Respect, Be Aware of and Fear the Gavel, by Pr. Tim Rossow

President Kieschnick holds the gavel at the upcoming LCMS convention in Houston. He ought to be respected as the elected leader of our synod and holder of the gavel, delegates need to be aware of the significance of the authority of the gavel, and there should be some fear of the gavel as well.

First we need to respect the gavel. We have chosen to use a system of representative government and elected leaders for our church polity and so the president should be respected. He has been elected by the synod. Here at the end of his three terms as president, the synod is struggling (cuts in missions, financial woes, shrinking membership, etc.), but until another is elected and installed to take his place, he is our president and ought to be respected.

Secondly, delegates to the convention need to be aware of the power of persuasion that comes with the gavel. It is often times an unnoticed and subtle persuasion. The fact that the incumbent president gives the synodical report just prior to the elections is a huge advantage for him. After all, even in the worst of times in the synod (as we are experiencing now), there are still plenty of pictures of missionaries in Africa and hurting children in Haiti that can be flashed on the scene as proof that our little ole’ synod from Missouri is having an impact around the world.

The momentum to elect Rev. Matthew Harrison as the next president of the LCMS is strong but it will be challenged by this subtle power of the gavel. After all, both his critics and supporters alike will acknowledge that President Kieschnick has a powerful way of persuasion. He is one of those folks, as we say, who could sell air conditioners to Eskimos so we ask the delegates to be respectful of the gavel but also be aware of it and to an appropriate extent fear it.

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

Respect, Be Aware of and Fear the Gavel, by Pr. Tim Rossow — 13 Comments

  1. “but until another is elected to take his place, he is our president and ought to be respected.”

    Shouldn’t that be until another is installed in his place?

  2. As I told him to his face at the conclusion of the convention in 2007, “Sir, I don’t agree with you on everything, but you certainly know how to run a smooth convention.”

    And he does.

    When it comes to wielding the gavel, SPK is the proverbial iron fist in the velvet glove; and the velvet is so smooooth that you hardly even know that the iron is there, until after it’s steamrolled you. When it comes to politically using his power, he’s Just. That. Good. on the convention floor.

    I’m very interested to see just how things shake down this go-around, as there are some significant dynamics that are very different (and not just the most obvious ones like the BRTFSSG) as I get ready to throw on my delegate’s badge again.

    I can hardly wait…

    -ghp

  3. @Glen Piper #3

    “When it comes to wielding the gavel, SPK is the proverbial iron fist in the velvet glove; and the velvet is so smooooth that you hardly even know that the iron is there, until after it’s steamrolled you.” – Glen Piper

    Couldn’t that also be said of Archbishop (Presiding Bishop) Mark S. Hanson of the ELCA, which seems to have driven his ecclesiastical organization past the point of know return last August? Has someone done a study comparing the two of them, Kieschnick and Hanson, in terms of leadership styles, and how smoothly they can push their personal agenda over and above every other voice?

    In a JesusFirst delegate newsletter, the author kept writing “I’d like to hear Matt Harrison say (this)”, and “I’d like to hear Matt Harrison say (that)” over and over again.

    I, personally, would like to hear President Kieschnick address the LCMS in convention, saying, “It is not important to me, who the LCMS elects as president this year: Let us pray that God would lead our Synod in the way that is pleasing to Him. Should I be re-elected, I will strive to serve to the best of my ability, with the help of God, yet should this convention select another for President, I will pray for him also, and support him, that our Synod may work toward mutual support and unity.”

    And, I would pray that people in our Synod sould believe his words, and put the best construction on his motives and goals. If President Kieschnick were to speak the above words before the election of Synodical President, that right there would help to dispel rumors of him seeking additional power for wrong motives. It would show the synod that Synod is more important to him than his winning another election. Oh, that he would show his synod such humility. For any candidate to do so would be to put Jesus first, before self.

