A Fat and Lazy Church

fatI recently returned from Madagascar where I, Professor John Pless, Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller, and Rev. Evan Goeglein, taught a group of Malagasy pastors the theology of Dr. Martin Luther. I was privileged to teach them Luther’s theology of preaching. While we were there, we had the opportunity to have meals with the pastors, coffee with the pastors, and other times outside of the lectures to discuss theology and church practice. One of the most discussed topics was the pastoral vocation. While here in the LCMS, most pastors have one church to tend to, and some men have as many as 4. I myself am the senior pastor at a church where there is also an associate pastor. In Madagascar, the average pastor shepherds no less than 10 congregations.  After hearing that there is such a pastoral shortage, we asked if they would ever consider licensed lay deacons or some other program to get more pastors quicker, such as we have in the LCMS. They answered with a confident and comforting, NO, because the preaching of the gospel is too important to hasten the education of the pastor. Only the pastor should consecrate the elements and distribute the sacraments they said.

How fat and lazy we are in the LCMS. We don’t work the devil to death in our study of God’s word, nor in the preaching of the Gospel. In the Large Catechism, Luther said, “Let them constantly read and teach, learn and meditate and ponder. Let them never stop until they have proved by experience and are certain that they have taught the devil to death and have become more learned than God Himself and all His saints” (Preface to the Large Catechism 20). Do we follow this exhortation of Dr. Luther? Of course not. Those who support the agenda of lay deacons or the fast track pastorate do not support this in that they do not see pastoral education as a top priority. They falsely place the LCMS in a state of emergency in order that ill equipped men may be the stewards of the mysteries of God. Until each pastor is tending to 10 flocks, and there are no pastors left, do we really need to act like the sky is falling here in the LCMS? The confessional group is not any better. Instead of tearing apart the Scriptures and the Confessions and letting God do the work of converting the heart, we take it upon ourselves to pass resolutions that would prevent further false practice in our Church body. We place our fear, love, and trust in the Whereas and Be it Resolved, instead of in the forgiveness of our sin purchased at Calvary and distributed in the means of grace. Preach you the Word and let the Holy Spirit worry about the weeds. Not that we should allow false practice in our Church, but we should do nothing more or less than proclaim the clear words of Sacred Scripture.

The main point is this. No pastor in the LCMS is tending to 10 congregations. So lets cut out the act and get with the program. let us hear the faithful proclamation of Holy Scripture that says that the pastor is the one who stands in the stead of Christ, forgiving and retaining sins. What does this mean? If means that he should know what the Scriptures say in order that he may be reading in season and out of season. It means  that, as we confess in articles 14 of the Augsburg Confession, the pastor should be rightly examined, called and ordained, in order that he may publicly preach, teach, and administer the sacraments.  Let those who are faithful to Holy Scripture and the Confessions continue to be steadfast in the one true faith and never stop preaching the truth, even while the chicken little’s chant that the sky is falling and we’re the last hope of holding it up.  Preach you the Word, stop being so fat and lazy. Preach you the Word and take heart, Christ does the work for you, Amen.

About Pastor Chris Hull

Chris Hull is the Senior Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tomball,Texas. He was married to Allison Desiree Monk on June 3rd, 2006. They have been blessed with four boys, Lochlann Richard Patrick, Eamonn Julius Luther, Tiernann Thomas Walther, and Jamesonn Frederick Flacius. Pastor Hull graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, Il in 2006. He received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2010. He is currently in the STM program at CTSFW.

Comments

A Fat and Lazy Church — 48 Comments

  1. “Beware Cassius! He hath a lean and hungry look. Such men are dangerous.”

    (If your meetings habitually start with coffee and donuts, look to your own waistline.)

    A friend of mine, (with a little extra all round; he can probably trace that back as many generations as he cares to) is shortly going out to the mission field. Where he will quite probably work harder than you do… but then he’s up for it; he’s had a dual ministry here for the last 12 years. (“Bellies” are not unknown in the dual but neither is hard work.)

    They go “hawg” hunting for exercise out there; that’s work, too!

  2. Hear, hear! Although I think that preaching the Word in our local congregations without also tending to the larger fellowship is unwise.

  3. Kind of like the ACA. Have P.A.’s and Nurse Practioners replaced real doctors.

  4. The confessional group is not any better. Instead of tearing apart the Scriptures and the Confessions and letting God do the work of converting the heart, we take it upon ourselves to pass resolutions that would prevent further false practice in our Church body. We place our fear, love, and trust in the Whereas and Be it Resolved, instead of in the forgiveness of our sin purchased at Calvary and distributed in the means of grace.

