Great Stuff — It’s a hot landing zone and there will be casualties

Found over on Pastor Mark Surburg’s blog

 

Ia DrangLeading us were the sons of West Point and the young ROTC lieutenants from Rutgers and The Citadel and, yes, even Yale University who had heard Kennedy’s call and answered it. There were also the young enlisted men and NCO’s who passed through Officer Candidate School and emerged, newly minted, officers and gentlemen. All laughed nervously when confronted with the cold statistics that measured a second lieutenant’s combat life expectancy in minutes and seconds, not hours. Our second lieutenants were paid $241.20 per month. (From the Prologue to We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young: Ia Drang—The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam, by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway)

Another group of the lieutenants who will lead on the frontline in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod have received their orders and will so go forth to man their post. They are sent forth with the stirring fanfare of a call service. It is a night of excited spouses, proud parents and rousing singing. Synodical and district presidents preach stirring words. They know that they are going to the frontlines and they look forward with eagerness to leading God’s people in the congregation to which they have been called.

But many … most … do not understand the true nature of the war they enter. There are in fact no frontlines. Instead, they are being dropped into a hot landing zone. There will be contact from the moment they are installed. Some may think that they will push out from their position and take more ground. Some may think that their job is to hold the perimeter and defend their post. But what they don’t understand is that the enemy is already inside the wire.

Many will soon find themselves engaged in savage hand to hand combat in the pitch black of night. And very soon the truth will dawn on them that there is no one coming to help. They may receive encouraging words on the radio, but in this church polity there is no one who will bring relief or rescue. They are alone.

They have only one resource and only one hope – the unlimited fire support of the Means of Grace. Their only hope will be to reign down upon their own position the preaching of the Word, the water of Holy Baptism, the forgiving word of Holy Absolution and the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar. And yet … for some … in the mystery of the cruciform ministry to which they have been called it will not be enough. Their position will be overrun and they will no longer be there. The casualty report will list three letters next to their name: CRM.

A new group of lieutenants have received their orders and go forth to their post in the Church. By this time next year there will be casualties. And yet it is still Christ’s Church. Lord have mercy. Maranatha.

About Norm Fisher

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

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

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

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

Comments

Great Stuff — It’s a hot landing zone and there will be casualties — 42 Comments

  1. I watched the call service at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne via the internet last evening. Most of the men are very young, with a few second career guys (older) in the mix. I pray that they will keep their solemn ordination vows, with the help of God, when they are ordained in a few weeks/months. I thank God that there were enough calls for everyone, which wasn’t the case a few years ago.

    As I watched the service, my thoughts turned to the type of congregations that these men were called. Will a well prepared young man, theologically sound in Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions be able to guide a congregation that has been awash in COWO from previous pastors?
    What happens to a congregation which has tried to be faithful to the historic liturgy, meaning Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions of the Church and finds that the new pastor wants to be innovative with the liturgy – inventing his own creed each Sunday, etc.? These questions come to mind because of the thread on BJS about CU-Nebraska.

    I pray that God will guide all the men who have received calls this week; that God will bless them and have mercy on them and their new congregations.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  2. So right off the bat we have an experienced pastor telling the new guys that the people they have been called to serve, and to care for, are the enemy. This pastor and all who agree with him should be heartily ashamed.

  3. David Hartung, as I indicated above, the referent of “enemy” is polyvalent. It includes the devil, the world, and the sinful nature – especially the ways that our culture continues to influence congregation members (for one example, the attitude towards living together outside marriage). It includes the way members reject teachings of Lutheran doctrine and the way they are influenced by the factors around them such as evangelicalism and liberal rejection of doctrine and propositional revelation and truth. It includes the way that members view congregations as “their club” and not as disciples of Jesus Christ gathered around his Means of Grace who are called to bring others into that fellowship. And it does in fact include congregation members who seek to harm and destroy pastors – for those do exist. So yes, new pastors had better recognize that the enemy is already present in the midst of their congregation. That is not at all the same thing as saying the people they are called to serve are the enemy. Who would be so foolish as to say that? Certainly not I.

