ACELC — Christ, The Order of Creation, and the Church

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Genesis 1:27-28).

Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (I Timothy 2:11-14).

ACELC-LogoChrist is the creator of all things: “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). The order of creation was anything but random or arbitrary. Like God, who brought it all into existence out of nothing and fashioned it from that which “was without form, and void” (Gen. 1:2), creation was so ordered that the finest Swiss watch or most complex computer system pales in comparison. When Adam heeded the voice of his wife, Eve, who had followed the lead of the serpent (who is the seedbed of disorder and lawlessness) – a creature over which man had been given dominion – God “cursed” the ground/earth, and He warned Eve of her “desire” toward rulership over her husband (Gen. 3:16f). These two disruptions to the created order stand behind and serve as the foundation of the errors that have crept into our Synod; indeed, which have all but overwhelmed our current culture in general! While this cultural concern needs and deserves a thorough hearing in the public square, it is not the main point of this essay, except where it may intersect with matters in the Church.

Thankfully, in 1 Corinthians 14:33, St. Paul brings clarity to the Church’s life in this disordered world when he writes: “For God is not the author of confusion (disorder) but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (vs. 33). The disorder and lawlessness brought on by the serpent – as initiated in his subverting God’s order of creation by speaking with the wife rather than Adam – do indeed have a multitude of followers in the world, but in the Church the way of the Lord is clear: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Earlier he also wrote this important admonition:“Let all things be done for edification (building up)” (1 Cor. 14:26). Included among the all things that St. Paul sets forth in this chapter as “the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37) is this prohibition: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says” (1 Corinthians 14:34).

The disruption to God’s created order resulting from man’s fall into sin permeates our entire being and reveals our inbred inclination to sin against God. The Confessions of our Church put it succinctly in terms reminiscent of the First Commandment when they confess in the article on Original Sin that all who are naturally born are without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence” (Concordia, AC II, p. 57). This is who we are by virtue of our conception, and there is no denying, ignoring, changing, or escaping it. This inbred absence of “the fear of God” and“trust in God,” coupled with the “inclination to sin,” in both man and woman is the root out of which every sin of omission or commission comes forth out of the heart (Mark 7:19-23).

When we consider this root-bound-heart-problem of man relative to the Lord’s warnings to Adam and Eve in the garden, we see the deep-seated potential for tension, friction, and even outright war for the sake of control. Adam’s passivity in family affairs, a gene still dominant in our own day, coupled with Eve’s desire for what was not given her, also a dominant trait in our day, has taken humanity down two roads which have became increasingly divided in the past two centuries, and there is little to suggest that these diverging roads are changing anytime soon.

Culture’s way, or the world’s way, is to live and let live, or in Biblical terms allow everyone do what is right in his own heart. This is nothing less than the Serpent’s and Eve’s way. The Church’s way, or more pointedly, Christ’s way, is clearly the road less traveled, and yet it is the way of the Order of Creation, and thus, it is the right way.

So, where does that leave us in the LCMS? The evidence set forth in the ACELC’s Fraternal Admonition and further expounded in the document, Service of Women in the Church (Order of Creation), testify that the LCMS has a lot of egg on her face! For as it stands today in the LCMS – as this document points out: “women may serve as elders, congregational presidents and vice-presidents, may assist with communion distribution, and publicly proclaim the Word of God.” How is this not in direct violation of God’s own commandment in 1 Corinthians 14:34, and I Timothy 2:11-14, quoted above?

Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions are clear: life within the Christian congregation is to be governed in accord with the doctrine of the Order of Creation. The Missouri Synod, composed of congregations and pastors, has a long overdue need to repent and return in doctrine and practice on these and other important matters to the One who alone forgives transgressions and calls us to order our lives to His way because He alone is: “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

As we continue in the way of celebrating the resurrection and ascension of the Lord of truth and life throughout this year of our Lord, 2014, I pray many will consider joining the ACELC and stand with us as a beacon on a hill during these darkening days of an increasingly pagan culture and this splintering Church visible which seems bent on jettisoning doctrine after doctrine in the name of political correctness, or sheer folly.

In these latter days, St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians serve us well:For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Pastor Bruce G. Ley
Documents Chairman, ACELC

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

ACELC — Christ, The Order of Creation, and the Church — 178 Comments

  1. @John Rixe #49
    Well said, and I do agree…but many (that 15%) in our Synod, and this Pastor too at times, have a “But I” syndrome. We want to agree, but always want to interject “But….”.

    I think that is sin too, it is all about the ego. No, it is sin, the devil at work.

    We think we are guarding doctrine, etc; many are fulfilling their egos.

    John Rixe, you are wise. I hope more take heed.

  2. @Tim Schenks #50
    You know the answer already, I can only speak with fact about my own congregation, all else would be speculation and yes, gossip of what I hear.

