Great Stuff — TTMBO, ACELC, and the 44

Found over on Pastor Lincoln Winter’s blog, Predigtamt.wordpress.com:

 

VDMAWhen serving at my first parish, I was privileged to be a part of the Northern Illinois Confessional Lutherans. In 2001, in response to certain events, the NICL produced and published a brief statement regarding prayer and fellowship. It was named That They May Be One, or TTMBO for short.

I have not really spoken publicly about it in a number of years. There are a variety of reasons. It was not a statement of individual belief, but a statement of joint confession. As such, it was not (and is not) the particular property of any one person. Rather, it was released for, and belongs to, the church at large.

I think back on those days occasionally: A few pastors, most young (although less so today) who saw a theological problem, and with no thought of the consequences, took on veteran church politicians. The goal was to confess the truth of God’s word in the face of error, no matter how unpopular such a confession might be. I was one of the committee members who drafted it. Because of various circumstances, I was the one to do the bulk of the writing. (Although my rambling prose was given final form by the excellent Pr. Fickel.)

Why talk about it after all this time? I was reading a discussion thread that mentioned TTMBO, comparing it to the statement of the 44 and the current work of the ACELC. What, if any, differences are there between the three? The answers were interesting, if not always accurate or perceptive. Not being a member of that forum, I thought I would offer some observations here.

Regarding TTMBO and the current work of the ACELC, the differences are mostly organizational in nature. The NICL existed (and still exists) for the study of Luther’s Confessions. Any other work is subordinate to that. The ACELC exists to point out and attempt to correct error in the LCMS. TTMBO was a pastoral response from a small group to a specific incident. That response was then embraced by many. The ACELC is an organized attempt to change the direction of the synod in many and various areas. I may be wrong, but that is how I perceive their efforts. (I’m sure if I am incorrect in my analysis of the work of the ACELC, they will note it in the comments, as they have in the past). In short, theologically there is little difference, but organizationally and directionally there is much difference.

The differences between TTMBO and the Statement of the 44 are exactly the opposite. Organizationally and directionally there is much similarity: A small group of pastors respond to a problem with a statement of belief. But theologically and ethically there is a great difference.

One commenter noted that “TTMBO was found deficient by the CTCR.” (CTCR response) Let us be clear: TTMBO was found incomplete. Deficient implies error. TTMBO was not found in error. The CTCR attempted to determine if it was not only correct, but a sufficient and comprehensive document. As soon as the COP asked the question, we saw what the game plan was. Find that is was not comprehensive, and then claim it was, therefore not sufficient for any use. It was never intended to be comprehensive, but to address one specific situation.

The CTCR claimed that TTMBO failed to define a Civic Event, humbly-bragging that they had taken up that task at the request of the synod. And yet, the CTCR not only failed to adequately distinguish between a worship service and a civic event in a document much longer than TTMBO, a document that was supposed to do that very thing, but when asked to provide further guidance by the synod in convention itself, the CTCR refused to do so. (I believe that the synod response should have been to disband the CTCR. After all, if they refuse to listen to the synod and answer its questions, to whom do they answer, and of what possible value to the synod are they?)

Another criticism was that TTMBO identifies a number of errors, but never specifically states that we do not believe them all to be held by one person or group. The Formula of Concord does the same thing. If we are accused of being uncharitable (in the not-being-Christian sense) then so must our entire synod be accused of the same thing, for the LCMS confesses the Formula of Concord as a correct exposition of the Word of God. Of course, many have accused our synod of such an uncharitable attitude, but to my knowledge this is the first time that the CTCR has done so, even by inference.

So, the alleged unclarity is in many of the same areas that the CTCR itself would later be unclear, and the charge of uncharity is simply absurd. This is hardly the same as deficient. It is worth noting that the CTCR found much good in TTMBO. Numerous points were commended by the CTCR.

And let there be no mistake: TTMBO was extremely clear regarding prayer with non-Christians. Exactly and scripturally clear in a way that every subsequent CTCR document on the topic has not been. Which is why it was so hated, and why the CTCR was given the task of finding something wrong with it, no matter how spurious the accusation they eventually made.

Back to the comparison of TTMBO and the Statement of the 44. There is a great difference regarding the aftermath. Rather than allowing the synod to declare the theology of “A Statement” in conflict with Holy Scripture, the authors very uncourageously withdrew “A Statement”. This allowed them to avoid any repercussions for their false theology, while simultaneously avoiding having it condemned. This may have been very politically astute, but it was also cowardly. It showed the same lack of integrity that would be displayed years later by their theological heirs in claiming that the Seminex theology was not a new and strange teaching, but was consistent with faithful Lutheran doctrine.