    I think this is a false dichotomy. Our synodical resolutions, as they determine the shape of our walking together, are an expression of what we believe, teach, and confess. “Preach the Gospel in my pulpit and fear not the heterodoxy in the others” is the path that all the mainlines took. We must contend for right doctrine in our synod as a structure, not just as a series of individual pulpits. We must insist that the men who preach be Godly and submit to accountability. Refusal to hold the brothers accountable is a cop-out for the hard work of keeping a close watch on our doctrine. We have work to do, and may God give us the grace to do it with humility.

  5. 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

    16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

    It’s unfortunate that the concepts of reproof and correction based on Sola Scriptura have all but vanished within the Lutheran Church.

  6. @Miguel #4
    True, but once we start voting on doctrine Miguel we have lost. That we can’t afford to do. A resolution “affirming closed communion” or “a literal 6-day creation” achieves nothing more than setting the precedent that such matters are to be decided by the Synod voting in convention. Confessionals putting forward doctrinal resolutions are plaiting the whip that will be used on our own backs the next time we represent 48% of the Synod in convention rather than 52% of the Synod in convention. Even if we win today, we lose tomorrow.

    The answer must be: “We don’t vote on matters of settled doctrine” that and electing leaders who will hold pastors to the standard of settled historical Lutheran doctrine and praxis.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  7. @Matt Mills #7
    I agree with you, but that would also essentially include showing the heterodox the door, wouldn’t it? (Which it should, to be frank). Seems that church discipline would eliminate a lot of what needs to be “voted” on (and I agree: doctrine is not up for vote).

  8. @Miguel #4
    We must insist that the men who preach be Godly and submit to accountability.

    Accountability to whom… the bureaucrats and mega church wannabes who brought methobaptocostalism in to the Lutheran church!?

    The problem is in the pulpit only to the extent that men there are afraid they’ll be the next victims if they don’t go with the flow of garbage from upstream.
    [Of course some do that happily, and others don’t know any better, being “half trained” that way from birth by now.]

  9. @Matt Mills #6

    WHEREAS, wolves may or may not be walking among us, and,
    WHEREAS, the aforementioned wolves may or may not be ravenous, and,
    WHEREAS, the synod has possibly facilitated the acquisition of sheep suits for the wolves, and,
    WHEREAS, the wolves may have donned the aforementioned sheep suits, and,
    WHEREAS, many of the sheep may have been woefully ill-prepared to recognize tainted fruit being offered by the wolves wearing sheep suits, therefore,

    A. BE IT RESOLVED, that this committee encourages further study, analysis, and deliberation of the possible “wolf-sheep” situation, and,
    B. BE IT RESOLVED, the aforementioned study, analysis, and deliberation be captured in a lengthy report that is no way based on scripture, does not reach a definitive solution, but only contains compromised opinion, and
    C. BE IT RESOLVED, the final report should be buried in bureaucracy prior to the next synodical convention.

  10. @Randy #10
    But don’t we need the wolves for our “outreach to goats ministry”?

    Very good (perhaps a bit TOO good in a spooky way.)

    @J. Dean #8
    It would certainly include being openly and vocally willing to show the heterodox the door if they will not repent. There are folks on the other side that would probably need to be removed, but there are others for which the honest warning would be enough. Some kids are always well behaved, and some kids are always poorly behaved, but there are a lot who match the crowd with which they are running. I suspect that permitting error magnifies the effect.

  11. helen :The problem is in the pulpit only to the extent that men there are afraid they’ll be the next victims if they don’t go with the flow of garbage from upstream.

    Very true, Helen. Also, the garbage can be pushed on them from both directions as the district and laity conduct a squeeze-play on a pastor.

    @J. Dean #8

    So true:

    “Therefore, as I often warn you, doctrine must be carefully distinguished from life. Doctrine is heaven; life is earth. In life there is sin, error, uncleanness, and misery… Here love should condone, tolerate, be deceived, trust, hope, and endure all things (1 Corinthians 13:7); here the forgiveness of sins should have complete sway, provided that sin and error are not defended. But just as there is no error in doctrine, so there is no need for any forgiveness of sins. Therefore, there is no comparison at all between doctrine and life. “One dot” of doctrine is worth more than “heaven and earth” (Matt. 5:18); therefore we do not permit the slightest offense against it. But we can be lenient toward errors of life. For we, too, err daily in our life and conduct; so do all the saints, as they earnestly confess in the Lord’s Prayer and the creed. But by the grace of God our doctrine is pure; we have all the articles of faith solidly established in Sacred Scripture.” -Martin Luther (Luther’s Works: 27:41-42)

  12. If I were paid to do nothing but travel around and teach theology, preach and administer the sacraments at ten churches a week I would do so in a heartbeat.

