Per DP’s Advice LCMS Pastor Cancels Participation in Joint Service but Still Supports Unionism, by Pr. Rossow

Pastor Mark Louderback (Christ Lutheran Church, LCMS, Arlington, Tennesee), confessed yesterday on the Steadfast site that he believes the LCMS position on unionism is wrong. He believes that Scripture teaches that holding rites and services with the heterodox is defensible from Scripture.

Late in the year of 2011, BJS reader Pastor Ted Crandall, with whom Pastor Louderback had numerous exchanges on this blog, wanted to get more information on Pastor Louderback and his church. He noticed that Pastor Louderback and his parish were to be  joining with area heterodox churches (those churches that mix false teaching in with true) for a Christmas service.

Pastor Crandall asked Pastor Louderback about this and he said he saw no problem with it despite Crandall’s protests. Pastor Crandall then contacted me and asked me if I had any thoughts on how to proceed. I told him to contact Pastor Louderback’s Circuit Visitor and his District President.

Thankfully Pastor Louderback’s District President talked him out of participating in the service. Regretfully however, Pastor Louderback is not repentant on this matter.

Here is comment #40 from the string, one of Pastor Louderback’s several comments and the one where he confesses his support for unionism.

@Pastor Ted Crandall #25

To clarify a few things: it was not a joint worship service with the Presbyterian Church. The Baptist church, Methodist church, and non-denom were all involved.

My DP asked for me not to participate and so I did not and I announced this on Steadfast among other places.

So, it was not the meanies of steadfast who stopped it–I myself don’t know who complained to my dp and nor did I ask.

As to Ted’s question of “Are you repentant?” The answer is “No.” I fully believe what we had planned is entirely Scriptural. Ted knows full well — and Joshua Scheer also — that I was fully prepared to explain my position to them.

But, as I was going to take the issue through the entire Synodical process, I told Ted that I could not comment. And I have not. But I wanted to clear up a few things.

Privately, if any of you want to talk to me about unonism or fellowship–I’m good to go on that. Obviously our synod keeps mucking through the issue–the pastor up in Connecticut was the latest victim in that.

But as always I am fully willing to talk generally about fellowship. But the specific issue of last Christmas I don’t want to comment on publicly that much. Make sense?

The LCMS Constitution is very clear that unionism is wrong. (Click here for the full text of the Constitution and Handbook.)

Article VI Conditions of Membership

Conditions for acquiring and holding membership in the Synod are the following:

1. Acceptance of the confessional basis of Article II.

2. Renunciation of unionism and syncretism of every description, such as:

a. Serving congregations of mixed confession, as such, by ministers of the church;

b. Taking part in the services and sacramental rites of heterodox congregations or of congregations of mixed confession;

c. Participating in heterodox tract and missionary activities.

We could share volumes on why unionism is wrong. Let me offer two summary explanations and then I will turn it over to the BJS bloggers to discuss the matter.

First is a practical explanation. Most every pastor has had the uncomfortable experience of allowing someone to get up at the funeral home or the funeral luncheon to say a few words about the deceased only to have them totally and completely upend the primary doctrine of the faith – justification – by thier well-intentioned but unscriptural words about how “‘Ole Charlie must be in heaven since he was such a good man.” The problem with unionism is that we cannot account for what the other pastors or laity with whom we join, will say. So joining with them in worship is allowing them to speak false doctrine. Even if they don’t utter any heresy, we are still giving the impression that we endorse, or at least allow their false teaching.

Secondly, here is a summary Scriptural explanation (adapted from Pieper, Vol. III, pp. 425ff.). We are not to join with heterodox teachers but to avoid them (Rom. 16:17, I Tim 6:3ff., 2 John 10-11). Also, God allows false teachers to arise in order that Christians may show their obedience to Him by avoiding them (Deut 13:3, 8:2, I Cor. 11:19). This false unionism does not promote unity as Pastor Louderback and other false teachers believe. Instead it breaks the unity of the church bcause it is based on the fact that there is only one faith and one profession (Eph. 4:4-16). I Corinthians 10:1 tells us what Christian unity is – it is all speaking the same thing.

