Micro Koinonia Project Part II – Defining the Problem, by Pr. Rossow

Pastor Mark Schulz and I are embarking on an interesting path. We are on near opposite ends of the LCMS spectrum on how to do church. We are aquaintances, on our way to friendship and in the process are trying out President Harrison’s Koinonia project in hopes of finding synod and concordia. Here is part two of our Micro-Koinonia project in which we begin to define the situation in the LCMS. There is no jockeying for position; we are just going with the flow, trying to make this as dialogical as possible. This time Mark went first and I followed. We look forward to your comments on both sides as we seek to better understand and critique our differences.

 

Tim – I’ll take the first shot at describing the state of the LC-MS issues, as I see them…

I’ve heard it said over the years that the LCMS is divided when it comes to the issues of “wine, women, and song,” and I think there is a lot of truth to that! There are disagreements about what, exactly, constitutes closed communion. We have issues about the role of women in the congregation (although we do not, I believe, have as big an issue with women’s ordination as some seem to think). We cannot agree as to the amount of freedom there should be in how we worship. These are real issues that need careful discussion and study.

But there is an even bigger issue than these, I believe. Since its inception the LC-MS has not had a consistent, agreed upon doctrine of the office of the ministry. Dr. Barry alluded to this in his keynote address at the 1997 convocation to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the LC-MS. (You can read that address and all the papers presented at that convocation on the LC-MS website. They highlight the issues well.) I believe all would agree there is such a thing as the Office of the Holy Ministry and that it is divinely instituted. We are not functionalists. But how one becomes a pastor, how much training and education that person needs before being certified for ministry, exactly what the duties of a pastor should be, and which of these duties are divinely instituted and which are humanly prescribed – here we find a whole myriad of opinions. Is ordination a sacrament? I heard strong opinions on both sides of this issue while at seminary. What does it mean to “administer” the sacrament? What is the authority of the pastor in the congregation, and how does the Office of the Holy Ministry properly interact with the Priesthood of All Believers? It may be that many of our other issues would disappear if we could come to agreement on what it means to be a pastor.

The elephant in the room, however, is not doctrinal but rooted in human behavior. We simply do not trust each other. I’ve had a number of people counsel me not to participate in this discussion here at BJS. They do this out of love for me and fear for what might happen to me if I am open and honest here. I admit some trepidation of my own. And yet I also remember a brother pastor (who would be called “confessional”) who shared with me a number of years ago that he was afraid he would be forced to do ministry in a way his conscience did not allow, and that the “powers that be” in the LC-MS would threaten his call as a pastor because he was too conservative. I was stunned and thankful for his willingness to be candid with me. Until we learn to trust each other and appreciate that we all love Jesus, His Word, and our common Lutheran heritage, the rest will never work out. What would it take, I wonder, to develop a culture of trust among us?

All this said, we should never forget that we agree on so much. I am so glad we do not have to struggle against each other on issues like universalism, abortion, gay marriage, and even whether Jesus physically rose from the dead! I believe we can celebrate our unity while at the same time wrestle with those issues that divide us. I’m not willing to give up on our church body, or on our ability to let the Word shape our future and our unity.

Mark,

As I think of the disunity in our synod I agree with you that the old adage of “wine, women, and song” pretty much describes the source of the disunity – that is Holy Communion, women’s role in the church and worship. I would add to those three doctrinal matters, three problems of attitude in the church today – a lack of guts (conviction), the prominence of the false dichotomy of doctrine and practice (what I call “the great divide”) and the influx of the culture’s too broad definition of tolerance.

Before describing how we got to this point let me share what I think is a good standard in each of these cases, our beloved Martin Luther. Concerning Holy Communion, he certainly would practice closed communion, after all one could say he put Zwingli under the minor ban after Marburg. Concerning women, Luther clearly upheld the fourth commandment and would not have women assisting in communion, reading lessons and the like. Luther on worship is sort of like a wax nose, everyone contorting him into whatever shape they wish but to me he is quite clear that a total overhaul of the basic liturgy is not good for the Gospel. At one point early on in the Reformation he briefly spoke of a low church sort of rite for the spiritually elite that was similar to some COWO today (Contemporary Worship) but as quickly as he brought it up, he dropped the notion. (Maybe later on I can dig up the reference and we can study it together in koinonia. I believe the quote is from one of the volumes in the American edition on The Career of the Reformer.)

