at 16:46 | #8

    @Carl Vehse #99
    Thanks Carl. I’d prefer not to invent things!

  9. John Rixe
    July 7th, 2011 at 18:30 | #9

    @Matthew Mills #106

    In our circuit we have low income after-school and summer programs, a center for developmentally disabled, two food banks (with Bible classes) – all with the specific purpose of reaching out to the lost.  If we didn’t have this “bait-and-switch” approach, it  would be a lot easier to just donate money to the city and let them do it.  Should we turn these over to the city to scrupulously avoid sharing the gospel?

  10. July 7th, 2011 at 18:48 | #10

    As a delegate to the 2010 Convention who voted AGAINST continuing cooperation in externals, who attended for the sole reason of voting for Pastor Harrison, I also recognize Pastor Harrison’s history in works of mercy with groups with whom we are NOT in fellowship. While I sympathize with the motvation for mercy that lies behind such cooperation in externals, I believe we all should not only pray for Pastor Harrison on this account, but contact his office personally and let him know our convictions. Kyrie eleison!

  11. Matthew Mills
    July 7th, 2011 at 19:25 | #11

    @John Rixe #109
    I’m trying to sneak off this thread, so I’d really rather one of the Pastors jumps in on this question (Pastor Scheer?). In the interim, here’s what the AC Art V says:

    1] That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, 2] the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear 3] the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake.

    4] They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works.

    What you are doing as a circuit rocks. Thank you. Jesus calls us as Christians to love our neighbors and you are doing it in spades. Poor people need child care, disabled folks need support, and hungry folks need food, but if you are doing it to “save souls” you are wrong on several levels.

    First, it just isn’t how Jesus promises to make disciples. Disciples are made through baptism and catechesis (Matt 28:18-20.) You can’t love someone into heaven; faith is a miraculous gift of God, not a human decision. God alone saves, and He does it through Word and Sacrament ministry, not child care, snappy uplifting music, midnight basketball or altar calls. Luther called the doctrine of justification “the article on which the Church stands or falls.” Get this right, and you have the true Church, get this wrong and nothing else much matters.

    It “moves the goal posts.” If you are making life better for a bunch of people your programs are successful. You are truly “helping and befriending your neighbor in every bodily need.” It’s going to be frustrating instead of joyful if you expect that to make disciples of all peoples.

    It also confuses law and gospel, human works and God’s grace. Nothing we “DO” converts. God doesn’t need our help to save sinners (but sinners still need our help.)

    I’m clearly not the “flavor of the day” on this string, but it would surprise me if this turns out to be controversial on BJS.

    Thanks again for all you do,
    -Matt Mills

  12. Matthew Mills
    July 7th, 2011 at 19:32 | #12

    @John Rixe #109
    I would never say avoid sharing the gospel. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Pet 3:15), but the cart runs better w/ the horse in front.

  13. Carl Vehse
    July 7th, 2011 at 20:59 | #13

    Matthew Mills #111:

    “Poor people need child care, disabled folks need support, and hungry folks need food, but if you are doing it to “save souls” you are wrong on several levels.”

    Matthew, the thing is that John Rixe never used the phrase, “save souls.” Mr. Rixe referred to “reaching out to the lost” and “sharing the gospel.” There’s a big difference!

    In fact, in this entire thread, no one had used the phrase, “save souls,” until you posted it wrapped in quotation marks. So it seems the phrase, as it applies to the posts in this thread, is simply a strawman.

  14. Anonymous
    July 7th, 2011 at 21:25 | #14

    @Matthew Mills #106

    No, I just know that several people I know have had an opportunity to answer (1 peter 3:15) when someone they knew (usually a co-worker) said “there is something different about you”. It was their fruits of faith that led that person to ask. The same fruits that lead us to help our neighbor (not the law, it’s the Gospel that motivates works of love). I am not suggesting that making disciples through our works of love in lieu of the means of grace. I am suggesting that through our works of love we have may have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel.

