Harrison and other leaders sign “Open Letter on Religious Freedom” (posted by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

June 21st, 2012 Post by

LCMS President Matthew Harrison is one of 25 religious leaders who have signed an “Open Letter on Religious Freedom” in protest of the recent Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate restricting religious liberty. Other Lutheran signatories are WELS President Mark Schroeder, ELS President John Moldstad, NALC Bishop John Bradosky, and LCMS Concordia Deaconess Conference President Cheryl Naumann.

What follows is first President Harrison’s cover message, and then the letter itself. CH

– – – – – – – – – –

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life.

In response to the incursion of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) into the realm of religious freedom with its controversial contraceptive mandate issued earlier this year, we are compelled to offer “Free Exercise of Religion: Putting Beliefs into Practice,” an open letter to our members and, indeed, all Americans.

Twenty-four leaders of religious organizations across the country have joined with us in signing the letter. Together, these signatories represent more than 10 million American men, women and children. They represent religious organizations that stand with us in opposition to the contraceptive mandate on the grounds that it is an infringement of our God-given right to act according to the tenets of our faith.

We are preparing to issue this letter even as we await a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a historic piece of legislation meant to extend health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. The HHS contraceptive mandate represents one of the reforms included in the law. The ramifications of the anticipated ruling are, of course, as yet unknown.

That said, our action in authoring this letter is not a statement on the global design of PPACA. As Christians living out our calling to serve our brothers and sisters with the mercy and love of Jesus Christ, we support and engage in wide-ranging efforts to restore health and well-being to the sick and suffering.

Thus, this letter specifically is in response to one effect of the contraceptive mandate—one that would require religious organizations, with only narrowly defined exceptions, to include coverage for contraceptives, including those that could cause the death of unborn babies, in their employee health plans. This is in direct opposition to a core teaching of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod—that only God gives and takes life.

I encourage you to read the letter and to share it widely.

In Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

– – – – – – – – – –

FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION:
Putting Beliefs into Practice

An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans

Dear Friends,

Religious institutions are established because of religious beliefs and convictions. Such institutions include not only churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship, but also schools and colleges, shelters and community kitchens, adoption agencies and hospitals, organizations that provide care and services during natural disasters, and countless other organizations that exist to put specific religious beliefs into practice. Many such organizations have provided services and care to both members and non-members of their religious communities since before the Revolutionary War, saving and improving the lives of countless American citizens.

As religious leaders from a variety of perspectives and communities, we are compelled to make known our protest against the incursion of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) into the realm of religious liberty. HHS has mandated that religious institutions, with only a narrow religious exception, must provide access to certain contraceptive benefits, even if the covered medications or procedures are contradictory to their beliefs. We who oppose the application of this mandate to religious institutions include not only the leaders of religious groups morally opposed to contraception, but also leaders of other religious groups that do not share that particular moral conviction.

That we share an opposition to the mandate to religious institutions while disagreeing about specific moral teachings is a crucial fact. Religious freedom is the principle on which we stand. Because of differing understandings of moral and religious authority, people of good will can and often do come to different conclusions about moral questions. Yet, even we who hold differing convictions on specific moral issues are united in the conviction that no religious institution should be penalized for refusing to go against its beliefs. The issue is the First Amendment, not specific moral teachings or specific products or services.

The HHS mandate implicitly acknowledged that an incursion into religion is involved in the mandate. However, the narrowness of the proposed exemption is revealing for it applies only to religious organizations that serve or support their own members. In so doing, the government is establishing favored and disfavored religious organizations: a privatized religious organization that serves only itself is exempted from regulation, while one that believes it should also serve the public beyond its membership is denied a religious exemption. The so-called accommodation and the subsequent Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) do little or nothing to alleviate the problem.

No government should tell religious organizations either what to believe or how to put their beliefs into practice. We indeed hold this to be an unalienable, constitutional right. If freedom of religion is a constitutional value to be protected, then institutions developed by religious groups to implement their core beliefs in education, in care for the sick or suffering, and in other tasks must also be protected. Only by doing so can the free exercise of religion have any meaning. The HHS mandate prevents this free exercise. For the well-being of our country, we oppose the application of the contraceptive mandate to religious institutions and plead for its retraction.

