Sinful Removal of Pastors — Let me count the ways…

May 7th, 2014 Post by

countingIf you or your congregation are considering taking that “vote” to remove a pastor (or using such a vote to coerce his resignation), check to make sure that it is for legitimate reasons (persistent adherence to false doctrine; great public shame and vice [scandalous conduct]; willful and real neglect [or inability to perform] of his office).  If you are an official involved in removing a pastor check also to make sure it is for legitimate reasons…

Here are some thoughts to consider if your pastor is not teaching falsely, living in scandalous conduct, or gladly neglecting his duties (or unable to do them) in relation to the Ten Commandments:

 

The First Commandment

Who is your god if you have no Scriptural reason to remove this pastor and yet vote to do that or assist others in doing it?   Where is your trust in such a situation where you are “firing” your pastor?  God says that he is not mocked in regards to the support and care for pastors (see Galatians 6), where is your fear of God?

 

The Second Commandment

What does a sinful vote of a Christian congregation do to God’s Name?  What does it do if something has no supporting Scripture behind it but we still call it a divine action (such as a divine removal or even a human removal of a divine call)?  Luther in the Large Catechism calls the propagation of false teaching the worst violation of the Second Commandment (it’s not just about cussing), how does the unscriptural removal of your pastor teach any truth?

 

The Third Commandment

Are you gladly hearing and learning the word of God while you are voting out the man God has sent to you to preach and teach it?  Just who are you sending away, the preacher or the One who sent Him?

 

The Fourth Commandment

Pastor are considered fathers in the faith, does willfully removing your pastor or aiding in it honor his position as a mask of God?  Does removing his livelihood and calling honor him, serve and obey him, or love and cherish him?  By throwing him out the door of your church are you despising him, one of the “other authorities” that Luther names in the Large Catechism?

 

The Fifth Commandment

How does removing the livelihood of your pastor help and support him in every physical need?  This only gets worse if your pastor has a wife and then even worse if he has children.

 

The Sixth Commandment

How does the church casting out the messenger that her head, Christ Jesus sent to her work into this mystery of Christ and His Church?  Do you think such a “divorce” brings glory to God?  Jesus says that the ones who reject those He sends will be rejected by Him.

 

The Seventh Commandment

How does removing your pastor rate in relation to protecting his possessions and income?

 

The Eighth Commandment

Given that men who are removed from calls bear a giant black mark on their professional record, just what do you think an unscriptural removal does for his reputation?  Does masking your vote under district approval or other reasons exemplify the truth or a lie?  How has your conversation been about your pastor?

 

The Ninth Commandment

How does throwing out your pastor help or be of service to him in keeping his house or property?

 

The Tenth Commandment

How does casting your pastor out urge him to stay and do his duty?  Are you guilty of coveting another “type” of pastor?  For ear-itching pastors, see the Second Commandment again.

 

So you have it – sinfully removing a pastor (or helping to do it) without Scriptural cause is a good way to reap the wrath of a jealous God upon the children for the sins of the fathers for the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him (if you doubt that unscriptural removal is not hating God, then reread the questions above).

Repent.  Stop the vote.  Stop trying to starve him out.  God takes no pleasure in it, nor does He desire to punish for it – but He is not mocked.  You will reap what you sow on how you treat His messengers.

Christ did not die for you to act however you please – He died to earn the forgiveness of your sins, a forgiveness given through time and space through the means of grace – which is exactly why He sent you your pastor to publicly preach, teach, and administer for your eternal good.

As a final note, any comment attempting to talk about “bad pastors” will be deleted for being off topic and an attempted deflection of the serious matter at hand.


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  1. Brad
    May 9th, 2014 at 08:21 | #1

    @Pastor Brian Stark #43

    To Pr. Stark’s point, while polity does not solve doctrinal problems (the Episcopal Church and the ELCA being prime modern examples, or North American attempts at Eastern Orthodoxy, or Romanism,) that doesn’t mean that it is without meaning. Like liturgy, there are better and worse ways of doing things.

