Great Stuff — A Whole New Can of Worms

Faculty of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Responds to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthcare Mandate

A Whole New Can of Worms

Standing before an assembly of princes at the Diet of Worms, Martin Luther famously said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against my conscience. May God help me. Amen.” When he spoke those words, the blessed Reformer knew that his life was on the line. His strong defense embodies not only the courageous spirit of Lutheranism but of Christianity throughout the ages. Indeed, the apostle Peter himself, upon threat of imprisonment and death proclaimed, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). This means that while we honor those in authority, our first allegiance must be to our Creator. This means that Christians understand their duty is to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. (Luke 20:25)

Christians gratefully recognize that temporal authority is a gift from God. We heed well the words of St. Paul who writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). Our Lord Himself did not come to establish an earthly kingdom but a heavenly one. While the government bears the sword, our only weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Christians did indeed come to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:18), but their purpose has never been to foment revolution. Rather, we come to preach a message of forgiveness, a crucified and risen Savior, who has won for us salvation and who has taught us that every human life is precious to God.

Thus, as Christians and in accordance with Scripture, we pray for those in authority. We thank God for the gift of governance, and in all things we strive to act in accordance with the law. We seek in every way to be good citizens of this land and to fulfill our civic duties. Still, we must also say to our leaders and to the world that we are also subject to another law and answer to a higher court. We confess that on the last day Christ will come to judge us all according to His holy law. This law manifests itself in our conscience by which all people act according to their perception of what is right and wrong. (Romans 2:14-15) The conscience is the internal law, as it is written in our hearts. It is our perception of God’s will. Now, it is true that our conscience may be uninformed or ill-informed. As Christians, we recognize that the conscience can err and, therefore, must be informed by God’s Word, so that it may conform to God’s will. It is true that on certain ethical issues people of good will come to different conclusions. In the New Testament we see instances of some who thought that eating meat sacrificed to the idols was a sin. Whether or not such eating was a sin was open to debate. What was not open to debate was the fact that to go against one’s conscience is always a sin. To go against conscience is to say, within oneself, “I will disobey God. My will, not His, be done.” For this reason, we must be especially respectful of conscience, for in doing so we show respect for the integrity and dignity of one another.

Now, we come to the present day debate, brought on by the “women’s preventive care” mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued this mandate with the endorsement of President Obama. According to this mandate, Catholic institutions, including hospitals, schools, and charities, will have to pay for both contraceptives and abortifacients. Some have tried to turn this into a debate on women’s rights and their access to reproductive services. And yet, we should be clear, this is not the issue.

This has been made clear by our Synod President, whose bold words echo those of Martin Luther. Appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 16, 2012, Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of The Lutheran Church –Missouri Synod (LCMS), testified, “The conscience is a holy thing,” and then added, “We fought for a free conscience, and we won’t give it up without a fight.”

To some it may seem unusual to hear such words offered up by a Lutheran pastor in defense of a presumably Roman Catholic teaching. Now, we should say without hesitation that as Lutherans we stand firmly against abortion and recognize it as a grave evil and a national tragedy. On this position we are in full agreement with the Catholic Church. We who proclaim Christ as the life of the world hold all life precious, from conception to natural death. Yet, there is still another issue which is at play, namely, that of conscience and of the religious liberty proclaimed in the Constitution of the United States.

As LCMS Lutherans, we operate preschools, grade schools and high schools. We take pride in our university system as well as our seminaries, and we perform countless works of mercy through our many charitable organizations. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s World Relief and Human Care brings needed supplies and resources to victims of famines and floods. At the grass roots level, Lutheran congregations operate food and clothing banks, provide shelters for the homeless, hope centers for the abused and medical care to the indigent. Through these and so many other ways we express our Christian faith and bring Christ’s love to our neighbor.

According to this new ruling of the HHS, all employers will be forced to provide not only contraceptives but also drugs that induce abortion. Churchly institutions that do not serve primarily members of their own church would be subject to this new ruling, except with one “accommodation.” This accommodation would allow churchly institutions to opt out of paying for this service, with the proviso that their insurance carriers would then pay for these things themselves, providing them at no cost to those covered by the institution’s policy. Christians must recognize that this accommodation is not enough. Rather than an expression of freedom, the mandate is coercive. Indeed, the very idea of an “accommodation” is troubling. Thomas Jefferson asserted that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Unalienable means that these rights cannot be given, given up or taken from us. According to our nation’s own founding documents, the government has no right to pass laws that would abridge the exercise of our religious freedom. Indeed, as Christians, we recognize that religious liberty is a gift from God. Our own church, the LCMS, was founded by men and women who left their homeland so that they could exercise their religion freely and in accordance with their conscience. And we are grateful for all the men and women who have fought to preserve this same religious freedom.

