A View of the LCMC from an LCMS Pastor, by Rev. Joshua V. Scheer

Martin Noland mentioned the LCMC in his article on What, Now, for the Moderate Lutherans?. Previous BJS poster Rev. Joshua V. Scheer (here and here) thought it would be informative for BJS readers to understand more about this group, so he submitted this article that he wrote about the LCMC from the perspective of an LCMS pastor.

Read more papers from Pastor Scheer here. This paper in a PDF available for printing is available here.


A new denomination is starting to gain numerical strength. A number of former ELCA congregations are now joining the LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ). This denomination was originally formed in conjunction with the WORD Alone network, which seeks to reform the ELCA from the inside. The formation of the LCMC was official on March 25, 2001.(note 1) The LCMC was a reaction in great measure to the ELCA and Episcopal Church fellowship agreement and the implied change in polity (the ELCA passage of Called to a Common Mission “CCM”). The LCMC says in a promotional pamphlet “We are not a revised version of any Lutheran church body. We are not a traditional denomination at all, but an association of confessional evangelical Lutheran congregations and pastors.”(note 2)

The LCMC as of August 2009 has 226 congregations.(note 3) (editor: as of August 2010, 496) In an interesting example of how they are not like other denominations, a fourth of the congregations belong to another church body.(note 4) It can be assumed that the majority of these congregations are in the ELCA, although other documents do mention involvement of LCMS congregations.(note 5)

The Confessional stance of the LCMC is similar to the ELCA when it was formed. They subscribe to the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism. The other confessional documents in the 1580 Book of Concord are considered “further valid expositions of the Holy Scriptures”.(note 6) Scripture’s inspiration is confessed. Inerrancy is not confessed. The preaching of both Law and Gospel is considered also to be the Word of God.

There is one focus of the work of the LCMC. From a document “What is LCMC?” that focus is expressed in this way: “LCMC has one primary mission: that of sharing the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.”(note 7) This finds its working out in church planting, missionaries, and training leaders. The By-Laws of the LCMC state the purpose of the LCMC as “to support our common mission to bear witness to the good news that sinners are put right with God by faith alone in Jesus Christ, to resist any corruption of this gospel, and to serve and support fellow congregations who seek to do likewise.”( note 8 )

The LCMC follows three major points of confession.(note 9) First, they state “We are free in Christ.” This is then related to Romans 6 and the freedom found in Christ. Second, they state “We are accountable to one another.”(note 10) The LCMC is congregational, but also accountable. They defined the church as “where the people of God are gathered together around Word and Sacrament” Another LCMC pamphlet states “We believe that it is primarily here [church of people around Word and Sacraments] that faith is born and nurtured and lives are changed by the power of the Spirit.”(note 11) The local congregation is the visible form of this. The by-laws define a congregation as “a community of baptized persons, gathered around Word and Sacrament.”(note 12) Joining or leaving the LCMC is a simple process of congregational vote. The third point of confession is “We are rooted and grounded in the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.” They deliberately state some other key parts in this section, namely “we reject the notion that science, personal experience, tradition, or other human endeavors have equal footing with the Bible.” Their documents state that these things “contribute to our conversations and deliberations, but the Bible must be our final authority in matters of faith and practice.”(note 13)

The LCMC is organized into Districts and Chapters. Districts are defined as “amazingly flexible partnerships between congregations.”(note 14) Each congregation is free to join as many districts as they would like and may choose to not belong to any district. Districts are organized “around geography, theology, values, shared interests, congregational characteristics, worship styles, etc.”(note 15) The Districts’ names themselves attest to this new way of organization. The names of the Districts of the LCMC are: Cross Alone, Epiphany, Evangelical Renewal, Heartland, North East, Texas, Great Lakes, Northwest, and Prairie to Pines. A chapter appears to be a smaller unit for congregations who do not choose to be a part of any District.

The LCMC has a national convention every year. The representation at a convention is similar to that of the United States House of Representatives, using the number of average worship attending members for a congregation to determine how many delegates they can send to convention. Each congregation gets at least 2 delegates and congregations with more than 500 may receive an additional delegate for each 250 average worship attendees.(note 16)

There are several key issues which are emphasized in the LCMC:

  1. Congregational Polity (in reaction to the ELCA and ECUSA)
  2. Christian freedom and mutual congregational accountability
  3. Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, including an emphasis on Law and Gospel in preaching.
  4. Mission-mindedness
  5. Priesthood of believers

Thus far, there seems to be much good in the LCMC for us to rejoice and be thankful for. But there are theological problems in such a denomination. I plan on discussing several including Women’s Ordination, an almost anti-clerical emphasis on the priesthood of believers, Biblical inerrancy and interpretation, and fellowship issues.

