It’s Time and Unnecessary Wrangling. What is the State of the Synod?

April 9th, 2014 Post by

koin 2In this article regarding the ACELC a commenter makes an excellent point, writing “…the district would not feel the need to hide such things…”.

I think the comment raises a real issue we have in the synod over transparency. President Harrison certainly talked quite a bit about how the IC ought to have an open door policy, but where is this transparency? For example, the latest updates coming out of the IC regarding the KP have not been anything other than obscure.

President Matt Harrison states in his “It’s Time” a solution to working out the issues we face in the LC-MS today:

“It is time for us to move beyond political efforts and especially generalities.” It is time to stop “beating around the bush.” It is time for a serious, decade-long effort—a non-politically organized and driven effort to regain theological and practical unity in the Synod.23 This route is the hard route. It will take time and effort. It will take courage. It will take men and women of integrity. It will also result in a Synod 85% united and on the path to even greater unity, precisely at a moment when such unity is needed like never before—so that we can cease the incessant, internal wrangling, and take advantage of the open doors which the Lord is holding before us. The Lord’s mission of the Gospel will advance toward eternity, despite us. He’ll get it done with or without us. If we turn from that sacred mission, he will raise up others to accomplish it. Will we be part of it? (ibid. p. 10)”

I have personally sought to ask hard questions of our Synod President* (questions dealing with the state of the KP and over issues such as what is being done about Dr. Matt Becker and others openly confessing women’s ordination) and I was met with resistance to answer any questions thought to involve “unnecessary wrangling.” Is it really unnecessary wrangling to ask what the President of the Synod is doing at a national level to fix these rather large, albeit extremely difficult, problems such as those pointed at by the ACELC?

Speaking as a layman who sees many problems at work in the Synod, I would like to know what is being done to publicly address these very public problems. However, what I am finding is that there is little to no transparency at the IC and Matt Harrison doesn’t seem willing to publicly engage these issues. Now I understand that recently it was made clear that the Synod President should not be meddling in the business of districts (we see this with the whole apology fiasco occurring over the Sandy Hook ordeal where an LCMS pastor engaged in unionism and was reproved by Harrison).

However, and if I am not mistaken, the Synod President can still publicly uphold the Confession of the LC-MS and ask the COP to do the same. So, why isn’t this happening with regard to hard issues facing the synod? We see enough statements coming out of the IC regarding the Boy Scouts, abortion, and homosexuality, but where are the public statements responding to the heterodox practices going on in the synod itself? I personally haven’t seen them and when seeking to get some answers on some of these issues, I have been shut down. So much for transparency.

Where is the courage? What happened to “not beating around the bush?”

It has been “time” for five years now and I don’t think it impatient, or unreasonable, to ask our synod President for a straight forward update on what is being done at a national level to publicly address real problems facing the synod. Problems which are, in fact, dividing us.

It is my hope and prayer that we can at least arrive at the 80% unity President Harrison thought possible five years ago, but unless there is the open and frank conversation he said we should conduct, then I don’t see how that is possible.

*Edit: I approached President Harrison to answer some questions in an interview for Steadfast Lutherans. 






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  1. Carol Broome
    April 9th, 2014 at 17:39 | #1

    Well, one thing that President Harrison is doing, if the following entry from June of 2013 in Matthew Becker’s blog is accurate (and it does sound plausible to me, though I have no certain knowledge of whether it is or is not), is calling for swift and clear responses to difficult issues via normal channels:
    http://matthewlbecker.blogspot.com/2013_06_01_archive.html

  2. Carol Broome
    April 9th, 2014 at 19:16 | #2

    And really, what are WE doing?
    Are we just calling on the SP to fix things, or are we digging in to fix them ourselves?

    We haven’t even gotten ULCMN back into a sanctuary of their own yet. We should.

  3. April 10th, 2014 at 09:03 | #3

    A few years ago I was an LCMS circuit lay delegate. The LCMS constitution said I was to be a “Resource Person” and assist in implementing resolutions in the Circuit.

