Lutheran Guests from Confessional Lutheran Synods ““ not in Fellowship with the LCMS on Issues, Etc: WELS President Pr. Mark Schroeder and ELS Pr. David Jay Weber, by Jon Townsend

We at BJS have created a column where we hope to review programs from Issues, Etc. Our goal in doing this is to help people to understand what types of programs are available on Issues, Etc. and perhaps to generate interest in the show by new listeners. We also hope to make it easier for you to introduce Issues, Etc. to friends or members of your church; you can print these out and hand them to people who might be interested in the topic. Listen to the show (using one of the four podcasts at the bottom of this article) to learn more about this topic, or go to the On Demand page on Issues Etc for other programs.


Doctrine and Practice are two things that for a confessional Lutheran you can’t separate, they are intimately related. Doctrine gives birth to practice, practice flows from what you believe and teach. And so to try to artificially separate those two as to ‘you can do the one without the other’ just doesn’t work. WELS President Pr. Mark Schroeder

As I begin to write, I have listened to the interview with Pr. Schroeder 5 times. The first couple of times I was just happy to hear such an open, honest conversation on the state of the major quia confessional Lutheran bodies in North America. If one listens to just the tone and tenor of the discussion between Pr. Wilken and Pr. Schroeder it was just absolutely refreshing. The world of hardcore debate within discussion groups and blogs can be grating and this discussion was the opposite. But, it was not dialogue in the post modern sense of the word; it was agreement! I truly failed to see how there could be any “confessional” difference between the two men talking.

This leads me into my response upon the third listen. I was angry. Why are we separated from one another? This really hits home for me as a former member of an LCMS congregation who now belongs to a WELS congregation. I heard my former pastors preach and teach and I hear my pastor preach and teach and it is from essence the same: None of them would fail the so called “Wilken Diagnostic”. Both my current and previous pastors practice closed communion. All three believe, teach and confess what is in the Book of Concord and practice it to the best of their abilities within their congregations – yet we are not in fellowship. When one thinks that the LCMS and ELCA often dialogue with one another, yet official conversations between the LCMS and WELS are minimal at best, the situation is even more vexing!

The fourth and fifth times, brought me some hope: The true clear voice of the LCMS, the voice that echoes CFW Walther, was talking with the true clear voice from the WELS. In this brotherly conversation, in which there was no strife, I found the core of the problem. The voices that are not true and clear have been too loud and prideful for too long and we children of the doctrine and practice of the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church, the Reformation Fathers and the Fathers of Confessional Lutheranism in North America have been confused and misled and have allowed braggarts and brawlers and deceitful spirits to bring division where none should exist.

As a postscript to this open and honest discussion between the two largest conservative Lutheran denominations, Issues, Etc. also did 3 hours of conversation with Pr. David Jay Weber, a pastor from the ELS (a synod in fellowship with the WELS) on the subject of Eastern Orthodoxy.

I urge all Lutherans to check these episodes out.

As I have written at this website before, it is time to sit down and talk amongst confessional Lutherans and perhaps realign the constellations of North American Lutheranism.

Anyone for Post Synodical Lutheranism???


Listen to one of the four shows below to learn more about this topic, or go to the On Demand page on Issues Etc for other programs. At Issues, Etc., we love our OnDemand listeners!

Pr. Mark Schroeder 5-27-09: [podcast]http://www.issuesetc.org/podcast/238052709H1S1.mp3[/podcast]

Pr. David Jay Weber 6-1: [podcast]http://www.issuesetc.org/podcast/241060109H1S2.mp3[/podcast]

Pr. David Jay Weber 6-2: [podcast]http://www.issuesetc.org/podcast/242060209H1.mp3[/podcast]

Pr. David Jay Weber 6-4: [podcast]http://www.issuesetc.org/podcast/243060309H1p.mp3[/podcast]

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

Lutheran Guests from Confessional Lutheran Synods ““ not in Fellowship with the LCMS on Issues, Etc: WELS President Pr. Mark Schroeder and ELS Pr. David Jay Weber, by Jon Townsend — 48 Comments

  1. Yes. People, we need to step back and look at this situation — and then to acknowledge that, whatever the right thing to do may be, it CAN’T be THIS. The present arrangement is WRONG. It is a failure, however comfortable some of us Confessional Lutherans may be with it.

    A comment from a Lutheran layman in North Dakota.

  2. When one thinks that the LCMS and ELCA often dialogue with one another, yet official conversations between the LCMS and WELS are minimal at best, the situation is even more vexing!

    Maybe the leadership of the LCMS is closer in their confession to that of the ELCA than they are to WELS. If that is the case the leadership has to go or the rest of us need to go.