First of all, on their paper confession the LCMC appears to properly confess the Scriptures. They even go so far as mentioned earlier as denouncing other earthly things becoming equal to Scriptures. But that language fast loses its potency when it is revealed that the LCMC allow for the ordination of women.(note 17) This is against the clear teachings of Scripture. For the reasons why this error is allowed, another LCMC document helps us to understand. This document giving reasons for the formation of the LCMC states: “Third, LCMC supports and upholds the pastoral ministries of the men and women called to serve the church. This is a large part of the reason why LCMC needed to be created. We could not deny the call of so many women as pastors – which other Lutheran bodies do.”(note 18) This is allowing for experience to rule over the Scriptures. So already, their formal principal of the Scriptures has been violated in the ordination of women. There also seems to be an almost violent reaction to the faithful Lutheran churches that do not allow women to serve as pastors.

There is an almost “anti-clericalism” that comes through the documents of the LCMC. The priesthood of believers is emphasized first and foremost in their constitution under the topic “Ministry”.(note 19) There is a good emphasis on vocation in the distinction between the public ministry of Word and Sacrament and the daily ministries of the baptized members of the congregations. This distinction is somewhat lost in their documents however. One document states “LCMC makes it a point to celebrate the Priesthood of All Believers at every level.”(note 20) The same document states “all the people are ministers of the church called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.”(note 21) Another document hints that lay people are qualified to lead communion.(note 22) This is in clear violation of the Augsburg Confession. The plain simple fact of the matter is that the LCMC is reacting to the ELCA and the Episcopal Church. Despite their claims to be a forward looking church body(note 23) that is not reacting, their publications reveal something quite different.

The topic of Biblical inerrancy should be noted in the discussion of the LCMC. They do not in any of their document express the idea of inerrancy. They do not discuss the use of the historical critical method of interpretation, although since women’s ordination is allowed, it can be assumed that the LCMC has little or no problem with historical criticism.

The last major topic of discussion is fellowship. The LCMC defines their organization as “post-denominational”.(note 24) This view causes all sorts of questions in relation to church fellowship issues. Congregations are allowed to be a part of other denominations and the LCMC.(note 25) Clergy members are allowed to be on the roster of other church bodies as well.(note 26) This is supposing that they can subscribe to the LCMC statement of faith and constitution. This is a flat out difference over historic denominational membership. The implications could be great for fraternal pastoral relationships and also for communion fellowship. Communion fellowship is nowhere mentioned in the existing LCMC literature. This is largely due to the congregational nature of the church body.

A final concern is that the LCMC allows for its clergy to be trained at a number of seminaries that even includes non-Lutheran ones. For example, Sioux Falls Seminary (formerly North American Baptist Seminary) is listed as an approved seminary for the LCMC. The candidate coming out of this seminary will be taught largely by Baptist or Reformed professors. Can this be good for the future of a church that swears loyalty to the same Lutheran Confessions which would condemn most of the teachings that these professors believe themselves? This represents another disconnect between the confession of the LCMC and their accepted practices.

The days of easily deconstructing the theology of the ELCA are over. The LCMC is much more elusive to pin down to a certain theology or practice due to its heavy congregational structure. A survey of the different districts of the LCMC reflects the wide array of beliefs and practices allowed in the LCMC. The Evangelical/Renewal District lists as one of its key values “passionate worship” and speaks in very non-Lutheran language.(note 27) The Cross Alone District has a respectable Lutheran confession in its “Charter of Freedom”(note 28) and “Describing Ourselves”.(note 29) The Epiphany District appears to be organized to provide instructional materials.(note 30) The Heartland District is heavily focused on disciple making, even using the language of “seekers” and “believers”.(note 31) The variety of districts only emphasizes the origin of most of these congregations, the ELCA.

