Great Stuff .. Why I stand with the Houston Five (COMMENTARY)

A post by LCMS 4th Vice President (and Houston Pastor) Rev. Dr. Scott Murray over on ReligionNews:

 

Excerpted …

murray_4vp_thumbRecently, Houston city attorneys, acting on behalf of Mayor Annise Parker and the City Council, issued subpoenas to five area pastors requiring they hand over copies of all communication with members of their congregations about a gay rights ordinance.

So what is a Christian pastor to do?

The mayor or members of the City Council are always welcome in my congregation. Sermons aren’t exactly private or privileged communications; they are proclaimed to audiences in public and placed on our website for people to listen to any time. Christian preachers condemn human sin and call people to repentance. They proclaim the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Christ, who died for us, to those who mourn their sin. Sexual immorality is sin. Christian preachers will call it what it is. If that offends the politicians, then so be it.

Christian pastors have been offending powerful authorities since Jesus angered the establishment of his day. If my sermons are subpoenaed, I would be tempted to print all of them and hand deliver them all, tied up in a ribbon, with the hope that the mayor might read them. We Christians are called by God to make our testimony before kings, and we should not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A pastor should be delighted when he is given an opportunity to deliver publicly the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what those who belong to the kingdom of Christ hope and pray for.

It may be a slight variation on President Obama’s line of a few months ago, but it applies here: “Go ahead, subpoena me!” Put my sermons before a court of law, please! The rage and spite of those who hate the Christian worldview might well benefit the church and her Lord.

But that’s not the whole story.

Pastors are also citizens of the kingdom of Caesar. In the bare-knuckled realm of American politics, the mayor and City Council are not really interested in reading a bunch of Christian sermons to find out what they say. They are attempting to stop Christian pastors from commenting on moral issues that are important to politicians. They are using the coercive power of the city’s legal department and turning it on the speech of the church. Not only is this an effort to shame the pastors for their principled stand on sexual mores, but it is a naked attempt to silence them.

Lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom, who are defending the pastors, have called the city’s action a “witch-hunt” and an “inquisition” — both terms dripping with irony.

The effort by the mayor and the City Council attacks two of the freedoms protected in the First Amendment: the free exercise of religion and the right to political speech. And while it has been argued that the city is not silencing speech, the abuse of state power will have a chilling effect on both the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech.

When will ordinary citizens exercise their right to organize a petition drive in the city of Houston again? The fear of being attacked by the unlimited resources of a bully state keeps people from speaking their minds against the wishes of their political masters. These rights remain the peoples’ rights. And as citizens, the five pastors have every right and every reason to resist these bullying tactics.

Against this bullying, I am glad to stand with them — both as a Christian pastor and as a citizen. You should too.

 

Read the full article over on ReligionNews.

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 .. Why I stand with the Houston Five (COMMENTARY) — 45 Comments

  1. I recently heard (I think it was one of the 5) say that he would gladly give any sermons to the mayor. He would NOT, however, give them because of a subpoena!

  2. I am proud of my pastor for writing this fine piece and for standing with the Houston Five publicly.

  3. If only such an eloquent and thoughtful public admonishment could be made regarding the FiveTwo network.

    It appears we are far more inclined to take a stand AGAINST Caesar’s overreach of power than we are to take a stand FOR God’s word and the confessions. Methinks we have our priorities “Flop-Flipped.”

  4. Not sure I see the parallel. The subpoenaed pastors are being persecuted for standing up for the faith. Jesus thought that worthy on a blessing as he gave his sermon on the mount. The attack on the FiveTwo program seems to me to be about to become a tedious search for specks in the eye, a search that bears the risk of hypocrisy.

  5. Green,

    You miss the point completely. Never did I say that Christians should succumb to the pressure of a power wielding politician. In fact, I characterized the Rev. Dr. Murray’s words as eloquent and thoughtful. The disparity lies in the fact that LCMS leadership is quick to condemn the political system for attempting to suppress freedom of speech and religion, but refuse to actually take a stand for their own confessions within the church. You must see that, right?

    A wiccan could easily make the same arguments that Christian pastors are making. The difference lies in the details. Yes, the Houston fight is a fight worth fighting, BUT only if one is willing to publically hold true to their beliefs and defend doctrine and practice. What good is freedom of religion and freedom of speech if you refuse to wholeheartedly support that which you are supposed to confess?

