Steadfast Office – The Divine Call

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23)

The Evangelical Lutheran Church reads this Bible passage and many others at the ordinations of the men our Lord Jesus Christ calls into His service to preach the Word in season and out of season. The Preaching Office is so important that the Reformers addressed its importance in Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession (Augustana). Let us review:

” It is taught among us that nobody should publicly teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church without a regular call.”

What does Augustana XIV mean? Has its meaning changed since the Confession was read before the Princes in 1530? For some in The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), Augustana means everything concerning the Preaching Office. For others, it means nothing. What happened to Augustana XIV? Where did go?

The LCMS has always held that a pastor was a man who was educated (seminary residency), examined, called (Divine Call), and ordained. She was serious about Augustana XIV. No one was to publicly teach or preach in the Church, nor administer the sacraments in the Church, without a regular call (rite vocatus). In 1989, everything changed for the LCMS. The Synod voted, in convention, to rescind Augustana XIV and replace it with the “lay ministry.”

I asked earlier, what happened to Augustana XIV? The answer is that politics removed it from the LCMS.  1989 was a fateful year for the LCMS. She discarded a primary doctrine which the Evangelical Lutheran Church held for 459 years. Now, education and examination are no longer primary instruments in the Church. (See 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:2; Titus 1:9)

The LCMS has created many programs to put men into the preaching office; DELTO (Distance Education Leading to Ordination); AR (Alternate Route); SMPP (Specific Ministry Pastoral Program), and others. The LCMS has also rejected Augustana XIV by allowing men who resigned their Divine Call to continue to preach and administer the sacraments. She also allows men who have retired (resigned their Divine Call) to do the same. She also allows men to “read” sermons written by the pastor during his absence.  Why? And yet, she condemns the actions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for allowing women in the preaching office. What’s the difference? Rejection of the Confession is still rejection.

What can be done about this? Can Augustana XIV be restored in the LCMS? Is there any hope that this terrible wrong can be corrected? My answer is yes. I say IT’S TIME! The President of the Synod has been given all the tools and authority to correct the problems stemming from the rejection of Augustana XIV. His actions must include discipline and possible removal of those who do not conform.

It is about theology. It has to be about theology otherwise the LCMS is just another business in the United States of America. In my previous post, Steadfast Office – Theology, not Politics, Rev. McCall made an astute observation in his comment (#23). He asked, (paraphrasing) if nothing is done about an erring brother, does that mean I am still tolerating  such behavior (tolerating his sin)? Or, do I or he need to leave.

His questions are asked because politics have taken over the LCMS. If the LCMS held to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, Rev. McCall’s questions would not have to be asked. The erring brother, congregation, District President, or whom ever sinned was corrected, then all would be well in the LCMS. As it is, those who do hold fast to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions are asking if they have to leave what they confess. This is just wrong. If the erring person refuses to confess his sin and repent (turn from evil), he must be removed from the Church (Matthew 18)

My prayer is that the Lord of the Church grant strength and courage to His Church to stand strong and be bold to call sinners to repentance.


Comments

Steadfast Office – The Divine Call — 66 Comments

  1. When a church is vacant what should be done in order to allow that church to be able to have worship every week? Many churches in this situation will use retired pastors.

  2. Michael, The Lord be with you. Thank you for your comment and question.

    When a congregation is vacant, that is, without a Called pastor, they should go where the Word is preached and the sacraments administered by a Called pastor. In other words, they should go to a faithful neighboring congregation where the bishop is found preaching, teaching, and rightly administering the holy sacraments.

    During the week, the congregation that is vacant can still meet together to discuss the matters of calling a pastor.

    A man who has retired has in fact resigned his Divine Call and has chosen to longer serve the Lord. He is not to be preaching, teaching, or adminstering the Sacraments with a right call (rite vocatus).

    I hope this answers your questions Michael. Peace be with you.

  3. Pr. Wurst,

    Do you hold that Luther illegitimately administered the Sacrament to the congregation in Wittenberg, when he served without a specific call from that place during the many years of Bugenhagen’s absence? Could the understanding of “call” from the AC be a bit broader than what you seem to be implying? Just this past week, for example, in Treasury we read Luther’s words: “Therefore everyone [who preaches] must realize that he has been sent. That is, he must know that he has been called; he dare not venture to sneak into the office furtively and without authorization. The sending is done through man, for example, when a city, a prince, or a congregation calls someone into office. But at the same time the person is sent by God.” The call from the congregation seems to be one way of calling, but to Luther’s mind certainly not the sole way of calling. He was never called by a congregation.

  4. “The LCMS has created many programs to put men into the preaching office; DELTO (Distance Education Leading to Ordination); AR (Alternate Route); SMPP (Specific Ministry Pastoral Program), and others.”