  4. @Rick #4
    I’m more interested in people paying attention to what Kieschnick does and who he relies on for “consultation” than in what he says. His talk can be tailored to the audience. The “company he keeps” teaches him to rely on business models rather than Scripture and the Confessions. To all appearances, in this drive for power, Jesus is very far from “first”.

  5. It is my understanding that Luther contrasted himself from his contemporaries in that polite society at the time respected the position of Pope, and yet lambasted the man Leo X… whereas Luther’s venom went straight for the position, and he continually tried to treat Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici as a fellow child of God.

    This offers a pattern of behavior at odds with what is being suggested here.

  6. I agree that we should look at what SPK is doing but we should also listen carefullly to his words because our confessions clearly state that we have sinned “in thought, WORD, and deed”. MHO

  7. helen :@Rick #4 I’m more interested in people paying attention to what Kieschnick does and who he relies on for “consultation” than in what he says. His talk can be tailored to the audience. The “company he keeps” teaches him to rely on business models rather than Scripture and the Confessions. To all appearances, in this drive for power, Jesus is very far from “first”.

    Helen, That is fair criticism: By his fruit we will know him. All we can go be is his outward confession, in word and deed. We dare not judge another by the company they keep. Jesus, himself was judged (falsely) by with whom he associated with. You are right, words can be tailored for an audience. If the public record of an elected servant shows a great disparity between his actions and his words, do we not have a reason to question the sincerety of the spoken words?

  8. @Been There #9
    All we can go be is his outward confession, in word and deed.

    You’re right, “company” was a bad word choice.
    I meant that the predominance of non Lutheran consultants GK depends on, the non Lutheran ‘teachers’ brought in to train/entertain our youth and the syncretistic seminars for our various paid employees of lcms inc. were/are not likely to lead to a church defined by Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

  9. Fisharmor–
    What you say re: Luther, far as I have seen, is correct. And personal, hateful, ad hominem venom spat at Jerry Kieschnick is not proper, is downright sinful. “From this perserve us heavenly Father!” (And forgive us for when we have done this!) But criticism of the things he has done in office are not at all improper, as long as such criticisms are consistent with the Scriptures and our Confession. In fact, one might argue that they are *necessary*–regardless of who the SP happens to be.
    Also, the situations you are comparing are not the same. The *office* of Pope was precisely the problem. Therefore, Luther’s attack was against the office.
    But the office of synodical president isn’t itself the problem now, rather, the exercise of that office, and the clear intent of the present holder of that office to radically increase its powers–ironically thus moving much more toward the same problem as at the time of the Reformation.

  10. Beware, also, of the rhetoric of the one who holds the gavel. The last time I’ve checked, Lutheran theology does not teach name-it-claim-it word-faith theology. If the gavel holder liberally uses the mantra “ONE” in reference to our Missouri Synod, such verbal resonance does not automatically shake the heavens and make it so. Claiming unity does not mean that all of a sudded we are all on the same page, and heading in the same direction.

    Sure, “we are not divided, all one body we” says one of those dusty old hymns, for those who can stomach such archaic church-music. But when Jesus called for us to hold to His teachings, which ones did he mean? Just the main ones? Kind of a “least common denomintor” approach, so as to not offend those with other ideas? Jesus would have us hold to all of His teaching. Those who thought we can re–package the message to bring in the masses have proven that ABLAZE! has not improved our membership numbers, despite what WOW experiences our churches can pack for the unsuspecting visitor.

    Are we like-minded? Are we one in spirit and purpose? Let us not mistake propaganda for the Word of God. Should we desire unity? Certainly. Should we aspire to true doctrinal unity? Yes, and we should do so through studying God’s Holy Word. But let’s not fall for the name-it and claim-it approach, whether it comes from he who holds the gavel, or anyone else. We have no pope, but we have no need of a pope. God, in His mercy has revealed His Holy Word to us. That is sufficient!

  11. Sure, “we are not divided, all one body we” says one of those dusty old hymns, for those who can stomach such archaic church-music.

    That hymn would be “Onward Christian Soldiers” (TLH658; LW518).

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