Concerning my three attitudinal items, Luther is very clear. No one would ever accuse him of lacking guts. Concerning the “great divide,” he never even considered a distinction between doctrine and practice (probably since it is a late 19th, early 20th century invention of the Marxists and Pragmatists). As far as tolerance goes, Luther was highly intolerant and parochial even to the point of fault. I don’t expect us to be as parochial as Luther was when it came to things like the Jewish question (he clearly made some anti-semitic statements that the LCMS has disavowed), but we could benefit from being a bit more parochial than the prevailing spirit of tolerance in certain circles in the LCMS today.

So how did we get to this point? First, I would say that it is nothing new. The age of pietism exhibited many of these things and it can never be underestimated that every generation of Christians has always had to battle the tendency toward compromise and the drift toward false ecumenism. Particularly though I think there are three important causes of our current situation.

First, there is the problem of the impact of contemporary Christian music and the overall Evangelical culture on the middle and older aged pastors of today’s LCMS. I remember as a kid (mid 70’s) listening to this new thing called contemporary Christian music (Larry Norman, Phil Keage, even Andre Crouch) and going to Billy Graham movies (e.g. “Time to Run”) as the whole Christian community would rally around these things. My parents were strong Lutherans and taught me the doctrinal differences but still let me participate in these things. I suppose they figured it was good that I was at least socializing around Christian things and as to the music, I suppose they were just glad I was not listening to the acid rock my brother obsessed on. I can remember at Concordia, Seward in the late 70’s, all the really “spiritual” students going in to Lincoln to various Christian rock performances, usually at some Pentecostal church. I even went to a Keith Green concert in St. Louis in the early 80’s when I was at the seminary. The music was great but I remember that was the beginning of the end for me. By that point I had learned enough about law and Gospel and the doctrine of the ministry to be really annoyed by this lay musician preaching and totally destroying the Gospel with his two-bit pietistic legalism. Enough about me. The point is I know that was not alone and sadly, not everyone got to the point of recognizing the terrible doctrine in contemporary Christian music. Once these guys became pastors and had a willing generation of poorly catechized Lutherans as their sheep, they led them down the path of COWO and away from the liturgy. Even I went down that path by starting a contemporary service in one of the most traditional parishes in the synod. I am so thankful for the brothers who slowly and gently brought me out of that world and into the realm of traditional, Biblical Lutheranism.

Secondly, we have a pastorate these days that lacks guts. It is still to this day a gut check for me every time I need to rebuke a couple living together before marriage or having to close the altar to someone. I am sure it was not easy for Paul to rebuke Peter (Galatians 1-2). It takes conviction, courage and strength to pastor a parish and sadly, many of our clergy do not have those traits.

Thirdly, we find ourselves in this position because many of our District Presidents for the last 20 years or so were trained by the liberal professors before the walkout. It was only natural that those who graduated in the 60’s would be the leaders of the last twenty years of so as they started to reach their 50’s. It also did not hurt that they were basically tolerant people. When you can elect your own supervisor, it makes sense that it would lead to “nice guy” bishops. One can hardly blame them for a lack of conviction based on the education at Concordia, St. Louis in the 60’s and early 70’s. It is also not surprising that they raced after the principles of the church growth movement like air filling a vacuum because they had the blood atonement and the forgiveness of sins taken off the table by the liberal professors and so they were looking for some way to make church meaningful. They found it in the principles of sociology (make people happy) and psychology (satisfy felt needs).

Well, there you have it. Hopefully that lays the ground work for our attempts at koinonia. Despite our differences, I remain committed to trying to find our way out of this lack of concordia and into a state of synod.

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.

Comments

Micro Koinonia Project Part II – Defining the Problem, by Pr. Rossow — 21 Comments

  1. Pr. Rosow

    I recently had a lay ministry class (for house churches) that sounded rather familiar to your CoWo comment. It was about Contectual-Coinfessional Worship. What I found irnoic was our textbooks were the new hymnal, the Pastoral Care Companion and Luthers Work #53: Liturgy and Hymns. The funny part was how we would open and use the hymnal, but spent so much time taling about the “third kind of service”, found on pages 63-64. In my area, I know key leaders would love to go full CoWo with worship, you know, because it is the future. So then why bother using the hymnal? Anyway, immediately after the paragrpaph of the “evangelical order,” Luther seems to not care to spend time on this service.

    Part of the disconnect (to me) is to try to make hay out of this minor reference in Luther’s writings. Our faith and doctrine are to be formed by Scripture, with the Confessions as our lens. Beyond that, it really isn’t Lutheran to develop traditions based on human reasoning. What I mean is that we do not let the antilegomena establish doctrine, only support it. So I don’t see how spending so much time on Luther’s Works to justify CoWo when the Book of Concord (and other Luther writings) talk a significant amount saying “we do not abolish the mass.”