    If you are working with Christians that do not proclaim that that Bible is the inerrant word of God, that some sins are tolerated, then that is what the will hear when answered. So why help promote these false teachings? and if the works of love are not ever connected with the Gospel then aren’t we forgetting the one thing that is really needed? That is why it goes hand in hand. I know that your point is helping those in need doesn’t have to include the Gospel and I would agree and someone suggested using the Red Cross, no one really disagreed with that. The only issue with ELCA & LCMS working together is the appearance that doctrine doesn’t matter beyond the church doors, but it does. It would be better to keep away from the false teachers and find a way to help those either within the synod or with a secular agency that will not spread false doctrine. IMHO.

  15. Pastor Joshua Scheer
    July 7th, 2011 at 21:40 | #15

    @John Rixe #109
    The mercy work you talk about is a good thing. I think it may be better to view it simply as love for the neighbor, as Matthew has shown that concern and confusion about mercy work being viewed as some sort of means of grace. Certainly, mercy work can (and should) involve sharing God’s Word alongside of the mercy work, but then it is not the work that does anything, but the Word. Matthew appears to be struggling with that side of the coin. John, I don’t think you are describing anything wrong. A Christian doing good works will also be speaking the Word of God (faith cannot but declare the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marverlous light).

    It is important to realize that this has been a historical trap about mercy work in the past one hundred years. The social gospel replaced the real gospel. Liberal denominations have traded in proclaiming the forgiveness of sins for social justice concerns. I think a lot of the discussion here has been a good indicator of our fears and apprehension about mercy work replacing Gospel proclamation (Word and Sacrament). Ironically, with our relationship with the ELCA, this may be exactly what is happening (a little leaven anyone?).

  16. Matthew Mills
    July 7th, 2011 at 23:33 | #16

    @Carl Vehse #113
    Carl,
    No one in this thread has used the terms “bait-n-switch,” “moving the goal posts,” or “flavor of the day” either. If my habit of putting clichés and slang in quotes made anyone think that I was attributing “saving souls” to Mr. Rixe, I am very sorry. It was not my intent. But you’ve got to be bagging me (normally that phrase would have been in quotes, but … .) If a Circuit in the LC-MS is doing works of mercy “with the specific purpose of reaching out to the lost” (direct quote) that is theologically ghastly. Art-IV aside (which we should never do) how could a Lutheran square our Lord’s “”Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 6:1, but read the whole thing it’s pretty good) with a campaign to reach the lost through works of mercy? Christ says “when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret” (Matt 6:3,4), and the Circuit says make sure that everyone sees us and ask us about Jesus. That’s the kind of fatuous manipulation that cults like the Mormons and JWs use. Even if it wasn’t an offense to God Almighty, it doesn’t work, because people see that sort of thing for the manipulation it is from a mile away.

    If you honestly care about people and you have programs to help people in need, and you have the real love that comes from Christ, and His fire in your belly to serve the neighbor, then paradoxically people will see Jesus love however quietly you serve, and God can and does use the part of that service, which is His work in us to begin with. That’s what our Anonymous friend #114 has seen. So have I. But, when service to the neighbor is used as a tool “with the specific purpose of reaching out to the lost” (direct quote again) you’re going to achieve neither real love nor true conversions. Let’s leave that sort of thing to the cults and Schwärmeri.

    Kyrie Eleison,
    -Matt Mills

    P.S.Thanks for jumping in Pr. Scheer, YOYO btw (you’re on your own.)

    “Yet faith alone doth justify,
    Works serve thy neighbor and supply
    The proof that faith is living.” (Direct Quote) Martin Luther

  17. July 8th, 2011 at 01:09 | #17

    @Matthew Mills #116

    If you honestly care about people and you have programs to help people in need, and you have the real love that comes from Christ, and His fire in your belly to serve the neighbor, then paradoxically people will see Jesus love however quietly you serve, and God can and does use the part of that service, which is His work in us to begin with.

    Here’s my own honest self-assessment:

    - I honestly care about people: FAIL
    - I have programs to help people in need: FAIL
    - I have the real love that comes from Christ: FAIL
    - I have His fire in my belly to serve the neighbor: EPIC FAIL

    I really don’t think I’m doing too well. Thanks be to God, while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me, the righteous for the unrighteous.

