What’s More Important: Doctrine or Missions? Rev. Matt Harrison Gets it Right, by Rev. Andy Simcak

(Rev. Simcak writes this regular column on behalf of the Texas Confessional Lutherans. His other posts can be seen by clicking here or viewing the “Related Posts” in the right column.)

This has become in our church body a serious problem, which doesn’t seem to want to disappear. In fact, it is continuing to be a very divisive issue.

There are those in synod who espouse the comment made by our synodical president, Dr. Gerald Kieschnick:

“People, this is NOT a game. Our incessant internal purification at the expense of the eternal destiny of the souls of men and women from whom Christ died must stop!”

Others support the comment made by the first president of synod, Dr. C.F.W. Walther:

“Many say, “instead of disputing over doctrine so much, we should rather be concerned with souls and with leading them to Christ.” But all who speak in this way do not really know what they are saying or what they are doing.”

Who is correct? Is there a middle ground?

The Reverend Matthew C. Harrison, the Executive Director of the LCMS World Relief and Human Care, in a paper presented at the Walther Conference at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis on November 14, 2008, addressed this vexing problem in a scripturally based manner:

“In 1872 at the founding of the Synodical Conference, Walther preached that the goal and purpose of the Conference must be the “winning of souls.” And how is this goal achieved? Walther’s answer: “Pure doctrine.” And not merely pure doctrine in one point, but pure doctrine in all points. For, asks Walther, how can we rob souls of the consolation of doctrine which God Himself has revealed in scripture and desires all Christians to know? Walther knows of no disconnect between doctrine and mission. There is no sliding scale of doctrinal rigidity versus missional flexibility. Doctrine IS mission. Mission IS doctrine. All theology is practical. All practice is theological. To be doctrinal is to be missional. To be missional is to be doctrinal. The Missouri Synod at her best is doctrinally missional and missionally doctrinal.”

There should be no problem between doctrine and missions!

There should be no controversy making one more important than the other!

There should be no time to discuss or waste in addressing this issue!

Why? The holy, inspired, inerrant Word of God has settled the importance of doctrine and missions through the words of our Lord and Savior in Matthew 28:19-20:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching to obey everything I have commanded you.”

The Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ settles the matter once and for all people and all times:

It is NOT missions or doctrine!

It is NOT missions being more important than doctrine!

It is NOT doctrine being more important than missions!


Rev. Harrison has done the church a big favor by reminding us on the basis of Scripture that Christians are to make disciples of all nations AND teach them to obey everything He has commanded us. Not only ONE or the OTHER, but BOTH…AND!

We thank Rev. Harrison for stating it so well in his presentation that we are to be “doctrinally missional and missionally doctrinal.”

Rev. Andrew Simcak, Jr.,
President, Texas Confessional Lutherans

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