It is notable that three quarters of the congregations in the LCMC have decided to leave a church body over issues of doctrine. This is commendable and we should applaud their willingness to separate from false teaching in that respect. However, as often with reactionary groups, there is a large emphasis in the LCMC on their reaction to the abuses and false teachings that they left over. The shift has moved too far to the other direction. There are many things that are commendable with the LCMC like its insistence on Law/Gospel preaching and renewed interest in the Lutheran Confessions. There are still some problems that stem from false doctrine that was not addressed, like women’s ordination, a confusing doctrine of the ministry, biblical interpretation, and fellowship with other church bodies or even with other congregations.

Despite these problems and false teachings that are a part of the LCMC, it may be advisable to engage them in discussion and encourage them in their renewed interest in the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions. The members of the LCMC have begun to understand how important doctrine can be. They have begun to realize how much went wrong in the ELCA. With patient and acceptable cooperation, the pastors and congregations of the LCMC could use their momentum away from the false teaching and come to right teaching and practice. We, as a confessional Lutheran church body should be there to discuss these things with them. We should ask them pointed questions about the remaining poison in their body, and engage in study about these things with them. Lift up the Truth of God’s Word and its faithful exposition in the Lutheran Confessions and let God the Holy Spirit do His work!

For the glory of God and the good of all Evangelical Lutheran Churches
Rev. Joshua V. Scheer




1 See LCMC timeline on website www.lcmc.net.
2 From a pamphlet entitled “Consider Your Options” released after August 2009.
3 “Consider Your Options”
4 “Consider Your Options”
5 For an example see “Intro to LCMC” written and provided by the Epiphany District of the LCMC.
6 From the LCMC “Our Statement of Faith” found on the LCMC website.
7 “What is LCMC?” A booklet found on the LCMC website.
8 See “Bylaws of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ” section 3.01
9 These three points seem to be a great emphasis as they can be found throughout LCMC literature and websites.
10 The use and emphasis of freedom and accountability may be related to Dr. Luther’s “free lord” and “dutiful servant” in his treatise on Christian Liberty.
11 “Consider Your Options”
12 Bylaws of LCMC, section 1.02
13 “What is LCMC?” A booklet found on the LCMC website.
14 “Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ Questions and Answers” found on the LCMC website, question 9.
15 “Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ Questions and Answers”, question 9.
16 See Constitution of LCMC, section 5.02
17 See Constitution of LCMC, section 3.04
18 “Intro to LCMC” written and provided by the Epiphany District of the LCMC, page 10.
19 See Constitution of LCMC, section 3.01
20 “Intro to LCMC” written and provided by the Epiphany District of the LCMC, page 8.
21 “Intro to LCMC” written and provided by the Epiphany District of the LCMC, page 9
22 “The Crisis Happening in the Lutheran Church: Issue 3: Worship and Preaching” published by the Epiphany District of LCMC, page 12.
23 “Intro to LCMC” written and provided by the Epiphany District of the LCMC, page 11.
24 “Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ Questions and Answers”, question 3.
25 “Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ Questions and Answers”, question 3.
26 By-laws of LCMC, section 2.01.
27 See http://www.lcmc-erd.net/values/files/erd-brochure-2010.pdf
28 See http://www.crossalone.us/2006/HereWeStand/CharterOfFreedom.php
29 See http://www.crossalone.us/2006/HereWeStand/DescribingOurselves.php
30 See http://epiphanydistrict.com/
31 See http://www.lcmc-ne.org/

PDF available here.

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


A View of the LCMC from an LCMS Pastor, by Rev. Joshua V. Scheer — 29 Comments

  1. Nicely done, Rev. Scheer.

    I would note, that the issues with a confusing doctrine of the office of the ministry, confusion of the doctrine of worship, confusion on doctrine regarding the Confessions, Scriptures, and fellowship, are all logs in our collective LCMS eyes, as well. We will need to set our own house in order, before we can have a meaningful dialogue with the LCMC.

    Funny… while on the whole, I’m sure the LCMC is softer theologically than the LCMS, at least on paper… I personally know at least a couple LCMC pastors who much more thoroughly confessionally orthodox in word and deed than several LCMS pastors in my area…

  2. Good article. The LCMC comes out of radical Pietism with a functionalist view of the office of the ministry (my husband say some even say there is no office of the ministry separate from the priesthood of all believers). Because they have a functionalist view of the office, they see no problem with female pastors. After all if they can both perform the same functions, why not? It’s interesting to me that the Word Alone / LCMC folks became so upset about CCM and the imposition of the ECUSA’s episcopacy, but didn’t seem to care that much when the ELCA sold the Real Presence in Holy Communion down the river through altar fellowship with the Reformed. Apparently Luther CORE and the NALC are the ‘high church’ formerly conservative wing of the ELCA. The extent to which LCMC and the NALC can work together will be interesting.