  13. @Randy #12
    Very true, Helen. Also, the garbage can be pushed on them from both directions as the district and laity conduct a squeeze-play on a pastor.

    That, too. At the moment I wrote that I was thinking about an article outlining a “special emphasis for each month” next year. Hey, St. Louis, we’ve got the pericopes for that. [Sounds like someone should be job hunting, because they are just inventing “work” where they are.]

    @Jason Harris #13
    Ah, but Jason, in this “fat and lazy” country, all 10 would want you between 8 and 12 on Sunday morning, so as not to interfere with their “real life”. 🙁

  14. I think it is a broad and unfair statement to characterize the LCMS as “fat and lazy,” and equally unfair to attack lay deacons, many of whom are devout, faithful, knowledgeable servants in every sense of the word. I have heard wonderful sermons and found most deacons to be good Bible teachers and very unselfish in advancing the ministry of Lutheran churches. There will always be some conflicts and shortcomings in the church. I think that the LCMS faces very difficult challenges, primarily from within. There seems to be, if one looks at the comments on LutgeranBlogs and elsewhere, some LCMS members and pastors moving away from orthodoxy into the dangerous waters of post modernist theology, some in agreement with the heresies of ELCA, some looking to eliminate the liturgy, recognize homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle, redefine marriage, teach things which Holy Writ forbids, and since everyone these days owns a blog, uses Facebook and other social media……the dialogues I have seen are really quite disturbing. I believe there is hope for the LCMS, but a fracturing of the Lutheran church into liberal and conservative synods will result in loss of unity. Focusing on whether we as a church will remain faithful to the Bible, no less Lutheran distinctives, will be the struggle we must confront in the days ahead.

  15. @John J Flanagan #15
    I believe there is hope for the LCMS, but a fracturing of the Lutheran church into liberal and conservative synods will result in loss of unity. Focusing on whether we as a church will remain faithful to the Bible, no less Lutheran distinctives, will be the struggle we must confront in the days ahead.

    What unity?

    I have heard wonderful sermons and found most deacons to be good Bible teachers and very unselfish in advancing the ministry of Lutheran churches.

    You want to “hold on to Lutheran distinctives” but you don’t realize that one “Lutheran distinctive” is that an ordained man preaches in Lutheran pulpits, institutes and distributes the Sacrament from Lutheran altars.

    Our “Lutheran distinctives” are compromised already.

  16. @John J Flanagan #15

    How can a Lutheran “lay deacon” be a devout, faithful, and knowledgeable servant whilst publicly teaching in the Church and administering the Sacraments without a regular call? How can one advance “the ministry of Lutheran churches” whilst serving in a way that is forbidden in the Lutheran confessions? (ACXIV) A devout, faithful, and knowledgeable Lutheran would know better Mr. Flanagan.

    If a layman should perform all the outward functions of a priest, celebrating Mass, confirming, absolving, administering the sacraments, dedicating altars, churches, vestments, vessels, etc., it is certain that these actions would in all respects be similar to those of a true priest, in fact, they might be performed more reverently and properly than the real ones. But because he has not been consecrated and ordained and sanctified, he performs nothing at all, but is only playing church and deceiving himself and his followers.

    Dr. Martin Luther AE 25: 234

  17. I’d like to take the responses to this post in a different direction…

    I believe in the importance of the Supper every time we gather together for the Divine Service. I eagerly receive this Gift of Grace from our Lord every time I can. (Which sometimes for me is six times in each of our six services at our church on a weekend!) At the least I want to receive the Lord’s Supper every week. I would hope all who are members of our church feel the same.

    There is no way one pastor tending to 10 congregations can celebrate the Supper with them every Lord’s Day. For the sake of discussion, which is better?

    a. To have some in the Body of Christ who receive the Supper only once or twice a month, but have the assurance of a well-educated clergy. -or-

    b. Have some ordained clergy (and I do mean ordained, not “lay ministers”) who may not have the same level of theological education but have been rightly called – i.e. certified for ministry by the larger church and chosen for ministry in a specific place by a specific congregation.

