Fraternal Letters….

May 6th, 2014 Post by

OrdinationAt the St. Louis Call Day Service, there was a additional covenant that was pledged to by the candidates receiving their calls.  Pastor Todd Wilken asked a question (“Why are we extracting promises from newly called men in addition to the ordination vows?“) on Facebook which resulted in a fraternal letter signed by 32 pastors accusing him of sin in the greatest degree.   Please read more about this at Pr. Wilken’s blog, The Bare Bulb.  Since then a number of other pastors have responded to these allegations of sin on Pr. Wilken’s part.  Here is a copy of the letter sent to the leaders of the LCMS (the same ones who received the letter accusing Pr. Wilken of grave sin).  You will note some very familiar names as well as some from here at BJS as signers of this letter.  The editors and authors of BJS remain committed to the defense and promotion of Confessional Lutheranism and its media.  I am sure there are many more who would have gladly signed on as well.

 

Misericordias Domini
May 4, 2014 +

Dear President Harrison, Members of the Presidium and Council of Presidents:

Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week were days for great celebration and optimism in our synod. Some two hundred seminarians from our St. Louis and Fort Wayne seminaries received pastoral calls and vicarage assignments for the sake of the Gospel. As a unique part of the call service at our St. Louis Seminary the candidates spoke a series of promises to each other as a part of a covenant to “live together, struggle together, rejoice together, forgive one another, and serve [Christ’s] kingdom together, with assistance of Christ himself.” This addition is troubling as there simply is no reason for it, but even more troubling is that the administration and faculty of the Seminary allowed such an addition to the Call service and celebrate it. These “promises” and “covenant” go beyond the clear and time tested vows candidates for the Ministry make at their ordination in our Synod and actually have promoted discord rather than harmony, which we will discuss below. The fault for this discord lies not with the students themselves, but rather the administration and faculty of the Seminary.

Hermann Sasse, in his great essay “Are We Still the Church of the Reformation?,” wrote, “Since Schleiermacher, theology has for many theologians consisted of the art of using the words of the church’s confession to teach the very opposite of what these confessions state. This untruthfulness, which arose out of a deep philosophical distress, lies like a curse upon theological scholarship, and since it forced its way from scholarship into the praxis of the church, it has poisoned ecclesiastical life. This is the sickness from which the Evangelical Lutheran Church suffers. It has so deeply corroded the church that people no longer have any idea how diseased this situation is. The common pastor of today no longer has any sense that it is a violation of the truth to teach the Sixth Chief Part in Luther’s Catechism, but to explain it in a Calvinistic fashion. Many church governments appear completely unconcerned that we cannot in the sight of God solemnly swear candidates to confessions when neither the one ordaining nor the ordinand really know what these confessions contain. Indeed, it even happens from time to time that they do not even know which confessions they are dealing with.”i

It cannot be questioned that there is a sickness within our synod. Evidence of this was seen at the Seminary on Tuesday night. This sickness is also evident in the quick reaction to a brother pastor who simply speaks what is true.

The Rev. Todd Wilken, Assistant Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Millstadt, IL, is also the host of the radio program Issues Etc. In a Facebook post Pastor Wilken simply asked, “Why are we extracting promises from newly called men in addition to their ordination vows?” This is a fair question which we, the undersigned, pray you investigate. However, a group of Pastors of our synod then wrote you a letter, subsequently made public by Pastor Wilken, accusing him of the following: “Our love for God ought to be matched by a strong advocacy for unity in the church. Rev. Wilken shows little such commitment. Without qualification, Rev. Wilken discredits the very intention of these seminarians to honor Christ who is the singular head of the body. Beyond putting the worst construction on their words, Rev. Wilken violates the very heart of Christ who prays in the hour of his death for the singularity of heart among those for whom he dies. (John 17) These seminarians stand on the precipice of confessing Christ to the world in the peculiar office of the Holy Ministry. They deserve our commendation and support.”

