Faithfulness in our Military Chaplaincy, some thanks and praise.

A good friend emailed me this link today (thanks Fitz):

http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=1362

It seems like the prediction of change for our military chaplains is coming true.  I thank God that our chaplains can hopefully conduct themselves with less burden upon their conscience.  I appreciate the hard work of those at the Synodical level that worked to bring about these changes to the chaplaincy.  I especially thank President Harrison for writing this letter, which exhibits our sadness (no one enjoys the sad effects of false teachings) but also our need to be faithful in our practices, especially in relation to other church bodies (especially those who bear the name “Lutheran”).

What are your thoughts about the changes?  If you are/have been a chaplain in the armed forces (thanks), please note that in your comment. If you have served (thanks) then note that as well.

 

We can do things on our own and be just fine (in fact, our ministry to those who serve our country will improve).

 

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.

Comments

Faithfulness in our Military Chaplaincy, some thanks and praise. — 25 Comments

  1. I spent a little over 4 years in the US Army from 1987 to 1991, and served in two primary duty stations. My first was a base in Seoul, South Korea that happened to be located a two mile walk from a joint LCMS-LCA chapel that was served at the time by an LCMS missionary (lucky for me). I then was assigned to Fort McClellan, Alabama for the remainder of my enlistment (save for a short stint at Dover AFB Delware during Operation Desert Storm). The closest LCMS church from Fort McClellan was 30+ miles away in Gadsden, Alabama.

    I mention all this to tell you that in many places where US Military bases are located, you really have to WANT to find an LCMS church or chaplain in order to make conections, and when you do find one, you more than likely will have no choice if you find yourself in any sort of diagreement with the practices of that particular chaplain/pastor/congregation, because more than likely it will be your ONLY choice for “Lutheran” worship of any kind.

    What am I suggesting? Two things: (1) If your congregation is located even REMOTELY near a military base, you MAY be the de-facto base LCMS chapel by default, and you may want to consider an outreach ministry even if you are located some distance from the base, and (2) ALWAYS consider the spiritual needs of the overseas deployed soldier in your congregation by making sure to send devotionals, prayer books, and the like to the service member. Don’t assume those things are taken care of because of the existance of a chaplain in the service member’s unit. And if you can send a listing of LCMS congregations and/or chaplains near your deployed sevice member (whether serving stateside or overseas) to them, you may just start the ball rolling on spiritual survival…..

  2. If I am reading this correctly, it seems that the LCMS position is moving somewhat closer or equivalent to the Wisconsin Synod position on military chaplaincy. Irregardless, this change in the LCMS is welcome policy in the political climate of the US military.

    I also concur with Rahn Hasbargen that congregations keep the spiritual needs of the soldiers in mind and pray for them.

  3. As a Confessional Anglican and former Marine, was always impressed with LCMS Churchmen. This is commendable and salutary. I’d like to see the Chaplaincy Manual, however, posted online for review and dissemination. Including, the LCMS’s requirement for all Churchmen-Chaplains to adhere to the denominational standards.

  4. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Pres Harrison’s letter needed to be written, though I wish he had been more specific as to the growing difficulties chaplains face in the military. That may have had a greater impact on our membership, which is probably pretty much unaware of the problems of being a Christian chaplain, let alone an LCMS Christian chaplain.

  5. I am very glad to see this change. It has been long overdue, and that is my only problem with it. The ELCA’s decision re: homosexual pastors and homosexuality in general is only the latest symptom of the core problem that has always existed in the ELCA – the denial of the truth of scripture.

    Why were we okay with priestesses, open communion, ELCA fellowship with those who deny the Real Presence, etc.? Patience is one thing, refusing to do what is necessary is abdication. Thank the Lord our current leadership is willing to do such hard things. My only wish would be that they stop focusing on homosexuality as THE issue – it is but one of many issues and should be placed in that context.

  6. As a present chaplain in Her Majesties Canadian Armed Forces this is a Godsend of the highest order. Now LCMS and hopefully Lutheran Church Canada chaplains will now be able to separate themselves from all generic Protestants by appealing to this decision of non altar and pulpit fellowship and have the same standing as the Roman Catholic Priests in their separation from all other protestants.

    It is time Orthodox Lutheranism had this recognition which church history and the history of the world, as the Reformation was the advent of the modern world, will recognize as we more and more insist on this recognition of Faithful to our Lord and Faithful to our Calling.

  7. Now LCMS and hopefully Lutheran Church Canada chaplains will now be able to separate themselves from all generic Protestants by appealing to this decision of non altar and pulpit fellowship and have the same standing as the Roman Catholic Priests in their separation from all other protestants.