Sincerely yours,

Leith Anderson
President
National Association of Evangelicals

Gary M. Benedict
President
The Christian and Missionary Alliance

Bishop John F. Bradosky
North American Lutheran Church

The Most Rev. Robert J. Carlson
Archbishop of St. Louis

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V.
Superior General of the Sisters of Life

Sister Barbara Anne Gooding, R.S.M.
Director, Department of Religion
Saint Francis Health System

Sister Margaret Regina Halloran, l.s.p.
Provincial Superior, Brooklyn Province
Little Sisters of the Poor

The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

U.S. Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.
Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church
Bishop, Fellowship of International Churches

The Very Rev. Dr. John A. Jillions
Chancellor
Orthodox Church in America

The Most Blessed Jonah
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All American and Canada
Orthodox Church in America

Imam Faizul R. Khan
Founder and Leader
Islamic Society of Washington Area

The Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky
Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations
Orthodox Church in America

The Most Rev. William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
Chairman
USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

Sister Maria Christine Lynch, l.s.p.
Provincial Superior, Chicago Province
Little Sisters of the Poor

Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, l.s.p.
Provincial Superior, Baltimore
Province Little Sisters of the Poor

The Rev. John A. Moldstad
President
Evangelical Lutheran Synod

Deaconess Cheryl D. Naumann
President Concordia Deaconess Conference
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
President
NHCLC
Hispanic Evangelical Association

Sister Joseph Marie Ruessmann, R.S.M., J.D., J.C.D., M.B.A.
Generalate Secretary
Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan

The Rev. Mark Schroeder
President
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

L. Roy Taylor
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America

Sister Constance Carolyn Veit, l.s.p.
Communications Director
Little Sisters of the Poor

Dr. George O. Wood
General Superintendent
The General Council of the Assemblies of God






Rules for comments on this site:


Engage the contents and substance of the post. Rabbit trails and side issues do not help the discussion of the topics.  Our authors work hard to write these articles and it is a disservice to them to distract from the topic at hand.  If you have a topic you think is important to have an article or discussion on, we invite you to submit a request through the "Ask a Pastor" link or submit a guest article.


Provide a valid email address. If you’re unwilling to do this, we are unwilling to let you comment.


Provide at least your first name. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example.  If you have a good reason to use a fake name, please do so but realize that the administrators of the site expect a valid email address and also reserve the right to ask you for your name privately at any time.


If you post as more than one person from the same IP address, we’ll block that address.


Do not engage in ad hominem arguments. We will delete such comments, and will not be obligated to respond to any complaints (public or private ones) about deleting your comments.


Interaction between people leaving comments ought to reflect Christian virtue, interaction that is gracious and respectful, not judging motives.  If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.


We reserve the right to identify and deal with trollish behavior as we see fit and without apology.  This may include warnings (public or private ones) or banning.

  1. June 21st, 2012 at 18:13 | #1

    Minor fix to make Pastor Henrickson –

    change the following – WELS President John Moldstad, ELS President Mark Schroeder

    to

    WELS President Mark Schroeder, ELS President John Molstad

    Although a Norse WELS President and German ELS (Little Norwegian Synod) President would be kind of nifty for a day.

  2. mames
    June 21st, 2012 at 18:44 | #2

    This is a wonderful start. I would remind Harrison that benevolence at the point of an IRS gun is not benevolence it is extortion and gross theft. It is just as big a deal that we confront the collectivism of our government who does not seem to understand or care that we live in a Constitutionally Limited Republic not a representative democracy. After all our Lord loves a cheerful giver not a mandated giver. All charity and love is always voluntary, never forced. Sorry but this tap dance around the immorality of the PPACA is repulsive.

  3. June 21st, 2012 at 18:54 | #3

    Perry Lund :Minor fix to make Pastor Henrickson –
    change the following – WELS President John Moldstad, ELS President Mark Schroeder to WELS President Mark Schroeder, ELS President John Molstad. Although a Norse WELS President and German ELS (Little Norwegian Synod) President would be kind of nifty for a day.

    Fixed it. Thanks for pointing that out, Perry. This Swede gets Germans and Norwegians mixed up sometimes.