We, the undersigned, disagree. What these seminarians need is greater clarification to what the Ministerium of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is, and how our unity is found in sharing the very same ordination vows with nothing added and nothing taken away. Our unity is found in fraternally and lovingly confessing and practicing as one the truth of Scripture as set before us in our Confessions. These seminarians stand on the precipice of confessing Christ to the world, yet their added “covenant” and “promises” create disunity, for what they unintentionally have been allowed to do by the Seminary administration and faculty is make a distinction between themselves who have made such a “covenant” and “promises” and those who have not. Such distinctions are good neither for our synod or any in fellowship with us who have unconditionally subscribed to the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

What we reject is the notion that Pastor Wilken has sinned by asking a question or that he has done any of the things of which he is accused by the Pastors who wrote to you this past week.

We fraternally request that you take up the matter with them, for ironically, they have done the very thing which they have accused Pastor Wilken: broken the 8th commandment by false accusation.

Pastor Wilken by virtue of his position as host of the program Issues Etc. is without qualification a clear confessor of the unity of the church. The unity of the Church comes as a free gift through the Word of God, as Jesus clearly says in John 17:17-19, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” Pastor Wilken not only confesses the truth of Jesus in his calling as Assistant Pastor of Trinity Church, but daily to an audience around the world he professes the doctrine of Jesus, the Word of Truth. He works to undo the sickness among us where Pastors and people are unaware of our Lutheran Confessions and the Evangelical Lutheran practice that cannot be separated from them.

It would be good for you to review the actions and words of Pastor Wilken. Enjoy the shows! Drink deeply from the work he does, and commend him for it as we do. It would be good for the brothers who already wrote you to do this as well.

Especially, we fraternally request that the matter of this “covenant” and “promises” made by the St. Louis seminarians be reviewed and appropriate actions be taken by you with the administration and faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and such action reported to the Synod.

In a sermon on John 2, Martin Luther preached, “If, (as is said), I judge harshly, what else should I do? It is my duty to preach the Word of God and to tear to pieces the work of the devil, as I do in Absolution.”ii

We give thanks to God for Pastor Wilken as he does his duty and tears to pieces the work of the devil by faithfully preaching and teaching the Word of God as Assistant Pastor of Trinity, Millstadt and as host of Issues Etc.

In Christ,

[In alphabetical order]

The Rev. Eric Andersen
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
Summit, Illinois &
Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church
Hodgkins, Illinois

The Rev. Dustin Anderson
Zion Lutheran Church
Carlinville, Illinois

The Rev. Randy Asburry
Hope Lutheran Church
St. Louis, Missouri

The Rev. Benjamin Ball
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Hamel, Illinois

The Rev. Joshua Ball
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
Memphis, Michigan

The Rev. Larry Beane
Salem Lutheran Church
Gretna, Louisiana

The Rev. Paul Beisel
Immanuel Lutheran Church
Iowa Falls, Iowa

The Rev. Roger Gallup
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
River Grove, Illinois

The Rev. Micah R. Gaunt
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Ravenna, Nebraska &
Zion Lutheran Church
Shelton, Nebraska

The Rev. William Gleason
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Hamel, Illinois

The Rev. Mark Hein
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Lockport, Illinois

The Rev. Dr. Steven Hein
Shepherd of the Springs Lutheran Church
Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Rev. Jeffrey Hemmer
Bethany Lutheran Church
Fairview Heights, Illinois

The Rev. Stephen M. Heuser
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
Bensenville, Illinois

The Rev. Daniel Hinton
Trinity Lutheran Church
Cheyenne, Wyoming

The Rev. Brian G. Holle
Messiah Lutheran Church
Lebanon, Illinois

The Rev. Bruce Ley
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Albany, Oregon

The Rev. Craig Meissner
Immanuel Lutheran Church
Steger, Illinois

The Rev. Thomas C. Messer
Peace Lutheran Church
Alma, Michigan

The Rev. Robert Niehus
Christ Lutheran Church
Oak Park, Illinois

Rev. Daniel F. Ognoskie
Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Dwight, Illinois