    I’m not even sure what “Resource Person” means. I sure don’t know how to implement resolutions (doesn’t that mean to make sure they are followed?). When I asked some questions of some former pastors of a nearby congregation which had thrown out four pastors in a row and brought their statements of the congregation’s actions to the attention of the District President, the District President Ray Mirly told my pastor (our then-Circuit Counselor) that this was none of my business. How do you become a “Resource Person” if you’re not supposed to talk to anyone?

  4. April 10th, 2014 at 09:07 | #4

    Carol Broome :Well, one thing that President Harrison is doing, if the following entry from June of 2013 in Matthew Becker’s blog is accurate (and it does sound plausible to me, though I have no certain knowledge of whether it is or is not), is calling for swift and clear responses to difficult issues via normal channels:http://matthewlbecker.blogspot.com/2013_06_01_archive.html

    LCMS District President Dave Benke and LCMS-rostered Dr. Matthew Becker only yesterday stated that Willow Creek Association and their Daystar organization are not schismatic, but claim that the ACELC is. I am no longer registered on the ALPB forum but I did copy the text.

  5. Martin R. Noland
    April 10th, 2014 at 13:22 | #5

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    We should be careful in ascribing the name of “schismatic” to anyone, just like we should avoid ascribing the name of “heretic” to them when it is not true. I could not see that in the text quoted that Becker or Benke called anyone “schismatics,” though they may have elsewhere.

    “Heretic” and “schismatic” are useful terms of description and should not be used in a calumnious way, because then they lose their usefulness.

    Churches have different definitions, but I think it is safe to say that orthodox-confessional-conservative Lutherans would accept the definitions given by Johann Gerhard in his book On the Church (tr. Richard Dinda, ed. Benjamin Mayes [St Louis: CPH, 2010]; can be ordered online at: http://www.cph.org).

    Here are some relevant quotes:

    “Those who depart from bishops who have fallen into heresy are not schismatics, because in this way they are going over to the church catholic” (ibid., 95).

    “At times, whole assemblies that adhere to their pastors are torn away from each other. Nevertheless these do not immediately become schismatic. Regarding Bishop Victor of Rome, Eusebius mentions that because of the controversy over Easter he tried to cut off all the parishes of Asia, along with the neighboring churches, from the unity of fellowship, as if they were holding an alien belief. But the bishops of Europe, such as Irenaeus and others, did not immediately judge that either the Roman or Asian church was schismatic because they continued to maintain communion with Victor and did not abstain from communion with Asians. This they would not have done if they had judged either one schismatic.” (ibid., 95-96).

    “In a simple schism that occurs without any corruptions of doctrine, in such a way that it is doubtful who caused the schism, before it is legitimately judged, there is no doubt that its adherents belong to the church, as Gerson testifies” (ibid., 96).

    “Antiquity has distinguised heretics from schismatics for precisely this reason: heresy by erring overturns the foundation of faith and salvation; schism is lacking in those things that surround an unharmed foundation” (ibid., 96).

    A longer discussion of these issues may be found in Werner Elert, Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries, tr. Norman Nagel (St Louis: CPH. 1966).

    My understanding of these issues has been that, with regard to altar fellowship, I am obligated to commune any member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod who is in good standing with their congregation–whether or not I like them or have a personal disagreement with them—and whether or not they have said things that seem to me to be preposterous, if not heretical.

    If I am convinced that they fall into the category of “heretic,” then I will continue to commune them, but also follow the adjudicatory procedures offered for dealing with that (i.e., the Dispute Resolution Process). Withholding of the sacrament should only take place after due process has been followed and completed, with some final judgment against the individual or group involved.

    I am sorry that I cannot be of more assistance, since I do not read the Daystar blog or the ALPB Forum blog, except on occasion when someone draws my attention to it.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  6. Ginny Valleau
    April 10th, 2014 at 21:57 | #6

    Martin R. Noland :
    My understanding of these issues has been that, with regard to altar fellowship, I am obligated to commune any member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod who is in good standing with their congregation–whether or not I like them or have a personal disagreement with them—and whether or not they have said things that seem to me to be preposterous, if not heretical.