All through the Scriptures fellowship with God is defined in terms of the highest intimacy. In the Holy Supper God joins himself to us and we are not to take him into intimate union with false teachers. The prophets in countless places call this whoring after other Gods. When you read I Corinthians 10 in light of unionism one is moved to depart from false teachers and not take a stand with them in services with them.

We need to have patience with the erring and seek through instruction to correct them but we should never grant error equal footing with the Truth. May God grant the leaders, pastors and laymen of the LCMS the fortitude to remain Scriptural on this matter even while our own and others are seduced by the siren call of unionism.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

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

Comments

Per DP’s Advice LCMS Pastor Cancels Participation in Joint Service but Still Supports Unionism, by Pr. Rossow — 545 Comments

  1. @Mrs. Hume #40

    It seems that context is far different from what we talk about when praying with other Christians.

    I have sympathy with this certainly. But I wonder how common it actually was. And once again, the distinction between Christian and non-Christian is blurred by this sort of behavior.

    Well, I think it has been properly addressed already. Issues Etc, has Christians of different denominations on to discuss issues and they are treated as the brothers and sisters in Christ that they are. They synod has clearly and officially stated its position. Good and interesting work by other Christians is even published by our CPH. Christian day school teachers from other denominations are employed in our schools. We cooperate with other Christians extensively in externals like charity and social services in our local communities. I mean, really we have a broad and deep witness that we have fellowship in Christ with Christians of other denominations.

    And all of this is good — but in local communities none of this might be true, you know? What then in those areas?

    So, yeah, the evidence is piling up that our synod and its congregations and pastors give a wonderful witness of the unity we have in Christ with fellow Christians in other denominations.

    Yes, but I don’t think it is fair to ignore the evidence contrary either.

    Internet trolls are not spokesmen for the LCMS nor do they define the LCMS witness in our communities.

    Well, I just see it as a pulse of the community. It is not THE example, but it is A example.

  2. @robert hoffman #45

    Yes, yes yes.

    What exactly has been the Word of God brought to show that my positon is wrong, hm? I mean, I have not exactly seen an abundance of proof from the Word of God.

    I see a lot of accusations and “Oh he’s so liberal” — that sort of thing. But the distinction between “pray with other Christians” and “occasional worship with other Christians” — where is this so expressly condemned in the Word of God?

    I don’t actually see that Steadfast could treat me that much differently anyway…I mean, what else would they do?

  3. @Jason #46

    To a point, this is a victory for Mr. Mark Louderback, since some of us believe is is a theological liberal playing right out of the liberal playbook: talk something to death and wear down your opponent into submission. You know, tell a lie long enough and loud enough and it become the truth.

    Well, once again, I don’t think that you could accurately explain my position. I don’t think that half the people on the site could. Despite all of my discussion, there are still several aspects of the issue that have not been touched on.

    I’m amazed at this attitude of “Too much discussion!” I guess you guys think that all you need to do is say “Ahem — you are wrong! Repent!” and everyone will listen to you. It doesn’t quite work like that. Sometimes people answer back — and then all of the sudden the so-called confessionals pull back on wanting to confess anymore.

    So, I say gear up, because this is what actually has to happen in coming to understanding and consensus. You have to take the time to explain your positions. Shoot, it is why Luther has several volumes. Look at him and Erasmus on Free Will. Makes this look like a text conversation.

    Mark is trolling, by my understanding of the term.

    Because I answer the questions asked? Because I ask questions?

    Because I defend myself on a thread attacking me that I was not even informed of?

    Oh yes, this is the behavior of a troll.

    yet he is the very one agitating heresies

    Name one.

    Mark’s arguments are bad and getting weaker. After 100+ osts of failing to convince most here, he drags out some peculiar back up. He has quoted something form the Satement of the 44. The Statement was never adopted; it was pulled from considerationby its authors. In a sense that is unfortumate. While the Statement has been rebuked, it never has been given the chance to be official denounced by the synod in convention, and I would have appreciated that important rejection. So I don’t see how that would have merit amoungst this group.

