Pastor who Participated in Unionistic and Syncretistic Service at Newtown, Connecticut Apologizes, by Pr. Rossow

President Harrison has just posted on the Witness, Mercy, Life Together blog  (WMLT) the great news that Pastor Rob Morris, from the local LCMS parish in Newtown, Connecticut, has apologized for his participation in the unionistic and syncretistic prayer vigil in the aftermath of the brutal murders of the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Pastor Morris’ apology leaves much to be desired but President Harrison has committed to further work on this matter in this case and for the broader issue for the LCMS. We concur with President Harrison and support his approach to this delicate issue.

BJS writer Charlie Henrickson broke this story back in December but then your editor decided to stop comments on the post in order to let things cool off so that synod procedures of admonishment and spiritual care be given room and time to work and now, even though the conversation will go on, we are at a calmer point where we can return this issue to front and center in the LCMS and work toward greater unity on what the Scriptures teach about syncretism and unionism.

Pastor Morris is a participant in the local clergy association in Newtown and when they planned this ecumenical vigil Pastor Morris was invited to give the benediction at the service and decided that doing so was an appropriate way to minister to his members and respond to the tragedy with the Gospel.

It was a well-intentioned thought but it also had extreme consequences. Standing on the same stage/chancel as heterodox and pagans and joining with them in a worship service diminishes the Gospel, proclaims that we are in fellowship with the heterodox and pagans and is the spiritual prostitution spoken of by the prophets and by St. Paul.

The service included religious leaders from Judaism, Islam, Baha’i, and liberal Protestantism. It was clearly a worship service. President Obama gave the address which CNN called a sermon and said he was a pastor’s pastor. His “sermon” even began with a Scripture text. Obama and almost all the participants preached universal salvation when they exclaimed that all the little children were in heaven and had now become angels. Pagan and heretical teaching was at every turn and bowing of the heads in the auditorium. The Baha’i representatives taught some weird doctrine that our sorrow over death agitates god because these deaths are a part of some sort of neo-platonic re-entry into the spiritual realm. One of the liberal protestants offered a prayer to god the father, god the mother, or whatever other name by which he/she is called. Of course the king of heresies – works righteousness – was omnipresent.

The liturgical elements included chanting of a psalm by the rabbi, chanting of liturgical pieces by the Moslems, Scripture readings, prayer and of course the benediction given by Pastor Morris.

We thank and commend President Harrison and District President Timothy Yeadon (Morris’ bishop) for their tireless work on this situation. Even more so, we commend Pastor Morris for recognizing the harm that unionism and syncretism bring to the pure Gospel and admitting his error in judgment and pray that he will come to a greater understanding of how wrong unionism and syncretism are.

BJS has produced this video on the service to help our readers understand the depth of error in unionism and syncretism. May God have mercy on the LCMS. You can see the video here:

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.


Pastor who Participated in Unionistic and Syncretistic Service at Newtown, Connecticut Apologizes, by Pr. Rossow — 189 Comments

  1. So, Carl, is it your intent to declare Rev. Morris unrepentant and to ask for further action against him? Are you indicating your personal distrust of our President and his pastoral actions on behalf of the church?

    Will you be taking this further and be asking for a fact-finding committee concerning what President Harrison knew before the event?

  2. I remember that Jesus said to the repentant adulterous woman, “Go and sin no more.” I suspect, for teaching purposes Dave might suggest we have a video to continue teaching our people what adultery looks like. Maybe we could splice in snipets of Jesus saying, “Neither do I condemn you” over and over again during the particularly spicy parts.

  3. @Fred March #1: “So, Carl, is it your intent to declare Rev. Morris unrepentant and to ask for further action against him?”

    Fred, the intent of my previous post was to correct your misleading phrase. And in the future it will be Rev. Morris who decides whether to declare he is repentant or not, as he currently made it clear in the letter, “I did not believe my participation to be an act of joint worship.”