    Our Confessions specifically note the intention of their authors to remain within the ancient polity they inherited (everything from feasts and festivals, to the order of the Mass, to the canonical orders of the pastoral Office.) Walther and Loehe disputing the finer points of how to erect a faithful, confessional Lutheran church in wild west America aside, we can’t ignore the Confession’s clear intentions, and then close our eyes and plug our ears to the consequences.

    Regardless of what we call it, there must be order in the church. And regardless of who occupies that church, if they are not faithful, it will collapse. Our Synod is collapsing, with one of the bitter fruits being the abuse of pastors, not because of our polity, but because of unfaithfulness to the Word of God. A more stable and historic polity, better in line with our Confessions, might have made fixing our problems different (i.e., booting unfaithful bishops, versus the bizarre dance of our Synodical Conventions that have already ignored the Confessions,) but the underlying challenge would be the same: returning the people of God to the Word of God.

    We’ll stop abusing our pastors, when we return to the Word who sent them. My two cents, anyway.

  2. May 9th, 2014 at 09:45 | #2

    >>“Pastor is not working hard enough to reach the community.”

    An interesting twist a friend of mine encountered in a small town was that he was told he was TOO successful reaching the community. Everyone in town was either long-time LCMS or Methodist and several prominent Methodist families, including the mayor (whom he got to know because they had both had heart attacks and took daily morning walks—eventually together—around town) converted to LCMS, for which he was reprimanded by his church council essentially because it shook things up to much in their community.

  3. helen
    May 9th, 2014 at 10:17 | #3

    @Rev. Kevin Vogts #2

    That’s a new one!

    Although I’ve been in enough congregations which were essentially little family clubs, which didn’t really want anyone in. (If you gave generously they took your money, but if you asked a question about the way they did things you quickly found out that you “didn’t belong” there.)

    TOTALLY off topic: Pr. Vogts, your daughter and her bassoon are featured in the Mar/Apr issue of Alcalde, the “Texas Exes” magazine. Very nice. (I’ve also met her, at St Paul.)

  4. Former Lutheran
    May 9th, 2014 at 10:43 | #4

    I agree with this post. Under the rules of Confessional Lutheranism, removing pastors for non-biblical reasons is wrong. In my own experience, my own former pastor and elder behaved very inappropriately toward me and inserted themselves in my personal affairs well beyond what their duties required (or allowed). So I simply left the church. I didn’t cause a controversy, I didn’t freak out and cause divisions within the congregation, I didn’t protest the pastor’s actions, i just left the church (and soon after the faith). I think we’re all happier now. My former pastor gets to maintain the purity of his beliefs, the congregation is not disrupted, and I’m free to explore new spiritual ideas.

  5. helen
    May 9th, 2014 at 11:16 | #5

    @Former Lutheran #4
    I didn’t protest the pastor’s actions, i just left the church (and soon after the faith). I think we’re all happier now.

    It’s just possible that your former pastor and elder were concerned for your immortal soul, which is one of their duties. [And, by your own words, there appears to have been reason for that.]

    However, as you were determined to go your own way, I will thank you for not taking the pastor down on your way out. (A colleague here has left his church, but seemingly can’t stop saying rude things about pastors and people who still belong to one.)

  6. Former Lutheran
    May 9th, 2014 at 11:22 | #6

    @helen #5

    I recognize that the pastor thought what he was doing was correct. I respect him for following his conscience. We just had a difference of opinion. My opinion was out of line with the church’s. That’s not the pastor’s fault.

    I’ve always thought that once a person’s views no longer square with the organization that he or she has joined, that person should leave. I knew the rules when I joined. It’s not the Lutheran Church’s job to change to accommodate me. If I don’t believe anymore (which I don’t), I should hit the bricks (which I did). I wish the congregation and the pastor the very best.

  7. R.D.
    May 9th, 2014 at 12:09 | #7

    @Pastor Brian Stark #39
    “but in my mind it’s no surprise that Missouri’s canonization of Walther’s emphasis on congregational supremacy would lead to the “pastor-as-employee,” “hire-and-fire,” “the-congregation-owns-the-keys-and-merely-loans-them-to-the-pastor-for-a-time” mentality at work in our parishes today.”

    Did Walther really teach “pastor-as-employee,” “hire-and-fire,” “the-congregation-owns-the-keys-and-merely-loans-them-to-the-pastor-for-a-time”?

