Women’s Ordination — Getting Lost in Hypotheticals – by Dcs. Mary Moerbe

Associate Editor’s Note:  This article was written for us by Deaconess Mary Moerbe, the wife of Rev. Ned Moerbe, who serves in Oklahoma.  It is wonderful to have faithful women who confess the truth against the heresy of women’s ordination.

 Women’s ordination is a topic people like to talk about. Whether they whisper it in hushed tones, like some scandalous insider, or they shout out comments in meetings or Bible studies, this conversation is happening over and over again. Again and again I hear men talking about it as a woman’s issue, as though they are suddenly chivalrous to take up the battle. But it is neither chivalrous nor a woman’s issue.

Those who are pro-women’s ordination got sidetracked and lost in hypotheticals:

  • What if Paul were a chauvinist?
  • What if a few cultural concessions slipped into Scripture?
  • What if the entire history of the church got something wrong!
  • What if we feel called in our hearts toward change?
  • What if God is just waiting for us to right this wrong?
  • What if we just ordain women now?

So let’s briefly address these. If Paul were a chauvinist God was wrong to choose Paul to write Scripture. The next one, “maybe a few cultural concessions slipped into Scripture” also insinuates that God is neither careful with His Word or us. They blame God for shortcomings while touting modern man as superior.

“What if we feel called in our hearts toward change? What if every other age got it wrong but this is finally our chance to set things right?!” Then read Scripture and remember that even the church can whore after other gods. Hearts betray all the time. Unless we are also to cut from Scripture Matthew 14:18-19, Mark 7:21, Luke 6:45, etc, and all the other places that speak of our sinfulness and corruption coming precisely from within.

Of all the lists that refer to what come from the heart, Scripture certainly does not list church reform or doctrinal refinement. Instead we are warned to guard ourselves! The church is not to trust herself over her husband Christ.

“What if we simply ordain women” presumes that people are the ones who choose and create. It is an affirmation and institutionalizing of confusion and emphasis on humanity over God. It entices uncertainty for those who read Scripture, scoffs at those who believe in God’s work in the past, and once again seems to place the holy ministry as a special class of people apart from ordinary people.

People only participate so far in ordination. God does not call women to be pastors and so there are no female pastors. The ministry is not a way to get closer to God, but a life of self-sacrifice as all Christian lives must be. Christ does not call us to confusion or emphasis on what we can gain for ourselves, especially not in the name of the church. Instead only a small number of men are placed into the Ministry to ensure that the flock gets fed, freed and bound when necessary.

By all means, let us be sensitive to people, merciful, and active toward justice! But God is not waiting for us to right a great social wrong, before He acts powerfully through His church. God is not waiting for us to get His church in order so that He can come again and finally be proud. God is not finally getting around to editing His Word so that it can finally say what He meant two thousand+ years ago.

The pro-women’s ordination thought pattern is not one about gender at all. At best it is infidelity and a lack of submission within marriage. Ephesians 5 is absolutely clear that it is Christ who prepares and sanctifies His church, not “do-gooders” pushing women’s ordination. It is Christ who sacrifices and the church who receives, not men or women purifying the church by demanding equal representation and judging her based on supposed rights.

Who is the Church and who is her Husband? Couching the ordination of women in terms of gender does not make this more relevant or personal to me. It doesn’t make me as a woman more in “touch” with women’s ordination as an issue. All it tells me is that the individual is spouting political rhetoric I already associate more with social experimentation than with actual real and daily life. I associate it with representation of the people and certainly not representation of Jesus Christ, born a male child, circumcised on the ninth day.

These false teachers and petty speculators do not see what they are doing. They do not see that Galatians 3:28, the beautiful passage that teaches we are all incorporated in Christ, that in Him all believers are the firstborn male inheritor, gets cruelly twisted in their efforts to undermine gender. They’ve gotten lost in another hypothetical, abstracting gender! (Ahem, how are babies made again? Genders are still involved.)

Let this passage speak of Christ, not physical distinctions! Let us teach the full revelation of the Gospel and not get sidetracked and lost in “what ifs.”

I have been blessed with a wonderful husband. If I were to listen to third party accounts of what he’d like from me, I could get in a lot of trouble. As his wife, the least I can do is wait to hear from him before I run off and do something drastic.

The church is the bride of Christ. When Christ comes and shows us His hands and His feet, and then tells us in concrete terms that He ordains women, we as His bride the church will listen. But when someone else comes, whispering what Christ as husband really wants from us, our radar should go off! It’s skuzzy! It’s inappropriate and sowing discontent. It undermines the church and our marriage to Christ. Often it even tries to pit the Holy Spirit against Christ and the Word of God! Awful!

Christ has faithful in different denominations. I am not trying to suggest that He doesn’t, but it seems to me that some denominations are objectively trying to make a sexier, more vibrant church to compete with Christ’s ordinary, aging wife.

Then they come to sell tricks to that church that has stayed at home, tempting her saying she is not already enough. As though enticing the wife makes the mistress more acceptable.

Thanks be to God that nothing they can do can replace the blood-bought martyrs with a more modern mistress! We may get self-conscious and have feelings of insecurity at times, but Christ is faithful to His bride. We do not need to woo our Lord with petty attempts to please desires He has never spoken. We remain who He has made us as He comes to us in Word and Sacrament. We rest in His care, even as we boldly teach our children the ways of the Lord.

God’s revelations are much more amazing than hypothetical speculations. God does so much more than we often realize! The concrete reality is that Christ gathers His Church. He is the Head. He says His piece and we hold His Word in our hands. He loves us, gave Himself up for us, sanctifies us, cleanses us by the washing of water with the word, and He Himself presents the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle in any such thing, that we might be holy and without blemish!

The emphasis is on Christ! Martin Luther taught that the Gospel of Jesus Christ—justification by grace through faith in the atoning work of Christ—is at the center of every facet of Christian teaching and every facet of Christian life. The least we can do is listen to Him and hold Him to His Word. Anyone who says the church must first do this or that is an anti-Christ. Anyone who says first we must ordain women is an anti-Christ, expecting (if not calling for) punishment that has already been poured out on Christ.

Those who presume that women can be ordained fail to recognize the blessedness of the Church. Those who are not content as the bride of Christ to receive … what more could possibly be given to them? The victory is still ours: Christ has saved His people since the dawn of time. Christ has given the holy ministry to continually bring His Word to His world.

Being the Church is the most blessed thing in the world! Let’s recognize that women’s ordination is a matter of adultery and faithlessness. Let us prayerfully guard ourselves and rest in Christ, who is the head of His Bride!


Women’s Ordination — Getting Lost in Hypotheticals – by Dcs. Mary Moerbe — 54 Comments

  1. Well, that pretty much sums it up.

    Perhaps the OWN folks will invite Deaconess Mary to speak at their conference in Oklahoma, you know, if they are actually interested in genuine discussion/dialogue.