    Because their positon was adopted by the Synod.

    Not in every point they make — but their writings on prayer and fellowship were. They did alter how we saw the issue and brought about change.

    ANother example would be how he was to have a service with Presbyterians, but has made worship arguments about Methodists and Mormons. It doesn’t help to compare apples to oranges, but he throws in bananas and pears and…

    Mormons and Methodists exist as shorthand for Christian and non-Christians. Is there an important distinction in this issue between Presbyterian and Methodist?

    Besides, as I wrote earlier, the service was not just Presbyterians.

    Mark recently posted #19 where he thinks we should adhere to what synod has determined. But he is rejecting the various definitions our synod has written and voted on (convention, CTCR) about unionism.

    And so do a lot of people. Plenty of people ignore what the CTCR says about serial prayer right? Plenty reject what they had to say about once-in-a-lifetime events. And anyone looking at the issue knows that we just swing back and forth on the issue.

    So yes I do want us to work through the issue, not ignore what has occurred in the past, deal with the texts and come to consensus. And not offer edicts from on high that don’t touch upon the issue.

    I do not share some of the niceties a few others have given Mark. We are called in Scripture to offer rebuke, point out false teachings, and have nothing ot do with false teachers. As such, I do not wish him well, not in his current state. I think he is being used as a tool for Satan, bringing strife and division to the Kingdom.

    Yes, yes, yes. I’m bad, shame on me, blah blah blah.

    What can I say? If I am wrong, then I am wrong. But if I am right, then it is not I that am right — I am just parroting the Word of God and trying to teach it in its truth and entirety.

    If you want to call that the work of Satan and call me a troll and call me all these other names and mark and avoid me — fine. Don’t wish me well.

    But I don’t think you are acting rightly.

  4. @Jim Hamilton #3

    So, to sum this up, your position is that God’s Word requires us to participate in joint worship with false teachers?

    No. This would be the sum up of how most people on this thread can’t accurately sum up my position.

    Which is why I try to explain it, only to be called and troll and have people say “Too hard! Too Long!” And that sort of thing.

    So, no Jim, that is not my position.

  5. @Mark Louderback #50
    I’m not the one going against God’s Word here Ted. You are the one who would have no clear distinction between Christian and non-Christian. My postion clearly delineates Lutheran, Christian, and non-Christian. It teaches what needs to be taught. It acts in love and yet speaks the truth.

    That seems a bit unfair. Say for instance that Pr. Crandall agrees with the synod’s actions (not just statements) as I noted in my comment above:
    @Mrs. Hume #42
    How then can you say that he makes no distinction between Christian and non-Christian and further that he has walked away from the truth?

    Rev. Louderback, you said statements by the synod were not good enough, but what about the actions of our congregations, pastors, CPH and schools?

    Why aren’t these actions good enough?

    Don’t these actions comport with your understanding of God’s Word and if they do, and Pr. Crandall agrees with them, then aren’t you overstating it when you say he would have no clear distinction between Christian and non-Christian?

  6. That is apparently what he does believe.

    Mark Louderback :
    @Dave Schumacher #41
    Where in Scripture am I told I must, or even should, express fellowship with those who teach unchristian doctrines?
    Aren’t you demanding what Scripture doesn’t?

    Are you talking about heterodox Christians? My point is that we have fellowship with them. This is a truth given to us by God. Look at First John:
    This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
    (1 John 1:5-10 ESV)
    “We have fellowship with one another.”
    At the same time, we have those who claim to be Christians but are not. We are commanded to avoid them (Rom 16).
    So, we want to make a clear distinction between the Christian church and the non-Christian church. How do we do that? Mine is a suggestion of how.
    @Dave Schumacher #50
    I won’t receive an answer.
    Oh no, I confess what I believe clearly.