    One laymen who came with me to the convention commented, “what a bunch of whiners”. “No wonder you guys never agree.”

    Yes, my people are not dumb, they know of some issues, but they know of the issues in their life that I am called to minister to and for. There is a time and place for everything.

  3. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #48
    And I very much disagree, these squabbles make us sad, make it hard; they do not drive us out of the ministry. That is an excuse.

    When you have been CRM because of synodical politics (or a Sr.’s jealousy), you may come back and explain that “excuse” to me. Some men survive to create something else out of their wreckage; some run out of the “4 years and you’re dropped” time.

    [Publisher Paul, OTOH, who left the office for ‘mo’ money’ decades ago, and therefore should not call himself a Pastor, according to Walther, is still doing so, although his contributions on the web should make him embarrassed to claim the collar.]

    @John Rixe #49
    They have little knowledge nor interest in synod squabbles.

    A good many of them have little knowledge or interest in the Small Catechism, and only as much of the Bible as they hear on Sunday morning (when they do not go to adult class). They play “Christian radio” in the car and increase their ignorance with unsound lyrics.)

  4. @helen #3
    Helen, you paint too broad a stroke, and I sense some very deep seeded resentments and unsettled issues relating to CRM. Yes, it is going off topic.

    I will take a page from TIm Schenks as he said to me, “do you have empirical knowledge that most people care little about their Lord, their Church, their Synod?

    As for Rev. McCain, he still is an ordained clergy, albeit not an installed pastor or shepherd of a flock. In many cases, we all call fellow ordained men “pastor”, even though they have no call to a congregation. We called retired men Pastor when we meet, etc.

  5. Don’t involve me in Helen’s resentments, Pr. Prentice. 😛

    I still address him as Pr. McCain.

  6. @Ted Crandall #4
    OK, I will respond:

    Your concerns, many are valid; I just think forming an ACELC, or any other group outside the one I call Circuit, a District, a Synod “can” cause some problems. It segregates us, forces us to choose. Be with us, or outside of us. I have seen this in my area with “outside” groups.

    At this moment in life, I do see ACELC a bit schismatic, albeit I understand your concerns. I would see that of any other body outside of my Circuit.

    Brother Pastor, no hard feelings. I believe your heart is right and ego does not drive.

  7. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #7
    Rev. Prentice,

    I suppose we all have our own perspectives. Some are less affected by the breakdown in practice and doctrine than others. In my area, I’m surrounded by a number of LCMS churches that routinely veer off course with respect to both doctrine and practice, yet little is ever done by ecclesiastical supervisors to correct the problems. Aren’t we called to point out error? What is one to do when error is tolerated, or in some cases, promoted? Furthermore, our synod has become the LC-BS: Lutheran Church – Bylaw [driven] Synod. Politics often trump scripture and the confessions.

    One would never think it was appropriate to willingly allow their child to run towards a busy street in hopes that all would turn out OK. Yet, we do just that every day in the LCMS when we allow pastors and congregations to run towards the Heterodox Highway.

    Love is what drives the ACELC.

    The child running toward the busy road may interpret his parent’s admonition as something other than love, yet love is still the underlying and driving motive.

  8. QUOTE OF THE DAY

    Randy :
    The child running toward the busy road may interpret his parent’s admonition as something other than love, yet love is still the underlying and driving motive.

  9. @Tim Schenks #11
    About a third of the way into it.

    the communion thing seemed spot on.

    The worship thing… seemed to leave a lot of things implied, but not outright stated. i’m hearing less and less good reasons for the historic liturgy.

    edit.

    Got to the women in church thing. Women don’t vote in the congregation. putting it inline with the communion thing, I don’t think I could commune at pastor McCall’s church.

    that’s what i’m hearing.

  10. Quasicelsus, the video is still only a summary of the ten error categories at http://acelc.net

    Women vote at my congregation (voters’ assembly) but they can’t assist with Communion or serve as President, Vice President, or Board of Elders. The Synod’s position is that it is up to the local congregation whether women can vote, and that they can have women as Presidents/Vice Presidents/Elders IF those positions have no oversight over the pastoral office. The problem is that in a voter polity independent of the state (which we enacted to replace the authority of a “state” church) those positions definitely have oversight over the pastoral office. It’s sad that the Synod left up for grabs whether something is Scriptural or not.

    You can find the Admonishment Letter, the evidence of error documents, and some study guides there.

  11. “so long as there is otherwise agreement in
    doctrine and all its articles, including the right use of the holy sacraments.”

