BREAKING NEWS – “A Lutheran Manifesto” For Consideration by All Lutherans, from The Rev. Dr. Fred Baue

(Editor’s Note:  The Brothers of John the Steadfast are honored to have the privilege to bring this Lutheran Manifesto to the world. We ask our readers to  take a serious look at it, offer your expert commentary – there are no more discerning Lutherans than the readers of this site – consider signing the petition in support of it, and most importantly share it with as many Lutherans as you can. This will not be an easy read. It will take time.  You may not understand every detail of the document. If not, we hope it will move you to study and grow. We also hope you will invite your friends and relatives and fellow church members into this adventure of understanding how unity can be brought to  the Lutheran church. In the next few weeks we will be providing support materials that will help  folks better understand the Manifesto. This Manifesto has the potential to bring great unity to Lutheranism. Some would pen certain parts of the Manifesto in different ways and might emphasize certain themes to a greater or lesser extent but we believe that all in all, this is a well reasoned, measured treatment of the issues facing Lutheransim at the advent of the 21st century.  We hope it moves you to express your support. To sign the petition click  here.)

 

 

 A LUTHERAN MANIFESTO

Cover Letter

Dear Reader,

                      Greetings to you and blessings through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

You have before you a document entitled, “A Lutheran Manifesto.” Let me say a word about it by way of introduction.

                      I the undersigned am the sole author. I take complete responsibility for its contents. I have called it a “manifesto” in that its purpose is to exhort the reader to action. The manifesto contains twelve theses, each derived from the Articles of the Augsburg Confession. There are twenty-eight articles in the Augsburg Confession, but as a number of these address the same subject, I have combined them thematically.

                      What I am trying to achieve here is to view the current confessional crisis in the Lutheran church through the lenses of the Augsburg Confession.

                      The crisis is this: many Lutheran pastors, teachers, laymen, and congregations have not fulfilled their vow to be faithful to the Lutheran Confessions. They uphold the Bible, but waver on the Confessions.

                      I want to show that the Augsburg Confession, written in 1530, is still relevant. It still is valid. It still speaks to the issues and conflicts we are faced with today.

                      Let me be perfectly clear about one thing. This is not a new confession. I am not seeking to create division in the church, but unity. I am not seeking subscribers in the confessional sense. However, if readers wish to indicate by the website petition form that they agree with what I have said, they are certainly free to do so.

Most of all I want the manifesto to stimulate evangelical conversation. I want it to influence thinking. And I want it to move us back toward concord.

It is painfully obvious that we do not have concord—complete unity in doctrine and practice—in the LCMS today. At the 2007 Convention of Synod, an amendment that said that the Missouri Synod was divided lost by a 51-49% margin!

I have tried to make this manifesto irenic and not polemical in tone. But in defining the issues, the manifesto will I think show that not everyone who claims to be Lutheran truly is Lutheran. The manifesto is worded so as to call back to the fold those who have strayed. However, it does seem clear that at some point in the future hard decisions will have to be made. This would entail a decision on the part of those who have strayed, either to repent or to leave. Or it would entail action on the part of church leaders who must call them to account.

                      About the writing: for rhetorical purposes I am using the word “men” in its correct, historic, and inclusive sense. I am using “we” in the sense that I am articulating a generally-held climate of opinion among authentic Lutherans. By “authentic Lutheran” or a “man of Wittenberg” I mean someone who not only accepts the Bible as divinely inspired and inerrant, but who also fully, firmly and unreservedly accepts and applies the teachings of the Book of Concord in doctrine and practice. This as opposed to those who, while outwardly Lutheran, assimilate to the doctrine and practice other religious bodies.

                      While I am a pastor of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, I am writing also on behalf of teachers, laymen, and congregations who still hold to the Confessions, as well as brothers and sisters in other American Lutheran church bodies. Also, while I am a citizen of the United States of America, I am aware that our Lutheran brothers in other lands, who are facing problems similar to ours, will perhaps be aided by this document. Therefore I have minimized specific references to the American context and to the LCMS.

Jesus is for everyone.

So is Luther.

                      I wish to thank the laymen—especially those of my own congregation—pastors, and theologians who have critiqued this manifesto during its development and given helpful suggestions for revision. Permission is hereby granted to all who wish to reproduce these materials, provided the source is indicated.

Again, my prayer is that it may help draw us together as true Lutherans, united in doctrine and practice as we seek to save the lost with the comforting message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Thank you very much.

Your servant in Christ,

Dr. Frederic W. Baue, STS

Pastor, Bethany Lutheran Church, UAC

Fairview Heights, Illinois


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Lutheran Manifesto[i]

Frederic W. Baue

 

 


Introduction

                      We are in the church militant. We live in a time of war. The forces of Satan with his lies and deception are arrayed against us. Only by standing as one can we gain the victory, with the help of God. We must not only take up the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. We must also take up the shield of faith, that is, our public confession of doctrine. Therefore as Lutherans—as true men of Wittenberg—we stand with pastor Luther, with teacher Melanchthon, with layman John the Steadfast, and with our fathers in the faith in holding fast to the sacred vow we made upon our ordination as pastors, our commission as teachers, or upon taking membership in a Lutheran congregation as laymen. That is, we accept the entire prophetic and apostolic books of the Old and New Testaments as the sole source and norm of doctrine and life, and we subscribe wholeheartedly and unreservedly to the three Ecumenical Creeds and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church, as contained in the Book of Concord of 1580, as a right exposition of Christian dogma. We accept all the truths that Scripture and the Confessions teach, and we reject all the errors that they condemn.