  4. David Hartung :
    So right off the bat we have an experienced pastor telling the new guys that the people they have been called to serve, and to care for, are the enemy. This pastor and all who agree with him should be heartily ashamed.

    “Perhaps the formula that Luther used that is most famous and most telling at this point is his formula simul justus et peccator.”

    No. I think the only people who should feel a sense of shame are the Pollyannas who try tho hide the dark underbelly of being a Pastor in the LCMS. Every person that reads this post wants these new men to have a perfect, rewarding, and a lifetime of service as a Pastor. But as the above quote by Luther hints, this will not be the case for all the men. I could take the next 10,000 or so words documenting, but I will not. The Lost Pastors web site does not exist as a forum for happy Pastors to chat.

    ΙΧΘΥC ΖΩΝΤΩΝ
    Ἰησοῦς Χρειστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ

  5. Well Little Children of the Heavenly Father:

    How do you want to spin this?

    Tod Wilkin
    Oh, and you might also ask —since these 32 pastors are obviously concerned about the Eighth Commandment— how many of them contacted me before taking it to the LCMS President, the LCMS Presidium and the Council of Presidents?

    None.

    http://thebarebulb.com/2014/05/02/well-that-escalated-quickly/

    May 1, 2014 Thursday of Easter 2

    Dear President Harrison, Members of the Presidium and Council of Presidents:
    Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were days for great celebration and optimism in our synod. Some two hundred seminarians from our St. Louis and Fort Wayne seminaries received pastoral calls and vicarage assignments by the Lord of the Church for the sake of the Gospel. As a unique part of the call service at our St. Louis seminary the candidates spoke a series of promises regarding churchmanship and the charity and integrity which would mark their ministries. The students made promises to each other as a part of a covenant to “live together, struggle together, rejoice together, forgive one another, and serve [Christ’s] kingdom together, with the assistance of Christ Himself.” These promises are nothing less than simple confessions of biblical commandments and commitments and should therefore be applauded (cf. Psalm 133:1; Galatians 6:2; Romans 12:15; Colossians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 3:9).

    Sadly, less than twenty-four hours later, a prominent voice in our synod, Rev. Todd Wilken, impugned the character of these men and undermined the churchmanship they sought to nurture.

    Rev. Wilken posted a Facebook comment which asked, “Why are we extracting promises from newly called men in addition to the ordination vows?”

    Below his post was a link to the covenant unanimously made by the graduating seminarians. This Facebook post set off a firestorm of comments, some in support of and others expressing concern with Rev. Wilken’s comment.

    On the one hand, a concern arises regarding the Eighth Commandment. Simply put, our seminarians endeavor to undo the divisive conversation that is increasingly commonplace in our synod. Their public covenant to behave in a manner consistent with Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians provides no room for censure from anyone. Rather, as indicated by the standing ovation offered by the entirety of the LCMS Council of Presidents, these young pastors-in- training deserve our unconditional praise.

    From another perspective, a concern arises regarding the First Commandment. Our love for God ought to be matched by a strong advocacy for unity in the church. Rev. Wilken shows little such commitment. Without qualification, Rev. Wilken discredits the very intention of these seminarians to honor Christ who is the singular head of the body. Beyond putting the worst construction on their words, Rev. Wilken violates the very heart of Christ who prays in the hour of His death for the singularity of heart among those for whom He dies. (John 17) These seminarians stand on the precipice of confessing Christ to the world in the peculiar Office of the Holy Ministry. They deserve our commendation and support.

    We, the undersigned, wish to add our voices to those who are concerned with Rev. Wilken’s Facebook comments about the covenant made by these graduating seminarians.