According to this unconstitutional mandate, Christians who own insurance companies will be forced to offer contraceptives and abortifacients. Christian institutions will be forced to buy insurance from companies that will also have to provide their workers contraceptives and abortifacients. While we do not share with the Catholic Church the same teaching on contraceptives, we do honor their right, according to the First Amendment, to practice their beliefs according to their conscience. Furthermore, we do stand with them entirely on the matter of abortifacients, which we hold to be the taking of human life. We fear that human life itself is being treated like a commodity. We are concerned with a mindset that thinks of human beings as a commodity, rather than as a precious good and a source of blessing in and of itself. At stake is the very dignity of our humanity.

Furthermore, this mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is by no means an isolated incident, but is part of a troubling trend in which governmental entities are demanding that religious institutions abandon their own biblical principles or else discontinue their works of charity. For instance, Christian adoption agencies are already being coerced into providing adoption services for same-sex couples. Due to conscience informed by biblical values, some agencies refuse, and as a result, adoption agencies are closed down, children are not adopted into loving families and the whole of society suffers. Terrible precedents have been set and, if allowed to stand, will forever alter the landscape of our society. Accordingly, we must ask some fundamental questions as to what type of society we wish for our children and grandchildren. Do we want to live in a world where social activities informed by religious conscience are systematically exterminated? Do we want to live in a world where the social fabric is torn apart, and an overreaching government harasses the very people who knit together our society through acts of charity and mercy? Do we want the public landscape wiped clean of religious hospitals, schools and charitable organizations?

The situation is critical. If this mandate is allowed to stand, the world will become a poorer place, those in need will needlessly suffer and our own message of Christ’s love will be silenced. This mandate, and others like it, must be resisted.

What then can we, as Christians, do? For one, we must stand in solidarity with those under assault. As citizens of this nation, we must remind our leaders of the First Amendment, which states that Congress shall make no law that prohibits the free exercise of religion. We must teach our people that we have a right to life that comes not from the government, but from God. We must support those who put themselves on the line in defense of this liberty. And we must ourselves also be willing to stand up and pay the price of our convictions, whatever that price may be. While we do all this, we will continue to be good citizens. We will continue to engage in acts of mercy. We will continue to offer up prayers and supplications on behalf of our nation and its leaders, even as we pray that they would rescind this mandate. So, finally, we say with St. Paul, may we “always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man” (Acts 24:16). May God grant us wisdom and courage in the days ahead.

Adopted by the faculty of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, February 21, 2012.

About Norm Fisher

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

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

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

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff — A Whole New Can of Worms — 24 Comments

  1. The topic of the February 20, 2012, faculty response, “A Whole New Can of Worms” (with its first paragraph devoted to explaining the double entendre) has also been discussed on the BJS thread, “The H.H.S. Mandate will Strangle the Church,” including comment #49, which provides a link to a September 20th Youtube video containing a new hard-edged message from LCMS President Matthew Harrison, “Religious Liberty: Free to Be Faithful.”

    BTW, has Concordia Seminary-St. Louis issued any faculty response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthcare Mandate? They don’t seem to have any reference to it on their website. (As I recall, the Concordia Seminary faculty issued their October, 2003, response only a few days after the December 14, 2001, CTS faculty response to the Benke/Yankee Stadium syncretism.)

    BTW2, have any pastors mentioned in their sermons (in the “Law” part of Law and Gospel) President Harrison’s February testimony before a House Committee or his subsequent statements on the subject of religious liberty and the HHS-enforced edict for church organizations to fund abortifacients? Perhaps Pulpit Freedom Sunday (October 7, 2012) might be an appropriate time.

  2. From the February 21, 2012, “A Whole New Can of Worms” (p. 2):

    “Our own church, the LCMS, was founded by men and women who left their homeland so that they could exercise their religion freely and in accordance with their conscience. And we are grateful for all the men and women who have fought to preserve this same religious freedom.”