    If so, I’m burning all my Walther books and buying all of Rev. Brian Stark’s books. But then we’d have to look at what Stark’s teachings lead to.

  8. Pastor Brian Stark
    May 9th, 2014 at 13:57 | #8

    R.D.
    No…Walther never did teach that. Please don’t burn his books. My thought is simply that some of his conclusions went too far in their emphasis on congregational supremacy, which may very well be one of the factors leading to the steady deprecation of the Pastoral Office in our own day. He (and Luther, for that matter) say that the keys were given to the Church immediately, and “only” to the Church. Therefore the Office receives its authority (and this is a gross over-simplification of his point) not immediately from Christ, but mediately through the Church.

    Walther (and Luther again) are surely right that Christ has given the keys immediately to the Church (Matt. 18). However, the Scriptures indicate that the keys were given by our Lord immediately to the Office as well (John 20). What drives me nuts is that Luther and Walther return to John 20 again and again as a proof-text that Christ gives the keys “only” to the Church. And then, to make matters even more confusing, they use John 20 in other places to prove that the divine authority of the Office comes from Christ!

    The question I’ve often pondered is whether or not the teaching of congregational supremacy was in part a reaction against the horrible abuses of Martin Stephan. Is it possible that Walther, while in the main correct, went a little too far for the sake of preventing such an abuse in the future?

    I think it’s fair to ask the same of Luther. He did a masterful job of dismantling the Roman abomination of the clergy, and he did so on the firm foundation of Scripture. But in correcting the abuse, did he perhaps go too far when he said things like this (and this is just a poor paraphrase from memory, so don’t treat me too harshly): “The Office of the Ministry is like this…you’ve got 10 brothers who have all received the same inheritance from their rich father. They are equal in every respect, but because 9 of them don’t want to be burdened with all the tasks involved with overseeing all of the assets, they elect one of their number to manage everything and make sure the goods are distributed fairly. They are still essentially the same in every respect, but they have elected one to manage the inheritance.”

    Luther is here emphasizing (correctly) the priesthood of all believers and the right of the Church to call its pastors. But I think the idea that Christ instituted the Office only for the sake of good order and as a mere practicality is also here. Is he right to emphasize the priesthood of all believers and the fact that a clergy person is no better than any other Christian? Absolutely! But in the illustration above I think he takes the doctrine of the priesthood too far at the expense of the Office.

  9. Jais H. Tinglund
    May 9th, 2014 at 17:29 | #9

    Big Boy :
    I believe in The Problem of Pain, Lewis describes many people view God as a senile old man. While this anthropomorphism is dangerous in its own right, the misconception that God won’t correct people/sin in this life is the bigger mistake (though I don’t speak for Him or know His will).

    Careful, there.

    It seems to me that you are awfully close to saying that God will not reward us for disregarding His Word and will.

    And to say such things might actually arouse the disapproval of some – from what I have observed in the past …

  10. Jais H. Tinglund
    May 9th, 2014 at 17:33 | #10

    Tim Schenks :

    Jais H. Tinglund :Sometimes much of the set-up is being done in secret through phone conversations between the District President and the Pastor’s enemies.

    I’ve seen that happen. The DP called up the pastor and said “I have sixteen anonymous letters or calls complaining about you.” But then we (the board of elders) asked sixteen or more people to send positive letters to the DP. That pretty much ended the matter.

    That’s great – when things work out that way.

    But then again, sometimes a number of people who do not hate their Pastor just cannot be taken quite as seriously as an equal (or smaller) number of people who do.

    In fact, sometimes people who fail to hate their Pastor cannot be taken seriously at all, or taken into consideration in any way.

    I am notsure exactly why that is.

    But I have seen that happen – or not happen …

  11. Randy
    May 9th, 2014 at 18:19 | #11

    Jais H. Tinglund :

    But then again, sometimes a number of people who do not hate their Pastor just cannot be taken quite as seriously as an equal (or smaller) number of people who do.

    Rev. Tinglund,

    Yes, yes. The “small” group often consists of a few members who believe that because they have been there long enough (perhaps original members) that they essentially have power, authority, and privileges that others do not. Essentially, the church becomes their playground. The small group often believes that they alone manage and direct what is taught and preached. Very dangerous indeed.

