No comment, just let the man’s words speak for themselves…

December 12th, 2011 Post by

OK, one comment – this should give cause to “SAVE ULC” and put your cash where your confession is.

From a Minnesota South Pastor’s page on his congregational website:  see it on their website here.  Or because these things tend to disappear from the internet, see it below.

October 20, 2011

Dear Members and Friends,

I would rather not write about this, but I think it is important for people to have some idea of what is going on in the Minnesota South District of the Missouri Synod and how it could potentially affect us.

For many years now there has existed a large faction of pastors and congregations in southern Minnesota who want to impose their vision of the church on this district and its congregations.  They like to call themselves “Confessional Lutherans,” as though the rest of us aren’t confessional Lutherans, which in itself is outrageous.  My designation for this group is the “Restrictive Right.”

There are two main points to their plan of action:
1. The way the Missouri Synod was in the 1950’s is the way it should be for all time.

2. Every congregation of the synod should be identical to every other congregation.

One of their most popular phrases of criticism about those who disagree with them is, “This is not your grandfather’s church.”  This is a criticism they would level against Berea and against me personally.

There are three main issues in this ongoing program to homogenize the church.  They are popularly referred to as “Wine, Women, and Song.”

“Wine” refers to the practice of closed communion.  There are varying degrees of this closed communion.  Some say only Missouri Synod Lutherans can be admitted to communion, while others say only members of a specific congregation can be admitted to communion, and others say that people who don’t agree with them should not be communed.  For example, there are pastors who will not attend circuit pastoral conferences because they will not commune with fellow pastors who don’t agree with them, and there are pastors who will not celebrate communion when the circuit pastors meet at their church.  A few years ago there was a pastor who had been chosen to host the communion service for the state pastors’ conference at Maddens in Brainerd.  When he learned that the Synod president would be in attendance, he refused to conduct the service because he wasn’t in fellowship with the synod president.  At that time I was one of the district vice presidents.  In that role I insisted that it was false doctrine to act this way, and someone else conducted the service.  Many of those of the Restrictive Right boycotted the service.  It is their contention that we are not a faithful church body until every congregation is equally restrictive and that it is up to district authorities to impose this obedience.  The communion policy followed by Berea for decades would not pass muster with these people and they would like to have the control to make us do differently.

“Women” refers to the role of women in congregational affairs.  The restrictive Right would be very displeased with the roles women are allowed to fill at Berea.  The more extreme of them suggest rescinding the right of women to vote in congregational affairs, but most of them would not allow women to lead in worship, serve communion, read lessons (certainly not the Gospel lesson), or hold offices that they say exercise authority over males.  It would be their goal to make this the norm in all congregations.

“Song” refers to worship.  Their approach is that every worship service in every congregation would be conducted from the approved services in the hymnal while actually holding the hymnal in one’s hands.  Hymns would have to be from the approved hymnal.  Worship would have to look and sound as it did in 1950 or there about.  It is their contention that any other way is “unlutheran.”  In a recent district convention the idea was brought to the floor that no district mission money would be given to startup mission congregations unless they met these criteria.  The measure was voted down—narrowly.  At the past district convention we dealt with the issues surrounding a congregation in Cottage Grove called The Alley Lutheran Church.  The mode of worship in this new start congregation is very informal with mostly modern music and the worship area looks nothing like a church.  People from the old Board of Directors visited this congregation at worship and determined that it was not really Lutheran.  They therefore denied its application to membership in the Missouri Synod.  The convention by a fairly close vote overruled the Board of Directors and granted admission to the synod to this congregation.  Now, very few of the people who voted for The Alley Lutheran Church to become part of the synod want to conduct worship as they do, but they voted for them because they recognize that the way The Alley does worship is a legitimate way to do things to reach unchurched people and they should have the ability to do so.

Other issues involve congregational organization and governance and co-operative ministries with non Missouri Synod churches.  Berea’s organization would displease many and our co-operative ventures such as Readiness for Marriage, VEAP, Families Moving Forward, etc. would be suspect because they involve us with non Missouri Synod people.

You will no doubt be hearing about issues with selling the campus ministry buildings of the Minnesota South District at the University of Minnesota and Mankato State University.  This is becoming a divisive cause in the district as the Restrictive Right is angry with the district Board of Directors for this decision and they have vowed to unseat the district president and the entire Board of Directors.  This is partly moot because President Lane Seitz has decided not to run for re-election.  However, we have the issue of who will replace him.  Will the new president be a mission-minded person or will he be a representative of the Restrictive Right who wish to interfere in and control what is going on in individual congregations?  This is an important issue for Berea as we go forward.  Again, will the Board of Directors remain a mission minded group or will they be replaced by Restrictive Right people.

