2010 LCMS Convention Resolution 3-03

This resolution was added per commentor request. Please if you have a comment on a specific resolution, see our Resolutions page. If the one you want to discuss is not yet posted, please contact us and we will add the resolution to start discussion.

Cooperation in Externals with Theological Integrity

Overtures 3-01–02, 3-05–08 (CW, pp. 165–167)

WHEREAS, The 2001, 2004, and 2007 conventions of the Synod asked that various aspects of cooperative working arrangements with the ELCA be evaluated by the Praesidium with results and recommendations reported to the subsequent conventions; and

WHEREAS, In 2010 President Kieschnick formed a task force to address the theological implications of the decisions of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly regarding homosexuality; and

WHEREAS, The task force produced a document titled “Theological Implications of the 2009 ELCA Decisions” (2010 Convention Workbook [CW], pp. 14–18); and

WHEREAS, “Theological Implications” refers to the Synod’s longstanding position: “Our Synod should clearly recognize that, in cases of necessary work on the local, national, or international level, where the faith and confession of the church are not compromised, and where it appears essential that the churches of various denominations should cooperate or at least not work at cross purposes, our churches ought to cooperate willingly to the extent that the Word of God and conscience will allow” (1965 Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) Report, Theology of Fellowship [ p. 43], officially adopted by the Synod in 1967 [Res. 2-13]); and

WHEREAS, The Synod’s position stated above clearly sets forth two fundamental principles:

  1. “the church cannot compromise its faith and confession;” and
  2. “there are circumstances in which churches ‘ought to cooperate’ to the extent that the Word of God and conscience will allow;”


WHEREAS, The task force statement goes on to offer the following analysis and guidance:

In light of these two principles, it has been the longstanding practice of confessional Lutheran churches to distinguish between joint participation by churches and church workers in Word and Sacrament ministry (“altar and pulpit fellowship” or communio in sacris) and cooperation between churches in matters of physical need (cooperatio in externis). To maintain such a distinction carefully and conscientiously prevents both compromise of the teachings of the Christian faith and disregard of human needs which can be addressed more effectively by groups working together than by individuals or churches working on their own.

Because of doctrinal differences, the LCMS is not now nor has it ever been able to be in a relationship of altar and pulpit fellowship with the ELCA. Nevertheless, we have engaged in many cooperative activities with the ELCA, nationally and locally, in order to meet physical needs. These cooperative activities, however, are threatened by the sexuality decisions of the ELCA, because, in some cases, the ELCA’s new affirmation of same-gender relationships may contradict understandings or goals that have enabled cooperative activities in the past. As one example, the CTCR already in 2006 addressed the decision of an adoption agency to treat same-gender relationships as equal to marriage for adoptive purposes. The opinion states: “On the basis of the clear teaching of Scripture regarding homosexual behavior and about God’s will and design for marriage and the family as foundational units for society as a whole, it is the express opinion of the CTCR that a policy of placing adopted or foster children into homosexual contexts would stand in opposition to the official doctrinal position of the LCMS.”

In areas where we currently have working arrangements with ELCA congregations and entities, the status of those working relationships is dependent on policies and actions taken by the various entities from national to local levels. We do not believe the ELCA’s recent sexuality decisions should necessarily or summarily end our work together in these agencies. However, we hope and expect that the leadership of such entities will respect the theological position of the Synod (including its position on same-gender sexual activity) and avoid any policies or decisions which would require us to cease our support and involvement in their activities.

We cannot dictate the exact direction(s) various cooperative relationships will take in the future, primarily because the nature of agreements between ELCA and LCMS congregations and entities varies on a case-by-case basis. Frank and serious discussion on this issue needs to continue on various levels so that convictions and beliefs are not compromised and that worthy projects, activities, and relationships between our church and others may continue wherever possible. We urge LCMS participants in such cases to make decisions about whether to continue involvement on the basis of the principles we have discussed. We also suggest the following questions for consideration in making these decisions:

  1. Is the purpose of the joint work fully consistent with the positions, policies, and objectives of the Synod?
  2. Do cooperative efforts imply doctrinal unity with the ELCA or endorsement of ELCA positions on same-sex relationships or other matters of disagreement with the LCMS?
  3. Does the joint agency or organization distinguish itself as an entity from the churches that support it?
  4. Are all the policies and programs of the organization consonant with the doctrinal position of the LCMS?
  5. Do the individuals who lead the organization openly support and encourage efforts, positions, or policies which compromise the theological stance of the Synod?