    If I am convinced that they fall into the category of “heretic,” then I will continue to commune them, but also follow the adjudicatory procedures offered for dealing with that (i.e., the Dispute Resolution Process). Withholding of the sacrament should only take place after due process has been followed and completed, with some final judgment against the individual or group involved.

    Dr. Noland,

    I want to be sure I understand what you are saying when you say that you are “…obligated to commune any member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod who is in good standing with their congregation–whether or not I like them or have a personal disagreement with them—and whether or not they have said things that seem to me to be preposterous, if not heretical.”

    We now have many variations of congregations in the LCSM, including those who provide minimum instruction before giving the Lord’s Supper. Are you saying that if an LCMS member (in good standing with his congregation) presented himself to you and said he does not believe he is receiving the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, that you would commune him?

    And you would continue to commune that person while you follow the Dispute Resolution Process?

    “…anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself…” I Cor 11:29

    Does the LCMS Altar Fellowship policy trump God’s Word? Or, are you merely citing the LCMS Altar Fellowship policy for our information?

    God’s Blessings in Christ Jesus,
    Ginny Valleau
    Independence, MO

  7. Tim S.
    April 11th, 2014 at 02:41 | #7

    Here’s another one: C.F.W. Walther — The True Visible Church and the Form of a Christian Congregation, pp. 31-32. Quoting Hollaz: “Are schismatics true members of the church? I answer: Those who knowingly, willingly, maliciously, contrary to their own conscience, and moved by admiration of their own virtues and the purpose to offend others, incite trouble in the church, are not true members of the church. Schismatics, properly so called, are those who voluntarily and deliberately separate themselves from the church and cause divisions in it without any just cause, purposing only to disrupt its unity.”

    Dr. Noland,

    President Benke has called the ACELC schismatic many, many times. So has CPH’s Publisher Paul McCain.

  8. April 11th, 2014 at 09:29 | #8

    Since the ACELC sent out its Letter of Fraternal Admonition in July 2010, the term “schismatic” has frequently been applied to our efforts to bring about greater unity in doctrine and practice in our Synod. It has been and continues to be an inaccurate and inappropriate application to our association. Why?

    schism: From the Greek word schisma meaning to divide, cleave asunder, or tear; and is normally used to describe the work of false doctrine’s effect on the church (I Cor. 1:10, 11:18, 12:25)

    The declaration of truth cannot cause a schism, only falsehood as it is the role and purpose of truth to unite the Church.

    It is simply not possible to be schismatic if what you are doing is proclaiming God’s Word in all its truth and purity. Indeed, this is the very thing that ultimately unites the Church. What has happened is that because the ACELC has POINTED TO ERROR and affirmed the truth, we have been falsely labeled “Schismatic”. The truth simply cannot do anything but unite the Church. It is error that divides the church and brings about a schism.

    C.F.W. Walther addressed this issue in his fourth evening lecture in his, “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel” when he wrote:

    “When a theologian is asked to yield and make concessions so that peace may at last be established in the Church, yet if he refuses to budge on even a single point of doctrine – to
    human reason this looks like excessive stubbornness, even like downright evil intent. This is why such theologians are rarely loved or praised during their lifetime. On the contrary, they are scolded as disturbers of the peace or even as destroyers of the kingdom of God. They are regarded as men worthy of contempt. But at the end of the day it becomes clear that the very determined, unfailing tenacity of these theologians as they cling to the pure teaching of the divine Word by no means tears down the Church. On the contrary, it is this very attitude that – even amid the greatest dissension – builds up the Church and ultimately brings about genuine peace.

    Therefore, woe to the Church if it has no men of this stripe – men who would stand watch on the ramparts of Zion, sounding the alarm whenever a foe threatens to rush the walls, men who would rally to the banner of Jesus Christ, ready for a holy war!

