Letters to the Editor: A Tale of Two Synods

December 11th, 2012 Post by

Subscribers to the magazine Lutheran Witness, the official magazine of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, are no doubt aware of recent improvements to that periodical. From clean and sharp graphics to new authors, Lutheran Witness has been putting out some high-quality material.

The September 2012 edition, for example, gave a frank look at the “State of the Synod,” citing membership numbers and trends, the status of the synod’s financial position, education enrollment figures, and all sorts of other facts and figures that most members of LCMS congregations wouldn’t ordinarily know. And again to the credit both of Synod and of Lutheran Witness, both the good and the bad were published.

The October 2012 issue was of a different sort than most. Titled simply, “Questions,” it was an issue dedicated to answering tough questions that Christians frequently face. Each question took roughly a page to answer and they covered many of the most-asked questions that pastors get from parishioners: closed Communion, the ordination of women to the pastoral Office, the intrusion of athletic tournaments into the spiritual lives of families (an incredibly timely question, in my opinion), cohabitation, gun control, and several others. I was personally elated to see that in each case, the answer reflects a Lutheran understanding and comports with the Church’s teaching on the issue at hand (assuming the issue is old enough to date back that far) through the ages.

The letter from Managing Editor Adriane Dorr to the reader at the beginning of the issue correctly noted that these questions might elicit unpopular answers and raise uncomfortable discussions. Nonetheless, the issue is certainly worthy for use by Lutherans who are looking for answers to their questions.

In the most current issue of Lutheran Witness, the Letters to the Editor regarding the October “Questions” issue were published. You can read them at this link. If you want a frank and real look at the state of synodical doctrine and practice, these letters speak volumes. The letters, though not incredibly numerous and not very long, reflect in painful detail the vast chasm that separates the Synod into two: those who value Lutheran distinctives of doctrine and practice, and those who don’t. This post won’t reproduce them all in their entirety (but you can view them at the LW website even without a subscription), but a few telling letters should give a clear idea of the two synods who are operating under the same name:

First, there were some who were glad to see this kind of clarity and boldness:

The recent October issue was simply the best issue I have ever seen. There is a fresh breeze blowing through the Missouri Synod: It is honesty. Finally, we’re addressing things and stopping the institutional mindset that wants to pretend as though everything is okay when it isn’t. Perhaps, the honesty and compassion shown by your magazine can be a model for all of the Synod. If so, we might become a bit less dysfunctional and inwardly turned.

Rev. David Petersen
Fort Wayne, Ind.

My initial skepticism at an issue filled with “onepagers” was quickly overcome when I discovered that these brief Q&A articles, like the Spirit’s similarly terse letters to the seven churches, each put forward a call to repentance and a call to Faithfulness–a call to hold fast and ever more firmly, in this tempestuous sea of cultural vicissitudes, to what our Lord has given, and thus to receive the crown of life–and gladness. From stem to stern, there is something here for each of us, to bring us again as whole people, religious and secular, to Jesus for forgiveness and renewal. And that is good. I deeply appreciate a Witness that challenges me and my flock in this way and turns us to the Scriptures and to the Lutheran Confessions for more, for life in the Word of Jesus.

Rev. Dr. John W. Sias
Colstrip, Mont.

Then, there were those who seemed a bit disappointed that the magazine entitled Lutheran Witness might publish answers that are, well, Lutheran:

If I were an NFL official, I would give the October Witness a 15-year penalty for “piling on.” Every snotty, hair-splitting policy and practice with which I have struggled in my 75 years as an LCMSer–all in the same issue! I can deal with one at a time, but all in one issue? What were you thinking?

and

It was with great disappointment and sadness that I read the letter (Lutheran Witness October 2012) from a member of a Lutheran church that had refused communion to her sister, a professing Christian.

Tied to man-made rules that do not serve Christ’s commission to us as followers of the Word, intelligent people turn away, as I did. Professional spokesmen for our faith (pastors and synodical hierarchy) create, mandate and wrap rules and regulations around their minds and hearts. They seek a God so small that He can be manipulated to do what they consider right within the church.

Thank God, I am a member of an LCMS church that is vital, growing and welcomes people to the Lord’s Supper. Our churches should reach out to everyone seeking forgiveness, solace and hope as they search for a church family in which to grow and flourish in the Christian faith.