The Rev. Todd Peperkorn
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rocklin, California

The Rev. Clint K. Poppe
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Lincoln, Nebraska

The Rev. Mark D. Post
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Michael
Chicago, Illinois &
Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church of the U.A.C.
Franklin Park, Illinois

The Rev. David Ramirez
Zion Lutheran Church
Lincoln, Illinois

The Rev. Stuart Rethwisch
St. John’s Lutheran Church
Victor, Iowa

The Rev. Ronald Rock
Zion Lutheran Church
Beecher, Illinois

The Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow
Bethany Lutheran Church
Naperville, Illinois

The Rev. Joshua V. Scheer
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Cheyenne, Wyoming

The Rev. Timothy D. Schellenbach
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Elmwood Park, Wisconsin

The Rev. Michael Schuermann
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Sherman, Illinois

The Rev. Kurt Ulmer
Shepherd of Peace Lutheran Church
Braidwood, Illinois

The Rev. Anthony Voltattorni
Zion Lutheran Church
Marshall, Michigan

i  Hermann Sasse, “Are We Still the Church of the Reformation?”, The Lonely Way, Volume 1 (1927-1939) Translated
by Matthew C. Harrison. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2002), 476.
ii  Luther’s Works. Volume 58. Edited by Christopher Boyd Brown. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House , 2010),
87.


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  1. May 8th, 2014 at 05:40 | #1

    Mark Huntemann :The section of the bylaws is too long to print here in full, so only excerpts are quoted below.

    You’re quoting that Dispute Resolution Process that does.not.work?

  2. helen
    May 8th, 2014 at 06:18 | #2

    @Tim Schenks #50
    “You’re quoting that Dispute Resolution Process that does.not.work?”

    It works perfectly… for its intended purpose …

    To solve a problem according to Scripture … “not so much”

    Pastor Scheer: Thank you!

  3. May 8th, 2014 at 17:30 | #3

    Tim Schenks :

    Mark Huntemann :The section of the bylaws is too long to print here in full, so only excerpts are quoted below.

    You’re quoting that Dispute Resolution Process that does.not.work?

    Is this document still current? This explained so much “trash” absolute power to DISTRIC Presidents. Unbelievable! The document is just 17 pages long and the print is very large. How could the Laity let something so evil come to pass? If this is still true……. Just Damn!

    Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations
    X. Dispute Resolution

  4. May 9th, 2014 at 05:18 | #4

    Maybe It’s Just Me

    Posted by Todd Wilken on May 8, 2014

    32 pastors recently wrote a letter accusing me of various sins.

    Now, the same 32 are demanding that I remove the link to their letter from this blog.

    They say that their letter is private.

    This is odd, given the fact that their letter was circulated to the 40+ men who make up the LCMS Presidium and Council of Presidents. At the same time, they didn’t contact me, send me a copy of their letter, or even inform me of their accusations.

    I tried to find their definition of “private” in the dictionary, but the book burst into flames.

    Also, the 32 are demanding that I remove everything I have written here and elsewhere about their letter and accusations.

    Look, the 32 are entitled to their opinion of me; they are free to accuse me of whatever they like. But —and maybe it’s just me— I don’t think it’s wise for me to agree to a gag order imposed by them.

    Read the 32 pastors’ letter here.

    May 1, 2014 Thursday of Easter 2

    Dear President Harrison, Members of the Presidium and Council of Presidents:

    Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were days for great celebration and optimism in our synod. Some two hundred seminarians from our St. Louis and Fort Wayne seminaries received pastoral calls and vicarage assignments by the Lord of the Church for the sake of the Gospel. As a unique part of the call service at our St. Louis seminary the candidates spoke a series of promises regarding churchmanship and the charity and integrity which would mark their ministries. The students made promises to each other as a part of a covenant to “live together, struggle together, rejoice together, forgive one another, and serve [Christ’s] kingdom together, with the assistance of Christ Himself.” These promises are nothing less than simple confessions of biblical commandments and commitments and should therefore be applauded (cf. Psalm 133:1; Galatians 6:2; Romans 12:15; Colossians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 3:9).