    One wonders why this Missouri Saxon fable keeps getting foisted by the CTS faculty when it is simply not true. That it is untrue has been well established in August Suelflow’s Servant of the Word (Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 2000, p. 54), Moving Frontiers: Reading in the History of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (Carl S. Meyer, editor, CPH, St. Louis, 1964, pp. 84-85), Walter O. Forster’s Zion on the Mississippi (CPH, 1953, pp. 77, 105-112, 513, 515), Carl S. Mundinger’s Government in the Missouri Synod (CPH, 1947, pp. 63-67), Carl Eduard Vehse’s Stephanite Emigration to America (Dresden, 1840, p. 54), C.F.W. Walther’s May 4, 1840, letter to his brother, O.H. Walther (translated by Werner Karl Wadewitz, May 11, 1963, Concordia Historical Institute, St. Louis), and by Ernst Gerhard Wilhelm Keyl in his August, 1841,”Public Confession of a Stephanite“ (trans. Rev. Joel R. Baseley, pp. 13-14).

  3. The February 21, 2012, CTS faculty document, “A Whole New Can of Worms,” states:

    Appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 16, 2012, Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of The Lutheran Church –Missouri Synod (LCMS), testified, “The conscience is a holy thing,” and then added, “We fought for a free conscience, and we won’t give it up without a fight.”

    However, according to the transcript, President Harrison stated:

    “Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. The conscience is a sacred thing…

    “We fought for a free conscience in this country, and we won’t give it up without a fight.”

    In this reference to a religious person’s conscience, is there a distinction between the conscience being “sacred” and being “holy”? Or are “sacred” and “holy” simply synonyms.

  4. John Rixe :@Carl Vehse #2
    For simple layfolks who don’t have access to the references, what was the reason LCMS was founded? Thanks.

    Hahaha!!! “Simple lay folks…” Hahaha!!!

    Mr. Rixe, don’t be coy. I probably should leave this to the historians in our midst, but you asked for a simple explanation and I am quite that, so I’ll take a stab at it. 🙂

    In simple “salt of the earth” vernacular, our Lutheran ancestors first came to America because their government in Europe was trying to force the Lutherans to join the Reformed in one big happy Kumbaya — you know, like President Benke and ELCA do.

    This “Prussion Union” has been compared to the HHS Mandate, because in both cases the secular government is effectively telling the churches what to teach and believe. They could get away with that in Europe, but here in America we have the First Amendment to the Constitution supposedly protecting us from the government establishing a religion or making a law against free people freely exercising their religion.

    In case you really did mean to ask why the LCMS was founded: After our Lutheran forebears landed near St. Louis, Missouri, they spread out and established Lutheran congregations all over the Midwest. The original organization of congregations and pastors sought to work together to be better able to support missions and a seminary. And they wanted to support and defend their pastors and congregations from those who would lead them away from the Confessions — you know, like… 🙂

    (How’d I do?)

  5. @John Rixe #3: “what was the reason LCMS was founded?”

    I posted a reply to BJS yesterday, but it seems to have disappeared into some internet black hole.

    ((( moderator: Please contact me if this happens! ))))

    Rev. Crandall mentioned the Prussian Union, which was being enforced in Prussia and some other parts of Germany; Johann Grabau and his group left Prussia for America because of this.

    However, in Saxony, the Prussian Union was not being strictly enforced. As I noted in @2, the real reason Saxon men and women under Martin Stephan emigrated from Germany to Missouri in 1839 is discussed in the references provided. It was not the same reason the Deutsche Evangelische Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio, und andern Staaten (the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, today known as The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) was founded in 1847.

    In its initial Constitution and later in its 1854 Constitution, revised to include districts, the Missouri Synod stated six reasons for forming a synodical organization (see “The Missouri Synod Organized,” August R. Suelflow, in Moving Frontiers: Reading in the History of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Carl S. Meyer, editor, CPH, St. Louis, 1964, p. 149).

  6. Ernst Gerhard Wilhelm Keyl was one of Martin Stephan’s assistants during the Saxon emigration and settlement in Missouri, until Stephan was deposed at the end of May, 1839. In August, 1841, after the Altenburg Debate in April, Keyl wrote “Offene Bekenntnisse des vormaligen Pfarrers Keyl in Niederfrohna über seine Gemeinschaft mit Stephan und die darin begangen Versündigungen” (Open confession of former pastor Keyl in Niederfrohna about his association with Stephen and the sins committed therein), published in Zeitschrift für die gesammte lutherische Theologie und Kirche (edited by A.G. Rudelbach and H.E.F. Guerike, Leipzig, 1842, pp. 94-114).