  12. May 9th, 2014 at 20:44 | #12

    As I said in the posting, no comments about the “bad pastor” stuff will be tolerated. This post is meant to be a warning for sinful congregational activity towards God’s called and ordained servant.

    I am removing the comments in question. This is not the time or post to discuss pastoral mistakes.

  13. May 9th, 2014 at 20:48 | #13

    Thank you to all who defended the pastoral office in those comments, I did remove them only because they relied upon the other ones which I deleted for context.

    Helen and Big Boy, much appreciated while I was away from my computer to moderate.

  14. Former Lutheran
    May 9th, 2014 at 20:48 | #14

    @Big Boy #22

    “I will pray for you, sir. The scriptures warn me loud and clear about people like you. They say to have nothing to do with you and so I shall listen to the wisdom that transcends all understanding, and have nothing more to do with you.
    I shall pray for you. While alive, it is never to late to repent and come to His will.”

    Thanks, but you don’t have too. I’m quite happy as I am. Much happier than I was before, actually. I love God and fully expect to be at peace in the world to come. Of course, I also expect to reborn into another body, so I guess that’s another faux pas. Don’t worry, Big Boy, God is much bigger than we understand and we’re gonna be okay. I believe that every soul that loves God and seeks to return to Him will make. That includes you too, of course.

  15. Former Lutheran
    May 9th, 2014 at 20:55 | #15

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #13

    I’m confused. I thought the post was about the three ways to remove a pastor. In order to discuss the topic, issues of pastoral conduct is necessary. As I said to Helen, I tried to talk about a hypothetical situation, but Big Boy wouldn’t allow that. Now you’re thanking him for making a discussion of your own post impossible? Okay. Thanks for wasting my time.

  16. Former Lutheran
    May 9th, 2014 at 20:57 | #16

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #13

    “But then again, sometimes a number of people who do not hate their Pastor just cannot be taken quite as seriously as an equal (or smaller) number of people who do.”

    Wait, now I get it. This is a thread about bad congregations, not bad pastors. Nice.

  17. May 9th, 2014 at 22:29 | #17

    @Former Lutheran #16
    There have been posts in the past about removing pastors and bad pastoral conduct. In every time we start talking about congregational misconduct, the comments eventually move to talk of such and such bad pastor. That is the reason for my quick deletions.

  18. Randy
    May 9th, 2014 at 22:33 | #18

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #17

    Rev. Scheer,

    Thank you for keeping the topic on point.

  19. Former Lutheran
    May 10th, 2014 at 00:36 | #19

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #17

    Did you ever consider the possibility that the two topics are interrelated? I see your point, but posing questions about whether or not the three reasons you articulated for the legitimate removal of pastors are sufficient seems in line with the topic to me. But you’re the boss. It’s your website.

  20. Tim Schenks
    May 10th, 2014 at 01:57 | #20

    Jais H. Tinglund :

    Tim Schenks :

    Jais H. Tinglund :Sometimes much of the set-up is being done in secret through phone conversations between the District President and the Pastor’s enemies.

    I’ve seen that happen. The DP called up the pastor and said “I have sixteen anonymous letters or calls complaining about you.” But then we (the board of elders) asked sixteen or more people to send positive letters to the DP. That pretty much ended the matter.

    That’s great – when things work out that way.
    But then again, sometimes a number of people who do not hate their Pastor just cannot be taken quite as seriously as an equal (or smaller) number of people who do.
    In fact, sometimes people who fail to hate their Pastor cannot be taken seriously at all, or taken into consideration in any way.
    I am notsure exactly why that is.
    But I have seen that happen – or not happen …

    The problem is that the DP probably does show up and tell the congregation that there is no Scriptural reason to remove their pastor, then the congregation does it anyway.

    Many you will never hear about it as they were bullied into resigning their call but remain on the LCMS clergy roster while their sinful congregation remains in “good standing” with the assent of their District President.

  21. Tim Schenks
    May 10th, 2014 at 02:14 | #21

    Pastor Joshua Scheer :As I said in the posting, no comments about the “bad pastor” stuff will be tolerated. This post is meant to be a warning for sinful congregational activity towards God’s called and ordained servant.
    I am removing the comments in question. This is not the time or post to discuss pastoral mistakes.