    I too hope that this will compel the world to take notice and grant us the respect and recognition that we deserve.

  8. @Joe Olson #6

    This is what I have been thinking, re: focusing on the homosexuality issue. It happens to be the most clear of the errors ELCA does, but they are all errors. Hopefully Koinania will have the proper impact by getting us into the Scriptures and Confessions. God doesn’t make the Bible THAT confusing that we are clueless to understand it.

    By zeroing in on one topic, that is why I find NALC and LCMC not really trying to become more confessional, they are just homomphobes. Both still ordain women. One of them I think is trying to be more conservative, but I don’t really think either will stop open communion. So I am not sure what there point is.

    Yes, we are more like the Catholic in regards to multiple stands. After all Martin Luther just wanted to reform the church, not make his own new one. the e-ca has definitely hooked up with elements of the radical reformation and wants to be their own thing that they “feel” is right. Because they gave up on sola Sciptura a long time ago (embracing higher criticism), it is only natural that their policies are conforming ot the sinful fallen world.

  9. Here’s the text:

    Letter to the Church
    Moving Forward in Military Chaplaincy without the ELCA, Beginning 2012

    July 18, 2011

    Chaplains are missionaries, unique missionaries, serving as
    “pastors in uniform” to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and
    Marines. Chaplains are a special breed. They serve God and
    country under unique and often difficult circumstances
    around the world.

    Pan-Lutheran cooperative ministry began in May 1941 during
    the Second World War when the Missouri Synod
    joined the National Lutheran Council. The work of the Council
    advanced cooperative ministry for all participating
    Lutheran bodies during and following the war. In 1967,
    pan-Lutheran ministry became the Division of Service to
    Military Personnel (DSMP) under the new Lutheran Council
    USA (LCUSA). For the next twenty years, cooperative
    ministry continued under LCUSA between the three major
    Lutheran denominations at that time: The Lutheran
    Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), The American Lutheran Church (ALC)
    and the Lutheran Church in America (LCA). In 1988,
    The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
    was formed out of the LCA and the ALC. The previous cooperative
    working arrangements continued with some modification,
    such as joint-communion services no longer being held annually
    at the four Lutheran chaplain conferences (Europe, Far East,
    West Coast, East Coast) due to growing doctrinal differences
    between the church bodies.

    Today, like two ships at sea sailing apart on different
    compass headings, the ELCA and the LCMS have lost sight of
    each other. The two churches are pursuing different courses
    in our ministries to military members. The doctrinal
    differences and tensions have been exacerbated by the position
    of the ELCA on same-sex unions and the imminent repeal of
    “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In addition, the ELCA has made
    its direction clear by the mutual decision between the ELCA
    and the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) to hold joint
    denominational training conferences together beginning in 2012.

    After thorough examination by the LCMS Ministry to the
    Armed Forces committee (MAF) of all pertinent cooperative
    ministry issues among military chaplains and with input from
    all LCMS chaplains now serving on active and reserve duty,
    I am announcing today that the past cooperative working arrangement
    between our two church bodies with respect to the military
    chaplaincy can no longer be supported. Beginning in 2012, and
    for the foreseeable future, the LCMS will conduct its chaplain
    training conferences unilaterally.

    In garrison or in the field, Lutheran chaplains will continue
    to minister to all Lutherans in uniform and exercise proper
    pastoral discretion on a case-by-case basis in the administration
    of Word and Sacrament ministry, taking into account the individual
    circumstances of each case. Our chaplains will continue to follow
    the Military Chaplain guidelines as approved by the Synod. While
    we recognize the service of ELCA personnel, we can no longer commend
    our LCMS military personnel to ELCA chaplains without increasing
    and grave reservations.

    This decision has not been made lightly. We proceed in full
    recognition of the many fruitful years of cooperative work the
    participating Lutheran Church bodies have shared, tempered by
    the growing doctrinal divide in teaching, preaching and application
    of the Word of God.

    It is my sincere prayer that the Lord of the Church would continue
    to guide, keep and bless His people according to His plenteous
    grace in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

    Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President
    The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

    1333 S. Kirkwood Rd. •St. Louis, MO 63122-7295 • 314-965-9000 • http://www.lcms.org

  10. Perry Lund :
    I also concur with Rahn Hasbargen that congregations keep the spiritual needs of the soldiers in mind and pray for them.

    Should we pray for all soldiers and their spiritual needs, or just the straight ones?