  2. While I agree that women should not be ordained as pastors, I also think that it is not right to use name-calling (“do-gooders”) or to characterize all those who do as power-hungry social engineers. Some do seek power within the church (but so do some men), but many are mis-informed about the nature of the pastoral vocation thinking that it is a choice rather than a call. It is a confusion of two kingdoms – that which is right and just in the secular kingdom is not a guide for the spiritual one.The issue isn’t whether women should be pastors but whether ANYONE not called by Christ should be. There are plenteous examples in the Old Testament of those who thought that they were equally worthy of the priesthood as those God appointed and God rejected them, usually in pretty dramatic fashion. God selected ONLY the descendants of Aaron (not even Moses was allowed to serve as High Priest), and only the Levites. Even to the matter of carrying the Holy Things and even the framework of the tabernacle, God appointed only members of certain tribes. He does not call all men to be priests and he has not called women to do so. He is a God of order. It is a violation of the first commandment if we set ourselves as judges of His order and think to do it better. Tying the question of women pastors to the issue of marriage is not particularly useful, because there are many unmarried women. The point is we are all married to Christ as members of His body, the Church, and it is obedience to Him that is paramount. There also has to be continued teaching about the concept of vocation. It does not please God if what he has desired to be a pleasing Lily decides it is dissatisfied with that and wants to be a Willow. It is not a matter of ability or gifts. It is a matter of submission to His Will. And one that does not wish to submit to His will has no business being a pastor! Finally, there needs to be ongoing teaching about the fact that Jesus said that who would be greatest in His kingdom is the one who is the servant of all. No one is keeping women from visiting the sick, praying for others, encouraging the failing, (and if they desire to teach His Word, there are opportunities to write, teach Sunday School, etc.) But to serve at His altar is His to give not ours to take, and that is true for the men too. It is offering strange fire.

  3. The New Testament priesthood is the priesthood of Christ Himself. Christ, of course, was a man; but some who argue for the ordination of women insist that His sex is irrelevant, that a woman can act in the person of Christ as well as a man can. The differences between men and women are irreducible; men and women, by their natures, are suited to different, yet complementary, roles and functions. This does not diminish the priesthood of all believers; instead, it emphasizes the importance of different roles that all within the Body of Christ fill.

    Yet even if we disregard the differences between the sexes, as many advocates of women’s ordination do, we have to face the fact that the ordination of men is an unbroken tradition that goes back not only to the Apostles but to Christ Himself.

  4. While I agree with the heart of the essay, the Bible does include cultural aspects that are no longer relevant today (i.e. women and head coverings, especially as it related to a “married” woman in the 1st century Roman world in 1 Cor.), so I would not want to dismiss this argument out of hand. It is how we understand or interpret such cultural inclusions. God need not be blamed for being uncareful, but all Lutherans agree that the Bible is both a Divine and human document, so it reflects the cultural period in which it is written.

  5. @Brian Thomas #6
    Female Clergy would have been very culturally relevant to Pastor Timothy’s congregation in Ephesus. It was sort of non-seeker sensitive of Paul to forbid them in the Ephesian mission field. And yet, …

  6. Peggy @#2, First, I think it’s funny to be called out because I said people trying to do good in fact are not, hence “do-gooders.” 🙂 Second, I said some feel called in their hearts, which is not uncharitable. But to say this is a confusion of the Two Kingdoms suggests the ordination of women is because of a mental gap that can be corrected with teaching. I don’t believe that is particularly the case. This is as much a spiritual matter as an intellectual & culture one.

    You may think it impractical to speak in marriage terms, but this IS a matter of marriage–how the church and Christ interact. The primary marriage. Whether a person, male or female, is married doesn’t matter in the context (just as we are brothers and sisters in Christ whether or not we have biological siblings).

    I really am someone who emphasizes vocation, but if we are not clear about the church then we cannot be clear about vocations within the church. It’s that simple.

    NO ONE uncalled by God is really a pastor. I must have missed whoever you think suggested otherwise. The issue to me is that some are trying to pressure the church of Christ into faithlessness and lack of trust in Christ, her husband. I thought I was pretty clear in my post that this isn’t a gender issue.

  7. I personally think Mary gets it right by applying the doctrine of vocation to this issue. God has gifted women with many and various vocations, and recognizing that the marital relationship has a great deal of bearing on the relationship between the bride (the church), and the bridegroom (Christ) is quite helpful. Society today winces at the notion of Biblical headship, but within the church, we can find peace with it knowing God established it for our protection and benefit as women. Certainly this in no way is meant to discount or diminish the state of unmarried women, but the traditional family unit (the estate of marriage) is the model given to us by God through His Holy Word.

    For further reading on the subject, I highly recommend Mary’s book on Family Vocation:

    We have some highly gifted women in the LCMS with various viewpoints on this subject (and who approach it through various lenses), and it is a welcome thing indeed to be discussing what women CAN do in the church rather than bemoaning that one office that has not been given to them. There is certainly confusion in the LCMS over the proper roles of women, but with respect to the office of pastor, we have overwhelming uniformity in our recognition that the sacred Scriptures clearly dictate a male-only pastorate.

  8. There is a push for WO at the national level in the 2013 convention of the Lutheran Church in Australia as well. They recently held an unnoficial symposium and are now trying to get resolution, multiple if possible, put before the national convention there.

    To the US side of things. The point of this sudden push is not to succeed this time around. By making an attempt, by failing to get the resolution through or even to the national convention, the goal is to show that it is a divisive issue and hence must be “studied” at all levels from national to parish per the framework of Kononia. They will make a firm effort to exploit that. Once you open up parish level study and are not allowed to simply say “convention defeated this the LCMS doesn’t believe this now please halt this discussion” the movement will strenghten. The first serious attempt won’t come, in my estimation until the next national synod after 2013.

  9. Deaconess Kim nailed it. The LCMS should focus on
    what women CAN DO in Christ’s Church and not
    whine about what women CAN NOT DO.

    There are so many examples in both the Old and
    New Testament of women serving the Lord.
    This is where we should spend our energy as we
    search the Holy Scriptures for our role models.
    We all know there are no female pastors in the
    first century Christian Church.

  10. Just as women’s ordination has been tied to allowing ordination also of practicing homosexuals, if you focus the reasons for disallowing it only on that which applies to women (i.e. subordination of wife to husband) then you don’t also remove other non-Biblical ordinations and you don’t satisfy those who want to talk about spiritual equality of all in the eyes of God. If, however, you focus on the very definite examples where God restricts “equally qualified” categories of people or individuals from specific service to Him, then it covers both types of non-Biblical ordination as the will of God as opposed to the whim or prejudice of man. Korach is a perfect example of claiming a “right” to serve God in a particular way contrary to His Word. No one has a “right” before God.