  3. WELS has some very serious problems on the understanding of the office of pastor, call and ordination, much like some quarters of the LCMS. They are also, historically, a church body very afflicted with good old fashioned Pietism as affects sacramental practice and liturgy. It was so bad, that while originally the ELS was going to share their new hymnal, they dropped out of the project and opted to do their own hymnal. The WELS position on prayer fellowship is also a bit odd and sectarian in some ways.

    If 2010 does not fly in a serious way for the LCMS, It’s Time for a new synod. There are fellowship implications and consequential actions where there is ongoing, persistent doctrinal disagreement, as there is clearly in the LCMS on the office of pastor, the order of creation (women in the church – 3-08a [2004), liturgy, closed communion, ecclesiastical oversight, the charismatic movement, and the still unresolved syncretistic controversy of Benke/Kieschnick/Yankee Stadium.

  4. Rev. Bauer, I urge you to listen to what Pr. Schroeder said in the interview. He addresses your points.
    I think there is room for explanation and clarification on these points.
    Jon

  5. And I second for Post-Synodical Lutheranism. I think this is the smartest way to approach this, or to look at it, and that is not just a realigning within the LCMS but a realignment of **all** Lutheranism in North America. We need a new confessional, orthodox, body that brings together the confessional elements from all the Lutheran denominations out there. The conservative Anglicans just formed a new orthodox body in North America. What’s stopping the confessional, orthodox Lutherans from all the various denominational branches in North America from doing the same?

  6. For the new post-denominational denomination I suggest a series of dioceses each with its own bishop and potential slight variations in practice but all Christ-centered, monergistic, conservative, liturgical, etc. (choose your adjectives). This way we could have a diocese of former WELS folks, former LCMS’ers, ULMA, ELDONA, ELS, (add your group here).

    I picture each of these diocese doing their own seminary training. Men would live with the bishop at his parish for x number of years and study and practice the office. They could also be sent to other bishops for a few weeks at a time for a teaching on that bishop’s specialty. That would provide a sense of unity among the dioceses.

    The dioceses could send their own missionaries out but would coordinate geographically with the other dioceses.

    Separation would be much simpler both for the group of dioceses because they would be doing radical discipline (if necessary, i.e. ditching a diocese) with only one group and not splitting a synod – likewise a diocese, if it is conscinece-bound, can leave the group of dioceses again, without splitting an entire synod.

    And so forth and so on…

    (The biggest problem I see with this is that we all have to learn how to spell “diocese” and “dioceses.”)

    But for now, let’s all work hard for a good election at Houston in 2010 and keep our eyes fixed on that task.

    TR

  7. I am all for being in fellowship with any synod that does not couch their agenda in hidden language and “evangelical touchy feeliness, Rick Warren environmentalism and Joel Osteen “can’t we all just get along and love Victoria” mantras. Please let us get back to dancing with the “one that brung us”.

  8. Confessional solidarity sounds good but there are important differences (e.g. the WELS doctrine of the Ministry, as Rev. Bauer points out) that cannot be overlooked, no matter how nostalgic some might be for the Synodical Conference days. It seems to me that agreeing to disagree is largely responsible for the current sad state of the LCMS. We simply cannot create Christian fellowship. God will create what unity can be had by drawing men to the truth. Let the chips fall where they may.

  9. James Sarver:
    Take a look at the practice on the congregational level and ask yourself the question, what is the practice on the congregational level?
    Clyde Nehrenz made this statement on LQ, or something like it, on the WELS congregational level they practice a Missouri version of the statements on OHM and at the LCMS congregational level they practice a version of the WELS statements on OHM.
    The LCMS has a good statement, but poor practice: The Alley, Praise Leaders (pastoresses?) at youth gatherings etc.
    Again listen to what Pr. Schroeder says about OHM on the episode….

  10. Hasn’t the Church Growth Movement infected Wisconsin as well? Don’t they have their “church and change” group? That might be a deal breaker.

  11. Pastor Becker,

    Good to see you posting here! You often have fresh insights, and your post here is no exception: joining the Latvian church would indeed seem to solve many problems in one fell swoop. Because our synods are non-geographical, this solution is even more workable for us than for the Anglicans, whose diocese are traditioanlly geographical.

    And your suggestion would work well with what Pastor Rossow proposes. The Latvian church could simply work with us on creating several dioceses here in North America. This would be good for everyone, since the Latvians could seperate from a group of American churches it may come to view as problematic without jettising the whole project, and, as Pastor Rossow points out, individual diocese in North American could still seperate from this extension of the Latvian church should they be so conscience-bound.

    There’d be many details to work out – especially amongst the Latvians themselves. They would have serious ecclesiasical concerns to consider. But such a dialog would be fruitful, even if this idea did not pan out.