    Since Rev. Wurst’s sentence leads off the paragraph, which “also” lists other activities that reject the Lutheran Confessional position just as much as the XXXA stands condemned for its ordination of pastrixes, is it reasonable to conclude that these programs mentioned in the leading sentence are regarded to be just as anti-Confessional?

    Yet these programs, (DELTO, AR, SMPP, Colloquy, etc.) have been and continue to be carried by…. the LCMS seminaries. Has any LCMS seminary stood up and said “No” to these programs? If not, then is it time for President Harrison to use his “tools and authority to correct the problems stemming from [the seminaries’ (including the seminary presidents’ and Board of Regents’)] rejection of Augustana XIV” by their participation in such programs, especially if “it is about theology”?

    “If the erring person refuses to confess his sin and repent (turn from evil), he must be removed from the Church (Matthew 18)”

    To avoid any potential confusion, the “tools and authority” given to the Synod President are not to remove a person or congregation from “the Church” but to remove a person or congregation from membership in the Missouri Synod. The Synod is not a church, but a man-made corporation organized to help and support individual church workers and churches who are members of the synod. Those leaders or educators in the synod who refuse to confess their sins and repent would need to be removed from the church by their pastor and congregation of which they are members.

  5. A retired pastor has not renounced his ordination vow at the
    age of 65. His status as an emeritus in the District in which
    he retired, allows the District President to use him as pulpit
    supply for vacationing pastors or as an interim pastor for a
    vacant parish in the calling process. The use of retired pastors
    in Word and Sacrament ministries is not something new,
    instead it has been going on during the history of the LCMS.

  6. @Dave Likeness #5

    Dave..I disagree with you. Your response is a typical LCMS response. Your response echos the by-laws you’ve grown to learn and understand. I am truly sorry that you, me, and every other person in the LCMS must deal with false-truths pumped into our congregations and lives.

    Can this falsehood be reversed? I know all things are possible with God. He promises us. He will work through faithful men and women in His holy Church to bring His Church back around to the truth.

  7. Just this past week, for example, in Treasury we read Luther’s words: “Therefore everyone [who preaches] must realize that he has been sent. That is, he must know that he has been called; he dare not venture to sneak into the office furtively and without authorization. The sending is done through man, for example, when a city, a prince, or a congregation calls someone into office. But at the same time the person is sent by God.” The call from the congregation seems to be one way of calling, but to Luther’s mind certainly not the sole way of calling. He was never called by a congregation.

    WHat is your reference to Luther Rev. Weedon?

  8. @Carl Vehse #4

    Mr. Vehse, Regarding your questions about the seminaries and these other programs, I regret they are only doing what the political machine of the LCMS directs them to do. I wonder what would have happened if the seminaries said “NO” to the Synod in convention by refusing to establish the SMPP program? Their actions would have been confessional for sure but I wonder how many of them would be working at Wal-Mart, Home Depot or some other organization because they refused to institute false practices?

    Regarding your second comment on Matthew 18, I agree with you. The discipline would have to be accomplished through the congregations where the person worships. The polity of the LCMS doesn’t allow for the Synod to excommunicate.

  9. Pr. Wurst, while I can agree with you up to a certain point that we have sometimes in the LCMS been less than correct in our interpretation of AC XIV, I must say that your interpretation is no less flawed. Certainly your description of how AC XIV has been interpreted in the LCMS “The LCMS has always held that a pastor was a man who was educated (seminary residency), examined, called (Divine Call), and ordained. She was serious about Augustana XIV. No one was to publicly teach or preach in the Church, nor administer the sacraments in the Church, without a regular call (rite vocatus).” is AN historical interpretation, but it is certainly not THE only one. In fact “rite vocatus” is taken from the Latin TRANSLATION of the official German Book of Concord (1580), and it does not fully develop the true meaning of the term “ordentliche Berufung” which might more specifically be translated as “proper vocation”. How men have been put or allowed into this “vocation” has of course changed dramatically over the centuries. Even during the Orthodox Reformation men were ordained and installed without “seminary educations” but rather under “apprenticeships” and “university educations”. Princes and town councils selected men for the pulpits. Even Luther himself was never “called or installed” to a particular parish. My only point here is that while we have perhaps gone a bit astray in our practices, there is no ONE practice that is ordained in Scripture, prescribed in the Symbols, or practiced uniformly in history. AC V correctly identifies the Scriptural basis for the office, and AC XIV establishes the fact that only those who have the “proper vocation” may fill the office. Our American LCMS polity has always been peculiar in how we determine who may or may not fill the office. While Scriptural mandates from Timothy and Titus are prescriptive, they are not descriptive and we have in fact invented our own “call process” theory to determine “proper vocation”. While it is good and salutary as long as it meets the Scriptural prescription, and is orderly, it is not the ONLY way to do things.