    “Additionally, women are permitted to participate in the public proclamation of the Word in our worship services, assist the pastor in the administration of the Lord’s Supper, serve as an Elder, [b]congregational President or Vice President.[/b]” (meaning they should not)

    can’t commune at my home congregation anymore.

    are there congregations where the voters do not have oversight over the pastoral office? is there a list? Anyone know if all the churches listed here on this site as confessional fall under that category?

  12. @Tim Schenks #13 That’s right! If anyone says that voters have no oversight over the pastoral office, I would challenge them to prove that in light of today’s church polity. That is one of the errors addressed by ACELC. I challenge every man who reads this to read the ACELC evidence of error documents and study them in light of Scripture. As a woman, I am very excited to see men step up as in the days of the Reformation and fight for correct doctrine and practice. It is time!

  13. @quasicelsus #14
    Please mark my Church down as one that will allow women to vote, and if need be, hold every Council office. This has not happened, in fact, we have Council positions filled, but VP and President are vacant.

    We are fully confessional, liturgical high Church; we fall under this category (if there is one). The Council aids the Pastor(s), supports us, they make sure the walls and building are up and running so we can do the work of the Lord.

    In fact, we have no Board of Elders (disbanded years ago), many Churches used this as an excuse to form pseudo-ministers. Faith says, “Pastor(s), you are in charge, we are here to help with whatever you need.”

    Closest we have to an Elder is an installed Deacon. No vote, no power; a “loving helper” that works solely for the Pastor and the flock.

  14. Job Descriptions
    Congregational Officers
    http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=1196

    Excerpt (p. 6):

    Position: Board of Elders
    Purpose: To oversee the spiritual life of the congregation and its individual members.

    Primary Duties and Responsibilities
    1. The Board of Elders shall have authority and responsibility for the spiritual welfare and activities of the congregational members, individually and corporately.
    5. The Board of Elders shall serve as special assistants to the pastor(s), supporting them with prayer, helping them with special problems in his ministry; and concerning itself with the spiritual, emotional and physical health and welfare of the pastor(s) and their families. It shall ensure that they are provided with adequate compensation, housing and assistance with their work to guarantee them sufficient free time for personal responsibilities, study and relaxation.
    6. The Board of Elders shall help the pastor(s) cultivate a spirit of harmony among the congregation members.

  15. @Ted Crandall #17
    This is where it gets interesting, “The Board of Elders shall have authority and responsibility for the spiritual welfare and activities of the congregational members, individually and corporately.”

    In reality, this is only the pastor(s) duty; period. They certainly can assist with being the “think tank” of the pastor.

    “The Board of Elders shall serve as special assistants to the pastor(s)” – yes, this is good, and a pastor should call up anyone in the congregation to assist in various ways. yet even in this case, the Elders Board can only recommend monies, it still must go to the Congregation, right?

    As for cultivating a spirit of harmony, OK, yet this is still a pastors role alone, meeting regularly with his flock. Over coffee, dinner, office and home visits, etc. Just chatting before and after services. Hmmm, remember the days of communion registration? This is the time and place where pastor meets his people in the office, etc.

    With that said, if they (and it appears they do) help you with the flock, great and good. I have seen the opposite too, Elders can be the downfall of a good pastor. In some congregations, they become more powerful than the pastor, especially a young pastor.

  16. Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. :
    With that said, if they (and it appears they do) help you with the flock, great and good. I have seen the opposite too, Elders can be the downfall of a good pastor. In some congregations, they become more powerful than the pastor, especially a young pastor.

    Help with feeding the sheep is only part of it; I especially cherish the prayers and support of my elders for me and my family.

  17. @Ted Crandall #19
    I found the Synod Job Description for an elder wrong on many points. My guess is this is another one of those “Carver system” debacles created during the tenure of a liberal administration. (I simply have a hard time with our churches and schools following the practices of a Mormon.) I could not find the history of the paper, however. Would you happen to know when it was created, by whom, and whether it was approved at convention?

  18. @LadyM #20

    I have no idea where Synod got it. I was just looking for a somewhat official job description for elders in the LCMS and found that posted on our website.

    I haven’t studied it, but looked specifically for the parts I quoted, about helping with the sheep AND helping support the pastor. Which parts did you find wrong?

  19. That one from the Synod website is only a sample job description. It’s different at every congregation. Years ago, the Synod’s stewardship department tried to standardize the job descriptions throughout the congregations and that one looks similar.

    Lay elders are not assistant pastors and they are not assistants to the pastor. They’re not liturgical deacons (my own congregations didn’t have elders as communion assistants until the 1990s). They are congregation officers.

    Older members of my congregation still consider the board of elders to be the Executive Branch, while they consider the President and Vice President to be just meeting chairmen. That’s apparently how they used to be in the Missouri Synod. The District President considers the President to be the one in charge, though.

