The divided house of Missouri – in the same week the sems divided over SMP.

I am not sure how a schizophrenic can “walk together” but this past week has been interesting.  On the one hand, Pr. Rossow reported the strong words of CTS President Rast concerning the SMP and residential seminary education.  In the same week, the advancement office of CSL promoted media stories of a famous man being a part of SMP.  This article is not about that man, but that this past week is symptomatic of the divisions in the LCMS.  If the two chief institutions producing pastors for our Synod are at such poles, then what will that reflect in our Synod?  Or is the status of the seminaries just a symptom of what has already happened in Synod (chicken and egg I guess).

More than that, how can we talk about unity in our Synod when all the while having the divisions we have?  It seems almost like we have to speak out of both sides of our mouths in order to affirm things like that.  Can Jesus’ words about a house divided apply to our situation?

Something has to give I would imagine, because even in this case, there is really no compromise, either there will be SMP or not.  Many of the arguments against it would be valid in any non-residential situation.  SMP is just one of those areas, and sadly most of them are not areas where compromise is possible.  The Koinonia project has a mighty task indeed.

 

 

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

The divided house of Missouri – in the same week the sems divided over SMP. — 74 Comments

  1. Jim Pierce :
    I see you are still arguing from a point of skepticism.

    No. I am arguing from the perspective that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certitude.

    I’m also arguing from the perspective that “beliefs” in matters like the dispute regarding SMP do not equate with faith in matters like Jesus is true God and true man; the life, death resurrection, ascension and abiding presence of Jesus Christ; and, the promise of forgiveness in Jesus’ name.

    The Lutheran faith is, indeed, a reasonable confession. I’m not talking about worrying about whether we are right or wrong in our belief in the doctrine of Justification. I’m talking about senseless debates on matters adiophora.

  2. Pastor Bruce Timm :
    My deaconess has been doing some research on SMP as I am considering a resolution to our District Convention.

    Please explain how that is appropriate work for a deaconess. I don’t know your congregation, but I suspect its needs for spiritual care do not include research in support of resolutions.

  3. #51: “I am arguing from the perspective that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certitude.”

    Where did you find that “golden nugget” of wisdom? You’re confusing Christian faith with wishful thinking — and unwittingly confirming your skepticism.

    Hebrews 11:1 ~ “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

  4. Johan Bergfest :

    Pastor Bruce Timm :
    My deaconess has been doing some research on SMP as I am considering a resolution to our District Convention.

    Please explain how that is appropriate work for a deaconess. I don’t know your congregation, but I suspect its needs for spiritual care do not include research in support of resolutions.

    Is it not appropriate for a deaconess to be concerned about the care of God’s flock when it comes to the training and educating of pastors to care for God’s people (not just here, but across the Synod)?

  5. @Kyle Blake #48
    However, the level of knowledge is left up to the determination of the Synod. If the Synod deems that an SMP student has the appropriate level of knowledge, and is under proper supervision, then the SMP student is free to seek to fulfill the vocation to which God has called him.

    As Luther said, “Councils can err.” So can Synodical Conventions which are told one thing and find out later that the fine print (or the added material?) says something else!

    In the case of the “megadeth smp candidate” I wonder if God called him, or an ambitious CG preacher who thinks he will “worship” greater numbers, if he can advertise this weighty addition to his staff! (But I may have said that already.)

    [Don’t you love the current mis use of “worship” in some quarters?]

