Steadfast Media Pick of the Week — Sacerdotalism

August 29th, 2013 Post by

Sacerdotalism

I know it is not recommended, :-) but I was binge listening to The God Whisperers and came across their discussion of sacerdotalism in episode 234 (~30:30). The discussion came about as a result of an article where Pr. Cwirla was named as one of those guilty of sacerdotalism in the LCMS mentioned. At the 46:30 they call the author of the article and make the beginnings of a dialog. Then in episode 236 (~19:00) a letter from Dr. Paul Schrieber of Concordia Seminary is read commenting on the issue. I found it a fascinating look at inter-Lutheran discussion and really look forward to the episode when there is a full on debate between the Pastors Cascione and Cwirla.

Episode 234
 

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Episode 236
 

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  1. Carl Vehse
    August 29th, 2013 at 23:41 | #1

    Brian Yamabe: “The discussion came about as a result of an article where Pr. Cwirla was named as one of those guilty of sacerdotalism in the LCMS.”

    To the contrary, the linked July 1, 2013, article written by Rev. Jack Cascione does NOT name Rev. William Cwirla as “one of those guilty of sacerdotalism in the LCMS.” What Rev. Cascione’s article states about Rev. Cwirla is:

    In 2001 Pastor Cwirla testified before Committee 7 that adopting Walther’s “Church and Ministry” was against the Gospel. He and many other pastors condemned Walther’s book from the Convention floor.

    After much huffing and puffing, Rev. Cwirla also admitted in a comment on July 3, 2013 at 6:57 AM:

    I recognize, of course, that Mr. Cascione does not actually refer to me as a “sacerdotalist” in this article. He simply mentions the fact that I’m a critic of Walther’s Kirche und Amt.

    That Rev. Cwirla is a critic of Walther’s Kirche und Amt, which was reaffirmed in 2001 as the official position of the Missouri Synod, is substantiated in other comments Rev. Cwirla made on the Christian News blog as well as quoted statements from Facebook, which he also concedes he made (“Yup. I wrote all of that. And more.”).

  2. Brian Yamabe
    August 30th, 2013 at 00:20 | #2

    At 56:33 Pr. Cascione said, “I called you a sacerdotalist because you argued against Walther’s “Church and Ministry” that the congregation has the final authority and the supreme authority… on all matters in the congregation.”

    Pr. Cwirla’s comments that he was merely mentioned was prior to the episode so it may have been open to interpretation in the article if he was being labeled a sacerdotalist, but with the above quote it’s clear to me that Pr. Cascione was calling Pr. Cwirla one.

  3. Carl Vehse
    August 30th, 2013 at 09:33 | #3

    @Brian Yamabe #2: “Pr. Cwirla’s comments that he was merely mentioned was prior to the episode so it may have been open to interpretation in the article if he was being labeled a sacerdotalist”

    The article clearly states what it states.

    As for the God Whisperers’ episode 234, it was an “ambush interview” call to Rev. Cascione, who at the time was painting in his garage in Arizona. Rev. Cascione was polite enough to talk ex tempore with Rev. Cwirla and Rev. Donofrio about assorted topics, including how to pronounce last names (involving perhaps a little ‘leg pulling’).

    Second, you quoted Rev. Cascione in the interview, but you did not include the context of the quote. At around 54:00 into the interview (along with background music), it was clear that Cwirla and Donofrio were trying to wrap up the interview.

    At 55:20 Cascione was continuing to discuss his favorite topic, the supremacy of the congregtion, noting that the congregation has supremacy in all matters such as reproof, church matters, and judging doctrine.

    Cwirla (55:30): Absolutely!

    Donofrio: “We be in touch with you real soon to set up a time for… ”

    Cwirla: “Let’s get that on the calendar, Jack. I really appreciate it. That’d be great.”

    Cascione: “… It says ‘judging doctrine’ that means the congregation has the final authority there, and of course that gets back to the vote on excommunication. If you can’t judge doctrine you can’t excommunicate.”

    Cwirla (55:54): “Absolutely, And you know I don’t think I have much of a quarrel with you on that. I’m still trying to figure out why you called me a sacerdotalist.”

    Cascione (56:00): “I called you a sacerdotalist because you argued against Walther’s “Church and Ministry” that the congregation has the final authority and the supreme authority… on all matters in the congregation.”

    Cwirla (56:17): “Excellent. I think we’re going to have to clarify this, but it’s going to take more time than we’ve got this afternoon.”

    Third, if Rev. Cwirla’s “I’m still trying to figure out why you called me a sacerdotalist” is meant to refer to the linked CN blog article, he contradicts his earlier claim, “I recognize, of course, that Mr. Cascione does not actually refer to me as a “sacerdotalist” in this article.” So which is it?

    Fourth, the linked CN article never calls Cwirla a sacerdotalist, nor does it discuss the claim that Cwirla “argued against Walther’s ‘Church and Ministry’ that the congregation has the final authority and the supreme authority… on all matters in the congregation.” The linked CN article mentions only that at the 2001 convention Cwirla “testified before Committee 7 that adopting Walther’s ‘Church and Ministry’ was against the Gospel.”

    So, while Rev. Cascione may have called Rev. Cwirla a sacerdotalist at some other time, on some other blog article, or in some other interview, it was not, as stated earlier, in the linked CN “article where Pr. Cwirla was named as one of those guilty of sacerdotalism in the LCMS.”

  4. Brian Yamabe
    August 30th, 2013 at 10:47 | #4

    I agree that the “interview” was an ambush.

