Great Stuff Found on the Web — Suffering the suffrage. . .

Another great post by Pastor Peters over on Pastoral Meanderings:


220px-Suffrage_universelI have often quipped that the problem in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is not women’s suffrage, it is suffrage at all.  Before you get upset and think I am dissing the laity, let me calm you down.  I do not vote.  I do not have a vote in my parish.  I vote once every couple of years in District Convention (mostly on God, apple pie, and country type motions that are little more than window dressing).  Every 8-10 years I might vote in Synodical Convention (where I am headed in 2013).  Voting has its place but I think we posit too much importance upon voting.

My problem with voting is that we say we do not vote on matters of doctrine (recall the old joke about the parliamentarian who insisted that according to the rules the Word of God can only be overruled by a two thirds majority vote!).  That is what we say… but we vote all the time on God’s Word and doctrine.  We vote to announce it, to affirm it, and to reaffirm it.  Why?  Have we voted down things that purported to be God’s Word and doctrine?  If we say we cannot vote on matters of faith and doctrine, then why do we?  No church has ever voted that the Bible was not the Word of God (even though some act like this is their stance) so why do we consistently take up time at conventions voting on things that are true whether we vote on them or not?

My second problem with voting is that if something wins by a narrow margin it loses in my book.  In other words, as a Pastor I have often worked to withhold from a vote anything that runs the risk of significant opposition — at least until we could work for unanimity on how we should proceed.  Would we vote to call a Pastor if the guy got 50.5% of the vote?  Would we vote to build a building or sell property with 50.5% saying aye?  Maybe you would.  I wouldn’t.  The only things that we regularly vote upon here are things that have already garnered deep and broad support in the parish following careful and considered teaching and information.

My third problem with voting is that it seems like great power but the power is in upholding what we have voted for — it does not take much to get a show of hands for something.  It does take something to get the people who vote in favor of something to follow through on it.  We vote for budgets that we do not fully support with our dollars.  We almost always pass resolutions on stewardship and yet Synod, some Districts, and many parishes are running behind in their budgets.  We voted for it and that was easy but the hard part in everything is in upholding what it is we vote to affirm.

My fourth problem with voting is that it seems as if democracy were a God given right when it is no such thing.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Democracy is about as messy a form of government as you can find but it is also about the best (save a good, pious, and benevolent monarch like, say, Frederick the Wise!).  But democracy is not the New Testament replacement for the Old Testament theocratic form of government.  The right to vote often ends up as merely the right to expression opposition, to complain, and to throw a monkey wrench in the works every now and then.  Synod passed a sweeping structural reform at the same convention we elected as Synod President a guy who was not in favor of them.  How about that for consistency!

My fifth problem is that often the people who should be voting are absent and the people who should not be voting are present to cast their vote.  What I mean is that the folks who are most supportive of the work of the Kingdom are not necessarily those who are there in the church basements or convention halls to put a mark on paper (or, in this day and age, press a button).  Oftentimes there is a big disconnect between the people assembled for the vote and those who are in the pews on Sunday morning, who do the work of the kingdom, who faithfully steward the gifts and resources the Lord has entrusted to them, etc…   So how do we live with this conflict?  I don’t know.  I do know I have been to conventions in which the delegates hardly reflected the church as a whole (for good or for ill).

So I will tell you what I think about women’s suffrage… or men’s for that matter.  We should vote less and pray more… cast less votes and pay more attention to the outcomes and consequences… work through catechesis to be more of one mind so that we do not have to pass God and country motions just to make ourselves feel better.  So… maybe it is a cop out and some of you will be angry but I say we should study more and vote less.  On every level of Church!

About Norm Fisher

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

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

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

More of his work can be found at


Great Stuff Found on the Web — Suffering the suffrage. . . — 17 Comments

  1. There has been some discussion in the parish which I serve to move to every Sunday Communion (we have it very very frequently now but some of us would like to have it every Sunday). There are some who object and use as their argument the very explanations which were used by some pastors years ago for why we do NOT have every Sunday Communion. I understand those arguments as I heard them myself and, in the distant past, even used those arguments myself. Shall we now vote on it? I have plainly asserted that we must keep teaching on the subject until we all arrive at a consensus — I do not want the Lord’s Supper sullied by a vote on its frequency so that some “win” and others “lose.” The American democratic notion sometimes gets in the way of thinking clearly about the Word of God, His promises to us, and our promises to Him.

  2. Pr. Peters . . .

    I read your your piece at precisely 6AM yesterday morning, as I do most every day. You set your site to make us worm-seekers out here get an early dose of good every day. Thank you.

