ACELC – are they a big bunch of divisive meanies?

February 14th, 2012 Post by

I had the privilege to attend the second annual ACELC Conference this past week in Lincoln, NE at Good Shepherd Lutheran.

The list of presenters was a very good one for this conference.  It included a District President, a couple seminary professors and other notable theologians of our Synod.  The papers for the conference were excellently presented.  Please consider the papers below, especially the one by Rev. James Gier on “exceptions” in pastoral care involving the Lord’s Supper (not listed yet, but hopefully coming soon).

The papers for the conference are located here.

Now, here are some of my thoughts on the conference.  The people were friendly and very welcoming to all who were there.  They realize that many are interested in their cause, but many cannot quite “pull the trigger” to join their organization officially.  There is a genuine charity towards others that can be found among these men of God.

I was able to secure a time to sit down with Rev. Clint Poppe, the chairman of their Board and discuss a few things.  I will be posting that interview later this week hopefully (including the answers to some common objections to the ACELC).  What I can say is that this group is very much interested in helping the LCMS regain her confession and working to resolve those issues which divide our Synod.  They also believe that this should involve eventual discipline for those who will not listen to the Scriptures and continue to “walk separate” from the rest of the Synod (such calls for discipline are actually godly love for the neighbor).  They understand that this is a long road for the LCMS, and they are fully committed to staying in the mix.

The presentations were all focused on sound teaching and pastoral practice.  It wasn’t “political” at all in its substance, but instead offered some wonderful works on the Lord’s Supper and our fellowship at the Table of our Lord.  Most of the works were excellently written from the perspective of providing pastoral care for people of all denominations.  Some people have complained about the ACELC being too divisive or political, but from their presentations I did not see that.  I saw men of God willing to speak the truth out of love, willing and desiring to restore our confession in a world which desperately needs it to be there on paper and in actions.

Other comments:

I had the chance to attend their banquet on the first night, which was a good time – Rev. Bolland provided a wonderful overview of our Lutheran Heritage and the patterns of decline and compromise of confession among various Lutherans.  There was also live entertainment, as a couple of the ACELC folks played guitars with popular tunes to humorous lyrics.

The entire conference was very family friendly.  Many of the volunteers who helped at the conference offered assistance and help to my family and others.

The conference also involved some “Table Talk” sessions which were like little workshops which allowed for participants to discuss certain topics at their table and then bring them back to the larger group.  This was very helpful to understanding clergy and laity issues with the faithful practice of Table Fellowship in the LCMS.

The conference attendees reflected an excellent balance of men/women; old/young; and clergy/laity.  It was a broad gathering.

The folks at the ACELC have done a great service for the confession of the Lutheran Faith.  It is a worthwhile organization that deserves greater interest and support for the work that they have set out to do.  There are many ways of showing support, consider joining as an Associate Member or have your congregation consider joining their efforts.

The ACELC website is here.

And no, the ACELC is not a big bunch of divisive meanies.

 






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  1. February 15th, 2012 at 21:25 | #1

    @Johan Bergfest #44
    Johan, you wrote: “Prior to listing his parish as a congregation, how did the members of ACELC council the visitor who reported them? FWIW, the communion statement sounds like it’s straight out of Luther’s Large Catechism. What more can confessional Lutherans say about the Sacrament than “we believe is is the true body and blood of Jesus Christ, in, with, and under the bread and the wine for the forgiveness of sins?”

    FWIW, NO ONE “reported” anyone. The Communion statement we quoted came right off of their website. It was their words out there in the public domain for anyone to read. And while I don’t disagree with anything that Communion statement actually said, the point was that a Communion statement which says what this one said and then leaves it up to the person who is reading it to determine what THEY think it says is really saying very little. Most of us should be aware of the fact that the Reformed can (and often do) agree with this statement while at the same time disagreeing with what we actually believe about the Sacrament.

    We are not being very good hosts if we invite every guest who attends our worship services to Commune with us in the full knowledge of St. Paul’s admonition that it is quite possible for a person to eat and drink judgment upon themselves if they do so “unworthily” – not recognizing the body of the Lord . . . and WE don’t mean recognizing the “body of Christ” there in the Church.

    To repeat Pastor Bolland’s words. We didn’t “out” anyone. We did nothing more that quote the very words that they published on their website. I don’t think that what’s on anyone’s website is a secret unless a password is required to view it – and that would go for anyone who has a website, including me. If there is something on my website that can be proven to be in error I would be delighted to know that there was actually someone out there who cared enough to tell me about it.

  2. February 15th, 2012 at 21:31 | #2

    Rev. Paul T. McCain :
    They mean well, but organizing a group that asks pastors and congregations to become “members’ was a bad tactical move on their part. They end up only preaching to a very small choir and set themselves up as judge and jury over against their fellow members in the Synod. This is what turns off the majority of us who otherwise find some valid points in their concerns.

