Augsburg Confession XIV (Harrison Gets a Call)

I just heard that Village Lutheran Church in Ladue, Missouri, called the Rev. Matthew Harrison as assistant pastor. Why would our Synodical President receive a call to a congregation? I think it has something to do with Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession. It’s titled “Of Ecclesiastical Order”:

Our Churches, with common consent, do . . . teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.

UPDATE: Aha — I see that President Harrison has the following update on his Facebook page:

Village Lutheran, Ladue, has extended a call to me to serve as their asst pastor. LCMS bylaws allow the pres. to serve in such a capacity. Village is small & healthy. The call involves occasional preaching & limited visitation. No admin. responsibilities. No compensation. I am deeply humbled by the fidelity, confidence and love of these saints & Pr. Kevin Golden. I and my family request your prayers.


Augsburg Confession XIV (Harrison Gets a Call) — 120 Comments

  1. Steven Anderson :I find the idea that a man-made “Board of Elders” is supposed to supervise the teaching of the pastor somewhat unsettling. There is no such thing to be found in God’s Word of a supervisory board of lay “elders” over the pastor that does any such thing. We have created such a thing, and now we treat it as if it comes from God. I actually have a good board of lay “elders” but they do not supervise the doctrine I teach.

    True Pastor Anderson. There’s no Scriptural mandate to have a “Board of Elders” supervise the teaching of the pastor. Hopefully though, every one of your congregants is fulfilling that duty, as they should do.

  2. Mollie :
    I repeat my request that people work to be charitable in their comments.
    It’s always okay to disagree and work toward truth and correct practice. But please, for the sake of those of us who can not take these attacks and the rude language, I beg of you to redouble your efforts.
    Thank you.

    Mollie, your positiveness and candor are so refreshing and are such an example to us. Yes, we can disagree without being disagreeable. Yes, we should put the best construction on everything. Yes, we can work toward truth and correct practice without being disrespectful toward each other and toward others who may disagree with us. Thank you!

  3. The authority, responsibility, scope, and basis for synodical and district presidents to exercise their constitutional responsibilities for supervision of doctrine, ecclesiastical supervision of members, or any of their other responsibilities and duties of their elected office is exactly the same whether these presidents are also called pastors of congregations or not. There is nothing that a synodical or district president does in fulfilling his elected corporate office that is enhanced in purpose, meaning or significance by his also having a call to serve as pastor of a congregation.

  4. Why would anyone want to be president with a congregation made up of some of the vultures that are posting here? Honestly, we finally get what we want and we can’t wait to skewer him, fry him and pick at the bones. Please pray we don’t eat him alive before God has fulfilled His purposes in appointing him Synod President.

  5. Mollie, I had a further thought. I was really tickled to death when I saw your first posting, and I have been considering why that is. The answer is that I’m very excited about having a Synodical president who is so pastoral that this is even conceivable, let alone something that he would receive as a humbling honor. It might be that some of our prior SP’s would have received such a call in the same way, but that is not the impression that I have of the ones with whom I am most familiar, so this is very refreshing. What an exemplary LCMS man and pastor we have as SP now. Kind of like the old concept of a ‘living rule’.

  6. @Steven Anderson #23

    There is nothing in the Scriptures concerning anything other than ordained “Presbyters/Elders”; let alone having them “supervise” him. Why bother learning Greek when English drives the theological train?

  7. The supervision of doctrine, including the teachings of a pastor, is not only the right and duty of pastors and other ordained clergy in administrative positions within church bodies, such as synodical and district presidents, but also the laymen, as shown in the Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions, and in the writings of Martin Luther in C.F.W.Walther’s Church and Ministry, Thesis X on the Ministry.

    This thesis and its Scriptural and confessional support has been part of the definitive statement under Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions of the Synod’s understanding on the subject of church and ministry” for the past 160 years. Even Wilhelm Loehe in 1859 conceded that Walther’s (and the Missouri Synod’s) doctrine of church and ministry was that held by Luther and the Lutheran Confessions.

  8. Maybe I’ll follow this model and cancel church on Sunday and encourage my members to follow the SOAP principal and then report back to me about how the Spirit moved them.

  9. I am coming into this late and have read quickly the above posts. I believe it would be good for President Harrison to accept the call to Ladue.