    Bethany Kilcrease

  3. St. Bruder Klaus – I appreciate the reference to Matthew 7 in relation to our work as the LCMS. This time is very difficult as Lutheranism worldwide is looking for a solid voice, and we are not fully prepared to be that voice. Hopefully, by God’s grace we will be allowed to speak with that voice first to each other (hence Pres. Harrison’s “It’s Time”) and then to all those others who will hear.

  4. Pastor Scheer, we have a few LCMC churches in my area. We even have a few regular visitors from these churches. This article you’ve written has been very helpful. May I reprint it and use this with my elders for their instruction?

  5. I recognize several of the LCMC emphases and buzzwords as also being present in the BRTF proposals.

    Maybe that is where some of the JF congregations may end up if Koinonia project gets rolling?

  6. Hmm. Maybe it’s good that there are those groups such as LCMC, CORE, NALC, as noted above, who could provide “happy” resting places for some of our clergy and parishes who aren’t truly “Missourian”, but don’t want the extremes of the ELCA, either.

    My dad always suspected that Ralph Bohlmann wanted to position us to become the OBLC–the One Big Lutheran Church, by absorbing the more-or-less moderately “conservative” folks from the ELCA (during the decade of the 80’s, when it was being formed), which would perhaps have been the majority of the present ELCA, to “finally reach Lutheran unity in the U.S.” But the “crazies on the right” kept getting in the way, such that we didn’t “soften up” far enough to attract those ELCA “conservatives.”

  7. @Rev. Joshua V. Scheer #6

    I guess I should introduce myself. I am Tony Stoutenburg, one of the original webmasters from WA and an LCMC pastor, serving in Hayward, WI. I have served on the Board of both organizations. I am well aware of the differences that I am likely to have with you, my LC-MS brothers and sisters, so I do not wish to debate those.

    I thank you, Pastor Scheer, for your analysis. I would offer one quibble, 3 clarifications, and then a question.

    As a quibble, since the noun in LCMC (congregations) is already plural, the acronym does not need a definite article. This is the opposite situation of LC-MS, where Synod is singular and the “the” actually belongs … which I confess to having dropped many times. This is, I must add, also a rhetorical habit of many of my colleagues in LCMC, but this is my first opportunity ever write about it. 🙂

    As a first clarification, I would suggest to you that rejection of the so-called H-C method does not automatically lead to a rejection of women’s ordination. I have several learned colleagues in LCMC who reject the former and advocate for the latter. Beyond that, this is one of those areas disagreement between us that I will not touch on further, as better men than I have argued it and come to an impasse.

    Second, the original concept of chapters was for individuals without a congregation nearby who wanted to be part of LCMC. That has never come to pass in any real way, and will soon, in all likelihood, go away.

    Third, we do have a great deal of diversity within LCMC, and you are right, it makes us hard to pin down. We represent a spectrum of Lutheran worship practices and pieties, but are united in a high view of the Scriptures and the Confessions.

    Finally, you write, “Another document hints that lay people are qualified to lead communion.(note 22) This is in clear violation of the Augsburg Confession.” Well, first, we do not just hint at it; some of us loudly proclaim it. So on what basis do you find that to be a rejection of the CA? If you are open to a brief dialogue on this point, I think you would find us not so different. (Though Bethany hits the nail on the head; many of us are are very functional in our view of the ministry.)

    Blessings, and again, thank you for your analysis.

  8. “Finally, you write, “Another document hints that lay people are qualified to lead communion.(note 22) This is in clear violation of the Augsburg Confession.” Well, first, we do not just hint at it; some of us loudly proclaim it. So on what basis do you find that to be a rejection of the CA?”

    “Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.”

    That would be where.

    In any case, bear in mind that in the Papal confutation this was one of the articles accepted. Meaning that they recognized that both sides were talking about the orderly call of people to the office of ministry. The Lutheran did not disabuse them of this interpretation either in the Apology. Melanchthon suggests that ordination might be a 4th sacrament.

    In Lutheran theology from the beginning there was always a very clear distinction between people in the office of ministry and laypeople. Luther insisted that no just anyone had the right to start the Reformation, but because he had been called to ministry he had the right.