    Paul, if I may . . . If you have a group, members are often a component of that group. While w encourage people who are in agreement with us to join, we also recognize that not everyone can join, is in a position to join, or even wants to join though they may agree with us. I, for one, while I would like to see more members, am happy to know that there are those out there who agree that we have some valid concerns. And if putting these concerns out into the public domain produces some fruitful conversation, then the reason for our forming will have been achieved. I am anxiously looking forward to the day when we disband and there is no longer a reason for us (or a group like us) to exist at all.

    As an aside, we are getting thousands of hits on our website, so preaching to the choir does not appear to me to be what we’re doing. But maybe that’s just me.

  3. Mrs. Hume
    February 16th, 2012 at 07:42 | #3

    Johan Bergfest :

    Rev. McCall :
    @#4 Kitty #12
    Is it BJS or the ACELC’s duty to publicly call out other pastors or congregations? Is discussing Pr. Klinkenberg’s congregations practice online in a public forum and challenging him to describe his congregation the best way to truly talk to him or reach him? Would it not be better if as brothers in Christ we stopped using the internet to trumpet our cause and shame our “opponents” but instead in private and in circuit winkles and such speak to our brothers in love?

    No!
    No!
    Yes!
    When thinking about both BJS and ACELC, I find it curious that folks who profess to be “confessional Lutherans” behave in ways that seem like they are people whose Bible is missing Matthew 18 and whose catechism is missing the eighth commandment and includes a re-write of the Office of Keys.

    If no one says anything publicly, then the public, such as myself, won’t know what is going on and we will just trust that everything is hunky dory when it isn’t. Consider some young person joining a church that has some sort of open communion. Then they will figure that everyone agrees with it and that is what their children will be taught along with whatever stuff someone feels like doing.

    Why is there this reflexive annoyance with those who try to correct error publicly and get everything out in the open? I am far more annoyed by those teaching young people new and different stuff.

  4. TK
    February 16th, 2012 at 09:54 | #4

    The ability to digitalize and and then demonize people and then dismiss people is a function of the age. It happens at many levels especially notable in political discourse. ACELC guys should either work within their own set of congregations, or invite others for dialogue or even personally approach congregations they feel are erring. Otherwise I agree with Pr McCain, and say the made and continue to make tactical errors that make them look like condescending deciders of doctrine and practice. Pr Newman makes charitable comments toward my website and exercises pastoral tones along the lines of the z8th Commandment. Thanks Pr Newman

  5. Rev. McCall
    February 16th, 2012 at 10:12 | #5

    This is just amazing to me here. This thread has been more than enlightening. Can not any of you teach your congregation or your children that open communion or any other bad practice is bad without calling out your fellow pastor or demonizing his congregation by name? As far as those other brothers in Christ are concerned, it doesn’t matter if his website says it or not, TAKE THE HIGH ROAD. Approach your brother in private and in love. Is not the goal to win your brother over? Tell me how calling him out in any fashion on a public website endears him to you or your argument? Are you that desperate for a fight that you folks must troll the internet looking for bad theology on others websites and then call them out on it? Do you not have enough to do in your own church, circuit, and district? And even if you find bad theology out there in cyberspace should you still not approach that brother privately and in love, not publicly? Think of your own church for God’s sake. If you heard or saw a member of the congregation engaged in an extramarital affair or heard him behaving in any public sin would you behave this same way? Would you immediately stand up the next Sunday and publicly call him out in front of the whole congregation? I hope to God not! Why is it any different when it is our fellow brothers in Christ? TK and Pr. McCain hit it on the head in their posts. I joined the ACELC because I agree that our synod has many wrongs. I also agree that it needs to change. I do not agree with these kind of approaches and tactics. Please, PLEASE remove me from your list of supporting pastors. (Besides, you have my address wrong anyways).

  6. February 16th, 2012 at 10:50 | #6

    #55: “Approach your brother in private and in love. Is not the goal to win your brother over? Tell me how calling him out in any fashion on a public website endears him to you or your argument?”

    Out of love, we want our brothers to repent. Private repentance for public sin is no repentance at all. It is commendable that you are so concerned for the public reputation of pastors, but it’s too late for that. They have already fouled their own reputation on the World Wide Web and are leading others astray with their errors. Aren’t you at all concerned for the poor people being led away from Christ by erring pastors? Aren’t you aware of what the Eighth Commandment teaches?

    “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.” (Large Catechism on the 8th Commandment)

  7. Johan Bergfest
    February 16th, 2012 at 11:15 | #7

    LW :
    Does the LCMS constitution or its bylaws require its members to commune only confirmed LCMS church members (LCMS communicant members) or is the interpretation of the meaning of Closed Communion up to individual pastors and congregations?

    When I was confirmed, LCMS did not practice closed communion – although some pastors may have made that their practice.