    Pr. Scheer,

    As only certain people can post articles on this blog, will you then be writing an article about the legitimate removal of bad/sinful/unfaithful pastors?

  22. Tim Schenks
    May 10th, 2014 at 06:15 | #22

    Tim Schenks :

    Pastor Joshua Scheer :As I said in the posting, no comments about the “bad pastor” stuff will be tolerated. This post is meant to be a warning for sinful congregational activity towards God’s called and ordained servant.I am removing the comments in question. This is not the time or post to discuss pastoral mistakes.

    Pr. Scheer,
    As only certain people can post articles on this blog, will you then be writing an article about the legitimate removal of bad/sinful/unfaithful pastors?

    Let me clarify this: Because the unfaithful ones (charismatics, open communion, etc.) aren’t being kicked out.

  23. May 10th, 2014 at 09:16 | #23
  24. Tim Schenks
    May 10th, 2014 at 11:25 | #24

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #23

    Thanks! That’s old enough that I don’t even remember it.

  25. R.D.
    May 10th, 2014 at 12:41 | #25

    @Pastor Brian Stark #8
    *Layman disclosure: I’m not a theologian, so read at your own risk* Thank you for the reply, Pr. Stark. My opinion is that we should not condemn or otherwise disregard a teaching due to what it might “lead to” if the teaching is correct in the first place. In this case, you can just as easily turn around and say the opposite for episcopal polity: The battle for the Bible would have been altogether lost had our polity been episcopal. Not that episcopal is in itself wrong, but look at what it could lead to!

    “Walther (and Luther again) are surely right that Christ has given the keys immediately to the Church (Matt. 18). However, the Scriptures indicate that the keys were given by our that Luther and Walther return to John 20 again and again as a proof-text that Christ gives the keys “only” to the Church.Lord immediately to the Office as well (John 20). What drives me nuts is that Luther and Walther return to John 20 again and again as a proof-text that Christ gives the keys “only” to the Church. And then, to make matters even more confusing, they use John 20 in other places to prove that the divine authority of the Office comes from Christ! ”

    I don’t see a distinction there. The Church is Christ’s body, is it not? Can you separate the Office from the Church? Is the Office a different class or grade of saint? If we’re going to say that some sort of indelible character is imputed on a man at ordination, I suppose we would have to call the Office a different grade of saint. But since we condemn sacerdotalism, then we agree that the Office is not separate from the Church no more than the Church is separate from Christ. It’s a both/and. The keys is Christ’s authority.

    “Therefore the Office receives its authority (and this is a gross over-simplification of his point) not immediately from Christ, but mediately through the Church.”

    I’m not sure that is what they teach – I need to do some reading there. Preliminary thought, it’s a both/and. While the *call* is mediate, the keys are immediate. The keys is not something that just gets passed around. The man called to the office of Pastor already has the keys by virtue of being part of Christ’s body. But he is set aside and called to do what the Church is commanded to do, preach and administer the sacraments. The authority in and of itself does not derive from the Church, but from Christ – after all, the Church is even commanded to call pastors. I think Luther’s analogy as you stated it is a good one, but of course most if not all analogies break down at some point. Indeed, the priesthood all receive the same inheritance, that is to be upheld. But I don’t think Luther goes so far as to say that pastors are merely for the sake of good order. I think that is clear in Romans 10, not to mention the sending of the apostles, letters to Timothy, etc. The 10 are indeed equal in every way, for “there is neither jew nor greek, nor slave, nor free…” however, there is a created order. Men are to be the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. Likewise, there are additional requirements of pastors. After all, they stand in the stead of Christ – yet there is neither pastor nor parishoner, for we are “all one in Christ Jesus.”

    Can this teaching “lead to” a disrespect of pastors by stiff-necked parishoners? Of course, but the parishoner would be wrong, not the teaching.

  26. Big Boy
    May 10th, 2014 at 13:07 | #26

    @ RD

    You’re committing a false dichotomy here:

    Is the Office a different class or grade of saint? If we’re going to say that some sort of indelible character is imputed on a man at ordination, I suppose we would have to call the Office a different grade of saint.

