The Hat Makes the Man

Another great post from Stand Firm by Scott Diekmann:


On the October 14th Issues, Etc. Comment Line, a listener phoned in with show suggestions (35:20 into the clip below), one of which was “How can the LCMS appoint kingdom of the left administrators, give them kingdom of the left job titles, like ‘District President’ or ‘Synodical President,’ and give them kingdom of the left job descriptions, and then be surprised when they utilize the most recent kingdom of the left methodologies to come to conclusions that make absolutely no sense in the kingdom of the right.”

Pastor Wilken’s response has a ring of truth to it:
…The words we choose mean things. They actually shape what happens. You know if we want Bishops, if we want ecclesiastical supervisors, and that supervisor simply means “Bishop,” that’s what the word Bishop means, it means overseer, a shepherd. If we want Bishops, then let’s have Bishops. If we want presidents, administrators, bureaucrats, functionaries, cogs in the wheel of a bureaucracy, synodocrats, then let’s be prepared to live with the consequences. Now, we can go one of two ways, and I think there’s actually wisdom in going one rather than the other way. Everybody’s for Bishops in the church until it comes to the question of who should be the Bishop. I generally operate on the theory that guys who favor Bishops, I mean full-blown Bishops in the church do so because they think that it is they who will be crowned with the miter when all is said and done. When they talk about “I think we ought to have Bishops in the church” what they’re really saying is “I should be Bishop in the church.” Honestly. But it’s not, we cannot create a hybrid between this ecclesiastical office and this bureaucratic office. We can’t create it. We tried, and what has always in every case won – you can’t serve two masters. What has always in every case won is the bureaucrat. The bureaucrat kills the Bishop, if we tried to make one man embody both offices. It, in the best of men, in the most sincere of men, even faithful unto death men, in actual practice, day to day, how things are done, how decisions are made, even in the best, the bureaucrat kills the bishop, if we try and have one man embody both. There’s a certain wisdom in going one way or the other. And look, I kind of like the idea, of maybe, if we want to have bureaucrats, then let’s really do it, and let’s just toss aside the façade of doing all this stuff as church, and just say “look, we’re kind of like the military. We’ve got the, we’ve got the actual soldiers, the pastors out there, who really do what needs to get done, and then we have a civilian leadership that sits in the office and thinks about what needs to be done.” Right? That would be a great division to make in the church.


About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

Norm has been involved behind the scenes in many of the "go-to" websites for Lutherans going back many years.


The Hat Makes the Man — 55 Comments

  1. Excerpted from C.F.W. Walther’s First Presidential Address (1848, translated by Prof. Paul F. Koehneke):

    “Can we, therefore, my brethren, be depressed because we in our American pastorates are endowed with no other power than the power of the Word and especially because no other power has been granted to this assembly? Most assuredly not. This very fact must arouse us to perform the duties of our office and to carry on our present labors with great joy; for in this manner the church also among us preserves its true character, its character of a kingdom of heaven; in this manner Christ remains among us as what He is, the only Lord, the only Head, the only Master; and our office and labor preserves the true apostolic form. How could we lust for a power which Christ has denied us, which no apostle has claimed, and which would deprive our congregations of the character of a true church and of the true apostolic form?….

    “It is true, if our congregations had granted us full power to decide and decree in their name, it apparently would have been easy for us to give all of the congregations of our territory the form of truly Lutheran congregations, whereas with our present constitution our hands appear to be tied. But this only seems to be the case. Even though some congregations may use the liberty they possess of rejecting our recommendations even if they are salutary; thereby they indeed deprive themselves of a blessing. But what would be the result if such congregations by their entrance into our organization had obligated themselves to submit to all of our orders? The exercise of our power would have laid the foundation for constant dissatisfaction, for constantly reviving fear of hierarchical efforts, and thus for endless friction.”

  2. @Ted Crandall #48
    Synod is advisory only, therfore not binding if not in accordance with the Scriptures “or if it appears to be inexpedient as far as the condition of a congregation is concerned.”

    But all the CCM decrees of the last decade are “binding on pastors and congregations unless overturned in the next convention” which, (as the conventions were rigged), had a snowball’s chance in Houston in July?