    If we truly believe what we say about God’s Word in the ordination vow, we must make the most of every opportunity to confess this Word. Indeed, this is part of what it means to be “confessional.” Hermann Sasse, in his great essay, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” defines a confession thusly: “[A confession] is to be understood, first of all, as the answer that is evoked by God’s

    revelation of Himself, faith’s answer to the received Word of God.”1 The covenant spoken by the students of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis is nothing other than an answer of faith, evoked by God’s revelation of Himself in His Word. It should be treated and characterized as such.
    As Christians, we are called to be very careful how we speak, as Proverbs 13:3 exhorts us: “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” This biblical admonition includes using great care with our words on forums such as Facebook. After all, in all our conversations on this popular public forum, but especially in those that are explicitly theological and ecclesiological in nature, we have the opportunity to confess Christ and seek unity in the body of Christ. [Ephesians 4:3]

    In a sermon on James 1, Martin Luther admonishes, “He who would be a Christian must be prepared to avoid evil and do good, to seek peace, to refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile, and must commit himself to God.”2 Luther himself, of course, was known to engage in quite colorful speech from time to time. But his admonition is well taken. We must be careful how we speak, for we are called to speak nothing less than the Word of God and the gospel of Christ – the holy Christian and apostolic faith.
    In light of this, we fraternally request that the matter with Rev. Wilken be reviewed and appropriate actions be taken.

    In Christ,

    [In alphabetical order]
    Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Ahlersmeyer Holy Cross Lutheran Church
    Fort Wayne, Indiana

    Rev. Jeffrey Alexander Mount Olive Lutheran Church Greenwood, Indiana
    Rev. Terry D. Beltz Trinity Lutheran Church Franktown, Colorado
    Rev. Mark Brandt
    St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Frankenmuth, Michigan

    1 Hermann Sasse, “Jesus Christ is Lord: The Church’s Original Confession,” We Confess Anthology, Norman Nagel, ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 10.

    2 Martin Luther, The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. 7, John Nicholas Lenker, ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2000), 290.
    Rev. Craig Bickel Immanuel Lutheran Church
    Grand Rapids, Michigan

    My, My…… Such Christian Love and Fraternal Fellowship.

    http://thebarebulb.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/fraternal-letter-regarding-rev-wilken.pdf

  6. @David Hartung #5

    You really like to keep your head in the sand, don’t you?

    Our synod is not united, and we could go on about a lot of other things. But the simplest fact in ‘saint and sinner.’ Even our “best” congregations still have sinners in them. And every congregation will have a small select few who are always trouble. Do you think Satan ever takes a break? And the healthiest congregations are the ones he will attack more ferociously, even if it is subtle or passive-aggressive. Going in without understanding Original Sin manifested everywhere is setting himself up for failure.

    I recently had a chat with my pastor; both of us are on the district board. He noticed one of the couple of instances where someone else challenged my leadership. I nonchalantly replied, “I know,” and left it at that. Not that is didn’t care (which I don’t’ overly much), it is just that I know it will be coming. No sense in running around like Chicken Little “the sky is falling.” Be wise as serpents. Be aware of back door losses, rear and flanking attacks, deception… Being a pastor requires an A game. And I have seen too many (one is too many) who I question, about styles or beliefs that have many times been expressed here at BJS.

    We live in the Church Militant, and in may small lay roles, it is always game on. I am consciously aware, attempt to always be intentional, teaching through word and action whenever I can.

  7. Mark Huntemann :

    David Hartung :
    So right off the bat we have an experienced pastor telling the new guys that the people they have been called to serve, and to care for, are the enemy. This pastor and all who agree with him should be heartily ashamed.