    If Pr. Cwirla is not being linked to sacerdotalism by virtue of his argument against Walther’s “Church and Ministry” then what exactly was the point of including him or that section in the article. By that argument Pr. Weedon isn’t being identified as a sacerdotalist either. He is merely mentioned as someone who wrote a glowing review of a sacerdotalist’s biography.

    So where is the substance? If those identified aren’t sacerdotalists just men who have talked before floor committees and wrote glowing reviews then the idea that there are “Sacerdotalists Taking Over the LCMS” is just innuendo and conclusion drawn from actions that have nothing to do with being a sacerdotalist.

    I will change the post to reflect that Pr. Cwirla was mentioned and not identified as a sacerdotalist. But this still stands as my pick because to me the fascinating part was how inter-Lutheran discussions play out. This thread being yet another example.

  5. Carl Vehse
    August 30th, 2013 at 15:01 | #5

    @Brian Yamabe #4: “But this still stands as my pick because to me the fascinating part was how inter-Lutheran discussions play out.”

    Well, the linked CN article is certainly “fascinating” and it is most definitely controversial, but not because “Pr. Cwirla was named as one of those guilty of sacerdotalism in the LCMS,” which he wasn’t.

    Rather than, as you state, the idea that there are “Sacerdotalists Taking Over the LCMS,” you should focus on the actual title of the linked CN article, “Sacerdotalist Taking Over the LCMS,” and who the article indicates that is.

  6. Nicholas
    August 30th, 2013 at 15:51 | #6

    Cascione equated “Sacerdotalists” with people merely in favor of having bishops, and falsely claimed that bishops would “lead us back to Rome”.

  7. Brian Yamabe
    August 30th, 2013 at 16:17 | #7

    @Carl Vehse #5
    Point taken. I will be more careful in the future.

  8. Jais H. Tinglund
    August 30th, 2013 at 16:56 | #8

    @Brian Yamabe #7
    An usually mature and healthy response to critique, worthy of a Christian.
    Respect!

  9. Carl Vehse
    August 30th, 2013 at 19:46 | #9

    In addition to the title (and its implication) of Rev. Cascione’s CN article, there are some other interesting tidbits, including some Ghost Whisperers banter between Rev. Cwirla and Rev. Donofrio in the first GW audio file:

    Cwirla (39:27): “We should propose a list, ‘You might be a sacerdotalist if…’ ”

    Donofrio: “Maybe we should make a t-shirt.”

    Cwirla (39:55): “You can’t criticize Walther in Walther’s Synod; that’s the gist of all of this.”

    Dono (40:00): “Wasn’t the previous administration not loved by these same people that are complaining about this one?”

    Cwirla: “Well, that’s right.”

    Dono: “And was there ever an administration that they liked…”

    Cwirla: “No, no.”

    Donofrio: “…since Walther, that is”

    Cwirla: “Since Wather? Not until Daniel Preus gets elected, I guess…. Because he laments the fact that Daniel Preus.. and Robert Kuhn… refused to allow their names to stand for election, thereby testifying both to their wisdom and their sanity.”

    Donofrio: “Heh, heh, heh.”

    Earlier (37:53), Rev. Cwirla had indicated: “I have great admiration for the [Kirche und Amt] book, however, I don’t necessarily agree with every page and line and paragraph in the book.”

  10. Martin R. Noland
    August 30th, 2013 at 21:01 | #10

    Dear Brian,

    This discussion–or argument–has a long provenance, going back to the late 1980s, according to Pastor Cascione. If you look at his article that you linked, “Sacerdotalists Taking Over the LCMS,” in the 11th paragraph you will see where he talks about the church-dividing issue of women’s suffrage.

    In that paragraph, he argues that there are only three positions possible for Lutherans in America: 1) no women’s suffrage in Voter’s Assembly (his position); 2) women’s suffrage in Voter’s Assemblies, with all the important decisions made in a closed Board of Directors meeting of all males; 3) women’s suffrage in Voter’s Assembly, with the pastor as Bishop with all decision-making authority. He has been arguing in this manner since the late 1980s, with some modifications I think, which he could explain to you, if you asked.

    He considers positions #2 and #3 to be unacceptable according to Lutheran theology, and therefore only those who hold to position #1 are true Lutherans and true Waltherians. He also will not admit that there are other possible options on this subject. Thus women’s suffrage is a church-dividing, fellowship-breaking issue for Pastor Cascione. I believe that I am representing him correctly in this matter.

    I don’t remember all the history on this subject, but I do remember that, for awhile, the previous Executive for the CTCR held to the position that anyone who disagreed with women’s suffrage on a biblical basis was in error and should be disciplined, and expelled if persistent in that error. I think he intended that for Pastor Cascione. I wrote somewhere that his position (i.e., the CTCR Executive’s position) was wrong, because it begged the question. Any biblical theologian, which presumably all confessional Lutherans are, will back up a doctrinal point with biblical basis.

    I held then, and still believe, that women’s suffrage is an adiaphoran, and both its advocates and detractors may cite Bible chapter and verse until the “cows come home,” but it is still an adiaphoran. I am willing to serve congregations that have women’s suffrage and those that don’t, and I have served both. There was no practical difference in my experience, except that the men tend be more civil when the ladies are present. :)

    On the “sacerdotalist” front, this is a problem of definition, as Cascione’s article also demonstrates in his first two paragraphs.

    If you look at the Merriam-Webster definition, it means “priests who are essential mediators between God and man.” If you look at the Dictionary.com definition, it means “ordained priests who have spiritual powers.”

    If you go by the Dictionary.com definition, then all Lutherans are “sacerdotalists.” This is because we believe that pastors have the spiritual powers of the Keys. This is the real center point for Walther’s understanding in his “Church and Ministry.” He is protecting the pastoral office in the Lutheran church from the Reformed view, which says the pastor has no spiritual power at all, and therefore cannot forgive sins in the Absolution; and the Catholic view, which says that the origin and source of that spiritual power is the ordained priesthood.