  11. @Rev. Dave Likeness #11
    Might we start by debunking the thought process that one has to do something in Christ’s Church in order to be useful? A professor told a story one time about a woman in Bible class who, because of her husband taking a second job, was unable to continue to help at church because she had to watch her children. She was heartbroken. The pastor didn’t try to find her another way to serve in the church, he rightly told her that she was doing exactly what God wanted by being a good mother to her children. As a observation, both men and women alike easily fall into this vocational fallacy that says, “If I’m not serving in the church, I’m not really serving God.” IMO the LCMS should focus on supporting women to be the best mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, etc. they can be and be a bit more cautious about creating the impression that church work is somehow better. (Same with men too by the way)

  12. Pastor McCall, in my parish ministry I have seen
    some women who were gifted by the Lord in
    many areas. In the area of music there are
    women who want to use their God-given musical
    talent to play the organ for Divine Worship.
    There are also women who have been blessed
    with a beautiful voice and want to sing in the
    church choir. There are women who can play
    a musical instrument such as violin, flute, piano,
    trumpet and will accompany the hymns in worship.
    Music is only one small area where women want
    to serve the Lord.

  13. @Rev. McCall: excellent point. For years before coming to the Lutheran church I kept trying to find ways to give myself wholly to God. This included undergoing preparation to become a Catholic nun. Again and again I met rejection and thought that God had no place for me. After becoming a Lutheran, it became very clear that it was not by our works that we please Him or become His, but by His unmerited gift of faith in His Son. My striving had been self-focused in the guise of serving Him, and was an attempt to win His acceptance by my works and sacrifice. On the Cross He purchased us and in baptism He has made us His own. We are His creation and our purpose is to be in Christ. He is the giver and we are the receiver. He is not more pleased with the priest than the cobbler or the mother. He is pleased when we do whatever is set before us in remembrance and love for Him and are satisfied in Him and content to be His creatures and receive with thanksgiving the lot He has given us without envy for another’s.

  14. And these are the very reasons for the emphasis on the doctrine of vocation where women’s service is concerned. If God has called a woman to be a wife or a mother, then in these very vocations she IS serving God. This doctrine has been somewhat lost, and I hope we can reclaim it again. Mary’s book is an excellent contemporary companion to Luther’s teachings on this subject.

  15. Here’s an applicable link to the LCMS FAQ on headcovering, which includes an excerpt from 1 Corinthians: Concordia Commentary series (Gary Lockwood, St. Louis:Concordia Publishing House, 2000, pp. 362-3).

  16. @Rev. Dave Likeness #14
    I have no doubt about anything you say and that is wonderful! But all too often I hear both men and women downplayed and discouraged because their vocations don’t directly serve the church. Things like, “I’m a mother, but I want to start serving the Lord.” Even men at seminary used to say things like, “Well I was teacher before, but then I decided I wanted to really serve the Lord so I came to the seminary.” How wrong that is! You were serving the Lord absolutely wonderfully in your vocation as a teacher or mother! Peggy has a wonderful follow up to this:
    @Peggy Pedersen #15
    Let’s affirm people and build them up in their vocations and be cautious about possibly portraying church work as somehow more God pleasing or better. That’s all I’m saying. 🙂

  17. The issue of Women’s Ordination was settled on the
    pages of the New Testament. For most of the 2000
    years of the Holy Christian Church this Biblical truth
    settled the matter. In the 20th century some claimed
    that the Bible was misunderstood and decided to
    ordain women as pastors. The Bible has not changed,
    it is still contrary to God’s will to ordain women.

    The bottom line is this: Do we accept the truth of
    Holy Scripture on this matter or do we accept human
    reasoning to overturn it?

  18. Michael :

    Lumpenkönig :
    If the CTCR has ruled against Womens Ordination, then why should it still be an issue?

    Because some twist scripture to fit their view. They wont ever give up.

    What do those activists want to know that has not already been addressed in the “Women Pastors?” book. Let those people go join the ELCA or the LCMC. I hope Womens Ordination will not receive any attention in the Koinonia Project.

  19. To my knowledge, the finest resource available that tackles every aspect of these issues, from many perspectives and theological disciplines remains:

    “Women Pastors?”

    Here is the print version:

    Here is the Kindle version:

    The book has been reprinted multiple times and is in its third edition. It is being used around the world to inform and educate.

  20. I see that no one has answered my question. I will assume that the LCMS is unable to excommunicate these heretics. That is the problem with congregational church government.

  21. @Nicholas Leone #26
    I tend to agree w/ you. Excommunication in the LC-MS is similar to the death penalty in the US. It’s technically there, but, it’s too cumbersome to serve as a deterrent. In practice it’s quicker to wait for our heretics to retire than it is to remove them.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  22. Heretics among the clergy are dealt with in a
    different way than heretics among the laity.

    Clergy heretics are removed from their
    pastoral office.

    Lay heretics are excommunicated from
    their congregation

  23. @Rev. Dave Likeness #28

    And likewise, it would be interesting to know when the last excommunication was, and how effective it was. From what I hear it’s much more likely that the person just goes to the church down the street, with no impact on them. Or if they have strong ties in the church, they work within the church to “fire” the pastor.

  24. We need to start exercising our duty to excommunicate heretics again, and we should start with Matthew Becker, Marie Meyer, and Carol Schmidt.

  25. @Nicholas Leone #26: “I will assume that the LCMS is unable to excommunicate these heretics. That is the problem with congregational church government.”

    Wrong assumption (!) despite repeated posts on BJS pointing out that the Missouri Synod is not a church, but an organization of churches.

    Only a church within the Missouri Synod has the Scriptural authority to excommunicate one of its members or depose its pastor. Thus there is no problem with constitutional church government.

    The Missouri Synod corporation has the constitutional authority to expel an individual and/or congregation from synodical membership for violating Article VI (See Art. XIII). Whether the Missouri Synod president or a district president carries out his constitutional responsibility, when there is evidence of willful and continuing violation of Article VI, is another issue.

    Thus, if a pastor of a congregation is expelled from the Synod for heresy, the member congregation will be required to either depose him from his Divine Call or face being expelled from the Synod.

    Recently in the WELS, a congregation left that Synod rather than depose its own pastor, who had been removed from WELS membership by his district president.

    BTW, depending on the circumstances, deposing a pastor may also include excommunication.

  26. @Carl Vehse #32
    You really should consider the dishonesty of this position that you profess, if indeed you want to be honest in this regard. The very name of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod declares itself to be a church. In its constitution it ascribes to itself the powers of the Church, powers of defining and defending doctrine, expulsion (excommunication) of members, etc.

    But more importantly, is how you and all who bind themselves to the LC-MS see yourselves and your church, as the graphic boldly and proudly displayed in the side column declares:

    Still Attending Grandpa’s Church.

    To what Church does this refer? The Church that Walther built. It actually declares the LC-MS to be Walther’s Church and boldly says that this is the Church being attended.

    When this phrase is used, it is not referring to Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis, the specific congregation that Walther served. It is referring to the LC-MS.