  10. Pastor Wurst, first saw this blog post at “Four and Twenty+ Blackbirds”, guess the discussion is at BJS. I’d like to put in my thoughts as a layman. Per Michaels first post and your response – Sorry, your solution just will not work where I’m living. No way to drive my family 100+ miles every Sunday for the Divine Service. Just don’t have LCMS congregations on every other corner in this part of the world. Further, my congregation cannot call a full time pastor. Unless you would like to come and be our new pastor? We can pay some mileage for visitations and some housing allowance. Other than that you’d be on your own. Therefore I need another solution than the one you offered if I am to keep my family fed in the Word.

    Dave Likeness puts his finger on it. A retired pastor has not renounced his ordination vows. The education and examination part doesn’t enter into it. A Call implies a specific place or situation – changing or leaving one call does not make you laity. Thank God for retired pastors who assist my congregation when needed. (Thought of something else, I would expect that you would not be in favor of a called pastor who has his call at another church doing the pastor thing at my church some Sunday when don’t have our own pastor – no call no preach/teach, right?)
    As Rev Erv Hutter pointed out, over the years there has been different ways to enter the ministry. I think the real issue at stake is the quality of education/examination, not the way it is acquired. I have never liked nor approved of the lay ministry concept from the beginning. Whether DELTO, AR, SMPP or whatever, these have left so much to be desired. At the moment, the “pastor” at the closest congregation to mine in the other directions is a jerk who went through one of these programs. He is driving out the confessionals from that place at quite a fast rate.
    Wish I had the answer, but resigning from a call is different from resigning from your ordination. We have 2 great seminaries; I pray that synod and individual congregations and people will support them so that they may continue to provide faithful men for the vocation of pastor. (We’ll leave discussions about 1 or 2 sems and what the curriculum should be off to the side for now). Pax.

  11. Another kind of ministry practiced in the Missouri Synod is IIM (Intentional Interim Ministry, through training courses offered at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. The IIM differs from a vacancy pastor and from a “temporary divine call,” which is not permitted in the LCMS.

  12. Pastor Wurst makes the following comment in post #2
    “A man who has retired has in fact resigned his Divine Call
    and has chosen to no longer serve the Lord.”

    “he has chosen to no longer serve the Lord.” is a statement
    that insults every retired LCMS pastor. Most retired pastors
    do not stop serving the Lord. Besides serving as pulpit supply
    and vacancy pastors, they visit nursing homes to share Christ
    with the lonely and lead Bible studies there. Some chose to
    serve the Lord by writing devotional books or bringing meals
    to the home-bound. REGARDLESS OF HIS AGE, NO PASTOR
    EVER STOPS SERVING THE LORD…until he is called to his
    eternal home in heaven.

  13. Pr. Wurst,

    The writing cited is from AE 22:482 – Luther’s sermons on the Gospel of John.

  14. Isn’t it possible for a congregation to “call” a retired pastor to do specific functions (vacancy preaching, administration, etc) even if in a retired capacity to avoid any conflict w/ XIV?

  15. Dave Likeness puts his finger on it. A retired pastor has not renounced his ordination vows. The education and examination part doesn’t enter into it. A Call implies a specific place or situation – changing or leaving one call does not make you laity. Thank God for retired pastors who assist my congregation when needed. (Thought of something else, I would expect that you would not be in favor of a called pastor who has his call at another church doing the pastor thing at my church some Sunday when don’t have our own pastor – no call no preach/teach, right?)

    Point of clarification Matthew: I didn’t say a retired pastor renounced his ordination when he retires. I said he resigned his Call which removes him from the preaching office.

    The important word is Call. The Call is how the Lord puts a man into te preaching office. Also, when a man resigns from the preaching office, he is laity. He is no longer a pastor. You cannot be both.

    If there is a called servant in the area, he can come to your congregation because he is called. When the preaching office is vacant, the people can go where another called pastor is or they can ask him to come to them; it’s te dual-parish scenario, or a smaller version of the old circuit rider. In the old days, a pastor would go around to parishes that were without a shepherd and bring the Word & Sacrament to them. His visits might not be every week but he would come.

  16. I definitely think you are limiting the meaning of call in a way that the composer and original confessors of the Augustana would not recognize as legitimate. Again, what do you do with Luther and his lack of any call that you would apparently recognize?

  17. @Dave Likeness #12

    Dave,

    Forgive me if my statement about serving the Lord. This post is about the Divine Call. Certainly, a man can serve the Lord after his time as the pastor is complete. However, I am speaking directly to the pastorate.

    A man who retires from serving resigns his Call. Thus, he should not be filling pulpits or serving vacancies. These tasks need to be done either by the Circuit Rider or a pastor in the nearby community.

  18. As this discussion continues, I am asking the BJS readers to focus your attention more on the people who have not studied the doctrine, been examined or Called to serve in the preaching office.

    Let us turn our energy to those who covet the preaching office such as layman or those in the “lay ministry” programs and situations.