  11. We pray for all soldiers but with special persistance for our soldiers. We importune the Lord for our own who bear the sword for our protection. You know this.

  12. The only cooperative policy change that I seen in the letter from President Harrison is, “Beginning in 2012, and for the foreseeable future, the LCMS will conduct its chaplain training conferences unilaterally.”

    One would think that with XXXA’s previous heresies, the subsequent statement, “While we recognize the service of ELCA personnel, we can no longer commend our LCMS military personnel to ELCA chaplains without increasing and grave reservations,” would already have been standard practice by Missouri Synod pastors and chaplains.

    In fact, the latter statement can be labelled as a grave understatement, in that by commending Lutheran military personnel to XXXA chaplains, the risk to the military personnel’s faith may have eternal consequences.

  13. Heisenberg :

    Perry Lund :
    I also concur with Rahn Hasbargen that congregations keep the spiritual needs of the soldiers in mind and pray for them.

    Should we pray for all soldiers and their spiritual needs, or just the straight ones?

    Heisenberg,

    I am unable to determine the reason you ask this question. Is there a reason we should not pray for our soldiers since all sin? At the local congregational level, I believe we offer specific prayers for those soldiers we know about in the military and for soldiers in general.

    Perhaps you could enlighten this blog with specific questions of the group here?

    Perry Lund

  14. @Heisenberg #11
    Personally, since we are ALL sinners, and since unrepentant sin of ANY kind is damning, I pray for spiritual needs of ALL service members and all those outside of the military. As the bible says, “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you….”

  15. Rahn Hasbargen :
    @Heisenberg #11
    Personally, since we are ALL sinners, and since unrepentant sin of ANY kind is damning, I pray for spiritual needs of ALL service members and all those outside of the military. As the bible says, “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you….”

    It distresses me to know that homosexuals intend to aggressively persecute the Lord’s Church with their intrusive and offensive campaigns of being permitted to openly be in relationships and marry the partner that they’re attracted to. Kyrie eleison!

    Additionally, I look forward to and anticipate the Church’s righteous judgment and condemnation upon other unrepentant sinners such as chronic shoplifters and drug users. Should congregations choose to withhold Holy Communion from these unrepentant sinners in the same way that it has with homosexual parishoners? What a blessing to know that God’s Law and Gospel is felt equally upon all His people.

  16. I look forward to and anticipate the Church’s righteous judgment and condemnation upon other unrepentant sinners such as chronic shoplifters and drug users.

    I don’t recall God destroying an entire city of chronic shoplifters or even a small village of drug users. Besides, shoplifters and drug users aren’t trying to redefine marriage.

  17. #4 Kitty :

    I look forward to and anticipate the Church’s righteous judgment and condemnation upon other unrepentant sinners such as chronic shoplifters and drug users.

    I don’t recall God destroying an entire city of chronic shoplifters or even a small village of drug users. Besides, shoplifters and drug users aren’t trying to redefine marriage.

    That is true. It seems that the greater unrepentant sin is changing what God has instituted for us. Clearly God’s Word delineates a natural, created order of things which, God be praised, such man-made heresies as “equal rights” or “social justice” simply cannot trump. The liberals in our culture and our government have been trying this for at least the past century (women’s liberation, anyone?). It is the battle we continually fight to take a stand for the way things have always been.

  18. It is the battle we continually fight to take a stand for the way things have always been.

    Agreed! And to do this we must strike not at the symptoms (equal rights/social justice, etc.) but at the very heart of the disease itself ~The Bill of Rights .

  19. I think the liberals are trying to undermine their own position there. 1st Amendment Freedom of Religion is attacked as hate speech. 2nd Amendment Right to Bear Artms is always under attack form gun control advocates. I suppose it is selective what sh9ould be upheld and what should be attacked….

  20. Heisenberg @16 :
    Additionally, I look forward to and anticipate the Church’s righteous judgment and condemnation upon other unrepentant sinners such as chronic shoplifters and drug users.

    I don’t have to “look forward to” or “anticipate” this because I already hear it every week where Law and Gospel are proclaimed.

    There is a difference between “chronic” and “unrepentant.” Everyone is a “chronic” sinner. But the unrepentant not only does not feel sorrow for his/her sins, often s/he attempts to redefine sin so that it doesn’t include his/her “pet sin.” I don’t know of any organizations that exist that are trying to declare shoplifting to be normal, acceptable behavior that should be celebrated by everyone.