    The preaching of the Word – that is a different and more challenging topic. I am MUCH more reticent to have preachers who have not been thoroughly educated, or at least are supervised (i.e. not preach a sermon that has not been read and corrected by) a more fully educated pastor. But can’t a man be trained to properly administer the sacrament and rightly called so that all can receive the gifts Christ desires to give them?

  18. Matt and Helen, you may have more background in these areas than I do, and your comments are more viable. My views are superficially based because I am not as steeped in Lutheranism as either of you. I follow the LCMS, and worship at an LCMS church, but my focus is more on Biblical teaching than traditions, and I follow the Confessions only because I believe they affirm what the Bible declares. This may offend you, I hope not, but I do not believe the Lutheran church is the one gate into heaven, and that other faithful and Bible based Christian churches also hold a mixture of truth and error in Biblical interpretation, particularly in some areas where there are opposing interpretations of the same verses. I came out of Catholicsm, having been to 9 years of parochial education with a year at a Capuchin Franciscan prep seminary. I left the monastic order having agreed that celibacy is neither Biblical nor natural, and found that Catholicism is in itself more heretical than the victims it destroyed during the Inquisitions, and even today, it remains an apostate body. I became a Lutheran, then also a Calvinist as an Orthodox Presbyterian for a number of years. I returned to the LCMS. My wife and my children attend LCMS churches, but I am not hard core Lutheran in the sense of thinking all of our doctrines may be correct and subservient to the Bible. Although conservative and orthodox, I have to deal with comparing Reformed teaching with Lutheran teaching, since I have been exposed to both in my spiritual life. In the meantime, as I really enjoy being in the LCMS, love the worship service, liturgy, and doctrines, I still know that God will judge me by my heart, not by my ignorance and lack of discernment in adhering to the traditions of Lutheranism. I believe there are many more like me sitting in the pews beside you each Sunday, but God will sort it out in the end.

  19. @Mark Schulz #18

    What do you think of these options Mr. Schultz:
    1) half-trained thoracic surgeons
    2) half-trained commercial pilots
    3) half-trained school teachers for your kids
    4) half-trained IRS accountants to run an audit on your latest tax returns
    5) half-trained janitors to clean your office

    And what would it say about your view of the office of the holy ministry if you weren’t too fussed about #5?

    Alternate routes to ordination are 100% better than “lay-ministers” but I believe that they are at best the solution to a problem we don’t really have as a Synod (the dreaded “pastor shortage”.) Statistically most of these men are serving as hyphenated underling pastors (youth-pastor, music-pastor, etc.) in frankly spooky mega-churches. This is a theological Trojan horse (except perhaps were it used as a one-time good deal to get rid of “lay-ministry”.)

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  20. How about that little issue of CRM?

    1. “For a pastor, what does the abbreviation CRM mean?”

    CRM is the abbreviation for “candidatus reverendi ministerii,” that is, “candidate for the reverend ministry.” It is generally referred to as “candidate status” and basically means that this pastor is a member of the Synod and is a candidate, that is, is available and open to receive a call. Under this general classification, the Synod also provides a category called “non-candidate” for those pastors who wish to remain on the roster to do pulpit supply, etc., but are not open to receiving a call to full-time ministry.

    http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=545

    The problem boils down to this too often:

    You have read posts from me about parishes who settle for something less than a Pastor because they feel they have no choice. Now read a site that is set up for the Lost Pastors of the LCMS who find themselves in that deep, dark hole of candidate status, without, it seems, much hope of being restored to a parish… Click on the link to find out more… – See more at:

    http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-lost-boys-of-lcms.html

    The LCMS and a lot of its member Churches are fat; very fat indeed!

  21. @John J Flanagan #19
    Ah well, the Confessions certainly don’t teach that the Lutheran church is the one gate into heaven, so we’re good on that one. The Biblical and apostolic witness though is to call certain men aside for the office of the ministry, and ordain them for that service. Coming from an RC background it’s easy to look at “lay-ministers” as though they were RC Deacons, but they’re not. In the Roman Church Deacons are ordained, and though we don’t generally use that option in the LC-MS, the Apostles appear to do so in Acts, so it’s Biblical. “Lay-ministers” by contrast don’t exist in the Bible, you’re one or the other (Lay or minister.)