    Sadly, less than twenty-four hours later, a prominent voice in our synod, Rev. Todd Wilken, impugned the character of these men and undermined the churchmanship they sought to nurture. Rev. Wilken posted a Facebook comment which asked, “Why are we extracting promises from newly called men in addition to the ordination vows?” Below his post was a link to the covenant unanimously made by the graduating seminarians. This Facebook post set off a firestorm of comments, some in support of and others expressing concern with Rev. Wilken’s comment.
    On the one hand, a concern arises regarding the Eighth Commandment. Simply put, our seminarians endeavor to undo the divisive conversation that is increasingly commonplace in our synod. Their public covenant to behave in a manner consistent with Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians provides no room for censure from anyone. Rather, as indicated by the standing ovation offered by the entirety of the LCMS Council of Presidents, these young pastors-in- training deserve our unconditional praise.

    From another perspective, a concern arises regarding the First Commandment. Our love for God ought to be matched by a strong advocacy for unity in the church. Rev. Wilken shows little such commitment. Without qualification, Rev. Wilken discredits the very intention of these seminarians to honor Christ who is the singular head of the body. Beyond putting the worst construction on their words, Rev. Wilken violates the very heart of Christ who prays in the hour of His death for the singularity of heart among those for whom He dies. (John 17) These seminarians stand on the precipice of confessing Christ to the world in the peculiar Office of the Holy Ministry. They deserve our commendation and support.
    We, the undersigned, wish to add our voices to those who are concerned with Rev. Wilken’s Facebook comments about the covenant made by these graduating seminarians.

    If we truly believe what we say about God’s Word in the ordination vow, we must make the most of every opportunity to confess this Word. Indeed, this is part of what it means to be “confessional.” Hermann Sasse, in his great essay, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” defines a confession thusly: “[A confession] is to be understood, first of all, as the answer that is evoked by God’s revelation of Himself, faith’s answer to the received Word of God.”1 The covenant spoken by the students of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis is nothing other than an answer of faith, evoked by God’s revelation of Himself in His Word. It should be treated and characterized as such.
    As Christians, we are called to be very careful how we speak, as Proverbs 13:3 exhorts us: “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” This biblical admonition includes using great care with our words on forums such as Facebook. After all, in all our conversations on this popular public forum, but especially in those that are explicitly theological and ecclesiological in nature, we have the opportunity to confess Christ and seek unity in the body of Christ. [Ephesians 4:3]

    In a sermon on James 1, Martin Luther admonishes, “He who would be a Christian must be prepared to avoid evil and do good, to seek peace, to refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile, and must commit himself to God.”2 Luther himself, of course, was known to engage in quite colorful speech from time to time. But his admonition is well taken. We must be careful how we speak, for we are called to speak nothing less than the Word of God and the gospel of Christ – the holy Christian and apostolic faith.

    In light of this, we fraternally request that the matter with Rev. Wilken be reviewed and appropriate actions be taken.

    In Christ,

    1 Hermann Sasse, “Jesus Christ is Lord: The Church’s Original Confession,” We Confess Anthology, Norman Nagel, ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 10.
    2 Martin Luther, The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. 7, John Nicholas Lenker, ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2000), 290.

    [In alphabetical order]

    Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Ahlersmeyer Holy Cross Lutheran Church
    Fort Wayne, Indiana

    Rev. Jeffrey Alexander Mount Olive Lutheran Church Greenwood, Indiana

    Rev. Terry D. Beltz Trinity Lutheran Church Franktown, Colorado

    Rev. Mark Brandt
    St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Frankenmuth, Michigan

    Rev. Craig Bickel Immanuel Lutheran Church
    Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Rev. David A. Davis
    St. Luke Lutheran Church Haslett, Michigan