    And, if I remember correctly, Pastors may not criticize decisions of convention, even when they contradict Scripture and the Confessions. [E.g. Lay ministry which ensures a supply of men who will “work well with the DP”.]

    Which is it?

    Truthfully, St Louis grads were polluted by higher criticism for 20 years prior to the 70’s.
    The battle for the Bible might have been won, if JAO and associates had just split the synod between CSL and CTS pastors and let the congregations decide if they had landed in the right place or if they needed to call the appropriate Pastor and move. 40 years of talk have just eroded the confessional position and enabled seminex sympathizers to take over the COP.
    COP has become a “college of cardinals” which, unless things change, will overthrow any “Pope” who doesn’t do their bidding.

    I would really like to be all wrong here!
    End of rant.

  3. Helen, I pray we’re wrong, too. What you outline here (#52) illustrates clearly how some can argue that the LCMC already has an episcopal, Romish government.

  4. @Ted Crandall #53
    LCMC already has an episcopal, Romish government.

    Now that is funny, [strange, not ha ha!] because the end goal of all this “restructuring” power-to-the-top has been with the intent of turning lcms into a general protestant church.
    [I won’t insult any denomination by using their label; it’s non-denom “willowcreek”- “worship your CEO in a collar”. Or a polo & khakis, in the congregation, although the fancy dress has been aped at the “highest” levels.] 🙁

  5. @Carl Vehse #43

    @Carl Vehse #31

    Vehse, you said, “Second, because CHURCH POLITY IS AN ADIAPHORON the Missouri Synod can be in fellowship with other orthodox church bodies with different polities.” There are SOME things in that statement of yours that must be carefully distinguished.

    Our Lord JHVH when He said unto Moses, See that thou make all things according to the pattern which I have showed thee in the mount, willed that every ornament of what was then the Divine Liturgy should be fashioned, placed, and arranged according to the specific pattern He prescribed and would not tolerate any thing else or otherwise.

    Either there is a SPECIFIC and PRECISE divinely ordained DE JURE DIVINO church-polity by which Christ has prescribed that the One, Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church should be governed and run, or there is not! TERTIUM NON DATUR!

    Either the voter supremacy is the divinely ordained polity by which Christ ordained His Holy Church should be governed or it isn’t! If it is, then there ought to be some precise, punctilious, and clear SPECIFIC passages of Scripture (i.e. explicit precepts and approved examples called Sedes Doctrinae = passages of Scripture which are so particular and so precise and specific they admit of no deeper meaning other than what is written at face value) which plainly and directly teach that Voter Supremacy IS the divinely instituted polity of the church: but then all other church polities to the contrary are automatically null and void, because they are contrary to those specific and precise proof-texts of Scripture (and the Lutheran Confessions) which support voter supremacy.

    NUNQUAM LICET – NUNQUAM LICUIT – NUNQUAM LICEBIT – it always IS, WAS, and will always CONTINUE to be unlawful – to proclaim, teach, or believe any gospel other than that which we have received from the blessed Apostles; for churches to compel their members, whether ordained or unordained, to conform to a standard, custom, or even a polity, contrary to the divinely revealed dogmas on Morals any more than on Faith; or for Church or state officials to govern the church according to a polity CONTRARY to what the precise, punctilious, and SPECIFIC express passages of Scripture teach or COMMAND under penalty of grievous sin about Church polity.

    Therefore if there DO exist precise, punctilious, specific express passages of scripture which do ordain de jure divino voter supremacy as the polity of the New Testament Church, well then there follow the following consequences: (a) EVERY form of church polity running contrary to what those passages of Scripture plainly teach is NULL and VOID – even if it were FORCED upon Church and State with FORCE and ARMS, (b) it is NEVER lawful for the Church to prefer any polity of church government running contrary to those specific passages of the Bible.

    Every system of church polity which deprives, either in theory or in practice, the laity of their “rights” (i.e. their lawful liberties and lawful authorizations) which the Divine Law confers upon them in those precise and specific express passages of the Bible on church polity is unlawful, tyrannical, unjust, anti-Scriptural, anti-Apostolic, anti-Lutheran, anti-Confessional, and null and void.

    No church polity which intrinsically contradicts the precise and specific dogmatic teachings of the Bible on faith or morals or even on church polity is adiaphora as long as those specific Bible passages shall still remain in full force & binding on the conscience.