Compare that to the conduct of the signatories of TTMBO. While some later signatories withdrew their name from it for personal reasons, none of the pastors who originally signed TTMBO have done so. To my knowledge, of the over 1000 who at some point put their name to it, even among those who later withdrew their signature, none have renounced the theology. Many stood up to their own district president, losing synod and district leadership positions as a result. Some were threatened with removal from their parishes, or even from the synod roster. The majority of signers continued, even after the CTCR hatchet job, to boldly teach and confess the doctrine contained therein. This, despite synod leadership that steadfastly denied the teaching in it, including teachings which the CTCR commended “regarding the faithful proclamation of the Gospel, purity of doctrine and the necessity of agreement in all the articles of faith for external unity in the church.”

To this day, many of the pastors in our synod continue to believe, teach, and confess without apology the doctrine of TTMBO, to which they have pledged themselves, and on which they are willing to stake their salvation. The 44, by contrast, would not even put their own comfortable salaries on the line for their doctrine (which the seminex crowd at least did do), and the defenders of their false teaching have hidden behind synodical procedure for the last 70 years.

So in short, TTMBO was an earnest attempt at theological confession and dialogue by men who took seriously their ordination and confirmation vows. The Statement of the 44 was a cynical attempt to alter the doctrine of the church with crass political maneuvers by those who lacked the integrity of their convictions. The work of the ACELC, whatever one may think of the wisdom of their specific methodology, matches the former, not the latter.

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 — TTMBO, ACELC, and the 44 — 26 Comments

  1. Thanks for the suggestion, pastor! I’ve added a link to each; if anyone has a better version of any of the links please tell me and I’ll update them.

  2. An anecdotal story about the Northern Illinois Confessional Lutherans group.

    Back in 2002 or 2003 my husband and I decided to go to a special meeting of the group on a very hot day in July or August. I can’t remember exactly what month it was. The meeting was held at St. Paul’s, Lockport and they had invited laity plus the NID district president. What I noticed right away was that it seemed like the majority of clergy were young, like right out of the seminaries. I felt sorry for our NID district president that day. The sweat just poured down his face as he tried to give the synodical side of the Benke affair. I think he really didn’t know what this renegade group of confessional Lutheran pastors was going to do. These young pastors had signed the TTMBO and had put their livelihoods on the line.

    Thanks for the memory Pastor Winter and Norm.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  3. Fisher: “I believe that the synod response should have been to disband the CTCR. After all, if they refuse to listen to the synod and answer its questions, to whom do they answer, and of what possible value to the synod are they?”

    Agreed. Would you politely request Rev. Noland et al. to craft a resolution?

    The Synod could save nearly a million dollars a year, plus have the added benefit of the seminaries putting out solid statements, based on solid Lutheran Bible-interpretation principles (which the CTCR expressly states that it does not use, but rather defers to neo-orthodox Bible-interpretation principles), and corresponding to a thoroughly Orthodox Lutheran epistemology, and not the nonsense of the Elert, Nestingen, Paulson, Forde, or Bayer.

    Robert C. Baker

  4. Hmmm, I was sitting back last night for a few minutes and grabbed the latest issue of Christian News (Oct. 6 2014). Lo and behold, perhaps another document that lists some errors (or thinks it does) from the first page. 10 issues brought up against Synod, in light of the ALPB 100th anniversary.

    I myself do not know much of the ALPB, is it an earlier ACELC? Or is it more of a Daystar, etc. following. But Christian News does list some points that appear much like NICL’s attempt to correct error, or the 44, etc.:

    Cannot find a link on the web, but here are a few of them:
    01) Under Koinonia project of the LCMS this former confessional Lutheran Church body no longer practices any serious doctrinal discipline.
    02) Pastors and profs in the LCMS clergy roster are now permitted to promote evolution even though the LCMS still officially opposes evolution.

    On they go.

    BJS, is Christian News on to something? Or is this just some ranting. They sound NICLish, or ACELCish.

    Perhaps it was just some interesting timing with this blog note?

  5. As a signer of TTMBO and now Chairman of ACELC, thank you Pastor Winter for your fine article and thank you Norm for posting it. I pray that the theology of TTMBO is clearly and accurately portrayed in the ongoing work of the ACELC.

    In Christ, Clint

  6. “The Statement of the 44 was a cynical attempt to alter the doctrine of the church with crass political maneuvers by those who lacked the integrity of their convictions.”

    My late father in-law, A Meyer, was one of the 44. To suggest this long time faithful parish pastor was cynical, lacked integrity and was motivated by crass political inclinations smears the reputation of a man who in every way was the opposite of mentioned blog.

    The characterization of Wm Brueing, my husband’s god father and long time parish pastor is also shameful. So also is the characterization of OCJ Hoffmann who was many years my pastor and St. Matthew, NYC.

