Righting the Good Ship Missouri: The Goals and Purpose of the Lutheran Mission Alliance

When I was a young man, I served in the U.S. Navy. During my service, I made three tours to Vietnam. On one of those tours, I served in the air wing of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Bennington. She was an older carrier, commissioned at the end of WWII and therefore not as sophisticated as the newer, more modern carriers. Often time’s things didn’t work as well as they should but this never affected her service performance or the ability to meet her mission. I can remember once when we were embroiled in the angry throes of a very strong typhoon, some of the crew doubted that we would survive the storm.

 

I had just finished eating and was leaving the mess decks to return to my duties when, climbing the ladder to the hangar deck, I happened to notice the listometer on the bulkhead. This is a device designed to provide an accurate, visual indication of how far the ship was listing (rolling), either to port or to starboard. The gauge could indicate up to 18 degrees of list. This was the calculated maximum roll the ship could endure before capsizing. As I looked at the listometer, I noticed on numerous occasions the ball in the glass pegged to either side of the instrument, indicating the ship had endured a roll much greater than she was designed for.

 

I bring this to your attention because that is where we are in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod today. The good ship Missouri finds herself smack dab in the middle of a theological typhoon. The waves of secularism are lashing at her sides, the white water foam of the “church growth movement” is washing over her decks, and the ship is taking on water and is imminently in danger of being capsized by a gigantic wave known as theological postmodernism. To add to her danger, the captain is steering the ship broadside to the waves and if she doesn’t turn into the wave, she will capsize and all aboard will be lost.

 

Today, sad to say, much of the LCMS is not Lutheran. Far too many congregations, who claim membership in the LCMS are in fact more Calvinistic, Reformed, or Wesleyan than they are Lutheran. Once in our righteous past if one was asked if they had read an article by M.L. the initials stood for Martin Luther, today when those initials are invoked, more often than not they stand for Max Lucado. Once, everyone who called themselves Lutheran understood their Christianity in terms of Holy Scripture and Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Today, one who calls themselves a Lutheran is apt to answer a question regarding their understanding of the Christian faith through the teaching of “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. There is little or no Lutheran catechesis for fear of offending someone. Sad to say, but it looks like the Lord’s words of warning through the prophet Isaiah are ringing true, “this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men’ ” (Isaiah 29:13 ESV).

 

Worship services in years past in the LCMS were always liturgical, reverent, and holy. Today, time devoted to worship is little more than gatherings of emotion filled holiness societies exercising their pious egos. Worship, therefore, revolves around the American syndrome of instant gratification and entertainment. However, such an attitude toward worship denies the clear Word of God concerning this subject, “You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:30 ESV).

 

Many of our churches actually practice “altar calls”. Led by political correctness and a desire to assimilate into the collective, congregation after congregation denying the clear Word of God to remain orthodox, are actively involved in unionism. “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,   and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Tim. 6:3-5 ESV). Rather than the theology of the cross, pastors from these pseudo-Lutheran congregations preach a theology of glory, emphasizing the “What Would Jesus Do” theme rather than teach “What Has Jesus Done”.

District worker conferences (once known as pastor conferences) invite non-Lutheran keynote speakers, many whose theology does violence to the Lutheran understanding of Word and Sacrament. Synodical opinions and resolutions are offered and passed, which clearly conflict with God’s Revealed Word, Holy Scripture. With each passing year, it is getting more difficult to find an LCMS congregation who truly follows Luther’s motto, “Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura”. Much of the LCMS have become heterodox and if this problem cannot be resolved, she will sink into the morass of the world and go the way of her sister church, the ELCA.

 

Faithful and seasoned crewmembers can see the imminent danger the good ship Missouri is in, yet they find themselves in a quandary. As good sailors, they are supposed to follow orders and sail with the captain. Yet, if the captain is determined on destroying the ship because of his poor seamanship qualities, then the question becomes, can they afford to blindly follow the captain to their certain doom. As good seaman, are they not to consider the safety of the ship and all her crew and do what is necessary to ensure the ship stays afloat to meet her duties of another day? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Good sailors will do those things necessary to save the ship. They will join forces with the damage control teams, assisting in the repair of the storms damage while battening down the hatches, closing all watertight doors, and steering the ship away out of danger. This is the goal of the Lutheran Mission Alliance (LMA).

 

The Lutheran Mission Alliance (LMA) was formed in 2005 with the express goals of dissenting from the wisdom of the LCMS in convention. Specifically we dissented against the following: By-Law 3-09-04 (Service of Women) for violating the doctrine of the order of creation; By-Law 8-01-04A (Ecclesiastical supervision) for violating the Lutheran principle that sheep judge their shepherds; and By-Law 3-06-04A (Civic Events) for giving an ambiguous answer to the important issue of syncretism and unionism. Some within the original group were ready to leave the LCMS and go it alone. However, after considerable discussions, the decision was made by a majority vote to retain our membership in the LCMS. However, in remaining, we would work to maintain an orthodox, liturgically sound, Lutheran body whose goal would be to preserve Lutheran orthodoxy through the establishments of orthodox Lutheran mission churches, sound Lutheran catechesis, publication of theologically sound doctrinal reviews, and orthodox liturgical teaching to name a few. The LMA is not an individual effort but rather a collective effort of like-minded congregations. Today, nineteen congregations are members of the LMA and the LMA is sponsoring two orthodox Lutheran missions.