  6. IMHO the intent and original title of this post comes down to exactly what Pr. Scheer was trying to address in all this. How can we be at odds with one another over this program? The two view points cannot co-exist. We cannot both embrace and reject the SMP program. Coming to some middle ground is a nice idea but it cannot happen. Why? Because this is ultimately and completely a theological issue at heart. SMP is just the fruit or the visible results of very poor theology that has been embraced in some parts of our synod. The basis for this SMP program comes from that poor theology and those promoting it. Even if there is no specific Scripture verse that says, “Thou shall not have SMP” ALL our practice is still derived from what Scripture teaches and what we believe and confess. The theological basis for the SMP comes from the Church Growth theology that has a basis in numerical growth, that teaches that our efforts have a role in peoples salvation (as opposed to Article IV), that stresses urgency over faithfulness; all things that are fundamentally at odds with what Scripture teaches and what we confess. So the two cannot agree because the theology driving both sides is fundamentally at odds. A church cannot have two separate theology’s driving its practice. When those practices, such as the training of pastors, come to a head, at its core is the issue of theology. Getting rid of the SMP program is a start, but until we address the poor theology that gave rise to it, these arguments will continue to rise up in our synod.

  7. Johan Bergfest :
    Hardly!! My recommendation would be:
    1. For Lutherans to start treating fellow believers as sisters and brothers in Christ – because they are;
    2. For Lutherans to stop using the logic of the Office of the Keys to draw distinctions among believers; and,
    3. For Lutherans to stop framing disputes with false dichotomies, as you did in your response to me.

    @Johan Bergfest #50
    Please be patient with me, but I am honestly having a hard time understanding exactly what you advocate. Which Lutherans aren’t treating other believers as sisters and brothers in Christ? How are Lutherans misusing the Office of the Keys? And which dichotomy did I draw that you think was a false one? And in what way did your comment, #33, not advocate the use of Hegelian dialectic and Enthusiasm in decision-making?

  8. @Kyle Blake #48
    You were forgiven before you asked for it.

    That is the difficulty in these posts is that as soon as commenting begins, the post can take on a whole different life – sometimes I try to steer it back to topic, but sometimes I run with it.

    In regards to directing criticism to those who run the SMPP – it is a public program, legislated by the Synod in Convention, open to public criticism, and this kind of discussion is good for the crafting of resolutions to change or drop the SMPP at the 2013 Convention. As some have stated, there are those who want it modified, returned to its original use (instead of MegaChurch seminary lite), or just scrap it altogether.

    And, you would be surprised how many people read these posts – and which people they are…

  9. As a followup to Rev McCall #56, is the issue of SMP a debate over epistemology, ie how we learn? I support an academic, objective study of scripture and confessions, best done in a resident setting. But while at the sem I was surprised by the number of those who did not appreciate the classroom, reading, and study. Others on these threads seem to be advocating for a pragmatic, “hands on” experience-based education. (I admit that to me these sound more like “Bible colleges”). Is this distinction accurate? Is pastoring only a functional role?

    Detlev Schulz in his book, Mission from the Cross chapter 3, includes a discussion and chart pointing out the differences in mission work initiated from two “opposite” starting points: 1) Biblical principal-based theology versus 2) context-based or pragmatic-oriented cultural sciences. At some point in outreach to real people these are supposed to meet, but may not. Schulz offers a middle way or more holistic approach. Those who have had Schulz as a prof or spoken with him might clarify my summary. Do any of you think Schulz’s “mission” discussion is applicable to education and pastoral formation? Is “experience” a sufficient way of pastoral training, as compared to “academics”? Or how much of each should we have? What is the proper balance between our “time in the Word” with “time with the people”?

  10. @Johan Bergfest #51

    Mr. Bergfest,

    Thank you for your response. If you are just wanting to talk about things adiaphora, then it is probably better to frame your arguments from our Christian freedom rather than from uncertainty about doctrine.

  11. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #47
    Being proficient in the original languages is not just a good thing, it’s of paramount importance. How often do you have to go back to the original languages to refute a popular teaching that proof texts its way into existance? Again, a passing knowledge of Greek and Hebrew won’t allow you to articulate why the text is interpreted as it is.

    Another good reason for the extensive education today contrasted with the original 12 is that we’ve had almost 2000 years for doctrinal divides and disputes to arise, some again and again. Those that present these false ideas do so quite convincingly and must be refuted by biblical texts and historical practice. If we go with where the various spirits have led, we’d be left with thousands of denominations and practice that spans the spectrum. Oh wait, we are there already. We need these men desperately to keep us safe from the ravening wolves out there that are instructed by some other spirit.