    The regular parlance within the LC-MS at every level is consistent with this.

    The point could extend into many proofs, but the graphic in the side column says it so clearly that no further proof is needed. If you want to deal with that issue effectively, you must first come to grips with what you really believe and demonstrate in your practice and parlance.

    The WELS does likewise.

    If you address this matter honestly, it will aid in reducing the confusion that is encountered in topics of things like excommunication. If the language is muddled or duplicitous and dishonest regarding Church, it will surely carry through into matters of excommunication and all other practices.

  27. @Nicholas Leone #26
    People are right to expect that within the body of Christ true excommunication of the impenitent will and must occur. However, it is needful to understand that excommunication is not really a matter of getting rid of the bad guys. Neither is it a punishment. Rather, excommunication is acting in accord with honest and true understanding of what it means to be a saint within the body of Christ.

    The fact that this is not rightly understood within the LC-MS is demonstrated that not one person challenged a clearly false statement made within this article. It stands right in the middle of the article, but not one person commented on it.

    “Christ has faithful in different denominations. I am not trying to suggest that He doesn’t, but it seems to me that some denominations are objectively trying to make a sexier, more vibrant church to compete with Christ’s ordinary, aging wife.”

    The reason that this was not challenged is because this is the actual doctrine of the LC-MS. It has become so commonly accepted that people think that it is Scriptural.

    This little paragraph is a reflection of the LC-MS and its denial of the existence of the holy catholic Church. Walther taught this more mildly and Pieper taught this boldly.

    Do the people of the LC-MS have any clue as to what “faithful” means? Do the people of the LC-MS have any clue as to how the Scriptures and the Confessions apply this to people in the body of Christ and deny it to those who create denominations at variance with the one truth faith?

    How can true excommunication happen within a Church that says that the unfaithful are the faithful? How can a Church even begin to identify those who need to be told of their faithlessness and impenitence when such faithlessness and impenitence are not counted as conditions of self-condemnation and cutting oneself off from Christ?

    How can genuine talk concerning excommunication exist while openly denying that the Scriptures and Confessions plainly declare those who bind themselves to false doctrine and practice stand condemned and outside of God’s grace?

    When excommunication is addressed within the LC-MS, what is really meant? If excommunication is merely a transfer to another denomination in which Christ has faithful people, people who are called the faithful even though they remain in the impenitence of their false doctrine and practice, what then is excommunication but a vindictive exercise in self-righteousness?

    And if the understanding of excommunication is thus blurred on account of the blurred definition of Church, what difference does it really make whether or not women are ordained?

    If redefining the Church and the doctrine and practice of the Church and being in communion with this willful adulteration leaves people still defined as Christ’s faithful, what is the point of even discussing doctrine and practice, let alone excommunication?

    Whose Church is really being discussed and embraced?

    Again, the graphic in the side column seems to say it all.

  28. Rev. Dave Likeness :Heretics among the clergy are dealt with in adifferent way than heretics among the laity.
    Clergy heretics are removed from theirpastoral office.
    Lay heretics are excommunicated fromtheir congregation

    Clergy heretics can be excommunicated from their congregations too.

  29. Paul A. Siems :@Carl Vehse #32 You really should consider the dishonesty of this position that you profess, if indeed you want to be honest in this regard. The very name of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod declares itself to be a church. In its constitution it ascribes to itself the powers of the Church, powers of defining and defending doctrine, expulsion (excommunication) of members, etc.

    SYNOD (The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod) cannot excommunicate people from a congregation. They can only expel Ordained Ministers, Commissioned Ministers, and Congregations from membership. Expulsion of members means the synodical membership of Ordained Ministers, Commissioned Ministers, and Congregations, not individual laymen.

  30. Paul A. Siems @33: “You really should consider the dishonesty of this position that you profess, if indeed you want to be honest in this regard. The very name of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod declares itself to be a church. In its constitution it ascribes to itself the powers of the Church, powers of defining and defending doctrine, expulsion (excommunication) of members, etc.”

    Rev. Siems, your intemperate assertions may have been due to a lack of understanding about the history and polity of the Missouri Synod.

    When it was founded by C.F.W. Walther, and other pastors and clergy in 1947, the organization was named Die Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio und andern Staaten (The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States)

    Later the name was changed to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States, and then changed to “Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod” in 1947. While the Missouri Synod’s member churches are indeed part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Synod is not that church. Any artistic graphics or side columns on a Lutheran blog site do not define the Missouri Synod; its constitution does.

    For edification one may read the Missouri Synod’s constitution in the 2010 Handbook or an earlier version, such as the 1888 Handbook.

    In addition, in his Presidential Address of 1848, C.F.W. Walther noted:

    “Accordingly there can be no doubt, venerable brethren in office and respected delegates, that we are not renouncing any right belonging to us if we as servants of the church and as members of an ecclesiastical synod claim no other power than the power of the Word; for in the church where Christ alone rules there dare and can be no other power to which all must submit. To be sure, there are matters which the Word of God does not regulate, but which must be arranged in the church; but all such matters are not to be arranged by any power above the congregation, but the congregation, that is, pastors and hearers, arranges them, free of every compulsion, as it is necessary and appears salutary.

    “What, then, are men doing who claim a power in the church beside the power of the Word? They are robbing the church of Christ of the liberty which He has purchased with a price, with His divine blood, and are degrading this free Jerusalem, in which there are only kings, priests, and prophets, this kingdom of God, this heavenly kingdom of truth to an organization under strict police rule in which everybody is compelled to be obedient to every human ordinance. They are seeking the royal crown of Christ, the only true King, and are making themselves kings over His kingdom; they are deposing Christ, the only true Master, from His chair and are setting themselves up as masters in His church; they are striving to separate Christ, the only true Head, from His church and are presumptuously trying to be heads of His spiritual body. They exalt themselves above the holy apostles and claim a power which God’s Word plainly denies them and which has been granted by God to no man, no creature, not even to an angel or archangel.

    “Can we, therefore, my brethren, be depressed because we in our American pastorates are endowed with no other power than the power of the Word and especially because no other power has been granted to this assembly? Most assuredly not.”

  31. @Tim Schenks #37 and @Carl Vehse #38 , thank you both for your restraint in your replies so that you did not react with displays of anger. Perhaps I have no real right even to post on this group’s site, since I know that most things on which I would comment would be to speak against the actions of your church and churches and therefore be an attack on each of you. That is an unavoidable reality. To speak against what a person or group believes and practices is to “attack” the person or group. While that is not my real objective, it is effectually what will be received.

    So again, thank you for your careful responses. Please do know that my “intemperance” has love of the truth as its basis and is not from a desire to cause harm.

    First, to Tim, I am aware of the business corporation’s charter and constitution of the LC-MS, where attempts are made to subject the Church to two kingdoms simultaneously while maintaining a facade of faithfulness to the kingdom of God. The very name of Synod is from terms used in the Scriptures only a few times, and is applied to the Church. “Synod” literally says: Together-Way or Together-Road.