    Pr. Lincoln Winter, I suggest you ask FW Professor David Scaer if he affirms your characterization of the three men I mentioned. David grew up in NYC and would also have some knowledge of the men I mentioned.

  7. @Mrs. Marie Meyer #7

    I’m glad that you have fond memories of your relatives Mrs. Meyer. However, they weren’t being discussed as ‘your relatives’ but in relation to the damage done by their “Statement” and the way it was subsequently mishandled by the SP and the next convention. No doubt there was some intimidation at the thought of challenging such “big names in Missouri”.

    What we’ve learned since is that the biggest “names” can fall hard… and waste our mission dollars, too… on non-Lutheran (maybe even non-Christian) ideas.

    Jerry Kieschnick who has done more than anyone I know to push LCMS into the arms of Willowcreek, is the logical outcome of the waffling back in ’45. IMHO.
    Now we’re a long way from ’45; we can see the results of that “muddling through” and we’ve had too much more of the same.

  8. Marie Meyer and her cronies of various organizations: Different Voices, Shared Vision and then DayStar and then Ordain Women Now have been advocating the ordination of women for years. What would her father have to say about that? I think he would be ashamed and embarrassed.

  9. “The Statement of the 44 was a cynical attempt to alter the doctrine of the church with crass political maneuvers by those who lacked the integrity of their convictions.”

    Let’s leave me out of this. I will go one step further and ask Pr. Winter to consult with my brother Walter Otten regarding Paul Bretscher Sr., a professor for whom Walter expressed his high regard in the fifties. Was Bretscher a man who lacked integrity? Was he cynical in his attempt to alter the doctrine of the church? Did he operate out of political maneuvers.

    What about Gus Bernthal, the man who promoted LIRS and led the LCMS involvement with LIRS?

    Does anyone recognice the name of H.F. Wind, the man who put LCMS World Relief and Human Care on the map?

    Meyer, Bruening, Hoffmann, Bretscher, Bernthal and Wind were all men whose service to the church led to important ministries in the LCMS today.

    I submit Pr. Lincoln Winter has a limited vision and understanding of LCMS history, one that results in shameful characterizations of men about whom he knows little.

    Marie Meyer

  10. Let’s leave me out of this. I suggest Pr. Lincoln Winter consult my brother Walter Otten for a true picture of Paul Bretscher Sr. I recall Walter as a seminary student in the fifties expressing high regard for the man and his theology.

    Who here recognizes the name of H F Wind, the man who first put LCMS Human Care and World Relief on the Map?

    Then there is Gus Bernthal who led the LCMS in their commitment to LIRS?

    Were all the Kretzmann’s, A.R., Karl, and OP, men who lacked integrity?

    It is past time for persons who have little or no knowledge of the “44” to characterize them in the manner of Pr. Lincoln Walter.

    Marie Meyer+

  11. Marie Meyer: Would your father have approved of your activities to have the ordination of women accepted in the LCMS? Would he have approved of your championing of the liberal theology of Seminex and the agenda of the ELCA? Would he be proud of how you defend Matthew Becker and his liberal theology? Would he be proud of how you cheer on the liberalism of Valparaiso University?

    He would be deeply embarrassed and ashamed, as you should be, Mrs. Meyer!

  12. Lutheran Irish…

    Your posts avoid the issue I have raised here. Has Pr. Lincoln Walter misrepresented the “44” and written what is a blanket smearing of the men who wrote the original statement and the defending essays? Has anyone asked Walter Otten whether he considers what Pr. Lincoln Walter wrote a true portrayal of Prof. Paul Bretscher Sr., one of the “44”?

    For the record…my father regarded my father-in-law, Ade Meyer, a good friend. Were my father to have read what Pr. Walter wrote he would have spoken up and clearly stated that Ade Meyer, just one of the 44, was man of integrity and a faithful parish pastor. Pop Otten also consider OCJ Hoffmann a friend and faithful proclaimer of Biblical truth. My dad also applauded the leadership of men like Gus Bernthal who spoke up for refugees and immigrants.

    Unless you personally knew my father I respectfully ask that you not speak for him.

  13. Lincoln has written a great and thought provoking piece.

    I think Marie may have a point however. She is of course wrong as others have pointed out above in defending the positions of the false teachers that Lincoln highlights but I am not sure that they were cowards and I do not think that they were cynical in their attempt to alter the doctrine of the LCMS. In essence they were trying to lead the LCMS into false teaching but I doubt they were cynical about it. They were most likely bold and courageous.

    Thank you Marie for reading BJS. We hope it will change your mind on your false teachings. We also ask you to be patient with us as we zealously defend the truth and sometimes make personal attacks instead of just doctrinal attacks.