    If you go by the Merriam-Webster definition, you have to ask the person accused of “sacerdotalism” whether he believes that pastors are “essential mediators,” i.e., that laypeople cannot offer up prayers to God without going through their pastor. This is the view of the Roman church, and possibly the Orthodox view, but it is not a Lutheran view. Walther gets this one right too.

    I have had similar conversations with Pastor Cascione many years ago. I didn’t convince him. But I wasn’t bothered about it. For my efforts, and I think because I quoted Chemnitz and Gerhard on the ministry, Pastor Cascione declared me to be a “Hyper-Euro.” The next Symposia there were hundreds of “hyper-Euro” buttons, but I don’t think anyone knew I was the original “hyper-Euro,” until now.

    I have been reading Chemnitz and Gerhard since Dr. Robert Preus encouraged us to do so–it is always time well spent. On this topic, i.e., Church and Ministry, Walther is the best, in my opinion, and his book on “Church and Ministry” has been the LCMS position since 1851. Call me a “Waltherian” if you want, and that is closer to the truth than any other label.

    Thanks again for all your work on this. I think it is very helpful.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  11. Nicholas
    August 30th, 2013 at 21:29 | #11

    @Martin R. Noland #10

    What is the name of that previous CTCR executive?

    A man who would threaten to expel pastors for opposing women’s church suffrage is not a faithful Lutheran or Christian at all, but a Leftist in clerical garb like David Benke, Matt Becker, Mark Hanson, et al.

  12. Nicholas
    August 30th, 2013 at 21:32 | #12

    In general, I found Jack Cascione’s article to be wildly inappropriate.

  13. Carl Vehse
    August 30th, 2013 at 22:08 | #13

    @Martin R. Noland #10 : ” On the “sacerdotalist” front, this is a problem of definition, as Cascione’s article also demonstrates in his first two paragraphs.”

    Perhaps it would have been clearer if Rev. Cascione had referred to a 2001 article, in which he had related sacerdotalism to another term he has also used in the past:

    “A Hyper-Euro-Lutheran is anyone who seeks a return to pre-Walther European Lutheran Hierarchy in LC-MS congregations. It is just an alternate term for Sacerdotalism, the pastor becoming the vehicle of God’s grace as in the Catholic Church.”

    In addition to a distaste for voters assemblies (with or without women), other typical identifying features of a Hyper-Euro-Lutheran sacerdotalist are an emphasis on ordination as a sacrament similar to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; ordination, rather than the call, making a pastor; and the church, in the proper sense of the word, is visible. There are a number of other features, which are associated with the doctrine of church and ministry on which Wilhelm Loehe disagreed with C.F.W. Walther, such as the view that the synod polity (including church voters assemblies) is “amerikanische Poebelherrschaft” (American mob-rule).

    BTW, to test a Missouri Synod person you are talking to, casually state that you fully support the Missouri Synod’s (and Walther’s) position on Übertragungslehre. If you see the person’s face turn red, the veins on his neck begin pulsing, or his eyes start to bulge, you are probably talking to a sacerdotalist (AKA Loeheist, Grabauite, Stephanite, Hyper-Euro-Lutheran). ;-)

  14. William M. Cwirla
    August 31st, 2013 at 09:59 | #14

    Stay tuned for the follow-up episode on September 23. A one-hour interview with Jack Cascione on a wide-range of fascinating topics wherein we completely refute any notion whatsoever that I am a “sacerdotalist,” even by Cascione’s definition of that word. Great listening.

  15. William M. Cwirla
    August 31st, 2013 at 10:06 | #15

    For the record, the first interview was as much an “ambush” as the CN article that accused Pres. Harrison of stacking the LCMS with “sacerdotalists,” myself included simply because I was invited to be a convention essayist, at which I deeply extolled the priesthood of the baptized, by the way. Jack was not perturbed in the least by our guerrilla interview, and in fact, requested more air time on our show, which we were more than glad to give him. That show will air September 23 on the Pirate Christian Radio network http://www.piratechristianradio.com. It will also be available at http://www.godwhisperers.org.

    I have also received a promise from Jack of a public retraction of the label “sacerdotalist” as I meet none of his criteria of “sacerdotalism.”

  16. William M. Cwirla
    August 31st, 2013 at 10:08 | #16

    “BTW, to test a Missouri Synod person you are talking to, casually state that you fully support the Missouri Synod’s (and Walther’s) position on Übertragungslehre.”

    Rick – The appropriate response to that statement would be: Where in Scripture or the Confessions do you find this transference theory?

  17. August 31st, 2013 at 10:17 | #17

    Any time you start playing the power game (“The laity have the power,” “The pastors have the power”) you are dead in the water. It is a dead end.

    Walther and Luther teach that the authority is the church’s authority in opposition to the pope claiming that he has the authority in the church. (Actually, it is not even the church’s authority. It is Christ’s authority.)

    Interestingly, both laity and clergy belong to the church. I as a pastor am a member of the priesthood of all beleivers. You cannot pit the laity against the clergy. We are all in this together even though we have been given different offices.

  18. William M. Cwirla
    August 31st, 2013 at 10:23 | #18

    As long as I’m on the record, let me be clear in stating that the sole reason I spoke to the floor committee and on the convention floor in 2001 against the resolution on Kirche und Amt is that I thought, and still think, that it is ill-advised to elevate an occasional writing dealing with specific circumstances to the level of binding dogma.