    The standard practice was “close”. It was common for pastors or elders to counsel with visitors prior to communing them and common courtesy for visitors who wished to commune to speak with the pastor prior to doing so. And, as we were instructed in confirmation, the conversation was not supposed to be about affiliation but what the visitor believed regarding the Sacrament. Admittance to the Sacrament, as per Luther’s instruction in the Large Catechism, was “faith in these words…given and shed for you.” If a person believed the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament and believed in the promise of forgiveness and salvation, they were not only supposed to be welcome but encouraged to commune – and to do so frequently.

  8. Johan Bergfest
    February 16th, 2012 at 11:22 | #8

    Rev. Drew Newman :To repeat Pastor Bolland’s words. We didn’t “out” anyone. We did nothing more that quote the very words that they published on their website. I don’t think that what’s on anyone’s website is a secret unless a password is required to view it – and that would go for anyone who has a website, including me. If there is something on my website that can be proven to be in error I would be delighted to know that there was actually someone out there who cared enough to tell me about it.

    I understand your perspective. However, that did not answer the question that I asked. You might not have “outed” the congregation. However, you did take words from the congregation’s website, characterized those words in the context of your own biased perspective and then referenced the congregation in your admonition as being in error. Based on yours and Pastor Bolland’s responses, it appears that you did so without first discussing the matter privately with either Pastor Klinkenberg or other leaders in his congregation. If that is the case, I’d suggest that you failed in your duty to them.

  9. Johan Bergfest
    February 16th, 2012 at 11:31 | #9

    As a general comment, I have met many pastors in my lifetime. None of them had the time to adequately minister to their flock. For too many, their families were neglected because church matters took precedent (that is not meant as a criticism – just a description of reality). To be quite honest, I do not understand how pastors who are attentive to family and flock have time to engage in ACELC kinds of activities. Why is it such a priority? What other pastoral duties are being neglected by those who are so involved in ACELC’s “ministry”?

  10. February 16th, 2012 at 11:41 | #10

    @TK #54
    You Wrote: “Pr Newman makes charitable comments toward my website and exercises pastoral tones along the lines of the z8th Commandment. Thanks Pr Newman”

    You’re welcome, Pastor Klinkenberg . . . but I would like to add that in my association with the ACELC (and I am one of the founding members, BTW), I have heard and experienced nothing but a charitable, servant attitude by the MEMBERS (I can’t speak for anyone else). There have admittedly been times, I’m sure, when pushed, a particular party may have made an inappropriate response, but we have no “enemies” list, we are not “reporting” or “outing” others (aside from the fairly minimal citations in our errors documents, which, you may have noticed, have not continued), nor are we maintaining a list of those who have to be brought back “into line.” As Pastor Bolland and I have already noted, the only purpose of the errors documents was to show that the errors we were citing actually existed. All we want is a civil, honest, straightforward discussion of the problems that beset us with a goal of ultimately resolving them in a God-pleasing fashion. What that will look like or how that will happen remains to be seen, but that is what we would like.

    Now I don’t think this is a violation of any confidence, but when the representatives of the ACELC met with V.P. Herb Mueller and District Presidents Ray Mirly and Russ Sommerfeld, they told us that they had approached this task expecting us to be highly confrontational and demanding. As we moved into our discussions they reported to us that they had been pleasantly surprised at the civility of our approach and our sincere desire to be a help, not a hindrance to the work of our Synod. While we didn’t agree on everything we discussed, our conversation was cordial and fraternal with a fairly low level of heat throughout the three days that we met with one another.

    Perhaps some will say that I am protesting too much, but from the very beginning of our existence we have been hearing the charge that it’s all about us and what we want, and that if we don’t have our way then, well, you can fill in the blanks. Just about anything you can imagine negative that someone might say about us has been said. The bottom line is that our only desire is for the good of Christ’s Church and the Missouri Synod. Our hope and prayer is that the LCMS would continue to be a witness faithful and true to the blessed work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – that many might come to know him through our work amongst the fallen sinners of this world in which we live.

  11. February 16th, 2012 at 11:43 | #11

    @Johan Bergfest #59
    They have time because the actions of other congregations do not happen in a vacuum. They affect the rest of us. My members travel and have to deal with things like open communion. They have to deal with friends and relatives who visit here and don’t understand why they have open communion at their congregation while we do not here. It causes strife in congregations and in families. It is a priority because none of us are alone in this world or in this Synod. What we do affects others. When false doctrine continues to be openly flaunted, it has a poisonous affect.

    Why didn’t Jesus just gather the 12 and go off and form a desert commune? He certainly should have dedicated more time to taking care of them – they were a mess even at the Ascension. And He also had a mother and brothers/sisters to take care of, why did he speak to others, including other religious folks?

    I have a proposition for all those who think that we should just mind our own business in our own congregations and not be engaged and involved on a greater level – leave the Synod since you don’t care enough to be involved. Become an independent Lutheran congregation, an island unto yourself, so that way you can just keep to yourself and never have to deal with anyone else. That is what you have already functionally done.

    Error screams to just be left alone, truth has no problem with transparency! Jesus said something about darkness and light that may be appropriate here.