  22. @Mark Schulz #18
    Pr. Schulz –

    I appreciate your concern to make sure God’s people have the Sacrament. I also strongly agree with you that the Sacrament is a divine gift central to the purpose of God gathering His people.

    However, I do have a question about a comment you make, and though the argument of ‘half-trained’ can and has been made, I think there’s another concern that is often overlooked when talking about our deep desire to bring God’s gifts to sinners:

    Why should we be less concerned about men administering the Sacrament than about men preaching? Is it because preaching requires a man to be able to carefully distinguish Law and Gospel? But, so does administration of the Sacrament! As much as the Sacrament is most certainly a ‘Gift of Grace’, it is not without the need to ‘bind’ some in their sin by not communing them because of impenitence, unbelief, etc. I fear we are forgetting that some can take the Sacrament to their harm, and we shouldn’t assume that folks can always properly examine themselves without the careful aid of their pastor… he who teaches them (use of the Word), preaches to them (use of the Word), explains to them the doctrine (use of the Word) by which they examine themselves. In other words, to be the steward of the mystery that is the Sacrament of the Altar, a man must also be able to properly be the steward of the mystery that is the Word.

    I apologize if I’m misinterpreting your statement, but your thoughts above seem to be willing to divide the Office of the Holy Ministry into a set of functions that can be parceled out to whomever seems ‘skilled’ at handling one or more of them. If I’m not mistaken, that’s more akin to WELS’ understanding of the OHM. But, we LC-MSers have always rightly identified the OHM as a duty, responsibility, vocation, and divine call that isn’t to be seen as divvying up functions, but as an Office that God gives to particular officeholders, undershepherds, “so that we may obtain this faith” through the full complement of the Means of Grace (AC V).

    I’m really glad to hear how much you uphold and cherish the benefits of the Sacrament. I think the question is whether the Sacrament ought ever be seen as independent of the Word and the Word independent of the Sacrament. If not, then neither should the pastor be seen as one who can be “called” for one or the other.

    In Christ,
    Mark Bestul

  23. “Let them constantly read and teach, learn and meditate and ponder. Let them never stop until they have proved by experience and are certain that they have taught the devil to death and have become more learned than God Himself and all His saints” (Preface to the Large Catechism 20).

    Proved by EXPERIENCE?
    more learned than GOD HIMSELF!!!!!

    Houston, we have a problem!

  24. @Stefan #25
    Let them never stop until they have proved by experience and are certain that they have taught the devil to death

    You went over that too fast, Stefan! When do you think anyone will “have taught the devil to death” or “become more learned….” ?

    That was Luther’s way of saying “Keep studying, because you will NEVER know enough.”

  25. @Frasius #24
    It’s actually from his lectures on Romans, and it isn’t given as a point he’s trying to make so much as an analogy he is arguing from to make a different point. He uses the example of the layman improperly acting in a clerical role as something that everyone will certainly agree is invalid. (And now we’re doing it in our Churches!)

    KE+,
    -Matt Mills

  26. @Matt Mills #27
    I have until now said that the sacraments, absolution etc are valid, performed by a layman, but that of course it should absolutely not be that way, as you say (AC XIV). It seems like I have to study that more thoroughly, to see what Luther said. Do you know which verse is he commenting and the title of the writing?

    Thankfully Yours

    P.S. What does “KE” mean?

  27. @Frasius #28
    Lectures on Romans, but my copy is at home so I can’t give you the verse. Again, Luther isn’t even writing on “lay-ministry” per se in AE 25, he is using it as a non-controversial “given” that a layman can’t validly administer the sacraments. I would tend to agree (though I’ve seen other solid Lutherans write what you’ve written.) Interesting discussion I’m sure, but for my money it is Paul, Apollos, Cephas et al., and their successors in the pastoral ministry, that are the “stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor 4:1). The Bride of Christ hasn’t been given individual functions to slice, dice and administer as each generation sees fit, but an organic whole. If I pull the sacraments out of the God-given context of the office of the holy ministry, I have no Divine promise of their efficacy. You can’t go wrong w/ “just say no.” (don’t get me started on “nissi rite vocatus.”)

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

    KE=”Kyrie Eleison”

  28. @John J Flanagan #15
    but a fracturing of the Lutheran church into liberal and conservative synods will result in loss of unity. But that happened already: ELCA/LCMS. You mean further fracturing.