    “Are you indicating your personal distrust of our President and his pastoral actions on behalf of the church?”

    No more than your additional questions would indicate a personal distrust in what I previously posted.

    “Will you be taking this further and be asking for a fact-finding committee concerning what President Harrison knew before the event?”

    First, it seems rather clear from public statements of President Harrison and Rev. Morris what President Harrison “knew before the event.” Secondly, the Constitution and Bylaws already have an established procedure the Synod has agreed to follow for finding (and acting) on facts dealing with synodical members participating in syncretic interfaith prayer services.

  4. Carl,

    1) When Rev. Morris says “I did not believe my participation to be an act of joint worship.” he uses the past tense (did not). This stands in striking contrast to the word “do” which would indicate a lack of apology. My understanding of the clear intent of his words is to say that the collegial and confessional advice of his supervisors has led him to see that this was wrong. I call this repentance. My statement was not misleading. You are choosing to misread his English.

    2) A simple yes or no would suffice to my second question. I have no idea what you think of my assumptions. Do you distrust the actions and statements of our President?

    3) I don’t know what clear statements you have found from President Harrison or Rev. Morris, but I see nothing that tells me how much was known or understood ahead of time by either the DP or the SP. Please help me here. Also, how do you see the Constitution and Bylaws playing out for acting on the facts.

    4) I’m curious why you criticize under the guise of a pseudonym. Is it easier to throw stones when no one knows who you are? My name is Fred March. I am from Texas. Who are you really?

  5. Fred March #4,

    Rev. Morris wrote the letter on January 31. No where in the letter does Rev. Morris acknowledge that his public participation was wrong. His apology was only where he caused offense to those who believed it was wrong.

    As for your second question, you have my answer, which deals with what your posted questions asked, not with your unstated assumptions.

    You asked if I would “be asking for a fact-finding committee.” I gave you my answer. The public statements in the letters were sufficient for me; I can only direct you to read them more carefully. As for predicting future use of the Constitution and Bylaws, I leave that to convention delegates and enthusiasts of ouija boards.

    I use a nom de guerre because it is permitted on this blog. The moderators and others know who I am. So your question is meaningless, if not snarky.

    “My name is Fred March. I am from Texas.”

    That would indicate that you are not a publisher in St. Louis.

  6. “Carl”

    Snarky? Yes. I guess so. It is shameful, cowardly, and arguably sinful to spew venom and accusations without being willing to face the music (and reasonable argumentation) with a real name. Rev. Morris’ name and face are used everywhere on this blog. He stood up and did what he thought was right and then, when rebuked, acknowledged his error with a public, signed apology. President Harrison speaks his mind with courage and faith. I see a list of names (on the right hand side of this blog) of clergy who will honorably own up to what they say whether others agree with it or not. Luther declared, “Here I stand.” And I have told you who I am. A man has the right to face his accusers, and you are very clearly accusing Rev. Morris of a “non-apology.” But you choose to remain a nameless, faceless, self-rightous cynic.

    You have, in a similar cowardly way, chosen to dodge all of my direct questions because you know that you are more extreme than your cronies and that speaking directly and forthrightly will alienate you even from them.

    So…I yield the floor for honesty, integrity, and courage. Let those who have it speak freely and let the debates and conversations continue. I don’t care if you agree with me or violently disagree. But I have not the time of day for those who want to stir up the pot and can’t even offer their identity. That’s not the way of Luther, Walther, Harrison or even Kieschnick or Behnke. It’s the way of the papparazzi.

  7. @Fred March #6

    For one thing, this also ranks along the kvetching against ACELC. Funny how mor eliberal minded folk like to complain aobut “dragging people’s names through the mud,” yet if we try not to do that, then we get bitched at for speaking in hypoptheticals and no concrete examples or evidence.