    The foundational element to Synod is its member congregations and member clergy/church workers. It is not a hierarchy, but a group of congregations in relationship with one another. We are our brother’s keeper, on a Christian to Christian level, and on a congregation to congregation level (Synod).

  12. February 16th, 2012 at 11:50 | #12

    @Johan Bergfest #58
    You Wrote: “I understand your perspective. However, that did not answer the question that I asked. You might not have “outed” the congregation. However, you did take words from the congregation’s website, characterized those words in the context of your own biased perspective and then referenced the congregation in your admonition as being in error. Based on yours and Pastor Bolland’s responses, it appears that you did so without first discussing the matter privately with either Pastor Klinkenberg or other leaders in his congregation. If that is the case, I’d suggest that you failed in your duty to them.”

    As I stated in another post, what is on my website is public and therefore open to public scrutiny. As Luther states in the Large Catechism, public sins require a public rebuke lest others be led astray by them. The point of the errors documents was not to “out” anyone, it was show that the errors we are concerned about actually exist. It is not our job to go around the Synod and correct or rebuke everyone who isn’t doing things the way we think they ought to be done.

    Let’s be honest here. There is a real difference of opinion amongst our pastors about what proper practice looks like. We need to have this discussion. I actually think Pastor Klinkenberg would agree with we on this. He and I are on different sides of this argument. I don’t think the praise worship bands and all that goes with that kind of practice is good for the Church, and he does. Either he’s right and I’m wrong and I’m right and he’s wrong, but we cannot both be right. And unless and until we come to some sort of consensus regarding what is good, right and proper (as opposed to everyone simply doing what seems right to them – and I include myself here as I am just as likely to want to do my own thing as anyone else), then there are going to be problems, for we are NOT walking together as we ought to be.

  13. February 16th, 2012 at 11:55 | #13

    @Johan Bergfest #59
    You Wrote: “To be quite honest, I do not understand how pastors who are attentive to family and flock have time to engage in ACELC kinds of activities. Why is it such a priority? What other pastoral duties are being neglected by those who are so involved in ACELC’s “ministry?”

    Well first of all, the ACELC is not a ministry. What I do as a pastor in my congregation is my ministry. Secondly, why the assumption that our other pastoral duties are being neglected? Every pastor I know in the ACELC takes his first calling as the priority and does not neglect the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made him an overseer. Should I also assume that your vocational duties are being neglected because you choose to have a theological discussion here on this blog?

  14. February 16th, 2012 at 12:10 | #14

    @Rev. McCall #55
    You Wrote: “I joined the ACELC because I agree that our synod has many wrongs. I also agree that it needs to change. I do not agree with these kind of approaches and tactics. Please, PLEASE remove me from your list of supporting pastors. (Besides, you have my address wrong anyways).”

    I’m not sure what “tactics” you’re referring to, and “outing” a member publicly for adultery is in an entirely different class that what we are talking about here with our errors documents. As for you mailing address, we used the address you sent us in your associate membership application. As we have no desire to violate your conscience. Your name has been removed from our associate member list.

  15. Rev. McCall
    February 16th, 2012 at 12:34 | #15

    @Ted Crandall #56
    I suggest you read the whole 8th Commandment and meaning in the Large Catechism instead of picking and choosing only the parts that suite your desire to call out your fellow pastors “public sins.” I would posit that since you are not this persons circuit counselor or District President or Synodical President you have no authority (as Luther clearly and repeatedly states is necessary) to judge TK or anyone else. The only authority you or anyone else on here seems to have is that which you have granted unto yourself to publicly judge this man as his overseer.

  16. Rev. McCall
    February 16th, 2012 at 12:46 | #16

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #61
    “I have a proposition for all those who think that we should just mind our own business in our own congregations and not be engaged and involved on a greater level – leave the Synod since you don’t care enough to be involved. Become an independent Lutheran congregation, an island unto yourself, so that way you can just keep to yourself and never have to deal with anyone else. That is what you have already functionally done.”

    How wonderful it must be for you to hear yourself pontificate so wisely! I have a proposition for you as well, if you have such an issue with so many pastors and congregations in synod perhaps it should be you who leave. Leave us poor sinners to wallow in our unfaithfulness and ignorance and go form that pure church you so desire. Otherwise stop making such ridiculous generalizations and propositions. Just because we all don’t join your group doesn’t mean we are not engaged or involved on a “greater level”. With that sort of ludicrous statement I think you just answered your own question asked in the title of this post: “Yes you are.”

    Read the story of David and Bathsheba. How does Nathan (who has the authority to deal with David’s very public sin) handle the situation? Privately. Lovingly. With great patience to bring David to see how and why his actions were wrong. To win him over in love. I see that as a good model for how we ought to treat one another. You can rip on me all you want and suggest I leave. That’s always the easy solution in dealing with those with whom you disagree.

  17. R.D.
    February 16th, 2012 at 13:24 | #17

    Rev. McCall, do you not love your erring brothers enough to show them their error?