    Regarding FiveTwo, based on your comments, perhaps you’re a sacramental entrepreneur yourself. If so, can you please explain to me again what that means? Also, while you’re at it, please elaborate on your “hypocrisy” comment. You see, the way I read your comment is that it’s improper to identify and point out error if the one doing the pointing is a sinner. Such an argument is made of straw and belongs on a yellow brick road in the land of Oz.

  6. @Randy #5
    Randy, I see it. I have seen it. For myself I chose to point out the positive in this, but I agree, we should also see/hear equally timely and eloquent words of exhortation responding to things such as FiveTwo in our Synod. I, too, am waiting…..

    One thing of note, though, is that although Pastor Murray is a V.P. of synod, here he is speaking on his own on this topic. Admittedly, he could speak “on his own” about FiveTwo, and I actually wish he would, but I think most of us are looking for an official synodical word/response to this blatant heresy in our midst, and that should come from the President himself….

  7. @Noreen Linke #6

    Noreen,

    I very much agree with you about pointing out the positive. Thank you for doing that. Regarding your original post and Rev. Dr. Murray, from what I know, he is a wonderful pastor and a man of honor. While I agree that a unified response to FiveTwo from the SP would be the best course of action, I also believe we should all take a stand for what is right. In fact, scripture demands that we do. Considering FiveTwo is in Rev. Murray’s backyard, I can’t help but believe that some sort of “hush order” has been at least “highly encouraged.” Perhaps I’m wrong.

    One thing is for sure: The Rev. Dr. Harrison’s silence is deafening!

  8. Cast me as you wish. The endless search for the speck in your brothers eye can be a caldron of hypocrisy. Do you see purveyors of rivalry, dissension and division as good? I know, I know -but your doctrine is pure.

    @Randy #5

  9. @Green #8

    Green,

    All you did was reorder your words.

    First, regarding your comment about the Sermon on the Mount:

    Matthew 5:10 (ESV)

    10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Surely you recognize that Jesus wasn’t saying that we should all fight for freedom of speech and religion. He was saying, among many other things, that his disciples should anticipate being persecuted for the sake of righteousness. That part is key! Where there is no sound faith there can be no righteousness.

    Regarding the speck you keep referencing:

    Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV)

    7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    Matthew 7 in no way means that we should never confront others with God’s Word. I do believe that the meaning, in context, is that the unrepentant should not pick out sins of others. One must first repent of their own sins. Therefore, to call me a hypocrite is to judge me as unrepentant. That, my friend, is inappropriate.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Matthew 7 is consistently used incorrectly by many to justify themselves in their own sin. Again, that was never the intent of Matthew 7:1-5. I have even seen this used as a means to “hush” pastors and the laity by putting a guilt trip on them for pointing out error.

  10. Green :Do you see purveyors of rivalry, dissension and division as good? I know, I know -but your doctrine is pure.

    Green,

    My apologies. I almost forgot to answer your question. Thank you for acknowledging the importance of pure doctrine and the destructiveness of those who bring false teachings into the church. You are right, such divisiveness is not good. That is the key, is it not? FiveTwo creates division by straying from scripture in an attempt to create new language, practice, and doctrine within the church. Such an effort is far from the notion of pure doctrine. I’m glad we agree on this.

    Romans 16:17-18 (ESV)

    17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,[a] and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
    -EMPHASIS ADDED

  11. @Randy #7
    Hi Randy,

    You said, ‘Considering FiveTwo is in Rev. Murray’s backyard…’ Spot on. Dr. Murray is VP of the southwestern area of our synod. It’s easier to chastise people in the worldly realm than it is to call to account a member of your own family (LCMS) in public.

    Kyrie Eleison,

    Diane

  12. I’ll answer my own question referencing Paul in Galatians. He seemed to think it serious sin to be a purveyor of rivalries, dissension and division, so it is not good. If one falls in that category, then that just might be a serious plank or log. But of course, if one is always in the right, then he need not worry that Jesus’ cautions in Matthew 7 might refer to him, for assured of no plank or log, the spec would then be in the other eye.