    Kirche und Amt was specifically written in response to official statements and charges of JAA Grabau and the Buffalo Synod against the nascent Missouri Synod in the late 1840’s. Walther was tasked by the Synod to produce a formal response to these charges. The forward to the 1852 edition states clearly that this is directed against Grabau and the Buffalo Synod and does not represent the full and complete Lutheran doctrine on church and ministry. The Synod adopted it in 1852 as its official response to Grabau. The 2001 convention elevated it to binding dogma thereby excluding it from critical historical and doctrinal research from within the LCMS. I think it is patently foolish to leave the critical examination of our historic and confessional writings to outsiders while we elevate it to the level of the Book of Concord.

  19. William M. Cwirla
    August 31st, 2013 at 10:25 | #19

    “After much huffing and puffing, Rev. Cwirla also admitted in a comment on July 3, 2013 at 6:57 AM:”

    For the record, I am in excellent physical shape due to regular vigorous exercise, a balanced diet, and much fine wine and tequila, and I neither “huff” nor “puff.”

  20. William M. Cwirla
    August 31st, 2013 at 10:31 | #20

    In a future episode of the God Whisperers, we hope to have a discussion with Jack over whether the voters assembly has all authority, rights, and powers de jure divino and whether the mechanism of voting is a divine institution. Stay tuned….

    A question occurs to me in all this: If the voters assembly has all authority and power in the church, isn’t this the “sacerdotalism of the majority?”

  21. August 31st, 2013 at 11:05 | #21

    As long as we are talking about Walther really said here are a few clarifying gems.

    Walther has no “chairman of the congregation” but a “chairman of the voters assembly” and he recommends this be the pastor but also says the pastor ought not to insist on it.

    Walther also has no church council that a chairman presides over. The chairman simply moderates the voters assembly.

    Walther says there ought to be a board of elders (who do not labor in word) and who help the pastor think through the spiritual maters of the congregation. He also has a board of trustees who manage the property and the money.

  22. Martin R. Noland
    August 31st, 2013 at 11:57 | #22

    @Nicholas #11

    Dear Nicholas,

    You go too far in making accusations against someone you don’t even know. Although he was the CTCR executive, on this one point, he was simply confused. Besides that, he is retired now, and should simply be thanked for many years of faithful service, not asked to apologize or retract anything.

    You know, even Walther had to retract some things that he said at the time of the Predestination Controversy. See Mark Braun’s excellent article on Walther in the latest Concordia Theological Quarterly for that–it is in one of the footnotes.

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I think that this discussion between Dr. Cwirla and Rev. Cascione is helpful. Many people think that to be a bona fide LCMS Lutheran, whether pastor or layman, that you have to have a quia subscription to everything that Walther ever said. That idea is false–and ridiculous.

    LCMS Lutheran church-workers subscribe unconditionally only to the Scriptures and Confessions, and agree to abide by the LCMS Constitution. This is what our Constitution says, Articles II and VI.

    LCMS Lutherans also agree to respect the doctrinal resolutions of the synod; and they need to be truthful in admitting that these are the officially stated positions of the synod itself in convention. All doctrinal resolutions from 1847 to 2004 of the LCMS can be found in the CD available from CHI. That does not mean there is no possibility of dissent–procedures are in place for that, which Dr. Becker of Valparaiso has utilized in the past triennium.

    The first significant doctrinal resolution of the synod was in 1851, pertaining to Church and Ministry. These were the theses that are in the foreword of Walther’s book by that title. These theses are the official position of the synod.

    The book “Church and Ministry” by Walther was intended primarily to support the 1851 theses with citations from the Confessions, Luther, and the orthodox Lutheran fathers. That book was not adopted by the synod in 1851, only its theses, although the book fairly states and supports the theses.

    Just because a present-day theologian disagrees with a statement or two in that book does not mean that they are a Loehite or a Hoeflingite, though it is always fair to ask that question of the person involved.

    On the uebertragen [thanks, Carl!], Hoefling said that the office of pastor was not instituted by Jesus and so it has to be created by each congregation in its call. This originally came from Schleiermacher’s doctrine of the church. Walther disagreed with this position (see also Mark Braun’s article mentioned above), saying that the pastoral office was instituted by Christ, but that the congregation bestows it (uebertragen) by its call to a particular individual.

    Mark Braun has done excellent service (again, same article) in showing that WELS and ELS did not hold to Hoefling’s view, although the LCMS often thought they did. LCMS-WELS-ELS are much closer on this doctrine than we realize.

    I am doing this all by memory, so I could be stating some things a bit askew, but I think this is a fair presentation of Walther’s view and its history.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  23. Nicholas
    August 31st, 2013 at 12:20 | #23
  24. William M. Cwirla
    August 31st, 2013 at 23:52 | #24

    Thank you, Martin! Excellent summary of the details. Though I would add that the theses of Kirche und Amt were the official position of the Synod vis-a-vis Grabau and the Buffalo Synod. As you indicate, the book as a whole was never adopted by the Synod.

  25. September 1st, 2013 at 18:44 | #25

    Somebody help me out here. I’m still confused by our synod policy. If the highest authority in a local LCMS congregation is the voter’s assembly, how does that not make us congregationalists? How does the Synod have any authority to enforce it’s own constitution if individual congregations are free to make local exception on anything they vote for?

  26. Carl Vehse
    September 1st, 2013 at 19:26 | #26

    @Martin R. Noland #21 : That book [Kirche und Amt] was not adopted by the synod in 1851, only its theses, although the book fairly states and supports the theses.

