What we won at the MNS district convention, by Klemet Preus

Can we really claim to have accomplished anything at a convention where we lost every vote? I believe we can. First, we actually were able to force a vote on an issue when, to my knowledge, no one before has ever been able to bring the issue to the convention. We said “No” to a trend which has been uncritically accepted for at least 15 years in our church.  

 

I speak of the trend of beginning missions without the name “Lutheran” and without Lutheran accoutrements such as Luther’s catechism or a Lutheran hymnal, the Lutheran liturgy or Lutheran hymns. This is a trend which many in the church find alarming but none have challenged lately. And we did. 35% of the delegates said “No,” to the resolution to welcome the Alley church into the synod.

 

I had thought that we would get more than 40% to oppose this ill advised motion. I had even dreamed of actually getting more than 45%. So 35% was a disappointment. But this is 35% more than anyone has ever been able to gather of pastors and laymen who are saying, “No.” We are saying, “Enough already.”

 

Instead of quietly griping about the district mission starts we actually complained. It’s like we got to the Super bowl and lost. But we got there. Now there is a precedent. And I hope that other districts will try. Complain, memorialize, raise a ruckus, and be nice but adamant. We want our churches to call themselves Lutheran.

 

We complained so loudly that we forced a pastor whose website theological statement had no reference to any sacrament actually to call himself sacramental. And now the word is making a showing up on The Alley’s website as well. We made such a fuss about closed communion that certain sermons were removed from the site which asserted otherwise. We insisted on the name Lutheran which resulted in links to the LCMS being placed on the site. In May the Alley’s pastor had complained in a sermon about the scrutiny he was receiving because of the congregation’s application to join “a certain denomination.” In June he was shouting with boldness before 500 people, “I’m Lutheran, I’m Lutheran, I’m Lutheran.” And I’ve got to believe that he will be more conscious of the church’s desire that he be Lutheran.

 

So something wonderful was gained even though we got outvoted.

 

Secondly, it is now very apparent that the district intends to start many missions which do not use any recognizable hymnbook. This is the third mission in the last five years with such a strategy and the Ablaze covenant churches, all which are targeted to start four more churches each, will probably continue down this path. This tendency was not well known before the convention. Now it is. Every time your treasurer puts the church’s check to the district in the mail you can be a little less comfortable that the money will be used to begin a church that you will even recognize.

 

This knowledge is good. The revelation, even in defeat, is important. Churches can no longer assume that their mission dollars are being used the same way they always have been. And the more we know about how our dollars are spent, the better off we are.

 

Klemet Preus      

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

What we won at the MNS district convention, by Klemet Preus — 16 Comments

  1. Pastor Preus,
    Thank you for the information. It is important to see how our sister districts are doing in fighting this non-Lutheran trend. Although the election for DP in Missouri did not go as we had desired, most of the other elections went our way, as well as the resolutions. The committees worked very hard to keep our resolutions from passing(which once again asked synod to revoke previous resolutions and bylaws, ie. issue of women and ecclesiastical supervision as well as restructuring)but most passed by 70% or more anyway. Even after Pres. Kieschnick was given numerous opportunities to speak even though it was not under proper parlimentary procedure.

    Other, more detailed writers will share more, I am sure, but I wanted to let you and others know that all is not lost in our father’s synod.

    We will continue to pray for you and other districts that continue to go the way of MNS.

  2. “Secondly, it is now very apparent that the district intends to start many missions which do not use any recognizable hymnbook.”
    –K. Preus

    SYNOD, Pr. Preus. We’ve got the same sort in Texas and I doubt we two are alone.

  3. Klemet,

    I don’t think I agree with you.

    How is it a gain for the Confessional church to force someone who obviously isn’t Lutheran to claim he is?

    If he was Lutheran, he would teach and practice what the Scripture and Confessions teach, wouldn’t he?

    TW

  4. I agree with Wilken wholeheartedly. We expose the lie and then remain in fellowship with it. What does that mean?

    6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.[c] 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
    I Corinthians 5

  5. I find it odd that we are more concerned with “money fellowship” or monetary support than we are with altar and pulpit fellowship and the evident lack of theological unity.
    Are we that blindly lusting after infrastructure and nostalgia?

    The call of Scripture isn’t really to have selective fellowship in the long run or to just pretend those guys aren’t there. Winkels and conventions shouldn’t be ecumenical dialogues.

    2 John 9-11 – Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching,do not receive him in your house and do not give him a
    greeting: for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deed.

    1 Corinthians 5:11 – I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an idolater, or a reviler, or a swindler not even to eat with such a one.

    Romans 16:17 – Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

    Mark 6:1 – Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.

    Titus 3:10: Reject a man causing divisions after a first and second warning.

  6. Here’s 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]

  7. Marquart:

    The question of voting in the church is most conveniently addressed at this point. In the temporal sphere , given democratic arrangements, to vote is to take part in and to exercise the awesome powers of Rom. 13:1ff. Voting is an act of supreme sovereignty, which can, within constitutionally specified limits, enforce the majority will with the ultimate sanctions of the death penalty and war. Voting can mean nothing like this in the church at all (Mt. 20:24-28). The church is not a democracy but a Christocracy: Christ alone is Lord. Voting is but a way of expressing agreement or consensus. Two cases are possible: (1) If the matter is clearly settled in God’s Word, then voting does not establish the truth of it, but merely expresses confession or denial of that Word. Such a vote should never be undertaken lightly, but only after thorough discussion and painstaking efforts to clear up misunderstandings, since division here is fraught with weighty consequences. [FOOTENOTE 36 – SEE BELOW] (2) If the question is not clearly settled in God’s Word, then it must be decided in love on the basis of such facts and arguments as can be brought to bear on the matter. As a matter of common sense, the minority should accede to the wishes of the majority here, but the latter have no inherent right to impose anything on the others. And if consider for weak consciences for instance demands it, the majority must forgo its wishes and yield to the minority in love.