    Ironically, you are setting yourself up as judge over Pr. Scheer, Crandall, and others. In further irony, they are speaking truth where you would have them put the ‘best construction’ to the point of bearing false witness. Or are these the times when every man should do what is right in his own eyes… (with approval from his ecclesiastical supervisor)

  18. February 16th, 2012 at 13:33 | #18

    @Rev. McCall #66
    Rev. McCall, I am not a member of the ACELC and never have been.

    You assume Rev. McCall that private, loving conversations have not been going on (I know they have from others and have also personally been involved in them). If such private means have not brought repentance (as it did with David), what is the next course of action? Would Nathan have continued to allow David to keep on in sin? We don’t know of course, because the Spirit brought repentance. What we do know in the cases of public sin (false doctrine and practice) in our Synod is that it continues on in spite of all the private, loving efforts at rebuke. By the way, who says public rebuke is not loving? In the realm of false beliefs, it can be very loving.

    Your pontificating back to mine (for which I apologize for mine – it showed my frustration which filthied my honest desire for good for all) demonstrates a certain doctrinal indifference, which is dangerous.

  19. David Rosenkoetter
    February 16th, 2012 at 14:33 | #19

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #68
    While you are not a member of ACELC, Pastor Scheer, you at least have an understanding of where the ACELC is coming from. One of the joys I find sicussions in forums like this that we can bring the concerns we have for our fellow Lutherans to light. That’s why I mentioned also to Pastor Klinkenberg I’m glad he is joining in the discussion. With the Holy Scripture and Lutheran Confessions open infront of us, we have the joy of openly applying them to whatever comes up. So, by all means, the more you or anyone else has any questions about the ACELC, ask away. Likewise, I am more than happy to email or discuss privately with pastors the positions their congregations take on doctrine and practice.

  20. Rev. McCall
    February 16th, 2012 at 15:37 | #20

    @R.D. #67
    I do not care to respond to anonymous initials R.D. but thank you anyway.

    Pr. Scheer, I do not have a doctrinal indifference. I just have a different view on how one should approach an erring brother in Christ. Ask your father-in-law Pr. Scheer who the only one has been in the last year to even bring up the SMP program in our circuit meetings (of which at least 2 churches are engaged in). Do you know how many resolutions or overtures my congregation has submitted to district or synod? Do you know what my church does or what I teach? You may ask any one of my members and they will tell you I do not practice or teach doctrinal indifference. You have no basis on which to make your claim yet that is how you must operate in order to keep going. You must destroy your “opponent” not win him over.

    Yet here you are making my point all along, demanding another pastor answer you in a public forum concerning a rumor you heard. Publicly rebuking him and chastising him on such. That is how you handle rumors? That is how you approach another brother in Christ?
    Your words:

    “Is there proof to any of the rumor? What is your communion practice? Do you have women involved in the liturgy, if so, are they leading it? I ask because you are the pastor there, and you can answer those questions up front.”

    No Pastor Scheer, I am not indifferent. I just actually want my brother in Christ to see the truth of God’s Word and repent rather than berate him and publicly attack him until I can finally get him to leave the LCMS. Again, as you state in your own words and ‘propositions’ to me, you believe the opposite.

    I give you the last word as I have no further intention of returning to this site.

  21. Johan Bergfest
    February 16th, 2012 at 15:47 | #21

    Rev. Drew Newman :
    @Johan Bergfest #58 Let’s be honest here. There is a real difference of opinion amongst our pastors about what proper practice looks like. We need to have this discussion.

    I agree that there is a real difference of opinion and I agree that there needs to be the discussion. However, I think it is a serious mistake for one party in the conversation to operate from the perspective that the other party is necessarily in “error”. For that reason, I do not think ACELC’s approach is conducive to calling the differing parties together, in Christ’s name, for a healthy and respectful conversation.

    Rev. Drew Newman :Secondly, why the assumption that our other pastoral duties are being neglected?

    Because pastoral duties take time and there are only 24 hours in a day.

  22. George
    February 16th, 2012 at 16:16 | #22

    Johan Bergfest said, “Because pastoral duties take time and there are only 24 hours in a day.”

    By that reasoning, shouldn’t pastors pass on any family time or any vacations or any pursuit or hobby that doesn’t directly impact their pastoral duties?

    Also by that reasoning, no pastor should ever serve as circuit visitor or in any district or synodical position because doing so does affect their pastoral duties.

  23. jonathan
    February 16th, 2012 at 17:46 | #23

    the idea that public statements need to be addressed in private is ridiculous…there is NO expectation of privacy on a public internet site..if it’s posted it’s for everyone to see, regardless of ecclesiastical authority..

    and being just a layman i may have it wrong, but just how “public” was david’s sin? were his deeds posted on the internet and available to EVERYONE with an internet connection?