What you need to know about the campus ministries is that the campus pastor at Mankato State understands the sale of that building and will continue to do his ministry without it.  One the other hand the University Lutheran Chapel is an independent congregation that rents the building from the district.  That building is old and tired and very expensive to run, and it is up to the district to maintain it while University Lutheran Chapel pays rent which is less than half of the going rate.  These buildings have become albatrosses around the neck of the district.  It would be like a family living in a fifteen room house as their income keeps declining; they finally have to deal with the fact that they are unable to support all of the house they have.  This is a fact that University Lutheran Chapel will not recognize as they criticize the district for doing what, in reality, is inevitable and has to be done.

You should also know that the Mankato State campus ministry is a very free-form type of ministry that is actually reaching young adults at college, while University Lutheran Chapel is a congregation with a minority of college students who attend.  The worship services are rigid and straight from the hymnal.  Many of you remember ULC from the old days when it was a vibrant campus ministry serving college students; it is not that any more.  It is a Restrictive Right congregation carrying out its ministry in ways that do not reach the typical college student—and then expecting the district to underwrite its expenses with mission dollars.

I take no joy in writing about these things, but when you hear about them, you should know what is going on.  It makes no sense to preserve a church so it still seems like 1950.  The mission our Lord gives us is to nurture people with God’s promises in ways that make sense to them in their lives.  It is perhaps extreme to say it this way, but it is not Gospel honoring to become a type of Lutheran-Amish group stuck trying to preserve a certain point in time for old time’s sake.

The truth is that we at Berea are conservative Lutheran Christians, but we are conservative Lutheran Christians trying to minister to the time in which we live.   In fact we are relatively traditional conservative Lutheran Christians.  We are in no way avant-garde or out in left field, but we sure don’t want people telling us that we have to go back to the good old days of 1950.  When they tell us, “This is not your grandfather’s church,” we respond, “You’re right.  This is our church.  And some day it will be our grandchildren’s church.”

Sincerely,
Pastor Sherren

http://www.berealutheran.org/site/pastorupdate.asp?sec_id=180005372

 






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  1. II John
    December 16th, 2011 at 08:45 | #1

    Pastor Sherren,
    How about this for your motto? Restrict Restrictiveness Now! Sound about right?

  2. Concerned Seminarian
    December 16th, 2011 at 10:28 | #2

    @Philip Adam #142

    The Greek word for salvation is “soteria.” According to the Liddell-Scott lexicon, it can mean “saving, deliverance, preservation, safety; way or means of safety; safe return.” The related verb is “sozo,” which means “to save from death, keep alive, preserve; to keep safe, preserve; to keep, observe, maintain.” I don’t see anything about “soteria” or the related words indicating “to heal.” Where did you get your information from?

  3. December 16th, 2011 at 10:48 | #3

    Philip Adam :
    I wrote because I disagreed with the attack upon Pastor Sherren. I disagreed with the ugliness and tone conveyed in this blog.

    Just so we’re clear, did you also disagree with Pastor Sherren’s uncharitable, unwarranted, false and slanderous attack on traditionalists in the LCMS?

  4. Matthew Mills
    December 16th, 2011 at 11:32 | #4

    @Concerned Seminarian #152
    Thanks for picking up my slack CS!
    Advent Blessings+,
    Matt Mills

  5. helen
    December 16th, 2011 at 13:18 | #5

    @Philip Adam #136
    There was no-one with whom our children needed to be reconciled. They were simply excluded! As were we!

    You were the son of the LCMS Pastor. You knew that there was no pulpit and altar fellowship with the ELCA. You excluded yourself and your family from LCMS. Why did you bear a grudge and teach it to your children? Your wife’s parents, according to you, were also LCMS; she should have known as well. The question is: “Why are either of you elca?”

    [I'm in the LCMS because the ALC in which I grew up is no longer Lutheran.]

  6. December 16th, 2011 at 13:50 | #6

    Women Pastors? – 2nd Edition
    by Harrison, Matthew C.

    Item #: 155136WEB / 2009 / Paperback / 480 Pages

    Availability: We no longer carry this product.

    Because the third edition is coming soon!

    Should be out early in the new year.

    Pocketbooks ready!

