Godly Examples Here on BJS of the Dialogue Harrison Looks for in the Koinonia Project, by Pr. Rossow

The two contrasting letters we posted in response to the recent LCMS convention have led to a “love fest” of sorts that provide a glimmer of hope for LCMS unity and more importantly signify the sort of thing President Elect Harrison has proposed for his year-long Koinonia project. (For more on the Koinonia Project see “It’s Time.”) Here are a few of the comments being posted there.

First consider this comment from Andrew Strickland, who according to the comment below would not consider himself a “confessional.”

(Comment #46) I must say that I find encouragement in both letters. Huh? Yes I really do. In the letters and responses I see the depth of the love we have for our synod. Was I upset that President Kieschcnick lost? You bet, but I know that the Lord is in charge and President Harrison will also be a blessing to the synod.

One of my friends stated after the election, the savior of the synod is here. My first comment which I wish I had not said was a sarcastic “Oh yeah? I thought the Savior was Jesus. I could have found a better way to respond to his comment.

Just from the past week reading this site I have learned something, and it took me off my high horse. I will not always agree with the “Confessionals” but they are important to the synod. A church that is not grounded in its past is a church that is groundless and set adrift. Many denominations have lost sight of that. I also believe that the more “liberal” movements such as Jesus First has an important role in the synod as well. I pray that working together the synod will continue to move forward.

Thank you Andrew for being so straight forward and for giving us some insight into the sort of positive things that may come out of the Koinonia Project. In addition to that, I don’t blame you for responding with “Oh yeah.” No one should speak of Harrison as the savior of the synod. The synod is much bigger than the office of the presidency, although we do look forward to Harrison’s leadership.

Pastor Pittock, who has gotten a lot of grief from our readers, half way through the string, offered this comment (Comment #53)

Also, reading thought the comments, I appreciate what Rev. Todd said and also Andrew. Nicely said brothers in Jesus!

Despite the clear differences there is some healthy and constructive dialogue going on. For this we give thanks to God.

And then there is this comment by Rev. Charles St-Onge (Comment #66):

I feel like I’m in the middle of much of this discussion, and should say something. First, I’m a regular blogger on the Houston Chronicle’s religion website, “houstonbelief.com,” and remained in regular contact with the religion web editor throughout the last convention. Second, I know Pastor Pittock from our time together in the Eastern District – both of us were involved with the District’s LWML. I’m also a big fan of BJS, and of all your regular bloggers. Third, my senior pastor and colleague is now 5th Vice-President of Synod. Last, I owe the fact that I’m now in the LCMS and not the ELCA/ELCIC in part to Pastor Harrison.

I hope, in many ways, that this thread is a symptom of a turning point in the history of our denomination. For nine years we have been told that our Synod is united – except in some small, practical details. I think we are now, for the first time, being able to admit *openly* that we have a lot to talk about. Wounds cannot heal when they are ignored and hidden. The first step to real healing is honest diagnosis of the disease. Pastor Pittock has “lanced the boil” – and I for one, like Pastor Wilken, am forever grateful. Let the conversation begin, and let it be led by Christ Jesus!

Thank you Pastor St. Onge for your hopefulness and your call to let the conversation begin. I do not agree with everything that Harrison stands for, he does not agree with everything Pittock stands for, who most likely does not agree with everything Benke stands for, who doesn’t agree with everything Wilken stands for, who doesn’t agree with everything Kieschnick stands for, who doesn’t agree with everything Helen stands for, who doesn’t agree with everything Pierce stands for who doesn’t agree with everything St. Onge stands for and so on. What we all agree on is that Scripture is the only source of truth. We also all agree that the LCMS is better off united than divided. May God bless President Elect Harrison in his efforts to bring us together.

If you want to get more of the “love fest” take a look at all of the comments on the “two letters” post or stay tuned below for more of the same I am sure.

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.


Godly Examples Here on BJS of the Dialogue Harrison Looks for in the Koinonia Project, by Pr. Rossow — 18 Comments

  1. I thought the Koininia project was described as taking sereral years, not 1 year.

    I hope that I’m mistaken here, but 1 year would take a miracle, just in logistical terms, not to mention the time needed for discussions that need to take place.

  2. In It’s Time, President-Elect Harrison states (these are verbatim quotes):

    1. It is time for a serious, decade-long effort—a non-politically organized and driven effort to regain theological and practical unity in the Synod.
    2. The goal of the first year would be simply to identify the issues that trouble—to begin to formulate the “status of the controversy.”
    3. The second year would simply be devoted to formulating the “affirmatives” and the “negatives.”
    4. A yearly report (via an inexpensive, Web-based delivery) would present to the Synod the progress of the dialogue for critique.

    So he expects the whole project to take something like ten years, but he has proposed specific milestones for each of the first two years.

  3. @aletheist #2

    Let me simply say that I think we have seen there is something out there already that seems to hit upon #s 1-3. Not that it is the be all and end all, but if you examine it in light of the verbatim quotes (especially #1), it does precisely those things.

    I promise, due to the heat generated in that regard previously, that is all I will say unless expressly invited to do otherwise.

    Thanks again for the forum, Brothers.

    Peacefully yours,
    Pastor Hering

  4. Rev. Kurt Hering :@aletheist #2
    Let me simply say that I think we have seen there is something out there already that seems to hit upon #s 1-3. Not that it is the be all and end all, but if you examine it in light of the verbatim quotes (especially #1), it does precisely those things.