Then there are those which need no commentary, except to say that they come from rostered LCMS pastors:

While Rev. Meissner gives a fine LCMS answer to the question of why a woman’s sister (not a member of an LCMS congregation) was not permitted to partake of Holy Communion at her LCMS congregation [October issue], the answer fails to recognize that the decision to commune a non-member is not so cut and dry.   Membership in an LCMS congregation is not the only factor that determines if a person is of the same confession that we are and is, in fact, in unity with us.  Many of my members have had children baptized, confirmed and married in the LCMS and yet now worship with their spouse in another church body.  Should they be denied Holy Communion at an LCMS table when they come home to visit?  To answer a hasty, by-the-book “yes” to that question seems to put a higher stress upon the visible unity of one’s denominational affiliation than on the invisible unity of one’s faith.

and

The October issue of the Lutheran Witness is the most biased and one-sided issue of the official publication of the LCMS I have ever seen.  Where is the “other side” of these practices, also biblically-based, for consideration of the readers?  The impression given is that these answers to questions define who the LCMS is in practice, when recent conventions would indicate these answers represent about 51 percent or even 50 percent of the Synod, and a great number of pastors and congregations see things differently.

The October Witness can result in some serious damage to many people who do not find themselves in lockstep with these positions but are part of the LCMS.  Now we pastors have to clean up the mess.  Why not present a balanced approach that recognizes godly differences and yet emphasize that we are still one.  Or are we still one?

and, lastly

In the October issue, Sandra Ostapowich offers a truly strange reason for excluding women from the pastoral ministry. It sounds more like a rationale for male privilege than for servanthood. The reasoning is without a shred of basis in Scripture. For half a century as an ordained pastor I never felt, or heard another pastor say, we were “sacrificing” such a freedom or doing women a favor by relieving them of this pastoral responsibility. Perhaps it’s time for us to reconsider the exclusion of women from the pastoral ministry. (emphasis added)






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  1. Noreen Linke
    December 13th, 2012 at 12:15 | #1

    I joined last year and attended the conference in Lincoln. I plan to attend the conference in Austin in April and am happy it is in my neck of the woods this time!

    I would encourage everyone to join. I found the presentations to be substative, and yet accessible to the layman. The speaker line-up was excellent. It would be worth attending just for the educational opportunity. The comaradere with other confessionals is nice too. If the faithful 50% of the synod joined the ACELC, the ACELC Admonition and Error Documents would be a lot harder for our synodical officials to ignore.

    Personally, I would like to see these documents discussed by the synodical leadership in a public forum, instead of in quiet, private discussions. I think it would be very revealing on a lot of levels.

  2. R.D.
    December 13th, 2012 at 12:26 | #2

    Pastor Ted Crandall :

    Noreen Linke :
    We are heterodox because we allow the heterodox congregations/pastors to stay within us without discipline. To come full circle my question is: How does this, in reality, differ from practicing open communion?

    [crickets]

    I think it is quite different. Where do you commune? At the international center, or at the altar where your pastor presides?

    The LCMS is a man-made albeit “churchly” organization. So we as a synod don’t do what we say we do. That is despicable for sure, you may even say it is heterodox – I agree. But the synod does not have an altar, it does not have a pulpit, the president, DPs, etc have no authority by divine right. They are not called to be stewards of the mysteries on account of their election at a convention. Where is the church to be found? Where the word of God is taught in its truth and purity and the sacraments administered rightly.

    So, rhetorically, what does your congregation do? Is your pastor faithful in his duties? Will he commune those in error simply because “they’re LCMS,” or does your church take seriously her confession and refuse those in error and manifest sin such as David Benke? As for “open communion,” I ask what is the “standard?” Is the standard man-made organizations or is it where Jesus has promised to be? The former, in my view, makes man the authority. The latter allows God to establish fellowship.

  3. Noreen Linke
    December 13th, 2012 at 13:19 | #3

    @R.D. #2
    I see your point. I happen to have faithful pastors. I am communing at a faithful altar. However, that does not negate the fact that by being in fellowship with heterodox congregations makes us all heterodox. Otherwise why do we bother with all this “confession” talk. We permit open error in our midst without rebuke, without a clear call to repentance, without discipline. If God establishes fellowship, then why do we on this earth associate in any type of synod at all. We should all be independent congregations and independently declare fellowship with the ones who are faithful. Or our synod should ONLY be bureaucratic in nature and only administer the worldly goods such as health care and retirement plans and lobby power. But our synod has the responsibility to guard our confession. I have heard the argument that Missouri in its official confession is faithful, so therefore we are faithful despite the fact that half of our church body is openly heterodox. It is a dangerous place we are in, that’s all I know, and it is a great burden to my conscience. I had to watch a heterodox church structure (MNS) decimate a faithful congregation and campus ministry right in front of my eyes, in complete defiance of the Synod and our confession, and they got away with it. Dangerous stuff indeed. I will now leave the discussion up to better minds than mine.