    Maybe admiration of the good pastors in Houston who stand for the Bible and draw persecution of the authorities for doing so doesn’t just naturally flow into an attack on the FiveTwo program. Maybe we should test the doctrine of those being persecuted by the authorities, for they too may not measure up. Then we could clearly see the spec in their eye that makes them unrighteous. Are they blessed for standing up for Biblical morality and persecuted for doing so, when they may be wrong in their doctrine and thus unrighteous and deserving only our scorn?

    You are far smarter than I, so maybe my preoccupation with Jesus and Paul in these areas is misguided.

  13. Green :I’ll answer my own question referencing Paul in Galatians. He seemed to think it serious sin to be a purveyor of rivalries, dissension and division, so it is not good…

    Creating division in the Body of Christ is not a matter of whose opinion is right or wrong, but is a matter of straying from God’s Word. It is very trendy today to applaud the one introducing the teaching which is contrary to the Word and to judge the one who condemns the false teaching. The division is caused by the false teacher, not the one correcting the false teaching and trying to protect the sheep.

    Randy :

    Romans 16:17-18 (ESV)

    17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,[a] and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
    -EMPHASIS ADDED

  14. Green :
    You are far smarter than I, so maybe my preoccupation with Jesus and Paul in these areas is misguided.

    Oh brother………..

    First, remember I am in no way condemning those in Houston who oppose Mayor Parker’s debacle. From the start my point has been that we have our priorities confused. Standing up for Free Speech and Freedom of Religion is very important, but not nearly as vital as standing up for God’s Word.

    Perhaps the issue is that you don’t believe that scripture is inerrant. Do you believe that one can actually know the truth based on God’s Word, or do you believe that truth is a moving target?

  15. Green :
    Maybe we should test the doctrine of those being persecuted by the authorities, for they too may not measure up. Then we could clearly see the spec in their eye that makes them unrighteous. Are they blessed for standing up for Biblical morality and persecuted for doing so, when they may be wrong in their doctrine and thus unrighteous and deserving only our scorn?

    It is a new teaching to me that those who are wrong in their doctrine are “unrighteous and deserving only our scorn”.

    And it is a new thought to me that there should be any contradiction in, on the one hand, pointing out the falsehood of teaching contrary to Scripture, and, on the other hand, objecting when the secular authorities on illegitimate grounds threaten persecution of those who teach such falsehoods.

  16. If any steps are to be taken by the leadership of Synod against the FiveTwo Network, it would have to be done according to proper procedure and due process. It would have to be done based on a thorough investigation of the teachings and practices of the FiveTwo Network and how these teachings and practices relate to Holy Scripture and the Confessions.

    And it probably would, and it definitely could, be argued, that if Dr. Murray or anyone else would respond too loudly and too clearly to anecdotal evidence, however true and however condemning, he would thereby have excluded himself from the process, having reached a conclusion, and committed to it, prior to a proper investigation and thus without due process …

  17. THIS!!!!…..should quoted and quoted often…and perhaps plastered on multiple billboards.

    ” It is very trendy today to applaud the one introducing the teaching which is contrary to the Word and to judge the one who condemns the false teaching. The division is caused by the false teacher, not the one correcting the false teaching and trying to protect the sheep.”

  18. @Jais H. Tinglund #16

    Indeed. 

    If some of you honestly feel the FiveTwo program contains elements of heresy, wouldn’t it be better and more effective to deal directly and privately with Pastors Woolsey, Hennings, and Area VP Murray?   

  19. “Perhaps the issue is that you don’t believe that scripture is inerrant?”

    That’ll be the day.

    I am trying to throw a little caution on the assumption that your interpretation, my interpretation or even Pastor Crandall’s interpretation is inerrant. I never heard of the FiveTwo program before, but from reading about it here, you’d think they were the devil’s partners. I look at their website and see they have the audacity to seek to “create baptized followers of Jesus Christ from lost people.” They don’t use all the same language I do, but who am I to say that if the Lord uses one of their “sacramental entrepreneurs” to bring a lost sheep into the fold, that this former lost sheep won’t meet that one in heaven some day.

    Jesus cautions someone in Matthew 7, and Paul had someone in mind in Galatians 5, but it certainly isn’t us, or is it?