We urge LCMS participants to answer such questions as these and to make decisions about whether to continue involvement on the basis of the principles we have discussed [2010 CW, p. 16];

therefore be it

Resolved, That the task force be thanked and commended for its work on identifying practical implications of the 2009 ELCA decisions on human sexuality; and be it further

Resolved, That, in keeping with the basic principles set forth in the task force statement, cooperation in externals with other Lutheran churches, including the ELCA, continue with theological integrity; and be it further

Resolved, That we give thanks to God for the opportunity to give witness to God’s care for all people through such cooperative work; and be it further

Resolved, That the CTCR, in consultation with the Praesidium and other entities and individuals as needed, develop more in-depth theological criteria for assessing cooperative endeavors, determining what would necessitate termination of such cooperative efforts; and be it finally

Resolved, That the Praesidium, in consultation with the CTCR, provide an assessment of the current state of cooperation in externals and a full report of criteria for on-going assessment of the same by the next convention.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

Norm has been involved behind the scenes in many of the "go-to" websites for Lutherans going back many years.


2010 LCMS Convention Resolution 3-03 — 26 Comments

  1. According to the second and third Resolved, a defeat of Resolution 3-03 would mean that cooperation with the E_CA in externals must then cease and desist.

    If not, then the wording of the Resolved texts is no different than a Resolved that the Missouri Synod continue to live on the same planet as the E_CA with theological integrity, because, no matter which way the vote, nothing would really change.

  2. “Resolved, That the CTCR, in consultation with the Praesidium and other entities and individuals as needed, develop more in-depth theological criteria for assessing cooperative endeavors, determining what would necessitate termination of such cooperative efforts; and be it finally

    Resolved, That the Praesidium, in consultation with the CTCR, provide an assessment of the current state of cooperation in externals and a full report of criteria for on-going assessment of the same by the next convention.”

    This is simply a delaying action. In ELCA terms, it means that the “Conversation” is ongoing. The “Conversation” is Bishop Hanson’s way of saying “We’ll keep on talking, but the ‘Conversation’ is really over.” It’s the Administration’s way of saying, “You talk all you want, we’ll do what we want.”

    Three more years of blah, blah, blah.

    Johannes (“Blah = Humbug!”)

  3. I wonder if Jesus would have even considered cooperation in externals with anyone of the many Asian and Greek religious temple cults that instituted and practiced homosexual behavior in it’s worship services.

    After all in many congregations of the ELCA, after what goes on behind closed doors the week and night before, those same hands are used to handle and distribute the lord’s body and blood?

    Something to think about.

  4. Whatever happened to “Mark and avoid…”? To what degree must the ELCA embrace apostasy before we finally recognize we cannot do joint church work with them. Continued work with them sends the false (non-verbal) message that all is well between the LCMS and the ELCA. Tough love dictates we say “enough is enough!” Let us not be unequally yoked with an organization which believes their ChurchWide Assembly (CWA) votes can trump Holy Scripture. To quote “Fiddler on the Roof”, “On the other hand…THERE IS NO OTHER HAND!”

  5. Unlike those in the ELCA, we cannot “agree to disagree.” We must please God rather than please man. The ELCA organization cannot be considered “erring brethren.” Quite clearly, they are those who cause division, by perpetuating false doctrine, and trying to infect their worldwide church partners with the same doctrine of devils. I am not saying we should shun them, but rather treat them like an unbeliever: Love them with God’s Law and Gospel.

  6. @Deacon Brian Hughes #3

    Thank you, Deacon.

    God’s name is invoked as part of this “cooperation in externals”:

    From: Lutheran World Relief website:

    “U.S. Lutherans, freed and empowered by God’s grace in Jesus Christ and called to respond to God’s love for all people and creation, put faith into action through the mission of Lutheran World Relief. LWR values the contribution of Lutheran theology to our understanding of faith active in love and cherishes our Lutheran heritage and identity. LWR acts on behalf of U.S. Lutherans, the ELCA, and the LCMS as a common expression of our faith through international relief and development.”