                      At the root of our current crisis is a problem in the area of confessional subscription. Traditionally we have recognized two bases for confessional subscription: quia—”because” the Confessions agree with Scripture; and quatenus—”insofar as” the Confessions agree with Scripture. The quia basis of confessional subscription has normally been found in the more conservative, or confessional, Lutheran church bodies which retain the traditional doctrine of Scripture, and also fully accept and apply the doctrine and practice enjoined in the Lutheran Confessions. Quatenus subscription is found in the more liberal bodies, among whom, we say with tears, it usually accompanies a compromised view of Holy Scripture, along with a weakened commitment to the Confessions.

To these however may be added a third basis: quasi, or “partial” subscription. This view is found among erstwhile conservative men who accept the Bible, but see the Confessions as an historical document that is not central to determining church dogma and practice today. They disregard some articles, especially those which, if followed, would make them distinctly Lutheran and forbid them from assimilating to other faiths. As a result, some of our pastors have become attracted to Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox communions. A few have even left. Others, while remaining among us outwardly, no longer truly walk with us. They have adopted the doctrine and practice of Evangelicalism.[ii] Both groups have the same flaw: a quasi basis for confessional subscription. To them we extend the hand of Christian love: dear brothers, we beseech you, do not forsake your vows. Walk with us in concord.

We men of Wittenberg hold that both Scripture and the Confessions are relevant to our current situation, and we look to them for guidance in doctrine, ministry, and life, especially as we face new challenges to our faith from within and without in this hour of crisis. Specifically:

Thesis One. Unity.

                      With the Preface of the Augsburg Confession we affirm our commitment to Christian unity. We pledge ourselves to co-operation in externals with our fellow Christians wherever and whenever possible, especially in humanitarian acts of mercy. We gladly work with our fellow Christians for good ends in the civil realm in areas that benefit the whole body politic such as traditional marriage, the sanctity of life, and natural law. We seek opportunity for cordial yet honest ecumenical dialog in hope that theological differences may be resolved and true concord achieved on the one and only basis possible—complete agreement in all articles of faith. We regard it as positive wherever creedal Christianity arises from the ashes of modern Protestantism.

                      Accordingly, we reject unionism and syncretism of every description, whether at the local level in seemingly innocuous community services, or at the national level where Christian ministers join in prayer with ministers of other religions that deny the divinity of Christ, or of other church bodies with whom we are not in full doctrinal agreement. These activities give the false impression that it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. We also reject factionalism in the church, especially the politicization of the Lutheran churches by theological liberals, as well as the divisive spirit that fragments the confessional movement.

                      Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

Thesis Two. God.

                      We affirm with Article 1 of the Augsburg Confession that there is one God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who is the Creator and Preserver of all things. We affirm a six-day creation ex nihilo, the dominion of man upon earth, and the headship of the male in marriage, family, and church, as well as the responsible Christian vocation of man and woman. We also affirm responsible stewardship of the earth’s resources, as well as the sanctity of human life, beginning at conception.

                      Accordingly, we reject all the heresies that Article I rejects, as well as more recent errors such as Feminism, especially in its promotion of abortion on demand, advocacy of women’s ordination, and “inclusive” language,[iii] which undermines the doctrine of the Trinity. We reject Darwinism as an assault upon the biblical account of Creation. And we condemn sexual deviancy of every kind, especially homosexuality and pornography, in which the creature is worshipped over the Creator. Also rejected are Process theology and the newly-devised Theology of Evolution, which teach that God is not omnipotent or omniscient.

                      Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

Thesis Three. Sin.

                      We affirm with Article 2 of the Augsburg Confession the doctrine of original sin, holding that all of man’s faculties have been ruined by the Fall. With Article 18 we hold that in the civil realm man’s reason may help, but true knowledge of God comes only by divine revelation. With Article 19 we affirm that there exists an evil angel known as Satan, who, with his demons, is the originator and perpetuator of all evil, and continues to afflict men with lies and temptations.

                      Accordingly we reject the teaching, sadly found in both Catholic and Protestant churches, that human reason was not, or was only partially, impaired by the Fall. We reject all attempts to conflate theology and philosophy, as in Augustine and Eastern Orthodoxy with Plato, or in Thomas Aquinas and Roman Catholicism with Aristotle. We also reject Calvinist[iv] theology, in which logic ignores mystery and paradox, and Arminianism,[v] which accords free will in spiritual matters to unregenerate man. Moreover we reject on the one hand the continued influence of Rationalism, which rejects divine revelation altogether, and on the other hand Pietism, which trusts in feelings and supposedly direct religious experience.

                      Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

Thesis Four. Christ.

                      We affirm with Article 3 of the Augsburg Confession the entire teaching of Scripture on the person and work of Jesus Christ—His divine and human natures, and his saving work on the cross. With Article 17 we affirm His visible return in glory to judge all men. While upholding the centrality of the Resurrection, we affirm that the sins of the world were taken away the moment Christ on the cross said, “It is finished” and gave up the ghost. Accordingly, the use of the crucifix in church art and furnishings is to be encouraged.

                      Accordingly we reject all heresies in regard to Christ, specifically: the explicit denial of the humanity of Christ in Hinduism and all its branches (Buddhism, Transcendental Meditation, etc.); also the denial of the divinity of Christ in Modernism, Islam, New Age theosophy, and Wicca. Also rejected is the relativizing of Christ’s dual natures in Evangelicalism, where Jesus is presented as therapist or life skills coach. Also all false teaching on the Second Coming of Christ as seen in Millennialism of every kind. We reject Mariolatry, and solemnly warn the pope that if he proclaims Mary co-redemptrix, he will have stepped outside the bounds of the apostolic, creedal Christian faith. “For there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

                      Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

Thesis Five. Justification.

                      We affirm with Article 4 of the Augsburg Confession that justification by faith alone is the article upon which the Church stands or falls. We commit ourselves wholly to fighting for the preservation of this truth and to opposing all error which corrodes it.