    Here is an excerpt from Keyl’s ”Public Confession of a Stephanite,“ (translation by the Rev. Joel R. Baseley, pp. 13-14):

    “Oh, before God and man, how I am now ashamed of all that I had spoken that was sinful and foolish in support of the emigration!… What an impudent lie it was to assert that the Lutheran Church was doomed, not only in Saxony but in all of Germany, yes even in Europe, since there were undeniable facts revealing just the opposite. Through this assertion so many would be rejected, so many teachers and congregational members who were still clinging steadfast to their churchly confession! – What a pharisaical, selfish boast to call this bunch of Stephanites the remnant of the true Lutheran Church, since even at this time so much that was utterly un-Lutheran was being practiced among us, as was now being revealed to all the world. For under the boast of being the strictest Lutheranism, the name of God was being blasphemed and put to shame and this guise of sticking to the letter of the confession of the Lutheran Church had been shamefully abused by Stephan and turned into a snare for a most grievous misleading, into a veil for evil, into a new papacy! What impudence to declare the punishing justice of God towards our precious fatherland, yes, to a whole hemisphere, which should have struck us as doubly grave! But what was the gravest sin – would be that God’s Word was also abused, that, by doing so, we would prove the emigration was God’s will.

    “I also made myself a participant in these great sins, in that, following the lead of Stephan, I compared the emigration with Noah’s entrance into the ark, with Lot’s flight from Sodom, with the exodus of Israel from the Egyptian house of slavery.”

  7. Here’s an excerpt from C.F.W. Walther’s May 4, 1840, letter to his brother, O.H. Walther (translated by Werner Karl Wadewitz, May 11, 1963, Concordia Historical Institute, St. Louis):

    “Today I dare no more to say: our emigration was too early; the great question is whether we pastors ever should have emigrated, whether we should perhaps suffered all restrictions, if they only did not command us anything openly sinful so that we might have guarded, protected, and preserved that which was yet existent in the German congregations, as faithful shepherds. (In Saxony we were not in statu confessionis, but rather ecclesia pressa, to whom Spener always offered the above advice.) In Prussia it was a different situation. There one invited and committed apostasy from the Lutheran Church as soon as one wanted to function as a public Prussian preacher.”

  8. @Pastor Ted Crandall #11: “please provide us with pertinent quotes from the references”

    I’ve previously provided evidence from Keyl and Walther. In his “The European Background” (Moving Frontiers: Reading in the History of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Carl S. Meyer, editor, CPH, St. Louis, 1964, p. 86) Robert C. Schultz translates an editorial written by H.E.F. Guericke (in Zeitschrift für die Gesamte Lutheranische Theologie und Kirche, ed. A.G. Rudelbach and Guericke, Vol. I, 1840, pp. 127-131) including this excerpt:

    “Here only this one thing is to be added: all of these Lutheran pastors who emigrated in the year 1838 and afterwards were decisive and orthodox Lutheran Saxon pastors; some of them were in many respects very remarkable men. This is without doubt true especially of Pastor Loeber from Altenburg; when he was cornered with all of his other reasons for emigration, he himself knew of no other way finally to justify this emigration than to say that Pastor Stephan had spoken, whom God had established as the Noah, Moses, and Israel of our age. This Pastor Stephan was to be followed unconditionally so that those who remained behind would no longer deserve to be called Lutherans or brethren.”

    In his Zion on the Mississippi (CPH, 1953, pp. 105-112), Walther O. Forster discusses the real historical incentives for the Saxon emigration. Forster concludes, “The basic reason for the departure of the Stephanites from Germany was not a principle, it was a person – Stephan.”

  9. “This law manifests itself in our conscience by which all people act according to their perception of what is right and wrong. (Romans 2:14-15) The conscience is the internal law, as it is written in our hearts. It is our perception of God’s will.”

    What does this mean? God’s holy Law is our “perception of what is right and wrong,” “our perception of God’s will”? What’s all this “perception” business?

    And why the apparent refusal to speak in the language of the Church: the eternal law, the immutable will of God, divine law, revealed law, natural law?