    Who is God to the ELCA? Who is the Word to the ELCA? What is the Bible to the ELCA?

    Perhaps “cooperation in externals” should not invoke God’s name as it seems to be a mask in order to convey legitimacy for offenders.

  7. Yet another reason why “cooperation in externals” with the E_CA is a theologically bad idea –

    Members of the E_CA have shown numerous times that “cooperation in externals” is a means to promote and entangle Missouri Synod members (some willingly aiding and abetting) in unionistic cooperation.

    The E_CA uses the concept of “dialogue” (including the use of mutual liturgical toe-tickling in organizations like the STS and on the ALPB forum) to falsely recognize the LCMS and E_CA doctrinal positions as equivalent in truth content with the goal of such dialogue being to reach some mediated, weaselly-worded compromise. Such compromise between orthodoxy and heterdoxy always results in more heterodoxy.

  8. What do we accomplish in these joint efforts that LCMS entities cannot do at least as well, albeit on maybe a smaller scale?

    Assuming, of course, that WRHC is still active after the convention.

  9. Would a rejection of 3-03 mean a rejection of 6-04 (To Combat Malaria) to be consistent since it involves cooperation with the ELCA?

    Has anyone heard what Pastor Harrison thinks of 6-04?

  10. Involvement in efforts to combat malaria would not be rejected by the defeat of 3-03. Cooperation with the E_CA would be.

  11. @Carl Vehse #11
    I didn’t mean an automatic rejection. I was suggesting that if 3-03 were rejected shouldn’t we reject 6-04 because it’s a joint effort with the ELCA and LWR (a joint US Lutheran organization).

    From 6-04:

    WHEREAS, Lutheran World Relief (LWR), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), with financial support from the United Nations Foundation (UNF), have been invited to participate in the initiative; and

  12. If 3-03 is rejected, cooperation with the E_CA in externals would be rejected. Working on efforts to combat malaria would not be rejected.

    Whether and how the LCMS would work on the LMI to provide parts of Africa with mosquito nets and training on how to use them without joint cooperation with the E_CA is something that would have to be addressed.

  13. @Carl Vehse #14
    Sorry for my thick headedness, but if we reject working with the ELCA in externals and the ELCA is part of LMI then how is it that we can sign on? Sure, I understand that addressing the Malaria situation in Africa is something we should still be a part of I’m just trying to understand how participating in LMI (the initiative) is not cooperation with the ELCA in externals.

  14. I am not familiar with the details of LMI cooperative agreements, nor does its website provide much information. But from what is included in the website, it appears that a separate LCMS effort to provide mosquito nets and training in parts of Africa would be possible.

    It’s not like the LCMS provides one section of the mosquito netting and the E_CA provides the other part of the mosquito net and the LMI then sews them together to be delivered to Africa.

  15. By the way, as just an aside, the UN with whom we and the e_ca cooperate with in eradicating Malaria in Africa, refuses to use DDT and other pesticides to actually eradicate this Mosquito borne disease, as it has in other parts of Africa, and then was stopped by pressure from the UN and came back with a vengence.

    It was stopped by the UN for environmental concerns that do not exist in science ( in DDT’s case as an example, by recently released research), or in ant other way.

    So, why would anyone be in partnership, even a little bit, with an organization, the UN, that kills more people than it helps?!

  16. Brian, thanks for bring up yet another questionable partnership with the UN.

    There are other partners noted on the LMI website, which simply lacks information on what these partnership agreements entail. Is it just sending in money for the nets or are there on-site follow-through visits (and not merely junkets) by teams of partnership members to see that the nets are effectively used and actually successful in reducing malaria?

    In looking at the LMI website there seems to be a substantial schwarmerei emphasis. This should always raise suspicions.

    A January 2008 Scientific American article points out some of the problems in the use of mosquito nets, especially among the poor in Africa, and the failure to include pesticides as part of a malaria prevention program.

    At $10 a pop for a single mosquito net, it would seem that $10 of DDT properly applied could be a lot more effective.