                      Accordingly we reject all teaching of salvation by works, either wholly or partially, as found in both Catholic and Protestant churches, and is also found in the TV preachers and megachurch pastors who exhort men to moral living without reference to Christ. Also rejected is the recent innovation of Liberation Theology, which supplants the Holy Gospel with political activism.

                      Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

Thesis Six. The Office of the Ministry.

                      We affirm with Article 5 of the Augsburg Confession the centrality of the Means of Grace, that is, the Word and Sacraments, in establishing the Office of the Ministry. Moreover we hold that preaching the Gospel in the public worship service is Evangelism. With Article 14 we hold that this office is to be held by trained, qualified, examined and ordained persons of the male sex, who have been rightly called. With Article 23 we affirm that pastors may marry. With Article 27 we likewise affirm the right of pastors to remain celibate if they have the gift, meanwhile thanking God that since the time of the Reformation legalistic monasticism has fallen into decline. With Article 28 we affirm that our bishops[vi] occupy not a political but a teaching office, and are called to be a pastor to pastors and teachers and congregations, leading by example and not by force.

                      Accordingly we reject the false teaching that marketing techniques are needed to supplement the preaching of the Gospel in the public service to bring men to faith in Christ. Also the trend among us to separate the office of the ministry from the means of grace, thereby developing a personality cult around the man who occupies the office. We reject the pragmatism by which a congregation presumes to hire and fire pastors and make them subservient to the congregation or its lay leaders. Also the synodical policy that treats called church workers as at-will employees who can be fired for cause or for no cause. By the same token we condemn the arrogance by which a pastor presumes to be a dictator, lording it over his congregation even in matters of adiaphora (matters in which Scripture neither commands nor forbids). In the same way we reject the tendency seen in some church leaders to lord it over their charges, functioning as career politicians who have lost their shepherd’s heart.   Bishops should consistently visit pastors and congregations, teaching and working to re-establish uniformity in doctrine and practice. We observe with sadness that the neglect of pastoral visitation has brought about the division and dissent we are experiencing today in church doctrine and practice. We also reject the proliferation of “ministry” offices and the assigning of laymen to do word-and-sacrament ministry.

                      Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

Thesis Seven. Good Works.

                      We affirm with Article 6 of the Augsburg Confession that Christians should be taught to do good works. We affirm with Article 20 that we should not trust in such works alone or in part for salvation, and with Article 21 that we should venerate the saints who went before us and follow their example of faith-inspired deeds. For as Scripture plainly teaches in Ephesians 2:8-10, we are saved by grace and also sanctified by grace. The Gospel must predominate in the pulpit, so that the Christian is filled with the power of the Spirit to enable him to do good works. But the many Scripture lessons, particularly in the Trinity or Pentecost Season, that contain definite instruction in good works according to the Third Use of the Law should be expounded. If this results in longer sermons, so be it.

                      The true good works which God accepts are those which He commands. These include not only active obedience to God’s law, but also Christ-like passive obedience to the suffering caused by those crosses which God in His wisdom permits us to bear. You cannot nail yourself to a cross.

                      Accordingly we again reject the teaching of works righteousness. Likewise the moralistic, “felt-need” sermons preached in many Evangelical, and sadly even Lutheran pulpits, where Christ crucified is in the background or referred to not at all. We reject the teaching that there is no Third Use of the Law. Rejected also is the teaching that a state of sinless perfection can be achieved in this life, as found in the Eastern Orthodox churches, with their doctrine of theosis, and the Pentecostal Holiness churches, with their doctrine of a “second blessing,” or “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” unto sanctification.

Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

Thesis Eight. The Church

                      We affirm with Article 7 of the Augsburg Confession that the Church is to be found wherever the Gospel is preached in its truth and purity and the Sacraments administered according to Christ’s command. With Article 8 we affirm that the church contains both saints and sinners. We reaffirm that complete agreement in all articles of Christian dogma is the only basis for ecclesiastical unity and the only right interpretation of the satis est.[vii] Regarding traditions, we affirm with Article 15 the proper use of festivals and holy days as long as these are not relied upon for merit before God. Likewise fasting with prayer is to be encouraged. With Article 26 we affirm the sanctity of human vocation as laymen serve both God and man in their chosen field of endeavor. At the same time we commend those who have been truly called to a life of study and prayer.

                      With Article 24 we solemnly pledge ourselves “not to abolish the Mass,” but to observe it with devotion and earnestness. (By “the Mass” the Reformers, and we, mean the complete liturgical worship service according to the Western Rite, including the celebration of Holy Communion.) Yet we hold with Article 7 that is it not necessary that ceremonies instituted by men should be observed uniformly in all places. By this we understand such things as using two candles or seven, the wearing of a cassock and surplice or an alb, genuflecting after the Words of Institution, and such. We stress however the underlying assumption of the Reformers—that the external form of worship is not adiaphora. The use of the Order of the Mass in Sunday worship is presumed in the Lutheran Confessions. Therefore with the Reformers we commit ourselves anew to “introduce no novelty which did not exist from ancient times, and to make no conspicuous change in the public ceremonies of the Mass” (Article 24), and to “introduce nothing, either in doctrine or ceremonies, that is contrary to Holy Scripture or the universal Christian Church” (Conclusion of the Augsburg Confession). At the same time we encourage all to follow the example of the Reformers in creating new worship music that is consistent with sound theological and artistic principles and with the accepted traditions of the church universal.

                      Accordingly we reject all the abuses and errors which these articles condemn, and apply them to our current crisis in the following ways: we oppose those false Lutheran churches that can be justly accused of abolishing the Mass. In the name of Missions they oppose the Gospel by introducing novelties such as the revivalistic techniques of the heretic Finney. In this regard we also reject the use of ungodly, secular music styles in church, along with the use of “praise songs” whose subjective lyrics are devoid of theological content. By “inventing new ceremonies and new orders” (Article 26), these false practices have caused scandal and offended consciences. Lex orandi, lex credendi.[viii] You cannot combine Lutheran substance with Evangelical style.

Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

Thesis Nine. Baptism.

                      We affirm with Article 9 of the Augsburg Confession that the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is a Means of Grace. By it man—including infants—are translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s glorious light. Therefore Holy Baptism is the missionary sacrament of the Church. Holy Baptism must in some way be connected with catechesis, that the convert to the faith be taught “all the things Christ has commanded” (Matt. 28:20). With Luther we encourage the use of the sign of the cross in remembrance of our Baptism.

                      Accordingly we reject the false teaching that Baptism is not  Means of Grace and not to be offered to little children.

Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

 

Thesis Ten. The Lord’s Supper.

                      We affirm with Article 10 of the Augsburg Confession that Christ’s body and blood are really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist, and are a valid Means of Grace whether one believes it or not. We affirm with Article 13 that faith is required for the blessings of Holy Communion to be made one’s own, for the Sacrament does not work ex opere operato.[ix] We affirm with Article 22 that both elements are to be distributed to the laity, and we commend the pope for making this concession in Vatican II, urging him to go on and adopt the other reforms enjoined in the Augsburg Confession. As we pledge ourselves to celebrate Holy Communion according to the institution of our Lord Jesus Christ, we encourage all to follow His example in using the chalice, or common cup.

                      Accordingly we reject the false teaching, found in many Protestant churches, that the body and blood of Christ are only a symbolic presence in the Sacrament. Also rejected is the false teaching that Holy Communion should be offered to infants (“Paedo-communion”) who cannot examine themselves. Also the tendency, seen in many of our congregations, to practice open communion.

Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

Thesis Eleven. Civil Government.

                      We affirm with Article 16 of the Augsburg Confession the legitimacy, under the left-hand kingdom of God, of civil government, and that Christians may honorably serve as magistrates, legislators, soldiers, and so on.

                      Accordingly we reject the false teaching that forbids Christians to engage in the secular realm, or to make use of the civil courts even when no other recourse is available. At the same time we reject the false teaching that would have the church rule the state, either with a right-wing political agenda, as with Evangelicalism, or with a left-wing political agenda, as with mainline Protestantism.

Dear brothers who waver on these matters, we implore you to walk together with us in unity of doctrine and practice.

Thesis Twelve. Confession.

                      We affirm with Article 11 of the Augsburg Confession that private confession, which blessed Doctor Luther called “the third sacrament,” should be diligently restored to common use among us. With Article 12 we hold that those who sin after Baptism should be encouraged to go to confession, that they may be forgiven and restored to a state of grace in the church. For we are all sinners and should restore those who err in a spirit of meekness. With Article 25 we affirm that no one should be compelled to enumerate all his sins.

                      Accordingly we condemn ourselves. We all must make confession. For under Protestant influence we Lutherans have “allowed confession to fall into disuse,” as indeed we have with many other marks of the true Lutheran church. Therefore we beg God’s forgiveness and beseech Him to restore this most worthy institution among us, and at the same time to take us by the hand and show us how to be true men of Wittenberg, that is, genuine, orthodox, confessional Lutherans, in the contemporary linguistic and cultural context. Moreover, we pray that as we confess to one another, we may grow in love and trust toward one another, and that the Lord use this salutary medicine to heal the mistrust and political antagonism that has plagued us far too long.

Conclusion

                      Men of Wittenberg, we live in perilous times. If we do not preserve the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, who will? If the Gospel is lost, what will men do? Where will they go to find balm for burnt consciences? And yet… if we do preserve the Gospel, will anyone care? Will anyone want it? Already in our time there is a great falling away. Men’s hearts grow cold. Faithful pastors soldier on, bringing good bread to small, struggling congregations, while down the street the megachurch preacher attracts thousands with a message of straw.

                      We must fight for the Gospel if only for the sake of Christ who died to give it to us. For as Lutherans we have solemnly sworn to uphold both Scripture and the Confessions. And it is the Confessions that squarely and solidly proclaim justification by faith in Christ alone as the central teaching of Scripture. The Confessions were written for the sake of the Gospel.

                      Most of our pastors, teachers, laymen, and congregations are firmly committed to Sacred Scripture. In this they have fulfilled their vow. For this we thank God.

But for many the Book of Concord is just another book on the shelf, to be accorded mere lip service. In this they have forsaken their vow. This is what has eroded concord among us. For this lapse we ask God’s forgiveness.

                      Let every true man of Wittenberg renew his vow to be faithful both to Scripture and the Confessions. Let every man then live up to that vow in thought, word, and deed.

 

                                                                                                                                      St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, 2008              

 

Postlude

Men of Wittenberg, arise!

To arms! To arms!

 

Sound the trumpet.

Raise the standard.

Grip your sword.

Take up your shield.

 

The battle is upon us—

Dark battalions,

Vultures and crows,

Serpents and scorpions,

Legion upon legion,

 

How shall we meet them?

Shoulder to shoulder,

Rank upon rank,

Of one mind,

Of one heart,

Of one spirit,

Standing united,

Marching forward.

 

Men of Wittenberg, arise!

To arms! To arms!Furious in combat.

 


[i] © Copyright 2008 Frederic W. Baue. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute this article at no charge. If reprinted or distributed electronically, kindly acknowledge the source.

[ii] “Evangelicalism,” while having worldwide influence, in America indicates a broad cross-section of biblically and socially conservative Protestant denominations and independent churches characterized by moralistic preaching and revival-style worship. Evangelicalism would include denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA); institutions of higher learning such as Wheaton College and Dallas Theological Seminary; leaders such as Billy Graham and   James Dobson.

[iii] Some Feminists have insisted on changing the traditional “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” to “Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.”