    Pr. Morris, well I’m not sure he was prepared for this, being relatively new, trained locally and collequizeed. Very new on the job. DP Yeadon is also new to his role, and I am not sure he has grown into it fully yet. It is one thing to be a member of district, even an officer. But when you become DP and are the sole leader, certain decisions become yours alone that you must own, good ro bad. WHile I don’t like what happened, I think it has been handled way better than the Benke affair.

    Now, if you wish to croos pollunate blogs, Lutherquest will help immediately figure out “Carl” is Rick Strikert, a layman. A Google search quickly indicates he is has a PhD (in science I think) and also lives in Texas. If you want to know more, feel free to search the web.

    I am Jason Kiefer. I am also a layman and I live in New Jersey. So I live in the shadow of one of our controversial areas, and I lurk at a handful of blogs (only participate here). I keep up with this decently. Some of us may have strong opinions, but they are also formed opinions, not shallow knee jerk emotions. If some of our statements get brash, it is because we are a number of steps down the road, into deeper meanings of what’s oging on. Some of us are past initial pleasantries and are chewing on meat.

  8. @Carl Vehse #5

    Sorry for “outing” you, Carl. I don’t think you are trying to deliberately hide, I think you have more integrity than that. And as I pointed out to Fred, I didn’t find it hard at all to find you. I am okay with your posting here and elsewhere. Thank you for joining the discussion.

  9. Carl Vehse :
    Rev. Morris has only issued apologies where he caused offense for pushing Christian freedom too far, and the apologies only applied to offending those who believe that he has endorsed false teaching, which Rev. Morris states he did not.

    Although he was circumspect in writing, President Harrison’s letter left me with the clear impression he would be working privately with Pastor Morris, helping him to see that his participation was offensive, that he had in fact participated in joint worship with other religions.

  10. Thank you Pastor Crandall for “putting the best construction” on the matter and laying it to rest. Tomorrow you and other pastors will have your hands full as you try to converse on this matter with your congregations. God bless you. It’s a tough subject, but well worth the meaningful discussion among your Bible Study groups and elsewhere.

    What saddens me most is that those who took issue with Rev. Morris, it seems, chose to resort to the blogs rather than discuss this with President Harrison or President Yeadon or Pastor Morris himself first. This is the great danger of places like these. We chatter on without using proper churchmanship and the end result is another black eye from those who don’t understand. Yes, I understand it was a “public” infraction, however the more one writes about these things, the more they take on a life of their own. The personal discussion can elicit the necessary response without large scale media attention. And perhaps Rev. Morris would have written his own, unsolicited apology without it having to be posted on the LCMS website.

  11. @Pastor Ted Crandall #9 : “Although he was circumspect in writing, President Harrison’s letter left me with the clear impression he would be working privately with Pastor Morris, helping him to see that his participation was offensive, that he had in fact participated in joint worship with other religions.”

    Rev. Morris already has acknowledged that his participation was offensive to those who “consider it to constitute joint worship” (a view that Rev. Morris does not hold).

    But, yes indeed, President Harrison’s letter does state that Rev. Morris’s “participation violated the limits set by Scripture regarding joint worship, particularly with those who reject Jesus (Romans 16:17), and was thus a violation of Article VI of the LCMS Constitution” [emphasis added].

    As for President Harrison’s “request of any who are contemplating action against Pastor Morris in the Synod’s reconciliation system that you do not do so,” he may certainly make such a “request” (although not as any implied threat), but he has no authority as President to forbid synodical members from properly using the Synod’s reconciliation (actually, dispute resolution) system, which has been put in place by the Convention as the Synod’s official ecclesiastical supervision process.

  12. I never knew much about the Lutheran Church before but assumed it wasn’t bad. Now I know better. Can you imagine what God must think of you? Do the Christian religion a favor and publicly proclaim that the Lutheran Church is NOT Christian but is, in reality, a cult.