    IXOYC

  7. Old Time St. John’s
    December 16th, 2011 at 14:12 | #7

    @Philip Adam #136
    My dear brother in Christ,
    I am sorry for the pain that you have felt in being separated from your and your wife’s families of origin at the Lord’s Table. I imagine that you anticipated this to some extent when you changed to the ELCA, but I can well understand that it could hurt more in practice than anticipated.

    I encourage you to consider that all Christian pastors have a responsibility to ensure that the Lord’s Supper reflects a unity in doctrine/faith/confession, or they risk encouraging people to eat/drink ‘to their damnation’ as the Scripture says. That unity is proclaimed by common participation in Holy Communion, rather than being produced by it. Your father and your MIL/FIL’s pastor were put by circumstances into the position of either publicly approving/endorsing your change in beliefs that led to your change in church bodies or of holding to their own church’s teachings about it, and in addition, to needing to assess your spiritual state without having either the benefit of local, detailed knowledge of it or common church body membership to summarize it.

    The church body whose confession you proclaim is extraordinarily different from the one in which you grew up. You have chosen your confession. That choice has results. I understand that some of those results are painful, and I encourage you to consider that in all likelihood the results were painful and difficult for others in your extended family as well–those who you left behind in changing church bodies.

    Christ does not call us to say that we are the same when we are very different. Rather, He calls us, all of us, especially me, to repent and believe the Gospel. It is almost Christmas, so we are in the blessed season of Advent. I have realized thanks to your posts that as part of Advent repentance I should praying more for unity in the Church, and I will do so. But that does not mean that I should pretend to a unity that is not there, but rather work toward a Godly unity that is the true basis for altar fellowship.

    May you have a peaceful Christmas, dear brother, and consider your confession prayerfully as we all should.

  8. Noreen
    December 16th, 2011 at 16:49 | #8

    @Old Time St. John’s #157

    Old Time St. John’s – “That unity is proclaimed by common participation in Holy Communion, rather than being produced by it.”

    This is such an excellent statement.

    I feel for Philip. I have experienced a similar pain, having grown up ALC and marrying an LCMS man. I did not understand for years why we couldn’t join together at the communion table with his family. I asked so many people to explain, but it wasn’t until we moved to Texas that we finally had a pastor who properly catechized us in the doctrine of altar fellowship. Now it makes perfect sense. I grieve that we have divisions in the church, and like you, I pray that we might all live in repentence and strive for true, Godly unity.

  9. December 16th, 2011 at 19:45 | #9

    @Philip Adam #136

    I marvel with admiration at your efforts to meditate deeply on the Word of God. Would that everyone would go and do likewise.

    May I suggest a couple of principles to apply when we meditate on the Word?

    First, if Christ explains by direct and express words the meaning of one of his acts, we should cling to his words, and not trust in conclusions we draw from meditations aside from his words.

    Example. When Jesus overturned the tables in the Temple, while one easily could see a connection to the laws of purging leprosy, Jesus did open his mouth and say direct and express words explaining his actions. He talked about the Temple as his Father’s house, that it should be a house of prayer for the nations, and that they had turned his Father’s house into a den of thieves. Not one word about leprosy. The Evangelist then quotes from the Old Testament concerning the zeal for his Father’s house. Again, not one word about leprosy. We should let Christ’s words and the Evangelist’s words stand as the interpretation of Christ’s conduct.

    Second, if we are going to speak of the meaning of a word in ordinary usage as a guide to its meaning when used theologically, then we need to first get the ordinary usage right.

    Example. Redemption. Redemption is a transaction under the Mosaic law of foreclosure (that has descended to us today via the influence of Moses on Anglo-American equitable jurisprudence). After one defaults on the bond (today’s parlance would be promissory note, but back in the day, it was a bond, the root of bondage), the mortgage securing the bond is foreclosed. There is a forclosure sale. The debtor, and certain persons related to the debtor, could, within a limited period of time (in Montana, one year), redeem, by paying to the foreclosure purchaser whatever the purchaser paid (plus a few additional items). Your theological use of the word in the phrase “redemption through violence” is a theological use cut completely loose of the ordinary use. Insofar as the redemption metaphor that God uses to show us our salvation is concerned, we should instead follow the apostle’s explanation that we were “purchased with the precious blood of Christ.” This is not to say that God does not use other metaphors, for example, deliverance, as when a captive or slave is rescued and set free. While violence might be a part of other metaphors of our salvation, it has no part in the redemption metaphor. The mixing of metaphors creates confusion and confounds a discussion.