    But, as TR says, let’s focus on Houston first. I’ve run into several pastors who have either supported Kieschnick in the past or who have simply not participated in the LCMS political process who now say they are supporting Harrison and are planning on attending their circuit forums. Given how close the last two conventions were, and how much popular movement there is toward Harrison, I think Synod, Inc. may be in for a real suprize next summer.

  12. “Post-denominationalism” can mean a lot of things. I am using it here to refer to an era in which large institutional management is not desired.

    Actaully, what Walther and the boys put together was not the beauracratic monstrosity that we have today (where $400,000 is spent on consultants who could care less about theology to tell us how to restructure our synod) and was in a sense Pre-denominationalist.

    Before Christianity was legalized in the west the church gathered around the local bishop. It was not an institution because it could not be an institution. We are entering an era under lord Obama where the church may not be able to be much of an instituton anymore. We will be treated just like any other business. Thus, we can learn from the pre-Christian era how to function less formally which is why I throw out the idea that we may want to return to a looser, diocesan organization.

    Concerning differences amongst conservative Lutherans (e.g. the WELS doctrine of the ministry), I believe that the desperate times that may face us ahead will call for serious theological discussion that will bring us together.

    TR

  13. Don’t forget also that ELS and WELS do not allow women voters. That would be a big thing even for a lot of confessional LCMS parishes that have women voters. ELDoNA, to my knowledge, has not required not having women voters as a official statement, though I think none of the parishes in ELDoNA, if I am correct, actually have women voters. I’m not sure about the ACLC.

  14. So, let’s see…stay in Missouri and don’t belong to the Lutheran World Federation or join the Latvian church and become members of LWF.

    Reference: http://lutheranworld.org/Directory/EUR/EvLuthCchLatvia-EN.html

    Or, link up with the church growth-infested doctrine of the Ministry-errorist WELS, justifying it because their local congregations violate their false doctrine of the Ministry just as much as local LCMS congregations violate the LCMS’s more correct (on paper) doctrine of the Ministry?

    Those are your choices? Really?

    I’m sorry, but, Pr. Rossow, could you have Mr. Fisher design some sort of filter for this site that filters out things that are grossly illogical?

    As to Lefty’s wondering what’s stopping the confessional folk from joining together, the answers are, basically, fear and pride. (I could elaborate, but I’d be accused of trolling, sheep stealing, and whatever else.)

    Y’know what’d be interesting to cover on Issues, Etc.? Space exploration and its theological and ethical questions (which is to say, really, the intersection of science and religion in general) with some Confessional Lutheran from the Mars Society…perhaps the Rt. Rev. James Heiser, a bishop who tolerates no error and is not in fellowship with errorists, whether in the LWF or not. They could even discuss his book on the subject…or all of those black-covered translations of ‘really old stuff’ that he has published through Repristination Press.

    I’d tune in for that.

    EJG

  15. EJG,

    As soon as Norm is done with the “Grossly Illogical Detecting Device for Internet Errors” (GIDDIE for short) we will shoot off a beta copy to you and the bishop.

    I do not know much about the Latvian Lutheran church, but as you say, since they are members of the LWF they would not be an acceptable candidate for the affiliation of dioceses.

    I did not get time to respond yesterday and this gives me that chance. Actually, Phillip and Paul, in what I have designed there is no need to go find a bishop to join in, with and under and if there were, as Stefanski has pointed out, Latvia would not be viable option.

    I am not proposing an episcopal system with a head episkopos but rather a somewhat loose federation of individual dioceses. Of course, it is frought with potential difficulty. A group like ULMA is not interested in a bishop (but they would need some sort of “president” if they ever decided to be more than a mission society) and the looseness of the thing may be its very undoing. But I still think the post-denominational nature of what I have sketched (and please remember it is only a sketch so please do not shoot the sketcher – although I have been shot down before and come back to life) has some merit. It is what synods are really for according to Walther and the boys – training pastors and sending out missionaries. It would be good for all of the confessional groups to be organized and make sure that we do not duplicate work in various regions of the globe and it would be good for cross-pollinating of theolgy to have seminary students study under differing expressions of Lutheran conservativism/confessionalism.

    Interesting thoughts…

    TR

  16. Tim,

    “Conservative” is not a theological term. Theology is not a spectrum from left to right, but a matter of heterodoxy or orthodoxy. While I wouldn’t want to say we can ignore the arguments from the 19th century, the Lutheran Confessions are clear on the office of pastor and what the church is. We don’t need to cross-polinate theology, just hold to that book from 1580. Fellowship can only be established on the basis of agreement in doctrine not on the basis of which end of the conservative-liberal spectrum someone is on. I would love for the old Synodical Conference to get back together, but only if it was on solid confessional grounds not only on paper but also in practice. Even then, I’m not sure its unity was fully based on confessional doctrine more than Walther.

