ACELC — The LCMS and “Peace”

September 13th, 2013 Post by

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  Matthew 5:9

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.  Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Matthew 10:34-39

ACELC-LogoIn these words from Jesus, at first glance, we have a seeming contradiction.  If people who bring peace and work toward peace are blessed by God, how can Jesus say that He did not come to bring peace?  If Jesus is truly the Prince of Peace what are we to do with His very clear teaching in Matthew 10?  How are we to understand and make sense of this paradox?  The key is to remember what it is that brings true and lasting peace, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:19-20  True Peace is Jesus, and the forgiveness, life, and salvation that only He can provide!

For many, the term “peace” means only the absence of war and hostility.  While that definition is certainly true, it is only a partial definition.  The peace that Jesus brings is clearly explained by the Apostle Paul, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”  Ephesians 2:14-22

Several weeks have passed since the close of the 2013 LCMS Synodical Convention.  I have heard from many different people (from all sides of the political spectrum) that it was the most “peaceful” convention in many, many years.  While it is true that there was little fighting and contention, does that mean that it was a convention of “peace”?  Many have said that there was a “positive mood” and that delegates generally “felt good” about the work that was accomplished. I ask again, are these the things that make for true peace in our beloved synod?

Anyone who is honest must admit that there are serious issues troubling the LCMS, issues that have been growing in intensity over the years.  There seems to be much division, in both doctrine and practice, over topics like fellowship, Holy Communion, pastoral formation and the divine call, the propriety of mixing business principles with theology, and the giant elephant in the room, worship.  Some of these issues were addressed at the recent synodical convention, however, all the issues that were addressed were simply delayed to a later date, generally for more study. Perhaps the church militant was simply put on hold.

One can certainly appreciate the pastoral approach to many of these issues by President Harrison.  His critics claimed, after his first election, that he would be on a witch-hunt to ferret out false doctrine.  Those critics are very quiet now.  President Harrison has been like a pastor in a new parish that is beset with aberrant teaching and practice.  He has been very patient and has sought to teach the Truth.  But the LCMS is much different than an erring congregation.  Our Synodical President cannot preach and teach in every congregation each week.  Many of the same issues that were dividing our Synod before 2010 are still tearing us apart today.  Each day the roots of error, error unchecked, are growing deeper and deeper among us.  It appears that it is impossible to exercise godly church discipline among us. A family that has all the right rules but has no discipline will end in chaos; the same is true for the church. True peace is then absent.

True peace comes with godly reconciliation while contending for the Truth. Error is not ignored but dealt with, lovingly and evangelically, under God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions. In the forgiveness of sins Christ heals our wounds and divisions and binds the broken hearted.  God has some pointed words for those who offer a false peace in His name; “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace,” Jeremiah 6:14 and “We looked for peace, but no good came; for a time of healing, but behold, terror.” Jeremiah 8:15.  Time will tell if the proposed studies and task forces from this year’s convention will bear the fruit of true peace, or if they will be more of the seemingly endless discussion with the goal of “unity in diversity.”  Time will tell if the Koinonia Project will be a vehicle for honest discussion and godly resolution of the errors in our midst or if it will be just another program where “people agree to disagree,” as long as we “play nice.” In the meantime, for at least three more years, the pastors and congregations of the Synod are left to deal with the growing divisions in both doctrine and practice that we have been saddled with over the past 50 plus years.  As we contemplate these matters in the weeks and months ahead, may God bless our elected leaders, our pastors and lay leaders, our congregations, yes, our entire synod, with a spirit of peace, true peace, in Christ our Savior and Lord.

Yours in Christ’s Service,
Rev. Clint Poppe
Chairman, ACELC Board of Directors

P.S. If you would like to assist the ACELC in this effort you may encourage your congregation to join as a full Member of the ACELC. As an individual you may join as an Associate Member. You may also support our work by making a donation online. Or, if none of those options work for you, we would like to ask that you remember our efforts in your prayers – that all we do would be pleasing to God and beneficial for the building of up His kingdom of grace






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  1. September 17th, 2013 at 05:12 | #1

    @Quasicelsus #50
    Great idea! It is so very hard to know when “It’s Time” to stop casting pearls before swine, turn them over to Satan, and pray they repent and eventually be with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven…

  2. Chris
    September 18th, 2013 at 17:40 | #2

    I don’t know how to word this but I have not been a member of an LCMS congregation for about 5 years because I am afraid they will start to become like the ELCA. This synod is so lazy about dealing with what is so obviously bad doctrine and practice that they might as well just let the liberals in the synod have their way. Go the way of the ELCA and get it over with while I am doing just fine at the WELS where we do proper doctrine and practice. LCMS are so clueless about why WELS and LCMS do not have joint pulpit fellowship, well just look at how things are so screwy and figure it out. It is as plain as the nose on your face. No rocket science required.

  3. September 18th, 2013 at 19:00 | #3

    @Chris #2

    I’m sorry you felt the need to leave, especially just before the LCMS began returning, albeit slowly. I imagine it was a painful move for you.

    Maybe I’m mistaken, but isn’t it true that WELS is also battling liberalism in her midst? For instance, isn’t Church Growth on the rise and, a a result, a number of your congregations have worship services that are hardly recognizable as Lutheran?