    From the paper, “Church and Ministry,” by Dr. George F. Wollenburg, delivered at the 2002 Walther Free Conference:

    At the 1851 convention Dr. C.F.W. Walther presented his theses on Church and Ministry in eight sessions. The handwritten minutes of the 1851 convention obtained from the Concordia Historical Institute contain the following: The theses were adopted “with their proofs and testimonies accepted.” They were “recognized by the Synod as correct.” They “received full acceptance of the Synod.” The 1851 Convention then directed the essay to be put in book form, which Walther did.

    The proceedings (1851) state that the theses (Kirche und Amt) are supported by, a) the Holy Scriptures, b) the Symbolic books, c) the recognized orthodox teachers of our church and the ancient church, in order to refute the accusation that our doctrine is a novelty and to demonstrate that the overarching consensus of the entire church, from the beginning, agrees with our church. The convention directed the essay to be put in book form, which Walther did.

    The Synodalbericht of the 1852 Convention read, “The Synod declared itself open to this subject matter. Since it is most important, in accordance with God’s will, to be in agreement, first of all in doctrine with the Buffalo Synod, in particular with Pastor Grabau, therefore the Synod’s response of pure doctrine regarding Church and Ministry, compiled by Professor Walther on Synod’s behalf, should be sent to the latter (Grabau) with the request that, if possible, this book should be read in its entirety and thereby they convince themselves that our apology is nothing else than the voice of the LUTHERAN CHURCH! It is important to note that this was not declared to be the Synod’s voice, but the voice of the Lutheran Church.

    It is clear from this that the Synod was not saying that this is one opinion out of several which may be considered true biblical doctrine, but that it was saying that the doctrine which is articulated in Walther’s “Kirche und Amt” (Church and Ministry) is the true and correct doctrine of Holy Scripture and that the charges of false doctrine which both Grabau and Loehe made against the Synod were in fact contrary to the doctrine taught in the Scriptures, the Confessions, and by the recognized orthodox teachers of the Lutheran church as well as the ancient church. [Original emphasis]

  27. Carl Vehse
    September 1st, 2013 at 19:31 | #27

    And from a translation of “The Voice of Our Church Concerning the Question of the Church and the Ministry” by C.F.W. Walther (translated by W. H. T. Dau), in Walther and the Church (Dau, Engelder, and Dallmann, CPH, 1938, p. 50):

    “The draft of the treatise was submitted in 1851 to the Fifth Convention of the Missouri Synod at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and discussed in eight sessions. Unanimously the convention voted its enthusiastic approval of Walther’s effort and ordered its publication. During a visit at Erlangen that same year Walther engaged the well-known firm of Andreas Deichert for this work, and from their presses the first edition of the treatise was issued in 1852.”

  28. Carl Vehse
    September 1st, 2013 at 19:31 | #28

    From Rev. Todd Peperkorn’s “The Use of Dr. C.F.W. Walther’s Kirche und Amt in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod from 1851-1947” (STM Thesis, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1999, pp. 35-37):

    In 1850 at the Milwaukee convention, Walther argued that Church and Office were not “open questions” (contra Löhe), but already settled by the Lutheran Confessions. He specifically criticized Löhe on several points: doctrinal development, sacramentalism, ordination, and the status and authority of the Office. Walther himself argued that their opponents were holding up the office of the holy ministry at the expense of the priesthood of the laity.

    The convention resolved to ask Lochner, Buerger and Keyl to write up a detailed report of the Grabau controversy. This same convention invited Löhe to attend the next convention, but he was unable to do so. They then resolved to have a book published against the Grabau error, particularly the second synodical letter of Grabau, and Walther was chosen to be the author.

    The next year Walther presented a draft of the treatise, Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der Frage von Kirche und Amt (“The Voice of Our Church on the Question Concerning Church and Office”) at the fifth convention in 1851, again in Milwaukee. The paper was presented, “as a justification for our teaching on Church and Ministry,” and in order to counteract the growing disapproval among the brethren in Germany of their position.

    From the Preface of Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der Frage von Kirche und Amt (C.F.W. Walther, Andreas Deichert, Erlangen, 1852, First Edition, pp. vi-vii):

    Daher wir denn in unserer in herbst des J(ahres) 1850 zu St. Louis gehaltenen Synodalversammlung den auf dem Titel als Herausgeber Genannten damit beauftragt haben, die gegenwärtige Schrift zusammenzustellen und, nachdem dieselbe in der im vorigen J.(ahre) in Milwaukee gehaltenen Synodalversammlung uns theils wörtlich, theils der Substanz nach mitgeteilt und von uns geprüft und resp. revidiert worden war, als unser einmütiges Bekenntnis in unserem Namen zu veröffentlichen.”

    (“Hence, the synodical convention held in St. Louis in the fall of 1850 asked this writer to compose the present book. Its contents were presented to the synodical convention, held the next year at Milwaukee, either literally or substantially, and after they had been examined and respectively revised, it was resolved to publish the manuscript “in our name and as our unanimous confession” [that of the Missouri Synod].) — J.T. Mueller’s translation (Church and Ministry, CPH, 1987, p. 9)

    In his thesis, Todd Peperkorn explains (p. 43):

    The German here brings out several important aspects for understanding Walther’s view of the book. First, Walther referred to himself as the Herausgeber, or editor. Walther did not consider himself the author of the book. He was the compiler of the witnesses (see the introduction to the preface of the third edition below). Next, the Substanz, or substance/core of the book was presented, revised, and then published by the Synod. The entire book was not presented to the synodical convention. Third, Walther mentions that there were revisions made, but there is no mention of these revisions in the synodical minutes [Synodal-Bericht (1851), 169-171]. Fourth, the book is then published als unser einmütiges Bekenntnis in unserem Namen, or “in our name and as our unanimous confession.” This phrase, once again, does not appear in the synodical minutes (see above section on Milwaukee Convention in 1851). Was this the intention of the synod in convention? Undoubtedly. However, the J. T. Mueller translation above is misleading, in that by putting this phrase in quotation marks, it sets them off as though they are from an official document.