    Rev. Al Doering
    Christ the King Lutheran Church Kingwood, Texas

    Rev. Dr. Michael A.L. Eckelkamp St. John’s Lutheran Church Denver, Colorado

    Rev. Robert Goodwin
    Grace Lutheran Church Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin

    Rev. Greg S. Griffith Immanuel Lutheran Church Macomb, Michigan

    Rev. Keith Grimm
    Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church La Vista, Nebraska

    Rev. Jason M. Haynes
    Gracious Savior Lutheran Church Edwards, Colorado

    Rev. Stephen Hower St. John Church Ellisville, Missouri

    Rev. Jeremy Jacoby
    Summit of Peace Lutheran Church Thornton, Colorado

    Rev. Timothy Klinkenberg St. John’s Lutheran Church Orange, California

    Rev. Dr. William Knippa Bethany Lutheran Church Austin, Texas

    Rev. David Langewisch Bethlehem Lutheran Church Lakewood, Colorado

    Rev. Eric Majeski
    Grace Lutheran Fellowship Romeo, Michigan

    Rev. Dr. Michael Paulison
    The Experience Church/ Mission Experience Aurora, Colorado

    Rev. Thomas Pfotenhauer Woodbury Lutheran Church Woodbury, Minnesota

    Rev. Timothy Runtsch Redeemer Lutheran Church Fort Collins, Colorado

    Rev. Daniel Schepmann Gloria Dei Lutheran Church Houston, Texas

    Rev. Jeffrey Schrank Christ Church Lutheran Phoenix, Arizona

    Rev. Mark Schulz Trinity Lutheran Church Lisle, Illinois

    Rev. Dr. Scott Seidler Concordia Lutheran Church Kirkwood, Missouri

    Rev. Dr. David Smith
    St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Des Peres, Missouri

    Rev. Dr. Thomas Teske Concordia Lutheran Church Lakewood, Colorado

    Rev. John Thieme
    Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church Longmont, Colorado

    Rev. Daniel P. Thews Faith Lutheran Church Appleton, Wisconsin

    Rev. Gary Timm
    Gethsemane Lutheran Church Northglenn, Colorado

    Rev. William Tucker Concordia Lutheran Church San Antonio, Texas

    Rev. William R. Woolsey CrossPoint Community Church Katy, Texas

  5. May 9th, 2014 at 09:52 | #5

    @Mark Huntemann #4
    I call “balderdash” on that. They got caught overreacting to Pastor Wilken’s question, and are getting flak for it, so they’re trying to backpedal.

  6. Big Boy
    May 9th, 2014 at 14:22 | #6

    Disheartening to see. My wife enjoyed going to the church of one of the men on this list as an alternative.

    I had my doubts about him. Consider them confirmed.

    Moderator, if the below should be brought up in private, please delete.

    He burns through associate pastors as is, that was warning number one. I heard him offer a freshly graduated seminarian a 1 year contract with lots of ifs. He had the audacity to say in the middle of communion “Nice family Dude!!” But I can’t remember if he said “Body of Christ shed for you”. That was really awkward. Come up to me after and compliment me, not when I am having to eat the body of my savior because I am a horrible sinner. Then there is the water downed sermon, no theology of the cross – he can sometimes get it in there, usually sounds off the cuff. His associate pastors (that he can keep) are very good. Wish he would let them preach.

    Probably just stick with my home church from now on or go when I know he won’t speak.

    Part that really worries me is writing large checks and the warning from Jude. I can’t give that church a dime now.

  7. Jais H. Tinglund
    May 9th, 2014 at 14:44 | #7

    If this was a private letter from the beginning – why did it take so long before any of those who sent it privately remembered that it was?

  8. Randy
    May 9th, 2014 at 15:52 | #8

    Jais H. Tinglund :If this was a private letter from the beginning – why did it take so long before any of those who sent it privately remembered that it was?

    Well put Rev. Tinglund.

  9. helen
    May 9th, 2014 at 16:16 | #9

    @J. Dean #5
    They got caught overreacting to Pastor Wilken’s question, and are getting flak for it, so they’re trying to backpedal.