    What I find in your part of the dialogue I see as spot on, wrt lack of guts and persons in power.

  2. @Jason #1

    I’m coming to understand the word “contextualize” to be code for a philosophy of ministry that St. Paul avoided: “But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).

  3. Jason,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I love Luther but your are right, our subscription is to the Scriptures and the Confessions. I think Luther enacts the teaching of the Scriptures and Confessions so he is a good model for us to follow. I also bring him up because he models flirtation with COWO (so to speak) and the cessation of the flirtation. In our freedom Lutherans are tempted to try and rise above the liturgy, as Luther himself was, but after a brief flirtation, he left it at the altar, or not at the altar, I guess.

  4. Rev. Jason Schulz,

    Agreed. I have always liked to quip that in the LCMS we practice “bait and bait.” “Bait and switch” would be bad enough and in keeping with your critique but this is not what happens. The “switch” never comes. We are told that COWO is done to get people in the door and then the real Lutheran stuff is given to them, but by my oberservation this never really happens. Contextualization is now being argued to uphold the bait and bait method.

    The Scripture you quote needs to be at the heart of the LCMS koinonia process. Thanks!

  5. So here is my take…

    Back in the Seminex days, the liberals didn’t want to be called/known as liberals. So they called themselves moderates. And against the wide swath of American culture, they probably were. But they did have certain liberal leanings. Then they called themselves missional. Now in order to sell their contemporary worship, they use the term contextual, so as to sound better and disarm the confessional/conservative/liturgical/traditional group. I get to interact with a number of pastors, and certain types speak in a certain way. So yeah, for me contextual and missional always throw up red flags.

  6. At the risk of sounding heretical, I will say that the way back to synod and concordia will only be found by returning in humility and child-like faith to the Giver (Jesus) and His gifts (word and sacracment). In my experience, there are two major historic (LCMS) obstacles to reaching this blessed end.
    First, We were taught with great certaintly that the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls is justification by grace thrrough faith for Christ’s sake, aka forensic justification. As Dr. Jack Preus, Jr. points out in his book on Biblical Metaphors for Jusitification, however, this is only one of many biblical metaphors describing how we are being saved by the person and work of Christ. Yet we have made the whole enterprise stand or fall on this one aspect of the truth. This begs the question, if I am declared righteous for Christ’s sake, why do I need Holy Communion? What good can it possibly do for me? The way Luther’s Large Catechism speaks of the Sacrament of the Altar was not reflected in the teaching and practice of the LCMS in which I was raised. Until we see the whole life and mission of the Church flowing from and returning to the Eucharist, I fear we will remain divided.
    Secondly, we were taught with great certainty that we have the pure doctrine. Aside from the problems of triumphalism inherent in such a view and its somewhat unscriptural base (we see through a glass darkly — if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, etc.), it leads us to the false assumption that it doesn’t matter how we practice so long as we believe correctly. Ironically, the questionable proposition of pure doctrine splits asunder what the church desperately needs to hold together: the law of prayer and the law of belief. I am not trying to say that we cannot know and confess true doctrine, but that we cannot claim to have it “pure” apart from our worship and life.

  7. Rev. Mark Schulz: “Since its inception the LC-MS has not had a consistent, agreed upon doctrine of the office of the ministry. Dr. Barry alluded to this in his keynote address at the 1997 convocation to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the LC-MS.”

    Those statements are correct only in the understanding that these statements are correct:

    “Since its inception the LC-MS has had a consistent doctrine of the office of the ministry. Dr. Barry alluded to this in his keynote address at the 1997 convocation to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the LC-MS.

    In his 1997 keynote address President Barry stated (p. 2):

    “This is by no means the first time in its history that the Missouri Synod has had occasion to ponder the doctrines of Church and Ministry. You might recall the extreme, almost crippling, difficulties our forefathers experienced in this connection even before our church body began and also in its early years of existence. By way of the theological leadership of Dr. C.F.W. Walther, the Lord brought us through those times of crisis.

    “Already at its 1851 convention, our Synod approved a set of theses on Church and Ministry prepared by Walther, together with his elaboration of them, and it instructed that his presentation be published as the Synod’s statement and unanimous confession.”