    Pr. Wollenburg – I would contend the frequency of the Sacrament is a matter to be determined solely by the one responsible to deliver it. And to get really “Confessional” about the matter, the Large Catechism, Lord’s Supper 24:

    “Therefore it is given for a daily pasture and sustenance, that
    faith may refresh and strengthen itself so as not to fall back
    in such a battle, but become ever stronger and stronger. For
    the new life must be so regulated that it continually increase
    and progress, but it must suffer much opposition. For the
    devil is such a furious enemy that when he sees that we oppose
    him and attack the old man, and that he cannot topple us over
    by force, he prowls and moves about on all sides, tries all
    devices, and does not desist until he finally wearies us, so
    that we either renounce our faith or yield hands and feet and
    become listless or impatient. Now to this end the consolation
    is here given when the heart feels that the burden is becoming
    too heavy, that it may here obtain new power and refreshment.”

    How to “sell” the idea of “every Sunday communion?” Ask how it could be possible that any of us might get “too much” of Jesus? 🙂

    Just a suggestion . . .

    Pax – jb

  3. @Rev. Alan Wollenburg #1
    The congregation votes on the color of the carpet in the fellowship hall. Word and Sacrament ministry is your job to provide as faithfully, lovingly and pastorally as you can manage.

    Acts 6:2-4 is worth another look:
    And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  4. @jb #2
    I absolutely agree with you, jb (of course!). My point was that I just do not want us to ever get the idea that we are free to vote on Biblical truths. Where that is done, we will soon become of the opinion that we are free to accept or reject (by a proper vote, of course) God’s Word and gifts. Alas, this is already the attitude in some parishes and, I am fearful, could happen at a synodical level (lots of temptations for this to happen).

  5. Thanks Norm for sharing this very good and very thought provoking article!

  6. @Rev. Alan Wollenburg #4
    Pr. Wollenburg –

    Pax, my friend!

    You might catch some flack for awhile for simply completing Divine Worship as it is meant to end every week.

    But watch, wait and see – The Blessed Sacrament itself will do the work of converting – to personally receive Jesus as a conclusion to the Liturgy and preaching of the Word. Acts 2:42ff. makes that abundantly clear.

    I have been extremely fortunate to have had flocks who were already having the Sacrament whenever they Worshiped, or were very much open to doing so once it was suggested. So I guess you could call me “spoiled” on that count.

    Blessing on your Ministry to your flock!

    jb 🙂

  7. I wish the church would get back to casting lots or drawing straws when it needs to make a decision or choose a leader.

  8. @Rev. Alan Wollenburg #4
    Where that is done, we will soon become of the opinion that we are free to accept or reject (by a proper vote, of course) God’s Word and gifts. Alas, this is already the attitude in some parishes…

    It is the attitude in some parishes because some confessional (they say) pastors will not bestir themselves to teach the desirability of every Sunday communion and even make excuses for not having it.
    But in this present age, where many people are required to work at least every other Sunday, they can go a long time without communion when their schedule collides with the “alternate Sunday” arrangement. And oddly, those “very confessional” pastors could seem to care less about those parishioners. [Personal experience omitted]

    The Elders at my present congregation became aware of the need for every Sunday communion. But they didn’t ask for a vote on it. They suggested, citing attendance, that we have one service in the summer. And since we were used to communion at one service every Sunday, we have it at that one service.

    Some parts of both services objected to changing their time of worship. So, after a couple of weeks, it was announced that we would maintain two services… but we would have every Sunday communion at both. And so we do. If there were objections, I haven’t heard them. 🙂

    I wish the church would get back to casting lots or drawing straws when it needs to make a decision or choose a leader. LW

    That’s how one of my Pastors got to be Circuit Counselor! 😉

  9. Thank you for the post. Excellent thoughts. I am struck by how people can value suffrage so much. Democratic principles are based upon the sovereignty of the individual’s conscience to determine what is “the true the good and the beautiful” which, although noble, is a far cry from an accurate portrayal of fallen human beings. That, and if one were simply to look into the philosophical and historical origins of modern democracy/democratic principles, there should be enough for one to call “foul.”

    As to the last paragraph of the post, “So… maybe it is a cop out and some of you will be angry but I say we should study more and vote less.” I couldn’t agree more! It reminds me of “Revolt of the Masses,” by Ortega y Gasset.