  20. Is it possible that role of an officer in the human institution of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is primarily a left-hand kingdom role? Therefore, they are more inclined to address left-hand kingdom issues as a matter of that office and deal with the defense of the Gospel, the pure preaching of the Gospel and serving of God’s grace when they are carrying out the righthand kingdom office. I don’t know if this it true. I’m just thinking out loud and hoping for some input.

  21. @Green #8
    Do you see purveyors of rivalry, dissension and division as good?

    No, and that’s why I am highly suspicious of those who reply, “Hater!” to anyone who questions whether their activities are appropriate for the Lutheran church. It seems to me that, if their/your(?) doctrine was “pure” (your word, your sarcasm) they/(you?) should be able to give an intelligent defense of what they/(you?) do.

    Regarding your comments on the righteous/unrighteousness of the five ministers visited with legal papers, Dr. Murray’s defense of them was as citizens of the city and this country, where they have legal rights, like the rest of us. No doubt, on another occasion, he would be willing to discuss/dispute points of doctrine.
    But you miss the point!
    Intentionally, I think, you avoid the issue that their Biblical interpretations are (right or wrong) outside our fellowship. If “FIVE/TWO” were similarly outside our fellowship, we could point out its differences from Lutheran doctrine and practice and otherwise ignore it. You, however, stay under the umbrella of LCMS, though your teaching does not belong there, and deceive others into thinking you are Lutherans.
    [As someone else suggested, you stay because you are financed by the unscrupulous and because unwary Lutherans are the only market left for your brand of nonsense. The sects outside have been there, done that and moved on, long ago. Their former members, who got fed up, are here to tell us so.]

    So don’t put yourselves in the role of the “persecuted”! We aren’t buying it.

  22. @Green #19

    Green,

    Note that Ephesians 4:11-13 doesn’t list “Sacramental Entrepreneur.

    Ephesians 4:11-13 (ESV)

    11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

    You mention language. Good! Language is very important and FiveTwo has redefined language in a manner that we are clearly warned to avoid (once again, please see Romans 16:17-18).

    Romans 16:17-18 (ESV)

    17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

    You say that you believe scripture is inerrant. Therefore, you must also believe doctrine can be pure. Yet, you argue from a POV that the truth can’t be nailed down. Perhaps you don’t mean to do so, but that is exactly how your argument has unfolded.

  23. John @ #18,

    We are engaging them from the highest to the lowest levels.

    We have several examples here on this site from years gone by.

    I am currently working with a brother pastor and my DP on similar issues.

    I can tell you that once you engage them privately and then take a brother with you for a second meeting, nothing happens. Across most sectors of the LCMS there is no supervision.

    We are like a household with a father who wants to be his kids best friend.

  24. Pastor Tim Rossow :
    We are like a household with a father who wants to be his kids best friend.

    … except, perhaps, the bad kids – which, in this metaphor would be those who do not persistently articulate and demonstrate their disregard and disdain for the house rules, and the house itself?

  25. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    First, I am very impressed by Dr. Murray’s commentary on the “Houston Five” situation. I don’t think any of our synod theologians, seminary professors, university faculty, or synod/district officers could have stated more eloquently or more clearly the LCMS position on the role of the pastor and the church-state relationship. This proves that Synod had great wisdom in electing Dr. Murray to his present role of Fourth Vice-President, where he advises and assists the President of the Synod.

    Second, as to Dr. Murray’s role in synod as a Vice-President, although he is designated as a representative of the “West-Southwest Region” on the Praesidium, he has no authority over, or responsibilities for “his” region in the bylaws. The regional title is misleading. He has no more authority in his region than the regional Board of Directors members, or the regional Board for National Mission members, or the regional Board for International Mission members, have in their region.

    Third, if you all are complaining about a problem with particular pastor or congregation, and really want something done, you should follow Pastor Rossow’s example by talking to the brother pastor and his DP on the issue that concerns you. You would start with Bylaw 1.10.5 (2013 Handbook, p. 43) if it is non-expulsion dispute, or with Bylaw 2.14.2 (ibid., p. 71), if your intent is the expulsion of that pastor or congregation.

    Fourth, the ecclesiastical supervisor for Pastor Woolsey and his congregation, which seems to be the focus of most concern here, is Rev. Kenneth M. Hennings, District President of the Texas President. All complaints, disputes, controversies, etc. have to be channeled through DP Hennings, per bylaws. If you send something to the synod president’s office, he is required, by church law, to send it back down to Texas.