    In Rev. Schulz’s statements, the particular issue of “agreed upon” (which was removed from my version of the statements) was addressed by President Barry in the summary report of his official 1996 visitation of Concordia Theological Seminary:

    “It became apparent to the visitation team that there are certain theological issues that have caused problems in the past. These issues continue to be a concern at the seminary among the faculty and larger seminary family…:

    “1) The relationship between the church and the office of the public pastoral ministry. In such discussions it needs to be recognized that in the matter of church and ministry our Synod and seminaries still stand clearly behind Dr. C.F.W. Walther’s position as he articulated it in his book Kirche und Amt. Because of this, our Synod rejects both the errors in the positions of Loehe and Grabau, as well as the errors in the position of Hoefling.”

    The 2001 synodical convention reaffirmed the Synod’s 1852 resolution recognizing Kirche und Amt as the definitive statement under Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions of the Synod’s understanding on the subject of church and ministry and resolved:

    “That all pastors, professors, teachers of the church, and congregations honor and uphold the resolutions of the Synod as regards the official position of our Synod on church and ministry and teach in accordance with them.”

    In this understanding, then, that there are still some members of the Missouri Synod who do not “agree upon” this official synodical doctrinal position (and have been allowed to remain in the Synod), Rev. Mark Schulz’s statements quoted above are correct.

  8. @Paul Becker #6
    Paul, I think you are on to something here. When we overemphasize that forgiveness has been achieved for all people by Christ on the cross, but under-emphasize that forgiveness needs to be distributed through the means of grace in order for it to create and strengthen faith, then we see practices such as Private Absolution falling into disuse, Holy Communion being offered infrequently, and Evangelical worship forms (i.e. sacrament-denying/undermining worship forms) being introduced under the banner of “contextual” or “real, relevant, and relational.”

    Isn’t this a problem that goes back generations even to before the founding days of Lutheranism in the U.S.? As Pr. Rossow said, it’s Pietism. Pietism pops its head up in every generation because Pietism promotes the tangible results of emotions and statistics to be the litmus test of gospel effectiveness and ministerial faithfulness. Pietism does not affirm the efficacy of the means of grace working faith through the distribution of the forgiveness of sins earned by Christ at the cross. Pietism is a theology of glory, not the theology of Justification by faith alone.

  9. I think this issue of going to the Confessions to define our liturgy is an extremely important one. In the last few months I have been reading my Book of Concord more regularly and what I have come away with is how much we have just adopted the means of American Evangelicalism without even realizing it because we remain ignorant of our Confession! I don’t look at this issue in terms of CoWo vs. Liturgy so much as I try to analyze the doctrine that is taught in each practice. Rossow is right that we can’t separate doctrine and practice. Doctrine drives/determines/shapes our practice. I believe Pastor Mark when he says that we agree on most major points of doctrine. But if doctrine determines practice and the his practice and Rossow’s practice of the divine service are different, then I can only conclude that their doctrine of the Divine service is different. Perhaps we can figure out what those differences are in this discussion?

    From my own experience, the difference I have seen is in the purpose of the service. For most CoWo churches I’ve attended, the purpose of the service is to “experience” God, learn about God, introduce people to God or learn more about the Bible or something along those lines (several of which are good things). My understanding of the confessional liturgical service is that the purpose of the service is to focus on Christ and what he has done for us and to receive forgiveness of sins. These two very different doctrines about the purpose of the Divine Service will lead to very different ways of practicing the Divine Service in particular and church in general. Does this oversimplify things? Am I wrong in my definitions of purpose?

  10. The issue of trust is an interesting one. Certainly there is a lot of mistrust in the Synod. But much of it is warranted by experience.

    I don’t, for example, trust the MNS BOD to act honestly or in accord with Christ’s commands in any setting. I have seen too much evil intent and dishonest action to do so.

    I don’t automatically assume that pastors are honest and truthful or effective or that they have the right priorities. I saw too much that belied that during the Synodical controversies of the 70’s, which took place when I was in high school and college–very formative years. I respect the Office of Holy Ministry, and I treat all pastors with respect. But I no longer can imagine automatically trusting them as individuals without getting to know them personally over time. And I don’t think I am alone in this.

    Trust need not be a prerequisite for koinonia being effective, however. I think that the KP, if it is done well, will actually promote trust–trust in integrity arising from truthful, candid discussion. But I also think that it might be the catalyst for an honest division. I don’t want or seek that, but it is a possibility that we must realize can come to fruition if we find that we honestly have irreconcilable differences. “I’m OK, You’re OK” is not necessarily the outcome of an honest, kind, trusting relationship. “We understand each other thoroughly and love each other as fellow Christians, but must recognize that we are not actually in fellowship” may be the outcome. I pray that it is not–that we will come to honest understanding and honest agreement and true fellowship.