    But no where in this cited passage do we find any such command. It is disheartening that anLCMS pastor should display such poor exsegesis (sp?).

  7. @Mark Louderback #2

    How about Romans 16:17? The Apostle explicitly says to avoid false teachers. He doesn’t say “usually” or “most of the time”. He says avoid them.

    Do you consider the pastors of heterodox churches to be false teachers? If so, you really have no warrant to participate in joint worship services with them. Not one is saying that there aren’t Christians in heterodox churches. But they are Christians in spite of the errors to which they are exposed. The actual teachings of these heterodox churches create impediments to the Gospel. Why would you want to give implicit approval to the dangerous errors of these churches by worshipping with them?

  8. @Mark Louderback #5

    Has it occurred to you that if no one can accurately state your position after all this time, it might be that you aren’t making any sense? You keep saying that the Word requires us to show unity with heterodox churches. You keep saying that a good way to do this is to participate in joint worship services with them. How is this not your position? Mark, do you now deny that you have been arguing that God’s Word commands us to show unity with false teachers? You’ve been saying it for days.

  9. Well, I guess this is all degenerating down at this point. I want to thank everyone for their kind words. I appreciate the prayers and the thoughts for my new chapter of life.

    In summary then:

    — I condemn Steadfast for posting this thread without giving me heads-up. Shame on them! In the future if you are going to go after someone, have the courtesy to tell them.

    — The Church is revealed and hidden. In it revealed state, we can point to church bodies and say “There is the church.” “This is a Christian church.” The mark of the church is Law and Gospel proclaimed — where that is, there is the church. (1 John 1:5-10)

    — There are false teachers outside of the church who claim to be Christian and those who teach in error inside of the church. We ought to have a clear line of distinction between these two. Scripture warns us to separate from the non-Church (Rom 16) We do this to teach the distinction.

    — The truth of the Word of God is not some unknown quantity, but something that can be grasped and taught. We gather together with those who are the orthodox church and we call ourselves Lutheran. We mark our fellowship by communion.

    — So then, how do we act towards the Christian? The one who is not a non-Christian, but who is not orthodox? How do we take seriously the error that they teach while at the same time treating them as the Christian brothers that they are? This is a modern problem (See President Harrison’s post — http://mercyjourney.blogspot.com/2013/01/damned.html) and one that our Synod has struggled with. We have changed our description and definition of unionism. We have issued endless essays and ignored the past.

    — Our practice needs to be one that teaches the distinction between Christian and non-Christian, clearly and simply. Yet it must also teach that there is error in the church and that error is serious. Our fellowship position needs to address both issues and not simply one or the other.

    Thanks again for everyone’s time. I’m still looking forward to the Koin and the opportunity to discuss this issue for real.

  10. And all of this is good — but in local communities none of this might be true, you know? What then in those areas?

    Okay, what about in those areas where it might not be so?

    What would you suggest?

    I infer from your statement that something is required.

    Jim Hamilton :
    @Mark Louderback #50
    So, to sum this up, your position is that God’s Word requires us to participate in joint worship with false teachers?

    Here Jim infers that you think joint worship is required.

    You say no. Okay, maybe this:

    Your position is that God’s Word allows us to participate in joint worship with false teachers.

    My discomfort is that you seem to hold that something is required of us to show public unity with these other Christians and all of the actions I have noted are not good enough. I mean, there is not a whole lot of wiggle room between the two. What actions would you suggest that are somewhere between what we now do and joint worship?

  11. — I condemn Steadfast for posting this thread without giving me heads-up. Shame on them! In the future if you are going to go after someone, have the courtesy to tell them.

    Nope, no way.

    You are a public person as a pastor and your public actions are fair game for any reporter anywhere. It is not usual and customary to inform public figures that they are being discussed. Your demand is way out of line.