  4. June 21st, 2012 at 18:58 | #4

    mames :This is a wonderful start. I would remind Harrison that benevolence at the point of an IRS gun is not benevolence it is extortion and gross theft. It is just as big a deal that we confront the collectivism of our government who does not seem to understand or care that we live in a Constitutionally Limited Republic not a representative democracy. After all our Lord loves a cheerful giver not a mandated giver. All charity and love is always voluntary, never forced. Sorry but this tap dance around the immorality of the PPACA is repulsive.

    I would not characterize it as a “tap dance around.” It is simply stating the scope of this particular letter, i.e., what specifically the 25 religious leaders were signing on to. It is not making a statement one way or the other about the forced redistribution of wealth. That certainly is a question worthy of discussion, but it is beyond the scope of this letter.

  5. helen
    June 21st, 2012 at 19:16 | #5

    @Charles Henrickson #4
    “It is not making a statement one way or the other about the forced redistribution of wealth.”

    Very true! Using the taxpayers’ money to “bail out” the largest banks in the world, (after said banks have paid their leaders obscenely out of the proceeds of impoverishing most of the western nations) is a whole other subject.

    [Moody downgraded them today, because they’ve almost run out of people to steal from, BTW.]

    End of “commercial”. Back to the stated program. ;)

  6. Carl Vehse
    June 21st, 2012 at 21:12 | #6

    “No government should tell religious organizations either what to believe or how to put their beliefs into practice.”

    It would be nice to see a similar open letter of support for the view that no form-of-government-elected-or-appointed regime of thugs should tell citizens [the government] either what to believe or how to put their beliefs into practice.

  7. Pastor Ted Crandall
    June 22nd, 2012 at 05:06 | #7

    @Carl Vehse #6
    It would be nice to see a similar open letter of support for the view that no form-of-government-elected-or-appointed regime of thugs should tell citizens [the government] either what to believe or how to put their beliefs into practice.

    The press is full of cries for “freedom FROM religion” and for the most part the public gets the part about not establishing a state religion. The other part of the First Amendment, the part about keeping the secular nose out from under the sacred tent, that part about the FREE exercise of religion needs more emphasis — just like this open letter provides. Bravo to Pastor Harrison!

  8. Norman Teigen
    June 23rd, 2012 at 08:54 | #8

    The signature of the President of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod on this political document is not universally approved within the little Synod. Christ’s words that his kingdom is not of this world are ignored in the general conservative hysteria on the subject.

    Norman Teigen, Layman
    Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

  9. Carl Vehse
    June 23rd, 2012 at 11:57 | #9

    There seem to be differing views on whether Missouri Synod churches, in pity, should express imprecatory admonitions against evil/treasonous bureaucratic assaults on Christians and nonChristians, or whether we should simply pass by on the other side.

  10. June 23rd, 2012 at 15:52 | #10

    @Norman Teigen #8
    Norman,
    What do you think of the fact that our chief confession of the Faith (Augsburg Confession) was confessed and signed not by theologians or pastors, but by princes and mayors?

    Also, didn’t Paul exercise his Roman Citizenship to help advance the Gospel (in his case to Rome)?

    Why can’t Christians [and church bodies] do so today? Why is a letter stating our support of Religious liberty wrong?

    Do you vote?

  11. June 23rd, 2012 at 16:45 | #11

    Pastor Joshua Scheer :
    Also, didn’t Paul exercise his Roman Citizenship to help advance the Gospel (in his case to Rome)?

    Exactly what I was going to say. Paul appealed to Caesar. Severl times, in fact, Paul played the Roman-citizen card. There is nothing wrong with American citizens, individually or in groups, protesting intrusions on the religious liberty guaranteed in our form of government.

  12. Rev. Paul T. McCain
    June 23rd, 2012 at 18:21 | #12

    Elsewhere, Norman Teigen has indicated his displeasure that the ELS is embracing Republican politics.

    I would like Norman Teigen to be very specific in his criticisms of the ELS, and indicate precisely why he feels that way he does, and to what, he is referring to.

    I’m sure he will do this.

  13. Daniel Gorman
    June 24th, 2012 at 01:00 | #13

    Charies Hendrickson#11 “Paul appealed to Caesar. Severl times, in fact, Paul played the Roman-citizen card.”

    Paul asserted the same rights that every Roman citizen had. Paul didn’t band together with a bunch of pagan priests in order to gain special privileges for himself and his idol worshipping pals. Why should pagan priests have more freedom of religion that Christian laymen?