    Why, well one of the problems we have in synod is we have a lot of clergy doing things in the church with out a call. Thus where is their authority to preach and teach in the office of the Pastoral Ministry? (AC XIV) If a pastor who works as a private counselor, and is on the clergy roster serves a vacancy, where is the authority to preach and teach? He has no call. The same goes with congregations who hire retired clergy to visit and commune sick and shut in’s, he has no call. Consider St. Paul, he had a call directly form Jesus and also from the congregation in Antioch, Acts 13:1 – 3, also note Acts 14:24 – 28. We need to again talk about authority, it rest in the office and not in the person, I preach and teach in the congregation I am called to, because I have the call, not because I am Chris Roepke or just on the clergy roster of synod.

    So where does President Harrison’s authority to preach and teach come? He is elected, he is not called to be synodical president. He can be voted out next convention. Also as president he serves the office of the law, rather then the office of the gospel. He is to make sure the rules and regulations of synod are carried out. It is not an office of the gospel.

    So if my congregation and I were to invite President Harrison or for that matter a district president to preach at Concordia, where is his authority to do so? He is president of a man made organization? That yes confesses the Word of God and subscribes to it in it’s constitution, nevertheless he has no call, no authority of the pastoral office, which is ordained by God. Remember if I were to be removed from the roster of synod by my DP or for the sake of argument the S.P. I am removed form the roster. It is up to the congregation to remove me from the pastoral office. So if the D.P. of S.P. comes to preach they have no pastoral office, he is not called. While if he has a call to Ladue, he holds a Pastoral office, he is connected to the altar of that congregation, he has the authority by God to publicly preach and teach by the office he holds.

    Much more in depth needs to be done on this topic. Manny will read what I wrote, (badly for that matter) and say I am wrong here there etc.. or I should think about this or that. That is not the point. The point is we all should study this issue at winkels, conferences, circuit forums etc. It all goes to what we confess and believe.

    Thus for President Harrison to take the call would help point to the most important office in the church, not that of D.P. or S.P. But that of the office of the Ministry as we confess in AC V.

    For more reading on this issue I suggest the following from Pastor Joel Baseley, “The Lord, The Keys, the Chruch,” which can be found at the following link.

  10. Rev. Roepke presents the case for adhering to AC.XIV in exercising the authority of the pastoral office. This does apply to President Harrison if he is to be a pastor at Village Lutheran Church-Labue. However Rev. Roepke’s arguments do not apply to President Harrison in the exercise of his duties as synodical president. To be synodical president Rev. Harrison has to be an ordained member of the synod, not an ordained member with a current call as pastor to a congregation. The SP’s responsibilities are not congruent with being a pastor of a congregation.

    In his paper, “The Lord, The Keys, The Church,” Rev. Joel Baseley clearly points out this separation between the office of the SP and the office of a pastor. (pp. 42-43):

    Since Synodical structures are secondary safeguards to the church, or the congregations, and the primal and central authority of Christ and his office must be located in the local congregations, it is obvious that there can be no action impinging on the Office of the Keys that is isolated from the local congregation.

    Some have used this fact as a reason to propose that DP’s [or the SP] ought to be practicing pastors in their districts, that is, serving a local congregation. For many this is an intriguing possibility. And the principle stated just above could be rallied to that position. But I believe that is mistaken.

    The functions of Synod over and against the congregation have been carefully distinguished, and that distinction is both helpful and clarifying….

    The responsibility for the Office of the Keys is placed were it belongs. The structures of Synod thus take on a proper, secondary, servant’s role of applying the Word of God and its standards in doctrine and life, when the congregation has failed to do so. But then, the responsibility for what to do with that failure, pointed out by the backup system, goes back to where it belongs; back to the local congregation.

  11. I agree with Pastor Baseley.

    My question goes one step further. Why should a S.P. or D.P. be allowed to preach? Because he is ordained? Remember ordination is a rite of the church. We view it as signifying a man has the teaching etc.. and is able to receive a call.

    What have we been doing in the LC-MS for a long time for the sake of convience? We have, (including me) have allowed non called ordained men on the rooster to preach. We do it for the sake of convience. We have retired pastors and others without a call preach and do vacencies, pitch progams etc…. yet they have no real authority to do so, they don’t have a call.

    Thus we have confusion in the congregations. Who has the authority, who is above you. Do a survey, ask you members, who has more authority, the S.P. or D.P. over the called the pastor. I bet you will find more will say the S.P. or D.P. Which brings down the authority of the office of ministry in that congregation.

    As Pastor Baselely writes.

    “The responsibility for the Office of the Keys is placed were it belongs. The structures of Synod thus take on a proper, secondary, servant’s role of applying the Word of God and its standards in doctrine and life, when the congregation has failed to do so. But then, the responsibility for what to do with that failure, pointed out by the backup system, goes back to where it belongs; back to the local congregation.”