  10. Pastor Crandall and Dr Strickert:

    This is a most interesting discussion and I  appreciate your time.  At the risk of over-simplifying, I believe you are saying that the original emigration had more of a  Stephan-cultish origin rather than a drive toward religious freedom.  Fortunately, much later on the new leaders of the settlers formed a synod of healthy, confessional churches and schools to co-operatively support missions and a seminary.  

    If this summary is correct then the quote in comment 2 is indeed a Missouri Saxon fable.

  11. [MARKED AS SPAM — extracted from spam by moderator]

    ((( NOTE: If you don’t see your comment appear, PLEASE email me! )))

    @John Rixe #3,

    The reason the Deutsche Evangelische Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio, und andern Staaten (the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, today The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) was founded in 1847 was not the same reason that Saxon men and women under Martin Stephan emigrated from Germany to Missouri in 1839.

    In its initial Constitution and later in its 1854 Constitution, revised to include districts, the Missouri Synod stated six reasons for forming a synodical organization (see “The Missouri Synod Organized,” August R. Suelflow, in Moving Frontiers: Reading in the History of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Carl S. Meyer, editor, CPH, St. Louis, 1964, p. 149).

  12. @John Rixe #15 : “I believe you are saying that the original emigration had more of a Stephan-cultish origin rather than a drive toward religious freedom.”

    It was Dr. Vehse who wrote it in his book!

    “In Bremen the ‘Poems of Exile’ [written by O.H. Walther] came to light; never had toadying to a person been carried so far as in these verses. Sad to say, they were the keynote of the essential cult, the idolatry of Stephan, which quickly developed at sea and on the Mississippi, and in St. Louis came to disgraceful culmination. (p.7)

    “The ecclesiastic intruded into every human tie. The man no longer had authority over his wife; she must first love God, then the pastor, and then her husband. Thus also the ecclesiastic intruded between parents and children, relatives, friends; and he had to order, approve, and know everything; there could be no confidences between spouses, relatives, or friends. Duties humanly respected, such as gratitude, were lightly disparaged if they did not fit into the system; human ordinances to which Christians also should be subject, were ridiculed and buried. Truly, already in Saxony we already were a sect!” (p. 136)

    Don’t waste time with Rast’s paper. Instead read Forster’s Zion on the Mississippi, or Dr. Carl Eduard Vehse’s The Stephanite Emigration to America With Documentation, or if you know German, Die Stephan’sche Auswanderung nach Amerika: mit Actenstücken (Dresden, 1840).

    In his 1999 paper, “Demagoguery or Democracy? The Saxon Emigration and American Culture” (p. 247) Rast provides the definition, “a demagogue specifically uses oratory to create factions and parties among his hearers to serve his own ambitions.” After discussing a book by Nathan Hatch, which has nothing to do with the Saxon emigration under the demogogic leadership of Martin Stephan, Rast then announces his conclusion (p. 263): “All of this is to say, simply, that if there was a demagogue among the Saxons, it was Vehse.” This is an utterly ridiculous Hatch-et job.

    While Vehse was in Missouri he had only two supporters (H. Fischer and G. Jaeckel) for his Protestation document. Not even his brother-in-law, Adolph Marbach, supported him. Vehse left with his daughter in December, 1839, to return to Germany. Ha-ha! Some demagogue!! Rast’s fairly tale notion is refuted in the books by historians Walter Forster and Carl Mundinger, and by Walther himself.

  13. @Robert #14 raises some good points about another excerpt from the CTS faculty’s “A Whole New Can of Worms” (remember that document from the beginning of this thread?)

    Is the conscience the internal law, or does the conscience bear witness to the work of the law (Romans 2:14-15)? Or are these equivalent? and what about this “perception” thing?

  14. It is not the responsibility of the church or its pastors to campaign from pulpits. In fact, by law, a congregation or denomination is forbidden by their tax exempt status from getting involved in politics. But Christians in society are called upon to stand up for the truth; to proclaim the truth; to exercise their right to vote.

    Dale A. Meyer
    We the People: Citizens of Two Kingdoms
    LHM Men’s Network
    2010

  15. Readers should know that Carl Vehse, the real one, turned tail and ran when the going got really rough. Rather than remaining to support his brothers and sisters who truly were in dire straights here in the USA, he abandoned them all and returned to Germany.

    So, he was not quite the bold, heroic figure some would like us to believe he was.