  14. Pastor Ted Crandall
    June 24th, 2012 at 05:16 | #14

    @Daniel Gorman #13
    “Paul didn’t band together with a bunch of pagan priests in order to gain special privileges for himself and his idol worshipping pals.”

    And neither did Pastor Harrison. The “special privileges” he sought were not for himself, but for all who would continue to enjoy the benefits of the free exercise of religion in America, especially all the people he as President of the LCMS represents, not to mention the defenseless ones still in the womb. Though it certainly does have consequences, especially for the unborn, the issue is not a religious one, but civic. This is not about theology, but about the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. The wide variety of religions represented by the signatories clearly illustrates this point.

    “Why should pagan priests have more freedom of religion that Christian laymen?”
    Did you happen to see Pastor Cwirla’s comment about hammers and nuts?

  15. Daniel Gorman
    June 24th, 2012 at 15:55 | #15

    Pastor Ted Crandell: “The “special privileges” he sought were not for himself, but for all who would continue to enjoy the benefits of the free exercise of religion in America, especially all the people he as President of the LCMS represents, not to mention the defenseless ones still in the womb.”

    The benefits that Pres. Harrison is seeking only apply to members of LCMS Concordia Plans, who, for the most part, are horrified by abortion drugs and would never make a claim anyway. What about the religious rights of the overwhelming majority of LCMS laymen who are covered by private and government plans and who, even now, are required to subsidize abortion drugs for millions of women who possess no scruples about murdering their own babies?

    If Pres. Harrison and his band of heretics and pagans are successful in securing special privileges for “religious organizations”, what abominations will become protected religious rights? Drug addiction, temple prostitution, animal sacrifice, child mutilation?

  16. Pastor Ted Crandall
    June 24th, 2012 at 16:52 | #16

    @Daniel Gorman #15
    Like the mainstream press, you are trying to twist the issue into one of religion imposing its beliefs on the government. That is not at all what is going on here, but quite the opposite — the government is prohibiting the free exercise of religion and making laws to establish religion.

    As I said, this is not about theology, but about the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

    And shame on you for saying such horrid things about Pastor Harrison!

  17. Norman Teigen
    June 25th, 2012 at 05:07 | #17

    Dear Pastor Crandall, with all due respect I believe that Gorman more accurately defines the issues than you do. It is a sad case of Lutherans being misled by the Catholics and the Evangelicals.

    Norman Teigen, Layman
    Evangelical Lutheran Synod

  18. Pastor Ted Crandall
    June 25th, 2012 at 06:02 | #18

    “If Pres. Harrison and his band of heretics and pagans …”
    “Lutherans being misled by the [Roman] Catholics and the [American] Evangelicals.”

    I’ve requested a week of vacation days from the USMC and am about to take our youth to Higher Things in Raleigh, North Carolina. It is an especially joyful day for Faith Lutheran in Beaufort, SC, but I’m a little short on time. I welcome any help here defending Pastor Harrison against these violations of the 8th Commandment.

    “We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”

  19. Norman Teigen
    June 25th, 2012 at 06:50 | #19

    Dear Pastor Crandall, with all due respect, you are overreacting, terribly.

  20. helen
    June 25th, 2012 at 07:11 | #20

    @Daniel Gorman #15
    If Pres. Harrison and his band of heretics and pagans are successful in securing special privileges for “religious organizations”, what abominations will become protected religious rights? Drug addiction, temple prostitution, animal sacrifice, child mutilation?

    Gorman, don’t be ridiculous! You ruin your own argument. People who call names aren’t taken seriously when they make a good point, as you do here:
    What about the religious rights of the overwhelming majority of LCMS laymen who are covered by private and government plans and who, even now, are required to subsidize abortion drugs for millions of women who possess no scruples about murdering their own babies?

    I have been asked off list, “What about Lutheran lay business owners, who would prefer not to offer abortifacients in their medical plans?” That seems to be a sensible question. People who don’t work for religious organizations have moral objections, too.
    The answer is: as long as abortion is legal, these drugs will be included in insurance formularies.

    But another more pertinent question is, “Why should these particular drugs be free of co-pays? [They are not necessary to life except for the relatively few women who have medical problems alleviated by “the pill”.]
    That doesn’t include the post coital drugs which are solely designed for escape from the “risks” of recreational sex (by destroying a life).