    Later Peperkorn also reports (p. 44):

    At its sixth Synodical Convention, the Missouri Synod indicated that if the Buffalo Synod was not convinced of the truthfulness of the Missouri position through K&A, it was willing to meet with the Buffalo Synod regarding the controversy, and that Buffalo could set the time and place. [Synodal-Bericht (1852), 212] K&A was then affirmed as the Missouri Synod apologia to Grabau and the Buffalo Synod. [Ibid.]

  29. Martin R. Noland
    September 1st, 2013 at 20:55 | #29

    Dear Carl,

    Thanks for the comments #25 to 27. Peperkorn gets all the details correct on the matter of the 1851 theses and the book, which was, as Walther said, “a compilation of witnesses.” Most important he describes the details of when, where, and how the theses were adopted as synod’s official position.

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    There is some new historical scholarship on the matter of the history of the theses and the book. As Dr. Cwirla notes in his comment #23, the theses and book were written to reply to, and refute, the charges of the Buffalo Synod and Bishop Grabau. This has always been known, and is explained in the book’s preface.

    What has not been known, at least outside of a few specialists like Roy Suelflow, is that Walther was not only refuting Grabau, he was also distancing himself and the LCMS from the first church constitution of the Perry County Saxons. This constitution, written shortly after Martin Stephan was exiled to Illinois, has now for the first time (outside of a few Lutheran archives) been translated into English and available in published form. It can be found in this book, translated by Rev. Charles Schaum: http://www.cph.org/p-19260-c-f-w-walther-churchman-and-theologian.aspx

    Pastor Schaum also includes some mention of the Perry County constitution in his preface to the new edition of Walther’s Law and Gospel. People who want to speak with some authority on the topic of the 1851 theses and the Kirche und Amt book, need to read this Perry County constitution and take some account of it.

    My read on this was that this Perry County constitution had a number of items in it that were contrary to traditional Lutheran doctrine and practice. What I remember is 1) that pastors could be hired and fired at will; 2) all doctrinal judgments and church discipline cases were to be made by the council of lay elders, without the pastors input; 3) the lay elders could preach, baptize, absolve, catechize, and consecrate the Lord’s Supper, if the congregation chose them for that role (this was probably necessary, if they fired pastors at will and couldn’t find anyone to replace the man they fired); 4) all supervisory offices, such as our modern circuit counselors or district presidents, were rejected in principle. I am doing this by memory, so I apologize if I get some details wrong here.

    So, basically, the Perry County constitution had an “American Baptist/lay-elder-congregationalist” doctrine of the ministry. Walther worked under this system in his Dresden (Perry County) parish, until he was called to Saint Louis to fill his brother’s shoes. All of these “Baptist” ideas were criticized by Grabau; and Walther does not defend them in his theses or book.

    Walther truly steered a middle course between Grabau’s episcopacy and the Perry County lay-elder-congregationalism. He did this by going back to the position of the Confessions, Luther, and the orthodox Lutherans. We have known this since the 19th century, but only recently, thanks to the labors of Pastor Schaum, have we known what the Perry County errors really consisted of.

    Dear Miguel,

    You say: Somebody help me out here. I’m still confused by our synod policy. If the highest authority in a local LCMS congregation is the voter’s assembly, how does that not make us congregationalists? How does the Synod have any authority to enforce it’s own constitution if individual congregations are free to make local exception on anything they vote for?

    Both Statements A and B below have to be kept together:

    A) Congregations are free to disregard an LCMS resolution if it is contrary to the Word of God or is not expedient for their particular situation.

    B) They are not free to disregard the statements in an LCMS resolution that cite and properly applies the Word of God in Scripture or the Lutheran Confessions. Congregations, as members of synod, vow to uphold the Scriptures and Confessions in doctrine and practice–and they vow to do this unconditionally, i.e., they can’t pick and choose what they like.

    There are many matters in congregational life, in fact, most of the things that a Voter’s Assembly votes on year after year, that are in the realm of adiaphora, and therefore they are free to make their own decisions. Also synod has no equity in the assets of a congregation, and can make no claims on those assets.

    I hope that this clarifies things a bit.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  30. Carl Vehse
    September 1st, 2013 at 21:15 | #30

    @Miguel #24 : How does the Synod have any authority to enforce it’s own constitution if individual congregations are free to make local exception on anything they vote for?

    Well, they are not free to make local exception on the doctrine and practice which they agreed to uphold when they became members in the Missouri Synod.

    If a congregation does vote for something that violates what the congregation had agreed to uphold as a member of the Missouri Synod, they would be subject to ecclesiastical supervision which may lead to removal from membership in the LCMS.

    This may not seem significant, but such an action would affect any loans the leaving church (and its school) may have with the Lutheran Church Extension Fund as well as possibly the school’s accreditation, and it would affect the membership (and the healthcare and pension plans) of the pastor(s) and other called workers.

    Of course, this depends on the various elected ecclesiastical supervisors actually carrying out their responsibilities, which they promised to uphold when they were sworn in to the office to which they were elected.

  31. Carl Vehse
    September 1st, 2013 at 22:32 | #31

    @Martin R. Noland #28 : “As Dr. Cwirla notes in his comment #23, the theses and book were written to reply to, and refute, the charges of the Buffalo Synod and Bishop Grabau.”