    Imagine what would have happened if Athanasius had made a slight concession regarding the doctrine of the deity of Christ. What if he had compromised with the Arians and had put their conscience at ease? …Similarly, imagine what would have happened if Augustine had made even a slight concession regarding the doctrine of free will, if he had denied the total incapacity of man for all matters spiritual…Finally, imagine what would have happened if Luther had made a slight concession regarding the doctrine of the Holy Supper…

    Let us, therefore, bless all the faithful champions who have fought for every point of Christian doctrine, unconcerned about the favor of men and disregarding their threats. Their worldly disgrace, though it often was great, has not been borne in vain. People cursed them, but they continued to bear their testimony until death, and now they wear the crown of glory and enjoy the blissful communion of Christ, of all the angels and the elect. Their labor and fierce battling has not been in vain. For even now, some 1,500 years or – in the latter case – some several centuries later, the Church is reaping what these faithful champions sowed.

    Let us then, my friends, likewise hold fast the treasure of pure doctrine. Do not consider it strange if on that account you must bear reproach just as they did. Consider that the word of
    Sirach 4:33, ‘Even unto death fight for justice, and God will overthrow your enemies for you,’ will come true in our case as well. Let this be your slogan: ‘Fight to the death on behalf of the
    truth, and the Lord will fight for you!'” (Law & Gospel: How To Read and Apply the Bible, p. 33-35, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO, 2010)

    The reality of the matter is that the ACELC has really answered President Harrison’s call in his “It’s Time!” document. On page 11 it says of the Koinonia Project:

    “In fact, given the current status of things, it might be best if this group were to form of its own accord, and thus without the accusation or even the suspicion of machination.” (It’s Time, p. 11)

    It is my opinion that slowly, Confessional people in our Synod are beginning to see that the Koinonia Project has been somewhat hijacked by the Council of Presidents (COP). First by the imposition of the findings of the “Harmony Task Force” as part and parcel of the Koinonia Project (inclusive of its insistence that a “theology of diversity” be developed), and second by never-ending time frame of the process. We do not yet have a final draft of the proposal. We do not yet have a Synodical Convention approving the currently non-existent final proposal. There is no mechanism in place as part of the proposals to come to a resolution of the issues the KP wishes to address and the COP will now (as part of the proposal development process) not even come up with a list of issues for at least a year!

    Please note that the entire process leading to the development for the Formula of Concord took about a year! (April 9 to June 7, 1576; and March 1–14, and in May, 1577) The issues that divide us are not that mysterious as we’ve been dealing with them for decades and any pastoral winkle would likely take no more than an hour and a half to draw up a good and accurate list of our issues.

    Additionally, the Synod has placed an unofficial moratorium on dealing with doctrinal issues until the Koinonia Project is done despite the fact that we have no idea when it will conclude and no what of knowing how it will end! The proof of this is the three official dissents the ACELC has filed with the CTCR who basically responded that we had to wait for an answer until the Koinonia Project finished their work.

    I might even suggest to you that such unwillingness to simply speak the Word of God to our issues is, perhaps, schismatic itself!

    Frankly, the ACELC is the only real “Koinonia Project” out there that is actually saying things clearly and in a timely fashion.

  9. R.D.
    April 11th, 2014 at 11:24 | #9

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #8
    I think ACELC got the schismatic label for these reasons and perhaps others:

    – Some are paranoid thinking the so-called “far right” is going to wreck everything. They probably also watch too much Foxnews

    – We don’t like what they have to say and/or we don’t like them rocking the boat.

    – Like Dr. Noland demonstrates in @Martin R. Noland #5 , many believe that not only is a synod church, but is in itself a norm. As Dr. Kloha claims in his paper that the Church judges what the scripture is, Dr. Noland claims bylaw this and bylaw that trump scripture. When faced with a conflict between what we men have bound ourselves to by popular vote and what scripture says we are to do, Lutherans go with what scripture says without question (and work to change the errant council). Those who believe the church is the norm, decide to do what the church says – apparently no matter what the wind direction or velocity was that day (even while working to change the errant council – or not).

