A Constitutional Amendment and a Convention Review (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

September 9th, 2013 Post by

Today, two things coming out of the recent LCMS Convention:

First, the convention approved, by over a two-thirds vote, Resolution 7-02A, “To Return to Use of Title ‘Circuit Visitor.'” This resolution would change the title “circuit counselors” to “circuit visitors.” In my opinion, as a circuit counselor/visitor myself, this is a good thing. It puts the emphasis on the important work of visitation.

Since this resolution would change the language in one of the articles of our constitution, it requires a constitutional amendment. So now, that amendment to Article XII has been been sent out to the congregations for possible ratification, in the form of an official ballot. If the amendment is to go into effect, it needs to be approved by two-thirds of the congregations responding, using the official ballot that was sent out, by March 1. You can read more about this amendment process in the Reporter article, “Official Notice: Constitutional amendment (September 2013)”.

Second, right after the convention I posted a review article here on BJS, “The Boring-Isn’t-Bad Convention”. Now I’ve got another convention review article out, in the September issue of the Lutheran Clarion, as follows:

Moving the Ball Down the Field: The 2013 Convention

Moving the ball down the field? Or kicking the can down the road? Maybe a little of both. That’s my take on the 2013 LCMS Convention. Overall, good, but could have been better. President Harrison, the floor committees, and delegates did move things in the right direction. But in seeking to avoid conflict, show patience, and bring people along for the long haul, Team Harrison passed up opportunities to deal more directly with some of our thorny issues.

The convention did put people and pieces in place to deal more directly and decisively at the next convention, and that is a good thing. But I think there were a few steps we could have taken already at this convention without being overly aggressive. Take, for example, the issues of lay deacons and the SMP program. The convention established a task force and an oversight committee to look into these matters, and they will bring recommendations for action at the 2016 convention. And those committees likely will be filled with good people who will recommend some needed changes. But we stopped short of making any substantial changes at this convention. That was somewhat disappointing. I think we could have at least put a freeze on any new lay deacons and tightened the funnel for admitting new men into the SMP program. But those fairly modest measures were not acted upon.

A huge issue that came up at this convention, but which truly will take years to deal with, is the whole question of Lutheran identity at our Concordias. The tendency of church-created colleges to drift away from their founding churches is well documented in American history, and the Missouri Synod is not immune from this problem. Again, task forces and committees were created to address the concerns. Also, a resolution was passed to see that new faculty at our seminaries receive prior approval from a screening committee beyond the seminary itself. This is not flashy, but it should help prevent leftward drift.

A happy note: The delegates drove a stake through the heart of the few Blue Ribbon proposals that dared to make a return appearance.

Elections went well. The United List choices won about two-thirds of the contests. The conservative/confessional side ran the table on the Praesidium. President Harrison’s VPs are Herb Mueller, John Wohlrabe, Daniel Preus, Scott Murray, Nabil Nour, and Robert Kuhn. This clean sweep could tip the balance on the Council of Presidents. We ran the table on the Fort Wayne Board of Regents. We gained Christian Preus and Kathy Schulz on the LCMS Board of Directors. We gained Shawn Kumm and Walter Dissen on the St. Louis Board of Regents.

Yes, we kicked some cans down the road at this convention. But it seems President Harrison’s approach is to first build trust and consensus and not try to ram things through by resolutions that narrowly pass. We will see how that plays out. But especially when you consider where we were headed from 2001 to 2010, I thank God that now we are moving the ball down the field in the right direction.

Rules for comments on this site:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Jais Tinglund
    September 25th, 2013 at 10:58 | #1

    And of course pure doctrine exists, and pure practice; they are the will of God, and they have been entrusted to the Church of Christ by God in Holy Scripture, and they are there for everyone to identify.
    Since the individual pastor, is, however, neither infallible nor inerrant, purity in doctrine and practice will for the faithful pastor always be an intention rather than a position – meaning that he will always study whether or nor his preaching and practice are pure, that is: in accordance with Holy Scripture, rather than assume that “since I am by my own definition Confessional, whatever I believe and do must be pure doctrine and practice” – or that “since I am neither infallible nor inerrant, it does not matter whether my beliefs and practices are impure”.
    In this study the Lutheran Confessions are an excellent resource, because they obviously do not only reflect “the historical context of the 16th Century Europe”, but also summarise authentically what is and always has been and always will be the teachings of Holy Scripture. And, of course, so is Holy Scripture itself, approached with an honest mind and openness to correction, rather than in a search for straws for my own opinions to cling to.
    Through this process of confronting his beliefs and practice, and, for that matter, the opinions expressed and practices performed by others in public, impurities in preaching and practice can indeed be identified and rectified, as they should be, through self-searching and brotherly admonition.
    It seems to me that we are way beyond numerical growth being one indicator among many as to what goes on in a congregation. We are even beyond the question whether or not spiritual growth necessarily corresponds to numerical growth. It seems that there is a fundamental disagreement among us as to what spiritual growth is, and saving faith, and true faith, and obedience to God, and how these are brought about, and, even more fundamentally, by whose authority they should be defined …

  2. Carl Vehse
    September 25th, 2013 at 11:07 | #2

    @John Rixe #49: Again, which conflicting interpretations of the symbols are pure?

    Before any meaningful discussion of “conflicting interpretations”, there needs to be mutual agreement that the Symbols exposit pure doctrine. Otherwise the discussion is really moot.

    If one agrees that the Symbols exposit pure doctrine then the theology of doubt becomes moot.