    Fifth, if you follow the bylaw process, as Pastor Rossow has done in his district, and there is no resolution to your concerns, it could be for one of two reasons: 1) your concern may be real, but not divisive of fellowship (for the congregation) or not cause for expulsion (for the church-worker); 2) the district president is “protecting” the heterodox individual or congregation about which you are concerned.

    Why would the LCMS allow a district president to protect heterodoxy? It didn’t use to do that. All this was changed in the 1992 revision of the bylaws, which introduced the dispute resolution system–and most important, made the district presidents the “judges” in all adjudication cases. I put “judges” in quotes, because although the Referral Panels and Hearing Panels “hear the case,” the distric presidents control the system and can terminate any expulsion case without further appeal (Bylaw 2.14.5.2, ibid., p. 73).

    Before 1992, we had a synodically-elected judiciary, with a synodically-elected Commission on Adjudication and Commission on Appeals. Doctrinal disputes were handled equally and fairly across the entire synod. After 1992, the system has been controlled by the district. How you fare depends on which district you are in, and if the district president wants to “protect” you from doctrinal discipline.

    I have worked on this issue for many years. I published and exposed the problem, for which I am sure I have “paid the price” in one way or another–although no one will admit that they “whacked” me because I am trying to preserve orthodoxy (based on the Scriptures and Confessions) in the LCMS and am keeping in mind the warning of Treatise 51 (see http://www.bookofconcord.org/treatise.php#para51 ).

    As to previous publications in print, you can read my essay “Law and Due Process in the Kingdom of the Left and the Kingdom of the Right,” available here: http://www.logia.org/luther-academy-books/god-and-caesar-revisited ; also my essay “District Presidents and Their Council: Biblical and Confessional Limitations,” available here: http://www.logia.org/luther-academy-books/congress-on-the-lutheran-confessions-church-polity-and-politics I have given other lectures, and published other articles with reference to the subject, but these two essays state the essential problems.

    Because of the present concern about the Five-Two group, which concern I found even among the bloggers at the “American Lutheran Publicity Bureau” forum, I have been working on trying to explain our dispute-expulsion system. I am working on a flow-chart right now that graphically explains how the system works. Once I get that finished, I’ll post it here at the BJS website with some analysis.

    I hope this helps a bit.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  26. Ross #20: If indeed Pr. Murray is an officer in the kingdom of the left, then I suppose one would ask why then did he go rogue and speak up about the Houston subpoenas? Would he not have had to go through due process commiserate with his position as an officer of the LCMS (at least according to Jais H. Tinglund #16)? I am not being facetious here, I honestly have some questions about the duties of our LCMS leaders, since it seems a little random of when they are going to make a comment and when they are going to stay silent. Your comment, along with Jais H. Tinglund’s have me thinking that our leaders seem to comment more about things outside our synod than they do on those errors within. Is this proper for their position? It seems to me that Walther had it the other way around.

  27. @Martin R. Noland #25
    Pastor Noland,

    You stated…..”if you follow the bylaw process, as Pastor Rossow has done in his district, and there is no resolution to your concerns, it could be for one of two reasons: 1) your concern may be real, but not divisive of fellowship (for the congregation) or not cause for expulsion (for the church-worker); 2) the district president is “protecting” the heterodox individual or congregation about which you are concerned.”

    With all due respect, I’d like to suggest that there is a third possibility: 3)the district president is himself a heterodox individual who is not only protecting the heterodox individual but is also promoting, supporting and encouraging heterodox individuals and their heterodox teachings. This support is often very public and may even carry with it financial backing.

    If your #2 or my #3 is a reason an individual’s concern has not been resolved, shouldn’t that concern then be taken to the Synod President and wouldn’t he have the authority and responsibility for addressing the District President?

  28. Helen
    But you miss the point!
    Intentionally, I think, you avoid the issue that their Biblical interpretations are (right or wrong) outside our fellowship. If “FIVE/TWO” were similarly outside our fellowship, we could point out its differences from Lutheran doctrine and practice and otherwise ignore it. You, however, stay under the umbrella of LCMS, though your teaching does not belong there, and deceive others into thinking you are Lutherans.
    [As someone else suggested, you stay because you are financed by the unscrupulous and because unwary Lutherans are the only market left for your brand of nonsense. The sects outside have been there, done that and moved on, long ago. Their former members, who got fed up, are here to tell us so.]