  13. @Shirley Bryan #12

    No, we are not a “cult”: “Sociologists still maintain that unlike sects, which are products of religious schism and therefore maintain a continuity with traditional beliefs and practices, “cults” arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices.” Neither are we a “sect.” We are mainline Protestant.

  14. Hi John to Really Steadfast. Do you mind giving your full name. It is only appropriate when you make such strong statements.

    Now to your point. Please address the following:

    The gunmen took the earthly lives of the children. Those lives are what we sing about in “A Mighty Fortress” when we sing “And take they our life, good, fames, child and wife…”

    To stand together with Muslims in a worship service while they pray to a false god confuses the little children who are at the vigil (and the adults) as to which god is really the true one. That is what we sing about in the rest of Martin Luther’s “Mighty Fortress” when we sing “…Let these all be gone. The kingdom ours remaineth.”

    So the point is, you can take my life with a gun or any other weapon and I lose my earthly life. If you confuse the Gospel of Jesus Christ you put my eternal soul at risk forever and forever.

    Does that make sense?

  15. Either I can’t find my comments or they were censored.

    That hymn was not about a school shooting. It was a different circumstance. Great hymn, but it was about this instance, and few of us relatively safe and prosperous Lutherans face anywhere near the same perils of stake-burning and property confiscation that faced the early reformation leaders the song was talking about.

    Of couse it makes sense but that is different than correct.

    Who are we to sit in judgement? Christ never said you are LCMS and on you I will build my church. Of course Muslims are not in Christ, but they certainly pray to the same god. There is no other God. They claim the same God of Abraham we do. They clearly diverged from the path. They got it wrong. One of our pastors among them is a reminder that they are not on Christ’s path. Absence does nothing to bring anybody back. Nothing.

    And if you think the LCMS being absent at that scene is a resolution of any confusion, you overestimate the power of our absence to help sanctify the fallen. By us not being there we are taking a stand for the true faith? Who will notice that?

    The Holy Spirit can work in any circumstance. The chance he will work in a mixed faith gathering is diminished by the controversy of setting ourselves apart exclusive and above it.

    The Pastor should apologize for LCMS. Martian Luther himself started this whole movement in the shadow of a church that put it itself at the center of faith. Yes, I understand the church was deeply corrupt on many levels, but it was the ultimate authority, infallible. Not we say that through our actions.

    The root of this controversy is doubt in the Holy Spirit; the result is a missed opportunity to reach out to others. It is made worse by a complete lack of expertise in basic issues management at a public level. We really, really need serious media relations training. We do the same damage to our true goal by holding a flaming sword at the communion rail, rather than open arms and an open scripture, ready to share the good news of what the sacrament really means.

    When LCMS finally extinguishes itself through the judgemental, closed and joyless approach it takes to those who think differently, the Holy Spirit will find some other way to work on without us. Therein lies a deep irony of this debate.

    What pains me about this is that we could be such a powerful force for good if we tipped our scale of judgement a little more toward Gospel.

  16. John to Really…,

    I am not sure that you have understood my point.

    You assert that it is vile for me to say that worshipping with Muslims does less harm than killing someone. I responded by saying that a gun only kills the body but false teaching kills the soul which is eternal.

    You respond by saying that Christ never said I will build my church on the LCMS and that I am wrongly judging someone.

    I never claimed that God said he built his church on the LCMS. He hasn’t. He built his church on Christ the rock and on his word. In that word Christ says I am the way, the truth and the life. There is no other way to the Father except through me. He also said You shall have no other gods before me. These are Christ’s words. He is the one doing the judging. My job is to pass on what Christ says. Where he judges, I judge. Where he forgives I forgive.

    It is not right for me or anyone else to stand with a Muslim in a church service and offer prayers alongside him. He is not praying to the true God. He does not believe that Christ is the true son of God who died to forgive us of our sins. As a matter of fact, nearly every speaker at this worship service stated that all these children were in heaven, not because of God’s love in Christ, but simply becuase of God’s love. That is your tipping of the scale toward the Gospel.