    In its declared name, Lutheran Church identifies this synod with the doctrine of the Lutheran Confessions. In view of AC VII and VIII, Synod is another word used in place of gathering or assembly or congregation. Thus the real claim is that this is not only a church but a church of The Way, that is, Jesus.

    Because of the belief that a larger Church with oversight of the congregations and pastors is necessary, while yet also seeking to hold to the Lord’s declaration that even a congregation of two or three is a genuine gathering of the Church, and also seeking to maintain the congregational model of church governance, the LC-MS has developed an intricate web of wordplay.

    However, the old maxim of “Lex orandi, lex credendi” still holds. What is prayed (or practiced) is what is believed. The wordplay only makes this more manifest.

    The LC-MS does assign the power of expulsion to itself regarding its members. In its constitution the LC-MS defines its members as those pastors and others who become rostered members. Those members can be expelled. That language is chosen to avoid the fact that expulsion is equal to excommunication, which is why I included that term in parentheses in my earlier comment, to show the wordplay being utilized.

    The LC-MS does assign itself the power to expel or remove its members, that is, pastors and teachers and congregations. This is done with the claim of acting in accord with the Scriptures. This is done with the claim of preserving faithful preaching and practice in the Church. What else is this but excommunication? Is this not acting with the powers ordained for the Church?

    Carl, in case you have not realized it, I have read the synodical handbook, and checked it before my earlier response. In this regard, you probably know that when a pastor or other “professional worker” or a congregation signs the paper for a request of membership, this is counted as an oath or pledge to abide by the synod’s rules and governance. By this pastors are bound to uphold synodical declarations (resolutions) of doctrine and practice even when that person knows them to be in conflict with the Scriptures and Confessions. That pastor is bound not to preach or teach publicly contrarily to those resolutions confirmed by the conventions. What are these conventions but assemblies, gatherings, congregations where the actions taken are as a church, with the power to discipline and expel those who do not abide by these resolutions?

    When the synodical leaders prepare public statements on various matters, these statements are made in the name of all of the congregations/churches of the Synod. What is this but speaking as a church?

    Furthermore, if the process of the so-called divine Call is examined, who controls this? Is this not controlled by the district president? Does the DP not step in with a list of candidates? In circumstances of “troubled congregations,” does the DP not determine whether or not they are even permitted to call a pastor and sometimes even assign an “interim pastor”?

    More importantly is what the people understand and believe. Most people (most pastors, even) count themselves as members of the LC-MS as their church. While they are members of a local congregation, they also consider themselves members of the LC-MS as their church. And in reality, even though the wordplay says otherwise, they are correct.

    This is especially true on account of the belief that a church or congregation cannot really exist without belonging to an authorizing church body. The commonly accepted belief is that a pastor must be “licensed” by an approving church body and that a congregation likewise must be approved and hold membership to be legitimate. While LC-MS official wordplay will deny this, it is nevertheless the actual practice applied.

    This was my lifelong understanding until taught the wordplay at the seminary. But it was not truly erased by the wordplay, as the LC-MS practice countered the wordplay.

    As a pastor I quickly encountered the truth regarding what the LC-MS really believes and practices, as have many other pastors who strove to hold faithfully to the Scriptures and Confessions.

    Anyone who has experience in the machinations of the LC-MS has painful awareness that what the LC-MS holds on paper is meaningless in the life of the LC-MS. This is why people in this discussion ask why pastors are not excommunicated. While they may not know the wordplay used in pitting the synodical constitution against reality, they do know that the wolves are allowed to parade as pastors within their church and they are not being expelled (excommunicated). They realize the truth that expulsion is really the same as excommunication, regardless of the play on words. Moreover, they realize the purpose and function of excommunication as protection against the theft of the pure Gospel and Sacraments from the Church, and they see that this protection is not being done.

    The people who want the pure doctrine and practice upheld do not care about the official wordplay. They expect their church leaders to act as leaders of their church.

    This is why, as I pointed out earlier, even on this site you teach the view of the LC-MS as your Church, the church of Walther.

    And dear Carl, in your quotation from Walther, do you not hear his doubletalk, where in the first paragraph he feigns to believe that the church is limited to the local congregation, but then calls that gathering to which he is speaking “this assembly” and applies the exact same standard and authority to it? Do you not realize that an assembly is a congregation? Do you not realize that insisting that only a localized and legally incorporated congregation with a synodically approved constitution and pastor can be in charge of administering the Sacrament is mere wordplay? Do you not realize that all earthly congregations are temporal gatherings of the Church, if they are indeed handmaids of the Bride? Is a gathering of pastors for a winkel, or for a district pastors conference, or for discussion of synodical issues, is this not a genuine gathering of the Church, if such gathering is truly a gathering into Christ, the Word?

    You-all have the Harrisonian LC-MS slogan also posted, which again teaches that the LC-MS is your church, saying: Mercy, Witness, Life Life Together. What is this if not a statement of the LC-MS as a church, your church, the church that you look to for your doctrine, your practice, your life together?

    Then, you also have the Harrisonian doctrinal statement of “It’s Time.” This was the rally cry for electing a new leader of your church. In this Harrison teaches that true unity does not exist in the LC-MS and only fractional unity can even be the hope. He teaches unity by percentage and you praise him for this blatant false doctrine. Why, because this is the doctrine of the LC-MS. The LC-MS teaches levels of fellowship. Harrison merely pressed this more openly, so that it is applied to your church and not just to other churches. According to Harrison the LC-MS does not even have 50% unity, but calls this a noble goal.

    Unity has no levels or percentages. Unity is an all or nothing reality, just as truth is.

    This is why I declared that if you face these matters honestly, that it will aid in reducing the confusion.

    As a former member of your church I know how painfully the truth concerning these matters pierces the heart. I know the internal struggle of trying to find a way to reconcile the conflicting doctrine and practice.

    I also know the joyous freedom that the Truth grants to one who hears Him and becomes His slave.

    But this does not come without the sense of worldly loss, a very powerful sense of worldly loss. Nevertheless, the joy of the Truth is far greater than any worldly loss.

    Thus I have dared to venture onto your site and to speak concerning these things. I have observed the painful struggles of the people of the LC-MS for all of my life. It grieves me deeply to see that the people continue to bind themselves to this needlessly, as did the people when the Lord Jesus grieved over Jerusalem.

    It grieves me that the people of the LC-MS are unwilling to hear the warning given through Jeremiah:

    “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.” (Jer. 7:4)

    The Lord declared to Jeremiah:

    For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.
    (Jeremiah 1:18)

    Jeremiah’s words still stand. Jerusalem was destroyed. The temple in which the people trusted was destroyed. But the Church, lived on. Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt and over time the people again misplaced their trust. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed again, but the Church, the remnant, lives on.