[iv] Calvinist denominations include Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed, and some Baptist churches.

[v] Arminian denominations include Methodist, Pentecostal, and many Baptist churches.

[vi] The Augsburg Confession uses the term “bishop” to describe a pastor who has pastoral oversight of the pastors and schools and congregations in a given area. Most Lutheran church bodies retain use of this term, although the LCMS (with the exception of the English District) uses the term “district president” to describe the same office.

[vii] Satis est= Latin for “it is sufficient” in Article VII: “For it is sufficient for the true unit of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered.”

[viii] Latin: literally, “the rule of prayer is the rule of faith.”   In other words, worship and doctrine are inextricably bound together. If you change one, you change the other.

[ix] Latin: literally, “by the work, working.” Ex opere operato means that the Sacrament works like a magic charm whether you have faith or not.

(To sign the petition click  here.)

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

BREAKING NEWS – “A Lutheran Manifesto” For Consideration by All Lutherans, from The Rev. Dr. Fred Baue — 61 Comments

  1. If you find items that you do not agree with in the Manifesto, state what those items are and why you disagree with them. If you find there are things that should be added, or should be phrased differently, explain why. But, if you can’t find anything you disagree with, sign it!

    And most of all, for goodness sake, let’s stop these ad hominem arguments!

    Dr. Heidenreich, the points of disagreement have been pointed out and ignored.

    Mislabeling objections to someone’s unclear confession as ad hominem isn’t very helpful; association with the Society of the Holy Trinity by the author changes the meaning of the document, just as association with PLI would. The trumpet is not giving a clear sound.

    OTOH, the great thing about the Manifesto is this: with the elimination of but one paragraph, Jerry Kieschnick would be happy to sign it.

    EJG

  2. Rev. Stefanski,

    The last point in your most recent comment means that the Manifesto is an improvement on the situation since Pres. Kieschnick signs on to every paragraph of the Lutheran Confessions. I am glad to see the Manifesto at the very least, in your opinion, draws him out in one paragraph. That’s an improvement.

    Pastor Rossow

  3. Pastor Rossow,

    I have maintained from the beginning that there are many excellent things in the Manifesto…and that it could be greatly improved by a little editing. If the rush for signatures and apparent pride that won’t allow it to be corrected were put aside, it could be a good and unifying document—if the authorship were also allowed to fade into the background, instead of being ‘proclaimed’, so that the difference between the Manifesto and Dr. Baue’s own practice weren’t art of the equation.

    EJG

  4. [If you don’t want to read a long post, you might want to search for the next comment number right now. Don’t say I never did anything for you… EJG]

    In response to Dr. Baue:

    A. Regarding content of the Manifesto. Read the cover letter carefully. Karl Marx was the sole author of the Communist Manifesto; he started a revolution. I am the sole author of the Lutheran Manifesto; I am only expressing the views of a revolution that has already begun… the confessional revolution. Others are free to agree or disagree.

    1. No, you have not expressed the views of the ‘revolution’; instead, as has been pointed out to you (with zero response) is that you have a) gone beyond the Confessions in one point and b) failed to confess against some significant abuses in others.

    2. By submitting the document to this site with a call for signatures, you leave those who agree in large part but disagree in small, but significant, areas to either ‘look like they’re not confessing with you’ or to violate their consciences. What has been voiced here by several is that such an approach without first calling for comments is inappropriate. It violates both the dynamic and the trust of the assembled group. (Note that you can’t violate my trust, because I am not and cannot be a part of the group; i.e., this is not a personal complaint, but a statement of what this call for ‘signatures’ accomplishes.)

    3. The wisdom of comparing oneself to Marx escapes me; perhaps one has to be predominantly German to understand it.

    If my writing helps to clarify issues and bring about unity, I shall be gratified. If the critics—whose evaluation is now longer than the manifesto!—wish to produce manifesto of their own that is superior to mine, I shall be happy to read it.

    I can only hope that your use of words is as poor at conveying your true attitude as my use of words is. Folks wished to improve upon what they saw as an excellent ‘work in progress’, but you make it into a ‘take it or leave it, if you don’t like it write your own’ proposition. Instead of allowing those who may well not be able to write as you have done to help you perfect it, you criticize them for giving input and tell them they can go off and do their own thing if they don’t like it. Oh, my, yes, that is so uniting!

    Meanwhile I am reminded of Haldir’s words to Legolas in The Lord of the Rings: “Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.”

    Those who seek to improve your work are the divisive servants of the devil. Seriously, do you not actually have a clue how you sound? Good grief, at least I’ll acknowledge that I am so unskilled that I tend to come off as rabidly sarcastic in spite of my intent, but do you really not comprehend just how condescending your ‘tone’ is here, how over the top your reference is? Yet the fact is that no one has sought to estrange you, but you are doing your best to estrange them.

    ?B. Regarding my membership in the STS (Societas Trinitatis Sanctae):?1. I am a member of the STS, which includes ELCA women pastors, but also has members from the LCMS , WELS, and ELS.

    The majority are ELCA; Missouri is represented by such great lights as David Poedel, who hosted the ecumenical Communion service at Kramer Chapel and John Hannah. These are not guys with whom I would want it thought that I am sharing a confession.

    Further, it is not’ mere membership’ that is involved here, as if it were a club; there is a common confession that is made by it including the recognition of the other members as pastors.

    BTW: I hold that there are errors taught by ELS and WELS, too, and that it is ‘normal’ to find errorists there who would join such a group.

    I do not commune at STS retreats. I do not condone women’s ordination.

    Your membership says it all; by being a member of “a ministerium” which accepts (and thereby confesses) women’s ordination, you are supporting the same. I know you don’t want to, and I have said that from my very first post…but you are. You and they are called “pastors” on equal footing. I’m sorry that you don’t see how this muddies your confession, but it most certainly does.