  18. John Rixe
    July 8th, 2011 at 02:09 | #18

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #115

    Thanks everyone for all the  comments.  The programs in our circuit are the exact opposite of social gospel programs.   The clear and focused purpose is to provide opportunities to share the saving gospel not to achieve social justice.   

    Of course no one is suggesting that these programs are some kind of means of grace.  Only the Word saves.  You are warning us about dangers that seem preposterous, but I realize you could have no familiarity with these local ministries.

    Again, I’m grateful for everyone’s respectful participation.  This has been one of the better threads this year.

  19. Albert Hughes
    July 8th, 2011 at 04:43 | #19

    @John Rixe #92
    In no instance recorded in the four Gospels is it seen that Christ or the Apostles used those monies in any way that would have given any false witness to the teaching of Christ Himself or that of his Apostles.

    Being purposely ignorant of what someone writes is the lowest form of discourtesy.

  20. John Rixe
    July 8th, 2011 at 08:00 | #20

    @Albert Hughes #119

    I apologize for any unintended discourtesy.  I just haven’t been able to find very much in the 4 gospels about use of the money to come to any conclusions.

  21. Albert Hughes
    July 8th, 2011 at 12:28 | #21

    1. We know Christ received donations from the women who followed Him in His ministry and that Judas and the Apostles objected to the alabaster of Nard from being poured over Christ’s head for the reason that it could have been sold and the proceeds given for the poor, as recorded in John’s Gospel. I.e., Works of Charity.

    So we can conclude from Christ’s directive, “For He said, ” Beware of the leaven of the Pharissees and the Saduccees which is their doctrine”.

    Concluding that ‘Cooperation in Externals’, with those who openly oppose the Gospel in any article of faith is verboten on the face of it and as well as in any great degree.

    Hope this helps.

  22. Matthew Mills
    July 8th, 2011 at 13:14 | #22

    @John Rixe #118
    My writing must just be a mess this month, because no one seems to be getting the point of my screed. Please forgive me.

    The point I was trying to make is that our Lord doesn’t tell His Church to: “feed the LOST,” but “feed the HUNGRY” (Matt 25:35, 36). “Charity outreach” (to coin a phrase and not to quote any person, real or pseudonymous, living or dead) is to Biblical outreach what stalking is to courtship. It’s fundamentally disordered. Your Circuit is trying to drive a screw w/ a hammer, when they have Jesus’ own screwdriver right at their fingertips.

    If you want something designed “to provide opportunities to share the saving gospel” invite the lost to the Divine Service (no gimmicks required.) Charity is good, but it’s designed to provide food for the hungry (lost and found), drink for the thirsty (lost and found), welcome for the stranger (lost and found), clothes for the naked (lost and found), care for the sick (lost and found), and comfort for the prisoners (lost and found) (Matt 25:35, 36 again.) It’s not for “outreach,” and when your circuit uses it that way, they void the warranty. It ceases to be either charity or outreach.

    The verse every evangelism committee needs tattooed on their foreheads is: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:31) Outreach is not about methods, and a focus on methods generally results from a basic lack of faith in God’s Word and Sacraments to reach the lost.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  23. John Rixe
    July 8th, 2011 at 14:11 | #23

    @Matthew Mills #122

    I think that we are both repeating ourselves and kind of going in circles.  I also am guilty of not communicating this stuff very well,  but we are using these ministries to provide opportunities to invite the lost to hear the gospel and maybe come to Divine Services.   

    It would be hard to invite neighborhood school kids without an after school program.  If we stood on the street and invited them we would probably be arrested.  We are getting pretty good results with a few family baptisms and increased sunday school attendance.  This is a new program.  

    Our deaconess has operated the center for mentally disabled for 32 years.  I guarantee that you would weep at some of the testimonies of these wonderful clients.  There are weekly divine services at the center and several baptisms over the years.  How would you identify these folks, relate to them, and invite them to divine services without this program?   They are developmentally challenged.  I don’t think they would get much from our regular services.  Should we ignore their spiritual needs?

    We have over 90 cantonese speaking folks attend our weekly Bible classes held in conjunction with our food banks.  These are led by a cantonese speaking LCMS pastor.  We have done many phone and visit canvassing of the neighborhood but this approach has been the most successful.  Should we ignore the spiritual needs of the lost in our neighborhood and just pass out food?