  19. Pastor Wurst – I’m from North Carolina, and it doesn’t matter how manny churches there are near me. The 100 mile trip thing was an example. There are plenty of places in this country or around the world where there is a dearh of confessional churches.
    Being able to ttend a confessional church is a luxury, not a given for most of us.

    I do not agree that resigning a call removes you from the preaching office. If that were true, then anyone who loses a call or resigns from a call, or is in between calls would be laity and must become a pastor all over again. Go back to sem for another 4 or so years, do the vicarage thing, get re-ordained and then what happens if there is no immediate call? Start the process all over again I expect.

    As much as I do not like these alternate routes to the vocation of pastor, I cannot follow your logic. No call is a call to be a pastor to the whole world. Calls are local, specific things. Your logic demands that not being a pastor when you do not have a call = that no other pastor may preach/teach in one congregation if he has a call in another congregation. Circuit riders would be incorrect. Fill-in pastors would be incorrect. Sorry, I am not convinced that not having a call invalidates a pastor from doing pastor stuff.

  20. “A Call implies a specific place or situation – changing or leaving one call does not make you laity.”

    Here’s something on the subject from C.F.W. Walther’s Draft of a Paper on Church and Ministry (Preaching Office) (1):

    “The question came up in connection with ordination: if the preacher could still exercise the functions of the Office, in the same way as if he were still in the Holy Office, when he is no longer in the Office. The answer to this was that a distinction needs to be made. If the preacher is driven out of his Office against his will, because of God and the truth, then in this case he is still the lawful bishop of the congregation that has driven him out. If he has laid down his Office voluntarily, then in that case he lost all the authority of the Office. If the Call of the congregation has ended, to which he was called, then his Office authority ends, because there is no universal Call for the whole Church; only the Apostles had this Call. [emphasis added]

    “On the question if the ordination needs to be repeated, if the preacher returns to the Office, the answer was that one has as little reason to hold to the necessity to repeat the ordination, as it is to think that ordination is pointless because it is not commanded. Meanwhile, the instillation into the Office is no different from ordination, i.e. the churchly confirmation (acknowledgement) of the vocation.

    (1) Kirche and Amt at the 1851 Synodical Convention, Synodal-Bericht (1851), 169-171. Literal translation by Gerald Paul, found in Rev. Todd Peperkorn’s STM Thesis, Appendix III.

    Perhaps Walther may have remembered an incident a dozen years earlier, described in a book published in 1840 in Dresden:

    “On 30 May, therefore 25 days after the first revelations, Stephan was deposed by the council of the reverend clergy, who actually were not of the clergy at all, but rather citizens and farmers, as we were, since they had relinquished their office in Europe and had no regular call, only the irregular one from Stephan.”

  21. To all BJS readers,

    I apologize to you all if I caused an offense in the direction concerning men who’ve retired. I meant no disgrace to these men in their years of retirement.

    If I caused you distress or offended you with lack of clarity, I ask for your forgiveness.

    May God’s peace be with you all.

    Pastor Wurst

  22. @Carl Vehse #22
    If there is no difference between Ordination and Installation, why have we always held the two differently in our church books? Should installation then have the laying on of hands, which of course does have biblical precedent for putting one into office?

  23. It seems to me that we Missourians have tended to read back into the Lutheran Symbols an understanding of “call” which does not entirely correspond to that of the Symbols. In a word we have tended to confuse election and “call.” The election of a person as pastor of a particular congregation is by no means the same as the call, more precisely the “rite vocatus,” of CA XIV which is speaking of the whole process including ordination whereby a person is placed into the pastoral office. This is clear in the light of the fact that the Papal Confutation in fact approved Article XIV which it would never have done had the papal party understood Article XIV to be referring to simple election by a congregation. Where the papal party differed from the Lutheran Confessors was in its insistence on the necessity of ordination by a bishop. Although expressing the desire of the Lutheran Confessors to retain episcopal polity, Melanchthon in Article XIV of the Apology responds to the Confutation by denying that episcopal ordination is necessary by divine right. And when one is rite vocatus he is called not simply to serve a particular church but placed into the pastoral office of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church as our present ordination rite makes plain. The ordination rite in the old Lutheran Agenda – the rite with which I was ordained – also makes this clear when the ordinator says: “I now commit unto thee the holy office of the Word and Sacraments, I ordain and consecrate thee a minister of Christ’s holy church.” Only then does the ordinator go on to add: “and install thee as pastor of this congregation.” The ordination rite in Synod’s German Agenda also has the ordinator speak of conferring the office of the Word and Sacraments of the triune God. Ordination places the candidate for the holy ministry into the pastoral office, installation designates where he is to exercise that office. When a pastor moves to another parish his ordination is not repeated since he is already rite vocatus; he is simply installed to show where he is to exercise the office belonging to the whole Church which was conferred on him once for all. Kurt Marquart writes, “Ordination signals a man’s entry, life-long, into the sacred ministry of Christ’s Gospel and Church, while installation places him into a particular charge” (The Church and Her Fellowship, Ministry, and Governance [Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics IX]), p. 159. Bishop Emeritus Jobst Schoene of our sister Church in Germany, in his very fine study The Christological Character of the Office of the Ministry and the Royal Priesthood has this to say: “In Luther’s understanding, the divine call and the effective authorization is precisely realized by ordination, not so much by the preceding vocatio (call) of the local congregation”(p. 4) In his magisterial study, The Sacred Ministry and Holy Ordination in the Symbolical Books of the Lutheran Church (The Church: Selected Writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn), pp. 63ff. Dr. Arthur Carl Piepkorn convincingly demonstrated that the rite vocatus of CA XIV includes ordination. It seems to me that we Missourians have tended to confuse “election” by a local congregation with “call.” The “election” is repeated whenever one moves to a new sphere of ministry, but “call” in the sense of Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession is once and for all. And so our district presidents do not cease to be pastors simply because they have not been elected to serve a local congregation: they are still pastors with another sphere of ministry. Nor do retired pastors or pastors between assignments cease to be incumbents of the pastoral office of the one holy Church for they remain “rite vocatus.”