  17. Rt. Rev. Jack,

    First I apologize for all the typos in that previous comment. I went back and edited it.

    You make a good point that I accept. Conservativism is not a theological category and per your point, I will try to not assert it as such.

    BTW – I do not think I have any romantic need to return to the Synodical Conference. I simply think that unity is good in the church visible. Continue to keep me honest on that one.

    What I do think is that NICL, LCA, ALC, ELDONA, ULMA, TAM (add your own group here), etc. may have enough in common to join in some sort of post-deniminational union.

    Whatever post-denominational means (and it may be a bad term that we should reject), I do not use it as an excuse to overlook doctrinal unity. Doctrinal unity is the only form of ecclesiastical unity.

    Let’s take ELDONA and ULMA as an example. I may be mistating thier positions. I have a limited understanding of each of thier positions and an happy to be corrected here. I use them as an example because they are probably as far from each other on whatever contimuum we choose to use. From what I know of each of them I am not sure that they are in doctrinal disagreement. Sure, ULMA highlights the role of the voters assembly in the congregation and they give the impression that they will not put up with a submitting to a bishop. ELDONA on the other hand is built around the office of bishop. In the end however, both groups assert that the word of God is the only rule and norm of doctrine and practice. I don’t think ELDONA says that you must have a bishop to be the church (maybe they do, if so I will stand corrected). If they do, they are wrong.

    Likewise, folks associated with ULMA have said that the voters assembly is the voice of God in the church. That is just dead wrong. But, the congregation constitution required by ULMA does not make that absurd claim.

    As an interesting study in conservative Lutheran unity I would use the constitution from Stefanski’s congregation (a congregation that is in the process of joining ELDONA). It is very Waltherian and yet very much upholds the authority of the office of the ministry. We have tried to do the same thing with our parish constitution.

    Interesting thoughts. To be continued…

    TR

  18. Concerning the WELS abstract doctrine of the office, now that is another story.

    My intuition there is that the WELS folks who are tired of the church growth morons in their synod would come around on the doctrine of the ministry. I have no proof of that and may be dead wrong but it only seems right. They should have learned by watching their church growth peers that a faulty, abstract doctrine of the ministry contributes to the church growth, emergent errors that are cropping up in their synod and that are sadly so prevalent in the LCMS.

    TR

  19. My personal experience has seen less church growth nonsense in the WELS than in the LCMS.

    I think in some ways it is for the laity to unify confessional Lutheranism.

    There is no “thus sayeth the Lord” when it comes to church polity.

    OHM has clear parameters in scripture, but the Apostles also comissioned helpers to distribute food etc.

    I don’t think women’s suffrage is a road block to unity for confessionals.

    I think the laity has a mission to heal these rifts, because those who hold the office of Holy Ministry are incapable of it.

    Jon

  20. Jon,

    Why do you say the clergy are incable of healing these rifts? It seems to me God will use who he will, preferably both preachers and hearers.

    TR

  21. By “helpers to distribute food,” I’m guessing that you’re speaking of the DEACONS who PREACHED and BAPTIZED…i.e., ‘clergy’.

    (At least that’s how orthodox Lutheranism understood them. Modern Lutherans disagree, often favoring later developments as a hierarchy developed around the bishop of Rome, etc.)

    EJG

  22. Pr. Stefanski:
    Honestly, I have no idea why we don’t have deacons. I think the basis is not on scripture, but on Romophobia.

    Pr. Rossow:
    Why are the clergy incapable of it?
    1. The clergy let it happen in the first place.
    2. There was a lack of brotherly respect between theologians when the Synodical Conference was splitting apart, most of whom were called and ordained. There was also a great lack of humility.
    3. Triumphalism.
    4. Called and ordained men, who probably agree with one another on everything else beat the living daylights out of each other re the subject of OHM (See the latest between Pr. Weber and Pr. Preus on LQ). Despite their disagreement it does not change in one iota the efficacy of their current called office, meaning their views on this in no way impact the chief article.

    I think it all comes down to polity and I am starting to think that it is a left kingdom office to exercise and that the “lay princes” of the Church must perhaps reign in their learned theologians for the sake of good order, the orderly Preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments.

    Jon

  23. Pr. Rossow writes:

    What I do think is that NICL, LCA, ALC, ELDONA, ULMA, TAM (add your own group here), etc. may have enough in common to join in some sort of post-deniminational union.