    I’m getting worn out, Matt, and I think we just need to go on disagreeing with mutual respect.  The Peace of the Lord.

  24. Anonymous
    July 8th, 2011 at 14:29 | #24

    Matt 6.1

    Is is saying make sure that they don’t know your from xyz church (or even that you are Christian)?

    or

    is it saying make sure that you are humble and not parading around or announcing how great you are because you fed 500 people?

    If I recall, I was taught that that passage is talking about attitude.

  25. Matthew Mills
    July 8th, 2011 at 15:11 | #25

    @John Rixe #123
    I don’t oppose anything you’re doing, or doubt the fruit of it. It’s the way your circuit seems to be talking about it that is bad theology. And bad theology poisons souls.

    I’m not saying you can’t invite un-churched families who use your daycare to your church, (“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Pet 3:15) I’m saying that you shouldn’t run a daycare for the express purpose of inviting un-churched families to your church. The same goes for the rest of your works of love. Again, the cart runs better w/ the horse in front.

    Yes, this is a question of semantics, but when you’re dealing w/ theology (“Theos Logos,” literally “God’s Word”) words do matter.

    You can of course disagree, without sacrificing the respect I have for your work.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

    P.S. The effect of Word and Sacrament ministry is not blocked by age, disability, or anything but stubborn rejection. I hope you do faithfully welcome our Lord’s mentally disabled lambs into your “regular services,” and leave the results to God.
    “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

  26. Matthew Mills
    July 8th, 2011 at 15:20 | #26

    @Anonymous #124
    I’ll check Dr. Scaer’s books tonight (Discourses in Matthew: Jesus Teaches the Church, and The Sermon on the Mount: The Church’s First Statement of the Gospel.)

    Why do you want to know?

  27. Anonymous
    July 8th, 2011 at 18:03 | #27

    @Matthew Mills #126

    My People’s Bible- Matthew seems to suggest it is a warning about a Pharisee-like attitude. I thought that you were applying the passage to show that charity should be done anonymously. Perhaps I misunderstood your point.

  28. Anon
    July 8th, 2011 at 22:16 | #28

    Is the witness of the LC-MS ‘tainted’ by the 78% of church members who believe many religions can lead to eternal life?

  29. Matthew Mills
    July 8th, 2011 at 23:14 | #29

    @Matthew Mills #126
    I’d suggest Dr. David P. Scaer’s book “The Sermon on the Mount: The Church’s First Statement of the Gospel.”

    Line by line my interlinear Greek-English New Testament translates Matt 6:1-4 as follows:
    “And take ye heed the righteousness of you not to do in front of men with a view to be seen by them; otherwise, reward ye have not with the Father of you in the heavens. When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be glorified by men; truly I tell you, they have the reward of them. But thee doing alms not let know the left [hand] of thee what does the right of thee, so that may be of thee the alms in secret; and the Father of thee the [one] seeing in secret will repay thee.”

    I’m kind of tired, and you are free to do as you like, but what have we been talking about? Charity as outreach; churches doing their charity very publicly with the intention of being seen by men. Is that what the pharisees did? Yeah, they were all about flashy outreach programs (Matt 23:15) Is that what we see from Jesus in the New Testament? Well, how often does he draw attention to his miracles? How many times does Jesus tell folks he has helped miraculously out of His love and compassion something like “don’t tell anyone about this”?

    Again, your call.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  30. Carl Vehse
    July 8th, 2011 at 23:18 | #30

    Anon (#128), where are you getting the number for your claim?

    According to The Lutheran Witness January 2009 article, “On Being Lutheran in 2009“:

    Some would say that in our postmodern times the old Christian message has lost its “punch”—it is simply one version of truth among many. That is borne out by the recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life report on religion in the United States, which showed that while 78 percent of Americans think of themselves as Christians, 66 percent of Protestants (from across the spectrum of denominations) believe that many religions can lead to eternal life.

    Pew’s 66 percent number (your 78?!?) is of members from all Protestant denominations, not just the LCMS.