    Our differences are severe and real. Rather than set trust as our prerequisite, we should be truthful about that and truthful with each other whether we trust each other or not. Do we have the courage to be truthful in that way, despite the risks, and the kindness/courtesy/self-control to ‘speak the truth in love’? If we are not truthful, the KP cannot possibly work because we will not be discussing anything of substance. If we are not kind in doing so, the KP is unlikely to work because these substantial discussions will not generate trust or understanding or much of anything besides resentment.

    I applaud the candor of the two pastors in this mini-KP. And I applaud their growing friendship in Christ, which should lead to true understanding of each other’s position. Their kindness AND their truth are both necessary.

  11. @Old Time St. John’s #10
    I agee with your statements on trust.

    While my Dad and Mom told me they tried to shelter me from the issues they dealt with during my Dad’s 50 years in the ministry, I saw everything from my Dad being driven out of his co-ministry in Dennison, Iowa (by a congregation who claimed power by showing they gave more to the District mission fund than any other congregation in the district, so therefore they could tell the DP which co-mistry pastor they wanted) to a pastor friend of my Dad who was told by his DP that he would NEVER be placed on a call list becasue he was too “Confessional”.

    I know it works both ways, as the LCMS at times resembles more of a political “Rules for Radicals” fight than a church body that adheres to the Lutheran Confessions. “Confessional” kicks out “Missional”, so “Missional” kicks out “Confessional”. All sides have enough “war stories” and reasons to mistrust. It seems we need more of a psychological couch than a “Koionia Project” at times……

  12. Interesting… But is not what we are in some ways discussing what can be called “private judgment?” Is not our problem each of us thinks we have a right to “private judgment” in areas we want to judge that differ from agreed upon Lutheran doctrine?

    For those who want to explore this I suggest an interesting read, if not very ponderous at times, Is C.P. Krauth’s “The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology.” [This would have been a good book to have read while at the seminary , compared to a lot of books published by evangelical publishing houses.]

    His last two paragraphs of the preface give much food for thought. And on private judgment I suggest Chapter 5 as a thought provoking chapter on why we have the issues we have in the LC-MS.

    P.S. I am referring to a 1963 edition published by Augsburg Publishing House.

    That’s all I have to say on this till after Holy week.

  13. Sometimes it appears that our measures of ministry are out of focus.

    “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 17:17-20)

    What is the “good fruit”? What is a fruitful ministry? Can the two sides represented here come to an agreement on what that is?

  14. @Carl H #13
    I would submit Galatians 5:22-23 as evidence of a fruitful ministry:

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

    Of course, that kind of fruit can’t be diagrammed on charts and graphs. It shows itself in the home, the workplace, and the club house. It shows itself in the church, too, but we shouldn’t confuse it with numerical growth because it may be that the numerically shrinking congregation is the more fruitful congregation than the growing congregation. All that God requires of us is that we remain faithful to the gospel in doctrine and practice and let him determine the results of faith, as Scripture and the Confessions profess and attest:

    “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

    and

    “The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered” (AC VII:1). And “the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel” (AC V:2-3).

  15. Old Time St. John’s :
    it is a possibility that we must realize can come to fruition if we find that we honestly have irreconcilable differences. “I’m OK, You’re OK” is not necessarily the outcome of an honest, kind, trusting relationship. “We understand each other thoroughly and love each other as fellow Christians, but must recognize that we are not actually in fellowship” may be the outcome. I pray that it is not–that we will come to honest understanding and honest agreement and true fellowship.

    I totally agree with this comment. I also wrestle with just how much it takes to actually be in fellowship. For example – I know some pastors who believe “administering” the sacrament means only they (the pastor) can place the bread/body in the mouths of the one communing. They would go so far as instruct their congregations to not put out their hands put instead open their mouths so the bread/body only touches the tongue and not any other part of the communicant. Others believe a pastor must distribute, but can place the bread/body into the hands of the communicant, who then places it in their own mouth. Others (myself included) believe any lay person can assist the pastor in the distribution of the elements, and that the pastor is still properly administering the sacrament.

    So – I think we all agree that someone who denies the real presence is not in fellowship with us. I think we would also agree that someone who says any layperson could get up in front on a Sunday morning and speak the Words of Institution would also not be in fellowship with us. But what about the issue of who actually places the elements in the hands of the communicant? Is that a fellowship issue?

