President Harrison’s Words for Washington, by Pr. Rossow

Wow! In a few words President Harrison was firm, bold and theological as he spoke before the House of Representatives committee hearing this morning in Washington D.C. He came out of the gates strong and never let up for his allotted five minutes.

It was clear to me that his courage and conviction were born of the Holy Spirit’s working of faith in his heart and informing his mind through the inspired and inerrant Word of God.

Harrison masterfully walked the fine line of the two sides of the matter at hand, that is the forcing of churches to purchase health care plans that help people to kill babies in the womb on the one side, and the need to uphold that the church is in but not of the world on the other. He deftly proclaimed the Gospel of the blood atonement while realizing that he was not there to preach a sermon but to call the government to stay within its left hand kingdom parameters by leaving Christians free to practice their religion.

After clearly stating that the LCMS is all about the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, Harrison demonstrated that the LCMS secondarily, is very effective at producing good citizens. He did this by showing that we have a great history of helping the poor in this country and across the globe and that LCMS members have shed their blood for the freedoms for which this country stands. Harrison said “We [members of the LCMS] fought for a free conscience in this country and we will not give up.”

Harrison channeled Luther very effectively. He spoke with the courage and conviction that is voiced by Luther’s Scriptural teaching of the freedom of the Christian. Harrison said “We must obey God rather than man” and concluded with this plea:

“Please Mr. Chairman, get the federal government out of our conscience.”

(The questioning is just now beginning. If there are any noteworthy comments from Harrison I will update the post. I also noticed that the hearing just appeared live for a few moments on Fox news.)


The entire session can be found here:


President Harrison’s segment begins at the 41 minute mark.


Session 2 of the hearings can be found here:


About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


President Harrison’s Words for Washington, by Pr. Rossow — 75 Comments

  1. #48: “I am not sure that the same tone of righteous anger, which was directed at an unbelieving world and government, applies to those who are avowedly not only all Christians but Lutherans.”

    Remember when Paul called his brothers in Galatia fools and challenged them to cut it all off, not just the foreskin?

    Remember when Jesus Christ himself called the erring church leaders of his day, “Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!” again and again?

    Obviously, there are times when a strongly confrontational tone is appropriately applied to those who claim to walk with us.

    Paul thinks that time is now — at least toward Pastor Rossow, some posters here, and (I presume) the ACELC: “You are confusing the usual low standard of discourse on this blog site, and a certain self-appointed group in our Synod, which indulges in uncharitable speculations, accusations, rumors and nothing less than loudmouth demagoguery with responsible chairmanship and pastoral leadership. Your remarks only become more irresponsible and more offensively outrageously wrong.”

  2. I guess we have to endure Paul II (the one that is more than a little intemperate with his remarks). He’s not what he used to be and he’s frustrated.
    He seems to be the “evil twin” of Paul I, who is rather useful and even pleasant.

    Perhaps if we look at it like that, we can ignore the rants?

  3. I thought his delivery full of bluster; not at all engaging. And we had to endure something akin to a cowboy poets advertisement for the LCMS before he got to his point. Sorry, but I wasn’t impressed. Does he always speak as if he left the Caps Lock on?

  4. [The Parable of the Two Sons]

    “What do you think?

    A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’

    And he answered, ‘I will not,’

    but afterward he changed his mind and went.

    And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”

  5. #4 Kitty :
    I thought his delivery full of bluster; not at all engaging. And we had to endure something akin to a cowboy poets advertisement for the LCMS before he got to his point. Sorry, but I wasn’t impressed. Does he always speak as if he left the Caps Lock on?

    Are you serious?
    It was stirring and inspirational, not blustery.
    And frankly, the ‘silent synod’ should have a little more airplay. More importantly, so should the Gospel, which was ringingly stated.
    I can’t remember when I have been more proud of our public proclamation of who we are and what we believe.

  6. @Old Time St. John’s #56

    Although president Harrison has an authoritative presence he is also intelligent, eloquent, and charming. I’m disappointed that his delivery was devoid of his more engaging qualities. He came across (at least to me ) as… well, simply cross.

  7. @#4 Kitty #57
    It was clear to me, observing the hearing in its entirety, that President Harrison charmed many–especially the Baptist sitting next to him who wishes to share his jail cell, and the Representative who thanked him for taking his allotted time from him and using it so well. One does not have to smile continually to be charming.

    I was quite impressed with the way that he studiously avoided publicly passing judgement on the Administration’s motives, despite provocation from both sides, and with the strength and passion with which he put forward our position. When he said that it was simply surreal to even be in the position we are in, given the Supreme Court’s ruling on a tiny sect using hallucinogenic substances in their rituals, it was breathtaking and introduced significant substance to the national debate. Also, he avoided the cleverly laid trap regarding health–something that others on the panel fell into without even realizing it. All in all, the intelligence, charm, passion, and proclamation demonstrated there were a credit to our Synod.

  8. Missing from Rev. Harrison’s testimony and from the conversation in this thread is any clear indication of the way that the proposed prescription birth control coverage requirement conflicts with the prescription drug benefit in the Concordia Plans.

    The proposed coverage would apply to non-church workers in non-church institutions. How many people does LCMS employ as non-church workers in non-church institutions and for whom LCMS provides prescription drug coverage?

    As I understand Rev. Harrison’s words, LCMS is not opposed to all contraception, just those forms that cause abortion. The typical prescription birth control prevents ovulation – it does not prevent abortion. If I understood Rev. Harrison, I assume that the LCMS prescription coverage would include that medication. Will someone please clarify whether this assumption is correct?

    I can understand why the LCMS coverage would not include Plan B – the morning after pill. However, I doubt that the administration’s proposed birth control coverage includes Plan B because that medication is not sold by prescription and otc medications typically are not covered by health insurance.