    In the Book of Concord, we find in Article XIV of the Defense of the Augsburg Confession: “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. Concerning this subject we have frequently testified in this assembly that it is our greatest wish to maintain church-polity and the grades in the Church [old church-regulations and the government of bishops], even though they have been made by human authority [provided the bishops allow our doctrine and receive our priests].” Thus in Article XIV, the theologians themselves confessed that the old polities they felt it expedient to retain ARE only the product of Human and not DIVINE authority!

    Christians must be warned that Jesus himself said that “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” (Matt. 9:16/17) The old episcopalian “Catholic” prelatical polity occupies the same office as the old garment and old wineskins; the Confessional Lutheran principles – including according to C F W Walther, Voter Supremacy – is like the new cloth and new wineskins. The confessional Lutherans thought it was expedient for the time to retain both and combine both the old and new together. This combination may succeed for a time, but eventually it will fail. If a piece of NEW cloth is used to mend an OLD garment, the patch might get wet and shrink, and when it is dry, it will put strain on the OLD garment. If the “new” Lutheran Confessions are attached to the OLD polity, then they can’t BOTH remain undistorted. At least ONE of them MUST distort and put undue strain on the other. If NEW wine is placed into OLD wineskins, the bottle may hold the wine for a time, but as it ferments and effervesces, it will place undue pressure on the bottle from within, eventually causing the whole thing to burst! Again, placing Lutheran Confessional Doctrines into the old prevailing humanly-devised, if not corrupt, framework of church polity contrary to what the Lutheran Confessions themselves teach as being the Divinely prescribed and Divinely revealed polity of the Church, will cause at least ONE of them to place undue pressure on the other, eventually more than it can handle, causing a catastrophic explosive calamity. It will cause the Church to exchange the TRUE DOCTRINE – the Reine Lehre – of the Lutheran Confessions on church polity for a MALICIOUSLY CORRUPTED Irrlehre doctrine to the contrary! Again, it is written in the Sacred Scriptures, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity” (1 Cor 5:8). On God’s Holy Easter, it was NEVER allowed for the Jews to eat LEAVENED bread or to mingle LEAVEN or leavened dough with unleavened dough. Every last DIDDLY SQUAT however small, of the OLD leaven must be PURGED OUT – or take the consequences! A LITTLE leaven leaveneth the WHOLE lump (Gal 5:9)! The Bible NEVER said, a little leaven is ADIAPHORA, or “Kosher for Passover”, or too insignificant to be worth caring about provided that it be kept at no more than trace quantities! But on the contrary, it says A LITTLE LEAVEN LEAVENETH THE WHOLE LUMP! And it makes NO EXCEPTION whatsoever for the case of merely trace quantities or less! Every Jewish RABBI and Pharisee KNOWS that even if the total amount of leaven eaten during the 8 days of Passover had been but one-half of the quantity or the weight of an olive, he is STILL guilty of breaking the Divine Precept that NO LEAVEN shall be eaten at that time of the year! When the Lutheran Confessional Theologians who WROTE the Book of Concord took the new unleavened DOUGH of the sincerity and truth they believed the Lutheran Confessions to be with the OLD leaven of a church and state polity which, according to the teachings of C. F. W. Walther, happened to be contrary to what the Lutheran Confessions themselves in the Schmallkald Articles teach about Church Polity, either they GUARANTEED that in the future in Germany and Scandinavia, the OLD LEAVEN of Euro-Episco-Sacerdotalism and Erastianism would DISTORT, BLEMISH, DISGRACE, POLLUTE, BESMIRCH, and CORRUPT the original UNLEAVENED BREAD of the Lutheran Confession of Faith found in the Book and Concord and the Schmallkald Articles and the Augsburg Confession, or else the teachings of C. F. W. Walther on Church Polity are FALSE and anti-Biblical and anti-Lutheran! If Voter Supremacy is the true Divinely ordained polity of the NT Lutheran Confessional Church, well then the old episcopalian sacerdotalist polity cannot be mended by making it contingent on the proviso that “the bishops allow our [confessional Lutheran PROTESTANT] doctrine and receive our” ordained Parochial Pastors and Elders of their respective local congregations: but on the contrary, the old polity MUST be REJECTED at ONCE.

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