    In some areas, there is a clear “thus saith the Lord,” like “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) Thus if anyone would attempt to say, “shoplifting (a form of stealing) is not a sin,” we can properly condemn such teaching, and, if someone refuses correction in this erroneous teaching, confess with them that the fellowship is broken by not giving them that which they would receive to their harm (i.e. Holy Communion).

    In other areas, a general principle (like stewardship of the body) is applied. Is it good stewardship of the body to slouch? to eat junk food? to get a blood transfustion? to donate organs? to use drugs? to abuse drugs? Without a clear “thus saith the Lord,” we cannot impose our opinions on how best implement that principle as God breathed and break fellowship with others who do not share our opinion. With drug use/abuse, there is another issue, however – the clear command of God to obey those in earthly authority. Thus someone who says that the government is wrong and habitually tokes up or shoots up can be unrepentantly breaking the 4th commandment and break fellowship with the church in that manner. But someone who makes a reasoned argument in the kingdom of the left for the legalization of marijuana, for instance, is not in peril of breaking fellowship because nowhere does God say, “Thou shalt not take bong hits.”

    Heisenberg @18 :
    It is the battle we continually fight to take a stand for the way things have always been.

    There is a reason things have been the way they have been – and it’s not because everyone who came before us was an idiot that didn’t understand the way things really are. I don’t remember who it was that commented that we don’t disenfranchise the saints triumphant just because they happen to be dead. Their wisdom and understanding helps us understand. But just because it was always done that way doesn’t mean that it is the only correct way to do it, or that it is an entirely correct way to do it. The Word of God does not change, but we do. We can now eat meat purchased in the market without even thinking about it because it is no longer sacrificed to idols. (Before that cultural change, there was a bit of a “yes-and-no” going on which tended towards the “no” so as not to lead the weaker brother into sin.) But this principle of changing a practice can only be applied to the “applying a general principle” standard. God’s Word doesn’t change – and we cannot trump God’s Word because we now know better. (Well, we can, but in doing so we remove ourselves from the fellowship of the Church – and thus are not welcomed at the Lord’s Table in recognition that we have broken that fellowship by placing our own thoughts and desires as our god over and above the One who has revealed Himself and His will in Holy Scripture.)

  21. @PPPadre #21

    God’s Word doesn’t change – and we cannot trump God’s Word because we now know better.

    “There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves, and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth.”
    ~Martin Luther

  22. Wonderful Kitty, you found an example of when Luther was wrong on something. Shocking. By the way your example is false. The church did not teach anything about which bodies circled what based on Biblical texts. Instead, the early church relied on Aristotle’s teaching that the sun went round the earth and then found out of context Bible passages to support it. Hence was born the church’s position that the sun moves round the earth and its eventual opposition to heliocentric (or more properly, geokinetic) theory. And it serves only as an example of the problems that result from the Church building its teachings around things other than scripture (i.e Aristotle’s teachings) and then trying to finding scripture to support the teaching.

  23. And it serves only as an example of the problems that result from the Church building its teachings around things other than scripture (i.e Aristotle’s teachings) and then trying to finding scripture to support the teaching.

    Except that in the example above Luther does not quote from Aristotle or even the early church fathers nor does he even refer to them. He quotes scripture. So, my example remains true. Indeed, “God’s word does not change” but our interpretation of his word certainly does.

  24. @#4 Kitty #22
    @#4 Kitty #24

    1.) Citation please. “The problem with quotes on the internet is that you never know if they are genuine.” – Abraham Lincoln Is this a theological work or musings in the kingdom of the left?

    2.) The simplicity of the heliocentric model does not negate the validity of a geocentric model (such as that of Tycho Brahe), especially in light of an understanding of Scripture that contradicted it. It was not until the next generation of astronomers and the growing discipline of physics that the concept of “frame of reference” dispelled an inherent conflict between the “philosophical and physical” benefits of the Ptolemaic system and the mathematical benefits of the Copernican system (especially as improved by Johannes Keppler).

    3.) I would not go so far as to say “our interpretation” changes, but rather “our understanding.” For example, for many centuries, suicide was looked upon as an unforgivable and certain testimony of eternal condemnation. The general understanding was that one could not repent of the sin of suicide, so it was left as a burden on the soul. As we understood better what it means that Christ died for ALL sin, we realized that even those sins that are not confessed are covered by Christ’s atoning blood. Whenever we look at the actions of any sinner/person over their lifetime, we are left with doubt about their salvation. It is only when we look to Christ that we have assurance of salvation, and that assurance is to be proclaimed at the death of any and all who received the gifts of God through the means He has provided. That is not a change of interpretation, that is a change of understanding. “Thou shalt not murder” still means suicide is a sin.

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