    My congregation’s constitution says that the board of elders shall interest itself in the spiritual life of the congregation (church and communion attendance, delinquent members, discipline cases, mission work, church services, etc.). They also adopted a set of guidelines for the board. Here’s ours:

    GUIDELINES FOR BOARD OF ELDERS (Adopted July 30, 1961)

    The Board of Elders shall consist of three members. Their term of office shall be three years. One third of the elders shall be elected each year.

    They shall organize annually and elect a chairman who shall represent them on the Council.

    They shall:

    1. Assist the pastor in all matters pertaining to the spiritual welfare of the congregation.

    2. Consider complaints and grievances of members of the congregation if Matt. 18:15, 16 has been fully observed, and they shall report to the congregation those which cannot be otherwise adjusted, in accordance with Matt. 18:17, 18.

    3. Make every effort to induce members who have been negligent in their attendance of services, in the use of the Sacraments, and the financial support of the church, to mend their sinful ways and fully enjoy the rights and privileges of their membership.

    4. See to it that all services are conducted in such a manner as to avoid needless disturbance and to foster an attitude conducive to worship among those in attendance.

    5. Assist the pastor in arranging for pulpit assistance, special services, and guest speakers.

    6. Give assistance to staff of ushers.

    7. Prepare a list of candidates when the congregation is to call a pastor or teacher. (This duty was later replaced by a “Call Committee”.)

    8. Be an example of Christian conduct and conversation.

    There’s a good paper on the history of lay elders in the Missouri Synod here.

  20. Tim Schenks :
    My congregation’s constitution says that the board of elders shall interest itself in the spiritual life of the congregation.

    That has always been my understanding of the role of elders. Some see this as an unscriptural role, usurping the pastor’s call. Some pastors see the elders as their unwanted wannabe bosses. (Some elders take pleasure in seeing themselves that way, too!) Some pastors cherish their elders as supportive mentors and confidants.

    More and more, some pastors see themselves as CEOs and the very idea of having elders as a painfully old fashioned nuisance.

    Tim Schenks :
    The District President considers the President to be the one in charge, though.

    Of course he does. They are fellow politicians — and that is a good topic for another whole article!

    Thank you, Tim, for the background and the references.

  21. @Tim Schenks #22
    The wording of those guidelines seems to be exactly identical to that in the by-laws of one of my former congregations – which leads me to believe that they also represent a standard suggestion or template worked out centrally in Synod.

    Particularly I remember the reference to Matthew 18:15-16 and my former District President explaining to the Board of Elders that neither this passage in the by-laws nor the Bible passage itself should in any way be taken to mean that this procedure was in any way preferable to that of having the Pastor’s enemies form a group and have meetings in homes to make up stories about the Pastor and coordinate complaints to present to others, such as the Elders or the District President, without ever speaking to the Pastor himself, nor should those who dislike their Pastor be directed to speak to himself …

  22. @Jais Tinglund #25
    District President explaining to the Board of Elders that neither this passage in the by-laws nor the Bible passage itself should in any way be taken to mean that this procedure was in any way preferable to that of having the Pastor’s enemies form a group and have meetings in homes to make up stories about the Pastor and coordinate complaints to present to others, such as the Elders or the District President, without ever speaking to the Pastor himself,…

    Read more at: //steadfastlutherans.org/?p=37442&cpage=4#comment-973370 | Steadfast Lutherans

    DP’s in the first decade of this century, with a helpful CCM, carved out several unscriptural privileges for themselves. Others may not sue over a grievance; it’s “un Lutheran” but DP’s may sue to take a congregation’s property (using the district’s “mission gifts” to pay lawyers!)
    A Called Pastor and the duly elected officers are responsible for a congregation, but a DP may consult with dissidents without informing Pastor or officers.

    These and a few other “by-laws” and CCM “dictates” contrary to Scripture and the Confessions deserve an early death. We will not have a Synod until the bureaucracy accepts the fact that they “are as other men are” and no more.

    Perhaps it’s “many” by-laws and CCM decrees, going back another decade? More?

  23. Synod is not an ecclesiastical government, but an advisory body to it’s member congregations — at least that’s what the constitution of the LCMS says. There’s even a line in there about how a congregation can simply ignore any advice from synod that they find to be “inexpedient” for them!

    Obviously, the congregations don’t, but do the DPs ever read the constitution?

  24. @Ted Crandall #27
    There’s even a line in there about how a congregation can simply ignore any advice from synod that they find to be “inexpedient” for them!
    Obviously, the congregations don’t, but do the DPs ever read the constitution?

    The DP’s seem to have “by-lawed” themselves into a position superior to the Constitution and, [if the above quote is correct], Scripture as well, which means some of them think they are more important than God.

    Past time for another grass roots revolt… but that raises a question. Does the ‘grass’ after a couple of generations of “happy-clappy” have enough Lutheran roots? 🙁

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