    When you speak God’s Gospel without his law you lose the Gospel that you clearly love so much, as do I. There is no Gospel without the word of law that demanded that a price be paid for our sin.

    So I ask you. Do you think that the first commandment does not apply in this case?

    Do you believe that we can set aside the first commandment in certain situations?

  17. @John to Really Steadfast #16

    Wrong. Muslims do not pray to the same god. I’d give Jews better quarter, since I view their faith as incomplete. But Muslims have institutionally seen and moved past Jesus, rejecting the Son. You may wish to feel good about yourself in inviting Muslims, but you are deluding yourself.

  18. @John to Really Steadfast #16:“When LCMS finally extinguishes itself through the judgemental, closed and joyless approach it takes to those who think differently, the Holy Spirit will find some other way to work on without us. Therein lies a deep irony of this debate.”

    The irony of your post is in the closed, joyless judgmentalism with which you accuse others in the Missouri Synod of being judgmental.

    But you provide the basis for your opinion: “What pains me about this is that we could be such a powerful force for good if we tipped our scale of judgement a little more toward Gospel.”

    Your position is an example of what C.F.W. Walther meant in his Thesis VI in the collection of his lectures on The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel:

    In the second place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is not preached in its full sternness and the Gospel not in its full sweetness, when, on the contrary, Gospel elements are mingled with the Law and Law elements with the Gospel.

  19. @T Rossow #17

    Based on this logic the greatest service we could give to the devastated families would be to let them know that some of their children are in hell, and that they should turn from their false belief to avoid the same fate. Encourage them to join us in bringing others to the true faith.

    As long as we are passing along Christ’s judgement why not use every possible opportunity to be very direct and clear in relaying our optimized mix of law and gospel? Why hold back at all? We already publically consign the kiddos to the flames here, where newspaper reporters are already extracting story fodder.

    The first commandment clearly should apply in all cases. If it applied in ANY case none of us would have any trouble following the rest of the law.

  20. @Jason #19
    Actually, they claim to pray to the same god we do. EXCEPT their Christ is a mere prophet, and their path to salvation is their good works. Not quite on the money.

  21. @Carl Vehse #21
    Fair point re the irony.

    It just really bugs me when a church that gets is right in so many ways blows it completely with its dismal media relations and public rants during what could be golden opportunities to share the faith.

    This was an opportunity to stand FOR something powerful. Instead we come off like that church that protested at funerals of the fallen soldiers.

    A gathering of unbelievers is an excellent place to share the good news of Christ. Not as comfortable as a pew full of safely pasturized LCMS Lutherans, to be sure.

  22. In his February 1st Letter on Newtown, CT, Pres. Harrison stated:

    “The 2010 convention (Res. 8-30B) gave the President of Synod the task of leading a Synod-wide study of the meaning of Article VI of the Synod’s constitution, especially with respect to the words requiring every member of Synod to renounce “unionism and syncretism of every description.”

    What Pres. Harrision does not state is that Res. 8-30B resolved, in part:

    “That following the study, the Commission on Handbook, in consultation and concurrence with the Synod President, the Commission on Constitutional Matters and the Council of Presidents, submit a proposal to clarify and affirm or amend Article VI to the next convention of Synod.”

    The idea of rewording Article VI was originally proposed by the BRTFSSG (in Res. 8-30A) but that resolution was “laid on the table” and 8-30B was introduced during Session 11.

    What proposed revisions to Article VI the Commission on Handbook might submit is anyone’s guess, but the phrase, “strictly enforced,” will not likely be one of them.

  23. @John to Really Steadfast #16
    You state “We do the same damage to our true goal by holding a flaming sword at the communion rail, rather than open arms and an open scripture, ready to share the good news of what the sacrament really means.”

    What was the purpose of the flaming sword? It was out of God’s LOVE that “He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” If Adam or Eve had eaten of the tree of life, they would live eternally in a life of sin.