  24. TK
    February 16th, 2012 at 18:12 | #24

    @jonathan #73
    Seems to me the public calling out of sin allows people to take shots at others without having any relationship with them. That allows demonization. Im sure the Scripture says, ‘go to your brother’. I’m not sure where the imperative is to call out a sin publicly.

  25. February 16th, 2012 at 18:45 | #25

    #74: “I’m not sure where the imperative is to call out a sin publicly.”

    It’s here:
    Mathhew 18:31-35: “When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[k] until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

    And here:
    Large Catechism, 8th Commandment: “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.”

    Private repentance for public sin is no repentance at all.

  26. February 16th, 2012 at 18:51 | #26

    @Johan Bergfest #71
    You Wrote: “I agree that there is a real difference of opinion and I agree that there needs to be the discussion. However, I think it is a serious mistake for one party in the conversation to operate from the perspective that the other party is necessarily in “error”. For that reason, I do not think ACELC’s approach is conducive to calling the differing parties together, in Christ’s name, for a healthy and respectful conversation.”

    Have you noticed an interesting thing about this conversation – especially where I am involved in it? Those who oppose what we are doing have asked, “Who has given you the right?” “Who do you think you are?” “Who died and made you God?” (well, I made that one up). But I have never asked any of you these things. Anyone here has the right to ask me anything they like, and I have a responsibility to answer respectfully, not wonder out loud who the heck you think these people are who have the audacity to ask ME questions. I will try to answer their questions as I am able. However, this issue with error is something that’s spelled out quite clearly in the Scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions, and until the recent past most of us operated with that assumption. Sadly, I don’t think this is any longer the case. Far to many people are more interested in being offended at someone else’s remarks than they are in addressing the issues at hand.

  27. LW
    February 16th, 2012 at 19:08 | #27

    @TK #74
    I read Tim Klinkenberg’s comment and question #1 to mean ACELC doesn’t have any street cred in the LCMS because not enough people are on their side. If they are just a meaningless little group of 8th commandment breaking demonizers among LCMS’ers who cares? Just ignore them like the ecclesiastical supervisors do. I’m sure Tim went to his brothers privately before he called them on the carpet publicly for calling him out publicly so that they can know the error of their ways. May the Lord have mercy on all of us poor miserable sinners.

  28. Johan Bergfest
    February 16th, 2012 at 20:37 | #28

    Rev. Drew Newman :
    @Johan Bergfest #71
    However, this issue with error is something that’s spelled out quite clearly in the Scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions, and until the recent past most of us operated with that assumption.

    I don’t think the matter of “errors” is quite the bright line that you assert. And, even if it is, the matter of dealing with differences within the brotherhood is clearly defined in both Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. I am not convinced that those affiliated with ACELC have been behaving consistently with that instruction. I question your credibility in asserting errors on the basis of that lack of consistency not on the basis of authority (apart from a difference of opinion regarding where to draw the line)

    On line from a sermon that I once heard has stuck with me for a long time and is relevant to this conversation. “Grace undermines the efforts of religion to reward the good ones.” In my opinion, there is too much rewarding of the good ones in the ACELC message.

  29. February 16th, 2012 at 20:48 | #29

    #74: “I’m not sure where the imperative is to call out a sin publicly.”

    It’s also here, listed as the very first objective of the LCMS Constitution:

    Article III Objectives
    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;

  30. Mrs. Hume
    February 16th, 2012 at 20:53 | #30

    @Ted Crandall #56

    It is commendable that you are so concerned for the public reputation of pastors, but it’s too late for that. They have already fouled their own reputation on the World Wide Web and are leading others astray with their errors. Aren’t you at all concerned for the poor people being led away from Christ by erring pastors?

    Thank you!

    If this isn’t discussed out in the open, how would I even know about it? Now that I know, it can be discussed openly at our dinner table so that our whole family will be able to consider it carefully.

  31. February 16th, 2012 at 20:53 | #31

    I’m not sure where the imperative is to leave all calls to repentance to the erring pastor’s ecclesiastical supervisor.

    I remember former President Kieschnick saying something about it, but is it now carved in stone: “You’re not the boss of me!”

  32. Mrs. Hume
    February 16th, 2012 at 20:56 | #32

    @Johan Bergfest #78

    In my opinion, there is too much rewarding of the good ones in the ACELC message.

    What reward?

  33. February 16th, 2012 at 21:34 | #33

    @Rev. McCall #70
    Rev. McCall,
    I do not know how many resolutions you or your congregation have put forward to district or synod conventions. I do know that on a few comment strings you have actively spoken against public rebuke of public sin. I understand your desire to “love” people back into the Church, but isn’t that a confusion of Law and Gospel? For the sinner who doesn’t know his sin (false teaching and practicing pastors) or worse knows it and clings to it, the Law is the fitting word. Can this happen privately? Yes. Must it? Not in regards to public sin. I admitted my error to you in pontificating publicly (after your public rebuke by the way). I would also say that even privately rebuked public sin should be confessed as such publicly by the penitent – otherwise the whole Church loses an opportunity to rejoice over the brother who has repented.