  12. @Mark Louderback #10

    Mark, I wish you well. Your thinking is very confused and infected with a misguided unionism that ignores the very grave errors of the heterodox. I’m sorry that we weren’t able to persuade you that you are in error. If you look back through this thread, I think you’ll see, if you’re honest, that most of your arguments consist of snappy quips, protestations of victimhood, condescending emoticons, and a general refusal to address this issue squarely. Sir, you support unionism. You should have the courage to own that and leave confessional Lutheranism or, ideally, repent this false teaching. I truly hope and pray that you will choose the latter.

  13. Mark Louderback :
    @Jim Hamilton #9
    Has it occurred to you that if no one can accurately state your position after all this time, it might be that you aren’t making any sense?
    Yes, but when I ask if I am making sense, I get criticized for that as well…

    Pastor Louderback,
    You are not making sense.

  14. Well, since we are expressing our exasperation, I will express mine.

    Internet trolls are not spokesmen for the LCMS nor do they define the LCMS witness in our communities.
    Well, I just see it as a pulse of the community. It is not THE example, but it is A example.

    So the pulse of the community is not all the work and effort of concerted actions and endeavors undertaken by the congregations, pastors and church. Rather it is the snide comments of petty folks not lifting a finger.

    I am feeling a little squished under some law that none of us can keep. How exactly shall we satisfy everyone down to the very last blog troll and stop the devil himself from slandering us? I suggest that it is impossible. Nothing is ever good enough. We are never good enough.

    It is kind of like that old joke where it takes a thousand “attaboy’s” to make up for one “oops, Oh no!”

    So even if there is some circumstance where it could be okay to worship with the heterodox, that is really hard to define and the chances for getting it really wrong are really high, that it is just better not to do it at all and not even open that can of worms.

  15. wineonthevines :
    “The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, is never present where lies are told. There is actually more unity of the church present where Christians of differing confession honorably determine that they do not have the same understanding of the Gospel than where the painful fact of confessional splintering is hidden behind a pious lie.”
    Hermann Sasse

    Thank you for finding and posting this summary of a long and tiring thread.

  16. @Pastor Ted Crandall #17

    I second that. Great quote. Now I’m going to do myself (and everyone else) a favor and exit this thread. Thanks to everyone who took the time to defend the doctrine that we all love so dearly.

  17. Okay all this discussion of unionism and Rev. Louderback’s interest in worshipping with other Christians reminds me of the non-denominational churches and how they present themselves to the public. I think they may be tapping into some impulse on the part of Christians for some kind of catholic community and unity.

    Does anyone else see this impulse kind of behind the two?

  18. Pastor Louderback,
    I have a proposal for you.
    Tell the members of your mixed confession clergy group that you believe that you could not worship with them regularly because their confession is rife with dangerous, unchristian doctrines. Make them as awre of this as you have your desire to express limited fellowship with them.
    Do this and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that you will not be invited to any of their ecumenical worship servicres at the “I’m Ok – You’re OK Corral”.

  19. @Mark Louderback #1

    So, yeah, the evidence is piling up that our synod and its congregations and pastors give a wonderful witness of the unity we have in Christ with fellow Christians in other denominations.

    -Yes, but I don’t think it is fair to ignore the evidence contrary either.

    First, what evidence to the contrary?

    Second, that kind of seems logically impossible. If we are going out of our way to reach out in service and love side by side with Christians of other denominations, then how is there evidence that we are not doing it? Like if I say my son plays football, and I give as evidence all the practices he attends and games he has played in, but then you say I am ignoring the evidence to the contrary and you contend that he doesn’t actually play football. I mean, logically that makes no sense.

  20. Dave Schumacher :
    Pastor Louderback,
    I have a proposal for you.
    Tell the members of your mixed confession clergy group that you believe that you could not worship with them regularly because their confession is rife with dangerous, unchristian doctrines. Make them as awre of this as you have your desire to express limited fellowship with them.
    Do this and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that you will not be invited to any of their ecumenical worship servicres at the “I’m Ok – You’re OK Corral”.

