Reasons to Vote against Rev. Matt Harrison

Ever since Rev. Matt Harrison got 600 more nominations for president that his closest rival I have heard, through the grape vine, some “reasons” why people might want to be careful about electing Matt for president. The first reason is this:

1. Look at who his friends are. They are all a bunch of strident right wing conservatives.

OK. I am a partisan and I count myself among Matt’s friends. I suppose that judging by me you shouldn’t vote for Matt Harrison. I’m pretty conservative. I hope I’m not strident or unsavory. But I’m not on the ballot for synod president. So you don’t have worry about me leading the church.

On the other hand, I suppose I could list some of Rev. Harrison’s friends who are considered partisans on the other side. He might even have liberal friends. And then you shouldn’t vote for Matt because of his other friends. Rev. Harrison may even have undecided friends in the middle of the political/theological spectrum of Missouri but that does not make Rev. Harrison undecided.

The problem with this type of logic is that ultimately you couldn’t vote for anyone because most people have at least a couple of unsavory friends. President Kieschnick, I’m sure, has some friends who themselves should not be president of synod – friends whom, if you judged president Kieschnick by them would reflect negatively on him. But I think it would be wrong to evaluate President Kieschnick by his friends. He should be evaluated by his own words and his own record.

More significantly the suggestion that you should judge Rev. Harrison – or anyone for that matter – by his friends is profoundly polarizing in the synod. I served on our district board of directors for nine years. In that process I became friends with people with whom I have serious disagreements. When we are at conferences I eat with these friends. I visit with them. I will not avoid them simply because we have serious disagreements regarding theology and church practice. If I were to stop associating with these guys for fear that people would judge me negatively by them, then the dialog in our synod – so much needed in our divided church – would cease. Believe it or not I also have friends who are actually a bit strident. But I will not abandon them as friends on that account. I don’t even intend to “distance myself” from them whatever that means.  

So with Rev. Harrison. In his years he has, no doubt, made friends all over the political and theological spectrum of the church. Rather than being disqualified from service because some of these friends might be strident Rev. Harrison should be respected for being in a position to get both sides to the table – something that has not been done in the synod with any consistency for a long time.

When people suggest that you should be worried about Rev. Harrison because of his friends they are suggesting a behavior that is harmful to our synod.

I also hasten to add a little question: “What Would Jesus do?” He ate at the house of sinners. Of course he was accused of endorsing the sin when he loved, forgave and accepted the sinner.

I trust that Christ’s church has learned from our savior this lesson well enough not to judge a candidate for office by the company he keeps.


Reasons to Vote against Rev. Matt Harrison — 11 Comments

  1. I know a little something about the LCMS Human Care dept. several years ago. Most of the Directors were quite “liberal.” One use to call God, “She.” Which used to irritate me very much. One Director was a lonely (dare I say “Republican”) and unashamedly so. He was even chastised for “electioneering” because he put the elephant symbol in his office once.

    The Human Care dept. worked closely with other Lutheran church bodies regarding Social Ministry ministries. These other Lutheran church bodies have much in disagreement with LCMS doctrine. And are considered “liberal” in many ways. I would bet that Matt has met and worked with many liberal people during his care of the Human Care ministry dept. But I would bet that doesn’t make him liberal in the least. And I bet he sees the needs that are there and is willing to help, in the name of Christ and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

    I kept this article from my newspaper, but unfortunately do not have the date it was written. But it was within the last 5 years:

    “Ted Turner ends his war on religion”

    Mogul joins Lutherans, Methodists to fight malaria

    Ted Turner, who once called Christianity a “religion for losers,” launched a $200 million partnership Tuesday with Lutherans and Methodists to fight malaria in Africa, apologizing for his past criticism of religion and calling faith a “bright spot” in the world.

    . . . “I regret anything I said about religion that was negative,” he said ahead of a news conference . . .

    Turner now says he does not consider himself agnostic or atheist, as he has sometimes described himself. He prays for sick friends, and maintains several churches on his properties for employees and neighbors.

    On Tuesday, Turner’s United Nations Foundation, which he started in 1997 with a $1 billion donation, launched the anti-malaria project with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the United Methodist Church. The Protestant groups have been working overseas to fight poverty and disease for more than a century.

    “Religion is one of the bright spots as far as I’m concerned, even though there are some areas, like everything else, where they’ve gone over the top a little, in my opinion,” Turner said. “But I’m sure God, wherever he is, wants to see us get along and love one another.”

    This took place during Matt’s Directorship. And its good to hear how one has an effect on the world and on one person like Ted Turner. Jesus would do the same, like said above.

  2. Well, Teddy’s got one thing right: Christianity IS for losers…and I’m the biggest one.

    If Christianity were for winners, well…maybe I’d look into the whole Osteen/Crest white-strips thing.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    And don’t hold your breath waiting for any substantive condemnation because of the friends that you keep. If friendships mean anything at all, they are more transcendent than political affiliation, religion, or (insert whatever oft-divisive topic du jour that comes to mind here).

  3. @Rev. Roger Sterle #3
    You are way behind. Christian News has 50 reasons!!

    Is Christian News campaigning for Kieschnick this season?
    Or just against anyone any other group nominates?
    One would think that over 1300 nominations would
    bring even CN on board, for the greater good of us all.

  4. @helen #4

    I don’t know. I have never used Christian news as a voting guide. Even though as a delegate I receive a copy each week, I just don’t have the time to read every issue when I receive it.

  5. @mbw #8
    Uh, oh–Ted thinks giving money charitably will land him in heaven. We know better. But I still believe it is incumbent on us as christians to befriend and work with unbelievers. We are the light. God causes the growing. And the strong thing about Matt is he can do this with all kinds of people while maintaining his strong biblical convictions. He does share his light in the world. No matter what happens with the election, we are proud of him.

  6. When the guilt by association/fellow travelers card gets played (on either side) we should keep in mind that our Lord sat down to dinner with tax collectors, sinners and Pharisees. The key isn’t necessarily ‘who’ you rubbed elbows with, but why, and did you maintain your integrity? Paul rebuked Peter for being two-faced, not because he wanted to gain a higher position of authority or esteem but out of loving concern for a brother, and that his witness of Christ would not be tarnished.

    “Matt Harrison’s friend are a bunch of striden right wingers’ is a fairly cynical attempt to discredit Pastor Harrison. It will backfire, because it is simply not so Matt Harrison knows a lot of people around the world from all walks of life. This is however a sign that he is an appealing candidate to all segments of our Synod, and that is a very good thing. It is what we need.

  7. It is not a matter of company you hang out with, but your track record of performance and integrity. Who would be in charge? Rev. Harrison or His friends? What a unsavory way of picking a candidate.

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