    ACL (which is what I think you meant by “LCA”) is not a fellowship, but an independent group formed to study topics based on the Lutheran Confessions; thus, they do not fit into the equation.

    TAM is not a fellowship and its members are not in fellowship with one another, much less able to join some other body.

    Is NICL a ‘synod within a synod’? Ditto LCA.

    I don’t think ELDONA says that you must have a bishop to be the church

    They don’t.

    Likewise, folks associated with ULMA have said that the voters assembly is the voice of God in the church. That is just dead wrong. But, the congregation constitution required by ULMA does not make that absurd claim.

    But their allowing such a wacko in their membership says that they should not be joined.

    As an interesting study in conservative Lutheran unity I would use the constitution from Stefanski’s congregation (a congregation that is in the process of joining ELDONA).

    I am a member of the ELDoNA; congregations do not join the diocese, pastors do.

    In this way, congregations are under no obligation/not subject to coercion/etc. (nor is the bishop). There neither is nor can be any ‘taxing’ of the congregation to use the ‘corporate logo’, etc. The bishop’s relationship is with the pastors, not directly with the parishes; parish visitations help him to evaluate whether the pastor should continue as a member of the diocese, as well as allowing him to serve the pastor in his seeking to serve the parish with fidelity to Scripture. It is modeled after the German consistory, rather than the Roman/Anglican episcopacy. Communion fellowship exists among the parishes based on the pastors being in fellowship with one another (as it was in the early Church.)

    [HTLC’s constitution] is very Waltherian and yet very much upholds the authority of the office of the ministry. We have tried to do the same thing with our parish constitution.

    Just to make sure that your evaluation is based on accurate data, our current constitution is the one approved 13 July 2008. In my opinion, it gets to the heart of what Walther tried to do by making his Voters’ Assembly an event that should never happen. We have a VA only if al else fails. (As I recall, St. Timothy, Williamsburg, Iowa, an ACLC parish, has a similar structure.) An easy way to tell if you have the right one: the constitution section should only be four pages long; the ‘handbooks’ section is eight pages, expandable as needed, with a slight redundancy from the constitution for ease of application. So far, this constitution and handbooks approach has worked very well for us; then again, we’re a pretty laid back bunch.

    For those who are interested, you can view our constitution at:

    http://holytrinitylc.com/htconst.htm

    or download and print it from

    http://holytrinitylc.com/Constitution.pdf

    I hope that clarifies things.

    EJG

  24. Honestly, I have no idea why we don’t have deacons. I think the basis is not on scripture, but on Romophobia.

    Rather, because we have simply LOST the Lutheran understanding that there is ONE Christ-instituted Office of the Holy Ministry, but that there can be human distinctions and divisions of duty within it. Instead, we have ‘Confessional guys’ running around trying to hand over ‘portions’ of that ONE Office to the laity.

    Deacons, in Lutheran practice, are ordained pastors serving in a specific capacity ‘under’ another pastor…not laymen who have been ‘consecrated’ to perform ‘portions’ of the ONE Office, as some of y’all’s favorite LCMS ‘good guys’ practice, quite apart from any agreement by the synod at large that they have authority to do so. (it’s funny how the ‘high church heroes’ of the LCMS often have no actual affection for actual church order, as the Apostle prescribes in 1 Cor. 14, etc.)

    Pr. Rossow:
    Why are the clergy incapable of it?

    Simpler: fear and pride.

    The problem is, until that is conquered, the laity will not accomplish anything, either.

    Strangely enough, in the LCMS I was always told that I needed to “trust my brothers” more…while they were teaching and practicing falsely. In the ELDoNA, I submitted myself to whatever grilling wrt doctrine and practice the brethren might wish…with the knowledge that they would not object to my doing the same to them. At the same time, I do not have a district president elected by a lay majority that is increasingly uncatechized, but a bishop that has the full UNANIMOUS approval of those who have been trained in theology, and who must MAINTAIN that unanimous approval by continuing to teach/practice AND serve as bishop (not in perfection, but) in demonstrable faithfulness. When Bishop Heiser visited Holy Trinity, I left him alone with the parishioners for about an hour while I went to pick up my wife. I trusted both him and the parish…and would have done so for any amount of time, because I know that no one is trying to undermine me (I had an LCMS DP start a conventicle in a parish I served; I had a district 1VP specifically tell lies about me and my parish to people he didn’t even know–but who knew me–at a synodical convention; etc.), but are indeed trustWORTHY.

    EJG

  25. EJG,

    That is very helpful. I have not studied these matters in depth so I thank you for your patience. I think that it is worthwhile to explore our similarities and seek to work together if and where there is doctrinal unity. (I thought ACL is the group that puts out the Clarion.)