    I consulted with my district president, Rev. Herbert Mueller (Southern Illinois) before joining to make sure that by so doing I was not breaking my vow to avoid unionism and syncretism of every description.

    Well, thank you, Pres. Benke. I’m glad that you have your ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card’, having been assured of your Ecclesiastical Supervisor’s support. Unfortunately, his bad advice is no better than Kieschnick’s bad advice. In this case, it can be that one can give bad advice even with a statement that contains truth, simply because the statement doesn’t go far enough. You don’t participate in STS’s Communion services? Neither do I. Would anyone think you or I did do so? You, perhaps, but not me. Why? Because I’m not a member. Your membership introduces a lack of clarity…just like one’s membership in the Elks or Moose ‘for social purposes’ but with the rejection of the ritual (or the claim that the local lodge as a whole doesn’t do what the national does). Your joining a society in which women’s ordination is an accepted fact (in spite of your own rejection of it) is no different from joining a lodge but rejecting its works-righteousness, etc.

    I have been publicly criticized for being a member of the STS for some time now, but I do not recall any of my critics contacting me or coming to me personally to express their brotherly concern, nor have I seen any of these critics at any STS retreat.

    There is no need to come to you begging you to hear me privately about what you so proudly and publicly proclaim (again, good grief, really: putting ‘STS’ after your name on your joint statement with Kieschnick and the DPs, etc.). Rather, the proper thing to do is to warn against you publicly.

    Ah, but I forget: you Missourians reject what Luther writes in the Large Catechism under the Eighth Commandment and falsely use your rejection of it as a club to bash the heads of those who might publicly ask for a public answer for the works that you do publicly.

    If I stick some letters after my name, I expect to be asked about them or, if what they mean is known, to be praised or condemned along with the group designated by those initials, whether it be STS, SSP, WELS, ELDONA, or NASCAR. But then, I’m funny that way; I don’t see much point in putting letters after my name if I have to qualify them.

    At STS retreats I have frequent conversations with confessional ELCA pastors—do you remember the sainted Lou Smith or Michael McDaniel, both STS members who received standing ovations at the Ft. Wayne symposium?—who are distressed about the direction of their church body, and who look to Missouri for solace and leadership. Should I give up those associations for the sake of political correctness??

    Association—even attendance at the retreats—is not the issue; membership is. Oh, and hat’s off to you for your little jab: those who wish you to confess clearly are just ‘politically correct’. Clear Confession, for you, equals “Political Correctness.” Amazing.

    2. I am also a member of the LCMS, which includes pastors and congregations that practice unionism, have female ministers, or laymen in altar-and-pulpit ministry, practice open communion, ignore the confessions, teach evolution, question the authority of Scripture, and use contemporary worship that “abolishes the mass” (AC 24), as well as schismatics for whom no-one is quite conservative enough to pass scrutiny.

    It is always interesting to see a man set himself as the standard for what is and is not Confessional Lutheranism. Such a man labels others as extremists and schismatics who demand his ‘political correctness’ because he seeks to justify his own lack of a clear confession in whatever pet area he has adopted. (Strangely, Dr.. Heidenreich doesn’t note this recurring theme in his note of chastisement on the BJS blog…)

    Of course, it is interesting to see you equate membership in STS with membership in the LCMS. I have to conclude that you are right: membership in either one leaves one with a muddy confession.

    Yet for all her faults, this church is my mother. She gave me life.

    While, indeed, “no one can call God his Father who does not have the Church as his Mother,” the Missouri Synod is not the Church.

    Besides which Missouri is undergoing a transformation through the grassroots confessional movement and is highly redeemable. Should I turn my back on my mother??

    I hope that your dream comes true. I would rather you understood that it was a dream.

    3. I am a member of a family in which my mother-in-law is Methodist, my father-in-law is Presbyterian, my son attends an ELCA congregation, and my daughter is dating a boy who goes to a Pentecostal church. My wife was not a lifelong Lutheran. I myself was caught up in the charismatic movement in my younger days. Should I sever ties with my family? With myself??

    This, I dealt with earlier. It is a non sequitur based entirely on emotion and deceives the reader, leading him away from the point of the objection. To restore us to the right track, I ask: Do you have to join the Methodist, Presbyterian, ELCA, and Pentecostal churches in order to maintain ties with your family? Thus, the vacuousness of #3 is quite apparent.

    4. I am active in the local music community and have many disreputable friends. Some are homosexual. Some are atheist. Some are crazy. But I am their only contact with the truth of Jesus Christ, and they often turn to me for spiritual guidance. Should I leave them in darkness??

    Once again, you have tried to equate a social construct with formal membership in a confessing body in which certain propositions are accepted/expected among the membership.

    I am a Christian and follow Jesus, who ate with sinners and tax collectors, meanwhile teaching them the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Pharisees criticized him for it but not to his face. They went behind his back and whispered amongst themselves or complained to his disciples. But Jesus ignored them and went right on associating with outcasts. Would you now have me sever my ties with Jesus??To those who judge me guilty by association I say: Go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”?

    I’m sorry; I had forgotten…that you were…y’know…Jesus. Further, I had forgotten that confronting someone in a forum where they publicly confess two different things (“I’m against women’s ordination, but call certain women ‘pastors’ by my membership in STS”) was whispering behind your back. I challenge you, though, to prove that Jesus became a member of the prostitutes or tax collectors guilds in order to associate with them.

    Your use of irrelevant argumentation to try to get others to accept your mischaracterization of those who seek to improve both your Manifesto and your confession-in-life is truly sad and tiresome.