    I hope they are getting flak for it! And as far as “gagging” Tod goes, that’s been tried twice before and the first time it cost him a job (and severance he should have had as well).
    I really have to wonder why these guys should think they can try it again now…
    I hope Tod will not pull anything off the web; if everything had to be exposed to daylight and the laity, [as it should be] some of the arrogance in the upper regions might dissipate .

  10. Pastor BT Ball
    May 9th, 2014 at 16:38 | #10

    Helen-
    so that all things be exposed to daylight, below is what I posted at Pastor Wilken’s blog and alpb in case some don’t go over there. This is regarding the response letter to the 32.
    Pr. Ball+

    So that all things are out in the open. I wrote the letter of response. I asked for a couple of brothers to help me edit it. I sent it out to a bunch of pastors in my gmail contacts list to see if they would like to sign it. A bunch of them suggested more helpful edits and clarification. I wrote that the first 30 guys to say they would like to put their name to it, would have their name on it (this after me and a couple editors). After that, I emailed the letter to the synodical president, presidium and COP and cc’d the Rev. Wilken on that email. I then sent Todd a text message to check his email because he didn’t know anything about it until then. The next day, the 5th, I contacted one of the signers if he could put it on his blog alienrighteousness.org and he did. FWIW

  11. helen
    May 9th, 2014 at 16:56 | #11

    @Pastor BT Ball #10
    Helen-
    so that all things be exposed to daylight, below is what I posted at Pastor Wilken’s blog and alpb in case some don’t go over there. This is regarding the response letter to the 32.
    Pr. Ball+

    Good enough. Thank you.

    Now I’d like to see who thought of that letter {about Tod, but not to Tod} in the first place.
    And maybe, for good measure, which of the original 32 has a member in that class?
    [I’m not holding my breath!]

  12. Tim Schenks
    May 10th, 2014 at 01:49 | #12

    Who is this Tod/Todd person? Do you mean Pastor Wilken? I don’t get this public use of a pastor’s first name.

  13. Tim Schenks
    May 10th, 2014 at 01:53 | #13

    helen :
    And maybe, for good measure, which of the original 32 has a member in that class?[I’m not holding my breath!]

    I’ve heard LCMS pastors complain because they as members of Synod have to agree to Synod positions over and above Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. But this “covenant” gets signed unanimously, without objection? I’m curious if any of the seminarians signed it out of fear for reprisal if they did not.

  14. helen
    May 10th, 2014 at 08:35 | #14

    @Tim Schenks #12
    Who is this Tod/Todd person? Do you mean Pastor Wilken? I don’t get this public use of a pastor’s first name.

    The Reverend Todd Wilken is a radio/internet personality and for a tumultuous time “reverend” was not the primary focus. Some of us became aware of him and [Mr. Jeff Schwartz] :) during that time. But since the first name bothers you, I’ll get P2 about it.

    @Mark Huntemann #4
    Posted by Todd Wilken on May 8, 2014

    Is it OK if Mark uses first and last, w/o ‘honorifics’ ?
    [I might be more likely to remember that, too.]

  15. Walter Troeger
    May 11th, 2014 at 10:51 | #15

    “..Who is this Tod/Todd person? Do you mean Pastor Wilken? I don’t get this public use of a pastor’s first name.”

    The Reverend Todd Wilkn…

    Reverend Wilken is also a pastor of a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod congregation. So addressing with “Pastor Wilken” would be very appropriate to do so also.

  16. Tim Schenks
    May 11th, 2014 at 11:48 | #16

    That’s what I was always taught anyway. A pastor’s first name is “Pastor.”

    I always thought it weird hearing callers address him as “Pastor Todd” on the radio, but apparently I’m the only one ever bothered about it.

  17. Jais H. Tinglund
    May 11th, 2014 at 14:56 | #17

    helen :
    But since the first name bothers you, I’ll get P2 about it.

    Who is P2?

  18. helen
    May 11th, 2014 at 17:55 | #18

    @Jais H. Tinglund #17

    That should be “P squared” … prim and proper, only more so. ;)

    A pastor’s first name is “Pastor.”