    Jerusalem, the temple, the Western Church which elevated Rome and the papacy, the German Lutheran Church, the LC-MS, the WELS, when will people learn? The Church is not organized nor defined by men, not even as a local congregation or assembly.

    The Church is wherever two or more are gathered by the Holy Spirit, called apart from all else to the pure administration of the Gospel and Sacraments. If these bind themselves again to anything else, all the wordplay in the world will not make them the Church, and the peace that surpasses all understanding will evade them while they strive to save their churches by their own efforts.

    God’s way is so simple and wonderful that it is truly incredible from the perspective of sinful human reason. But it is very much real and powerful beyond anything else in the universe.

    What are the options? 1. Continue to struggle to “reclaim” your church, pretending that you are not embracing it as church. 2. Stand apart as the Communion of the Church bound only to the Way, the Truth, and the Life through His pure Gospel and Sacraments.

    I realize that I am just a poor fool, but I want no more of #1, where I tried to do what only God can accomplish. I very much prefer #2, where the Church already has been saved, and I am made a member and full partaker of it through absolutely no effort of my own.

  32. Paul, since you left the LCMS a decade or so ago, you have previously stated elsewhere, “I determined that I could not be conjoined with the bodies that are in communion with that which I denounce. I determined that I am far better to stand alone upon the Rock, than to stand with many in a fellowship of multiple foundations.”

    Now you have decided to post on a thread concerning an article written by a member of the LCMS, who is also the wife of an LCMS member, on BJS that is largely, though not exclusively, devoted to issues pertaining to the Missouri Synod.

    And your postings on this thread have essentially been attacks against the Missouri Synod, although these attacks have consisted of little more than a flurry of rhetorical questions. Such questions do not make a convincing argument; nor do they have much to do with the subject of the thread.

    Paul, will you be continuing to post on BJS your objections to the LCMS and your efforts to get people to leave their Missouri Synod congregations or LCMS membership?

  33. Dear Carl,

    Your first two paragraphs leave me wondering what your point is. It sounds as though you are accusing me of hypocrisy for speaking to a group with whom I am not standing. It also sounds as though you are accusing me of being hateful and vindictive. I do not know whether you are actually intending to make these points, but if that is your perception of me, you are not rightly hearing me.

    It is certainly true that I am speaking against or attacking the LC-MS for its pretense and hypocrisy and perpetual impenitence from false doctrine and practice. But I cannot see where that is different from what you and this group do, except that I urge people to realize what being in this communion really means.

    As for your direct question, and the one that seems to be implied in the third paragraph, I will attempt to answer.

    In the third paragraph you say that my challenges do not have much to do with the thread, seemingly asking why I am speaking to the issues to which I speak.

    This article is addressing false doctrine and practice within the LC-MS. It is declaring that this false doctrine and practice is blatant, obvious to all in this group, that pastors and congregations within the LC-MS are promoting this and that this should not be the way.

    In the comments, several people cried out over the lack of action to protect them from these false preachers and congregations. They cried out lamenting the fact that false pastors are allowed to continue to deceive people and to cause the weak in the more solid congregations to have doubts. They used a simplified association for this, calling it “excommunication,” but this simplification is not wrong.

    The concern is real. It has genuine cause.

    As for myself, I have seen this in the LC-MS for all of my life. As a pastor I have been approached by many people asking for help that I could not give them as their pastors led the congregations into destruction, in some cases even embezzling the offerings, while the district presidents refused to take action when the people cried for help. Moreover they cried because they had no other congregation to which to flee, because of the condition of their circuit and district.

    Moreover, I have watched as my dearest loved ones have become anesthetized and numbed to the ongoing corruption in their congregations, circuits, districts, and synod. They have moved so far from what they once believed, confessed, and practiced that when they speak today they no longer sound like the same people.

    This grieves me beyond what I know how to express.

    I ordinarily do not comment on this site, but when those asking about the proper use of the keys were given answers that directed them away from their concern, I found myself strongly moved to comment. They were asking how the impenitent can be removed from especially the preaching and leadership positions.

    Sadly, the answer is that this is no longer allowed in the LC-MS. Some of the comments in this thread reflect awareness of this. There is no way for the people of the LC-MS to stand apart from the false prophets and false churches for their own safety. Anyone who relentlessly tries will be driven out or pressed into silence. Those who only make an insignificant noise will be merely placated or ignored.

    Thus I find myself urging people to take the only action left to those who want to be free of the adulteration.

    But I find it hard to know when the Lord’s admonition applies, to acknowledge that such words are unwelcome and that I should simply walk away and say no more. Web sites like this one, where there exist people who cry out “Help us! Help us!”, leave me not knowing whether they only want to feel OK about remaining in the church of their heritage, or whether they want to hear how to be free of the perpetual conflict and abuse.

    I do not intend nor desire to continue to post on BJS my objections to the LC-MS. No one has indicated any desire to hear such from me, and you personally seem to have indicated that you do not want this from me. However, I do continue to pray that things will be different. I would truly love to see people freed from the perpetual debate over what to do about these matters of false doctrine and practice, freed actually to act in accord with the true faith and to encourage one another and be built up together in the true unity of the life of the Church.

  34. @Paul A Siems #41
    I do not intend nor desire to continue to post on BJS my objections to the LC-MS. No one has indicated any desire to hear such from me, and you personally seem to have indicated that you do not want this from me.

    You criticize LCMS, which many of us do also. But you do not say where you have found the better alternative….
    Are you speaking from the “haven” of another 1-5 congregation “synod”?

  35. @helen #42
    Dear Helen,

    It seems that I should not have posted here. I apologize to this group for coming where I and my challenges are not wanted. I should have realized that.

    Yet people here have engaged me, as you have. That leaves me with the question of whether or not to answer. Is your question merely mocking me and people like me who believe that they need to treat Scriptural admonishments like Romans 16:16-18 seriously, both for their own spiritual well being as well as for the sake of the witness to the world? Or is your question from the heart?

    If your question is genuine, I’ll be happy to answer further.

    The tone of your question appears to deny that a small group of believers gathered in unity together for the pure means of grace is really the Church. Since the LC-MS claims to believe that ONLY the local congregation is Church, (even though in practice they deny this in many ways), this type of question not only mocks what you and many label as “the ‘haven’ of another 1-5 congregation synod”, but also the LC-MS version of church polity.

    In view of your question you would do well to ask where this would have left Noah in the days before the flood, Moses and Aaron when they came before the people of Israel in Egypt, Elijah, Jeremiah, Jesus with His band of disciples, the apostles on the day of Pentecost with only one congregation of only 120, and Luther when he stood frightened and saying, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” For that matter, Walther and that little band of people formed the LC-MS and later joined with a number of other small synods to form growing versions of what would become the LC-MS.