  16. In his book, Walter O. Forster notes:

    “In the early months of 1840, Löber, Keyl, and Bürger drew up a formal withdrawal of their condemnation of Vehse’s various writings, and on June 29 they sent the letter to the St. Louis congregation. The three pastors admitted their unjust insinuations had been aimed at Vehse, and that they themselves had merited the distrust of the people, to whom they herewith apologized.” (p. 512)

    We now await whether a Missouri Synod book publisher will show similar contrition to that of the founders of the Missouri Synod for his unChristian maligning of Dr. Vehse.

    In the meantime, C.F.W. Walther explained Carl Vehse’s contribution to the Missouri Saxons at the Altenburg Debate:

    “With deep gratitude I must here recall that document which, now almost a year and a half ago, Doctor Vehse, Mr. Fischer, and Mr. Jaeckel addressed to us. It was this document, in particular, which gave us a powerful impulse to recognize the remaining corruption more and more, and to endeavor to remove it. Without this document — I now confess it with a living conviction — we might have for a long time pursued our way of error, from which we now have made our escape. I confess this with an even greater sense of shame, because I first appeared so ungrateful toward this precious gift of God.” (William J. Schmelder, “Walther at Altenburg”, Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, Vol. 34(3), October, 1961, pp. 65-81, referring to Walter A. Baepler, A Century of Grace, CPH, 1947, pp. 47-48, quoting from J.F. Koestering, Auswanderung der saechsischen Lutheraner in Jahre 1838, ihre Niederlassung in Perry-Co., und damit zusammenhaengende interessante Nachrichten, A Wiebusch u. Sohn, 1867, pp. 43-45)

    Walter Forster had this to say about Carl Vehse’s contribution to the Missouri Saxons (and the Missouri Synod):

    “[A]ttempts to discredit and minimize his [Vehse’s] contribution have frequently been made in either or both of two forms: first, that of stressing the sense of pique, frustration, and resentment which he betrayed in the admininstrative phase of the quarrel; secondly, that of ignoring as fully as possible his real, individual contribution in the theological field. The latter is accomplished by giving much of the credit which should belong to Vehse, to C.F.W. Walther, who almost two years later defended a viewpoint strikingly similar to that expressed in the first instance by none of the clergymen, but by the doctor of laws.” (pp. 436-7)

    After providing information about Vehse’s return to German on December 16, 1839, Walter Forster concludes the chapter, “Retrenchment and Reappraisal”:

    “It was obvious that Vehse, H.F. Fischer, and Jäckel had stood alone–not in their disenchantment with Stephanism, but in their ability to see where the root of their problem lay and in the courage of their convictions. The shabby treatment they received from the pastors, the evasion practiced by the ministers in their one meager reply, and the continuance of the system favored by the clergymen, met with not a single formal protest from the other colonists. Criticism of Vehse was easy, criticism of the pastors called for more independence of spirit than most as yet possessed. Opposition to the clergymen and their supporters was to become general, but not until later.” (p. 472)

  17. Post #1 mentioned a new Youtube video by President Harrison, “Religious Liberty: Free to Be Faithful.” The video dealt with the same topic as the CTS faculty statement–the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthcare Mandate–and the LCMS response to it.

    With regard to the title of the CTS faculty response, “A Whole New Can of Worms,” there was a brief statement made by Pres. Harrison that could be considered as opening another can of worms, which will have to be dealt with, such as during the Koinonia project, as if that effort doesn’t already have an ark full of issues to deal with. The statement occurs at 2:52 into the video:

    “We know that there are Democrats and Republicans at our altars. There are independents. There are people who don’t vote; all in this Missouri Synod. We are not telling you how to vote. We are telling you however that Christians need to be informed about the religious freedom challenges that are upon us; and it’s not going to get easier into the future, no matter who’s elected.”

    Whether the first sentence refers to some Missouri Synod pastors (“at our altars”) belonging to the Democrat Party, or whether it is a broader reference to some members of Missouri Synod congregations belonging to the Democrat Party, such an assertion is categorically equivalent to a claim that some Missouri Synod Lutherans belong to the National Atheist Party, the Communist Party-USA, the American Nazi Party, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Brotherhood in America, etc. A Lutheran can not remain consistent with his Christian faith and support or be a member of any of these anti-Christian organizations, including the Democrat Party.

    Pointing out this problem was not the objective of President Harrison’s video; but by publicly opening this can of worms (made evident by some of the political bumperstickers on cars in church parking lots), President Harrison has acknowledged its existence and therefore added it to the agenda of issues the Missouri Synod needs to face.

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