    Continuing from a translation of “The Voice of Our Church Concerning the Question of the Church and the Ministry” by C.F.W. Walther (translated by W. H. T. Dau), in Walther and the Church (Dau, Engelder, and Dallmann, CPH, 1938, p. 50):

    The [Kirche und Amt] treatise is evidently regarded by him [Walther] no longer his own, to promulgate his private opinions, but it is an official manifesto of the Missouri Synod, which here offers to its Christian brethren everywhere and forever its humble witness to the truth which it has joyously embraced on these great basic questions: What is the Church? and, What is the Ministry of the Church?

    Walther was not only refuting Grabau, he was also distancing himself and the LCMS from the first church constitution of the Perry County Saxons.

    This “first church constitution of the Perry County Saxons” should be distinguished from the church constitution (Gemeindeordnung) of Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Louis, which was initiated by C.F.W. Walther and the congregation at the church meeting of February 2, 1842. After considerable debate about various details and fine points, the constitution was approved and signed by congregational members in mid-1843. For descriptions, see Carl Mundinger’s Government in the Missouri Synod (CPH, 1947, pp. 136-147) as well as August Suelflow’s “The Missouri Synod Organized” in Carl S. Meyer’s Moving Frontiers (CPH, 1964, pp. 166-170).

  32. William M. Cwirla
    September 2nd, 2013 at 16:37 | #32

    Thank you again, Martin Noland, for that accurate summary of the historic context of Kirche u. Amt. I would also draw the reader’s attention to the predecessor document written by GH Loeber which, along with the Altenburg theses, set the stage for the ecclesiology expressed in Kirche u. Amt.

    See William M. Cwirla, “Grabau and the Saxon Pastors: The Doctrine of the Holy Ministry, 1840-1845,” Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, 62 (1995), 84-99.

  33. William M. Cwirla
    September 2nd, 2013 at 16:44 | #33

    I think that Dau, et al overstate the official status of Kirche u. Amt in the 1938 edition of the book. The Synodalbericht of the 1852 convention does not support this.

    I recall a fascinating discussion with Prof. Kurt Marquart over whether Walther had gone beyond the Confessions in the construction of his ecclesiology. Prof. Marquart admitted that he had difficulty fitting some of Walther into his book “The Church and Her Fellowship, Ministry and Governance” which, at the time, had just been published. I would commend this book to anyone who wants to gain a deeper insight into the issues on church and ministry that continue to perplex us today.

  34. Rev. McCall
    September 4th, 2013 at 08:34 | #34

    @Martin R. Noland #10
    “I held then, and still believe, that women’s suffrage is an adiaphoran, and both its advocates and detractors may cite Bible chapter and verse until the “cows come home,” but it is still an adiaphoran.”

    I usually agree with you, but not in this case. How is this merely an adiaphoran? Just because it may be a good American practice does not make it a good Scriptural one nor a mere adiaphoran.

  35. Carl Vehse
    September 4th, 2013 at 09:58 | #35

    In a sacerdotal, episcopal, or Transforming-Chuches-Network (TCN) CEO polity of a Lutheran congregation, even if it exists, a “voters assembly” is simply an ecclesiastical castrato, and thus it is of no concern whether women have a voice or vote or not at such meetings that have no actual authority and power, which instead reside with the ordained pastor or with a small elite group.

    However, in a congregational polity, where the voters assembly has the authority and responsibilities of the church, as described in Kirche und Amt to issue a divine call, to have prior consideration for excommunications, to be responsible for the operations of the congregation, and to provide for and oversee the pastor(s), then whether women participate in such authority and responsibilities is of significance and concern.

  36. William M. Cwirla
    September 4th, 2013 at 10:41 | #36

    I don’t know about you, but I mourn the loss of the castrati in the choir. Women just don’t sing the treble cleff as well.

  37. William M. Cwirla
    September 4th, 2013 at 10:43 | #37

    Why the strike-through in the original post? I was the first person named as evidence that Pres. Harrison was leading a takeover of “scacerdotalists” in the LCMS. If that isn’t guilt by association, I don’t know what is. Don’t let the slander mongers get off so lightly. They’ve been getting away with this stuff for years.

  38. Rev. McCall
    September 4th, 2013 at 11:00 | #38

    @William M. Cwirla #35
    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding, but what does a choir have to do with anything? Is this to imply that a choir and a voter’s assembly are somehow of the same caliber or have similar responsibility?

  39. Carl Vehse
    September 4th, 2013 at 11:38 | #39

    Brian Yamabe stated @4, “I will change the post to reflect that Pr. Cwirla was mentioned [in the Christian News article] and not identified as a sacerdotalist.”

    However, on the Christian News blog page, “Sacerdotalist Taking Over the LCMS,” on July 4, 2013 at 11:50 AM, Rev. Cwirla announced:

    “You know, come to think of it, maybe I am a ‘sacerdotalist’ after all.”

    Thus, since no one else on the CN webpage, other than himself, has named Rev. Cwirla as a “sacerdotalist,” the question is, “Who are the ‘slander mongers’ that are ‘getting away with this stuff for years’ and ‘get[ting] off so lightly’?”

  40. September 4th, 2013 at 11:49 | #40

    @William M. Cwirla #35
    At least we’re not ordaining women. Ever heard a warbling old gal try to chant the liturgy of the Eucharist? It’s like “Divine Service, by Mrs. Miller,” the thing you can not un-hear. Gregorian chant just needs the male voice.

  41. quasicelsus
    September 4th, 2013 at 12:11 | #41

    @Miguel #39

    “Ever heard a warbling old gal try to chant the liturgy of the Eucharist? It’s like “Divine Service, by Mrs. Miller,” the thing you can not un-hear. Gregorian chant just needs the male voice.”