    I should clarify how I am speaking of these groups, not as fellowships but as influence groups whose blessing would go a long way in bringing groups together.

    Concerning “wackos” in the midst of a confessional group, it is only an issue if the group’s doctrine is “wacko.”

    Now that I understand the communion fellowship practice of ELDONA I can see it would be a far more serious challenge than I imagined to establish fellowship between different groups.

    I last saw your constitution about 6 years ago so it is an older one I was referring to.

    Thank you again for your patience with this “newbie” to this dicussion of unity (or lack thereof) among confessional groups. May God bring us together in confession of the true faith He has given us.

    TR

  26. EJG,

    Interesting take on “deacons.” Stephen certainly was a preacher according to Walther and Luther. I think you have pegged the LCMS ‘high-churchers” properly.

    I think your assertion that it is fear and pride in the LCMS clergy that keeps them from solving these problems gets inestimable personal support and weight from the fact that you and the other ELDONA pastors are willing to submit to a bishop. It certainly takes a great deal of humility to do so. So many of the confessional guys I know welcome, even long for the supervision of their bishop (DP) but of course that is just not the modus operandi of the LCMS and that is one of the most significant problems in the LCMS if not “the” most significant.

    Going back to the earlier post, is there a historical connection between pastors being the “members” of synod in the LCMS and the early church practice you refer to?

    TR

  27. A Walther quote:

    B. Every believer for the sake of his salvation must flee all false teachers and avoid all heterodox congregations or sects.

    Many, on hearing that the church exists wherever the Word and the sacraments are still found essentially, infer from this fact that it is a matter of indifference whether they belong to an orthodox [rechtglaeube] or to an unorthodox [falschglaeube] church, since after all they are in the church and so can be saved. But they are mistaken. True, it is not necessary to leave a heterodox communion in order to be in the church, and many are indeed saved who, for lack of knowledge, outwardly belong to sects and nevertheless continue in the [true] faith. But what does it profit anyone to be in the church if he is not of the church and [so] does not belong to it? Whoever has learned to know the false doctrine of the sects and their teachers and despite this fact continues to belong to them is indeed still in the church but not of the church. Such a person does not belong to the divine seed that is hidden in the sects. His communion with the sects is not a sin of weakness, with which the state of grace can exist, for such a person acts willfully and contrary to the will of God, who in His holy Word commands us to flee and avoid false teachers and their false worship.

    As little, therefore, as the doctrine that true [begnadigte] Christians still commit sins of weakness justifies those who think that for that reason they knowingly and willfully may continue in sin, indeed, as surely as those who thus sin against [divine] grace are children of perdition, so little also does the doctrine that in the sects there are children of God justify those who contrary to God’s Word knowingly desire to continue in them; indeed, so surely also such willful partakers of the perversion of the Word of truth are children of perdition…

    [p.114 C.F.W. Walther. Church and Ministry (Kirche und Amt) trans. J.T. Mueller (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1987]

  28. I think deacons in the early church and how later Lutherans used the term deacon are using it in two very different ways. In the early church deacons were holding a church-instituted auxiliary office that was to assist the pastor (bishop/priest/presbyter).

    In post-reformation Lutheranism deacons meant assisting/assistant pastors. ELDoNA has them in that sense, not in the early church sense.

  29. Rt. Rev. JB,

    But in Scripture and in Luther deacons preach. I think Stefanski’s definition is Biblical and keeping with what Luther taught.

    TR

  30. Rev. Stefanski,

    “it’s funny how the ‘high church heroes’ of the LCMS often have no actual affection for actual church order, as the Apostle prescribes in 1 Cor. 14, etc.”

    Could it be that having never experienced such a thing in the LCMS they are a bit skeptical? No doubt it is blessed to believe without seeing, but it is a hard thing.

  31. I have not seen a Church Growth movement in the WELS out here in the local congregation, nor a push in the form of any programs or communications of such an entity. The LCMS has ABLAZE, which is identified plainly as a Church Growth program.

    As a former LCMS layman, I know several confessional sound congregations in the LCMS and several that are lacking in adhering to sound Lutheran practice. Now as a WELS layman, I am happy with the practices and doctrine of our church congregation.

  32. “it’s funny how the ‘high church heroes’ of the LCMS often have no actual affection for actual church order, as the Apostle prescribes in 1 Cor. 14, etc.”

    Could it be that having never experienced such a thing in the LCMS they are a bit skeptical? No doubt it is blessed to believe without seeing, but it is a hard thing.

    My point is that they are guilty of doing the very thing that they condemn those on the ‘left’ of doing. Indeed, the more I see Missouri from the ‘outside’, I see that the LCMS ‘confessional guys’ of the ’00s are very much like the liberals of the ’60s and ’70s…and one of the chief ways is the utter lawlessness with which they proceed, the disregard for synodical membership ‘meaning something’, the institution of new practices–and even offices–without the agreement of those with whom they are in fellowship.