  4. Carl Vehse
    December 13th, 2012 at 14:22 | #4

    @Noreen Linke #3: “However, that does not negate the fact that by being in fellowship with heterodox congregations makes us all heterodox. Otherwise why do we bother with all this ‘confession’ talk. We permit open error in our midst without rebuke, without a clear call to repentance, without discipline. If God establishes fellowship, then why do we on this earth associate in any type of synod at all.”

    Your points are well-taken and troubling.

    Missouri Synod churches are in fellowship with each other because the churches have agreed to the confessional Lutheran standard of the Missouri Synod. Of course, some member churches are not faithful to that confessional standard, and instead promote or practice different views.

    On a church level, individual members within a Missouri Synod congregation are in fellowship with each other because they have agreed to the confessional standard of their local Evangelical Lutheran Church when they became members. Of course, some congregational members are not faithful to that confessional standard, and instead promote or practice different views.

    On either level, church discipline should take place to correct or remove such errant and heterodox members; sadly such church discipline often does not occur, even when the errant views or practices are well publicized, and even when leaders are elected with specific authority and responsibility to apply such discipline.

    The question then becomes: When do continuing and permitted errant views and practices of a church body (a church or synod) overwhelm and negate the confessional standard of that church body, thus breaking fellowship of that church body with the Evangelical Lutheran Church and individual confessional Lutherans? That this can happen to a church body has been recognized by the Missouri Synod, when its 2001 convention resolved that “we cannot consider them [the ELCA] to be an orthodox Lutheran church body,” and when in 2012 the LCMS CTCR went so far as to declare, “The ELCA has now taken this step, embodying apostasy from the faith once delivered to the saints.”

    Within the Missouri Synod how many pastors or congregations are allowed to publicly promote or practice heterodox views before their DP takes action? How many DPs are allowed to publicly promote or practice heterodox views before the SP takes action? The LCMS Constitution (Article XIII) sets an acceptable level of zero percent. The Koinonia Project’s baseline allows for 15 percent, but it acknowledges we are significantly above that percent level. Yet over two and a half years, the Koinonia Project has only produced Version 9.0 of a draft Koinonia Concept Paper.

    It is reasonable for one to ask whether the Koinonia Project is part of the solution, or if it has become part of the problem.

  5. wineonthevines
    December 13th, 2012 at 14:34 | #5

    @Carl Vehse #4,
    You state, “When do continuing and permitted errant views and practices of a church body (a church or synod) overwhelm and negate the confessional standard of that church body…”

    Do you know how long it took the synod and CTCR respectively to come to the points you mention in your post re: ELCA?

  6. Noreen Linke
    December 13th, 2012 at 14:46 | #6

    @Carl Vehse #4
    Well said. Thank you for expressing in a better manner what I was trying to say.

  7. Carl Vehse
    December 13th, 2012 at 14:48 | #7

    @wineonthevines #5 : “Do you know how long it took the synod and CTCR respectively to come to the points you mention in your post re: ELCA?”

    I suspect many LCMS Lutherans came to those conclusions at the time the XXXA was formed. It probably took until those noted dates for the convention and the CTCR to have the courage to publicly say so.

  8. R.D.
    December 14th, 2012 at 05:10 | #8

    Noreen Linke :
    @R.D. #2
    I see your point. I happen to have faithful pastors. I am communing at a faithful altar. However, that does not negate the fact that by being in fellowship with heterodox congregations makes us all heterodox. Otherwise why do we bother with all this “confession” talk. We permit open error in our midst without rebuke, without a clear call to repentance, without discipline. If God establishes fellowship, then why do we on this earth associate in any type of synod at all. We should all be independent congregations and independently declare fellowship with the ones who are faithful. Or our synod should ONLY be bureaucratic in nature and only administer the worldly goods such as health care and retirement plans and lobby power. But our synod has the responsibility to guard our confession. I have heard the argument that Missouri in its official confession is faithful, so therefore we are faithful despite the fact that half of our church body is openly heterodox. It is a dangerous place we are in, that’s all I know, and it is a great burden to my conscience. I had to watch a heterodox church structure (MNS) decimate a faithful congregation and campus ministry right in front of my eyes, in complete defiance of the Synod and our confession, and they got away with it. Dangerous stuff indeed. I will now leave the discussion up to better minds than mine.