    So little room is there in the church for a secular majority rule, that Walther writes: “Should it happen that something were decided or determined by the congregation contrary to God’s Word, then such a decision and determination is null and void, is also to be so declared, and to be revoked.” In the church, neither majorities nor minorities rule, but only faith and love. Faith is governed solely by God’s Word. Therefore faith does not yield to love, but love yields to faith. Everything else yields to love.

    The same principles of government by faith and love apply equally to local or “simple” churches, and to “composite” church-bodies.

    [p.207-209 Kurt E. Marquart – The Church and Her Fellowship, Ministry and Governance: Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics Volume IX.]

    FOOTNOTE
    [Marquart’s Footnote 36] C.F.W. Walther: “Matters of doctrine and conscience are to be resolved unanimously according to God’s Word and the Confession of the church (Is. 8:20…) …Hence a congregation which wants to be Christian, more particularly Evangelical Lutheran, cannot presume to determine by vote [whether] something that has already been decided by God’s Word and the Confessions of the church should be regarded by it as valid or be rejected by it. As soon as a congregation refused to acknowledge the decisive standard of the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, it ceases to be Lutheran; and when it no longer is willing to subject itself to the clear declarations of Holy Scripture as the Word of the eternal God, it becomes a synagog of Satan (Rev. 3:9)” (The Form of A Christian Congregation, 56-58). When a stand had to be taken, at the 1881 LCMS Convention, for or against the biblical, confessional doctrine of the Election of grace, as formulated in Walther’s 13 Theses, it was carefully explained that a vote could never determine truth or falsehood. The vote, rather, was to make clear “who belongs to us and who not,” and whether “there are only a small number of those who reject the doctrine taught in our publications, and who will then have to leave our house, or whether we, who confess the true doctrine of Election, are in the minority and must therefore leave our present synodical home” (1881 LCMS Procedings, 32).

  8. I understand where you are coming from. It’s good to expose to the church at large, the destructive actions of liberals whose only desire is to change the church to look like the world. Yet, as you discovered from the vote, a large segment of the LCMS is comfortable with the change.

    Todd Wilken is right, those who profess to be Lutheran yet engage in or support non-lutheran worship practice and doctrine, aren’t Lutheran. It matters not how they change their web site or proclaim their Lutheranism from the pulpit. If they support or engage in unionistic practices, preach synergistic sermons, deny the doctrine of closed communion, support a feminist agenda that seeks a path to the pulpit, reject traditional liturgical worship, seek to entertain instead of properly dividing Law and Gospel, refuse to vest, reject the Lutheran Confessions, etc. . . . .they are not Lutheran! Nor will all the votes at all the conventions change that fact.

    Confessional, traditional, orthodox Lutheranism is under assault from the left and has been for many, many years. Moreover, the present leadership of the LCMS is content to continue the assualt.

    Furthermore, you are correct when you suggest that confessional congregations should withhold their support for these liberal missions. However, it shouldn’t stop there. Rather than sit on their mission funds, they should seek confessional groups such as the Lutheran Mission Alliance and others, whose focus is starting and supporting confessional, traditional, orthodox Lutheran missions.

    We may not be able to save the LCMS from leaping over the cliff of post-modernism and outright eccelsiastical liberalism, but we can save orthodox Lutheranism by seeking like minded Lutherans who desire to perserve over five centuries of true Christianity in the name of Lutheranism.

  9. Pastor Preus,

    I appreciate your attempt at optimism and your ongoing struggle to call the LCMS to repentance and hopefully one day return her to the Church. However, I find myself in agreement with Jack and the Scriptures he quotes.

    Are we in fellowship with the Anabaptists because they are being paid to call themselves Lutherans or are we in fellowship with them because we all say the same thing in our confession of Christ?

  10. If we are staying in the Missouri Synod for the sake of the many Christians who are in the process of being deceived by their pastors, there is nothing else for us to do than confess and bring before the eyes of the synod how many who are claiming to be “Lutheran” and “missional” are telling them lies.

  11. I’m not proud that a church like the Alley has a link and a claim to the LCMS through their web site. I’d rather they not, because I’d rather only Lutheran churches have that link. It’s a lie that they are telling when they say they are Lutheran. When they claim to be Sacramental. Can this become a victory? I think waking a lot of these delegates up to the fact of what we are losing could possibly end up becoming a positive. After all, God works all things together for good…..

  12. Greetings, I am reading this blog on the very eve before the NOW district convention. I have never seen such a collection of poorly written (grammer), lack of substantive facts, and contradictions to Scripture and our confessions. I am beginning to suspect there is such a thing as a religious version of a pentagon buzz word generator.

    Then of course we have a resolution making unionism official (if passed) all for the sake of evangelism. How is that for rationalizing?

    I will post again when the convention is over, if it is not over before it starts.

  13. Dear Brothers and Sisters,
    Concerning the outcome of the MNS district convention, and the mission of churches like the Alley, I invite you to consider the counsel of Gamaliel in Acts 5:38-39. “If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

  14. Bruce,

    If your elders started teaching false doctrine or practice would you just let them go and see how it turns out or would you correct them?

    TR

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