Steadfast Office – The Divine Call
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church reads this Bible passage and many others at the ordinations of the men our Lord Jesus Christ calls into His service to preach the Word in season and out of season. The Preaching Office is so important that the Reformers addressed its importance in Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession (Augustana). Let us review:
” It is taught among us that nobody should publicly teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church without a regular call.”
What does Augustana XIV mean? Has its meaning changed since the Confession was read before the Princes in 1530? For some in The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), Augustana means everything concerning the Preaching Office. For others, it means nothing. What happened to Augustana XIV? Where did go?
The LCMS has always held that a pastor was a man who was educated (seminary residency), examined, called (Divine Call), and ordained. She was serious about Augustana XIV. No one was to publicly teach or preach in the Church, nor administer the sacraments in the Church, without a regular call (rite vocatus). In 1989, everything changed for the LCMS. The Synod voted, in convention, to rescind Augustana XIV and replace it with the “lay ministry.”
I asked earlier, what happened to Augustana XIV? The answer is that politics removed it from the LCMS. 1989 was a fateful year for the LCMS. She discarded a primary doctrine which the Evangelical Lutheran Church held for 459 years. Now, education and examination are no longer primary instruments in the Church. (See 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:2; Titus 1:9)
The LCMS has created many programs to put men into the preaching office; DELTO (Distance Education Leading to Ordination); AR (Alternate Route); SMPP (Specific Ministry Pastoral Program), and others. The LCMS has also rejected Augustana XIV by allowing men who resigned their Divine Call to continue to preach and administer the sacraments.
She also allows men who have retired (resigned their Divine Call) to do the same. She also allows men to “read” sermons written by the pastor during his absence. Why? And yet, she condemns the actions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for allowing women in the preaching office. What’s the difference? Rejection of the Confession is still rejection.
What can be done about this? Can Augustana XIV be restored in the LCMS? Is there any hope that this terrible wrong can be corrected? My answer is yes. I say IT’S TIME! The President of the Synod has been given all the tools and authority to correct the problems stemming from the rejection of Augustana XIV. His actions must include discipline and possible removal of those who do not conform.
It is about theology. It has to be about theology otherwise the LCMS is just another business in the United States of America. In my previous post, Steadfast Office – Theology, not Politics, Rev. McCall made an astute observation in his comment (#23). He asked, (paraphrasing) if nothing is done about an erring brother, does that mean I am still tolerating such behavior (tolerating his sin)? Or, do I or he need to leave.
His questions are asked because politics have taken over the LCMS. If the LCMS held to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, Rev. McCall’s questions would not have to be asked. The erring brother, congregation, District President, or whom ever sinned was corrected, then all would be well in the LCMS. As it is, those who do hold fast to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions are asking if they have to leave what they confess. This is just wrong. If the erring person refuses to confess his sin and repent (turn from evil), he must be removed from the Church (Matthew 18)
My prayer is that the Lord of the Church grant strength and courage to His Church to stand strong and be bold to call sinners to repentance.