  3. Tim Klinkenberg
    September 25th, 2013 at 13:48 | #3

    pure…lol how piece from the installation rite…that the AC is “a true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.” We words like ‘accord’ and to my reading the word “pure” is not a part of our Installation rite. We don’t even talk about a purity or a pure life, we speak of a holy life, or a life set apart. Interesting.

  4. September 25th, 2013 at 18:40 | #4

    Luther says:

    The great difference between doctrine and life is obvious, even as the difference between heaven and earth. Life may be unclean, sinful, and inconsistent; but doctrine must be pure, holy, sound, unchanging … not a tittle or letter may be omitted, however much life may fail to meet the requirements of doctrine. This is so because doctrine is God’s Word, and God’s truth alone, whereas life is partly our own doing…. God will have patience with man’s moral failings and imperfections and forgive them. But He cannot, will not, and shall not tolerate a man’s altering or abolishing doctrine itself. For doctrine involves His exalted, divine Majesty itself (WA, 30 111, 343 f.)

    “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).

  5. Tim Klinkenberg
    September 25th, 2013 at 18:44 | #5

    Wonder what the word for pure is auf Deutsch?

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #4

  6. Carl Vehse
    September 25th, 2013 at 21:34 | #6

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #4,

    Your excerpt from Martin Luther can be found in the Weimar Edition (Weimarer Ausgabe, WA), 30 III, p. 343, line 23ff:

    Aber die lere muss rein, heilig, lauter und bestendig sein (“but doctrine must be pure, holy, sound, unchanging”)

  7. September 26th, 2013 at 05:08 | #7

    Carl Vehse :@Pastor Ted Crandall #4,
    Your excerpt from Martin Luther can be found in the Weimar Edition (Weimarer Ausgabe, WA), 30 III, p. 343, line 23ff:

    Aber die lere muss rein, heilig, lauter und bestendig sein (“but doctrine must be pure, holy, sound, unchanging”)

    Thank you for making it perfectly clear that the word was not σκύβαλα, as some here seem to have expected…


  8. September 26th, 2013 at 06:51 | #8

    Tim Klinkenberg :We don’t even talk about a purity or a pure life, we speak of a holy life, or a life set apart.

    Deeds, not creeds?

    Doctrine divides, but love unites?

  9. Tim Klinkenberg
    September 26th, 2013 at 07:58 | #9

    Nos who’s messing with ordination vows Pastor Crandall, you vowed at your ordination to adorn the office of the Holy Ministry with a holy life. [not pure] I went and checked that out yesterday. Pure indeed. Your sarcasm made my point.

  10. September 26th, 2013 at 10:27 | #10

    @Tim Klinkenberg #9

    Being raised by a Bosun’s Mate and his teenaged bride, then twenty years in the Navy, many of them with the Marines, haven’t helped me be more civil or gentlemanly. Let me try to be more sensitive:

    Regardless of what words were spoken at your ordination or mine, I vowed to teach all of Scripture (the Word of God, the Holy Bible, God’s Word — not just the parts of the Bible that contain God’s Word…) and I vowed to teach the Confessions, which are a pure exposition of the Word of God. I did not subscribe to a theology of doubt.

  11. Tim Klinkenberg
    September 26th, 2013 at 17:40 | #11

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #10

    Me either…no doubt at all in Christ…but doubt in humanity

  12. September 26th, 2013 at 18:59 | #12

    @Tim Klinkenberg #11

    “Besides this [controversy] there have been still other disputes caused and excited on account of the Interim [on occasion of the formula of the Interim or of Interreligion], and otherwise, concerning the article of justification, which will hereafter be explained in antithesi, that is, in the enumeration of those errors which are contrary to the pure doctrine in this article.
    “This article concerning justification by faith (as the Apology says) is the chief article in the entire Christian doctrine, without which no poor conscience can have any firm consolation, or can truly know the riches of the grace of Christ, as Dr. Luther also has written: If this only article remains pure on the battlefield, the Christian Church also remains pure, and in goodly harmony and without any sects; but if it does not remain pure, it is not possible that any error or fanatical spirit can be resisted. (Tom. 5, Jena, p. 159.) 7] And concerning this article especially Paul says that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Therefore, in this article he urges with so much zeal and earnestness the particulas exclusivas, that is, the words whereby the works of men are excluded (namely, without Law, without works, by grace [freely], Rom. 3:28; 4:5; Eph. 2:8-9), in order to indicate how highly necessary it is that in this article, aside from [the presentation of] the pure doctrine, the antithesis, that is, all contrary dogmas, be stated separately, exposed, and rejected by this means.”
    (SD III 5-6)

    Pure doctrine…

    Pure doctrine…

    These paragraphs were written by sinful humanity.

  13. Tim Klinkenberg
    September 27th, 2013 at 09:34 | #13

    Thank you for making my point. As beautiful as these words are, penned by a sinner and thus tainted with sin are, they lead us to the purity of justification in Christ alone. Our attempts at perfect purity fail, the Lords never fails.

  14. September 27th, 2013 at 09:51 | #14

    Shirley, you didn’t mean to say the confessions are not pure doctrine?


  15. Tim Klinkenberg
    September 27th, 2013 at 13:38 | #15

    I hate the word pure…pure and simple…and I’m not a total idiot;). Please don’t call me Shirley;)

Comment page #
    << Previous page of comments     32774
If you have problems commenting on this site, or need to change a comment after it has been posted on the site, please contact us. For help with getting your comment formatted, click here.
Subscribe to comments feed  ..  Subscribe to comments feed for this post
Anonymous comments are welcome on this board, but we do require a valid email address so the admins can verify who you are. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example. Email addresses are kept private on this site, and only available to the site admins. Comments posted without a valid email address may not be published. Want an icon to identify your comment? See this page to see how.

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