 

It has been said that the LCMS is no longer your grandfathers’ church. In many respects, this is correct. However, the LMA is dedicated to ensuring the sound orthodoxy of our grandfather’s Lutheran church is preserved today, tomorrow, and forever.

 

Some will find fault with our position and statements. Some will even label us as mutineers. This is to be expected. Our Lord, Jesus Christ made it very clear when He said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12 (ESV)).

 

If you, like us, are concerned about the direction of the LCMS and the future of Lutheranism, then we invite all to examine the LMA by visiting our web site at http://www.l-m-a.org.

 

Rev. Toby Byrd

Chairman: The Lutheran Mission Alliance.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

Righting the Good Ship Missouri: The Goals and Purpose of the Lutheran Mission Alliance — 5 Comments

  1. Among other things, we need more than a few Fletcher Christians to put the Captain Blighs in a rowboat!
    Ex-navy, too, but more years ago than I care to remember.

  2. I would not compare the efforts of the LMA, or any other confessional Lutheran group seeking to maintain orthodoxy and the liturgical tradition of the Evangelical Lutheran Church handed down by our forefathers to Fletcher Christian.

    Faithful Lutherans, such as those in the LMA, are committed to saving the ship Lutheran from sinking into the morass of worldly culture. Fletcher, mutineered against a brutal and sadistic captain, not to save the ship, but to satisfy his worldly lust.

    What did Fletcher and the crew do after they took the ship? Running from the authorities, who they feared, they wrecked her and burned her on the jagged rocks of Pitcairn island, marooning themselves forever. Afterwards, their lives on Pitcarin were dominated by murder and mayhem.

    The LMA, on the other hand, if it along with other confessional Lutherans are successful in rescuing the good ship Missouri from certain diaster, has no intention of sinking the good ship Missouri or abandoning her to the crashing waves of multi-culturalism.

    If we are successful in turning her into the wind of orthodox Lutheran theology and sailing her successfully out of the storm of postmodernism, we shall set sail on the waters of the Reformation church following the course of our orthodox, liturgical, grandfathers.

    I think I understand your gist, however, comparing the LMA to Fletcher Christian is like comparing a diamond to a lump of coal.

    Pr. Byrd

  3. Rev. Byrd,

    In your article, “Righting the Good Ship Missouri: The Goals and Purpose of the Lutheran Mission Alliance”, you state:

    “Faithful and seasoned crewmembers can see the imminent danger the good ship Missouri is in, yet they find themselves in a quandary… Good sailors will do those things necessary to save the ship. They will join forces with the damage control teams, assisting in the repair of the storms damage while battening down the hatches, closing all watertight doors, and steering the ship away out of danger. This is the goal of the Lutheran Mission Alliance (LMA).”

    Yet such goals, or activities directly related to such goals, are not included in the LMA News’ 2007-2008 Goals), or in
    Issue 1, Issue 2, or Issue 3, none of which mention the Missouri Synod or the LCMS.

    Moreover, the newly adopted LMA Bylaws have nothing about these goals and nowhere mention the Missouri Synod or LCMS, including in such sections as Article I, Purpose; Article II, Membership; Article IV, Membership Voting; Article VII, Duties of Officers; Article IX, Order of Business; or in Article X.

    However, Article X, Indemnification, states:

    “Reasonable expenses incurred by a director, officer, employee or agent of the Lutheran Mission Alliance who was, is or is threatened to be made a named defendant or respondent in a proceeding shall be paid or reimbursed by the Lutheran Mission Alliance, in advance of the final disposition of the proceeding, to the maximum extent permitted under Texas law, as the same exists or may hereafter be amended.”

    Exactly what is meant by the wording about reimbursement for being a “named defendant or respondent in a proceeding”? Does this refer to a legal proceeding, or an ecclesiastical proceeding? And whose?

  4. Carl:

    Thank you for your comments, I hope the article is what enticed you to review the LMA web page.

    True, there is little mention of the name Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in our posted articles, however, each member congregation of the LMA is a member congregation of the LCMS as is each each pastor.

    It is not the intention of the LMA to be political. However, it is our intention to promote Lutheran, evangelical orthdoxy through traditional Lutheran catechesis, preaching God’s Word in its purity, distributing the Sacraments according to the commands of Christ and starting orthodox, liturgical, Lutheran missions. As we all know, defending God’s Word and Lutheran (Christian) orthodoxy can create anomosity, hardship, and strife; witness Martin Luther. Thus, our orthordox, theological positions often times stand in stark constrast to the quasi-orthodox and sometimes outright hetrodox positions of others within the LCMS.

    Therefore, article X was written to aide in the defense of LMA members who, in the conduct of their duties, might become the party of an ecclesiastical proceeding or a legal proceeding.

    I hope this answers your question.

    Pr. Byrd

  5. Rev. Byrd,

    Thank you for your reply to my questions. Since you noted that the intentions of the LMA and its officers are not political but to promote orthodox Lutheranism, one would hope any civil suits attempted by heterodox opponents would be quickly dismissed as frivolous.

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