    Rev. Louderback doesn’t need to tell them about LCMS positions on their errors because those are already in our synod documents! 😀

  21. Pastor Louderback,
    You are making sense.  I believe many if not most LCMS folks would agree with you.  I respect BJS posters, but they are representative of one insular faction…I’m outta here.

  22. Pastor Ted Crandall: Of course the liberals are excited by “Koin” — it promises them another decade of “safe” discussions, while they continue being unfaithful and leading more people away from the Word.

    From what I have observed on this and other forums, it appears that is what they are hoping for. “The Koin” means a decade of “dialog” with no discipline. That is how they are spinning it.

  23. John Rixe :
    Pastor Louderback,
    You are making sense.  I believe many if not most LCMS folks would agree with you.  I respect BJS posters, but they are representative of one insular faction…I’m outta here.

    Because if John Rixe thinks that most LCMS folks would agree, then of course, Rev. Louderback must be right! A bunch of people can’t be wrong. (sarcasm)

  24. Charles Henrickson :

    Pastor Ted Crandall: Of course the liberals are excited by “Koin” — it promises them another decade of “safe” discussions, while they continue being unfaithful and leading more people away from the Word.

    From what I have observed on this and other forums, it appears that is what they are hoping for. “The Koin” means a decade of “dialog” with no discipline. That is how they are spinning it.

    Is this going to be like the ELCA, where a bunch of ignorant folks egged on by enthusiasts will be able to out vote God on various points?

    We cannot give the same weight to unsubstantiated claims of public perceptions etc., as we give to God’s Word.

  25. @Charles Henrickson #24
    @Mrs. Hume #26

    I’m not sure how I spotted it, but among the writing of many books (Ecclesiastes 12:12), I spotted this belligerent call for Lutherans to “gear up,” because we will discuss and discuss until they get the “consensus” to out vote God. (Sort of like Marie pounding the drum until she gets the LCMS to ordain women…)

    Mark Louderback :
    I’m amazed at this attitude of “Too much discussion!” I guess you guys think that all you need to do is say “Ahem — you are wrong! Repent!” and everyone will listen to you. It doesn’t quite work like that. Sometimes people answer back — and then all of the sudden the so-called confessionals pull back on wanting to confess anymore.
    So, I say gear up, because this is what actually has to happen in coming to understanding and consensus. You have to take the time to explain your positions. Shoot, it is why Luther has several volumes. Look at him and Erasmus on Free Will. Makes this look like a text conversation.

  26. As you all can see and via this huge interesting dialog, this is a bigger issue that will never truly be fixed. We work with it, remold it, etc. We can NEVER unionize or synchronize on doctrine, it IS what it IS; but practice, and especially the desire to preach and get our doctrine to others sometimes steps into muddled waters. And being congregational as opposed to ecclesiastical in polity, does not help the situation.

  27. @Mrs. Hume #13
    I disagree, yes, public figures we are, but common sense MUST prevail. We should not slug a man or woman through the mud, unless we know all, and should follow channels. A “heads up” is good, and some background work in order.

  28. rev. david l. prentice jr. :
    @Mrs. Hume #13
    I disagree, yes, public figures we are, but common sense MUST prevail.

    I see this as self contradictory. The common sense we actually use and which is actually common is that public behavior is just plain fair game. Reporting what you saw on a website or what someone said on your blog two weeks ago does not require any notice. Giving a person a heads up is not common sense because it is not common. No one observes this. It is not the usual practice.

  29. @Mrs. Hume #30
    OK, but before we run to say “lookie see what this person did”, we pause , breath, access it. Sometimes, by the time it hits twitter, facebook, steadfast, etc., the case could be open and closed already…we are simply opening old wounds already healing. And yes, I do understand, we are fair game as pastors, our decisions will be reviewed, rebuked, and loved too. God said the office and its duties would never be easy.

  30. In other words, the liberals goal is to keep discussing issues until they get their way and than they proceed to say we were right and you were wrong.

  31. rev. david l. prentice jr. :
    OK, but before we run to say “lookie see what this person did”, we pause , breath, access it. Sometimes, by the time it hits twitter, facebook, steadfast, etc., the case could be open and closed already…we are simply opening old wounds already healing.