    – Because ACELC is an acronym

    I hope I’m way off…I’d sure like to see evidence that I am

  10. April 11th, 2014 at 11:43 | #10

    Attention those posting about the ACELC.

    The original post and subject is not about the ACELC per se and why it has been reckoned by some as being schismatic. That is not the subject matter of this thread. So please do not continue to pursue the topic of the ACELC being schismatic. Again, that is off topic.

    I think Pr. Bolland should address the latest post by R.D. and then we should leave it there.

    Might I suggest that if we want to talk about the ACELC, that it is done in the context of whether or not the synod is being transparent? I think that will be fine.

    Thank you.

  11. R.D.
    April 11th, 2014 at 11:55 | #11

    @Jim Pierce #10
    My apologies, Mr. Pierce

  12. April 11th, 2014 at 11:57 | #12

    @R.D. #11

    Thank you, R.D. but no apology is needed. I just want to keep the train on the tracks. :)

  13. April 11th, 2014 at 11:58 | #13

    RD,

    It is my observation that there are essentially two classes of pastors and laymen in the Synod. There are theologians and there are institutionalists.

    The first group insists (quite rightly) that issues simply be decided on the basis of Scripture and our Confessions. The second group try to say that but, in fact, are more concerned about keeping a false “peace” in the LCMS by not raising issues and resolving them. They know that if the first group has its way that some in the Synod will leave it and thus disturb the “peace” of the institution. In other words for the second group, the material principle is that the “waters” of the Synod remain untroubled, while for the first group it is more along the lines of speak the truth, be faithful to Scripture and the Confessions and let the chips fall where they may.

    To be sure, the LCMS has needed a healthy split for a very long time. Somebody has to leave this Synod because our variance of doctrine and practice are simply too great at this point to reconcile. Perhaps Harrison is correct when he says that he believes that 85% of the Synod can be reconciled to the truth. I think he is wildly optimistic. Even if you accept the 85% number, that certainly implies that there is 15% of the Synod (approximately 345,000) who will go away. That’s significantly bigger than the approximately 200,000 that left following the Seminex debacle. Personally, I think the number is much larger assuming its the liberals who go away.

    I do not view such a split (regardless of the numbers you prefer) to be a bad thing at all, but a necessary realignment of Confessional Lutheranism in our Synod. Frankly, I really don’t give a rip which group leaves and I really don’t care about the numbers who leave regardless of whether or not the departees are the liberals or the Confessionals. What is NOT acceptable is the current status quo in which we just pretend to be a Synod when we are not, in fact, walking together at all but pretending that we are.

  14. John Rixe
    April 11th, 2014 at 12:26 | #14

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #13

    I think there is a third huge group (perhaps the majority) which is really busy at the local church and school and which you ably describe as follows:

    “First, I fully agree with you that many laymen and church workers are quite unaware (some willfully) of the now heterodox nature of the LCMS. The Synod they joined many years ago has changed and is not the Synod it once was. Many simply do not follow the actions of Synodical conventions at all and could care less. As long as their pastor is faithful, or they have come to accept the errors in their own congregations as acceptable, then to them, the Synod is just fine.”

    (I believe this is still on topic)

  15. April 11th, 2014 at 12:49 | #15

    John,

    Yes, that is a third large group…essentially the theologically ignorant who are also politically uninformed sometimes on purpose because they just don’t like trouble in their church body and would simply rather not deal with it. There are also knowledgeable pastors who intentionally withhold any information from their congregations so as not to deal with the trouble that may come from actually facing the issues.

    Sooner or later a pastor either dies, retires, or takes a call elsewhere so those with a faithful pastor who have convinced themselves that they won’t deal with the Synod as long as their local situation is OK, will suddenly discover at call time that it is a whole new ball game and you really have no idea what kind of pastor you’re going to get.