    A functional view of the ministry comes in with Pietism. This is one of Loscher’s main criticism of the Pietists.

    More importantly, this is true of Jesus’ commission in the NT. There are many, many people who believe Jesus is the Messiah, but only a few are commissioned for ministry.

    I think it’s also important to note this about the role of women. Women are told to inform the male disciples that Jesus is going into Galilee ahead of them. The male disciples are the ones given the kerygma and not the women. It’s ironic that people often cite this in favor of women’s ordination, because if Jesus had intended the women to function in the office of ministry he would have instructed them in the kerygma and commissioned them. Instead, he sends them to the disciples so that he can commission them.

    Luther in the Genesis commentary says this distinction between the priesthood of all believers and the office of ministry goes back to paradise when Adam was the first minister and Eve the first Church. Adam was given to the Word and Eve was to listen to it. The Fall is partially tied up in a failure in the exercise in the office of ministry, which Christ, the second Adam and the true minister to the Word fulfills in the New Testament. Ministry properly belongs to him and only secondarily to us: “those who hear you, hear me.”

  9. @Tony Stoutenburg #11

    Based on your quibble- You are correct about article usage.

    On your Clarification 1, I agree, rejecting higher criticism doesn’t automatically mean you will not have female clergy. Having female clergy is but one symptom (false teaching) of false exegetical methods, which include higher criticism. The root problem is not higher criticism, but lack of faith in God’s Word and a human pride unwilling to accept the Scriptures as they simply state (which is an underlying problem in higher criticism). Just look at the quote that I cited in the paper, it smacks of a bit of rebellious pride, “We could not deny the call of so many women as pastors – which other Lutheran bodies do.” The Scriptures would say that indeed those “calls” should be denied; indeed condemned as contrary to the teaching of Christ. Scripture is more authoritative than the corporate will of any group of people- whether anyone on this earth acknowledges it or not. If it wouldn’t cause neck problems, it would do every human being well to read the Scriptures while holding them above their head as a physical reminder of where we are in relation to the sacred text.

    On your clarification 2, thank you for the information.

    On your clarification 3, the spectrum you represent is the product of how many different traditions were wrapped up into the ELCA. The LCMC view of the Scriptures did not really sound that high (inspiration, yes; but inerrancy, no comment). On paper the confession about the Scriptures looked much the same as the official ELCA confession. Practically speaking, what things other than rejecting practicing gay clergy give evidence of a higher view of Scripture and the Confessions than the ELCA?

    On lay administration of the Sacrament of the Altar, Dr. Kilcrease answered that with AC XIV (thank you, Dr. Kilcrease) and with some arguments from Scripture and Luther (again thank you Dr. Kilcrease).

  10. @Rev. Joshua V. Scheer #13
    Ok, then. What is the definition of to “publicly teach?”

    I like this. Quite a lot, actually. “If it wouldn’t cause neck problems, it would do every human being well to read the Scriptures while holding them above their head as a physical reminder of where we are in relation to the sacred text.”

    Blessings TS

  11. The Roman Catholics who first heard and read AC XIV interpreted it in the following:
    “When, in the fourteenth article, they confess that no one ought to administer in the Church the Word of God and the sacraments unless he be rightly called, it ought to be understood that he is rightly called who is called in accordance with the form of law and the ecclesiastical ordinances and decrees hitherto observed everywhere in the Christian world, and not according to a Jeroboitic (cf. 1 Kings 12:20) call, or a tumult or any other irregular intrusion of the people. Aaron was not thus called. Therefore in this sense the Confession is received; nevertheless, they should be admonished to persevere therein, and to admit in their realms no one either as pastor or as preacher unless he be rightly called” (http://www.bookofconcord.org/confutatio.php)

    This would mean the public teaching to be in the realm of preaching (as the Roman Catholics interpreted it and Melancthon in the apology agreed).

    Melancthon in the Apology says this:
    “The Fourteenth Article, in which we say that in the Church the administration of the Sacraments and Word ought to be allowed no one unless he be rightly called, they receive, but with the proviso that we employ canonical ordination.”

    Hope that helps… Thanks for your discussion.

    Rev. Scheer

  12. @Tony Stoutenburg #15

    Rev. Scheer has done a good job I believe. The Confessors definitely mean to exercise a public office- as the Confutation and Apology demonstrate. Jesus specifically designates some who preach the Word of God and earn their living by it and other who do not.