  31. Carl Vehse
    July 8th, 2011 at 23:36 | #31

    When referring to numbers generated from polls, one is reminded of this Dilbert cartoon.

  32. Matthew Mills
    July 8th, 2011 at 23:42 | #32

    @Carl Vehse #131
    I love it.

  33. John Rixe
    July 9th, 2011 at 08:17 | #33

    @Matthew Mills #129

    Again I wonder if we’re warning against dangers that don’t exist.  Has anyone ever run across Lutheran churches doing flashy charity/outreach programs very publicly with the intention of being seen by men?  I haven’t.

  34. helen
    July 9th, 2011 at 10:48 | #34

    @Anon #128
    Is the witness of the LC-MS ‘tainted’ by the 78% of church members who believe many religions can lead to eternal life?

    All religions lead to eternal life. You don’t say “where”!

  35. Anon
    July 9th, 2011 at 11:44 | #35

    Love the Dilbert cartoon :-)

    I was referring to the 2007 Pew U.S. Religious Landscape survey, (http://religions.pewforum.org/reports#), which gave results by denomination. I’m not familiar with the more recent numbers you cite.

    I suppose my point is that the author’s assertion of LC-MS doctrinal purity strikes me as wishful thinking. If he really wants to define the church as “not those Lutherans,” a good place to start would be kicking out the aforementioned 78% who hold beliefs in direct contradiction to Scripture. Then you can move on to the gays and Pelagians. And no, Carl, I don’t have numbers for those groups within the LC-MS, but would be happy to make some up ;-)

  36. Carl Vehse
    July 9th, 2011 at 17:49 | #36

    The January 2009 Lutheran Witness article I linked to in #130, which provided a few results from the Pew Forum report, was written by
    Lawrence R. Rast Jr. However, Prof. Rast (now president of Concordia Theological Seminary) did not include in that linked article, the following information from the Pew Forum report about the following beliefs within the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, compared to other Protestant denominations and other churches.

    According to the chart, View of One’s Religion as the One True Faith by Protestant Denomination, for some of the various Protestant denominations, the percentage of those answering that their religion is the one true faith leading to eternal life, and those that indicated many religions can lead to eternal life, respectively, were:

    Episcopal Church in the USA (Mainline Tradition) – 5% and 92%
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Mainline Tradition) – 12% and 85%
    Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (Evangelical Tradition) – 19% and 78%
    Nondenominational Evangelical Churches (Evang. Tradition) – 58% and 34%
    Nondenominational Fundamentalist Churches (Evang. Trad.) – 56% and 34%
    Total Protestants – 27% and 66%

    The remaining percentage for each group either didn’t know or had some other opinion.

    From a similar chart, View of One’s Religion as the One True Faith by Religious Tradition, the percentage of those from the specified religious tradition answering that their religion is the one true faith leading to eternal life, and those that indicated many religions can lead to eternal life, respectively, were:

    Roman Catholic – 16% and 79%
    Eastern Orthodox – 20% and 72%
    Jehovah’s Witness – 80% and 16%

    These numbers should certainly be reverified, but if the numbers are valid that such a major heretical notion is held by over 3/4′s of LCMS Lutherans, the aging members of Missouri Synod congregations appear to be largely senile, as pathetically ignorant as other mainline Protestants and the Romanists, and/or have not learned anything worthwhile in the past 20 years of going to church on Sunday.

  37. Ready to Lose it
    July 9th, 2011 at 17:57 | #37

    I also saw these nunbers. the question was poorly asked. Most people thought they were being asked, can other people in different Christian denoms can go to heaven. When reasked specifying non christian religions some of the more biblical groups answered much better.

  38. Carl Vehse
    July 9th, 2011 at 18:24 | #38

    The Pew Forum questions that were asked are included in the Pew Forum on Religion &Public Life Religious Landscape Study (RLS) Final Topline.