    The trouble with hypergeralized uses of words, such as using the word redemption for any and all aspects of salvation, is that first a word becomes glossy, then it becomes transclucent, then transparent, and finally the word vanishes. By such a use, eventually all words come to mean the same thing, and then language can only say one super general thing, the eternal, incessant noise hum of pantheistic monism. All words become om.

    You could rewrite your posting, getting at the same ideas you intend by what you wrote, but re-selecting a few of your words, and then your meaning will be more clear. But, you might also find by that exercise (you challenged us to an exercise that would require us to read all four Gospels and sift things into two columns, so I don’t think it impertinent to suggest an exercise that would require you to re-read just your post), that when you correct the misuse of certain words, your argument no longer hangs together.

  10. Noreen
    December 17th, 2011 at 12:54 | #10

    I have just written out a check for our year-end gift to the SaveULC fund. Remember, all gifts will be matched up to 25K through the end of the year. Please consider joining me. The time is now!

  11. helen
    December 18th, 2011 at 14:47 | #11

    @Philip Adam #136
    Remember that in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is female in gender.

    In German, a good many things that are not necessarily “feminine” have the feminine article. Is that what you mean?
    How is it that in today’s Gospel (3 yr lectionary, B series) Gabriel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit will effect her conception of Jesus?

    [I.E., Don't let feminist propaganda conflict with common sense!]

    “You live your way into new ways of thinking.”

    Yes, you can do that. They may not be good ways of thinking, however.
    The prodigal son certainly lived his way into new ways of thinking. When he lived his way into the hog slops, he thought better of it.
    I hope you will remember your better upbringing one day, and explain to your children as well! I’m sure the grandparents are praying for it.

    God bless you!

  12. Concerned Seminarian
    December 18th, 2011 at 17:43 | #12

    @Philip Adam #136

    @helen #161

    The Holy Spirit is not feminine in gender; you mean the word for “Holy Spirit.” There is a difference. Take a look at John 14:26. In this verse, Jesus says that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will teach the disciples all things. The Greek word for “Spirit” is “pneuma.” It is a neuter noun, and in John 14:26, it has a neuter adjective (“holy”) and neuter articles. However, Jesus uses the masculine pronoun for the Holy Spirit: “But the Helper (masculine), the Holy Spirit (neuter), whom (neuter, agreeing with “Holy Spirit”) the Father will send in my name, he (“ekeinos,” which is masculine) will teach you all things…”

    As far as the word for “Holy Spirit” in Hebrew, “ruach” (“spirit”) can be either masculine or feminine (more often feminine) according to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. I’m not sure, but I think some concepts which would be neuter in languages with a neuter gender are conveyed by a feminine noun in languages which do not have a neuter gender. For what that’s worth. Either way, the gender of the word is not necessarily indicative of the gender of the thing described.

  13. December 18th, 2011 at 17:51 | #13

  14. December 18th, 2011 at 20:47 | #14

    From Everlasting to Everlasting

    A PRAYER OF MOSES, THE MAN OF GOD.

    Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
    Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or thou gavest birth to the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.

    Thou turnest man to dust.
    and thou sayest, “Return, ye children of men!”
    For a thousand years in thy sight
    are as yesterday when it was passing,
    or as a watch in the night.

    Thou sweepest them away with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that shooteth up in the morning:
    in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it is mown down, and withers.

    For we are brought to an end in thine anger;
    by thy wrath we are dismayed.
    Thou hast set our iniquities before thee,
    our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

    For all our days vanish away in thy wrath;
    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
    The days of our years are threescore years and ten,
    or even by reason of full strength fourscore;
    yet their span is but travail and sorrow;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.
    Who knoweth the power of thine anger,
    and thy wrath according to the fear that is due unto thee?

    So make us know how to number our days,
    that we may get an heart of wisdom.
    Return, O LORD! How long?
    And let it repent thee concerning thy servants!
    O Satisfy us in the morning with thy steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
    Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us,
    and the years wherein we have seen evil.
    Let thy work appear unto thy servants,
    and thy majesty upon their children.
    Let the gracious kindliness of the Lord our God be upon us:
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yea, establish the work of our hands!

