CONCORD BOUND? by Rev. Andy Simcak

(Rev. Simcak’s posts are archived on the Regular Columns page under the heading of Texas Confessional Lutherans.)

Tucked away in the “Board Briefs of the LCMS Board of Directors,” which was tucked away in the “Reporter” of February, 2009, which was tucked away in the February “Lutheran Witness” was an article entitled, “Concord Bound.”

Many of you may not be aware that the 2007 Houston synodical convention passed Resolution 4-01A, “To Plan Summit to Restore Harmony.” The resolution assigned the responsibility “to initiate a specific plan for the sake of the whole church to restore harmony in our Synod” to the Council of Presidents and the Board of Directors.

The Committee has chosen to call itself the “Task Force for Concord.” Rev. Paul Sieveking is the chairman of the 12-member Task Force.

What is baffling to some of us is that the Task Force “has decided to slow down its planning process and to work toward a process rather than an event. It will be a process that is regularly used in public arenas, a process different from what has already been tried by the church, a process that listens to all points of view and then moves forward on the basis of all parties having been heard, a process that includes the confrontation, listening, and accountability that is found in the public square when significant issues are addressed.”

Some observations and questions:

  1. The formation of this Task Force makes it even more obvious that there is an ever widening lack of harmony in both doctrine and practice in our synod. This is not news!
  2. Why do we really need another Task Force to attempt to restore harmony? We believe and follow our synodical Constitution (Article II Confession: “The Synod and every member of the Synod accepts without reservation 1. The Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and practice.)” The inerrant, inspired Scriptures decide what is to be taught, believed, and practiced! (2 Timothy 3:16).
  3. Why are there not any professors from both our seminaries on this Task Force? The problems in our synod are primarily theological. The lack of seminary professors on this Task Force is a huge mistake.
  4. Would it not have been better to have the faculties or representatives of both faculties serve as the members of the Task Force? We have freely utilized the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) as well as other Task Forces to resolve matters of doctrine and practice. They can be helpful in such matters. However, when harmony is being sought in our divided synod, why weren’t the seminaries involved?
  5. We are being told that the Task Force for Concord is following “a process that listens to all points of view.” Do we really want to believe that God’s Word teaches different points of view?
  6. Why can’t we simply believe all the teachings of God’s Word as “the only rule and norm of faith and practice”? Do we have to go through a “process” to determine God’s Word in both doctrine and practice?
  7. The Task Force “will begin a process that will include hearings, dialogues, reaction, and strategy design.” What in the world is “strategy design”?
  8. Hearings will be “facilitated by a professional facilitator.” Is it good stewardship to recall foreign missionaries due to lack of funds (which has been done) and spend money on many hearings and a professional facilitator?
  9. Participants at these hearings will “be selected according to points of view.” What does this mean? Are there different points of view even though we confess that the written Word of God is “the only rule and norm of faith and practice?”
  10. The theological disharmony in our synod on both doctrine and practice may cause some of our members to doubt the teachings of our church body as the full teaching of God’s Word. It can also only hurt our efforts to convince those outside our church body that what we teach and practice is God’s Word and God’s Word alone!
  11. After the hearings are done, a draft created, orderly discussion, a vote will be taken “to which all will agree to abide.” What does this mean? We’re going to vote on doctrine? What if someone disagrees with the vote?

The Task Force for Concord will hopefully complete its task prior to the 2010 Houston convention and report to the convention.

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

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