    “Old wounds already healing”?! I can only guess you haven’t been following Rev. Louderback’s persistent and willful posts these past days weeks months years. There has been no indication of any healing and it was high time to sound the alarm, so folks like Mr. Rixe would know to avoid the pastor’s sin.

    “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.”
    (Large Catechism, Eighth Commandment, paragraph 284, http://www.bookofconcord.org/lc-3-tencommandments.php)

  32. @Pastor Ted Crandall #17

    Glad I could be of help. I think Sasse is one of the best “go to guys” in speaking to the issues of unionism.

  33. I am a Lutheran; I hold fast to the authority of the Word and the confessions; but I happen to belong to a body other than LCMS.
    In my circles I often hear the pride of the old nature in an expression of pietism. What I am hearing here in an expression of anti-unionism sounds uncannily similar.

  34. I have no doubt these folks who charge us with “anti-unionism” (I think they mean to call us sectarian) are convinced they are being so nice, but they are confused. They want us to follow only the first part of Matthew 18 and they misapply to public sin that divine guidance about private sin. Worse, they also insist we ignore what our Confessions very clearly say about the necessity of warning people to avoid public sin. Whatever concern they might have for protecting the precious souls of the listeners from false teaching is overshadowed by their greater concern for protecting the precious reputation of the pastor — who has already ruined his reputation publicly. (You see why it doesn’t apply?)

    Written after their favorite part of Matthew 18 is a parable of Jesus, “The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.” You may remember that after being forgiven much, the unforgiving servant refused to forgive even a little. “He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.”

    Where is “Matthew 18” followed here? Why didn’t they speak to the unforgiving servant privately before running to their master? Actually, they did follow Matthew 18, just as Jesus taught: They reported to their master all that had taken place. This was a public sin that required a public rebuke, that every one may know to avoid it.

    As the Confessions also teach us, “For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.” Note well the word “must.”

    “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.” (Large Catechism, The Eighth Commandment, paragraph 284)

  35. By unionism, are we just speaking of affiliation with other denoninations, or does this also include other organizations with a religious component? I understand that some conservative Lutheran churches hold that membership in groups such as the American Legion and the Boy Scouts is a violation of the prescription against unionism. I have never heard whether membership in Alcoholics Anonymous is considered a violation as well. A central tenet of AA unity is that no member is to speak in detail about his or her own specific religious beliefs or try to evangelize any other member. At same time, the fact that the program is one of depending on God. In AA, we have believers, unbelievers, Christians and non-Christians all saying prayers together and speaking about their “Higher Power” guiding their lives.

    What is the confessional Lutheran perspective on AA membership, and has this issue ever come up before?

  36. Markus,

    There is no prohibition against AA. They do not worship not make you subscribe to doctrine. WELS prohibits being in Boy Scouts but LCMS does not. Boy Scouts do not worship but they can have prayer at their meetings and if the den leader is Moslem you got a problem.

    The LCMS and WELS prohibit membership in lodges beacuse they have secret religious rites and teach uniitarian doctrine.

  37. Thanks for your learned reply, Pastor Rossow. Before receiving it, I found an explanation on the WELS website. All I can say is, WELS is really picking on the Scouts and at same time really giving AA a WIDE GATE to pass through.

    In AA, the main chapter in our “Big Book,” entitled “We Agnostics,” urges that AA members CHOOSE A GOD OF OUR OWN CONCEPTION and UNDERSTANDING. This is our doctrine, and from it follows the idea that whatever conception of God that someone understands to be true (as long as it is “loving, powerful, greater than my self”) should be followed by that person and his choice respected by others in the fellowship. If I’m sponsoring a newcomer in AA, and that person is a Muslim, I am to encourage him to more thoroughly turn his life and will over to Allah. And when sharing in meetings, both he as a Muslim and myself as a Christian are expected to REFRAIN from speaking about the particulars of our faiths, lest it alienate those of other faiths. We limit our testimony to the efficacy of “God” or “my higher power.” We believe that any confession is efficacious, as long as it is sincerely believed in and relied upon.

