It is Indeed Time – Rev. Matt Harrison is Elected LCMS President, by Pr. Rossow

It is now time for authentic Lutheranism and LCMS unity to be put at the forefront of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Rev. Matt Harrison has been elected  643 – 527 on the first ballot.

President elect Harrison’s address to the convention upon being elected was focused on sin and forgiveness and he pledged to the synod not to coerce anyone but to lead. He pledged to lead solely on the basis of the Word of God. It was a simple, Scriptural and humble address. There are good times ahead for the LCMS.

We will post more on this in the hours to come.

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.


It is Indeed Time – Rev. Matt Harrison is Elected LCMS President, by Pr. Rossow — 164 Comments

  1. @Bo #150

    Bo, Regarding worship, here is something to chew on.

    From the iintial issue of Today’s Business, p. 162, (This is the proposed revised handbook.)

    B. Requirements for retaining membership in the Synod are the following:

    1. Continued subscription to the confessional basis of the Synod and to its Constitution; 39
    2. Current: “Exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda, hymnbooks, and catechisms in church and school.”
    Proposed: Use of worship and catechetical resources that are in harmony with the confessional basis of the Synod.

    Currently, you are not bound to LSB, TLH, or LW–and no Synod president can tell you otherwise. I hope this allays your fears. All that is needed is doctrinally pure material. So, you need to be sure of that. Much of CW, especially the songs, is NOT doctrinally pure. However, the proposed change, altho sounding good, is a bit mushy. What’s wrong with “doctrinally pure.” Is this so difficult to attain? On the other hand, we hear many accounts of mission starts that are forbidden to use LSB or any liturgical form, rather they must use CW. What’s wrong this picture.

    I trust that your CW or non-traditional worship is truly Divine Service, and that it is indeed doctrinally pure. Then you have nothing to worry about. I think your fears on one hand, are unfounded, but on the other hand, there is much to be concerned about, no matter who the synod president is.


  2. @Kenneth J. Schmidt #149

    You are right, Kenneth. The use of the binding key will have to be used, not just the loosing key, when people perniciously obfuscate and confuse Law and Gospel.

    @BO #150

    One point in dialoguing back and forth — and this gives you the opportunity to clarify misunderstandings that I have — but you talk about dealing with people who have problems with job security and marriage security. My response is that religion is not an opiate of the people. What I hear in the sermons of contemporary worship preachers — and I apologize for making generalizations — they are trying to make people feel better about their felt needs like layoffs and divorce. You feel tenderhearted toward those who are suffering in any way. I do too. But I don’t think that the Gospel is something designed to make people feel better. Jesus isn’t a divine sympathizer. His work on the cross is for the forgiveness of sins. That may or may not make people’s live more “secure.”

    I suspect that in some sense you don’t disagree with me; but somehow people like you and people like me deal with words differently, at the very least, if in fact our theologies aren’t fundamentally different from each other. I don’t think that you and I identify and address sin in the same way. I don’t think that we in essence preach the same Gospel. I don’t think that we see the use of liturgy and hymnody in the same way. At the very least, I would like to understand these differences better and to describe them fairly and accurately. At best, I would like to resolve these issues because I think it is confusing to lay people who would attend the church yo userve and then the church I serve.

    You may be like my district president who believes that diversity is a good thing. I don’t think that it is necessarily a harmful thing — but as a member of The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, I do know that according to the Bylaws to which both you and I have subscribed, we are to be striving for UNIFORMITY — and the district presidents are supposed to be working to that end. Get a copy of the synod’s bylaws in PDF format and search throughout it for the word “uniformity.” Tell me what you think.

  3. Glory be to God on high for the near sweep in leadership in the LCMS! Thank you faithful delegates! Each previous convention had been grimmer than the last and so much was/is at stake in this particular one. Lord willing the tide has turned and division – or, I should say – divisions (doctrinal and practical) within our beloved synod can shrink considerably like a cancerous tumor or tumors being brought under control. As Rev. Harrison puts it so well, to that salutary end, “Lord have mercy!”

  4. Thanks Johannes, I agree with you that the language is a little mushy, but personally I’d rather that than a dictum of some type. Thanks. And thanks mbw for your kind gesture. No sins of offense from my end.

    Rev. Brondos, I very much appreciate your last post. To dissect some language I actually tend to reject language like “felt needs”. Sounds too namby-pamby for me. However, the real life experiences that people have are made of blood and guts and tears. Yes, we must absolutely establish with our people justification by grace through faith with the preaching of hard law and joyful Gospel, but my belief is that we need to connect Jesus and the hurting soul. Along with blasting the pharisees and teaching love, Jesus also healed the sick and had compassion on the outcast. So, my aim is to provide a worship service and a sermon that hopefully does both.

    If that means that I access a song which may be doctrinally fine, albeit weak, I believe it is alright to do so if it will lend itself to the theme of the service. Having that flexibility is important to me. On the other hand I will also use a big hymn (like A Mighty Fortress) in a CW service if it will do the same thing.

    Thanks for engaging in a positive discourse. I too think that we are have the same fundamental understandings but we diverge when it comes to implementing them. To me, perhaps as your DP as well, that is a strength of our synod.

  5. @Bo #150


    I wanted to say that I think your commitment to make two pastoral calls for every post is encouraging. Thanks for sharing that. I think that’s a fine perspective to take. (I may end up adopting something similar).