    Also, in my opinion, if a pastor were to knowingly serve communion to a Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist/non-denom/or any other walk of life that doesn’t believe in the true presence – “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.” 1 Cor. 11:27

    To take this to the next logical step – “If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for[a] his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” Ezekiel 3:18

    Using your statement above, by stopping others from partaking the Lord’s Supper to their own detriment or damnation, that is the ultimate display of love that is possible from sinful beings.

    Your statement that we believe in the same god appears to have more in common with the Bahá’í Faith.

  24. @Mark D. #25
    I am not advocating serving communion to anyone who doesn’t believe in the true presence. Surely we can count on one hand the number of Muslims and Hindus who show up at our communion rail.

    What I AM advocating is to shift the energy away from “Stopping” people and place the energy instead on using the opportunity to engage with them; if necessary to take them aside for a moment and let them know they are welcome in the church and ask if they are accepting of the words of institution they just heard.

    I feel we place too much energy on excusion,and it hurts us and makes the Holy Spirit have to work around us instead of through us. (Maybe some day we can discuss the apparent theological paradox in which Baptism is solely powered by the Holy Spirit apart from our understanding or work – thank God – yet access to God’s grace at our Communion rail requires passing the LCMS test first?)

    The same-god question is something I struggle with. In India they have a jillion gods, including all of the temple elephants. NOT the same god as the LCMS God. At the synagogue they point back to the God of A, A and J. Same as us. Same God or not? (1/3 the same God?) Over at the Mosque, they claim the same Abrahamic tradition we do, yet they have Mohammed front and center; no Baptism, communion, etc. To heaven through works. So at what point in the split of the three monotheistic relions do we think the Muslims stopped praying to the same God? I don’t know enough about Islam to grasp this any better than I have shared here.

    At what point in another faith’s journey away from the garden we all came from can we be certain they are talking to Satan or an empty phone line instead of the same God we do? To clarify, I do not equate “talking with the same God” as getting that conversation heard, or right.

  25. John the Really Steadfast :So at what point in the split of the three monotheistic relions do we think the Muslims stopped praying to the same God?

    They never did. As an offical religion form the 600’s, Muslims immediately had the Prophet Mohammed, and Jesus was never the Son of God but a lesser prophet.

    Now if you wish to go earlier, pre-Islmaic, then maybe you have a case. But you really need to go back to Ishmael, whom the Arabs claim descent form. Hagar and Ishmael were banished early on. Not sure how much the boy was able to learn about YHWH, but he certainly wasn’t always brought up in the faith. Abraham had Isaac with him his whole life, to always be there and teach. Did Ishmael become bitter? He at least helped in buriyng Abraham. But what did he teach his descendants? Scripture doesn’t explicitly say about God walking with Ishamel, so how well did he remember and keep the ways of the Lord?

    Reading the Genesis accounts, from Noah, form Abraham (did you know he also had 12 sons?), many descendants become hostile against the inheritence and promise. If I had to speculate, I would say Ishamelites/Arabs/Muslims stopped praying to the same God circa 1500 B.C. Jews stopped circa 30 A.D. when they rejected Jesus.

  26. We want to sacrifice to the deity to gain it’s favor, the Lord sacrificed His Son for us to gain our salvation. Writing on Valentine’s Day, this is true love. I think this is the difference between the Christian religion and every other religion on earth. I think Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, and Christianity pray to the same God but only in Jesus Christ do we know God’s disposition toward us all. I like doing crossword puzzles. In a N. Y. Times crossword 6 letter answer for the clue: “Does penance”? Answer: ATONES. In otherwords, we do the atoning. Even a lot of Christianity comes across as rules and regs to “climb Jacob’s ladder” to cooperate in our salvation. And we know God’s disposition toward us because we’re really spiritual, smart, holy? Hardly! But as the Apostle makes clear we were enemies, weak, ungodly and dead. Further, Mohammed, Buddha, the 1,000,000 gods of Hinduism, Joseph Smith did not die for sinners and rise again. They erected ladders to heaven and have some earthly wisdom, but God went on a Cross. Now the mission is to publish this good news. It’s not at some inter-faith service but the work of His Church in Word and Sacrament where He has called y’all.