    Is there a synod that is not heterodox? What are the implications to the practice of closed communion?
    What means of grace are we gathered around at the synodical level?
    What is it that makes synodical membership fellowship?

  9. wineonthevines
    December 14th, 2012 at 10:21 | #9

    Here is a link to an article form The Lutheran by C.F.W. Walther, translated by Pastor Joel Basely. http://www.markvpublications.com/documents/04_21a.pdf

  10. Carl Vehse
    December 14th, 2012 at 10:39 | #10

    Here’s some statements from C.F.W. Walther’s Der Lutheraner article that apply as well 164 years later:

    “No few preachers in this country, so often as they set out to celebrate the holy LORD’s Supper have the habit of first turning to all who have gathered to invite all to partake, and this even includes those present who are members of other confessions.”

    “We have, unfortunately!, had it brought to our attention that no few preachers who call themselves Lutheran (thinking that this would be truly evangelical), once they have prepared the holy table for the administration of the Sacrament now beckon all who can to come to this deposit of grace, even without having their faith and lives examined. Yes, it is to be feared that many do this out of impure motives, in order to be seen by all the different parties as truly being men who are “loving and big hearted” and to be praised as such. It is to be feared that many therefore account everyone worthy of the holy Sacrament and even openly give it to those who are godless, since they even want to be thought well of by the godless and do not want to bear the burden of the world’s scorn and hatred and don’t want to do anything at all to lose their lucrative pastorate.”

    Later in the article Walther talks about practice that used to be done, even into the 1950s – announcing for communion.

  11. wineonthevines
    December 14th, 2012 at 10:47 | #11

    @Carl Vehse #10,
    Yes, that’s from the article link I posted. Good stuff!

  12. December 14th, 2012 at 11:14 | #12

    The most stinging indictment in that article is that the blood of all those who commune unworthily and receive it not to their blessing, but to their condemnation, due even in part to the lack of care in the pastor’s admission of people to the sacrament will be accounted by God as being on the hands of that pastor. Those are most sobering words for every pastor to confront. This must not fail to prick the conscience of even the most ‘conservative’ and ‘careful’ pastor and it will prove to be a daunting and jarring end on the day of judgement for those who knowingly flout the trust given them in their office by doing this; when they know this is wrong (as every Lutheran MUST if he is truly Lutheran in his understanding of the sacrament) and nevertheless allow or even encourage people to receive the sacrament unworthily, not discerning the Lord’s Body. See also CA 11 & especially CA 25.

  13. December 14th, 2012 at 11:23 | #13

    My contact with liberal DPs is limited but there is one common thread it seems. They make up their won definitions to suit their perspective on a topic so they can defend that position based on that false premise. They don’t seem to want to observe long held Lutheran definitions for a topic. For example, my DP has proclaimed publicly that he knows of no pastors in the district who practice open communion. I proclaimed that I personally know of two, and have heard of many more. Obviously the facts don’t match, and he is doing nothing I know of about the two I named.

  14. Carl Vehse
    December 14th, 2012 at 12:04 | #14

    Political correctness is not present in Walther’s article, where Walther delivers a stinging imprecation against those pastors who practice open communion then as well as today (!):

    “So what are those preachers doing who admit all without distinction? They prove themselves to be unfaithful, frivolous stewards over God’s mysteries, they seize God in his office and promote themselves to be lords over his holy sacrament, when they are only his servants. Woe to them, if in time this does not occur to them, for ever and ever! A day will come when they will have to repent this in terror, that they have destroyed his goods and they have abused them for their own impure goals.” [Emphasis added]

  15. ralph luedtke
    December 16th, 2012 at 15:57 | #15

    it just keeps coming-now we can add some bod’s with the cc’s and dp’s who turn away from reported sin and do not seem to give a care to those who built their inner city church in the Lord and are trying to place it back on track with repentance and the Gospel-cannot even show respect to 80 yr old founders-maybe some bod’s are golfing as well as they give up on God’s truth and the faithful even to the point of maligning the names of the faithful as they,with synod, have the letters of concern and reports-as long as they have theirs-right,guys!!!!! we will wait for another day to address sin and faithfulness as leaders. lets wait another 20 yrs as women seem to run the operation to become more non-Lutheran

  16. helen
    December 16th, 2012 at 17:12 | #16

    @ralph luedtke #15
    lets wait another 20 yrs as women seem to run the operation to become more non-Lutheran

    ralph: I don’t want women in the pulpit… or as congregational Elders and Presidents, or on seminary and synodical BOD’s for that matter. But guess what!? They couldn’t have gotten any of those places without men’s votes to put them there.
    “Confessional” men, who wouldn’t have a woman in their pristine voters’ assemblies at home, nominate women for district and synodical positions and vote for them.