    Synod is a back up. But many see it as over pastors and congreagtions. Many see it as the moving force and in my opinion to the determent of congregations and the LC-MS as a whole.

    As I said, for President Harrison to take the call to Ladue would again place before us all what is the most important office in the church, the Office of the Ministry. AC V.

  12. As I said, for President Harrison to take the call to Ladue would again place before us all what is the most important office in the church, the Office of the Ministry.

    Even if President Harrison were to be a noncompensated assistant pastor, having occasional preaching, limited visitation, and no administrative responsibilities at Village Lutheran-Ladue, that would still not answer the question, “Why should a S.P. or D.P. be allowed to preach?” Check Miesler’s excerpt in Post #99. President Harrison’s call to Village Lutheran-Ladue does not give him the authority to preach at a church elsewhere in the Synod. The authority to preach at another church would have to come from a call through that other church.

    Remember, the synodical constitution states the synod is an advisory body, and a doctrinal statement was passed at the 1883 Missouri Synod convention that stated the polity of Synod is essentially and principally congregational (not espiscopal!) in nature.

  13. Why was Luther allowed to preach in St. Mary’s, the town church? Did he have the authority to do so?

    Why, in 1547, did Cranach depict Melanchthon baptizing an infant (assisted by Martin Luther) when, in 1525, AC XIV states that “no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called”? (

    Can the polity of the synod be congregational but the polity of congregations be episcopal?

    Can one man be CALLED TO a congregation to be a pastor while another man is SENT FROM a congregation as a missionary? Is it only permissible for SYNOD to send out missionaries but not congregations? Must a “congregation” be defined as a group of people with a legal entity and a voters’ assembly or can a synod collectively or in part be considered a “congregation”?

    Is it possible that the term “authority” is being used in more than one way in these tete-a-tetes which in turn is exacerbating the issue? Does a pastor’s authority to be pastor come from the congregation in which he serves whereas the authority of that which he preaches and teaches comes from nothing less than the Word of God?

    Why have district presidents and others insisted that “excommunication is an act of the Church, not a decision of the pastor which he alone or even with the consent of his elders is authorized to carry out,” while at the same time assign as memory work the late add-in (not composed by Luther) to the Catechism on the Office of the Keys: “I believe that, when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, especially when THEY [sic] exclude manifest and impenitent sinners. . .”

    Is it possible to be “Waltherian” in the matter of voters’ meetings but then become unWaltherian in the matter of a synodical president preaching at congregations in which he does not have a call?

    What does it mean if, in spite of the Scriptures, the Confessions, and some rather impressive dogmatics textbooks (not to mention CTCR documents) that we still haven’t come to an agreement on the nature of preaching, teaching, exercising the office of the keys, etc. in light of the Gospel?

    If we don’t have the doctrine of the ministry down pat in order to answer questions like these questions in true concord, that suggests to me that we probably have other doctrinal issues which are not settled either — issues which underlie this discussion. Do you know what those are?

    In the meantime, if you think that it is a violation of Scripture and the Confessions to invite President Harrison to preach at your congregation, then by all means, don’t invite him.

    You may just have to be satisfied for the time being with holding in contempt the other congregations which do invite him — congregations which are likely to hear a rather decent sermon rightly dividing Law and Gospel.

    I think we all ought to be delighted to have him preaching and teaching in as many LCMS pulpits and classrooms as possible. Having heard the man preach the Word of God week in and week out for some 5 years when he had the call to be a SENIOR pastor in a single congregation, it would be my recommendation you invite him until such a time as we are able to compose a new dogmatics textbook or pass a synodical overture to which we can all say, “Amen.”

  14. Having the synodical or district president (or Lutheran Hour speaker) preach at a church service or teach in a Bible study classroom appears to be no more confusing to Lutheran congregations I’ve been in than having a vicar preach at a church service or teach in a Bible study classroom.

  15. @Rev. Michael Piper #35

    I am sure this was not President Harrisons intention, but all over the LCMS “Intentional Interim Pastors” are being unleashed upon any hint of “turmoil” in a vacant congregation. My mother-in-laws parish has TWO of these cash cows for the “retired”- one is in his seventies and WORKING WITH THE YOUTH! Back in the nineties the rules were changed to allow pastors to “retire” with full benefits, and work full time in the LCMS. Can you imagine, Ford, Chrylser, or GE workers being allowed to do this? These greedy men of the cloth plunder the suburban church purses while younger men with wife and children are denied opporunity. I hope this latest move does not set in motion another dangerous trend of first non-paid, then paid executives serving as Asistants. First will come the “compensation for fuel” then…. But I really am certain this is not the intention here.

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