    If I can ask, go back an think that one through again. You’re close to having an interesting statement, but the logic errors detract from your post.

    I give you a push: ordination does seperate Pastors from Lay People.

  27. R.D.
    May 10th, 2014 at 16:30 | #27

    I would say that it is the call that separates pastors and lay people. The call is Divinely instituted. Ordination is by human right.

  28. Big Boy
    May 10th, 2014 at 16:44 | #28

    @ RD

    I think you’re cutting a little too fine of a line there for your argument. Without ordination you can not be called.

    You may want to look into the theology of where ordination comes from. Is it from humans or does it come from God? You are close to committing another error.

    The real point is sanctification. How do we become saints?

    Where does that come from, who has it, and what is the result – using our (LCMS) confessions only, please? Go back to your post and apply that.

  29. Pastor Brian Stark
    May 10th, 2014 at 19:19 | #29

    @R.D. #25
    R.D.,
    Thanks for your comments. By the way, no need to make the self-deprecating disclaimer about being a layman…your views are welcome and you raise good points.

    There was something implied toward the beginning of your longer post above that has been echoed by others engaging in the Church and Ministry discussion that I’d like to dispel. When I express some level of dissatisfaction with our current polity, I am by no means contending that an episcopal polity is the answer. It isn’t. Loehe was accused of advocating a Roman system in reaction to his analysis of the Office in relation to Church polity, which he adamantly denied. He had interesting ideas concerning polity, but I’m not convinced his conception is right either. So what is the perfect polity? I have absolutely no idea. The state church was an abomination. Rome remains an abomination. But is our current polity/understanding of the Office above reproach, and might there be a better way? This is my question. Our congregations have become completely atomized…basically tiny, individual, autonomous synods tenuously bound together by a very loose doctrinal affiliation. You can visit two LCMS congregations in the same city and have no idea what to expect in terms of worship, preaching, etc. Sheep treat their shepherds like employees, shepherds treat the sheep with contempt, and every congregation or pastor does as they please with no fear of synodical reprimand. I know it’s easy to criticize a perceived problem when you don’t have any real solutions to offer to correct it. On the other hand, there are questions that I think should be asked.

    To answer a few of your questions: The candidate is not imbued with an indelible character at ordination, and clergy-persons do not comprise a holier estate than laypersons. Christ is the only Head of and Authority in the Church and the pastor has no authority except what Christ has given Him, and that is to preach His Word and administer His Sacraments.

    You are right concerning the doctrine of the keys–it is a both/and (Church/Ministry). However, although Luther and Walther clearly teach the Pastoral Office as instituted by Christ, that it possesses the keys, and identify it as the highest office in the Church (see Walther’s Thesis VIII on the ministry) in their writings, they make other statements that undercut this precise point. I can remember one of Luther’s comments in particular in which his emphasis on the Priesthood of All Believers leads him to conclude something like this (loose paraphrase from memory without citation): “All Christians are priests and therefore (technically speaking) have the right to preach, teach, perform the duties of the Office, etc. But because God doesn’t want 20 men rushing to the pulpit all at once, they elect one of their fellow priests to exercise the Office on their behalf for the sake of good order.” I disagree with Luther (and therefore Walther) when they make assertions like that, and I also find their exegesis of certain passages used to prove this suspect.

    For example, in Acts 6, they say, “the congregation created the diaconate and then the people, on the basis of their own priestly authority and for the sake of good order, elected men to serve in that office.” Fair enough. I absolutely concede that the congregation had authority to choose the deacons. But the authority to do so was delegated to it by the apostles. In other words, in electing deacons they were merely carrying out the apostles’ command, not exercising priestly authority apart from the office.

    And then we have the passages from Acts and the Pastorals which seem to indicate that at least some overseers were ordained and appointed by Paul, Timothy, or Titus. Here Kirche und Amt translates the Greek word as “elected” instead of appointed, and Presto!: another proof text for the authority of the congregation. I am not…repeat, am not…arguing that these passages prove the episcopate, only that they don’t make the point Luther wants them to.