    “Gregorian chant just needs the male voice”

    this is certainly an opinion.

    it is my opinion that following the comment on women’s ordination, the rest of the comment is disturbingly sexist, unhelpful, and detracts significantly from your credibility on topics of music.

    my above opinion does not speak to, justify, or make an argument for, the ordination of women, or women leading the divine service.

    —-

    @Carl Vehse #34

    this is interesting and i’d like to see Martin Nolan’s response to it. i enjoy the way you two discuss things with each other, and i always learn something.

  42. helen
    September 4th, 2013 at 12:22 | #42

    @William M. Cwirla #35
    I don’t know about you, but I mourn the loss of the castrati in the choir. Women just don’t sing the treble cleff as well.

    I wonder where you have heard the first, to compare with the second!

    I concede the superior talents of English boy choirs, but they are usually the product of choir schools, trained in a way that the average woman in the choir can only dream of.

    [I only sing in the congregation, and not very well, so this is an “outside” observation.]

    @quasicelsus #40

    Gregorian chant does need the male voice.
    Not “sexist”; it was meant to be sung by men and sounds better!

  43. September 4th, 2013 at 12:27 | #43

    @Carl Vehse #38

    From the CN webpage linked in the OP:

    “Now in 2013 the pendulum has swung all the way back from Church-Growth mentality to Sacerdotal-Episcopal hierarchy.

    The Rev. William Cwirla is scheduled to be an essayist at the 2013 Convention. In 2001 Pastor Cwirla testified before Committee 7 that adopting Walther’s “Church and Ministry” was against the Gospel. He and many other pastors condemned Walther’s book from the Convention floor.

    You may ask, “What is this attraction to Sacerdotalism?”

    While Pr. Cwirla is not directly mentioned in the article as a ‘sacerdotalist’, the implication that he is one is easily made, and if not that, then at the least he is ‘attracted’ to Sacerdotalism, according to the article.

    It is that sort of guilt by association rhetoric that CN aptly writes and gets “away with this stuff for years.”

  44. quasicelsus
    September 4th, 2013 at 12:37 | #44

    @helen #41

    Pachabel’s canon was designed as a chamber piece. i don’t know that i’ve heard a professional organ, piano, or string ensemble that i would describe as “meant to played by X so X is better.” I do grasp the concepts author design and intention.

    hop on youtube and give some of them a listen. i think you may find that there are some that have some outstanding male voice arrangements, and some where the female voice is outstanding as well.

  45. Lifelong Lutheran
    September 4th, 2013 at 12:41 | #45

    Miguel :
    @William M. Cwirla #35
    At least we’re not ordaining women. Ever heard a warbling old gal try to chant the liturgy of the Eucharist? It’s like “Divine Service, by Mrs. Miller,” the thing you can not un-hear. Gregorian chant just needs the male voice.

    Just so you know, the phrase “warbling old gal” is off-putting. How do you define an “old gal”? Also, not all pastors (male) are great singers.

  46. helen
    September 4th, 2013 at 13:55 | #46

    @Lifelong Lutheran #44
    Just so you know, the phrase “warbling old gal” is off-putting. How do you define an “old gal”? Also, not all pastors (male) are great singers.

    All true. But, “You know them when you hear them.” and that’s “off putting”, too. :(
    Some were pretty good once, but they haven’t listened to themselves in years, and nobody has the heart to invite them down to the congregation.

    Kantor Resch, last I heard him, said, “We train the men as much as possible to chant the Divine Service. Once in a while we have to say, ‘Perhaps you’d better stick to the spoken Word’.”

    Why is it that people will wear glasses without much thought about it, but cannot bear the thought of hearing aids!? With all the exposure to overly loud music, people really need them at younger ages than ever before.

  47. Lifelong Lutheran
    September 4th, 2013 at 14:58 | #47

    I have a historical question. When I was growing up in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s the pastors didn’t chant. In the Lutheran Hymnal it says,”then the minister shall say or chant”. But sometime in the 80’s the pastors all started to chant the liturgy. The Lutheran Service Book now indicates that the pastor will chant. How and why did this change come about?

  48. September 4th, 2013 at 15:21 | #48

    @Lifelong Lutheran #44
    Right. Sorry. How is “elderly lady possessing excessive vibrato?”

  49. helen
    September 4th, 2013 at 15:31 | #49

    @Lifelong Lutheran #46
    The Lutheran Service Book now indicates that the pastor will chant. How and why did this change come about?

    The story I’ve been told is that the directions to chant were always in the ’41 hymnal, (because Pastors did chant prior to that) but for some reason they left the music out, (just like they left some liturgical essentials out of LSB). So the Pastors who didn’t have the more expensive book with the music stopped chanting.

    Eventually somebody said, “This is our heritage” and began to teach it again. PTL!

    Incidentally, the Norwegians were chanting back there when you weren’t. All ELC pre-sem students were in choir. Sunday morning in the local churches was a revelation and a joy as the Pastor chanted and the college choir members in the congregation led in singing the hymns!
    [I don’t pretend to know what became of that with elca.]
    :(

  50. Carol Broome
    September 4th, 2013 at 16:37 | #50

    @Lifelong Lutheran #46
    I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and chanting was consistently done. The prayers, the pastors’ parts, all of that. Even though I have not attended a church where prayers are chanted for a long time, I still ‘hear’ the chant melodies when many of the common prayers are spoken. Last year I heard the Words of Institution chanted the old way for the first time in years, and it was very refreshing to me. Chanting is slower and more measured than speech, and personally I concentrate on the meaning of it more easily when it is chanted.

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