    One thing I wanted to throw into the mix before I went back into “lurk” mode. A friend the other day gave me an interesting analogy to chew on with regards to style and substance in worship. It has been said that one can have a Lutheran substance while keeping a Neo-Evangelical style in worship. My friend suggested that this would be like having a Vikings fan who dresses only in Packers’ clothing. While he may still root for the Vikings, he appears to be in agreement with those who reject the Vikings. So he suggested that a church that retains the Lutheran substance while using a Neo-Evangelical worship style at least seems to send a mixed signal, that Lutherans agree with Neo-Evangelicals in what we teach. What are your thoughts on this comparison? Others, please feel free to chime in.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Fullerton, NE

  6. (Correction. In my last post, I said “While he may still root for the Vikings, he appears to be in agreement with those who reject the Vikings. So he suggested that a church that retains the Lutheran substance while using a Neo-Evangelical worship style at least seems…” This last sentence I included referred to my friend who gave this analogy, not the confused Vikings’ fan in the analogy.)

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Fullerton, NE

  7. @Bo #155

    Also, could you give some specific examples of what you mean by the statement: “we need to connect Jesus and the hurting soul”? If you were going to teach me how to do that, what would you say? You might also give examples of sermons you’ve heard preached which fail to connect Jesus to the hurting soul.

    Would you say that your preaching style and content are the kinds of things we learned at the seminary? Or did you learn about connecting Jesus and the hurting soul after the seminary from other sources? Can you give examples of other preachers who do this well?

  8. @Rev. Robert Mayes #156

    Is this confused fan sitting in the Vikings’ section or the Packers’ section? And to push the analogy a bit further, why does he dress like that? Oh, I get it–he likes the Packers’ style and the Vikings’ substance. And he thinks others would like the Packers’ style also, and then come to appreciate the Vikings. At what point do these people become loyal Vikings fans and dress appropriately? I think I’ve decimated the analogy. My apologies….

    Johannes (go, uh, er, ahem….Browns, I think)

  9. The Vikings / Packers analogy is fitting. Someone correct me if I’m ignorant about the practices in the Metrodome or at Lambeau, but folks in the upper Midwest might be a little more tolerant of one donning the visitor’s clothing than, say, someone putting on Chargers’ gear and sitting in the Black Hole section next to a spiked-shoulder padded Darth Vader in Oakland. Yikes.

    On the other hand, is it taking the analogy too far to wonder whether the CoWo style, Confessional substance approach carries with it the same attitude as someone putting on the horns at Lambeau or the Cheesehead in the dome?

    Look at the opening Divine Service last Saturday. I sense that those who produced it knew that some elements would be offensive to more traditionally-minded worshippers–at least moreso than a CoWo-minded worshipper would have found a traditional service boring and uninspiring. I see this in pastors’ conferences, as well. At our last one, they intentionally had a lay minister preside as celebrant and the words of institution were chanted by the praise team. Forgive me if my observations are skewed, but how can these things not have an “in your face” factor to them?

  10. I believe the analogy I used, since I’m the one Rob is referring to, was something along the lines of can you say you’re a Packers fan if you’re always wearing Vikings jerseys, horns, & belonging to the Viking’s fan club & then if someone says, “But you’re a Vikings fan,” and you say, “No, no, see I still sit on the Packers sidelines.” The point of the analogy being those who have adopted almost whole sale the forms of the neo-evangelicals, purpose drivens, & emergents & then when questioned about it say, “No, no, we’re still Lutherans because we’re in The LC-MS.”

    Maybe another analogy could be, “I have heavy metal substance with country western style.”

    Of course, all analogies break down at some point, but I think this analogy is useful in asking the question how far can you depart from Lutheran style, if we’re using that terminology, & still lay claim to Lutheran substance? Does the point come when your style really becomes your substance because style is not necessarily neutral? Would we give the same leeway to people who would say something like, “We have Lutheran substance & Eastern Orthodox style,” or “We have Lutheran substance but Mormon style or Scientology style etc, etc?” And if we wouldn’t, then why not?

    Being a good postmodern I don’t necessarily have answers only questions. 🙂

  11. Interesting note: When the praise band was playing at the convention, even when they accompanied the singing of a hymn, the camera was usually on them, and their “performances” were often followed by applause. Only once did I see the camera on the organist – when a trumpet accompanied the singing along with the organ.

  12. Rev. Brondos,

    This thread is probably too old, but I want to respond in case you read it.

    I beleive this, every sermon needs to have the fundamental Gospel of Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection preached. You simply do not know who is sitting in your pews. It might be the one time they hear the Gospel.

    In addition I subscribe to the strategy of my Homeletics I professor, “Wild Bill” Schmelder. He said to write “Hearers” at the top of every sermon worksheet. The point is that we are not preaching to our professors or Theological Interview board. We are preaching to people who are victims and perpetrators of sin. IMO the sermon must engage them in real life, relevant subjects as well.

    I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I attempt to do sermon series that engage people where they live. “Surviving the Disasters of Life” (Jeremiah texts from Dr. Lessing), “Who are you imitating?” (epistle texts) are a couple I’ve used.

    I’ve sat through many sermons that never moved past the basic Gospel. That’s good, but I think people too often simply “check out” if it seems like the same sermon as last week, but with a different text.

    I’m good for an extra post, shut in calls last week!

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