    To conclude this overbearing harangue I’ve inflicted upon you RD, I agree with your point that you can’t dismiss a man’s idea or call it false just because some people might misuse it in the future. It’s not Luther’s or Walther’s fault that some have taken their ideas to justify things they never would have. It isn’t Luther’s fault that some have hijacked his and Walther’s writings on the Priesthood of all Believers and used them to put the Office “in its place.” But I think it’s worth exploring whether *everything* they wrote on the subject of Church and Ministry is sacrosanct and beyond question. And I don’t think raising the question makes one a Sacerdotalist.

  30. Big Boy
    May 10th, 2014 at 20:02 | #30

    @ Pastor Stark

    You raise good points in your argument, but fail to come to a conclusion.

    Is not the alternative to the congregation but Rome? I can see no other. The problem does not lie in who has power, rather that all human institutions are corruptible. And if that is true, then either one tends to error. Catholics became power concentrated at the top. And as often is the case, human sin corrupted that to the abomination you point out.

    While I agree there are issues with the congregation, I do not see the generalization you point out as rule. It can as certainly happen, and but there are a lot of very good churches.
    Though that is not my point.

    My question is: not the decentralization of power “better” as it reduces the chance for total corruption?

    Which may be why Luther came to the conclusion that he did, given the shade of grey you pointed out.

  31. Pastor Brian Stark
    May 10th, 2014 at 21:50 | #31

    @Big Boy #30

    Can I say “Hi, Big Boy” without it sounding like I’m attracted to you? Oh well, I’ll take the risk.
    Hi Big Boy,

    I should have been more clear. When I said “Sheep treat their shepherds as employees…” etc., I didn’t mean that this is the rule everywhere you go. It is rather a lament that those things happen too often and that when they do, our polity’s mechanisms for correcting errors and abuses don’t work.

    To illustrate, let me speak of visions and revelations: I know a “district certified” lay deacon in Christ who, fourteen days ago was caught up to the third heaven of his district office for a lay leading training seminar (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows). And I know that after he had been caught up into that paradise (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) he heard things that shouldn’t be told…things that an LCMS district staff person should not be able to utter: that in this district a layman may

    “preach, teach, and consecrate
    without a proper call;
    we’re all equal members of the Priesthood,
    after all.”

    The laywomen participating in the program have been told they can’t preach “because the LCMS doesn’t allow that sort of thing,” but they are still taught sermon composition and delivery, I assume so they’ll be ready to jump in the pulpit if women’s ordination is ever approved. One lady told this man that, in the performance of their lay leader duties, she and another woman have taken communion to shut-ins and consecrated the elements to boot.

    I hear these things and wonder how we came to this point. How can we prevent things like TCN, etc., or have them revoked, when the districts and their presidents (our ecclesiastical supervisors) are the people perpetrating the error? I guess you could say our current polity isn’t as far from Rome as we’d like to think!

    But in the end, you’re right, I don’t have an answer. We all agree that the New Testament Scriptures never ordain a particular form of church polity. That being the case, the issue lies in the realm of Christian freedom and no one can make any form Law. Rome is wrong. As you said, all the power in the hands of a few makes dictators. On the other hand, all the power in the hands of everyone has the potential to make thousands of them.

    But thinking of it terms of “power” defeats us from the beginning. Power is something you take and is all about enforcing one’s will on the other guy. “Authority,” on the other hand, has to be received. In the Church, no human being has power. Christ is the Power, who delegates authority. Both Office and Church have the authority which Christ has delegated to them. But if that authority is misused, the one misusing it (whether pastor or layman) has taken power to himself that isn’t his to take. (I know I read this about the distinction between power and authority somewhere, just can’t remember where).

    A man named Brad wrote in a previous post that nothing will change until we return to the Word. Perhaps that is the only answer we can give.

  32. Big Boy
    May 10th, 2014 at 23:42 | #32

    @ Pastor Stark

    Hi, Pastor Stark. Yes, my name could cause an issue I had never considered. I apologize.

    You brought up great points in your response, thank you.

    When I used the term power, that was in error. You are right, it is given authority; which I think you addressed well.

    I agree, everything we have comes from Him.