    The world is complex and fast paced, rushing us headlong at breakneck speed to make a decision for an easier way in. We need to think carefully about our path if we want to keep any semblance to the catholic church.

  12. If there really is no pastoral shortage, then why should the LCMS churn out so many pastors. Is it in part to replace new pastors who quickly leave the ministry within five years? Why is the burnout rate of pastors so high? Other denominations have the same challenges when trying to figure out what to do with young clergy. How is the SMP program supposed to address any of the common issues listed here:

    http://www.christiancentury.org/blogs/archive/2011-12/perspectives-young-clergy-crisis

    It is refreshing to see that this is not solely a “Lutheran” problem.

    Traditional seminary education assumes that the Church will be the pastor’s sole source of income. The SMP program takes into consideration that pastoral candidates may already be working in an established secular field, and that the congregation that he will serve in his second job may only be able to pay him a part-time salary. When considering the best practices for training LCMS pastors, the LCMS needs to understand that the OHM will be a second income for most (or virtually all) people in the near future. That is an economic necessity.

  13. Mary Johnson :
    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #47
    Being proficient in the original languages is not just a good thing, it’s of paramount importance. How often do you have to go back to the original languages to refute a popular teaching that proof texts its way into existence? Again, a passing knowledge of Greek and Hebrew won’t allow you to articulate why the text is interpreted as it is.

    Hey, what about German? (kind of a joke) And Latin? (not so much)

    from someone who is 0 for 4…

  14. I found something puzzeling about CSL’s description and actions regarding the SMP program:

    On page 5 of their Winter 2012 periodical, in describing the requirements of the incoming student it states that he must be recommended by his home congregation, nominated for the program by the DP….
    “who has confirmed that a special mission need exists at that site (be it a church plant, or a church that cannot affor to hire a full-time pastor, etc.”

    Then if you turn to page 18, the list of 2011 Fall calls and assignments, SMP lists 3 SMPers as (Call Pending).

    Doesn’t this negate the premise of being in the program? Doesn’t the need preceed the courses?

  15. Jim Pierce :
    @Johan Bergfest #51
    Mr. Bergfest,
    Thank you for your response. If you are just wanting to talk about things adiaphora, then it is probably better to frame your arguments from our Christian freedom rather than from uncertainty about doctrine.

    Jim – that would be easier to do if steadfast Lutherans resisted the temptation to elevate all matters of dispute to the level of “doctrine”.

  16. Rev. Daniel A. Hinton :
    Please be patient with me, but I am honestly having a hard time understanding exactly what you advocate. Which Lutherans aren’t treating other believers as sisters and brothers in Christ? How are Lutherans misusing the Office of the Keys? And which dichotomy did I draw that you think was a false one? And in what way did your comment, #33, not advocate the use of Hegelian dialectic and Enthusiasm in decision-making?

    1. I have read many posts on this site which sound very much like steadfast Lutherans think as though the Body of Christ is limited to those who share the “confessional” Lutheran perspective.
    2. I have read many posts on this site in which steadfast Lutherans apply Office of the Keys logic to condemn others, like myself, who profess to believe but who do not share the “confessional” Lutheran perspective.
    3. I apologize if I made post #33 in a manner that led to confuse my intent. I did reference a secular source. But, that source does not contradict the teachings of Matthew 18. I suggested it as a non-confrontational approach to following Christ’s teachings regarding dispute resolution within the Body.