  27. @John the Really Steadfast #26
    The whole reason I had for leaving an LC-MS church was because the pastor would not exercise discretion regarding the Lord’s Supper. There were numerous times that children and grandchildren of church members were served Holy Communion even though the pastor was well aware that one group were members of non-denominational church and the other group were members of the Church of Christ. The pastor had to sign the letter of release from membership for one family and yet he still communed them. He never asked a question regarding their rejection of the teachings of the LC-MS or what is their understanding of the LS.

    As to your question regarding the conversation with Satan or the empty phone line, Jesus stated Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 These other religions (Muslim/Buddhist/Hindu etc.) are the false prophets that Jesus warned about in Matthew 7:15. As to the Christian denominations, it goes back to Luther’s meeting with Zwingli where he wrote on the table “Hoc est corpus meum” what is the meaning of the word est?

  28. Wow. Really. Just wow. That pretty much sums up my thoughts on reading all of these posts. And it is accompanied by head shaking – not nodding. Wow.

  29. The January 31st Letter from Pastor Robert Morris states:

    I took the action that I took. I and no one else. In the end, I believed my participation to be, not an act of joint worship, but an act of community chaplaincy. Chaplains are expected to give faithful witness under circumstances which are less than ecclesiastically perfect, even as their fellow chaplains may proclaim a different witness.

    Rev. Morris claims here that he was not participating as a co-officiant in a religious worship serivce, but rather he was participating in “community chaplaincy” (a phrase that has been picked up and repeated by the fifth-column media). So was Rev. Morris acting as a chaplain in the community? Well, the LCMS website provides a Christian Cyclopedia explanation of what a chaplain does:

    “in Am[erica] esp[ecially] men opening or conducting religious services in an assembly of a pub[lic] or semipub[lic] nature, as in legislature assemblies, pub[lic] institutions, and the armed forces.”

    According to this definition, Rev. Morris was indeed conducting a religious prayer service, along with heathen co-officiants, in an assembly of a public nature. President Harrison was correct when he stated, “I believe his [Morris] participation violated the limits set by Scripture regarding joint worship, particularly with those who reject Jesus (Romans 16:17), and was thus a violation of Article VI of the LCMS Constitution.”

  30. Rev. Morris also claimed:

    Thus, with a disclaimer at the outset (which I requested) having stated that participation did not mean endorsement of the other religions represented, I said I was sharing “a final blessing of the hope which is ours through faith in Jesus Christ, using the words of St. John and St. Paul”, I then read from Revelation 21 and I prayed the Trinitarian benediction from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians which we say as part of our Lutheran daily offices.

    If Rev. Morris believed his claim that this was not an act of joint worship, why would the disclaimer be necessary? Are disclaimers required anytime community chaplains speak to someone other than while co-officiating a worship service?

    It would appear that the disclaimer is being used as a “magic wand” to nuance the interfaith prayer service into not being an interfaith prayer service. It is like the CCM’s 2012 nuanced distinction between a synodical member partaking or taking part in the Lord’s Supper of a heterodox (or apostate) church body.

  31. Rev. Morris also stated in his letter:

    However, I recognize others in our church consider it to constitute joint worship and I understand why. I apologize where I have caused offense by pushing Christian freedom too far, and I request you charitably receive my apology.

    If Rev. Morris truly believed his action was not wrong, that he was performing an act of “community chaplaincy,” that it was a Christian act “of mercy and care to a community shocked and grieving an unspeakably horrific event,” then there would be no need for him to offer an apology.