    Furthermore, if one wants to contribute a mosquito net, organizations such as Project Mosquito Net and Against Malaria delivers insecticide-treated mosquito nets to Africa for only 5 dollars per net.

    It would seem that the LCMS and one or more Lutheran church bodies with which it has altar and pulpit fellowship could enter into a cooperative external agreement to provide funding for the training and use of DDT and other effective pesticides for the eradication of malaria in Africa.

  17. Since there is so much discussion about Resolution 6-04 on this one, I’ve gone ahead and created a place to discussion that one. Head on over there; feel free to duplicate some of your comments there. Google searches by delegates may find that one and readers may completely miss the comments here.

  18. One item .. several have said that if we reject this one, we will cut all ties with ELCA.

    It is my understanding that rejecting this resolution won’t do that; all that rejecting this resolution would do is maintain status as usual. If I am wrong someone please speak up.

    To cut all ties with the ELCA, the LCMS has to be directed by convention to do that. Rejectng a resolution simply means it is as if the resolution didn’t come before convention .. it doesn’t direct a change. Is there another resolution that would cause us to cut all ties?

  19. Norm,

    This is the issue I raised in #1 above.

    If 3-03 is voted down, then the following Resolved of 3-03 is voted down:

    That, in keeping with the basic principles set forth in the task force statement, cooperation in externals with other Lutheran churches, including the ELCA, continue with theological integrity [Emphasis added]

    If the majority of delegates vote against a resolution for continuing cooperation in externals with the E_CA, the LCMS cannot rightfully continue cooperation in externals with the E_CA.

    Now the Resolved could be re-written to provide that if the resolution is defeated, ongoing or future cooperations in externals would continue, but I’m not going help provide that, and I’d recommend defeating any motion to supply such an amendment.

  20. @Carl Vehse #22

    Carle — I’m sorry, perhaps someone else can correct me if I’m wrong, but this doesn’t seem logical to me. This is simply one “resolved” in a resolution brought before the floor of the synod. If the resolution is rejected, it does not mean that the people have spoken with regard each resolved; it may have been rejected for any other reason.

    An organization cannot be told what to do by the rejection of a resolution — it did not pass so it has nothing to do with the organization anymore. It is as if the resolution was not brought before the floor of the convention.

    The delegates have to approve something for it to go into effect. The organization has to be directed to DO something, not implied to NOT do something by the rejection of a resolution.

    The only way that cooperation in externals would be terminated is if the delegates modify this resolution from the floor to cut out all “resolved” but one, and make that one state “all cooperation with externals with the ELCA will cease as soon as possible”; or submit an alternate resolution to replace this one.

    Someone please correct or affirm my understanding of this.

  21. Overture 3-05 or 3-06 from the Convention Workbook page 166 (click above to read it) could be substituted for this resolution if the delegates wanted to cease cooperation in externals; there are similar ones that are “included” in this resolution but completely reversed in meaning by the floor committee.

  22. Norm,

    If a motion contains a Resolved to continue to spend money to provide coffee and donuts at managers’ meetings and the motion is defeated, can money still be spent to provide coffee and donuts at managers’ meetings?

  23. Carl, to expand your example:

    Coffee and donuts have been served at the managers meeting for 10 years. A resolution is brought forward with the following resolves: 1) Appreciate the managers for their hard work at the meeting. 2) Commending the managers for their hard work at interfacing with the workforce. 3) Approving the continued support of mangers with continued coffee and donuts at the meetings.

    Now, the resolution fails. What happens? The managers are no longer appreciated, the managers no longer communicate with staff, and coffee and donuts are no longer bought for the meetings?

    This makes no sense. Management was not authorized with an approved resolution at the meeting to stop having coffee and donuts there. The fact that a resolution to continue an already-existent operation failed does NOT mean that all three resolved of the items now stop.

    Read through the resolves of this resolution. If this resolution is voted down, do we stop ALL of the resolves? No. It means that no direction is given to the LCMS as to this topic. It is as if this resolution did not come before the floor of the convention.

    ONLY if a motion is made to STOP an existent practice PASSES at convention will that practice stop. A resolution’s failure does not cause ANY action to be taken.

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