    From what I hear, Wisconsin isn’t as pure as she used to be either…

  4. Fr. Daniel
    September 19th, 2013 at 08:34 | #4

    “Each day the roots of error, error unchecked, are growing deeper and deeper among us. It appears that it is impossible to exercise godly church discipline among us. A family that has all the right rules but has no discipline will end in chaos; the same is true for the church.” There is no way discipline can be practiced if Walther’s innovation of the Voter’s assembly as the arbiter of correction. You can debate this in a scholastic fashion here on this site, but most know from experience it does not work.

  5. Carl Vehse
    September 19th, 2013 at 11:08 | #5

    @Fr. Daniel #4 : There is no way discipline can be practiced if Walther’s innovation of the Voter’s assembly as the arbiter of correction. You can debate this in a scholastic fashion here on this site, but most know from experience it does not work.

    There is no need to debate such a claim, because it is simply not true.

    In his book, Government in the Missouri Synod (CPH, 1947, p. 125), when Carl S. Mundinger rhetorically asked – “Just how did the principles which Vehse and Walther derived from the writings of Luther work out in the day-to-day life of a Lutheran congregation? Was the Vehse-Walther-Luther principle, that laymen have the power by majority vote to regulate financial and spiritual matters, practicable? Did the theory of the ‘supremacy’ of the congregation work?” – Mundinger then answered – “Nowhere is the working of this principle better revealed than in the minutes of Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Louis, one of the mother churches of the Missouri Synod… [I]t can be said that by and large the principle of congregational supremacy was applied in the early years of ‘Old Trinity’ and that it worked.”

    It is more likely something other than Missouri Synod polity, such as some combination of a Loeheist distaste for such polity, 20th century liberal theology, increased corporate mentality by Synodical leadership, and a disregard for theological training of the laity that has caused ecclesiastical supervision to fall by the wayside, giving us token voters assemblies and rubberstamp synodical conventions.

  6. Rev. Clint K. Poppe
    September 19th, 2013 at 11:54 | #6

    @Carl Vehse #5

    Carl, I would like to add one thing to your fine response. In my experience, it appears that fear of a lawsuit has kept many in the LCMS, (those who have been given the authority to deal with error) from doing the right thing according to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

    In Christ, Clint

  7. Carl Vehse
    September 19th, 2013 at 12:33 | #7

    Rev. Poppe,

    That’s a good point.

    We are also aware of what happened in 2002-3 to a confessional Missouri Synod Lutheran who took seriously his sworn responsibility as ecclesiastical supervisor, no matter what the personal cost.

    Today, YouTube is where the world can easily find a recent apology for even trying to be an ecclesiastical supervisor.

  8. September 20th, 2013 at 04:50 | #8

    @Carl Vehse #7

    Off track a bit, perhaps, but as long as you alluded to Pastor Wallace Schulz being fired for doing his job, I’d like to point out the Lutheran Hour to this very day has not apologized for that. They claim that the guilty parties have moved on and they are now staffed by new, innocent folks, who cannot possibly apologize, so we should just move along. I count it all but σκύβαλα! They are responsible for the institution they inherited. Much more healing would take place, even this late, if LHM would show some sign of repentance for its sin against Wally Schulz. I mean, even President Benke claims he repented…

  9. TimS
    September 23rd, 2013 at 04:02 | #9

    Pastor Ted Crandall :@Chris #2
    I’m sorry you felt the need to leave, especially just before the LCMS began returning, albeit slowly. I imagine it was a painful move for you.
    Maybe I’m mistaken, but isn’t it true that WELS is also battling liberalism in her midst? For instance, isn’t Church Growth on the rise and, a a result, a number of your congregations have worship services that are hardly recognizable as Lutheran?
    From what I hear, Wisconsin isn’t as pure as she used to be either…

    WELS may be more legalistic, but it most certainly isn’t more conservative than the LCMS. You should read what Pr. Rolf Preus went through with their sister church body, the ELS, on his website http://christforus.org

  10. TimS
    September 23rd, 2013 at 04:06 | #10

    LaMarr Blecker :Seminex at Forty: these men are at or nearing retirement age.

    There are pastors who will still serve, at least part-time or as vacancy pastors, into their eighties though.

  11. September 23rd, 2013 at 19:05 | #11

    I wonder if a split isn’t somewhere down the road for the LCMS, as well as a few other denominations who are having these internal battles.

    When will the church learn that fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin, and that following the world only leads to the withering of the church???

  12. Carl Vehse
    September 23rd, 2013 at 19:55 | #12

    @J. Dean #11 : “When will the church learn that fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin, and that following the world only leads to the withering of the church???

    Well, the Synod is not a church. And as for the Synod learning that fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin, even if the Synod learns it, there is not likely to be ecclesiastical supervision to act on it.

    In addition to all of the examples on the ACELC site, there is also the Synod’s (and one RSO’s) hawking of the Gang-of-Eight immigration bill, not to mention the infant communion (aka, early communion) mantra within the LCMS.

  13. September 27th, 2013 at 00:14 | #13

    @TimS #10
    Yes, it is true, many from the Seminex have or are retiring and yes, they will still serve as vacancy pastors. Please don’t forget about all the clones these guys have cultivated that are in the 40′s and 50′s and even younger, if not right out of St. Louis.

    It is a false hope to think that retirement is going to fix our problems.

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