    “Perhaps the formula that Luther used that is most famous and most telling at this point is his formula simul justus et peccator.”
    No. I think the only people who should feel a sense of shame are the Pollyannas who try tho hide the dark underbelly of being a Pastor in the LCMS. Every person that reads this post wants these new men to have a perfect, rewarding, and a lifetime of service as a Pastor. But as the above quote by Luther hints, this will not be the case for all the men. I could take the next 10,000 or so words documenting, but I will not. The Lost Pastors web site does not exist as a forum for happy Pastors to chat.
    ΙΧΘΥC ΖΩΝΤΩΝ
    Ἰησοῦς Χρειστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ

    No one is saying that the bad should be hidden, although I would not call it “the dark underbelly”. Yes there are “toxic” congregations, but just as often the problem is the pastor himself. Any discussion of the nature of a given congregation is best held between the young candidate and his Circuit Visitor, or possibly the District President. They are the ones who will be most likely to have actual facts. The absolute worst place to discuss this is a blog, any blog.

  8. @Mark Surburg #6

    That is not at all the same thing as saying the people they are called to serve are the enemy. Who would be so foolish as to say that? Certainly not I.

    I am very glad to hear that, and it is possible that I overreacted, if that is the case, I apologize and ask your forgiveness.

  9. Just a respectful no.

    Too much has just plain evil has been perpetrated by some, not all, DISTRIC Presidents and their staff. And as has been documented many times, some, but not all, Circuit Visitors, are just an extension of the DP.

    As much as I hate to say it the LCMS has come to the point where the Districs and Churches who want Contempary worship and Church Growth need to be up front! Don’t allow an Orthodox man to step into a situation that will end his pastorate, it is just evil. Label your DISTRIC and Church as Orthodox or not. Enough of this evil, it just does not have to exist! Please! And you newly mited graduates, please know what kind of situation you are walking into. Ask the hard questions, your future depends on it. Enough of this masqueradeing! As a Church body we have come to the point where we have to schism. There in now no way to repair this. @David Hartung #11

  10. As I read this, not once did I get the impression that “enemy” implied the shepherd’s new sheep. Those who did so are obviously putting the worst construction on things.

  11. David Hartung :

     Yes there are “toxic” congregations, but just as often the problem is the pastor himself.

    So you actually have the numbers on this so as to be able to state as an objective fact what you are stating as an objective fact?

  12. The young men going out know what they’re getting themselves into. The experienced pastor mantra gets old really quick. “Oh, you just don’t know.” What? Now I’m sure they don’t know particulars, but that there will be trial and tribulation is an article of faith, and if a young man entering into the ministry has not yet experienced the fire and tribulation of the world, the devil, and sin (especially on vicarage!), well then…that’s a ridiculous thing to assume. Stop with the condescending advice. Just encourage the young men to preach the word, to stand boldly on it for their own salvation and for the salvation of their beloved sheep.

  13. @Elizabeth Peters #16 Unlike you, Elizabeth, I found no condescending advice in the above article. I suppose the lens one reads BJS articles through can make such apparitions appear. What I saw instead were brotherly forewarnings to young men about to embark on a perilous journey into the church militant. Yes they have been trained for combat, but a good warning from seasoned warriors can never hurt. The devil, the world, and our sinful nature work hard to overthrow the peace won for us in the kingdom of the right. Let us all be alarmists warning our brothers and sisters, as well as our beloved pastors, of the perils of taking up the cross and following Him. Ridiculous assumption? I beg to differ.

  14. Jais Tinglund :

    David Hartung :

     Yes there are “toxic” congregations, but just as often the problem is the pastor himself.

    So you actually have the numbers on this so as to be able to state as an objective fact what you are stating as an objective fact?

    Some years ago in a discussion on this forum I asked for hard verifiable numbers of men who had been unjustly removed from their calls and was told that such numbers are not available; however from discussions in various forums with some of thise men who claim that they were unjustly removed, it becomes obvious that they at least share the blame with the congregation.

    We all have a tendency to present ourselves in the best possible light, and when we form an opinion based upon one man’s claims, that judgement is very ,likely to be wrong, often horribly so.

  15. Well I know I have made the points that needed to be put forth. I would warn my Brithers and Sisters in Christ to stand back and not enter into a well set trap. Make a valid point, but be very careful of falling into a traps skillfully set. Do watch the Mousey traps, the cheese is so inviting………snap!