    I’m sure a lot of sufferers from chronic illnesses would like their sometimes much more expensive medicines “free” but rational people know that nothing is free. It’s just a matter of pushing the expense on to someone else.

    Listowners! I’ve been reprimanded for a lot less rudeness than Gorman’s diatribe! Why should this individual, [who is not even lcms, as far as I can tell] allowed to run at the mouth to this extent!?

  21. helen
    June 25th, 2012 at 14:19 | #21

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #14
    @Daniel Gorman #13
    “Paul didn’t band together with a bunch of pagan priests in order to gain special privileges for himself and his idol worshipping pals.”

    Pres. Moldstad of ELS and Pres. Schroeder of WELS, among other Christians, should be delighted [not!] to see Mr. Gorman’s opinion of them published on the world wide web!

    @Norman Teigen #19

    I don’t think Pr. Crandall is “overreacting”, Mr. Teigen.

  22. June 25th, 2012 at 14:44 | #22

    @Daniel Gorman #15
    I am assuming that you are saying President Harrison is not a heretic or pagan but that the others who signed it are? If so – please provide proof of your charge against Pres. Moldstad and Pres. Schroeder to confirm that they are heretics or pagans. You may also want to address that charge in regards to Deaconness Cheryl Naumann. If you cannot prove that these people are “heretics or pagans” then you need to repent from your false accusation against them.

  23. June 25th, 2012 at 14:44 | #23

    @Norman Teigen #19
    Norman, do you vote? See my previous questions and answer them please.

  24. Rev. David Mueller
    June 25th, 2012 at 14:56 | #24

    @helen #21
    The problem with Mr. Gorman’s and Mr. Teigen’s comments are that they are not directly related to the issue at hand, but are instead, an *expansion* on the issue, which used inflammatory language that seemed to suggest that Harrison (and Moldstad and Schroeder, et al.) is complicit in the status quo “ante this particular bellum.” Nowhere has Harrison said anything to *support* the use of tax moneys *in any context* for abortions, etc., nor to support the forcing of private businesses and insurers to pay for abortions, etc. Harrison explicitly focused the letter on *1* point–the HHS mandate in the PPACA. I would imagine he strongly *agrees* that it is (and has been for a long time) a major problem that Christians have had to, for example, rent their properties to homosexual or unmarried couples.

  25. Daniel Gorman
    June 25th, 2012 at 16:00 | #25

    Pastor Joshua Sheer#22: “I am assuming that you are saying President Harrison is not a heretic or pagan but that the others who signed it are? If so – please provide proof of your charge against Pres. Moldstad and Pres. Schroeder to confirm that they are heretics or pagans. You may also want to address that charge in regards to Deaconness Cheryl Naumann. If you cannot prove that these people are “heretics or pagans” then you need to repent from your false accusation against them.”

    I apology for my ambiguous language. I was using the definition “of” that means “including” not the definition that means “consisting of.” It was never my intent to imply that every member of Pres. Harrison’s band is either a heretic or a pagan but only that his band includes heretics and pagans. Does anyone dispute that basic fact?

  26. Daniel Gorman
    June 26th, 2012 at 01:47 | #26

    Pastor Ted Crandell: “I welcome any help here defending Pastor Harrison against these violations of the 8th Commandment.”

    Norman Teigen and I have posted nothing here that is not absolutely true and publicly known. We have been respectful of our church leaders; however, Rev. Harrison is not a pope and he is not infallible.

    Rev. Harrison, Rev. Schroeder, and Rev. Moldstad misused the power of their holy offices by making common cause with the clergy of false religions. As the AC XXVIII states, the power of the bishops can be exercised only by “teaching or preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments” AC XXVIII. The power of the bishops cannot used as a political instrument.

  27. Norman Teigen
    June 26th, 2012 at 06:36 | #27

    My humble suggestion is that all parties stop and take a theology study break. I have discovered a lecture series titled ‘From Sea to Shining Sea’ given by Dr. Joel Biermann. This lecture series is part of a Lay Bible Institute program presented by Concordia St. Louis. I want to see what this bright young professor has to say. It’s a freebie available through the iTunes store.