    Always, in a church setting, and always, my own Pastor…
    My son’s friends, and mine, are sometimes “off duty”. :)

  19. Martin R. Noland
    May 12th, 2014 at 11:40 | #19

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    This is a new week, and so maybe some of the dust has settled.

    The issue is not whether Pr. Wilken posted a question on Facebook; the issue is not whether some people wrote letters; the issue is not who crafted or authorized said “Covenant.”

    The issue is how this “Covenant” relates to the Ordination Vows the candidates will make.

    In the LCMS our Circuit Counselors or District Presidents use the Lutheran Service Book Agenda (or previous Agendas from LW or TLH), because those are the only ones the LCMS has authorized in English. The ordination vows are on pages 165-166 in LSB Agenda. Like marriage vows, they are solemn and binding vows made before God and the church, so their wording is short and to the point.

    In the mind of the candidate, is this recently devised “Covenant” a higher vow than the ordination vow, because made in the presence of fellow students and favorite faculty members? Ordination and installation vows are usually made in the presence of mostly people the candidate doesn’t know yet; but they are the most important people for the pastoral candidate, because they are the laymen he will serve.

    So does this “Covenant” supersede or interpret or revise or amend or truncate the ordination vows in any way? If so, then something is definitely wrong with it.

    I don’t think that the persons involved in drafting and promoting the “Covenant” really intended that it would overshadow the ordination vows in any way. I have seen no evidence of that, and nobody has brought such evidence forward in the last week or two.

    It is my personal opinion that, re. the 8th commandment, our pastors should “watch their words” carefully and that any encouragement to do so is a good thing. Here are the words in the ordination vows that pertain to that: “Will you admonish and encourage the people to a lively confidence in Christ and in holy living? . . . Will you honor and adorn the Office of the Holy Ministry with a holy life?” That is not all that an LCMS pastor promises to do, but it is part of it.

    The problem comes when people–both pastors and laymen–think that “holy living” means that you can never criticize or rebuke someone. But pastors that never criticize or rebuke are bad pastors! This is a hard part of our job, and not all do it well or effectively. The pastoral duty of rebuking and correcting has dominical authority in 2 Timothy 4:2, and I think is properly considered part of the Office of the Keys.

    The proof for this in the Lutheran context is in the Large Catechism, Eighth Commandment, section 274-275:

    So you see that we are absolutely forbidden to speak evil of our neighbor. Exception is made, however, of civil magistrates, preachers, and parents, for we must interpret this commandment in such a way that evil shall not go unpunished. . . . Although no one has in his own person the right to judge and condemn anyone, yet if they whose duty it is fail to do so, they sin as much as those who take the law into their own hands without such a commission. . . . Just so, magistrates, parents, even brothers and sisters and other good friends are under mutual obligation to reprove evil where it is necessary and beneficial. (my emphasis)

    Then Luther continues with the procedure when dealing with private sins (sections 276-283) and public sins (sections 284). Here Luther sets himself as an example of dealing with public sins of church doctrine or practice For example, we now censure the pope and his teaching, which is publicly set forth in books and shouted throughout the world. Where the sin is public, the punishment ought to be public, so that everyone may know how to guard against it. (section 284). Notice the purpose of the censure—so everyone may know how to guard against error.

    So if the candidates came away from the service thinking, “I will never, ever, rebuke or correct a fellow LCMS pastor, even when he is griveously wrong,” then there was obviously something wrong with the “Covenant,” because it then contradicts the ordination vows which bind a pastor’s conscience to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. So I think the problem with the “Covenant” was not what it said, but what it left unsaid. I think the intentions of the authors were good, but . . .

    And Pastor Wilken seems to me to have asked the right question in the right way.