    Assuming that you are referring to the ACELC, that is precisely the problem that I think many people have with it. Rather than accepting the potentially lengthy time frame suggested in #1, the ACELC seems to be jumping straight to #3 based on its own particular assessment of #2. Although I happen to agree with much of that assessment, I find myself increasingly convinced that the Koinonia Project has far greater potential than the ACELC’s approach for fostering the kind of Word- and Spirit-directed dialogue that can lead to changed hearts and minds—perhaps even including my own. The objective, as stated in It’s Time, is “to come to a point of doctrinal agreement which is God-pleasing and sufficient for both God-pleasing Christian freedom and also God-pleasing uniformity of doctrine and practice: Unity in and for Mission.” Trying to fix the outcome before the process has even begun is not likely to be a successful strategy for achieving this worthwhile end.

  5. I feel like an idiot asking this question but what is BJS? I am not familiar with this web site and simply searching BJS turns up nothing of value.


  6. Never mind! DAH! I guess it is what I am now reading and typing to.Sorry about that!

  7. @Art Casci #6
    If you’ll go to the top and start reading some of the things under the various labels, you’ll get a bigger picture.

    This is nice, but BJS to me is a BOC class at church and listening to Issues Etc.
    (For some other people it’s one upping each other about the best wine/beer and the relative merits of pipes vs cigars. I don’t go there much but you might be entertained.) 🙂

    It isn’t all, or even primarily, politics, believe it or not! 😉

  8. What we all agree on is that Scripture is the only source of truth. TR

    Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, just so we have something to pull us out of the “evangelical” “I believe the Bible (except where I don’t)” territory?
    But no doubt that’s what you meant?

  9. @aletheist #4
    So you would be so bold as to take Kurt to task for his comments which he lays open with his name, while you yourself hide behind an essential non name. Again, Norm and others who moderate this site, I can understand why some must remain unknown to us who read, but I feel rather strongly that when one is attacked he should at least be attacked by someone who is willing to put his name to the attack!

  10. I feel that I should clarify why am not fully a confessional. My breakdown is a liturgical one. Not that I believe is should go away, but that I am OK with many forms of worship. Blame Concordia. J/K

  11. Andrew,

    How would you define “forms of worship?” What forms are you talking about and how would you defend them?

    Also, what do you mean that Concordia is to blame?


  12. Rev. Roger Sterle :@aletheist #4 So you would be so bold as to take Kurt to task for his comments which he lays open with his name, while you yourself hide behind an essential non name . . . I feel rather strongly that when one is attacked he should at least be attacked by someone who is willing to put his name to the attack!

    Where did I “take Kurt to task” or “attack” him (or anyone else)? I simply expressed some of my own thoughts and concerns, prompted by his comments that were directed specifically to me. And I am not “hiding,” I have been consistently using “aletheist” as my online screen name in various contexts for many years. I am sensitive about privacy issues and potential identity theft; it does not reflect unwillingness to take a stand for my beliefs and opinions. Frankly, I hope that everything posted here is evaluated on its own merits and not on the basis of the credentials or stature of person who wrote it (or lack thereof).

  13. @Pastor Tim Rossow #11
    I was kidding about the Concordia, I was taking a stance as people in society and blaming others so I blame my profs. 🙂 Personally, I am a high church type person and would gravitate towards that… Orthodox roots, my wife on the other hand gravitates towards contemporary worship, she was raised on that. Having been to theAlley (controversial example) I can see the point of their mission and the way they do things, but I believe they are missing a huge opportunity by not teaching about the Sacraments during worship. They could offer closed Communion and still teach what it is. The early church did it when they were persecuted. They should use the creed in the service.

    …Sorry about the typing errors, I have a hard time typing an a laptop.

  14. and then one has to ask the question. What is reverence in this society? I know what it is, but what is reverent to you or me is not to someone else. Take attire for example. My family dressed up for church this morning. Before church began, I noticed the attire people were in, as I was thinking about how things have changed during my short life. Some people were in suits, some in polos and khakis, others wore shorts and flowing shorts, some looked like they were going to the office later, some had their biker gear on, some wore mini skirts, still others wore Twins jerseys, while some wore shorts so short they could have been arrested.

    I once saw a woman texting in church during communion. The text was “Yeah church is not for me” I wonder why. I should have asked.

  15. Andrew,

    Reverence is sort of transcendental in an Aristorelian sense (i.e. it is indefinable). You know it when you see it. To say that what is reverent to one may not be to another is not a case for a variety of “reverences” (of which there are not). It is an example of not accepting that reverence is known intuitively. It is a rejection of reverance in favor of narcissism.

    “Reverance is as reverance does.”


  16. Last one I promise, I do not endorse disposing the liturgy. I am not even a fan of contemporary worship because it is a watered down liturgy. Where the mistake is, I believe, Lutherans tried to be like everyone else. Why? I do believe there is a case for musical forms being changed and different settings. This is where I diverge. I grew up with nothing but chanting. So an organ was innovative to me and those bells, heresy (before I was Lutheran.) The controversial churches that are out there could really be helping the LCMS if they just admitted to their roots and worked to get it right. You can’t tell me that Lutherans cannot write Lutheran hymns in a Lutheran context. I just don’t think the hymn need be organ or piano based all of the time. I have heard “The Lamb” done with piano, organ, harpsichord once-kinda weird, guitar, and even with an orchestra. It can be done.

    Get rid of clapping, get the band in the back, put the focus back on Christ instead of the band. Why did they ever put the band in the front?

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