  16. helen
    April 11th, 2014 at 13:20 | #16

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #13
    Even if you accept the 85% number, that certainly implies that there is 15% of the Synod (approximately 345,000) who will go away. That’s significantly bigger than the approximately 200,000 that left following the Seminex debacle. Personally, I think the number is much larger assuming its the liberals who go away.

    I have wondered, ever since I first heard that “85%”, if it was really the liberals who were expected to “go away”. Given subsequent actions, including but not limited to the “women’s ordination” proponents openly conducting conferences; the promise that practices “settled” by the constitution (e.g., open communion) may be “discussed without retribution for the people politicking for them”; the fact that “transforming churches” is no longer an RSO but still operates freely to undermine Lutheran doctrine and practice; and (finally for now) some of the left wing political enterprise by “independent” (?) organizations [not so independent as to lack board members close to/in the IC] what may one reasonably project in “10 years of talk” followed by no scheduled return to Lutheran principles?

    Sorry about the very “Germanic” sentence!

  17. John Rixe
    April 11th, 2014 at 13:51 | #17

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #15

    Yes, that is a third large group…essentially the theologically ignorant who are also politically uninformed sometimes on purpose because they just don’t like trouble in their church body and would simply rather not deal with it.

    …or those with so many challenges and opportunities locally, there is little time or energy left to worry about synod politics.  Do you denigrate folks who have to deal with leaks in the bell tower, huge ethnic and language changes in the neighborhood, meeting a school payroll, etc?  I know you don’t, but can you blame laymen for wondering why clergy can’t get along?  Why aren’t the seminaries turning out graduates who are all sitting in the same pew? :)

  18. April 11th, 2014 at 14:45 | #18

    I denigrate no one. If I were to call someone stupid, that would be a denigration. There is no shame in ignorance (simply not knowing something.) There’s a ton of things about which I am completely ignorant but that in no way makes me stupid. Now if your argument is that lots of laymen are simply too busy tending to things at the local congregation that they have not time nor inclination nor desire to become aware of the things that trouble our Synod, that is quite a different matter.

    It is the pastor’s call to teach theology to his people. It is the people’s obligation to learn from him. If many think themselves so busy doing repair work that they can’t spare the hour for the Sunday morning adult Bible class, then the problem lies with the layman. If the pastor is so arrogant as to think his people too stupid to understand theology, then hubris is the pastor’s problem.

    Surely the confirmation level of spiritual understanding – while adequate for entry into the communicant membership of the congregation – is not at all adequate for being a Christian adult and dealing with matters that, if taught properly by their pastor, are completely understandable to almost all people.

    It is one of the great tragedies of congregational life that so few take the opportunity to be taught during Sunday morning Bible class time. Worship is the center of congregational life from which all else flows, but Bible study under the guidance of a pastor, is the critical lifeblood of the congregation.

    It is my experience over nearly 30 years of being a pastor that about 80% of my voter’s assembly comes from those who attend adult Bible class and it is the other 20% who make voter’s meetings absolutely miserable and a squabble. Also, about 80% of those who adequately provide financial support of the congregation are also those who attend adult Bible class on a regular basis. That has held true in every congregation I have ever served – large or small. I’d be willing to bet that most other pastors have the same observation and experience. Additionally, I estimate that about 80% of my congregational officers also come from those who attend adult Bible class.

    Laymen ignore the theological problems of the Synod at their own peril! While the pastor they have may be a good and faithful man, he will either die, retire, or take a call somewhere else. Then what? Are you going to trust your Church Growth District President to provide a good call list to you of traditional, Confessional, liturgical men? Good luck with that! Any call committee made up of theologically ignorant men and/or women are ill-equipped to deal with those matters and may well end up with a pastor who thinks that the Transforming Churches Network is just the cat’s meow and very soon you will be raising your children in a congregation where they will learn precious little about what being a Lutheran really means and probably even less theology.

  19. April 11th, 2014 at 14:59 | #19

    John Rixie,

    A laity ignorant of their own confession of faith is a breeding ground for false doctrine. With all the wonderful technological tools we have at hand, there is little excuse for not reading our confession of faith, at least reading the Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession. Yes, pastors have the call to publicly teach, but as laymen we can educate ourselves through the resources our pastors give to us.