    I suspect that Rev. Harrison will never be challenged to go to jail rather than comply with the administration’s proposal because I’d wager that LCMS is already in compliance.

  9. @Rahn Hasbargen #60
    Thanks for sharing that link. I can see why there might be some concern for prescription coverage for IUD’s. However, I am not confident that link is the definitive answer regarding Plan B for the reason I mentioned – typically, prescription drug plans do not cover over-the-counter medications, e.g. your health plan does not reimburse for the purchase of aspirin.

  10. @Johan Bergfest #59

    I will also state that the order is to require insurance companies to cover the total cost of the birth control methods, even if it is OTC or not. You state that “otc medications typically are not covered by health insurance”, and you are right. But this whole situation is NOT typical, and the fact that the administration is requiring coverage of birth control methods, even if they are OTC, shows how untypical the situation is here, and what prompted the testimony of Harrison.

  11. #4 Kitty :I thought his delivery full of bluster; not at all engaging. And we had to endure something akin to a cowboy poets advertisement for the LCMS before he got to his point. Sorry, but I wasn’t impressed. Does he always speak as if he left the Caps Lock on?

    I sent the video to several of my Roman Catholic friends. One of them sent me the following: “Thank you very much for sending me the video of your president speaking in Washington. When I watched it, I almost cried. I sent it to many of my friends.”

    That’s good enough for me: caps lock or not, he done good. I will add that I was also very impressed with all the speakers, but especially the rabbi, who gave a consistent, polite, reasoned and unequivocal testimony. When the Baptist sitting next to Harrison said he’d join him in his jail cell, that was strong confirmation of President Harrison’s presentation.

  12. @Johan Bergfest #59

    The problem is the question of what a “church” is. This ruling defines a “church” as a group that meets for worship on Sunday, teaches its faith to its own people, and does nothing else. Hospitals, universities, relief organizations, and other off-shoots of the church which work to help other people do not fall into this narrow definition of “religious organization.” The problem with this is that the government is telling us what constitutes a religious organization, whether or not our religious beliefs are being violated, how to live our faith, and whether or not we actually have religious freedom beyond the right to worship. Those are things which we and only we can determine for ourselves. Our response to those things, to quote Pres. Harrison, must be “Please Mr. Chairman, get the federal government out of our conscience.”

  13. @T. R. Halvorson #66

    This ruling defines a “church” as a group that meets for worship on Sunday, teaches its faith to its own people, and does nothing else.

    Yes, and that is part of totalizing everything into the state, which, tautologically, is totalitarianism.

    @Rahn Hasbargen #62

    I encourage you to read Sasse’s 1930 paper on the two kingdoms, and then Gen Edward Veith, Jr.’s outstanding work, Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Wordlview.

    It’s 1921 (or so) again.

  14. A sample of the above paper:

    [70] Admittedly, the kingdom of this world, Satan, and evil continually reassert themselves in the actual administration of secular government; but this is a misuse of secular government and contrary to God’s intention for it. This is equally true of the church and of Christendom, that is, in the area of spiritual government. Satan constantly roams about in both governments and rages against them in order to corrupt them, contrary to God’s intention for them.174 God and Satan struggle with each other in both governments. Indeed, Satan is a far greater danger in the spiritual government. For this reason an office in the spiritual government is far more dangerous and difficult than an office in the secular government,175 and the failure of people who hold spiritual offices is far more dangerous for the people they are intended to serve. Thus the line of battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan cuts through the middle of both governments. For this reason, it is absolutely impossible to equate Luther’s doctrine of the two governments or kingdoms with the absolute opposition between the kingdoms of God and Satan; it is also impossible to correlate the two sets of concepts. It is therefore not appropriate to evaluate and criticize Luther’s theology of the secular government on the basis of the biblical statements about the kingdom of this world as opposed to God.

  15. @Rahn Hasbargen #68

    Herman Sasse, The Social Doctrine of the Augsburg Confession and Its Significance for the Present, from “The Lonely Way 1927-1939, Vol. 1” copyright 2001 Concordia Publishing House, a translation of “Die Soziallehren der Augsburgischen Konfession und ihre
    Bedeutung für die Gegenwart,” which appeared in two parts in Kirchlich-soziale Blätter
    33.5/6 (May/June 1930): 65-69, and 33.9/10 (September/October 1930): 105-9.

    Gene Edward Veith, Jr., Modern fascism: liquidating the Judeo-Christian worldview

  16. @Rahn Hasbargen #68

    @Mark Huntemann #71

    @T. R. Halvorson #72

    It would be most helpful if you also read the following:
    “The Road to Serfdom”, by F.A. Hayek, ediited by Bruce Caldwell. Caldwell’s introductions and footnotes are invaluable.
    “The New Road to Serfdom” by Daniel Hannan, British MP. Hannan is a true friend of the U.S. He says that he’s living in our future, and warns us not to go there. He also introduces the “quango”–Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organization. HHS is a semi-quango and the health panels prescribed by Obamacare are indeed quangos.

    And a brief quote from the introduction to “The Road to Serfdom”:
    “…though he continued to stress the links between socialism and fascism, Hayek began to expand on what he saw as the fatal flaw of socialist planning–namely, that it ‘presupposes a much more complete agreement on the relative importance of the different ends than actually exists, and that, in consequence, in order to be able to plan, the planning authority must impose upon the people that code of values which is lacking.’” (p. 6) For “planning authority” substitute “H.H.S.”, for “impose” substitute “coerice,” for “people” subtitute “the church”, and and you get the picture. This is the real issue.

    Finally read Rep. James Lankford’s speech found elsewhere here on BJS. He demonstrates what a quango can do.

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