    I’ve seen congregations make decisions that would have been more “Lutheran” if the women had been in charge. The men didn’t think of what was right; they just said “amen” to what was wrong, so they wouldn’t be frozen out of the “old boys club”… the dozen or so “yes men” which passed for a [supreme] voters assembly!

    If you want to say the men in “important” offices enjoy the perks and the parties but don’t want responsibilities that go with the job, you may be right. But don’t lay the blame on the women who did not put them there.

  17. wineonthevines
    December 16th, 2012 at 17:30 | #17

    @Helen #15

    Yes, I’ve often wondered in my town about those men in the local _ _ _A church which for several years (until last yr.) had a “pastorette”. What wimps!

  18. helen
    December 16th, 2012 at 17:40 | #18

    @wineonthevines #17
    Yes, I’ve often wondered in my town about those men in the local _ _ _A church

    You think I was talking about ***A!?

  19. wineonthevines
    December 16th, 2012 at 18:08 | #19

    @Helen #15
    Not necessarily.

  20. ralph luedtke
    December 16th, 2012 at 19:22 | #20

    @helen #16
    on counsel-trying to turn away being Lutheran because men are afraid of them

  21. ralph luedtke
    December 17th, 2012 at 12:11 | #21

    bottom line-follow the money and personal security and their importance-and you will find the faithful and unfaithful more quickly

  22. Sandra Ostapowich
    December 21st, 2012 at 15:00 | #22

    ralph luedtke :
    we will wait for another day to address sin and faithfulness as leaders. lets wait another 20 yrs as women seem to run the operation to become more non-Lutheran

    I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean, or how women “seem to run the operation” or upon what basis it can be said that women seeming to “run the operation” makes things “become more non-Lutheran.” Please elaborate/clarify.

    I also got some interesting responses to my article in the October issue of LW. I’m sure the other writers will agree that it’s a trick to address a hot-button issue facing our Synod in all of 750 words. Interestingly, most of the negative feedback I got seemed more directed at my biographical information than the actual content of the piece. Apparently writing an article for a print publication is the same thing as preaching from a pulpit!

    But it did make it clear to me that the level of old-fashioned ignorance out there among the laity of the LCMS is astounding. Too often, I think we’ve handed over the hard work of teaching to pop-Christianity. I hear evangeli-speak all the time from both laity and clergy, who aren’t bothered in the least that many of the “spiritual” things they’re saying are vapid at best and non-Lutheran at worst. Someone asked about church unity, if agreement on the BOC wasn’t enough. I’m fairly certain that most people have no clue what the BOC is, much less what it says – because it’s easier to have a small group lead its own study with whatever glossy-packaged kit someone picked up from the Christian bookstore.

    Isn’t that what this organization is for? To encourage catechesis in the Scriptures and our Confessions. It’s all fine and good to wring our hands over the lack of discipline and heterodoxy across the Synod, but if people truly don’t know better, is a heavy-handed disciplinary authority really the solution?

  23. helen
    December 21st, 2012 at 21:17 | #23

    @Sandra Ostapowich #22
    but if people truly don’t know better, is a heavy-handed disciplinary authority really the solution?

    If lay people truly “don’t know better” they need to be taught… if they are willing to listen.
    If clergy are responsible for the laity not knowing better because the clergy like to make all the decisions without help from dumb people, something needs to be done to encourage teaching about Lutheranism again.

    Of course, if your DP’s aim is a praise band in every church, and open communion, it isn’t going to happen, is it?

  24. December 21st, 2012 at 21:33 | #24

    I agree that we need more instruction on the BOC.

    However, I sense a false alternative – heavy-handed discipline/instruction in the BOC.

    The errant pastors have already been instructed and are choosing to disobey. Heavy-handed discipline is not a false alternative, but in this case, a needed corrective to get back to proper understanding of the BOC.

  25. helen
    December 21st, 2012 at 22:01 | #25

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #24
    I agree that we need more instruction on the BOC.

    Good! I was suggesting that for the laity who may not have heard of the BOC. Most of them haven’t gotten further than the Small Catechism.

    I assume, and I imagine Sandra does, too, that it is because of your errant Pastors who want to do anything else but teach Lutheranism. And I would like to see a “corrective” in that quarter.