  10. Ironically even the heterodox Quakers (my blessed late mother’s late father I never met was a faithful Quaker pastor booted from his fellowship for preaching the Gospel, so I come by my opposition to tradition for the sake of averring God’s Sola Scriptura (like that German Augustinian monk Martin) honestly) had this godly understanding of Christian community regarding “voting,” which they did not allow, at least officially, rather seeking to determine “the sense of the meeting,” though as with anything no doubt this was so abused as to cause its demise and the eventual return to the worldly notion of “voting.”
    It’s really quite like claiming creed and confessions aren’t really replacement of Scripture as ultimate authority in spite of the fact that they usually wind up being so in fact/practice, since most folk, so-called “clergy” no less than “laity” (now what happened to that silly stuff about “priesthood of all believers”?), are far too lazy (sloth was once known to be the mortal sin it really is for the few who take God & His Word seriously) to inculcate both, so why not take the creed/confession where I don’t have to think over God’s Word where I do(just getting a headache in my cluelessness as a result). After all we successfully managed to cut our “sermons” down to ten minute “meditation” feel-good crap about nothing, and our “worship services” down to an hour of thanking God for making us feel good about ourselves and how he’s so glad we let him save us when we’d be mad if the worldly movies and TV we really adore were < 2 hours!
    And of course then we can't figure out why we're powerless and God doesn't answer, though He often does where He's an honored guest like in Africa and Asia, unlike the chosen frozen western James 4:4 faithless whores. Wouldn't you be inpressed by a professed spouse cuckhold, the alleged "bride of Christ," who gave you an hour a week versus days for her paramours?! Dear Lord please save us from my friends; I can take care of my enemies myself! NOT! Soli Deo gloria!
    One of the greatest problems with “lutheran” (an ungodly term which violates both 1 Cor 1 & Luther’s own stern prohibitions against so sinfully, idolatrously using his name) fondness for “concord” is the true blindness of most as to how history has proven how easy it is to be in “concord” about error and falsehood, as seen in the 20th-21st century’s laughably, exhaustively refuted, but wildly touted, grossly hypocritical claim that the “consensus” of “science”/”scientists” affirms evolution and antropocentric global warming. There’s of course no concern about whether or not it’s actually true, since truth was abandoned long ago for our current cesspool of moral relativism (an abysmal oxymoron), only the lawless fascist delusion that since MOST THINK it’s so, it therefore must BE so, the usual lie of lawless fascist degenerates who pursued the very opposite course when creation was the majority and dominant force their minority opposed because their cultic derangement demanded following their alleged “truth” no matter the opposition. Thankfully Galileo was more interested in true science than heeding the “consensus” of the erroneous geocentric evolutionists of his day. True science is almost solely the province of creationists as corrupted as the evolutionism cult is by both its politics of persecution and its religious oppression of those it opposes; sadly many professing, ignorant and gullible “christians” have been fooled by this ungodly chicanery of lawless fascist tyranny that took over the USSR & Nazi Germany the creationist west defeated before madly overthrowing God’s Word so blindly to embrace the delusional lies of the enemy so ably and exhaustively refuted at Soli Deo gloria!

  11. @Russ Davis #10

    I don’t even know where to start. First, it seems that the ultimate problem we’re facing is the rejection of tradition in the first place. I think your use of the Quakers as an illustration is very telling. Anyone can own a Bible these days; however, if you reject the Symbols of the Lutheran church then you’re just as well off without the Bible. The Quakers had the Bible and their mystic pow wows lasted long enough, so I understand, yet that didn’t stop them from being the enthusiasts they were and are.

    Martin Luther and the Lutheran reformers didn’t hate tradition, as evidenced by their use of the Church Fathers, evidence from early Church practice (also known as Sacred Tradition), and the Apocryphal books. See, that’s not the kind of tradition they were trying to get rid of. They were trying to get rid of the traditions of man. Case in point, if you are calling people to have 2 hour sermons and just really exude their radical heart for their Gospel by doing “everything for God’s glory!” and memorizing more Bible verses, as evidence of sincere Christian piety, then you are insisting on man’s tradition.

    Also, insisting that the Divine Service is where man serves God and gives him glory (makes him an honored guest) in and of ourselves is man’s tradition. Rather we should think about the Divine Service as celebration of God becoming man where He serves us. Like the Word of God says…as understood by the Lutheran Symbols…

    Please, correct me if I mistook what you were saying. I understand the limitations of dialoguing on a comment thread, though.

  12. @Russ Davis #10
    Well, Russ, you sure said a lot: I mean you no offense, but to my way of thinking, your post is the perfect illustration of why there are denominations in Christendom. (I think I’m done with this thread, a thread which is beginning to unravel, I think. 🙂 ) In Christ’s love, thanks for the discussion.

    @ Frahm: yes, brother, I think that’s precisely the point. Sadly, because so many tend to look at the Confessions (as at the Scriptures) through variously-colored “lenses” people then end up voting on “what does this mean”, and it starts again. *sigh* My refrain: Kyrie eleison.

  13. @Paul of Alexandria #14
    Not a lot of candidates out there who meet the Acts 1:21-22 requirements though. I’m more inclined to look longingly at the Titus 1:5 model myself. To me it seems slightly more prescriptive, and less descriptive than the Acts 1:26 one. I’m not a huge fan of Amerikanische Probelherrschaft in general, but we live in a fallen and broken world, each system comes w/ it’s own abuses thanks to our sinful nature, and the real answer is probably repentance rather than systematic change in 9 out of 10 cases.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  14. Russ Davis :Ironically even the heterodox Quakers…had this godly understanding of Christian community regarding “voting,” which they did not allow, at least officially, rather seeking to determine “the sense of the meeting,”!

    This “determining the sense of the meeting” sounds like complete mysticism and enthusiasm, which is what Quakerism is.

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