    This is all for the sake of good order. A good order that God established at the beginning of creation. As Luther notes (somewhat humorously), if everyone had the right to publically preach and teach, then no one could hear anything anyone else- because everyone would speak at one time!

  13. Understanding your position, allow me one shot at stating mine. Luther, and CA 14, make it clear that the Call is the important thing, not the ordination. In Luther’s famous example of the community lost in the desert without a priest, the congregation itself may appoint one of their own number to act as a priest on their behalf. And as Luther points out in the Sermon for Pentecost Tuesday: John 10:1-11 (from the Lenker Edition) “But I pass this by, and will speak of the true office, into which no one forces his way (even though his devotion urge him) without being called by others having the authority.” So the question is, who has the authority? You lodge that in the Synod, and you can make a good argument for that. We lodge it in the congregation, and, likewise, I think we can make a good argument for that.

    (BTW, in that same Sermon, Luther leaves open the door for female preachers, under limited circumstances. 🙂 )

    On ‘publicly teach’ as preaching: the (generally regarded as more authoritative) German translation separates these two activities. Tappert reads “It is taught among us that nobody should publicly teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church without a regular call.” Since Sunday School class teaching is public teaching, and since it is impractical to have ordained pastors teach every Sunday School class, it seems that the emphasis is on the call … in other words, being under the authority of an entity able to issue such a call, which we regard as the congregation. Consistency would require that we treat the sacraments and preaching the same way.

    I am under no illusions that I shall persuade any of you, but I write to point out that our stance is not simply pietistic functionalism or a reactionary anti-clericalism. We have thought about this.

    A pleasure lady and gentlemen. I shall file this one under “disagreeing without being disagreeable.” Thank you, too, for the dialogue.

    Blessings, TS

  14. @Tony Stoutenburg #18
    In regards to ordination, see Luther in the Smalcald Articles (Part 3, X, par. 1-3):
    “1] If the bishops would be true bishops [would rightly discharge their office], and would devote themselves to the Church and the Gospel, it might be granted to them for the sake of love and unity, but not from necessity, to ordain and confirm us and our preachers; omitting, however, all comedies and spectacular display [deceptions, absurdities, and appearances] of unchristian [heathenish] parade and pomp. 2] But because they neither are, nor wish to be, true bishops, but worldly lords and princes, who will neither preach, nor teach, nor baptize, nor administer the Lord’s Supper, nor perform any work or office of the Church, and, moreover, persecute and condemn those who discharge these functions, having been called to do so, the Church ought not on their account to remain without ministers [to be forsaken by or deprived of ministers]. 3] Therefore, as the ancient examples of the Church and the Fathers teach us, we ourselves will and ought to ordain suitable persons to this office; and, even according to their own laws, they have not the right to forbid or prevent us. For their laws say that those ordained even by heretics should be declared [truly] ordained and stay ordained [and that such ordination must not be changed], as St. Jerome writes of the Church at Alexandria, that at first it was governed in common by priests and preachers, without bishops.”

    Also, Melancthon in the Apology (Art XIII)
    “But if ordination be understood as applying to the ministry of the Word, we are not unwilling to call ordination a sacrament. For the ministry of the Word has God’s command and glorious promises, Rom. 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Likewise, Is. 55:11: So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please. 12] If ordination be understood in this way, neither will we refuse to call the imposition of hands a sacrament. For the Church has the command to appoint ministers, which should be most pleasing to us, because we know that God approves this ministry, and is present in the ministry [that God will preach and work through men and those who have been chosen by men]. 13] And it is of advantage, so far as can be done, to adorn the ministry of the Word with every kind of praise against fanatical men, who dream that the Holy Ghost is given not through the Word, but because of certain preparations of their own, if they sit unoccupied and silent in obscure places, waiting for illumination, as the Enthusiasts formerly taught, and the Anabaptists now teach.”

    The “regular call” of Tappert is in Latin “Rite Vocatus” which is historically known as ordination. This is the mediate call into the Office of the Ministry, made publicly known as a man is set apart for Christ’s work of Word and Sacrament (ordination).

    The proper authority to call in the LCMS is the congregation (the place where there are pulpits and altars). Certain entities within the LCMS also call people on their own (missionaries, chaplains for example).

    If Luther leaves the door open for female preachers, he is in conflict with the word of God. I would have a tough time founding a doctrinal stance based upon one part of a Luther sermon. In his other writings he teaches male clergy. The main point is that the Scriptures leave no room for female clergy.