  29. @Paul of Alexandria #31
    Yes indeed…further fracturing. But for some reason, based on comments I have read on LutheranBlogs, it seems like more movement is tilting toward the post modernist progressive side than towards reinforcing or returning to orthodoxy.

  30. @John J Flanagan #32

    Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)

    13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

  31. @Randy #33
    Matthew 7:13-14 is a wonderful verse, and I believe it has always been true. The words of The Lord as recorded in the Bible warn us to guard our hearts and minds and exercise discernment. As I have read some of the topical posts on LutheranBlogs at various times it has seemed to me that too many Lutherans are less interested in reading God’s word and more enchanted with theological arguments and traditions.

  32. @John J Flanagan #34
    As I have read some of the topical posts on LutheranBlogs at various times it has seemed to me that too many Lutherans are less interested in reading God’s word and more enchanted with theological arguments and traditions.

    That’s often quite accurate; the other observation you might make is that some are less interested in the Word and more in “winning” the argument!

  33. @Matt Mills #27
    I’ve found the Luther quote and read the preface. The lecture on Romans is from 1515/1516, i.e. counts as “early Luther”, not always thought out. So I will (until someone shows me clearly I’m wrong) go on claiming that the properties of the person administrating the sacraments are not a condition for the sacraments to be valid. The sacraments are valid because of God’s word.
    This is not at all a defence of “lay-ministers”, women pastors or any heresy, they are to be avoided.

  34. @Jakob Fjellander #36
    It’s not a question of “qualities;” if I were to claim that the properties of the person administrating the sacraments are a condition for them to be valid I become a Donatist, and neither I, nor Luther are Donatists. It’s a question of office. I know the lectures on Romans are “early Luther” and although I like them, and agree w/ the quote, I don’t need it for this discussion. All I need is AC XIV, and its elaboration in the Apology. Except in the case of emergency baptism (which is covered elsewhere in the Confessions) Lutherans don’t permit the laity to preach or administer the sacraments. I frankly don’t see the purpose of hypothesizing on the validity of something we have bound ourselves not to do.

  35. @Matt Mills #38
    I agree. There is no need for hypothesizing here.
    The thing is, however, that we have some weak lutherans here, claiming that one should avoid women priests, because their sacraments aren’t valid (because they think that the female priests aren’t priests but laypeople). But they tolerate false doctrine if it is preached of a male priest and they recieve the sacrament from them, so they don’t avoid heretics, only women priests. I’ve said to them that I find this similar to donatism, and that they should avoid all heresy, not only female pastors. So if it could be showed that Luther denied that laypeople can administer the sacraments, I would have lost an argument. (Of course they should not).

    I would say that it’s generally speaking unimportant whether women pastors are pastors or not and whether lay-ministered sacraments are sacraments. We should avoid all heresies. (2 Cor. 6:14)

  36. @Jakob Fjellander #39
    Well, Luther clearly DID deny that laypeople can administer the sacraments in 1516 so if that’s the criteria, you lost your argument. Can you show Luther refuting that prior to his death?

    (And why aren’t teaching that women can be ordained, and that the laity can administer the sacraments heresies we should be avoiding? Are they unimportant heresies?)

    Puzzled,
    -Matt Mills

  37. @Matt Mills #40
    1/ Large Catechism on The Sacrament of the Altar:

    15] Hence it is easy to reply to all manner of questions about which men are troubled at the present time, such as this one: Whether even a wicked priest can minister at, and dispense, the Sacrament, and whatever other questions like this there may be. 16] For here we conclude and say: Even though a knave takes or distributes the Sacrament, he receives the true Sacrament, that is, the true body and blood of Christ, just as truly as he who [receives or] administers it in the most worthy manner. For it is not founded upon the holiness of men, but upon the Word of God. And as no saint upon earth, yea, no angel in heaven, can make bread and wine to be the body and blood of Christ, so also can no one change or alter it, even though it be misused. 17] For the Word by which it became a Sacrament and was instituted does not become false because of the person or his unbelief.

    2/ Oh, no, I didn’t mean that! Yes, women priests and layministering should as all heresies be avoided. There are no unimportant or tolerable heresies. (The teaching of God’s Word is: A little leaven leavens the whole lump.)
    But the question whether a women pastor is a pastor before God or not is rather unimportant. She might be. Before men she obviously is.

