What does this Election Mean? by Martin R. Noland

The balloting for all offices of the synod are now done.

Pastor Matthew Harrison is the new president of the Missouri Synod and Pastor Herb Mueller Jr. its first vice-president, by large margins.  Pastors John Wohlrabe, Paul Maier, Daniel Preus, and Scott Murray are the vice-presidents two to five, in that order.   83% of the Board of Directors elected were United List candidates.  75% of the Concordia University System board members elected were United List candidates.  100% of the CTCR members elected were United List candidates.  80% of the CPH board members elected were United List candidates.  100% of LCEF board members elected were Jesus First candidates.  100% of seminary regents elected were United List candidates.  70% of university regents elected were United List candidates.

What does this mean? Many pundits will opine on that question for months to come.  Then we will find out, as the new officers and boards meet and carry out their duties and face the challenges of the day.

For now, here are my thoughts about what this means:

I.   It means the passing of a generation of pastors and lay leaders into retirement (see my post at BJS at:  https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=9889 April 12, 2010).  Look at the ages of those now elected and those not.

II. It means that people are tired of division in the synod, and they were attracted to the message of Pastor Matthew Harrison in “It’s Time” (see http://itistime.org)

III. It means that many people are tired of being restricted in what they can say about issues that affect us all. People need to realize that ALL of the synodical workers, including seminary and university professors, have a GAG order which the delegates at conventions past have approved. Referring to current bylaws, these are: 1.5.1.3, 1.5.2, 1.5.6, 1.5.6.1, 1.8.1, 1.8.2, 1.10.1-1.10.1.6. The effect of these bylaws, plus many CCM rulings over the years, is to turn all the people who work for synod, in any capacity, into “dumb robots.” They all have to repeat what the president or convention says, without any dissent, or they will be summarily fired.

I know many people at the national offices, at the seminaries, and at the universities, who in confidence, have complained about this situation to me. And I understood their situation and agreed that they needed to keep quiet to preserve their good influence where they were.

The seminary and university-theology faculty members, in particular, have felt BOUND AND GAGGED, since in the tradition of the Lutheran church they, in particular, have been called upon for judgment and debate on many things. Our LCMS theological faculty have had just the opposite of “academic freedom” in recent years!

One of the attractive things of the Harrison “It’s Time” program is, I think, a relaxing of this “binding and gagging.” I personally think that our seminary and university theology faculty members are the very best persons to debate and help the church with its issues, since they live and work in a community of peers that deals with theology and ecclesial issues.

I think that the synod needs to review its “GAG ORDERS” in the bylaws and CCM rulings, to see to what extent they are necessary and whether or not they are helping or hurting us in dealing with conflicts

IV.  Finally, I think it promises a new era of brotherhood and cooperation in the LCMS.  It will be that if all parties treat each other fairly and kindly, as true brothers and sisters in Christ, following the example of our new President.

May our Lord help us all!

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