    In essence, ‘left’ and ‘right’ (or, at least, ‘popular’ segments thereof) in Missouri are manifesting as two sides of the same coin. While I sympathize in certain areas with what those on Missouri’s ‘right’ wish to do, I simply have to hold that by doing them while remaining in the LCMS, they are acting ‘out of order’.

    EJG

  33. It is strange, isn’t it, regarding deacons and other things: the ELDoNA, being a Lutheran body, tends to understand offices and interpret the Acts of the Apostles, etc., in a Lutheran way?

    Indeed, it seems funny to me that folks often want to think that someone in the 300s might have understood the Bible better than those in the 1500s, but tend to think that we in the 2000s understand the 300s better than people in the 1500s did. It strikes me rather like those who proclaim the universal Communion of infants and decry Lutherans for sinning against babies by not communing them, because they, in the 1900s and 2000s, understand the ‘universal practice’ of the Church better than those in the 1500s (or before…but let’s not forget that before the 1500s all that existed were evil Romanists, bent on destroying the Gospel at whatever cost!), so that you have those who condemn the ELDoNA for not communing babies and saying that Luther didn’t do so, either, even though he had contemplated whether it were right or wrong.

    Yes, we tend to be Lutherans in the ELDoNA.

    EJG

  34. Wrt the longing of some for a bishop:

    Many long to be the bishop; few wish to receive a bishop, unless he is in their own design–not merely orthodox, but favoring their quirks.

    Again, in the ELDoNA, the bishop’s position as ‘first among equals’ indicates that one’s reception of his oversight/superintendency is actually a submission to the whole ministerium of the diocese.

    EJG

  35. TR wrote:

    But in Scripture and in Luther deacons preach. I think Stefanski’s definition is Biblical and keeping with what Luther taught.
    ++++++++++++

    I’m not sure with the limited application of Stephen’s “preaching” that it is necessarily the pastoral office that is evident there. If the diaconate and the presbyterate are the same thing in the early church, then why are they listed separately in the epistles and why are there two separate (although similar) listings of qualifications (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:8)?

    Irenaeus of Lyons has no doubt that the diaconate being established in Acts 6 (Adversus Haereses, I.26.3; II.12.10). He is one of the last major figures of the early church to have received personal, though indirect, contact with those who knew the apostles via Polycarp. This is also Walther’s take in Kirche und Amt.

    The Council of Arles (A.D. 314) declared that deacons were not to pronounce the consecration of the Lord’s Supper. The order of deacons was subordinate to both bishops and presbyters. The Council of Ancyra also forbade the practice of deacons consecrating the eucharist. Why? Because they aren’t in the one Christ-instituted office, unlike presbyters and bishops.

    Canon 18 of the Council of Nicea in 325 decreed:
    “It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters [i.e. priests], whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer [the sacrament] should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer [it]. And this also has been made known, that certain deacons now touch the Eucharist even before the bishops. Let all such practices be utterly done away, and let the deacons remain within their own bounds, knowing that they are the servants of the bishop and the inferiors of the presbyters. Let them receive the Eucharist according to their order, after the presbyters, and let either the bishop or the presbyter administer it to them” (Canon 18 [AD 325]).

    Even Hipollytus, in the Apostolic Tradition writes:
    “When a deacon is to be ordained [to the diaconate], he is chosen after the fashion of those things said above, the bishop alone in like manner imposing his hands upon him as we have prescribed. In the ordaining of a deacon, this is the reason why the bishop alone is to impose his hands upon him: he is not ordained to the priesthood, but to serve the bishop and to fulfill the bishops command. He has no part in the council of the clergy, but is to attend to his own duties and to acquaint the bishop with such matters as are needful…. On a presbyter, however, let the presbyters impose their hands because of the common and like Spirit of the clergy.

  36. While the Treatise makes clear that pastors and bishops hold the same office de jure divino, their differences only being by human right, the same is not said in the Book of Concord about deacons.

  37. If the diaconate and the presbyterate are the same thing in the early church

    1. That’s not what was said.

    2. Considering what the Lutheran practice was seems a good thing for Lutheran churches.

    3. Subordination can be by human right. Arguing otherwise makes Christ ontologically less than the Father. The Lutherans understood the subordination of the deacons in this way, as their practice shows.

    4. Those who learned directly from Luther often made mess of what he taught; those who learned directly from the Apostles did the same. I don’t think we even need to mention the mess often made by those who learned from certain profs at Ft. Wayne, as unlike those profs, they have swum certain rivers/

    5. WELS and ELS allow one to ‘possess’ a ‘part’ of the Office of the Keys. Perhaps you can tell us on what Council they base this.