    I wish our Newly Minted graduates God speed:

    Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

    Consider:

    http://darashpress.com/articles/wise-serpents-harmless-doves

    @David Hartung #18

  16. David Hartung :
    Some years ago in a discussion on this forum I asked for hard verifiable numbers of men who had been unjustly removed from their calls and was told that such numbers are not available; however from discussions in various forums with some of thise men who claim that they were unjustly removed, it becomes obvious that they at least share the blame with the congregation.

    So what you are saying now is that you have no basis whatsoever for your claim that “just as often the problem is the pastor himself” – but that you do know about some Pastors who were removed that they are not perfect people without faults and flaws and failings?

    To me your new position sounds much more like one that I can take seriously.

    Of course I have no way of discerning whether or not the human shortcomings of the Pastors in question can really reasonably be said to have been of a such nature that it can truthfully be said that they were rightfully removed.

    I should be very interested to have that made obvious to me. Do you have any links or references?

    I have heard stories myself that have led me to believe that the Pastors involved were rightfully removed. I also know, however, that the stories I have heard are just that: stories.

    From my own experience I know a little about how easily molehills can be made into mountains, and misunderstandings into downright lies, particularly where malicious intentions are involved, by the manner in which they are being broadcast, and by the manner in which they are being upheld as objective truth, and by the manner in which a District President or Seminary President or “Pressure Points” columnist fails to give room at all for the possibility that inappropriate attitudes against a Pastor could in any way be involved, or misunderstandings in regards to utterances and actions on the Pastor’s part, or in regards to what is Lutheran teaching and practice, and what is not – even when an attitude of ignorance of and/or indifference to the faith is clearly demonstrated, not only by the disrespectful and/or hateful language employed against the Pastor, but also by the actual content of the accusations against him.

    David Hartung :
    We all have a tendency to present ourselves in the best possible light, and when we form an opinion based upon one man’s claims, that judgement is very ,likely to be wrong, often horribly so.

    Wouldn’t you say that that would also apply to the one man or woman who says that the Pastor said this or that, and did this or that, and said it or did only for this and that evil reason? And to the many who begin to say the same thing as that one man, or woman, after they have all agreed that that is the story they will stick by at one of the meetings they have had, with the District President’s approval, to coordinate their campaign against their Pastor and be sure to tell the same story?
    Well, my main point here: Do you have the references or links in which it becomes obvious that the Pastors in question at least share to blame – to a such degree that it can truthfully be said that they were not wrongfully removed?

  17. @LadyM #17

    “But many … most … do not understand the true nature of the war they enter.”

    That’s condescending. I know the men going out from CTS. Does Pastor Surburg? Many … most … know the true nature of the war they are entering against the world, the devil, and the sinful flesh.

  18. @Elizabeth Peters #21
    I agree that the statement you quote might go a bit further than it should.

    On the other hand, I do think that many graduates might nonetheless not be prepared for the severity of the opposition they will encounter in congregations that claim to be Confessional Lutheran congregations, or the underhanded malice they will encounter from their brother Pastors and District Presidents.

  19. @Jais H. Tinglund #20

    Well, my main point here: Do you have the references or links in which it becomes obvious that the Pastors in question at least share to blame – to a such degree that it can truthfully be said that they were not wrongfully removed?</blockquote.

    In essence, you are asking for information on specific cases, and that I will not give. Some of these men have returned to the parish and appear to be doing quite well, others are still waiting and some have just gone into CRM.

    The fact is that unless you have the whole story, from both sides, you do not have sufficient information to make an informed judgement. What is unfortunate is that sinful humans(myself included) love to pass judgement, informed or not. All I ever ask in these discussions is that before proclaiming that the man was unjustly removed, you get all sides of the issue.