    Also, we ALWAYS circle up and say the Lord’s Prayer and the Serenity Prayer at the end of every meeting – everyone says it together including Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, etc.. I suppose you don’t have to participate as far as verbalizing the prayer, but not joining the circle would be seen as very strange and contrary-minded.

    I kind of feel guilty for mentioning this, lest it turn people against AA. But its true. For myself, I am not a Lutheran but my mother was and I’m searching right now for a path to Christ. I disagree with the proscription against unionism and, frankly, against open communion, and my opposition is mainly based on my experience in AA. I believe Holy Spirit is working in AA meetings, even though there are a multiplicity of faiths present, and He speaks through the words and actions of many members, not all of them even Christian.

  38. I want to recognize my friend, Mark Louderbach, for the courage of his convictions, which he has maintained and practiced since being in the parish.

    I know this to be a fact because he and I discussed it privately and in person long ago.

    As for Mark’s convictions, they are entirely wrong.

    Joint prayer, because it is worship, and joint worship, require a commitment to a common faith, sayeth the Lord. This is a clear Bible doctrine derived from explicit Scripture passages as well as logical deductions of clear Scripture passages.

    Mark steadfastly errs on both joint prayer and joint worship.

    Missouri steadfastly errs on joint prayer because she denies that prayer is worship.

    Missouri clergy representatives now openly engage in joint prayer and worship with those they are not in fellowship, but this takes a back seat to the Matt Becker squirrel. Apparently, things are so boring now Missouri needs a second squirrel, namely Mark Louderbach.

    There are no calls to “call up for review” the actions of Synodical poo-bahs for praying and worshiping with members of the NALC and the ACNA.

    So, Missourians, calling out Mark on this is a bit of pot-n-kettle.

  39. Dear Pastor Baker,

    This blog post is from two years ago. It is recent history, but not news. The blog post was in the new web-page section titled “Flashback,” or something like that. I have not heard about any actions against Pastor Louderback since that time.

    As to the differences between the LCMS and WELS on joint prayer, you should see the statement of the “Overseas Committee” from the late 1950s or early 1960s. It is in the back of Kurt Marquart’s volume on the Church in the Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics series (you can order that at: http://www.logia.org ). The churches in fellowship with the Synodical Conference at the time, in Australia, Germany, Brazil, and a few others I think, gave their considered opinion about matters of fellowship in the area of prayer and participation in worship. I don’t remember all the details, but it is very helpful. I respect the position of the WELS in this matter, but agree with Marquart’s position as found in the Overseas document.

    Of course, the LCMS has had a flagrant violation by a District President in this area. I won’t mention his name, but his initials are DB. The Yankee Stadium case was a perfect example that LCMS leadership does not always follow its own theology and standards.

    You might also notice that the LCMS brothers rose up and condemned that error. Pastor Timothy Rossow was one of the leaders rebuking the error in the statement “That They May Be One,” (TTMBO) as did many of the Steadfast Brothers that post here. Some say that I lost my job at CHI because my name was on TTMBO, but I was never informed of the causes for termination, so we will never know.

    But that is okay. I serve a parish and I can support my family on the income, so who am I to complain? The Lord provides for and preserves those who fear Him

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  40. “Of course, the LCMS has had a flagrant violation by a District President in this area. I won’t mention his name, but his initials are DB. The Yankee Stadium case was a perfect example that LCMS leadership does not always follow its own theology and standards.”

    Yes, and President Benke continued smugly as DP while The Lutheran Hour fired Pastor Wally Schulz for faithfully calling Benke to repentance. This is not old history or beating a dead horse, but another continuing example of the lack of ecclesiastical supervision in the LCMS to this very day. When one of the false teachers triumphs, it encourages others not to avoid their sin.

    “For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.” (Large Catechism, The Eighth Commandment, paragraph 284)

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