    Norman Teigen, Layman
    Evangelical Lutheran Synod

  28. June 26th, 2012 at 08:42 | #28

    Daniel Gorman :
    Rev. Harrison, Rev. Schroeder, and Rev. Moldstad misused the power of their holy offices by making common cause with the clergy of false religions. As the AC XXVIII states, the power of the bishops can be exercised only by “teaching or preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments” AC XXVIII. The power of the bishops cannot used as a political instrument.

    Harrison, Schroeder, and Moldstad did indeed find common cause with the leaders of those other religious groups. (“Common cause” is exactly the term I have used in discussing this matter.) However, the common cause they have is in defending the religious liberties of the people they represent. This is a cause in the civil realm, in dealing with the government. This is not church fellowship. This is not consensus in doctrine or anything like that. This is not participating in a joint prayer service with clergy of other religions (as at “A Prayer for America”). Huge difference.

    Further, in regard to AC XXVIII, this is not bishops taking up the sword to enforce religious beliefs or practices. No, this is bishops appealing to Caesar to not use the sword against us! This government is tryiing to force us to act against conscience. This government is using the power of the state to coerce us into violating our religious beliefs. And in so doing, this government is overstepping its own authority. Leaders of the groups most directly affected are thus finding common cause and speaking up on behalf of their people.

  29. Daniel Gorman
    June 26th, 2012 at 11:06 | #29

    Charles Henrickson: “Harrison, Schroeder, and Moldstad did indeed find common cause with the leaders of those other religious groups. (“Common cause” is exactly the term I have used in discussing this matter.) However, the common cause they have is in defending the religious liberties of the people they represent. This is a cause in the civil realm, in dealing with the government. This is not church fellowship. This is not consensus in doctrine or anything like that. This is not participating in a joint prayer service with clergy of other religions (as at “A Prayer for America”). Huge difference.”

    If Harrison, Schroeder, Moldstad, and the priests of false religions had omitted their churchly titles, we would not be having this conversation. It is the right of every citizen to freely condemn the government because every citizen is the government (Preamble, U.S. Constitution; Romans 13). “An Open Letter from Religious Leaders” would be rightly understood as being “a cause in the civil realm, in dealing with the government.”

    However, when Harrison, Schroeder, and Moldstad used the churchly title “Reverend” in their open letter, they were speaking in the place of and by the command of their lord Jesus Christ. This means that the open letter is a public confession of the gospel and that everything in the open letter must be the pure gospel (AC, VII). The condemnation of government within the open letter is no longer civil matter but a religious confession. The pure teachers of the Augsburg Confession may not make a common religious confession with the priests of false religions. See FC, SD, Adiaphora.

    Charles Henrickson: “Further, in regard to AC XXVIII, this is not bishops taking up the sword to enforce religious beliefs or practices. No, this is bishops appealing to Caesar to not use the sword against us! This government is tryiing to force us to act against conscience. This government is using the power of the state to coerce us into violating our religious beliefs. And in so doing, this government is overstepping its own authority. Leaders of the groups most directly affected are thus finding common cause and speaking up on behalf of their people.”

    Ministers rightly condemn the sins of government. American citizens possess the sword of petitioning the government for redress of grievances (e.g., the open letter). Ministers do not possess the sword of joining with false teachers in a common cause. Their only weapon is the sword of the pure gospel.

  30. June 26th, 2012 at 12:43 | #30

    Charles Henrickson :
    Harrison, Schroeder, and Moldstad did indeed find common cause with the leaders of those other religious groups. (“Common cause” is exactly the term I have used in discussing this matter.) However, the common cause they have is in defending the religious liberties of the people they represent. This is a cause in the civil realm, in dealing with the government. This is not church fellowship. This is not consensus in doctrine or anything like that. This is not participating in a joint prayer service with clergy of other religions (as at “A Prayer for America”). Huge difference.
    Further, in regard to AC XXVIII, this is not bishops taking up the sword to enforce religious beliefs or practices. No, this is bishops appealing to Caesar to not use the sword against us! This government is tryiing to force us to act against conscience. This government is using the power of the state to coerce us into violating our religious beliefs. And in so doing, this government is overstepping its own authority. Leaders of the groups most directly affected are thus finding common cause and speaking up on behalf of their people.

    Pastor Henrickson,

    I appreciate your clarity in this matter as questions have come up on this matter. There appears to be an honest disagreement here, but I believe your argument makes Scriptural and confessional sense.