    Moses teaches that Noah was called by the LORD to stand apart from all of his relatives and neighbors, all the world, to build a safe haven for himself and wife and sons and daughters-in-law. St. Peter reminds us that 8 people in all were saved through water. The LORD used water to separate them from the evil that would destroy them, and the ark as the safe haven for their continued life as the waters saved them from the powers of the devil, sin, the world, and sinful flesh. The LORD called Noah with his family to stand apart from all the world for 120 years, as one tiny congregation of believers, then to replenish the earth with people and the preaching of the pure Word. St. Peter tells us in 1 Pet. 3:21 that today we have the antitype, Baptism, through which God does the same for us.

    When you discount the validity of “a haven of 1-5 congregations” embracing one another in unity, you ignore the fact that this is exactly how your synod had its beginning. You also ignore that this is how the apostolic Church functioned. Those churches embraced one another based upon their shared unity in the doctrine and practice of the apostles. Any other requirements were considered to be of the devil and his kingdom. Wherever people were brought together by the Holy Spirit to partake of this doctrine and practice, they were called a church and The Church in that locale. The people were called saints and brethren.

    History shows that people are not willing to trust that God can rule His Church and keep it safe in this way. Especially as congregations grow, more and more rules and regulations and traditions and governance mechanisms are developed to help the means of grace do what people do not believe them capable of doing. This is something other than what the apostles told the people to do when the seven were appointed to oversee the care of the widows and poor among them. These men merely made certain that those who were needy were not overlooked in the distribution of what was brought/given to the apostles/congregation for this purpose.

    Even with the oft-named “Council at Jerusalem”, no sense of need for a structured synod was established. The matter was brought to the apostles, who were still together in Jerusalem, with the elders/pastors there, where the matter was discussed in the light of the revelation of the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures and through the special special visions and other manifestations worked through the apostles. They discussed the matter until all were in full agreement. Then they sent back word that no requirements of the OT Law applied, but that for the sake of the weak to abstain from certain things that they did not yet understand as harmless, and of course also to abstain from fornication (which surrounded them).

    Over time, however, especially after the Lord took the apostles out of this world, the devil was very active in confusing the purity of the doctrine and practice. In response, rather than simply holding to what the apostles had already established, rather than simply standing apart from those who promoted falsehood, attempts were made to enforce the truth and right practice. It was not counted as enough to do as the apostles, who turned from those who rejected the truth and simply to gather with those who would receive the Word from them. Instead they began to establish means of enforcement. In the West this eventually became the papacy and the total loss of the Gospel.

    This pattern has repeated itself many times.

    Luther and those with him became aware of this problem, became aware of the pure Gospel, and began gathering to it and calling others to do so. They wrote various documents explaining what the this Gospel really is. In time those professing to be of this way began to develop more and more governance beyond the Word and Sacraments to be more organized, etc. Eventually the so-called German Lutheran Church became so corrupted that Stephen and Walther and many others fled.

    This is always the way when people begin to add to the means of grace their own contrivances. Before long, they become the rulers and saviors of the churches and synods, counting their organizations as the way of safety and faithfulness.

    Where the apostles were very careful not to enter into this kind of “organization” of the Church, later this became the way and it continues even today.

    If one considers the many developments within the various synods and denominations, one observes that these developments always lead to the same demise. Whereas dependence solely upon the gathering to the pure means of grace always restores the order that the Holy Spirit produces, the order that flows from the subjugation to one another in the fear of Christ.

    So before you turn a haughty eye toward those who look to one another and acknowledge one another as being the same so that they embrace one another with the kiss of peace, consider what your monstrously large synod has produced and continues to to produce.

    Perhaps then your heart will soften a bit toward those whom you count as inconsequential, and who cry out with loving warnings about continuing in a wayward church body.

    As for your question about the 1-5 congregation synod, I no longer see the Church from that perspective. I do count myself to be one with certain other pastors and we embrace one another in the unity of the Word, calling and e-mailing one another with questions, discussing various matter, finding that in this we always end up in agreement, and give mutual support to one another in this way.

    When I was a member of the LC-MS, the synod would not allow this. Binding myself to that synod, I did not allow it. Though I had other pastors with whom I could speak and converse, we could not act upon what we knew to be right, and often limited ourselves even in our discussions because of our “loyalty” to the synod. This issue is rather complex and requires many words to explain fully. But you can surely recognize this in your own experience. Synod becomes lord over the Word. You surely can identify many ways in which you see this.

    I believe that it is better, if necessary, to stand alone with my wife (like Noah) than to be in such bondage over my soul and life. Thankfully, however, I do know a few others in various locales who also count the freedom of the Gospel as more important than synodical identity.

    In your question you in essence ask to know who in the world will stand with you if you were to break from your synod. As long as you let that fear rule over you, you will not be free. But I can tell you that the Lord is true to His Word and He will show you who will stand with you. However, like Peter who stepped out onto the waves to walk to his Lord at His Lord’s command, you will never know His faithfulness to keep you up and to raise you when you doubt and sink, until you actually step out upon the water. Until then, your faith remains in the boat along with the others who fear the storm rather than the Word. It is not the boat that keeps you safe. Keep in mind that the disciples’ boat was about to be overtaken by the waves, too, except that the Lord came to them and stilled the storm. The Word came to them and even kept Peter safe in the storm without the boat.

    God does not need us to create synods in order to keep us safe. He is the only synod (together way) that we need.

  36. Dear Helen,

    In my post above, I should have been more careful in how I directed some of my statements. I really should have added some “assuming” this or that with regard to your meaning. I wrote from the perspective that this question holds within it, especially regarding the commonly held sense for the “need for synod” trap.

    Please know that I do hear that you, like many, are struggling to know the Lord’s will, and that you recognize the need for knowing where you can receive the means of grace.

    If you desire to hear from me how this can be, even for a person who finds oneself with no one nearby, I am willing to try to explain better.

  37. Size of synod does not matter here. BJS was established for members of any confessional Lutheran church body — LCMS, W/ELS, ACLS, Eldona, and smaller. There are serious problems with all of them.

    Don’t forget that BJS was originally established as “Laymen with Issues”.

  38. @Tim Schenks #45

    Dear Tim,

    Thanks for that clarification. Yet I suspect that you do not even realize what is included in this statement. You said:

    “BJS was established for members of any confessional Lutheran church body.”

    This is the problem that people face. Built into this statement is the declaration of the necessity of a church body. This false belief manifests itself continually.

    You furthermore confess:

    “There are serious problems with all of them.”

    If you examine the history of this matter, you will find that the basis of these problems is the belief that church bodies are necessary.

    The Scriptures teach:

    There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

    The Scriptures also teach that we are not the creators nor the preservers nor the protectors of this body. They furthermore teach that any bodies that we do establish are not of God but of us.

    The Church and the churches are God’s creation, brought into being through the work of the Spirit through the preaching of the Word, into which we are Baptized and preserved through the Holy Communion.

    Anything else will always lead us to depend upon something or someone other than the LORD.

    When the pure Word and Sacraments are the ONLY basis for the gathering that is called Church, the serious problems are all washed away and the saints are built up into the mind of Christ together.