  20. David Hartung :
    In essence, you are asking for information on specific cases, and that I will not give.

    Not at all. I am asking for links to what is already public, and available on the internet. Or does “discussions in various forums” mean something else?
    If it is, I understand your refusal to divulge infomration.
    If not, then I am disappointed that you refuse to lead me to the documentation on which you rely. I am left to wonder why. And I really would have liked to see what makes the truthfulness of your claims so obvious about the Pastor “just as often” sharing the blame, and exactly what a Pastor must have done to make it “obvious” that the “just as often” shares the blame.

    David Hartung :
    The fact is that unless you have the whole story, from both sides, you do not have sufficient information to make an informed judgement.

    I don’t think that comes as new knowledge to anybody. You know that it does not to me. We have had that discussion already, several times, as I recall.
    It is just that a policy of never giving a Pastor the benefit of the doubt (as you have demanded in the past that one never should), and dismissing and discounting a priori and on principle his explanations and his side of the story, and immediately, without questioning or scrutiny, accepting any and all accusations against him at face value – well, some of us are not entirely convinced that that is an appropriate way to treat a Christian brother, nor that it is really what “having both sides of the story” means.

    David Hartung :
    All I ever ask in these discussions is that before proclaiming that the man was unjustly removed, you get all sides of the issue.
    Well, not really; to refuse on principle to take the Pastor’s side of the story into account is not to get all sides …

  21. @David Hartung #18
    “it becomes obvious that they at least share the blame with the congregation.”

    For clarification, can you tell me whether or not a pastor may be removed from a congregation for reasons other than: false teaching, scandalous life, or willful neglect of his duties?

  22. R.D. :
    @David Hartung #18
    “it becomes obvious that they at least share the blame with the congregation.”
    For clarification, can you tell me whether or not a pastor may be removed from a congregation for reasons other than: false teaching, scandalous life, or willful neglect of his duties?

    Sorry, I am not going down that road in this thread. This is not about the LCMS rules on removing a pastor, it is about the fact that all too often people pass judgement based upon incomplete or inaccurate information. I would also note that there are no actual figures on which men were improperly removed, so all we have to go on are what these men say.

  23. @Jais H. Tinglund #24

    I don’t think that comes as new knowledge to anybody. You know that it does not to me. We have had that discussion already, several times, as I recall.
    It is just that a policy of never giving a Pastor the benefit of the doubt (as you have demanded in the past that one never should), and dismissing and discounting a priori and on principle his explanations and his side of the story, and immediately, without questioning or scrutiny, accepting any and all accusations against him at face value – well, some of us are not entirely convinced that that is an appropriate way to treat a Christian brother, nor that it is really what “having both sides of the story” means.

    Jais, I have never said that a pastor should not be given the benefit of the doubt, he should; However the congregation should also be given the benefit of the doubt, which is something that the bunch in this forum seems unwilling to do.

  24. @David Hartung #27
    I shall quote myself from a response to a comment of yours back in August:

    @David Hartung #12
    As much as you strive to appear not to be biased against removed pastors, but rather presenting an objective and nuanced way of looking at things, a strong bias still does shine through in your posts.
    For example, when stating as a fact that “a congregation in the position of asking their pastor to resign, does not do so lightly” – do you actually know for a fact that that is never the case? Have you given any thought to how hurtful a such absolute statement might be to the pastor removed without just cause – if it is not true that no congregation has ever taken the removal of a pastor too lightly?
    And: “When a pastor claims to have been unjustly removed, before accepting such claims, one should really do some checking” – you seem to find it unnecessary to question any claims made by the pastor’s enemies.
    As it stands, your position comes out as being that there are two sides to any issue (only two?), and one of these sides is always the only truth, namely the way the congregation sees it (is “the congregation” here code for: “that part of the congregation that wants to get rid of the pastor”?).
    It seems to me that a truly nuanced position, and a reasonable one, would be to admit 1) that some pastors are actually treated unjustly, and much so; 2) that in some congregations there are members who are ignorant of and/or indifferent to the teachings of Holy Scripture regarding the pastoral office, Christian love, communion with those of different faith, the sanctity of marriage, what the faith is and what should be preached, and several other issues, and such members are often allowed to exercise undue influence in congregations; 3) that one should not immediately believe what is being said about a pastor (or about anybody else) without giving room for the possibility of fallible sinners misunderstanding things, exaggerating, putting a spin on things, lying, or having been influenced by somebody misunderstanding things, exaggerating, putting a spin on things or lying; 4) that even some faithful and theologically highly competent pastors might engage in such abusive or otherwise offensive behaviour that they need to resign or be removed from office; 5) that some such pastors might not be willing to acknowledge or admit that other factors than faithfulness contributed to their removal; 6) and that neither you nor I nor anybody else know what is always true, or even almost always, in all cases in which a pastor is removed from or harassed out of a congregation …