    From ALPB – July 4 2013 – Re FiveTwo – “What is it and what perceived-need does it seek to meet”

    “Friends, my name is Bill Woolsey. I, along with our BOD, lead FiveTwo. To answer some of your questions:
    1. We are not solely for LCMS churches. Other Lutheran denominations, Anglican, and a few Presbyterian have joined our ranks. So yes, ELCA folks and LCMC folks would be very, very welcome.
    2. Our aim is to stimulate the starting of sacramental (read high view of LS and Baptism) ministries, ultimately and especially church plants.
    3. We do not plant the churches; we simply encourage them and try to provide entrepreneurial (apostolic) knowledge to make that happen.
    4. We are not a network that has a political agenda. You won’t find us politicking for one side or the other.

    Hope that helps.”

    It appears that Bill Woolsey is trying to save us all. On Monday he’s a LCMS, Tuesday – ELCA, Wednesday -Presbyterian.

  29. Fourth, the ecclesiastical supervisor for Pastor Woolsey and his congregation, which seems to be the focus of most concern here, is Rev. Kenneth M. Hennings, District President of the Texas President. All complaints, disputes, controversies, etc. have to be channeled through DP Hennings, per bylaws. If you send something to the synod president’s office, he is required, by church law, to send it back down to Texas.

    This explains a lot.  Thanks, Pr Noland.  OTOH Randy has made a good point elsewhere that the Synod President can have a lot of indirect influence via his pulpit.  A good example was Pr Harrison’s constructive influence on the MNS funding for replacement of the ULC-MN chapel.  I think Pr Harrison’s comments on worship in the current Lutheran Witness can have a constructive influence to help offset some of the excesses of irreverent, irrelevant rock music and goofy consultant-speak.

  30. @slalom5 #28

    Unionism and/or syncretism? Hmm, Sounds like Pr. Woolsey’s own words should be getting him into a little trouble. And per Amy DP Hennigns might be getting himself into a troubling area for not dealing with a problem.

  31. @LadyM #26
    I hear you. I’m no church historian, but the synod was likely a much different organization when Rev. Walther was around.

    After reading Rev. Noland’s posts It appears the synod needs a whole lot more restructuring in order to get to a place where it can be a more faithful organization which can better serve the good of the Church. If a synod and its members are running in many different directions, saying many contrary things, and fighting various turf wars, what is its point? If a synod tries to prevent the body of Christ from speaking the whole truth or tolerates and promotes false doctrine and practice, than we would be better off without that synod.

    People are born and they die. Congregations are born and they die. The same can be said for synods, but thanks be to God that His Church will never die.

  32. Martin R. Noland :
    Because of the present concern about the Five-Two group, which concern I found even among the bloggers at the “American Publicity Bureau” forum…

    Did you mean the ALPB? If so, was it a Freudian slip that there is no Lutheran in there?

    🙂

  33. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Amy at comment #27 suggests that there is a third reason why a doctrinal dispute gets terminated without further action. It is really the same as #2, in terms of its effect on the case, which was all I was trying to explain.

    That does bring up another question, which I have not explored. That is the question of what happens in our dispute-expulsion system if the District President is heterodox. There is a separate chapter in the bylaws just for that situation, Chapter 2.15 (2013 Handbook, pp. 81-89).

    You cannot judge that a man, or synod officer, is heterodox only on the basis of how he judges a case that he is required to act on. Cases are complicated, and many mitigating factors enter in, not just heterodoxy per se. Further, it would be extremely stupid to give a man the authority to judge a case, and then get rid of him because he didn’t rule on the case the way that you wanted him to. Then he would not be a judge, but a mere puppet–or worse.

    Also I think it would be very difficult to make a convincing case, under the way that our constitution and bylaws are structured, that a district president or synod officer should be tried for heterodoxy because “he supported Pastor X.” Well, what does that mean? Are people innocent until proven guilty, or not?