  24. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #24 There has undoubtedly been a tendency in Synod to confuse ordination and installation, but the authorized service books of Synod have successfully maintained the distinction. I am tempted to cite the old – but not uncontroversial! – axiom, “Lex orandi, lex credendi/The rule of prayer is the rule of belief,” or to speak with greater clarity: How we pray shows what we believe. It is also interesting to note that long-standing practice in Synod has not been in conformity with the theologoumenon that a once ordained pastor somehow ceases (!) to be a pastor if he is not in possession of a “call” from a local congregation. And so retired pastors have always excercised the ministry of the Gospel and Sacraments in our churches and district presidents have continued to preach and administer the Sacraments even though most of them have not in recent years been in possession of a “call” from a local congregation. I am personally convinced that much of the problem is a confusion of election (by a local congregation) with call in the sense of Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession. Dr. Norman Nagel’s article, The Divine Call in Dr CFW Walther’s Die Rechte Gestalt (Concordia Theological Quarterly July 1995) does much to clarify this whole matter: election by a local congregation is by no means the same as the “call.” If you have not read Dr. Nagel’s article, I would strongly suggest that you do so. It is not easy reading but it is a magisterial treatment of the subject. I hope and pray that Synod will in due course repudiate the action of the 1989 convention with its utterly cavalier treatment of Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession together with all the terrible abuses which have followed.

  25. Regarding what C.F.W. Walther said in 1851 about ordination and installation, the 1851 synod convention approved (Proceedings, Vol. 1, p. 172). There is no indication in the Official Doctrinal Statements of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod: Years 1847-1998 that the resolution was overturned.

    Some other related doctrinal resolutions from 1851, Proceedings, Vol. 1:
    p. 172 — Installation and ordination serve the same purpose: to confirm the call.
    p. 172 — It is wrong to necessitate or to forbid re-ordination, since ordination is not commanded.

    Some related doctrinal resolutions from 1863, Proceedings, Vol. 2a:
    p. 52 — Ordination is not instituted by God, but it is preserved for the sake of good order.
    p. 52 — The article of justification is endangered if the validity of Word and Sacrament is bound to ordination. One can never know if a pastor is properly ordained through apostolic succession.
    p. 54 — The witness of the Church at ordination continues throughout the pastor’s life. The Church sets the man aside for the office for life.
    p. 55 — It is inconsistent that ordination is not repeated every time a man receives a call; this only shows that ordination is an adiaphoron.
    p. 55 — There is no essential difference between ordination and installation.

  26. The distinction between the position on church and ministry of C.F.W. Walther and the Missouri Synod, on one hand, and the positions of J.A.A. Grabau and J.K.W. Loehe on the other, are provided in a April, 2002 paper, “Church and MInistry,” by Dr. George F. Wollenburg. An addendum of the paper provides lists of selected positions on church and ministry of Grabau, Loehe, and Walther.

  27. @Carl Vehse #11
    “The IIM [Intentional Interim Ministry] differs from … a “temporary divine call,” which is not permitted in the LCMS.”

    What does this mean? How does IIM differ from a temporary call? (I can certainly see how it cannot be divine.)

  28. @Pastor Ted Crandall #29: “What does this mean? How does IIM differ from a temporary call? (I can certainly see how it cannot be divine.)”

    The distinction between an “intentional interim call” and a “[deliberate] temporary call” began with the subtle nuances in the CTCR February, 2003 report, “Theology and Practice of the Divine Call“, particularly in the Section, “Length of a Call.” These nuances were also questioned in an April, 2003, report, Minority Opinion,” by Kurt Marquart and Walter Lehenbauer, who stated:

    If adopted, the new theology would be the first official break—foreshadowed, to be sure, by decades of loose practice—with our Synod’s previous stand on the matter throughout its history. Indeed, the whole Synodical Conference from the beginning held that “the toleration of temporary calls for pastors” was a “practice contrary to the confession, and therefore a bar to church fellowship” (CTCR Report Theology of Fellowship, 20). Unlike other CTCR reports, merely recommended by the Synod for study, etc., this one was formally “adopted” as its position by the Synod in 1967).