    I have often heard from others that they might not be able to put their finger exactly on why a teaching is in error, but they recognize error in a teaching because they have read our Lutheran confession of faith.

    As laymen, if we aren’t interested in learning about our own confession, then I say we deserve every doctrinal error tearing apart our congregations and synod. Believe you me, the false teachers are busy peddling their tripe. We aren’t going to recognize their crap teachings if we don’t know what it is that we do confess as the truth of Holy Scripture. Ignorance is on us as laymen. I’m not letting pastors off the hook, but I can tell you from experience that many pastors are all too eager to teach those showing an interest in our confession.

  20. Jais H. Tinglund
    April 11th, 2014 at 15:29 | #20

    helen :
    Sorry about the very “Germanic” sentence!

    As far as I am concerned, the ability to master Germanic sentences is by no means an item of intellectual equipment for the possession of which anyone should in any way, shape or form at any time feel compelled to apologise – gewesen sein sollten haben – or something …

  21. Randy
    April 11th, 2014 at 15:34 | #21

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #18

    @Jim Pierce #19

    Rev. Bolland & Jim,

    You both make excellent points that hit close to home.

    I left my former church after unsuccessfully fighting heterodox practices (ecclesiastical supervision didn’t exist at any level). The pastor in my current church is retiring very soon. The laity in my congregation have little or no concept of the issues that exist throughout the synod. To some, that may seem wonderful – “ignorance is bliss.” Of course, we know that in reality, ignorance is simply ignorance and often leads to the spread of unorthodox Doctrine and Practices. My wife and I often have discussions about what some in our congregation may think of us as we share our past experiences. They are wonderful, wonderful people, but sometimes they look at us like we’re from Mars.

    Anyway, the laity MUST educate themselves well enough to identify error in Doctrine and Practice. Take very good care of your confessional pastors and try to correct those that have strayed.

    Every confessional/orthodox church is one Call away from disaster.

  22. April 12th, 2014 at 10:13 | #22

    Catechesis: The Quiet Crisis

    William E. Thompson

    “It did not take long for me to realize that the faithful members of
    this study-group did not have Luther’s Catechism as a basis on which to
    stand. They had either forgotten through disuse what they had learned of the
    Catechism or they had simply never been taught the Catechism in the first
    place. I then asked for a show of hands by those members of the class who
    had learned the Catechism before confirmation. To my shock, only two out of
    a group of about twenty-five had been catechized with the Small Catechism.
    The common reference-point which I naively assumed would be there in any
    congregation to which I was called was not there.

    http://www.lutheransonline.com/lo/364/FSLO-1308359364-111364.pdf

    @Jim Pierce #19

    @Randy #21

  23. Randy
    April 12th, 2014 at 11:13 | #23

    @Mark Huntemann #22

    Mark,

    Good reference, thanks. A lack of proper catechesis is certainly a significant contributing cause for the current state of the Synod.

    I believe the LCMS has been “Building it’s house upon the sand” for quite some time and the rain is now beginning to fall………

  24. helen
    April 12th, 2014 at 11:24 | #24

    @Jais H. Tinglund #20
    …gewesen sein sollten haben – or something …

    LOL! :)

    @Randy #21
    Every confessional/orthodox church is one Call away from disaster.

    Sadly true, and in large part because of the reluctance to learn Catechism in Confirmation or anything else afterward. So they can be “sold” anything!

  25. April 12th, 2014 at 11:29 | #25

    Ignorance is the fertile field plowed by Heretics!

  26. Jeff Stillman
    April 14th, 2014 at 10:00 | #26

    Martin R. Noland : “Heretic” and “schismatic” are useful terms of description and should not be used in a calumnious way, because then they lose their usefulness.

    Wrong!!!

    The correct reason as to why these/any words should not be used in a calumnious way is because calumny is a sin.

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