    As an aside, for some time now, I have been reminding my fellow Lutherans that Lutheran pastors are supposed to rebuke and correct per 2 Timothy 4:2, and that procedure is explained in LC, 8th Comm, sections 276-284. I think I have been doing that off and on here at the BJS website since its first year. Maybe if more people followed the BJS blog, I wouldn’t have to repeat myself so often. :)

    Thanks to Pastor Rossow, Pastor Scheer, and Norm Fischer for making BJS an important place for Lutherans to gather and discuss our common doctrine and practice!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  20. Paul
    May 14th, 2014 at 14:59 | #20

    To any laypeople reading – please don’t take the bait on this. Serious people do not deal with serious issues like this. Social media to ask your serious questions of seminary leadership? Really? A letter from 40 pastors, apparently both public and private? Honestly? This is a sorry example of churchly leadership if you ask me.

  21. wineonthevines
    May 15th, 2014 at 08:37 | #21

    @Paul #20

    Although I do not agree with the addition to the ordination vows, I have to agree with Paul on his take. Anyone else care to comment?

  22. GJG
    May 15th, 2014 at 18:44 | #22

    Paul :
    To any laypeople reading – please don’t take the bait on this. Serious people do not deal with serious issues like this. Social media to ask your serious questions of seminary leadership? Really? A letter from 40 pastors, apparently both public and private? Honestly? This is a sorry example of churchly leadership if you ask me.

    One brush to tar them all…

  23. Paul
    May 15th, 2014 at 20:44 | #23

    @GJG #22
    Are you defending their approach?

  24. helen
    May 15th, 2014 at 21:34 | #24

    @Paul #20
    To any laypeople reading – please don’t take the bait on this. Serious people do not deal with serious issues like this.

    Apparently “big names” who think they have “influence beyond their circles” do exactly what you are denying. :(

    I think the original question was an off the cuff remark. There are, as you say, “channels” if it was serious. The interesting question is why it was noticed, let alone ‘explosive’. Somebody’s got a very thin skin and a short fuse!

    Love your condescension toward “laypeople”, too. Anyone would think they were seldom seen on these premises!

    [Honestly? This is a sorry example of churchly leadership if you ask me.]
    This I can agree with!

  25. May 16th, 2014 at 09:11 | #25

    @Martin R. Noland #19

    “I’m getting really tired of reading the accusation that those who ascribe to what Scripture and the Confessions have to say about the office of the holy ministry are “Romanizing.” Have we all suddenly come down with collective amnesia? How quickly have we forgotten what the Sixth Chief Part of the Catechism teaches and what Augustana V, XIV and XXVII have to say about the preaching office. Well, get a load of this “Romanizing” ordination rite that doesn’t say a word about voters’ assemblies, congregation’s calls, the priesthood of all believers or any such thing. In fact, it quotes Matthew 28, John 20 and Ephesians 4 as our Lord’s words of institution for His office of ministry, given as His gift to the Church. – See more at: http://cyberbrethren.com/2006/04/28/romanizing-ordination-rite/#sthash.OqeOWbdM.dpuf

    http://cyberbrethren.com/2006/04/28/romanizing-ordination-rite/

  26. May 18th, 2014 at 03:33 | #26

    Rev. McCain brought up the topic of congregation polity often, yet I’d still like to know what other kinds of polity are out there among the LCMS congregations.

    None? That’s what I thought.

  27. helen
    May 18th, 2014 at 08:45 | #27

    @Tim Schenks #26
    None? That’s what I thought.

    Not quite so simple.
    While the “noise” on various lists is an argument between the “all male voters assembly” adherents and (in my experience) the more usual voters’ assembly which includes women, there is also the “Board of Directors” model, which has monthly meetings of a small group and (at least at the outset) an annual meeting of the congregation. [This, I was told, was recommended by the District office.]

    But when PTM is talking “polity” isn’t he arguing for DP’s and against “bishops”?
    Since some of our DP’s own bishop’s copes and mitres (our last SP set the fashion in copes, I believe) it seems to be a distinction w/o a difference. Especially since some of them rule as by divine right, daring laity or even parish pastors to ask a question about what they and other “persons of influence” do! :(

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