  31. Carl Vehse
    June 27th, 2012 at 10:00 | #31

    LCMS President Matthew Harrison is one of 25 religious leaders who have signed an “Open Letter on Religious Freedom” in protest of the recent Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate restricting religious liberty.

    Perhaps another “Open Letter on Religious Freedom” could be signed by these religious leaders in support of Christians being attacked by a mob and stoned while legally gathered in a U.S. city, as law enforcement officers condoned the violence by walking away.

    The Christians, some of whom were injured, did not retaliate verbally or with force against the riotous mob. Later the police came back and threatened the Christian group with arrest for disorderly conduct in the city of Dearbornistan, Michigan.

  32. helen
    June 27th, 2012 at 13:40 | #32

    @Daniel Gorman #26
    We have been respectful of our church leaders; however, Rev. Harrison is not a pope and he is not infallible.

    You’ve been disrespectful of our church leaders.
    Would Rev. Harrison as pope get politeness from you?

    None of us is “infallible” and yes, I do mean to include you.

  33. Rev. Paul T. McCain
    June 29th, 2012 at 18:31 | #33

    I’m still waiting to hear from Mr. Norman Teigen precisely what he meant when he accused his own church body of adopting the Republican party’s political platform.

    To what issues are you referring, Mr. Teigen?

    And will you clarify your personal positions on those issues?

  34. Rev. Paul T. McCain
    June 30th, 2012 at 14:50 | #34

    Also, please be aware that this “Daniel Gorman” person is in fact a person hiding behind a fake name, making assertions on LUTHERQUEST that are, in my view, indicative of a person who would do well to avail himself of pastoral care, as soon as possible.

  35. Carl Vehse
    June 30th, 2012 at 17:38 | #35

    Ad hominems aside, there is a more relevant question to be ask regarding Mr. Gorman’s statement in #29 about the Open Letter:

    “However, when Harrison, Schroeder, and Moldstad used the churchly title ‘Reverend’ in their open letter, they were speaking in the place of and by the command of their lord Jesus Christ.”

    Where is this claim about the title of “Reverend” supported in Holy Scripture or the Lutheran Confessions? The term “Reverend” does not in itself indicate the person currently has a Divine Call as a pastor. The person may be an executive of a corporation associated with churches, but the corporation is not a church in itself, and the man does not have a Divine Call for that executive position. For example, some men use the title “Reverend” and haven’t had a Divine Call to serve a congregation in twenty years.

  36. Pastor Ted Crandall
    June 30th, 2012 at 19:53 | #36

    @Carl Vehse #35
    “Ad hominems aside… some men use the title “Reverend” and haven’t had a Divine Call to serve a congregation in twenty years.”

    Really?

  37. Carl Vehse
    June 30th, 2012 at 20:56 | #37

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #36: “Really?”

    Oh, yes. There’s one man who has been a district president for the past twenty years and not had a call to a congregation (at least according to the LCMS worker database). And there are likely others who have been in synod or district executive staffs in one position or another for similar lengths of time with no Divine Call as pastor to a congregation.

  38. Pastor Ted Crandall
    July 1st, 2012 at 04:03 | #38

    @Carl Vehse #37

    That’s really not ad hominem?

  39. Carl Vehse
    July 1st, 2012 at 07:48 | #39

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #38: “That’s really not ad hominem?”

    The use of the title, “Reverend,” is not a ad hominem.

    The ad hominem I referred to in #35 was the attack on Mr. Gorman’s (#29) arguments with the claim that he used a fake name. That’s like claiming certain books are not worth reading because they were written by a person who signed his name as Mark Twain or Dr. Seuss.

  40. Pastor Ted Crandall
    July 1st, 2012 at 11:48 | #40

    @Carl Vehse #39
    “For example, some men use the title “Reverend” and haven’t had a Divine Call to serve a congregation in twenty years.”

    That’s the “ad hominem” to which I was referring.

    (You’re point about pseudonymns does perhaps expose a different one — the one which prompted you to respond in kind?)

