(This is part seven in a series. To view the other posts in this series click on “Klemet Preus” in the Brothers CafÃ©.)
On December 2, 2008 the LCMS went to the secular government in a disputed matter with Harry Madsen and indirectly with Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz.
As I have shown this action was not in and of itself wrong. At the same time the action does betray a litigious attitude which ought to be of concern to synodical leadership and the synod as a whole. Further the action has created questions about the integrity of Harry, Todd and Jeff to which the synod needs to respond. The synod must unequivocally say that these Christian gentlemen did nothing to merit the action against them in which the synod took a disputed matter before the secular government.
Here we analyze how such an action could have happened in the first place. Again you may say, “The matter has been dropped. Just leave it alone” But the synod needs to learn from its mistakes. These mistakes cause injury to others, waste precious time and resources and bring the criticism of the world upon our church body. And in this case the mistakes seem very obvious.
Just ask the question, “Who filed the December 2, 2008 ‘Notice of opposition’ against Harry Madsen?
Well the obvious answer is that the synod filed it. The attorneys whose names are on it filed in on behalf of the synod. But who in the synod authorized this action.
Was it the Board of Directors? It seems not because there is no record in the minutes of the Board making such a decision.
Was it the president of the synod, President Kieschnick? That, frankly, sounds unthinkable. It is unthinkable for three reasons. First, before the matter was reportedly dropped by an action of the Board, president Kieschnick denied being aware of any threats against Issues etc. Second President Kieschnick was pretty adamant in his letter to the synod of February 26 that he had nothing to do with this:
As indicated during our Council of Presidents discussion of that topic earlier this week, contrary to allegations and rumors you and I have recently received, I have not filed, initiated, supported, or encouraged any lawsuit against Rev. Todd Wilken or Mr. Jeff Schwarz, nor have I ever had a desire to do so. Any allegations or rumors to the contrary are simply untrue. As an individual Christian, as a Lutheran pastor, and as President of The Lutheran Churchâ€”Missouri Synod, I take seriously the Holy Spirit-inspired words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 regarding such matters.
As I have pointed out earlier it seems apparent that to President Kieschnick it would be a sin against I Corinthians to have anything to do with filing a legal action in the secular courts against other Christians. Third, before the unhappy matter between the synod and Issues etc. developed, President Kieschnick has consistently indicted that it is sinful for Christians to take each other to court.
It is impossible for me to believe that President Kieschnick would give permission to the lawyers of the church to do something which was so abhorrent to him.
I suppose that President Kieschnick could make a distinction between the “Notice of Opposition” filled on December 2 and a “lawsuit.” But such a distinction is not made in 1st Corinthians 6 and I have to believe that President Kieschnick’s past experiences with lawsuits has made him aware of the meaning of the word “pragma” in I Corinthians 6. Recall that it means “disputed matter” a much boarder concept than “lawsuit.” Certainly, no one could reasonable suggest that the “notice of opposition” does not fall under the category of “disputed matter” of which the Holy Spirit speaks in I Corinthians.
No, it is inconceivable that President Kieschnick had any awareness of the December 2 action, much less have authorized it, since such authorization and even an acquiescent awareness would be in direct violation of his own principles.
Who then authorized the December 2 action against other Christians? Was it the Chief Administrative Officer? Did the lawyers just do it on their own?
I do not know. But this I do know. We have a notice of opposition, a disputed matter brought before the secular authorities, “the ungodly.” This is an action which according the President Kieschnick’s understand is sinful. This action is done either without his knowledge or with his knowledge. Clearly he did not know by his own February statement. So someone is doing things at the synodical level without the president’s knowledge which he considers sinful.
This raises so many questions that another blog is needed.