  17. @Johan Bergfest #67
    Thank you for your response. I have against your complaint the same thing I have against the so-called Statement of the 44 from 1945, in that they are entirely vague and could mean almost anything. “I have read many posts on this site which sound very much like steadfast Lutherans think as though the Body of Christ is limited to those who share the ‘confessional’ Lutheran perspective.” If you have an accusation of substance to make, then by all means, make it. Accusations based on perceptions have no standing. “Some people” “sounding like” they “think as though” doesn’t tell me anything. Who are they? What did they say exactly?
    To be a confessional Lutheran, one subscribes to, among other things, the following:

    Our churches teach that one holy Church is to remain forever. The Church is the congregation of saints [Psalm 149:1] in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are correctly administered. – from AC VII

    and

    Thank God, ‹today› a seven-year-old child knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd [John 10:11–16]. For the children pray, “I believe in one holy Christian Church.” This holiness does not come from albs, tonsures, long gowns, and other ceremonies they made up without Holy Scripture, but from God’s Word and true faith. – from SA XII

    Not only is the idea that the Body of Christ is limited to those who share the confessional Lutheran perspective completely antithetical to confessional Lutheranism, in that it blatantly contradicts the Confessions, but I myself have never heard it once, either in public or in private. That’s why I’m so curious to hear where you found someone saying this on this site (or anywhere). I would be happy to correct such a person, on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions, who would espouse the very position you claim you hear, if you would be so good as to point me to them. Likewise, I would like to see those who condemn others (not the same as condemning ideas, which the Confessions do a lot), meaning those who would judge others to be unbelievers who profess to be believers (in Jesus Christ, not a false god) based upon “Office of the Keys logic”.

    Lastly, Matthew 18 is a patently confrontational approach to dispute resolution, which is the opposite of what you advocated in your book recommendation. Jesus actually commands a confrontation: “go and tell him [your brother] his fault.” Further recalcitrance demands further confrontation, until finally the brother is to be regarded as a Gentile and a tax collector. But that’s not what is being discussed here. What is the best way for the LCMS to form new pastors? We have a great deal of Christian freedom in the matter. But I believe, as do many commenters here at BJS, that some ways are more capable than others to form well-prepared pastors for the increasingly difficult task of proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to a hostile world. That’s what this discussion is about.

  18. Seizing the Opportunity Mode: ON

    Who among us can honestly say that there is no division within the ranks of the LCMS having observed this discussion? So why not consider the work of the ACELC?

    Our Second Annual Theological Conference is coming up soon at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, February 7-9. The topic of this year’s Conference is the theology and practice of Closed Communion, and among our list of presenters are Professors John Pless and Detlev Schulz from the Fort Wayne Seminary, Iowa East District President, Brian Saunders, as well a number of other qualified pastors.

    This promises to be another great Conference. The cost is only $75, which includes the banquet, and if that’s a real obstacle in the way of you being able to attend, there are a limited number of scholarships available to make it possible for you to come. Online registration is available from the homepage of our Website, http://www.acelc.net, and if you would like to apply for a scholarship, the link to contact us is in the upper right of that same homepage.

    Hope to see some of you there.

  19. THose who put on conferences should have a schedule that does not lump them so close together, timewise. I realize it’s “after Christmas, before Lent” but if a Pastor wanted to attend even part of these things, he could be away 3 days of every week for a month… very easily more. [If, of course, he could afford it…. Most advertise themselves as “inexpensive” but taking in 2 or 3 would add up.]

    Could we have, on this web site, the notable papers/sermons given at Symposia, BJS, ACELC, Plano Free Conference, [the western one whose name has escaped me], etc.?
    Or links to them?

  20. There seems to be a “beehive” in the “Attic” at one of the CSL faculty housing at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis driving SMP and long distance techno oriented education.

  21. Wait about ten years or so when an SMPer continues on the climb up the district ladder to DP.
    Church planter, mission minded pastor with a love for the lost, which can vary from the love of the truth, and then on to maybe executive assistant and finally district president. Now that is church growth. Just think SMPer in only ten years you too can become dp with the minimum thelogical education necessary. Or better yet attend Fuller Seminary long distance after placement and have the letters dr to give you much needed prestige. Ask larry and lane for tips!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.