    All I’ve seen, for the last decade at least, is heavy handed discipline directed at men whose fault is obedience to their ordination vows and a more Lutheran education than is wanted… in our Concordias and in many of our congregations.

  26. December 21st, 2012 at 22:05 | #26

    Thanks Helen. That makes it much clearer.

  27. December 22nd, 2012 at 04:58 | #27

    helen :
    All I’ve seen, for the last decade at least, is heavy handed discipline directed at men whose fault is obedience to their ordination vows and a more Lutheran education than is wanted… in our Concordias and in many of our congregations.

    Yes, and when the heavy hand is also underhanded, taking not the form of excommunication, but instead of political maneuverings, to remove a Lutheran pastor from his office, there is not much recourse for the victims. For example, consider the still influential President David Benke and the marginalized Pastor Wallace Schulz. (Although, it must be said that Pastor Schulz is doing remarkable work with the Gospel from the sidelines of the LCMS, Inc.)

  28. helen
    December 22nd, 2012 at 10:04 | #28

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #27
    there is not much recourse for the victims.

    With Wally Schultz, as with Todd and Jeff of Issues, Etc or ULC, MPLS/St Paul, Lutherans and non Lutherans were shocked and concerned enough to help get them into another viable and influential position/
    another place.

    [Most of the victims are sufficiently unknown so that they go down one at a time, few notice and few lend a hand. If you can't speak up, at least send a check to Augustana Ministerium! Those "fallen among thieves' need your help.]

  29. helen
    December 22nd, 2012 at 10:44 | #29

    I didn’t mean to imply above that Wally Schultz, Todd & Jeff, and ULC, MN no longer need our support! Quite the contrary!

    Wally Schultz’ Good News is translated into 20+ languages and goes throughout the world to share the Gospel. The places it’s sent cannot afford to pay all the costs.

    Todd & Jeff need ongoing support to keep IssuesEtc on the internet.

    ULC needs much more money to rebuild itself now that it’s achieved a toehold on U of M campus again. We may regret the waste caused by shortsighted men, but we can’t let the work be destroyed for lack of replacement funding.

    All these and all those known only to a few in their districts should be in our prayers.

  30. Carl Vehse
    December 22nd, 2012 at 10:45 | #30

    In addition to serving the Church through his work at the Lutheran Heritage Foundation, the Rev. Wallace Schulz also has provided in The Schulz Report the documented evidence of the perfidy by a participant and supporter of syncretism.

  31. Michael
    December 30th, 2012 at 10:48 | #31

    Having a pastor tell you that you don’t always have to follow that book(the Bible) exactly like it says is a problem. Apparently some pastors think they can ignore certain part of God’s word that they do not like. And that they can allow a woman to teach a Bible Study based on Baptist Theology and when asked about it say she loves people and better her then some jerk(That would be the people here) teaching it.

    Right now pastors can do whatever they want and nothing is done about it.

  32. Sandra Ostapowich
    December 31st, 2012 at 14:30 | #32

    I assume, and I imagine Sandra does, too, that it is because of your errant Pastors who want to do anything else but teach Lutheranism. And I would like to see a “corrective” in that quarter.

    Sure, there’s that. There’s also the pastors who don’t want to teach “another” class, don’t want to teach something so “difficult”, don’t think it’d draw many people for a study, etc. They’re not errant, they’re not NOT teaching Lutheran doctrine. They’re just too busy doing other things.

    There’s no need to assume that all the problems with the lack of catechesis among laity is the fault of “errant” pastors who need to have some “corrective” action taken against them.

  33. jb
    December 31st, 2012 at 16:45 | #33

    Sigh!

    I am searching for the perfect Church, and in trying to find that, I keep ending back up in Missouri.

    I wasn’t intending to come back to this thread – I managed to get said what I meant to have said way back early, and left it at that.

    I think it was McCain who put it somewhere recently about the difference between expectations and realities. One needs only to shepherd a congregation for a few months to get that fact down in concrete. I conduct 15 Bibles Studies a month. I know my LCMS brethren do likewise among their flocks every month. The Scripture and the BoC are paramount features in all they do and say.

    What I rarely see factored in, is the refusal, or ignorance of congregational members to “get it.” It is easy to blame pastors – Well- heckers – we are the easiest target in the world! – but the rank fact of the matter is that many members, despite every pastoral effort to the contrary, don’t even bother to pay attention.

    It is a sad fact. I know brethren who, despite having met every “supposed” orthodox requirement I am reading above, throw up their hands and ask “What else am I supposed to do?