    In regards to my comments to Pr. Klinkenberg, they were actually giving him a chance to speak up against the rumors, but again you took my words in the worst construction that I was trying to play “gotcha” with him. I honestly wanted him to tell us what happens in his church so that any confusion or false rumor could be put to rest.

    In the end there are men who should leave the LCMS as they do not believe the same things and should be allowed to exercise their conscience in a church body that they can agree with. I pray that such character can be found in men, rather than the weak cries for tolerance which exhibit neither integrity or character.

    If mine is the last word, I guess I would say this: my comments about your doctrinal indifference were too far – I admit that to you. That was not the proper term for what I wanted to say. It was not the concern for doctrine, but the means by which rebuke is made that we have had issues on. That is my last word, however I will be returning to the site.

  34. helen
    February 16th, 2012 at 22:05 | #34

    @Rev. Paul T. McCain #50
    They end up only preaching to a very small choir and set themselves up as judge and jury over against their fellow members in the Synod. This is what turns off the majority of us who otherwise find some valid points in their concerns.

    Anybody else see just a smudge of soot here!? [Pot calling kettle?]
    Somebody elect, appoint, delegate PTM to speak for “the majority”? Who? ;)

    Seems to me the only way, false doctrine and false practice can be removed from us is if they are known by enough people so that they can take action.

    Concordia Seminary, St Louis, was in stealth mode, teaching false doctrine for at least 20 years before someone blew the whistle on it. There was a “clean up” of sorts, which did not reach the graduates of preceding years who had soaked up historical criticism (and it didn’t even remove the 70’s men…what went ostentatiously out the front door came in the back, unrepentant in most cases.).

    Now we need another and more thorough cleanup and repentance if we are to walk together on the same path. Our “official positions” were sound but many don’t seem to know what they are, possibly because some pastors learned to disregard them at seminary and never taught them to their flocks. [One man, some years ago, told me his Elders shamed him into dusting off his BOC and when he had to teach it, he found quite a bit of value he had disregarded.]

    We need BJS and ACELC far more than we need Fuller sem grads, PLI, ‘Transformation’ and “megachurch conferences”. (Walther emphasized that all congregations were equal from the largest to the smallest… two votes each, one Pastoral, one lay.)

    If Missouri is to be what it can be, it must be reminded what it was.
    Matt Harrison told Congress; now he needs to do more about telling some of us.
    I don’t expect it all to happen tomorrow, but I do expect it to happen.

    Save the yelp, PTM. Matt Harrison doesn’t need your questionable assistance to defend himself from the likes of me! ;) IF he thinks he needs to do that. :)

  35. TK
    February 17th, 2012 at 00:43 | #35

    @LW #77
    You read me wrong

  36. LW
    February 17th, 2012 at 09:10 | #36

    @TK #85
    What did you mean?

  37. Rev. McCall
    February 17th, 2012 at 09:32 | #37

    I break my own words here because I need to apologize to Pr. Scheer. Forgive me for my harsh words, I was wrong to lose my temper.
    As I have said before, God bless those of you who have the time and energy to search out error. My concern (as I think I mentioned) is not in what you, do, but how you do it at times. My humble suggestion is that if you point out a brothers public error publicly, turn off the comments. Let your words stand on their own. Otherwise all it does is devolve into a public lynching of the sinning brother where everyone joins in by picking up and casting their own stones in order to join in the fight. IMHO what good does that serve to all involved? It is not necessary IMHO.
    This time I promise I’m done!

  38. February 17th, 2012 at 10:41 | #38

    #83: “I would also say that even privately rebuked public sin should be confessed as such publicly by the penitent – otherwise the whole Church loses an opportunity to rejoice over the brother who has repented.”

    Not only that, but private repentance for public sin leaves the whole Church in the dark, still perhaps being inspired by the error, rather than avoiding the sin. As I said before, we should be at least as concerned for the eternal souls of the misled flock as we are for the precious reputation of the erring pastor — especially since he already publicly soiled his own reputation. Correction of a public error should be at least as public as the error.

    #87: “IMHO what good does that serve to all involved? It is not necessary IMHO.”

    Please see above.

  39. LW
    February 17th, 2012 at 10:47 | #39

    @Rev. McCall #87
    I understand your concern, but it seems that the nature of a blog is that it creates feedback and dialogue. It is a cyber world dealing with real world issues. It’s the bringing together of a lot of different people, many who are strangers, who ask questions, share their opinions and generally inform and amuse one another.

    The way I see it is this post provided information about a conference and a defense of ACELC, a group of people who have joined together to defend sound doctrine. A man who was offended by what ACELC publicly sited about his congregation had the opportunity to publicly question this group and defend his position. We are all passionate about the Lord’s Church on both sides of the issues. Some people have a higher tolerance for dispute than others. I try not to take other people’s comments too personally and I fail, but at times I find the whole process to be a bit cathartic. This venue serves as a mode of communication which can be quite informative and if I am wrong you have the opportunity to try to persuade me otherwise.

