Much Ado about Something

Pastor-HeadlessI referenced in an earlier blog post Dr. Dale Meyer’s article “Pedagogy for a Politicized Church” in the Winter 2014 Concordia Journal, pp. 6-13.  He references there a report to the 2010 convention that said the task force involved repeatedly “heard that the problem of disharmony is the LCMS is primarily a clergy problem” (6), and I believe it.

C. F. W. Walther said that a congregation better perceive that their pastor is more concerned with doctrine than they are. Don’t you want your doctor to be more concerned with disease than you are?  Don’t you want your lawyer more concerned with legalities than you are?  Do you want your doctor to overlook that mole you do? Do you want your lawyer content with your standard of following the law?

But there is a problem, and I feel it in myself.  Charles Porterfield Krauth exposes it when he writes, “They [the Lutheran Reformers] understood well the two counter-tricks of polemics: the one, to exaggerate differences until innocence looks like crime; the other to diminish differences until truth seems nearly identical with error” (Conservative Reformation, 282). I’m quite sure, well-intentioned or not, I have done both.

Later on, however, Krauth deals with the hard truth that polemics are indeed warfare of some type.  Just look at the Greek origins of the word.  He says, “The era of the Reformation could not be an era of Melanchthonian mildness. To ask this, is to ask that war shall be peace, that battles shall be fought with feathers, and that armies shall move to the waving of olive branches” (327).

Then, although writing the century before the last, he is speaking to us when he says, “Most surely will time bring all that love our Church to feel, that without the second war and the second peace, the war and peace of Conservation, the richest results of the first, the war of Reformation, would have been lost” (327-328).

In between the two above comments, Krauth advises that unless the issues the war is to be fought over are clearly defined it will digress into a “savage, ill-defined warfare on the border, and of the bush” rather than that of the “struggles of nationalities, under the laws of war” (326).

Because our leaders are crying “peace” and declaring “koinonia” when parish pastors know we have neither, we are experiencing border and bush warfare.  There can’t be peace when I am at war with the idea of praying with pagans and my brother pastor is praying with them.  There can’t be koinonia when my brother pastor is practicing open Communion and I am practicing closed.  And no amount of talking about how much we agree and certainly no amount of communing contrary to our own confessions (I mean the pastor who believes in open Communion going to the altar with the pastor who believes in closed) is going to help define the issue.

“Truthful separation is far better than dishonest union” (326).  The first step in mending a relationship is to admit it’s broken. Anyone who has been married for any time at all knows the frustration of the spouse telling you “nothing is wrong” when you know in fact something is and until that something is brought out into the open in reality everything is wrong.


Comments

Much Ado about Something — 5 Comments

  1. To the point: “There can’t be koinonia when my brother pastor is practicing open Communion and I am practicing closed. And no amount of talking about how much we agree and certainly no amount of communing contrary to our own confessions (I mean the pastor who believes in open Communion going to the altar with the pastor who believes in closed) is going to help define the issue.”

    In light of the Tabor case, a colleague has pointed out that the legal fears can’t be the reason for inaction against false teachers and their errant practices. So, dear friends, what is the reason?

  2. “C. F. W. Walther said that a congregation better perceive that their pastor is more concerned with doctrine than they are. … ‘Truthful separation is far better than dishonest union’ (326). The first step in mending a relationship is to admit it’s broken. Anyone who has been married for any time at all knows the frustration of the spouse telling you ‘nothing is wrong’ when you know in fact something is and until that something is brought out into the open in reality everything is wrong.”

    Well stated! My question: What are we laymen to do when we’ve attempted to bring “that something … out into the open” by speaking “the truth in love” in accordance with Ephesians 4:15 (sometimes on numerous occasions) and get ignored or can do nothing but watch as the can is simply kicked repeatedly down the road until we either lose the patience to have the difficult discussion that needs to be had or until someone else comes along who has the stomach to “deal with us” on behalf those we bring our legitimate concerns to in the first place?

    At some point, I’m afraid it’s just as you stated: “Truthful separation is far better than dishonest union” although it breaks my heart to think that this is what happens far too often in our churches today. But it’s not entirely surprising I suppose since both Pastors and the parishioners they are called and ordained to shepherd all act like “Thou Shall Not Offend Me!” is the 11th Commandment.

    Grace And Peace,
    Jeff

  3. @Brandon Jones #2
    “In light of the Tabor case, a colleague has pointed out that the legal fears can’t be the reason for inaction against false teachers and their errant practices. So, dear friends, what is the reason?”
    I do not believe there is inaction. I believe ACELC is acting honorably and honestly. Now if you are referring to the bureaucracy, there is always inaction whenever an entity becomes too big to act swiftly and decisively. We are experiencing that in the secular, as well as the spiritual realms.

  4. Well said, Pr. Harris.

    The siren song of Rome has been, for over a thousand years, that organization trumps doctrine. The East rejected this with the Great Schism of 1054 (at least as far as the Pope was concerned,) and the Reformation rejected it in the 16th century even more explicitly: Doctrine (the Word of God) trumps organizational objectives (word of man.)

    I remain curious, whether our Synod can reject it in our age.

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