  38. @Jakob Fjellander #41
    We don’t have to guess about what question(s) Luther is answering in the LC section you quote. It is “this one: Whether even a wicked PRIEST can minister at, and dispense, the Sacrament, and whatever other questions like this there may be.” Luther doesn’t get w/in a mile of lay administered sacraments in the LC.

    I guess I also don’t see what makes “can a women can be ordained as a pastor” an open or unimportant, or even particularly tricky question. Why shy away from just saying “no”? This isn’t something the Church mustn’t do, but something she cannot do.

    Again I am puzzled.

    @Mark Huntemann #37
    Thanks, that is an interesting piece, and from my limited knowledge Pastor Weedon translates AC XIV spot on (though some of the folks who wrote in didn’t.) I have to admit that I’m still looking for a sharp Medieval Latinist, or even a solid Medieval Latin dictionary, akin to the Oxford Latin Dictionary (OLD) for Classical Latin, to prove to me that the meaning of the adjective “rite” changed significantly in Medieval Latin. From what it says in my OLD the proper translation of “… nisi rite vocatus” is still: “… unless called with the correct religious ceremony.” In classical Latin “rite” never takes the figurative meaning of “rightly or properly” when used in a religious or cultic context.

    I’m also leery of how a few of the folks who wrote in used the Apology. This literal reading of “nisi rite vocatus” is also certainly the one the Roman Confutation to the Augsburg Confession assumes. The Confutation’s only point of contention with Article XIV was that the Confessors must still use the canonical forms of the proper religious ceremony (ordination by Bishops.) This would NOT have been the case had they seen in AC XIV the proposal of laymen consecrating the elements, and had Melanchthon intended to imply that the correct religious ceremony (ordination) was not required in AC XIV, his answer to the Confutation in the Apology is frankly the work of a disingenuously lying weasel.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  39. A lay deacon is a male deaconess. That’s very clarifying isn’t it? And there is most certainly the clerical office of deacon (archdeacons, deacons, and subdeacons) who do function as called and ordained clergymen (fully-educated). The large urban parishes in the Lutheran areas of Europe usually had 4 or 5 churches with multi-layered clergy. Our American experience is much more akin to the rural church situation in Europe, with a very limited and very flat clergy structure. Walther’s early structuring of a multi-church parish in St. Louis is very similar to the clergy/parish/church structure he encountered at Leipzig.

    JS Bach’s confessor at St. Thomas in Leipzig was almost always one of the clerical deacons. The clerical deacon could indeed do every function that the Prediger clergy could do. He did not preach at the haupt kirche on Sunday mornings where the Prediger had responsibility, but the deacon might be responsible for the sermon at the New Church on Sunday mornings, and at the Thursday Vesper at St. Thomas.

    However, what you would have seen at the main church, on Sunday morning was 3 deacons doing the liturgy/ceremonies, and a Prediger preaching (for an hour, not less than an hour, but could be more than an hour). Although the Prediger was the senior clergyman at every service, you would very seldom see The Preacher serve at the altar, although I do think I read that they liked to have The Prediger give the benediction at the conclusion. I think. Although, the clerical deacon certainly could give the benediction as he no doubt did at other churches and other services within the same parish.

    Now, Bach was commissioned to be the music director (Kantor) for the whole city of Leipzig so he was shared by both parishes and all the churches in Leipzig. He was a very, very busy man juggling 4 choirs on a Sunday morning at many locations. However did he do it without scheduling software?

  40. @Matt Mills #42
    Luther is not talking about a specific case, he is giving a general rule. Note:and whatever other questions like this there may be. If Luther meant it is different with “lay-pastors” he had told that in this context. But he does not.
    He also says: For the Word by which it became a Sacrament and was instituted does not become false because of the person or his unbelief. Again, if there was (according to him) an exception to this rule he should have mentioned it, when he is dealing with the topic.
    And CA XIV says: Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called. If CA says that lay people should not administer the sacraments, then CA admits that lay people can.

    The stand that only the clergy can administer the sacraments is often found in the Roman Catholic Church. Here an explanation of Priesthood: Sacrament of the New Law, instituted by Christ at the Last Supper, which confers on a man [the priest] the power of consecrating and offering the body and blood of Christ, and of remitting and retaining sins. http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/priesthd/priesthd.htm
    I think this (the RC position) is a good explanation of why Luther wrote that statement in 1515/1516. That was his background.