    The misconception of the “intentional interim ministry” will likely be one of the items eliminated by the Synodical President… any day now.

  29. @Pastor John Wurst #13
    I believe it was Walther who once said that if you live within 100 miles of a faithful Lutheran congregation, to consider yourself blessed. Mind you, that would have been 100 miles on horseback or in a buggy. It seems he did not find excuses of distance to be very valid reasons to not attend a faithful church.

  30. I would like to reaffirm what Pr. McClean has shared above. That reflects my read of the history as well.

  31. Dr. Kurt Marquardt in his Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics
    Volume IX clears up the confusion and misinformation in Post #16.

    The assertion that a retired pastor becomes a layman is wrong.
    Marquardt states, “Ordination signals a man’s entry LIFE-LONG into the
    sacred ministry of Christ’s gospel and church.” “To be properly called
    (rite vocatus) in the sense of AC XIV is to have been found personally
    and theologically qualified and to have been solemnly entrusted by the
    church and LIFE-LONG with the divinely established Gospel ministry.”
    pages 159, 160

  32. Dr. Robert Preus: If you say that ordination makes a man a minister, you are simply denying Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession. And I don’t care what the professor’s name is.

    In the Lutheran thinking, to Luther and to Chemnitz—both of whom were authors of the Lutheran Confessions, and I assume Melanchthon agrees with them—ordination was essentially the ratification of the call. To say the call was a legitimate call, the man had been examined properly and the congregation was satisfied that he was worthy of the call, in the sense that he was fully prepared. Now that type of guarantee is given today by the seminary. In those days it was given by the University of Wittenberg, let’s say, and then a consistory or group of people would examine that man and only after the examination would he be ordained in a public service. Chemnitz makes that very clear; I’m sure Luther does, too.

    So the Lutheran view on this thing is crystal clear: it is the call that makes a man a minister and nothing else. And they called the ordination, the laying on of hands, the rite of ordination—whatever that rite happened to be—they called that an adiaphoron.

    We have had men in our church, for instance, Melanchthon, who was never ordained. Are you going to call him a layman?! Well, we had a professor down at the Saint Louis seminary who called him a layman. But I think his ecclesiology and doctrine of the ministry was somewhat Romish. Melanchthon wrote the confessions of the Lutheran church. He was a public preacher of the Word. He preached, he preached, he preached. I remember once he preached such a poor sermon that Luther dragged him out of the pulpit and finished the sermon for him. He was up there publicly preaching the Word and he was a public teacher of the church and I don’t care whether he was ordained or not, he was called and he was a minister! And if you say he isn’t a minister, you have a Romish idea of what constitutes the ministry.

    Professor [Martin] Franzmann of the Saint Louis seminary—one of our most well known professors—never got ordained until he left the seminary. He must have been there over twenty years. He was never ordained until he went our Lutheran church of England and they said we’d like you to be ordained in this Anglican situation, it would look better. And he said fine, I’d be happy to do it. He was giving communion, he was preaching, he was serving congregations as a vacancy if they wanted him to. He was doing everything.

    Dr. Harold Buls: Dr. Preus? Professor [John] Saleska was ordained into the ministry about fifteen years after he started teaching at Saint John’s [College, Winfield, Kansas]. Remember that?

    Dr. Robert Preus: Could be.

    Dr. Harold Buls: He had never been ordained. Of course, he never had a call into the [parish] ministry.

    Dr. Robert Preus: That’s the way we were flaunting our Christian liberty in the Missouri Synod.

    Faculty Panel Discussion: “The Divine Call”
    Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana
    Panelists: Eugene Bunkowske, Harold Buls, Robert Preus, Wilbert Rosin
    Moderator: Cameron MacKenzie
    December 10, 1987

  33. @“Robert Preus Quotes” #34
    To be fair, when I was at the seminary, there were some professors who wanted to return to the practice of separating ordination and installation. They even suggested, and I liked it, that ordination be done for all graduates at the seminary by the faculty upon completion of their studies. Then the call would rightly come to the forefront as what truly makes the man a minister.

    Rightly then, even if serving in a “vacancy” type position, a pastor (retired or otherwise) should rightly be called to be the pastor of that congregation. We seem to get this in theory (but not very well in practice) when we have a congregation “sponsor” the chapel at seminary so that preaching and administering of the sacraments can be done under the auspices of a rightly called pastor and congregation.