    There is only one truly godly synod. His name is Jesus. When we truly hear this, we speak and act very differently.

    Then we realize that to walk truly together can only occur when by the Spirit’s intervention we walk in spirit together.

    This absolutely never happens with anyone but the Spirit as the author and originator and preserver. Just as soon as we stick our hand into it, it becomes undone.

  39. Paul A Siems :@Tim Schenks #45
    Dear Tim,
    Thanks for that clarification. Yet I suspect that you do not even realize what is included in this statement. You said:
    “BJS was established for members of any confessional Lutheran church body.”
    This is the problem that people face. Built into this statement is the declaration of the necessity of a church body. This false belief manifests itself continually.
    You furthermore confess:
    “There are serious problems with all of them.”
    If you examine the history of this matter, you will find that the basis of these problems is the belief that church bodies are necessary.

    You are mistaken that this is a false belief. The entire concept of Concordia is walking together, believing, teaching and confessing the same thing. The Preamble of the LCMS Constitution even cites Acts 15:1-31 as a reason for forming a synodical union.

    Synod is Church. Congregation is Church. But Synod is not Congregation.

  40. @Paul A Siems #44
    If you desire to hear from me how this can be, even for a person who finds oneself with no one nearby, I am willing to try to explain better.

    Look, half the charter members of ELDoNA were personal friends or list acquaintances of long standing and I understand why they looked for an alternative.

    I was curious; you can tell me or not.

  41. @Tim Schenks #47
    Dear Tim,

    The concept of Concordia is not equal to teaching the necessity of a church body. Having concord with one another and walking in spirit together are equal. But they do not in any way require the formation of a church body or denomination. St. Paul counters this strongly in 1 Cor. 1.

    To appeal to a synodical use of a Bible passage to justify their forming of a church body, hardly stands as proof of anything, especially when absolutely nothing is said of forming a church body within that text. If the text of Acts 15:1-31 is read in its context, it actually counters this notion. For according to the notion of men forming a union they began to dispute. It was when Peter stood up and turned them away from their sense of organizational procedure and debate and back to the revelation given by the Holy Spirit that the dispute was settled and unity was restored. Moreover, they did not establish any kind of a synodical union or church body. All that they did was to send a letter confirming that Barnabas and Paul spoke truly. They also sent two witnesses to confirm this. But absolutely nothing was done to establish a formal synodical union or church body beyond the body of Christ in which they were already walking together.

    In this connection it needs to be considered the reason that Paul, Barnabas, and the others were sent to Jerusalem with this question in the first place. It was because certain men from Judea came preaching as though they were representatives of the apostles and the church in Jerusalem, preaching against what Paul and Barnabas were preaching in Antioch. And so, the entourage was sent to Jerusalem.

    Those in Jerusalem responded saying, “Nope, we did not send those liars to you.”

    Those in Jerusalem, rather than claiming to establish any “synodical union” chose rather to send a letter and men commending Paul and Barnabas as their beloved and as men to be trusted. This was not a forming of a synodical union, but affirmation of the union that God had already established with the preaching of the pure Gospel through Paul and Barnabas. This was merely acknowledging the body of Christ in Antioch.

    The LC-MS Preamble says:

    Reason for the Forming of a Synodical Union
    1. the example of the apostolic church. Acts 15:1-31.

    It does not even bother to try to explain how this would apply.

    At least when the Church of Rome claims apostolic succession they explain why they falsely imagine the power of the keys to belong to Peter alone, and then to their supposed successor of Peter. Their claim is false, but at least they demonstrate their reasoning.

    Using a passage from the Scriptures in this way is of no value. When the devil came to Jesus, he used a passage from Scriptures to try to convince Jesus to throw Himself from the pinnacle of the temple. Moreover, the devil rightly applied this passage as speaking of Jesus. But it was nevertheless a misuse of the Scriptures in an attempt to press a point that was entirely false. Even though that passage most assuredly speaks of the angels ministering to the Son of Man during His earthly ministry, it was entirely false to apply it to putting the Lord to the test, to prove Jesus as the Son of God, as the devil tempted Jesus to do.

    This use by the LC-MS of Acts 15:1-31 is just as false.

    Tim, please consider the fact that I quoted Ephesians 4:4-6 which directly says that there is only ONE body, and you completely bypassed this, appealing rather to the LC-MS as your authority for the propriety of multiple bodies to be created by men. You appealed to the LC-MS and its use of Scriptures as your supportive authority.

    If you ponder this seriously, it really should alarm you. When I realized how many times and how many ways that I had been doing this as a loyal son of the LC-MS, it surely alarmed me.

    Tim, this issue is not an easy one. When I first faced it my fleshly nature resisted mightily. If you choose to reject it, be sure that you are doing so by the Spirit of God and not on account of a sense of tradition or loyalty to a church body that will surely fail you and even betray you.

  42. helen :
    @Paul A Siems #44
    If you desire to hear from me how this can be, even for a person who finds oneself with no one nearby, I am willing to try to explain better.
    Look, half the charter members of ELDoNA were personal friends or list acquaintances of long standing and I understand why they looked for an alternative.
    I was curious; you can tell me or not.

    Dear Helen, I am sorry if I made too much of my presumptions of what you personally meant by your question.

    However, I thought that I did tell you my situation. I and my wife have no one else who is willing to stand with us locally, and we cannot find another congregation within 100 miles with whom we can confess to be in true communion. We are not in any formal union that you would call a synod or church body. However, we are in communion with several tiny congregations far from us.

    Regarding the ELDoNA, from your statement I must assume that you do not know how it came to be. It did not start as the ELDoNA but as a handful of pastors who signed a statement of mutual agreement. There were only five signers of this “Malone Statement.”

    It seems unlikely that this is who you mean by “charter members”.

    What we enjoyed together was short lived but quite wonderful while it lasted. At least my perception and my wife’s, was one of great joy together, much like I envision those early days following the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.

    Sadly, three of the five decided to end what we shared in order to build something else, something grander in their understanding. So our little piece of paper proved to be just that.

    Nevertheless, what we briefly had together seemed marvelous to me. It was nothing more than the unity that is shared when the means of grace alone make for the communion. And that was enough for us. At least it was enough for those of us who were later excluded.

    It still is enough. It is more than enough, it is what God declares and promises.

    It was enough for the apostles and those who sat at their feet. It is enough for my wife and me. It is enough for those who joyously embrace us as brethren. It is enough for the saints in heaven. How could I imagine that I could improve upon what God has established even from eternity?

    This perfect communion exists wherever two or more are drawn by the Holy Spirit to the pure means of grace. And when such happy saints encounter one another, they recognize one another as brethren. They need no other written statement of agreement besides the one that was written on their heart and forehead at their baptism, and what is declared in the body and blood of their Lord at the Table.

    Have I come closer to answering your question, Helen?

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