    EJG

  38. I wouldn’t presume to speak for ELS or WELS.

    I don’t think the council was making a big deal out of a de jure humano infraction. I think both instances of carrying out the diaconate can be done faithfully, but it confuses things since the same term is used for two different offices in that case.

    A lot of weird things went on in post-Reformation Lutheran churches. A lot of emergency situations became near permanent with “emergency bishops” and such. And the inheritance from the medieval church, always downward delegating things, as Chemnitz points out in the Examen, certainly puts the diaconate on the backburner, as the episcopate and the presbyterate were more pressing issues.

    That subordination can be by human right and voluntary, does not mean that it was in the case of the diaconate in the early church usage. I think it was a case of distinguishing the pastoral office (bishop/presbyter) from a church-instituted office/order which is not a subset of the pastoral office, but frees it up to concentrate on its core essential tasks and assists it. In the early church deacons are “assistants to the pastor” but are not “assistant pastors.” In post-Reformation Lutheranism they used the term as basically “assistant pastor.” Neither is wrong, per se, but the difference has to be recognized. In our day, different nomenclature would do some good. I’d not use “deacon” for pastors, but keep that for that church-instituted order to be “assistants to the pastor” as we also have deaconesses who are certainly not pastors.

  39. I would definitely not use ‘deacon’, a Biblical office for which there are Biblical qualifications for a non-Biblical office of ‘helping the pastor’. I also wouldn’t consider Luther’s own practice as ‘Post-reformation Lutheranism’, yet Luther ordained a deacon.

    Folks can disagree with Luther; they simply need to say, “I disagree with Luther.”

    EJG

  40. Deacon is a biblical office, but it is not the one Christ-instituted office. There is a difference.

    Luther did and said a lot of things which are not part of our confessional subscription.

  41. Deacon is a biblical office, but it is not the one Christ-instituted office. There is a difference.

    You have made an unsustainable conclusion.

    Luther did and said a lot of things which are not part of our confessional subscription.

    If I mandated that you use the term as he did, that would be putting it on a level of confessional subscription, but I did no such thing.

    Perhaps too many years of working for the CPU have made you jump at shadows, but now you are overstating both your case and mine.

    None of which is furthering the issues actually under discussion in this thread.

    EJG

  42. That the diaconate is a biblical office but not the one Christ-instituted office shouldn’t be a difficulty.

    Anointing with oil is biblical but it is not instituted by Christ.

  43. Rev. Stefanski,

    “While I sympathize in certain areas with what those on Missouri’s ‘right’ wish to do, I simply have to hold that by doing them while remaining in the LCMS, they are acting ‘out of order’.”

    I suppose my point was that in the LCMS there is effectively no church order, only paper agreements that you rightly point out don’t mean anything because they are pretty much universally ignored except when they are convenient.
    I suspect you would be surprised though, at how many on the ‘right’ actually would gladly submit to a bishop (or even just an “ecclesiastical supervisor”) who held some regard for their concerns. They simply have no basis for believing such a thing exists. In the meantime there is no reason for them to dash what they believe to be correct practice on the rocks of “submission” to something that exists only on paper. On the other hand it is pretty hard to work up the moxie to just bail out when you are pretty much allowed to do as you please. You can always hope that things will eventually go your way.
    Perhaps ELDoNA or something like it is a viable alternative. There is plenty of convincing to do.

  44. That the diaconate is a biblical office but not the one Christ-instituted office shouldn’t be a difficulty.

    I realize that you hold that Luther was wrong and that you are right. Repeating it over and over again doesn’t really do anything to establish why Luther was wrong (in your opinion).

    Lutherans took the diaconate to be a ‘grade’, by human right, in the one Christ-instituted Office. You disagree. It’s really that simple.

    EJG

  45. I suspect you would be surprised though, at how many on the ‘right’ actually would gladly submit to a bishop (or even just an “ecclesiastical supervisor”) who held some regard for their concerns.

    Any number of them spoke of it fondly…up until it existed, and then they stopped.

    On the other hand it is pretty hard to work up the moxie to just bail out when you are pretty much allowed to do as you please. You can always hope that things will eventually go your way.

    Yes, heterodoxy is very comfortable. As long as (name your favorite representative of false teaching and practice) doesn’t show up at your parish wanting to commune, you can even pretend that you are not in fellowship with such folks.

    Perhaps ELDoNA or something like it is a viable alternative. There is plenty of convincing to do.

    Please specify what convincing needs to be done, what ‘proofs’ need to be given.

    EJG

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