    Having “Andy-Dandy” answers as many like to do without realization, ignore the realities of a parish, and serve no cause whatsoever. If there is one of us that has a parish that hears us and does all we teach, confess and profess, well, then you are the luckiest Dude in collar and should consider yourself blessed among men.

    Whether it is convenient or not in popular opinion, we Ole Sons with collars are down in the trenches. We have to fight the wars and no commander across the plain is very willing to admit one of us lost or won. But we keep trying to lead the troops into battle.

    Some of us lose, despite the best of efforts. Having those supposedly behind our efforts make light of our efforts is BS – plain and simple. It merely marks those who say so as do the “knowledgeable arm-chair” generals who have never really entered the battle.

    Words are wonderful things. The Lord God created language to convey His truths. And while said words are used to confront those who deny them and their intrinsic truth, when we use the same words to ostracize and/or ridicule the faithful – either directly or in subtle fashion, we shatter the 8th commandment.

    If you have very specific proof and name names – I can roll with that. I won’t be on that list, but I will address matters if presented factually.

    But this constant “broad-brush” painting of others since my days 30 years ago at the Sem is just so much emotional tripe. For all the crap of the world and the other denominations, Missouri has held pert dang firm. Jumping on every single exception like it is as though we deny Jesus is likewise BS. It simply gets old. But condemning an entire Synod?

    Hooo! Boy! You are way above us hod-carriers who must trudge about. We envy you that you have entered glory before us.

    We’re surrounded? Good, now we can kill the bastards in any direction.” ~ Colonel Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller; Korean War.

    The LCMS is perfectly positioned, as I see it, to remain orthodox even as we fight the usual battle against the heterodox. Win every battle? You gotta be smoking dope. But Jesus . . .

    He has already promised we would win the war.

    We need to operate on that basis.

    jb

  34. wineonthevines
    December 31st, 2012 at 16:56 | #34

    @jb, #33,
    Your post, esply this, “We have to fight the wars and no commander across the plain is very willing to admit one of us lost or won. But we keep trying to lead the troops into battle”
    reminds me of this great speech:

  35. jb
    December 31st, 2012 at 17:59 | #35

    @wineonthevines #34

    Yeppers. Thanks.

  36. Jason
    December 31st, 2012 at 19:15 | #36

    Sandra Ostapowich :
    Sure, there’s that. There’s also the pastors who don’t want to teach “another” class, don’t want to teach something so “difficult”, don’t think it’d draw many people for a study, etc. They’re not errant, they’re not NOT teaching Lutheran doctrine. They’re just too busy doing other things.

    Hmm… Sounds like you have perfectly described a sin of OMMISSION.

  37. December 31st, 2012 at 19:38 | #37

    jb :
    I am searching for the perfect Church, and in trying to find that, I keep ending back up in Missouri.

    That’s why I’m still here! Where’s a better synod?

    The LCMS is perfectly positioned, as I see it, to remain orthodox even as we fight the usual battle against the heterodox. Win every battle? You gotta be smoking dope. But Jesus . . .
    He has already promised we would win the war.
    We need to operate on that basis.
    jb

    Amen! And I thank God for the ACELC for helping Missouri remain orthodox.

    Earlier I repeated the pointed question about when the LCMS last exercised any discipline and someone pointed out it was probably back when Pastor Wally Schulz reproved President Dave Benke for not repenting of his unionism and syncretism.

    Ironic, isn’t it? The last time anyone dared exercise any discipline, he got fired.

    Coincidence? I think not.

  38. jb
    December 31st, 2012 at 20:19 | #38

    Jason –

    Sandra’s issue is her own issue. How can one be “not errant” and yet be wrong?

    I am a bit offended by Sandra’s “Sure, there’s that.” Confessional pastors of integrity hear that sort of nonsense all the time when congregations decide to abdicate their responsibilities to Jesus, the Church and Synod.

    That we as Synod let the few Pastors who go off the rails define us, seems very much to define our own insecurities. I don’t deal in such currency.

    All of us are on the wrong side of the Heavenly Veil if we expect perfection. We are called to be faithful – – most will, some choose not to be. As one who is faithful, I refuse to be defined by anyone as less than such because I don’t immediately “toe some line” another has pretended to draw on behalf of the whole Church.

    Nor will I imagine said imagined authorities to define the Church. I do not deal in fairy tales – the Church is what it is, and those dealing in reality understand that and deal with that in reality. Imagining we can achieve some Puritanical dream of the Heavenly Jerusalem this side of the veil is to smoke the proverbial dope.