  41. @Jakob Fjellander #44
    Sigh, the question you’re trying to make Luther answer (the efficacy of lay administered sacraments) is nothing like the one he’s addressing in the LC. In the LC Luther is discussing the effects of a pastor’s morals or piety. In the Lectures on Romans Luther is addressing the office (having made the statement that a layman might even by MORE moral or pious and still only be “playing church”.) Lay ministry isn’t wrong because the individual “lay-ministers” are “wicked” “knavish” “unholy” or “unbelieving.” The same word that gives the sacraments their efficacy clearly states that those in the pastoral ministry are the stewards of the sacraments. How can the word make efficacious a sacrament administered in a way that is counter to the word of God in Holy Scriptures?

  42. @Matt Mills #45

    Matt Mills :@Jakob Fjellander #44 How can the word make efficacious a sacrament administered in a way that is counter to the word of God in Holy Scriptures?

    This is so because the Word of God is mighty!

    Also heretic pastors are contrary to the Word of God. Still the word is efficacious.

    Where in the Book of Concord can you find anything to prove your stand?

    I have shown that there is a general rule in LC, no exceptions mentioned.

    In FC VII the eucharist is treated thoroughly. The authors also answer the question of where a valid sacrament is found. All the time they point to the recited words. But there is a limitation! There is no sacrament if you don’t follow the words of Christ:
    However, this blessing, or the recitation of the words of institution of Christ alone does not make a sacrament if the entire action of the Supper, as it was instituted by Christ, is not observed (as when the consecrated bread is not distributed, received, and partaken of, but is enclosed, sacrificed, or carried about), but the command of Christ, This do (which embraces the entire action or administration in this Sacrament, 84] that in an assembly of Christians bread and wine are taken, consecrated, distributed, received, eaten, drunk, and the Lord’s death is shown forth at the same time) must be observed unseparated and inviolate, as also St. Paul places before our eyes the entire action of the breaking of bread or of distribution and reception, SD VII, 83f.

    As you can see, there is not a single syllable about ordination/call of the consecrator.
    Of course the pastor has to be called properly! But that is a separate question. It does not affect the validity of the sacrament.

  43. @Rev. Mark C. Bestul #23

    Mark – I’d love to have a conversation about this sometime! Maybe at the next District thing we find ourselves at together. I certainly don’t want to promote a functional view of the Office of the Holy Ministry. I believe it is divinely instituted and not simply a bunch of things we find it prudent to call a man to do. But that said, I wonder how someone like Ignatius, who was a student of the Apostle John himself, could talk about levels of ordained clergy and different functions for these levels.

  44. Mark Schulz :@Rev. Mark C. Bestul #23
    Mark – I’d love to have a conversation about this sometime! Maybe at the next District thing we find ourselves at together.

    Mark, That would be great! I’d love that! Perhaps next spring we can make a motion to bring the district convention to a halt for a Table Talk on the OHM. 🙂

    Mark Schulz :@Rev. Mark C. Bestul #23
    I wonder how someone like Ignatius, who was a student of the Apostle John himself, could talk about levels of ordained clergy and different functions for these levels.

    How? The same way that Peter, student of Jesus Christ himself, could forbid Jesus’ journey to the cross right after confessing him to be the Christ… or Thomas, student of Jesus Christ himself, could talk about not knowing where Jesus was going or how to get there… or James and John, student of Jesus Christ himself, could talk about calling thunder from heaven to strike down those who disagreed with them… or Judas Iscariot, student of Jesus Christ himself, could talk about handing him over for money.

    I’m intentionally overstating the case ‘against’ the student Ignatius. I’d have to read his comments in context before critiquing fairly whether they adhere, not merely to John, but to Christ. But, honestly, antiquity does not orthodoxy make. Regardless of Ignatius’ thoughts, there stands AC V, XIV, and XXVIII.

    That’s not to say that by human right the Church couldn’t assign some pastors to focus on certain functions of the OHM, such as distributing the sacrament (though, even that is an iffy example if the pastors have no involvement with teaching/preaching and caring for souls apart from the Supper and thus no way to examine hearts). But, by divine right, a pastor is given authority over Word and Sacrament. So, if we’re going to be careful (rightly!) with how the pastor handles the Word (your first e-mail), we must (without any variation) be concerned about how the pastor handles the Sacrament. He is not divinely called and ordained for one or the other, but for both – thus there is no difference: he is well prepared to handle the Sacrament only when he is also well prepared to preach the Word. If he is not well prepared to preach the Word, neither is he well prepared to handle the Sacrament.

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