  41. helen
    July 1st, 2012 at 14:32 | #41

    @Carl Vehse #35

    “However, when Harrison, Schroeder, and Moldstad used the churchly title ‘Reverend’ in their open letter, they were speaking in the place of and by the command of their lord Jesus Christ.” –Gorman

    Where is this claim about the title of “Reverend” supported in Holy Scripture or the Lutheran Confessions? The term “Reverend” does not in itself indicate the person currently has a Divine Call as a pastor. –Strickert

    So Gorman’s argument is irrelevant?
    Not worth taking up space then?

    PTM recurring complaint about pseudonyms should be taken up with the webmaster.
    Privately; those of us who can’t change it have heard it often enough.

    [Would that we still worried about “wasting bandwidth”! Believe it or not, some folks still have to pay for ‘dial up’ and this idle chatter costs them enough to give up the list!]

  42. Daniel Gorman
    July 2nd, 2012 at 08:04 | #42

    Carl Vehse#35: “Where is this claim about the title of “Reverend” supported in Holy Scripture or the Lutheran Confessions? The term “Reverend” does not in itself indicate the person currently has a Divine Call as a pastor. The person may be an executive of a corporation associated with churches, but the corporation is not a church in itself, and the man does not have a Divine Call for that executive position. For example, some men use the title “Reverend” and haven’t had a Divine Call to serve a congregation in twenty years.”

    It’s not my claim. It’s the claim of the holy Christian churches of the LCMS (Of the Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops, 67). I’ve attended many LCMS churches where a retired reverend has spoken “in the place of and by the command of their lord Jesus Christ.” The retired reverends had no specific Divine Call from any LCMS church and no voters’ assembly was convened to call them into the Office of the Holy Ministry.

    Even if Revs. Harrison, Schroeder, and Moldstad had no specific call to a congregation of their respective synods (which I don’t believe is the case), I believe they have a general divine call to speak in the stead of Christ from all the churches of their respective synods.

  43. Carl Vehse
    July 3rd, 2012 at 09:03 | #43

    #40:

    “For example, some men use the title “Reverend” and haven’t had a Divine Call to serve a congregation in twenty years.”

    That’s the “ad hominem” to which I was referring.

    How is the sentence an ad hominem?

    There are several definition of “Reverend” being used on this thread and elsewhere — designating a person

    1. having an active Divine Call as a pastor to a congregation, or
    2. who was ordained in the past, but does not currently have a Divine Call as a pastor to a congregation, or
    3. having another full time occupation, but in the past was a called and ordained pastor.

    Post #35 uses Definition 2 or 3.

    #42: Treatise 67 does not refer to the title, “Reverend.”

    “I believe they have a general divine call to speak in the stead of Christ from all the churches of their respective synods.”

    C.F.W. Walther noted at the 1851 synodical convention: “If he has laid down his Office voluntarily, then in that case he lost all the authority of the Office. If the Call of the congregation has ended, to which he was called, then his Office authority ends, because there is no universal Call for the whole Church; only the Apostles had this Call.”

  44. Daniel Gorman
    July 4th, 2012 at 04:43 | #44

    Carl Vehse#43: “#42: Treatise 67 does not refer to the title, “Reverend.””

    “And by the confession of all, even of the adversaries, it is clear that this power by divine right is common to all who preside over churches, whether they are called pastors, or elders, or bishops.” Treatise 61

    Carl Vehse#43:”C.F.W. Walther noted at the 1851 synodical convention: “If he has laid down his Office voluntarily, then in that case he lost all the authority of the Office. If the Call of the congregation has ended, to which he was called, then his Office authority ends, because there is no universal Call for the whole Church; only the Apostles had this Call.””

    No power on earth, including C.F.W. Walther, can deny to LCMS churches the right to call many or all of the “reverends” on the LCMS ordained minister list (Treatise 67). The evidence of a divine call to speak the words of Christ (i.e., preside over a church) is clear. No visiting LCMS reverend obtains a congregational call before publicly speaking the words of Christ at a LCMS church.

If you have problems commenting on this site, or need to change a comment after it has been posted on the site, please contact us. For help with getting your comment formatted, click here.
Subscribe to comments feed  ..  Subscribe to comments feed for this post
Anonymous comments are welcome on this board, but we do require a valid email address so the admins can verify who you are. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example. Email addresses are kept private on this site, and only available to the site admins. Comments posted without a valid email address may not be published. Want an icon to identify your comment? See this page to see how.
*

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.