    Are Christians to apologize for being Christians, performing good works as Christians, telling others about Christ?

    There is a contradiction in what Rev. Morris is claiming. If Rev. Morris were right and “others in our church” (actually church body) were wrong there, would be no need for him to apologize. However, if the others are right and Rev. Morris is wrong, then he needs to repent and apologize for more than just causing offense. As it stands, the claim that Rev. Morris was performing Christian acts of mercy and care, combined with the apology for such acts causing offense appear to be rather Pecksniffian.

  32. A couple of questions:

    Am I understanding correctly that these are the verses inspiring our condemnation?

    17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

    18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

    What divisions and offenses were the other clergy causing? Are they not maintaining status quo? I’m not saying the other clergy are cool, but what I am asking is whether we may be the source of divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine. We certainly are causing more fuss than any of the other participants.

    When one of our shepherds proclaims the name of Jesus among the heathens, as one of us calls them, does that not take a step toward obeying the great charter?

    Finally, one of his church families lost a child. Doesn’t the need for him to be there for his member family outweigh the needmformhimmto stay away because some heathens will be there?

    I feel like the approach we are taking here hurts LCMS more than it helps, and we’re not scoring any points with Jesus either.

  33. @John O #33: “A couple of questions”

    Well, four, actually, but here are some comments to those four questions.

    1. I’m not sure where you got the notion that the two verses you quoted “inspired our condemnation” (about the sin of unionism and syncretism). In Post #30 I quoted from President Harrison’s letter posted on the WMLT blog, which included the reference to Romans 16:17. But there is more support in Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions for condemning unionism and syncretism than just a single verse. That is why the prohibition to unionism and syncretism has been in the Missouri Synod constitution since it was founded.

    2. The other clergy were heathen clerics or clergy from heterodox church bodies with which we are not in church fellowship. The Lutheran doctrine is not the cause of division and offense except to those who reject and hate Christ and therefore reject and hate Christ’s true doctrine and those who confess it.

    3. One of our shephards did more than just proclaim the name of Jesus. With Rev. Morris’s co-officiants leading a gathered congregation in prayers to false gods and heathen idols, his public pronouncement of “a final blessing” over such an interfaith prayer service constitutes blasphemy against the true and triune God.

    4. Rev. Morris can be wherever there is a need for him, as pastor, to be. But there was, and will never be, a need for a Lutheran pastor to co-officiate an interfaith prayer service with heathen idol worshippers and offer a blessing of their blasphemies against God.

    I feel like the approach we are taking here hurts LCMS more than it helps, and we’re not scoring any points with Jesus either.

    What do you mean by “the approach we are taking here”? Also, you should be careful about letting emotional feelings replace what the word of God says about “scoring any points with Jesus.”

  34. Is there a special class on hate at the seminary now, or are there secret meetings for this sort of stuff?

  35. Greetings from the UK. Rev Harrison’s initial was awful but his apology, which I’ve only just read. is most commendable. I’m sad that you still support his initial action. My simple response is to ask what would Jesus do? And to say ‘Go and do ye likewise. Here’s my original email at the time.

    Dear Matthew Harrison,
    As an evangelical Christian I had to write and plead with you to recind your reprimand of your pastor following his participation at the vigil for those who suffered in the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    I have studied your comments and whilst I can appreciate the dilemma I would tenderly suggest that your stance must have mystified the people who suffered and done little to promote the Christian witness in your town.

    Your pastor summed the vigil up perfectly when he stated that it was not an act of worship but one of community chaplaincy.
    Like many other Christians I must confess that I found your stance totally embarrassing and harmful to Christian witness. As Dr Francis Schaeffer memorably once stated there are times when we must stand as co- belligerents with those with whom we would otherwise disagree. This was plainly one of those occasions. ‘What would Jesus Do?’ may be a cliché but in this case I fear you have parted company with Him.

    Sincerely, your brother in Christ
    Chris Tozer

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