    As I see it, I was giving you the opportunity, and practically begging you, to modify your previous statements by making some sort of concession to the the effect that accusations against a Pastor should indeed be looked into rather than be accepted immediately, at face value, without asking into it or giving the Pastor the opportunity to respond.

    This was after you having repeatedly presented the proposition that one should never believe what a Pastor would say after having been removed – but once one had heard what his enemies had to say, then one would know the truth

    You never in any way conceded or stipulated to or gave any indication of acknowledging the possibility that a Pastor’s enemies could be lying, or have misunderstood something, or have had expectations or made demands that were unreasonable,or contrary to Scripture and the faith. Never.

  25. You cant have a discussion about removal of pastors without a definition of what constitutes a scriptural removal of a pastor. I have no idea what “LCMS rules on removing a pastor” are, nor do I care.

    I think we can agree the only legitimate removal of a pastor is revealed to us in scripture. There is no “blame” to share. The pastor is to be removed by the congregation or not. The congregation removed a pastor rightly or not.

  26. @ Rich

    I had to reread the article to make sure I didn’t miss something.

    Can you do me a favor and quote where it was written that the congregation, lay people, other pastors, or leadership was stated as being the enemy in reference?

    Believe it or not the Pastor is human. (Though many LCMS Pastors in my opinion seem super human).

    The pastor can fall into temptation.

    The pastor can make errors in judgement.

    Demons can attack a pastor. Spiritually and physically.

    Moreover, Satan does indeed bring people to church with the purpose to destroy it.

    Congregations in the modern setting can come with a CEO mentality and demand they “grow the church”. And while they may have the best intentions and not be the enemy to the pastor, these programs can cause serious harm.

    Moreover, I would rather have an honest discussion (I saw zero condescending attitude in the post BTW) than to go in wide eyed and underprepared.

    These past few days I actually wonder if BJS is under Satanic attack with some of these posts.

  27. @ Dave Hartung

    “Jais, I have never said that a pastor should not be given the benefit of the doubt, he should; However the congregation should also be given the benefit of the doubt, which is something that the bunch in this forum seems unwilling to do.”

    Can you do me a favor and point of where you have seen this happen?

    You are specifically accusing ALL of BJS of being obstinate, one sided, and false witnesses; as if we were to only hear the pastor’s side and wrongfully side with it, that would make us liars.

    A rather tall order!

    In the words of Charlie Brown, “Good grief!”

  28. @Big Boy #30
    Big Boy, I was the one who made the original comment taking Pastor Surburg to task for making the congregation look like the enemy; I have since recognized the possibility that I overreacted and have apologized (comment #12).

  29. @Big Boy #31

    You are specifically accusing ALL of BJS of being obstinate, one sided, and false witnesses; as if we were to only hear the pastor’s side and wrongfully side with it, that would make us liars.

    I have never said that people should side with an erring congregation, what I have said is that the posters here most likely only have one side of the story. All I ask is that before publicly taking the congregation to task, those interested at least try to get all the information. The probability approaches certainty that there are pastors who have been improperly removed; but it is just as much a certainty that there are pastors who claim that they were improperly removed, when in fact there was cause for their removal.

  30. @ Dave Hartung

    My post focuses on the statement you make below, and does so very clearly:

    “…something that the bunch in this forum seems unwilling to do.”