    ( Psalm 90 )

  15. Glen Meints
    December 19th, 2011 at 21:58 | #15

    David C. Busby :Does it matter which ULC fund I donate to?
    General Operating Fund:Endowment Fund:Capital Fundraiser-Building:

    That depends upon what you wish to accomplish through your gift.
    The general operating fund is used by ULC to meet its ongoing expenses, its budget.
    The capital fundraiser-building fund will be used by ULC to purchase the existing facility, rent another facility, or purchase another facility.
    The endowment fund may be used by ULC as the elders deem appropriate. (The endowment fund was begun approx 15 yrs ago. Very little of this money has been used over the years.)

    In behalf of the congregation I wish thank all who have given to ULC. May God bless you and ULC.
    Glen Meints, ULC Pres.

  16. Noreen
    December 21st, 2011 at 01:16 | #16

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QArXiiD6Idg&feature=share

    The Sunday School kids of University Lutheran Chapel singing Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus at our annual Advent Lessons and Carols Service, December 14, 2012.

    This speaks for itself too……

  17. Philip Adam
    December 22nd, 2011 at 09:03 | #17

    As a first-time blogger, thanks to many of you for your positive critiques regarding my post # 136. I want to address my technically incorrect comment where I said the Latin word salvus means “healing”.

    My 1973 Webster’s dictionary says for the word, “safe”, “…from Latin “salvus,safe,healthy “

    In the healing of the paralytic,(Mark 2:5), Jesus heals and forgives sins, and thus provides salvation. Jesus often heals people in the context of forgiveness of sins, thus saving them. So physical healing, spiritual healing, and thus salvation, are clearly connected in the Gospels.

    Next time I can be more technically accurate, but the spirit of my comment remains. Salvation does heal us.

  18. December 22nd, 2011 at 17:00 | #18

    #136: “You do not think your way into new ways of living. You live your way into new ways of thinking.”

    I’ve experienced both transformations and witnessed both in others.

    1. Once I knew better, it was very difficult to continue the old way of living.
    2. When I lived a certain way, I gradually thought it was the correct way.

  19. Philip Adam
    December 25th, 2011 at 23:41 | #19

    @T.R.Halvorson, # 159

    Regarding leprosy: If I understood correctly, because the Gospels never mention leprosy when Jesus goes to the Temple Mount (Mark 11:15-17, Mark 13:1-2), then I cannot assume leprosy informs the context of the story. But context cannot be dismissed.

    According to Leviticus 14:34-53, there was a 3 step procedure for examining and condemning a leprous house. First, the owner had to remove all vessels that had been contaminated and prevent any open vessels from being introduced to the house, thereby protecting its contents from contamination. Mark 11:16 says “he would not allow anyone to carry any vessel through the temple.” Second, the furniture was removed, destroyed, and taken to the dump devoted to unclean things. Jesus symbolically does this by overturning the tables of the moneychangers. (Mark 11:15). Finally, if the house was leprous, it was to be dismantled stone by stone until not one stone was left unturned. (Mark 13:1-2).

    Jesus does not cleanse the Temple. He condemns the temple. “The High Priest and the Chief Priests may tell you it is the holiest place on earth and the only place on earth to obtain redemption. But I am telling you to throw it in the dump.”

    In Mark 11:17, Jesus quotes portions of Jeremiah 7 and Isaiah 56. Back then the context of the speech was assumed. Jeremiah 7:6 said, “only if you take care of the alien, the orphan, and the widow will you not profane God’s name.” Isaiah 56 says, “But you the sentinels of Israel are like silent dogs who cannot bark. You have voracious appetites and like to lounge around. Further you are like shepherds who do not know now to lead.” Ouch.

    (Mark 12:41-44) A little while later, Jesus will see the widow putting in her mite. “Hey guys. Why is the widow trying to take care of the Temple? Did I not just quote Jeremiah which said the Temple should take care of the widow?” This story of the widow and her mite is clearly to be understood in the context of Jeremiah 7:6.

    When the Temple Curtain is torn in two, the physical tearing of the threads is not the important point. The point is that the Holy of Holies is no longer limited to the high priest on one day a year. Everyone has access to God. Now this portion of our Gospels does not specifically declare this, but the symbolism is clearly telling us everyone has access to God. It is indeed the foreigners who will worship in the Temple. (Isaiah 56:6-7, Mark 11:17).

  20. December 27th, 2011 at 08:59 | #20

    December 27: St. John, Apostle and Evangelist :

    his constantly repeated words of exhortation at the end of his life, “Little children, love one another” (Jerome, “Comm. in ep. ad. Gal.”, vi, 10).

    http://cyberbrethren.com/2011/12/27/december-27-st-john-apostle-and-evangelist/

    Sub cruce veritas

    IXOYC

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