    The responses included in Comment #136 were for the following question (p. 56):

    Q.40a Now, as I read a pair of statements, tell me whether the FIRST statement or the SECOND statement comes closer to your own views even if neither is exactly right.

    a. My religion is the one, true faith leading to eternal life,
    OR
    Many religions can lead to eternal life

  39. John Rixe
    July 9th, 2011 at 19:15 | #39

    The Pew question seems kind of vague and confusing.  Does “religion” mean LCMS or Christianity?  I don’t recall ever meeting a Lutheran who believed there was salvation outside of Christianity.  Maybe some of the younger folks believe this, however.

  40. Anon
    July 11th, 2011 at 00:04 | #40

    I suppose if people have trouble distinguishing between religion and denomination, the Synod has bigger things to worry about than overwhelming universalism.

  41. Carl Vehse
    July 11th, 2011 at 07:41 | #41

    In either case, if the Pew percentage number is reasonably accurate (or even if it were 50-50), the split in the answer to Question 40a by LCMS congregation members indicates a major hole in the Task Force for Synodical Harmony Report to the Board of Directors and Council of Presidents The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, particularly by its absence among the seven aspects of disharmony found in the Synod (p. 3ff).

  42. Carl Vehse
    July 13th, 2011 at 11:16 | #42

    “RSO’s will be reviewed a little closer for doctrine and practice.”

    In #2, I had noted,

    Actually the reporter James Heine phrased it even more vaguely: “Regarding Recognized Service Organizations (RSOs), Harrison said the LCMS would likely be more conscious of RSOs conforming to LCMS doctrine and practice.”

    Even if the synodical bureaucracy devotes some consciousness to whether RSOs are conforming with LCMS doctrine and practice, there doesn’t seem to be a conscious way to remove the RSO status of an organization that no longer conforms (and refuses) to LCMS doctrine and practice.

    The LCMS Board Of Directors Policy Manual,/a> does not seem to have a public policy for removing the RSO status of an organization that acts contrary to the doctrine and practice of the Synod as set forth in the Constitution and that no longer fosters the mission and ministry of the Synod.

    While new structures within the Synod, like the National Mission Board (NMB) may, in the future, develop a policy to revoke RSO status, it is not clear from existing LCMS Bylaws or the LCMS BOD Policy Manual how the NMB or other boards or even the RSO Standing Committee would do so, and how other structural components (e.g., the BOD, COP, Praesidium, CCM, synodical convention) may be involved in oversight and review.

    Perhaps, following Faber College Dean Wormer, the LCMS Board of Directors can put a miscreant RSO on “double secret probation.”

  43. helen
    July 13th, 2011 at 12:45 | #43

    @Carl Vehse #142
    there doesn’t seem to be a conscious way to remove the RSO status of an organization that no longer conforms (and refuses) to LCMS doctrine and practice.

    The Synod and Districts apparently don’t have a system for removing pastors (or DP’s) who refuse to conform to LCMS doctrine and practice either. (Or they aren’t using it?)
    But they are very good at “losing” those troublesome confessional liturgical men.

    Send your youth to protestant entertainment (aka NYG) a few more years and it will happen to the most complacent of you. They’ll say it’s “to keep the kids.”
    [But they won't keep the kids; the kids will go where those entertainments came from.]

  44. Carl Vehse
    July 13th, 2011 at 13:04 | #44

    Helen, the Missouri Synod does have a way of removing heretical members from the Synod, but the process has been weighed down with some much pecksniffian bylaw minutiae, any honest complainant will undergo more threats, attacks, and loss than the heretical member.

    Only blatant criminal behavior (including convictions, capital crimes, or stealing money from the Synod) will get a member booted out nowadays.

    Of course, there are Catch-22s that can be used for deposing a confessional pastor.

  45. helen
    July 13th, 2011 at 14:11 | #45

    @Carl Vehse #144
    any honest complainant will undergo more threats, attacks, and loss than the heretical member.

    [Or congregation.] Too true. In fact, the honest man had better not complain.

    I have heard, (secondhand; I don’t know anyone personally), that filing for bankruptcy is the shortest way to get de rostered without doing an illegal or immoral thing. We don’t pay most of our parish pastors enough, but “Synod forbid!” that we tell the world about it!

    With our boards meeting at fancy resorts, it would spoil the image.
    (I don’t know; maybe they don’t do that any more now that the budget is cut?)

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