  16. Respectfully, with all the evil in the world, do we think God cares about such minutiae as putting the wafer in the hands?  Is this what we should spend our time worrying about?   (There will be over 115,000 abortions worldwide today)

  17. @Mark Schulz #15
    Pastor Schulz, I believe that we all wrestle to some extent with the question of what ‘reasonable uniformity of practice’ is. However, backing up from that one a bit, the point I was making in my post was that making mutual trust a prerequisite for talking about things candidly is not necessary and is probably impossible. The requirement for having this conversation, rather, is the courage to be candid and the kindness to be loving while expressing things candidly. You are demonstrating both, and I admire that.

    I would further respectfully suggest that instead of moving straight to “Here are the criteria for fellowship” we should start with a thorough airing of views (candidly and kindly), and the rationale for them. Our jumping straight to the question of ‘does this break fellowship?’ is premature. And actually, when I wrote my post I included reference to that question with some trepidation, and seeing your response I am sorry that I included it because it could become quite a distraction and was not the point of what I was trying to say at all. I imagine that we can all learn a lot from each other; and that each hearing each others’ views of what Biblical, confessional, and practical rationale supports their positions will bring about modifications where appropriate, and perhaps true agreement.

  18. @Old Time St. John’s #17

    “[M]aking mutual trust a prerequisite for talking about things candidly” is putting the cart before the horse. Once trust has been lost, it takes time to earn it back through consistent honesty and transparency.

    “The requirement for having this conversation, rather, is the courage to be candid and the kindness to be loving while expressing things candidly.”

    This is true to a point, but let’s not get too carried away with insisting that all participants practice the hyper-sensitive and delicate variety of sweet and tender kindness. (You know — nose-picking bed-wetters.) While love is not arrogant or rude, neither does love insist on its own way; nor is it irritable or resentful.” (1 Corinthians 13)

    In other words, when someone is offended, it could be that they are too easily offended, which is not very loving.

  19. Recent actions on this site in other postings and in our LCMS world have refocused my attention on the words,”We simply do not trust each other.” Postings have been taken down and blocked, comments have been deleted, tempers have been raised, and accusations have flown across this site as evidence of this “mistrust”. As Old Time St. John’s has posted in comment #10: “Certainly there is a lot of mistrust in the Synod. But much of it is warranted by experience.”

    We are being asked on another posting to just rest assured that another major issue being dealt with right now “is being handled with absolute integrity” by some of the very officials who can be called into question for the very thing they are asking us to trust them on now. We have the very property a church in Minneapolis is using being sold out from under it without a a level of openness and honesty one might think due to “executive sessions”. And my list could go on….

    On one hand, someone can say we “just don’t trust each other” and I believe that. On the other hand, I now have the feeling that we are literally “trusting ourselves to death” as confessional Lutherans when it comes to accountability by the very leaders that we are to place that very trust in. As the old hymn says, “trust not in rulers, they are but mortal, earth bound they are and soon decay”. I have a feeling “Contemporary Worship” advocates may point to just such a stanza in our hymnals and exclaim, ” That is exactly why our hymnals are outdated and antiques”.

    As I said in an earlier posting here, there are times I feel we don’t need a “koinonia project”, we need a synodical wide psychologist couch.

    Lord have mercy…….

  20. UNITY AROUND WORD AND SACRAMENTS-NOTHING MORE AND NOTHING LESS-On all levels called by our Lord to faithfulness.

  21. @Old Time St. John’s #10
    “Certainly there is a lot of mistrust in the Synod. But much of it is warranted by experience. I don’t, for example, trust the MNS BOD to act honestly or in accord with Christ’s commands in any setting. I have seen too much evil intent and dishonest action to do so.”

    You mean, you cannot mandate trust? Hmmm… Someone should tell SED. They have an “a priori understanding that its pastors are to be trusted and affirmed in their ministry”:

    Resolved, that pastors of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod be encouraged to “go the extra mile” in establishing mutual trust, collegiality and respect; and be it further
    RESOLVED, that any matters of difference in the practice of ministry, if neither commanded nor forbidden, be respected as matters of freedom; and be it further
    RESOLVED, that the pastor loci in a given context be regarded as the one best able to discern the needs of the congregation he serves; and be it further
    RESOLVED, that the Southeastern District regard it as inappropriate for pastors to meddle in the ministry of another; and be it finally
    RESOLVED, that the Southeastern District express its a priori understanding that its pastors are to be trusted and affirmed in their ministry, and that a climate of mutuality and trust be the norm among professional workers in the church.

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