  34. @Pastor John Wurst #2
    In Iowa East every congregation without a resident pastor is required to call the man who comes to serve them. When his time there is completed I am not sure what they do to avoid the situation were calls are issued with a time limit. I would suppose there is some kind of resignation to allow the new man recently called to come . I will have to ask our DP. But hte practice of calling the man serving a congregation without a resident pastor used to be the general practice and somehwer along the lines went away.

  35. Rev. McCall, since the Seminary presents the seminary
    graduate with a certificate declaring that he is qualified
    for ordination, it would make sense to be ordained in
    a seminary chapel service with all of his classmates.

    Some seminary grads prefer to get ordained in their
    home parish where they were baptized and confirmed.
    In some cases the home congregation provided much
    financial support for him. It is also good for the local
    congregation to see one of the sons of the parish
    become ordained and continue to pray for his welfare.

  36. A lot of personal opinions have been posted regarding the call and ordination. The definitive statement under Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions of the Missouri Synod’s understanding since 1851, and one that individuals and congregations agree to when they become members of the Synod is this:

    Das Predigtamt wird von Gott durche die Gemeinde, als Inhaberin aller Kirchengewalt oder der Schlüssel, und durch deren von Gott vorgeschriebenen Beruf übertragen. Die Ordination der Berufenen mit Handauflegung ist nicht göttlicher Einsegung, sondern eine apostolische kirchliche Ordnung, und nur eine öffentliche seierliche Bestätigung jenes Berufes. (The office of the ministry is transferred by God through a congregation, as the possessor of all church power or the keys, and through its call, which is prescribed by God. Ordination with the imposition of hands on those who have been called is not of divine appointment but is an apostolic church ordinance and merely a public and solemn confirmation of the call.)

    As Walther stated in his 1851 paper: “If the Call of the congregation has ended, to which he was called, then his Office authority ends, because there is no universal Call for the whole Church; only the Apostles had this Call.”

    LMMV (Loeheist mileage may vary)

  37. @Pastor John Wurst #13
    Matthew…What part of the world do you live?

    How many LCMS congregations are within 50 miles?

    Wrong question for confessionals! There are a dozen closer to me than 50 miles, but I’m going to the only one I would want to attend. [Entertainment LCMess is not enough!]

    I’ll sit under a retired man or a rostered CRM any day, in preference to any of the licensed acronyms.

  38. Excuse me, but perhaps I am not understanding this idea of ordaining all the men when they graduate from seminary together, at the seminary. How can seminary graduates be ordained simply because they have graduated? What about those men who did not receive a call (continuing their studies, not enough calls, etc.)? Would they be ordained too?

  39. Here are some relevant doctrinal statements from Official Doctrinal Statements of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod: Years 1847-1998

    1863 Proceedings, Vol. 2a, p. 54: Ordination is a confirmation of the call.

    1920 Proceedings, Vol. 9, p. 96: Candidates can only be ordained after receiving a call to a specific congregation and after having been tested and found sound in faith, able to teach, and irreproachable in life.

    1959 Proceedings, Vol. 44, p. 242: For the sake of good order, ordination shall take place in the presence of the calling congregation.

    Ordaining someone without a call is as useless as trying to get a fish to ride a bicycle.

    Promoting such nonsense as ordaining a graduate at the seminary before he receives a call, rather than in the presence of the congregation from whom he accepts a divine call, indicates the Grabau/Loehe sacerdotalism is still being promoted by some within the Missouri Synod.

  40. @Pastor John Wurst #2
    Words have meanings Pastor,

    “Rite vocatus” doesn’t properly translate as “right call” but “rite-ly called.” It all comes down to the Latin adverb “rite.” “Rite” is the adverbial form of the noun “ritus” which means a religious rite or ceremony, and the Oxford Latin Dictionary lists several possible meanings. The first and literal meaning of “rite” is: “with the correct religious ceremony.” “Rite” is capable of taking the meaning Tappert applied of “rightly,” but again according to the OLD, not in a cultic or religious context. When used religiously it takes the primary, literal, meaning of “with the correct religious ceremony,” (or even as a synonym of the ablative form of the noun “ritus,” “by means of the proper religious ceremony.”)

    This literal reading of “rite vocatus” is also certainly the one the Roman response to the Augsburg Confession assumes. The Roman Confutation’s only point of contention with Article XIV was that the Confessors must still use the canonical forms of the proper religious ceremony (ordination by Bishops.) If the Romans were wrong in that assumption, the Apology would certainly have corrected their error, which it does not do.

    The ceremony by which men are called to publicly teach and administer the sacraments in the church is, and always has been the laying on of hands; ordination. A retired Lutheran minister is certainly “rite vocatus.”

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  41. Dr. Strickert,

    Perhaps even more to the point than any of the citations from various Constitutions is the declaration of our own Symbols? Consider this once more, especially the implication of the emphasized text:

    Since the grades of bishop and pastor are not different by divine authority, it is clear that ordination administered by a pastor ****in his own church**** is valid by divine law.
    Tractatus 65.