    C. Why I am a member of the Society of the Holy Trinity:?1. To be a better Christian by learning to pray the Daily Office.?2. To be a better Lutheran by learning from other traditions, and also to encourage those who look to Missouri for solace and leadership.?3. To be a better pastor by mutual visitation, learning how to administer Private Confession and Absolution, and how to reverently conduct a liturgical service.?In short, I joined the STS to get things I was not getting in the LCMS.

    None of those things would have required your joining. All of those things could have been done without a questionable membership coming into the mix. #2, especially, sounds like communing those with whom one is ‘almost in fellowship’. (Readers, please understand that statement: I did not say that Dr. Baue was communing anyone or communing with anyone; I said that it is similar to the practice of some bodies who don’t wait for a recognition of full fellowship to start communing one another, but who do so ‘while the details [i.e., doctrine] are being worked out’. You don’t formally join errorists in order to straighten them out; again, doing so is like practicing open Communion.)

    However, my experience in the STS has helped me overhaul the Southern Illinois District Pastoral Conference (of which I am chairman) along the lines of an STS retreat, structuring it around the daily office, with time for Confession and Absolution prior to the Eucharist, singing of Psalms, and so forth.

    Weird…I managed to do things like that at conferences without having to join STS; I wonder whether you might have been able to observe one of their retreats and do the same without joining? I guess we’ll never know.

    Response has been positive. Ask Weedon.

    Wow, cool! The opposite of ad hominem: an irrelevant appeal to authority! Seriously, did Pr. Weedon say, “Thank you so much, Fritz, for joining STS! We should all join so that our conferences will always be this way!”? Or, did he rightly thank you for doing what any member of SSP or LLPB would have done (except that with LLPB the chant would have been Gregorian)?

    ?As an aside, I would observe that the women pastors I have met in the STS are dedicated servants of the Lord and competent theologians who, in the LCMS, would have made first-rate deaconesses. But in the ELCA they were directed only to seminary.

    If they think women can be pastors, I sure wouldn’t want them as deaconesses. BTW: ELCA does have deaconesses. If they’re competent theologians, they realize that they have no Office and have stopped pretending to be pastors, right? No…the membership roster lists several pretending to be Called by God to serve parishes as pastors. Then again, many ‘competent’ people simply refuse what God’s Word says and resist any effort to correct them.

    Besides which, the STS actually formed in reaction to hard-core feminists who were trying to revise the language of the baptismal formula to eliminate the “sexist” Father-and-Son language. It’s easy to stereotype images in the imagination, harder to comprehend real people.

    Yes, it’s easy for you to accuse me (and others) of working from stereotypes, of being schismatic, of not coming to you privately about your public error, of wanting you to divide yourself from your family, musician friends, and…(gulp!)…Jesus, but it is far more difficult to honestly appreciate why anyone would have a problem with your unnecessarily joining an organization in which membership itself confesses the acceptability of women’s ordination (since ‘ordained’ women are addressed as ‘pastors’ [cf. this year’s Dues Letter], just as are the men). As Bauer rightly asserts, such affiliations have a bearing on hermeneutics, etc. The fact that instead of taking your space to bring comfort to those with concerns—much less to answer those who made excellent observations regarding omissions, etc., in the document—you chose to vilify your “critics” adds another layer to my wariness.

    My wife, wise person that she is, tells me that I ought not waste my time with this response. She is wise, but she is not a pastor. A pastor sees a document with potential and a man who militantly rejects any attempt to improve ‘his’ document (btw…once a document is submitted for signatures, it is no longer ‘yours’, but the Church’s) or to call him to have his life clearly confess what his words seek to convey…and that makes a pastor’s heart fill with grief that demands expression for the benefit of those involved. Such expression may well take the form of cajoling, scolding, sarcasm, and the like—especially if the pastor doing the responding tends to be both ineloquent and truly perplexed at the lack of humility and desire for a co-operative course of betterment in one whose skills so far exceed his own. I am sorry for my rough tone; if I knew a better way to cover the ground covered above, I would do it, but, sadly, I do not. (I would try to excuse it as ‘liturgically-informed zeal instigated by Michaelmas’, but even I wouldn’t believe that; rather, it is simply that I am oafish and I do not understand.)

    At this point, you (all) can have your rest from me. I do ask, however, for the sake of my own evaluation of things and my consideration of future involvement in/promotion of things BJS whether BJS condones membership in the Society of the Holy Trinity.

    EJG

  5. I have to second Rev. Stefanski’s last question of BJS.
    He makes a compelling case for problems in this association in STS–moreso than Pastor Baue makes in defending it.
    I can’t imagine Pastor Baue urging his flock to associate with religious groups that conflict with their own public confession; an association that, on its face, might call into question the truth of his members’ own confession.
    It reminds me sadly of our 1960s-era justification for not outwardly opposing the military draft. It wasn’t because we were afraid of authority or of the consequences of open rebellion, we offered, but because we thought we could transform things (bring ‘the revolution’ to bear, that is) from the inside.
    Oddly enough, that rather happened to the military, and to the culture at large. And it’s not all good.
    It appears, from Pastor Baue’s own justifications on this site, that, more than anything else, he’s a member because he wants to be. Anything he wanted to accomplish thru his membership, or has accomplished, is and was available elsewhere, without the cost of a questionable association.
    Sadly, he did not even mention ‘changing STS from the inside’ as even one motivation. He seems content to let them be them, and to let himself be one of them.
    Not in practice, but in association merely? That’s where hypocrisy begins.
    The good outweighs the bad? How does that wash for the members of Pastor Baue’s own congregation? What would he allow or deny his communicants, on the basis of such associations?

  6. Thanks to Pr Stefanski (and others) for asking many of the questions that I was thinking.

    I wish the manifesto could have been posted on its own independent site, rather that BJS. The fact that a document that, in my way of thinking, is unfinished, makes me question the wisdom of joining BJS. I have no problem with the manifesto (or any other document of this sort) being mentioned or published on the BJS site. My concern is that BJS should be a site for education and discussion, not coercion.