    There are those who have appointed their own selves as authorities. I leave them to themselves.

    Meanwhile, quite the contrary to the implications of Sandra’s insinuations, I have things to do. I most sincerely hope they have little to do with her conclusions!

    They do not, anyway. :-)

  39. wineonthevines
    January 1st, 2013 at 13:40 | #39

    For those who may have (or wish to purchase from CPH) “Union and Confession: Christ and His Church”, volume 1 by Hermann Sasse, there is much food for thought, esply pgs. 3 ff., that pertains to present discussion.

  40. jb
    January 1st, 2013 at 16:12 | #40

    We have issues as a Synod. If we did not, our Churchly nature would be very suspect, as St. Kurt liked to say. That was, despite everything, Sasse’s point. lt is all Church has ever been and done in war with the world and sin. Perfection is something reserved for eternity, not our measly lot in this life.

    St. Paul did not issue his marching orders in Ephesians 6:10-18 for no reason. Chasing after the perfect congregation or Church organization is a fool’s errand. Neither has ever existed.

    Chesterton caught it perfectly (as did Sasse):

    “This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic. The Church in its early days went fierce and fast with any warhorse; yet it is utterly unhistoric to say that she merely went mad along one idea, like a vulgar fanaticism. She swerved to left and right, so exactly as to avoid enormous obstacles. She left on one hand the huge bulk of Arianism, buttressed by all the worldly powers to make Christianity too worldly. The next instant she was swerving to avoid an orientalism, which would have made it too unworldly. The orthodox Church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox Church was never respectable. It would have been easier to have accepted the earthly power of the Arians. It would have been easy, in the Calvinistic seventeenth century, to fall into the bottomless pit of predestination. It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob. To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom—that would indeed have been simple. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.”

    We are still reeling yet this day, but still erect. And thus it shall be until “that day” as Luther put it. Christ has already shattered the gates of hell; we are doing the mop-up operations. All of the apocalyptic pronouncements about the end of this or that or of the Synod are of little effect – the One Holy deals with those every day – just talk with your parish pastor and he will fill you in.

    Why we, who have already won, act like the losers, baffles me.

    We should be like the playoff team up by ten with 3 seconds to play, prancing around, rather than imagining the other side can score 11 points in the time left. Golgotha ended the battle, and we ought to believe it, act like it, and worship like it.

    And the tomb WAS empty.

    Let the heretics rage – they have nothing to do with us.

    Pax – jb

  41. Carol Broome
    January 1st, 2013 at 18:31 | #41

    helen :

    Wally Schultz’ Good News is translated into 20+ languages and goes throughout the world to share the Gospel. The places it’s sent cannot afford to pay all the costs.
    Todd & Jeff need ongoing support to keep IssuesEtc on the internet.
    ULC needs much more money to rebuild itself now that it’s achieved a toehold on U of M campus again. We may regret the waste caused by shortsighted men, but we can’t let the work be destroyed for lack of replacement funding.
    All these and all those known only to a few in their districts should be in our prayers.

    This bears repeating.

  42. Joe
    January 16th, 2013 at 11:47 | #42

    I finally had the chance to read the Sandra Ostapowich question/answer in the October LW, and part of the criticism from the letter to the editor posted above is entirely true: “The reasoning is without a shred of basis in Scripture.”

    Of course that writer’s final suggestion, “Perhaps it’s time for us to reconsider the exclusion of women from the pastoral ministry”, does not necessarily follow from Ms Ostapowich’s “answer.”

    Ms Ostapowich was on Issues Etc on 7-25-2012 addressing the same topic and took the same approach: ignoring the “easy” verses addressing women’s ordination and instead promulgating a new approach cut from whole cloth, whole cloth comprised of Biblical silence (treading in the trail blazed by Adriane Dorr with her “systematic theology” chapter in the 3rd edition of the CPH book on ordaining women.

    If Ms Ostapowich’s “answer” is the best LCMS has to offer then it is no wonder people within her ranks are wanting to “reconsider the exclusion of women from the pastoral ministry.”

    I wrote a horribly sarcastic analysis of the Issues Etc interview mentioned, but I cannot refer anyone to it because the sarcasm is too thick for most people to ignore to get to the substance of what she said and the criticism thereof. I only wish the so called “confessional” and “conservative” Lutherans would take an objective look at some of the “answers” being promulgated to this particular question, ignoring who the people are providing those answers.

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