    You respond with:

    “I have never said that people should side with an erring congregation”

    In psychological terms, this is borderline gas lighting. It’s very disturbing to see this type of behavior.

    You call us liars, then suppose an alternative response to a question that did not exist instead of dealing with the actual question. Until you can honestly respond to my question, I see no reason why I should interact with you.

  31. @David Hartung #33
    I have never said that people should side with an erring congregation, what I have said is that the posters here most likely only have one side of the story.

    Odd you should think that! Has it never occurred to you that some people might have seen an unScriptural removal from a pew seat!?

  32. @big boy
    The statement, “They are alone.” The prophet was chastised by God for such thinking. A martyr complex it seems.

  33. @ Rich

    I am not sure you understand what a martyr complex is.

    Put simply, it’s a person who seeks out suffering to feed a psychological need. This type of disorder is often associated with masochism.

    You have stated that either the author wrote, or pastors in general are disordered people who actively desire to be either physically and/or emotionally hurt to feed their need to be abused.

    Can you prove to me your statement?

    It’s really disturbing behavior to have people come on here, make statements like yours that are not based in reality.

    I would ask that you not come on here and make statements like this.

  34. @ Rich

    So now you’re saying it was an outlandish exaggeration in figure of speech. That you don’t believe what you wrote was reality.

    That you’re an artist of sorts in making detrimental statements of others. Who can whimsically make egregious comments off the cuff.

    In layman terms, this is call dissembling. You and Dave Hartung display very disturbing personality traits. I’d prefer to not have contact with you.

    You’re in my prayers, Rich.

  35. On another note:

    We have this to ponder; newly minted graduates.

    What we have here is a failure to communicate.

    A. Know if you are going into an Orthodox Church, do not guess as you cannot change this.

    B. Know if you are going into a Contemporary worship or church growth Church, as you cannot change this.

    The LCMS is now in a state of schism. If you are found on the wrong side, The Lord help you.

    The proof as if any were needed.

    http://alienrighteousness.org/2014/05/05/a-fraternal-letter/

    Preach the Word

    I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

    For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

    @Mark Huntemann #8

  36. Rich :If a pastor believes his congregation is the enemy he has already lost.

    Doesn’t enemy imply non-Christian/unbeliever in the Bible? Can a Christian really be enemies with a fellow Brother in Christ? And if they can, what does that say about their beliefs?

  37. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    It might help to remember Augsburg Confession VIII for this discussion:

    Although the Christian church, properly speaking, is nothing else than the assembly of all believers and saints, yet because in this life many false Christians, hypocrites, and even open sinners remain among the godly, the sacraments are effacacious even if the priests who administer them are wicked men (Tappert, p. 33).

    So Lutherans have known, for ca. 500 years, that the congregation includes both believers, saints, false Christians, hypocrites, and open sinners; and that, on the other side, the pastors/priests also might be wicked men. Nothing new here, really. It is always a “mixed bag” and cannot be otherwise this side of heaven.

    Walther says the same thing in his “Church and Ministry” book, so it is the official doctrine of the LCMS. I am not going to key in all of his statements, but look especially at his Theses VI and VII on the Church. In Theses VI he says that in the congregation where the Word of God is preached and the sacraments administered is hidden the invisible, true, and properly so-called Church of believers, saints, and children of God. So the believers are hidden, and the hypocrites and false Christians are more or less obvious.

    A Lutheran pastor has to learn how to work with this reality, which he should know by faith. The presence of the saints in a congregation is an article of faith, not sight. When Jesus arrives, he is going to separate the sheep from the goats. Until then, pastors, i.e., shepherds, have to manage both goats and sheep as best as they can.

    As far as I know, both of our LCMS seminaries are teaching this doctrine of Luther and Walther about the church and congregations, and they do spend some time making the seminarians think about the implications of AC VIII—at least, I know that is the case for M.Div. students. I can’t speak on behalf of alternate routes to the pastoral office.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

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