(This is part six in a series. To view the other posts in this series click on “Klemet Preus” in the Brothers CafÃ©.)
Now let’s look at the synod’s action which was “taken before the ungodly for judgment” (I Corinthians 6) in its “Notice of Opposition” against Harry Madsen and indirectly against Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz on December 2, 2008.
On December 2 the synod, obviously, did not decide simply to let the disputed matter rest and do nothing. Had the synod done nothing back in December then the matter would really be over. There would be no dispute.
But the synod did something and there are consequences for its actions. There are three possible explanations of the synod’s legal action against Harry Madsen according to Dr. Luther. First, maybe the synod filed this legal action in the secular courts because the synod is seeking vengeance against these Christian men. If that is the case then the synod should change its mind and decide “rather to be wronged” as God says in First Corinthians 6. If this is the case then those responsible for this legal action should repent, ask for forgiveness and not do it again.
On the other hand, maybe the synod engaged in a legal action against other Christians as a zealot to make sure that Harry, Todd and Jeff are punished for their sins and learn their lesson as Luther allows. Perhaps the synod is aware of sinful actions on the part of Harry, Todd and Jeff of which the rest of us are ignorant. Did they try to steal something that belonged to the synod? If that is the case then perhaps they should be taught a lesson. Did they lie? Then perhaps they should be exposed. Did they misuse or intend to misuse the trademark “Issues etc.” which was under dispute? If that is the case then perhaps they need to be punished.
Third, maybe the synod and the good people at Issues etc. simply could not come to agreement on the matter and in good will toward each other decide to bring the matter before the secular authorities. Of course this explanation seems extremely unlikely since the response of Harry, Todd and Jeff to the actions of the synod against them was anything but agreeable. They cried foul to high heaven much like President Kieschnick cried foul when an action was brought against him back in 2005. Todd and Jeff would certainly have said something about the petition which was signed by 2000 people in February asking that that the synod drop the matter if they were agreeably working with the synod to resolve matter through the secular authorities.
So, we, who have watched as this dispute has been worked out before us in a very public manner, are confronted with two ways to interpret the actions of the synod of
December 2, 2008 against Harry Madsen. Either the synod sinned in its action or Harry, Todd and Jeff have sinned and should be publicly punished.
Of course you are probably saying, “Hey, it’s over, the synod dropped the matter. Move on.” Well, yes the dispute seems to have been settled and that’s great. But before it was apparently settled an opposition was filed which forces us to question the integrity of either the synod or of Harry, Todd and Jeff.
Unless the synod admits it acted in vengeance in its “notice of opposition” against Harry, Todd and Jeff, then the notice castes aspersions on the integrity of these Christians even though the matter has apparently been subsequently dropped.
Let me repeat. The Missouri Synod can’t have it both ways. When the synod engaged in an action before the secular authorities against Christian gentlemen they did a public thing. This public thing is known to the world. And this public thing must be explained.
The synod and its highest leadership need to say that its “notice of opposition” against other Christians of December 2, 2008 was wrong and these men have done nothing which justifies this action. Lacking such a clear an unequivocal statement the synod allows the integrity of these men to be questioned and exacerbates its sin against them.
The question we must confront is this. Who actually is responsible for the action of December 2, 2008?