    Someone suggested going ahead and signing the manifesto, basically because it is well-intentioned. Later, another writer indicated that ongoing comments may cause the manifesto to be changed at a later date. If I sign on now, can I “un-sign” later if I don’t like the changes? Visions of AC/UAC are dancing through my head.

  7. Rev. Stefanski et. al.,

    I have been busy caring for my flock and getting the next issue of the Steadfast Quarterly printed and have not had time to invest all that is needed in this important discussion. I have had limited interaction with Dr. Baue since the posting of the Manifesto but based on the comments above, there will be more in the weeks to come.

    Concerning the authorship of the Manifesto, I do believe that Dr. Baue is acting in humility. I cannot look into one’s heart but I can say that it has been presented to BJS by Dr. Baue in all humility. You may have experience with Dr. Baue that suggests otherwise but I have not seen anything but devotion to the confesional cause in the man.

    I believe it has his name attached to it because he is trying to stress that it is not a confession but a personal call to arms. I also believe that this is not the act of ego but of courage – being willing to take one for the team.

    Does the Manifesto lay ground work for a future confession. That is not its intent but I could see it serving as such, in which case the personality would most likely drop out, although it is not a requirement for a confessional statement, n. b. the Treatise, the Small Catechism and the Large Catechism.

    I have great respect for you but in this case of this Manifesto it seems like there is undo attention on the process.

    In terms of Dr. Baue’s association with the Society of the Holy Trinity, that is a matter for our board to consider. We appreciate all of the helpful input we have recieved. We will take this matter up in our BJS virtual meeting room.

    Concerning issues raised with the substance of the document, those are best taken up with Dr. Baue. I hope he will address them in this forum. Of course, it is not that simple. BJS has posted the Manifesto and so we bear accountabolity in this matter as well. If there is ever to be any use beyond its stated use as a call to arms, it would be good for folks like you, the Rt. Rev. Jack Bauer (whoever that might be) and others to be involved in crafting some future statement.

    As time allows I will comment on more of the matters presented in this long string of commentary. Thank you everyone for your input. No one ever said bringing Confessional Lutherans together would be easy. No, it is a lot like hearding cats. (Did I mention that I have a kitty – the world’s best kitty? His name is Happy Bob but that is for another post, or maybe not. I think I am oversharing now and putting what little credibility I have into jeopardy.)

    More to come…

    Pastor Rossow

  8. Concerning the authorship of the Manifesto, I do believe that Dr. Baue is acting in humility. I cannot look into one’s heart but I can say that it has been presented to BJS by Dr. Baue in all humility. You may have experience with Dr. Baue that suggests otherwise but I have not seen anything but devotion to the confesional cause in the man.

    My only assertion wrt humility is in the manner in which Dr. Baue has dealt with “his critics.” I at no point made any reference to him writing it out of ego; that was someone else and I disagree with him.

    I have great respect for you but in this case of this Manifesto it seems like there is undo attention on the process.

    Not at all; while the truncated process and seeming rush to subscription have compromised the document’s content, it is not the process of bringing it into being that so troubles me, but the negative reaction of the author to his ‘baby’ being judge (and found decent in all but a few points…it’s like getting mad because someone noticed that your beautiful child had dirt on her face and offered a wet wipe to clean her off).

    In terms of Dr. Baue’s association with the Society of the Holy Trinity, that is a matter for our board to consider. We appreciate all of the helpful input we have recieved. We will take this matter up in our BJS virtual meeting room.

    This is much appreciated; I hope that the end result is his foregoing such membership for the clarity of confession and good of the cause.

    Concerning issues raised with the substance of the document, those are best taken up with Dr. Baue. I hope he will address them in this forum.

    Indeed. Addressing them and amending the document would be the right thing to do and one thatis simpler now than it will be in three months. So far, we’re talking about three or four small additions and one partial re-wording (making the infant Communion part say what ELDoNA’s “Malone Theses” say would be plenty)…and, really, I don’t think that anything more than that is going to crop up. Oh, that nonsense about being faithful to Scripture without being faithful to the Confessions should go, too; those who are anti-Confessional cannot have it conceded to them that they are faithful to Scripture, or they may rightly say that the Confessions are an ‘add on’, that ‘Lutheranism’ is ‘Christianity plus something non-essential’, etc.

    But, other than that…good grief, if I could produce something that needed this little editing, I would be doing cartwheels, not going around calling people schismatics like Dr. Baue did!

    I would ask that you re-read the previous posts in light of the above and not-oversimplify the objections that have been raised, nor make them out to be personal attacks on the man. Noting the inconsistency of his actions and his words is not calling him (especially/strangely) “evil”; all of us contradict our words, our confession every day…but, yes, when our names appear on something, what we do has an impact on what we say and both how it will be received and what folks will think we mean.

    Herding cats is really not all that difficult…if there is food available and if you are not going that far. In my experience with ‘Confessional Lutheran Leadership’ in the LCMS, part of the difficulty (especially in 2001-2004) was that there was always an assumption of some need for a massive moving needed to get everybody to get along. There wasn’t then, and there isn’t now: a few little changes for the better and you’ll find folks ready to sign on…even moreso if you then formulate a plan of action based on the edited Manifesto, such as a state of confession…

    EJG (more nuanced than most seem to think)

  9. Hi, I don’t know if Pastor Baue is reading these comments, but Pastor, if you are, I just want to say Thank-you for your dedication to your brothers and sisters in the Lord, and for your faithful service to Him. Larry and I also want to thank you for blessing us in 1990 officiating over our marriage, 24 years strong. Hoping that you and your family is well. I still have pictures of your son catching my bouquet. I imagine he is grown so big. Gods blessings be upon you always…

    In His love,
    Cathy Dodge

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