  40. LW
    February 17th, 2012 at 11:05 | #40

    By the way, as far as I know, the publicly rebuked do not admit that they are wrong. I know of no pastors who practice open communion or hold concert type church services who think they are at all wrong. How can there be public or private repentance when there is no repentance at all. If we are the wrong ones and they are still about repentance than they should be trying to convince us to repent.

  41. R.D.
    February 17th, 2012 at 14:42 | #41

    @Rev. McCall #70

    “I do not care to respond to anonymous initials R.D. but thank you anyway. ”

    They’re not anonymous initials. They stand for Ryan Dee.

    Your position is absurd. You have set man-made ‘boundaries’ over our duty to our erring brothers. This is unfortunate.

    You would have a point (about casting stones) if it were really true that we were pointing out error for the sake of gossip and to praise ourselves saying, “Lord, I thank you that I am not like that liberal pastor over there.” But I have not seen this. I have only seen good men trying to help an erring brother, and more importantly, protect the sheep from wolves. Indeed, it is a sin to vilify these faithful pastors for doing their duty.

  42. Rev. Clint K. Poppe
    February 17th, 2012 at 17:09 | #42

    @TK #74

    I would also add that CFW Walther encourages us to do so, based on the example of Jesus. He took teachers to task and called them by name.

    “With great earnestness He cries out: “Woe unto you, scribes!” If He were to appear in our midst today, and did not tell us that He is the Christ, He would be condemned as a disturber of the peace. They would crucify Him today, just as they crucify us in books. The apostles, too, are always dealing with enemies; they call them dogs, mutilators of the flesh, and other epithets. Therefore Christians should be very careful not to reject Christ when they reject pastors because of the judgmental Word they proclaim. And it won’t do any harm whether we are considered saints, or whether we are slandered, so long as God above considers us faithful; but Christian congregations should also support their pastors, when they discipline false teachers, lest they reject Christ, who has commanded all pastors to exercise discipline. That is why Paul writes to Timothy: “Do not be ashamed of me, who am a prisoner for Christ.” Even though pastors are not bound in chains today, they are nevertheless despised. They bear this disgrace for their congregations. Pastors could easily be pious people, sit back in a corner, take no one to task; but then they would be fat, sleeping watchdogs, who do not bark.” C. F. W. Walther, Essays For The Church, Volume I, 1857-1879, (St. Louis:CPH), 1992, 124.

    http://www.acelc.net/userFiles/2001/barking-dogs-and-a-three-legged-hog-poppe.pdf

  43. Tim
    February 17th, 2012 at 20:51 | #43

    @Rev. Clint K. Poppe #92

    Thanks Clint, I still struggle with not having dialogue and calling guys out for what they are doing in their called congregation. Maybe I’m a wuss or skipped that part of pastoral training.

  44. Rev. Clint K. Poppe
    February 18th, 2012 at 00:01 | #44

    @Tim #93

    Tim, there have been many times when I have not put the best construction on everything and many times when I have been a fat, sleeping watchdog who failed to bark; chief of sinners though I be…

    May God grant us the wisdom and courage and humility and strength to be faithful!

    2 Timothy 1:7, 2:11-13, 3:14-17, 4:1-5

  45. February 18th, 2012 at 07:11 | #45

    #91: “I have only seen good men trying to help an erring brother, and more importantly, protect the sheep from wolves.”

    Yes, and we are also trying to protect the sheep from shepherds who are inadvertently leading them astray. Today, that might be you, tomorrow it could be me. The mutual consolation of the brothers includes encouraging each other to stay in the Word!

  46. tim klinkenberg
    February 19th, 2012 at 00:30 | #46

    Hey Ted, in what respect do we trust one another and aren’t the District Presidents and their reps the circuit counselors responsible for that type of oversight?

  47. February 19th, 2012 at 05:07 | #47

    In what respect do we trust one another? Like the noble Bereans, we listen eagerly for the Word — and then check the Scriptures to confirm that what they say is true.

    “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
    (Acts 17:11)

    Tim, it’s very difficult to expect to hear the truth from some fellow LCMS pastors at all, let alone eagerly, when a pattern has emerged contrary to the Word. Such as an LCMS pastor advertising on the World Wide Web his intention to offer his flock on Sunday (Christmas Day) only a joint service held at a Presbyterian Church.

    http://sharechristarlington.net/Christ_Lutheran_Church/Newsletter.html

  48. February 19th, 2012 at 05:11 | #48

    #96: Tim, here is how I responded before (#81) to the cry to mind our own business and leave it to the ecclesiastical supervisor:

    I’m not sure where the imperative is to leave all calls to repentance to the erring pastor’s ecclesiastical supervisor.

    I remember former President Kieschnick saying something about it, but is it now carved in stone: “You’re not the boss of me!”

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