    Thank you Lincoln for your strong confessional doctrine and personality.

    BTW Lincoln, it should be pointed out that there was a good mix of young, middle aged and veterans of the cross at NICL in the days that TTMBO was written. I and several others were in our mid 40’s and there were others older than that.

  14. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #5
    01) Under Koinonia project of the LCMS this former confessional Lutheran Church body no longer practices any serious doctrinal discipline.
    02) Pastors and profs in the LCMS clergy roster are now permitted to promote evolution even though the LCMS still officially opposes evolution.
    On they go.

    I didn’t have to read Christian News to know that. It’s all over the place, if you are looking.

    If you don’t know the difference, historically and otherwise, between ALPB and ACELC, it probably is better that you don’t comment on Pastors (or on the ‘organizations’) until you have learned. Maybe you should even read Christian News regularly, although others here can probably suggest sources with larger fonts! 😉

    If that sounds rude, I apologize; it wasn’t intended to be rude. I’m just a little surprised.

  15. @helen #15
    No rudeness intended, we good. As another thread goes, I think a fellow pastor should rarely comment on a fellow brother in good standing publicly, talk to them in private first about a concern.

    As for organizations, yes, no real time to understand them all. I will leave that up to you and others to share. Thanks.

  16. Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. :
    …I think a fellow pastor should rarely comment on a fellow brother in good standing publicly, talk to them in private first about a concern.

    On the contrary, “where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.”
    (http://www.bookofconcord.org/lc-3-tencommandments.php, paragraph 284)

    Please note that the operative word is “must.” Rarely (if ever) should we be more concerned about the precious reputation of the false teacher than the precious souls his false teaching is leading away from the cross — as all false teaching does.

  17. @Pastor Ted Crandall #18
    You do bring up a point, what is public rebuke? And this is an academic question.

    01) Of course, I have a pulpit like you, I can do it from there as I speak for the Church.
    02) We blog on it, that is “technically” public, but only for our small blogosphere.
    03) I can write a letter to the pastor, publish it to the world. Yet, I think private talk is good, perhaps to move your brother to repent.
    04) I can ask for charges?

    Maybe there is a thread on that from earlier days?

  18. @Pastor Ted Crandall #21
    No, I GET IT…but answer the question, pretty please, OK, try it this way:

    What have you done about Crosspoint?

    01) Called the Pastor?
    02) Publicly rebuked him from the pulpit?
    03) Asked the CV, or DP to begin a review, a process of correction and discipline?
    04) I know we “blog” over it. So those few who read it, get it.

    What you say is right, but EVERY Pastor that holds to his call leads people back to the cross, to Christ, whether it is our flock or the people we serve in the community.

    Right now, at Faith and my community, I got a ton of work to do.

  19. I wish the list of TTMBO signers outside of NICL was still available. That was a pretty big list, many of the conservative/confessional members of the synod before the days of blogging, Facebook, or discussion forums, which was due to the popularity of the CAT41 email list at the time.

  20. @Mrs. Marie Meyer #7

    How about this: “The Statement of the 44 was an attempt to alter the doctrine of the church.” Pejoratives deleted.

    As to your defense of the various signers of the statement of the 44, I agree with you that it’s wrong to impugn their character. The important question, however, is not their character but what they were promoting. And therein is the problem. My late cousin was fond of praising the “sincere devout Lutheran men” who were promoting the patently false doctrine taught at CSL in the 50’s. Their sincerity and devotion were not in question, only their teaching. Arius was undoubtedly very sincere, but he was wrong. Sincerely wrong.

  21. Mrs. Marie Meyer :
    “The Statement of the 44 was a cynical attempt to alter the doctrine of the church with crass political maneuvers by those who lacked the integrity of their convictions.”
    My late father in-law, A Meyer, was one of the 44. To suggest this long time faithful parish pastor was cynical, lacked integrity and was motivated by crass political inclinations smears the reputation of a man who in every way was the opposite of mentioned blog.
    The characterization of Wm Brueing, my husband’s god father and long time parish pastor is also shameful. So also is the characterization of OCJ Hoffmann who was many years my pastor and St. Matthew, NYC.
    Pr. Lincoln Winter, I suggest you ask FW Professor David Scaer if he affirms your characterization of the three men I mentioned. David grew up in NYC and would also have some knowledge of the men I mentioned.

    Marie,

    I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t mention your other brother Herman. I thank God every time I think of him, since the LCMS would very likely have exactly the same “theology” as the ELCA today if not for Pastor Otten and others like him.

    I am also very glad to see you over here, instead of on ALPB, where the ELCA and those who agree with their “theology” have all but taken over.

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