    Though, I do not wish to seemingly nit pick, certainly it is more difficult to corrupt many than it is a few. (Re: decentralized polity)

    I agree, there are sinful people in our synod. This goes beyond the idea that we are all sinful, and rather is speaking to the errors you list. Job 40+ is clear, we cannot fight Satan. Only Christ can on our behalf. And Satan so does wish to destroy His church.

    Which dovetails into your ending and what our brother Brad has posted. We will suffer through this world until we are called home. (Though great benefit to us comes through suffering, such as endurance, character, and hope.)

    Should it please Him, I will enjoy seeing and being with you there.

    Peace

  33. R.D.
    May 11th, 2014 at 00:14 | #33

    @Big Boy #28
    Yikes…forget what I said of ordination. Don’t know what I was smokin, though I just got done smoking an Arturo Fuente Anejo (a gift from my sister) which smoked some sense into me.

    @Pastor Brian Stark #31
    “To conclude this overbearing harangue I’ve inflicted upon you RD,”

    Not at all, Pr. Stark. I started it ;-) I appreciate all your patient clarifications for my sake. I think it was more misreading on my part.

    “A man named Brad wrote in a previous post that nothing will change until we return to the Word. Perhaps that is the only answer we can give.”

    I think that’s what it comes down to. Never underestimate the means and will the devil, the world, and our flesh have to thwart any polity we can come up with no matter how awesome it might be. The answer is the Word, not dispute resolution process, bylaw this or constitution article that, or even declaring, “Now go away, or I will taunt you a second time.”

  34. LadyM
    May 11th, 2014 at 05:17 | #34

    @R.D. #27 I agree that “the call” is what separates people – not just pastor/laypeople, but mother/father, husband/wife, teacher/student…etc. The rite of ordinations sets apart a man for service to a particular call, that of pastor. Our calls (vocations) are the gifts God gives us on earth to serve others, are they not?

  35. R.D.
    May 11th, 2014 at 07:04 | #35

    @LadyM #34
    Agreed

  36. helen
    May 11th, 2014 at 11:47 | #36

    @Pastor Brian Stark #31
    How can we prevent things like TCN, etc., or have them revoked, when the districts and their presidents (our ecclesiastical supervisors) are the people perpetrating the error? I guess you could say our current polity isn’t as far from Rome as we’d like to think!

    The Pope has suspended Bishops (in Germany, for spending too much of the church’s money on themselves; other places for other good reasons).

    Meanwhile we have men in high office teaching false doctrine, leading congregations into non-denominational error, and it would seem nothing can be done about it. I wonder sometimes if our “polity” in practice isn’t worse than Rome.

  37. Former Lutheran
    May 11th, 2014 at 13:05 | #37

    @helen #36

    “Meanwhile we have men in high office teaching false doctrine, leading congregations into non-denominational error, and it would seem nothing can be done about it.”

    So we can talk about “bad” men in high office now? I thought this thread was about how the congregations sucked. This is all very confusing.

  38. helen
    May 11th, 2014 at 18:27 | #38

    @Former Lutheran #37
    So we can talk about “bad” men in high office now? I thought this thread was about how the congregations sucked. This is all very confusing.

    This is a side remark about how congregations get that way. The key word is “polity”.

    But yes, Pastor Scheer will probably “erase the board” here, too. :)

  39. Pastor David R. Boisclair
    May 13th, 2014 at 12:58 | #39

    Brother Scheer, what a fine application of scriptural and confessional doctrine you have posted here. I am going to use this material in instructing my congregations for their spiritual nurture. This post is a broadside against a widespread problem in our LCMS. God bless you and your ministry!

  40. helen
    May 22nd, 2014 at 11:28 | #40

    @helen #38
    @Former Lutheran #37
    So we can talk about “bad” men in high office now? I thought this thread was about how the congregations sucked. This is all very confusing.

    Perhaps it should be both. On the basis of an event described to me this past weekend: “how congregations suck, and how men in district office aid and abet a Pastor’s forced resignation without even stating a “reason”, let alone having one of the “Lutheran three”.

    If a congregation contemplating such an act got no encouragement, and the certainty of a long vacancy, with no other pastor willing to “fill in” even for a Sunday, they might think again. But neither of those things will happen. Luther said they should, but “Who’s Luther?” :(

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