    And you would say this is improper???

  42. No one has claimed on this thread that, contrary to the Treatise, ordination (of a called assistant or some other called pastor) by a pastor in his own church is not valid (i.e. that the pastor has no authority to ordain). However since ordination is not a divine command, but an ecclesiastical rite, it is left to the church or church body to consider how to conduct ordination in a manner beneficial and edifying to the church.

    Within the Missouri Synod, Bylaw Section 2.10 deals with the agreed-upon procedures for ordination within Missouri Synod churches. In 1959 it was decided that “[f]or the sake of good order, ordination shall take place in the presence of the calling congregation.” That is a proper and edifying decision.

    According to Bylaw 2.10.3 (a): “The rite of ordination or commissioning should normally take place in the presence of the congregation or other agency to which the candidate has been called.” There is an allowance for an “unusual circumstance” if the District President authorizes such deviation, “with the permission of the calling congregation or other agency.”

    It would be improper, within the Missouri Synod for a called pastor to be ordained at his seminary without the authorization of his District President and the permission of the congregation to which he has received a divine call.

  43. @Carl Vehse #39
    Two points:
    “Gemeinde” can (and was) used in both a small (congregation) and large (communion of saints) sense, so you need to be careful not to just read your favorite meaning into it’s use. I’m not definitely saying which was intended in your quote, just that there is nothing in the German you provided requiring us to translate “die Gemeinde” as “a congregation” and if anything, the definite article (mistranslated as “a”) would lead me to assume “THE” Church, rather than “A” congregation was meant.

    And, what do we do w/ 1 Tim 4:14? did bishop Timothy receive the gift mentioned by St. Paul through a mere “public and solemn confirmation” of his call? (Was it a toaster or a nice pectoral cross?) Why is only the “body of Elders” mentioned and not the all powerful voters’ assembly?

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  44. The English translation of Gemeinde in Walther’s Thesis VI on the Ministry, included in #39, was from August Graebner’s 1897 translation. W.H.T. Dau also “congregation,” J.T. Mueller used “congregations,” T.G. Tappert used “congregation,” J. Drickamer used “congregation.”

    If there are concerns about translating Gemeinde as “congregation” as well as Kirche and Gemeinschaft, Walther under Thesis I on the Church quotes and refers to what Martin Luther had to say:

    “So also the word communio, which is added, ought not to be rendered communion (Gemeinschaft), but congregation (Gemeinde). And it is nothing else than an interpretation or explanation by which some one meant to explain what the Christian Church is. This our people, who understood neither Latin nor German, have rendered Gemeinschaft der Heiligen (communion of saints), although no German language speaks thus, nor understands it thus. But to speak correct German, it ought to be eine Gemeinde der Heiligen (a congregation of saints), that is, a congregation made up purely of saints, or, to speak yet more plainly, eine heilige Gemeinde, a holy congregation. 50] I say this in order that the words Gemeinschaft der Heiligen (communion of saints) may be understood, because the expression has become so established by custom that it cannot well be eradicated, and it is treated almost as heresy if one should attempt to change a word. [(LC.49-50, from the Triglotta translation]

  45. @Carl Vehse #45
    Thanks for your clarification. It would only be improper in so far as our LCMS guidelines are concerned. I think the idea of separating ordination from installation would help make the call be seen as more important and as what truly makes the man a pastor. Since the church has the seminary train men on her behalf to be pastors it would make sense that they then ordain them on behalf of the church as well. Otherwise ordination and installation are just seen as one big lumped together mess and it is no wonder there may indeed be confusion as to what makes a pastor a pastor. Obviously we would have to change the guidelines or bylaws or whatever for this to happen, no one is arguing that. I think what the argument is, is that the current practice of ordination/installation may not be best reflective of our theology.

  46. @Rev. Steven W Bohler #41
    Let’s start with definitions. What is ordination? Ordination is simply a public ratification of a call. Pieper states that it is “a church custom or ceremony.” and “belongs to adiapohora practices”. He also rightly points out that ordination is done only after a person has a call, so no, not everyone at seminary would be ordained upon graduating. But the Church (big “C” not congregation) holds the power to ordain (as Pieper also says). So perhaps after call day or as part of call day, I think it would be neat if the candidates not only received their call papers but were also ordained by the Church, the same Church that trained them and prepared them for that call. It places a higher emphasis on the call IMO. Then installation becomes your installation as that particular congregations pastor (who has called you). Then, IMO, installation rightly becomes a bigger deal perhaps and again emphasizes and brings to the forefront the call. Otherwise I guess I just feel like the whole ordination/installation rite usually gets mashed together into one service and in the end hurts our understanding of what each one is in particular, they are two separate things as Pr. Scheer rightly points out. I’m not dying for this hill, I just think in a perfect world this would be a really neat way to do the whole ordination and installation thing. Just my opinion.

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