    The German of AC XIV does add in “teach”, but to be understood, this would be catechesis. It is best for men to teach Sunday School (itself only a little over 100 years old). Traditional understanding is that those teachers taught under the supervision and authority of the pastor who is given this responsibility by God through the call of the congregation. In households, the father has the divine authority to teach the Scriptures.

    I too appreciate the discussion.

  15. Norm just let me know that there is a article posted on Blogia (blog for Logia Journal) by Rev. David Ramirez on the North American Lutheran Church, a more structured option for those leaving the ELCA.
    The article can be found here:

    The only comments right now that I have about the NALC is this:
    I criticize their very name, which sets up another denomination with a name which excludes the existence of other Lutheran church bodies in North America (much like the ELCA’s exclusive name). Other Lutherans make no such exclusive claims (LCMS, WELS, ELS)

    From my first read, it appears that Rev. Ramirez has done some good work on the NALC.

    Rev. Scheer

  16. @Tony Stoutenburg #18

    “Since Sunday School class teaching is public teaching, and since it is impractical to have ordained pastors teach every Sunday School class,”

    Just because certain people are called to assist the pastor in the office of ministry, does not mean that their call means a public call to ministry. The call of the sunday school teachers is no more a call to public ministry than the call of the elders to assist at communion. In any case, sunday school teaching is not an act of public teaching since it does not really involve the whole congregation, but rather a sub group within it.

    Also, when you quote Tappert, bear in mind that he has a low view of the office of ministry and this effects his translation. He also, BTW, intentionally suppresses male pronouns connected to the office of ministry.

  17. A couple thoughts here. The pastor preaches and teaches in place of Christ. But a Sunday school teacher teaches in place of the parents. So a Sunday school teacher does not represent the office of pastor but that father. Fathers often have their wives share in the religious instruction of the household. Likewise within the church.

    Dr. Walther, (no relation), expresses a high view of the office of the ministry, in Church and Ministry, and states emphatically that the Office is not derived from preisthood of all believers. Wilhelm Loehe in a letter to Groessmann in Michigan states that the book is totally unremarkable and simply restates Luther’s position. Loehe goes on to state that Luther, had he lived through some of the later events would have amended his position. But he admits that Walther got Luther’s position correct.

    While Walther is seen by some as a little weak on ordination, Luther is not. Smallcald Articles X.3 state “Therefore, as the ancient examples of the Church and the fathers teach us, we ourselves should ordain suitable persons to the this office.”

    Thanks Josh for your usual excellent work.

  18. Rev. David Mueller :
    My dad always suspected that Ralph Bohlmann wanted to position us to become the OBLC–the One Big Lutheran Church, by absorbing the more-or-less moderately “conservative” folks from the ELCA (during the decade of the 80?s, when it was being formed), which would perhaps have been the majority of the present ELCA, to “finally reach Lutheran unity in the U.S.” But the “crazies on the right” kept getting in the way, such that we didn’t “soften up” far enough to attract those ELCA “conservatives.”

    Just like S. S. Schmucker in the 1850s! The more things change…

  19. @Tony Stoutenburg #18

    Before one gets too carried away with a Lenker/Luther quote, is is best to check out the original. Several of the Lenker translations have a bias, if not in the actual translation, often in the formatting and outlining.

    Is it helpful in our discussion of the OHM to seperate call and ordination? To do so often pits one against another and seems to cloud the issue. For the Reformers the OHM meant: trained/examined/called/ordained. That is how I prefer to look at it as well.

  20. My experianece with the LCMC has not been positive in Nebraska. LCMS pastors who resign or are removed for moral tumbles end up in the LCMC and set up shop accross the street, seeking to steal my sheep. I hope this problem is isolated and that a group that polices themselves will address this sad situation.

  21. Apparently, LCMC lack clear consensus regarding many issues. They don’t want to be ECLA anymore – Or at least some LCMC congregations reject dual ELCA/LCMC status. They are still trying to figure out what they want to believe. Historical Criticism is one example of many. Some LCMC pastors endorse HC; Other LCMC pastors do not. That being said, how can such a denomination, I mean “association” of churches with so many doctrinal inconsistencies survive over the long term.

    At least the ELCA, LCMS, TAALC, ELS, WELS are clear in what they believe.

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