    I can tell you how this worked out in one case, that is, the “32 in 92.” Thirty-two seminarians at Fort Wayne were denied calls in 1992, because it was reported to the interim dean or interim seminary president–by their classmates–that such seminarians had said a few words in favor of Robert Preus or defended him in some way, even if he just said, “He’s a decent guy.” That was viewed as “supporting Pastor X” by the seminary administration, but the outcry across the synod against that action was so loud, that it was quickly squelched.

    I agree with the intent of our bylaws, Chapter 2.15, namely, that since accusations may be brought against church officers for purely political reasons–i.e., the opposing party failed to get their man elected, therefore they will bring bogus charges against the man who was elected–therefore a process akin to Congressional impeachment is the best solution. If the “mob” can judge the judges, then you have mob rule–and Loehe’s prediction of “Pobelherrschaft” would come true.

    I don’t know if I agree with all the details of Chapter 2.15–I have not studied it in detail, as I have the rest of the dispute-expulsion bylaws. But I do know that there are two “loopholes” in Chapter 2.15.

    The first is bylaw 2.15.4.1 (ibid., 83), where the President of Synod can be removed from his role in administering a case if he has a “conflict of interest.” “Conflict of interest” has been judged by the CCM so widely in the past that even if you had served on a board or committee with someone else, you could be disqualified for “conflict of interest.” So I think the defenders of a District President going through Chapter 2.15 would immediately use that bylaw, and so knock the Synod President off the case.

    The second loophole is a common one in the dispute-expulsion system. That is where any Hearing Panel can have its work held up by either party to the case asking for an “Opinion” of the CCM or CTCR (for this chapter 2.15, see 2.15.7.8, p. 85, which points to 2.14.7.8, p. 75-77; and 2.15.9(b), p. 88, which also points to 2.14.7.8). Since such Opinions are binding, and must be followed, if the “accused party” knows who is on the CCM or CTCR, and knows how the majority will vote, he can get a binding “Opinion” that will determine his innocence.

    So, for that reason, under the present system, no district president will ever be disciplined for doctrinal reasons–unless the synod in convention makes it mandatory in some way, as it did for the Seminex ordination cases ca. 1976–and that was really for administrative-ecclesiastical reasons–i.e., ordaining guys who had not been properly certified.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  34. @Martin R. Noland #36
    Further, it would be extremely stupid to give a man the authority to judge a case, and then get rid of him because he didn’t rule on the case the way that you wanted him to. Then he would not be a judge, but a mere puppet–or worse.

    Wally Schultz was gotten rid of because he was not a puppet,
    but something better, and ruled on the basis of Scripture.

    I’ll agree that it was extremely stupid to get rid of him
    … but Schultz was still out of a job. Or two.

  35. Dear Helen,

    Vice-President Wallace Schulz did not survive in his office, because he refused to be intimidated and become a puppet to certain political parties in the LCMS. He is a “confessor” in my book, because he did the right thing and refused to cave in to pressure. The people who got rid of him are akin, in my book, to the scribes and Pharisees who got rid of Jesus–their actions were a complete and absolute travesty of justice.

    You are right that it was extremely stupid to get rid of VP Schulz–you and I agree on that point! AMEN and AMEN!

    Any man or woman who attacks a judge because the judge is doing his lawful duty, is the worst sort of criminal on earth. The judge is the embodiment of the Law, and according to the Lutheran doctrine of the two-governments, is God’s representative on earth to bring about justice and order in society; and if he is a church judge, in the church. To attack the judge (unless he is corrupt) is to attack God’s personal representative–this is Luther’s view.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  36. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I think I have explained this before, but maybe not recently. The dispute-expulsion system was adopted in 1992 with the rationale that the adjudication system needed to have Matthew 18 in it (i.e., private consultation with the intent of reconciliation before going to church court). This was a lie promoted by the president of the synod and his allies, because if that was the case, they would have only needed to add one paragraph–instead they rewrote the entire adjudication system.

    There were two real reasons for the changes: 1) the president of synod was irked that the Commission on Appeals ruled that Robert Preus was innocent of the charges made against him–so the synodical president worked to get rid of the Commission on Appeals and anything that competed with his powers at the synod level; 2) many district presidents welcomed the opportunity to become the administrators and “judges” for cases in their district at the district level (see my explanation of “judges” above in comment #25 para. 6).

    In short, the 1992 changes eliminated the “separation of powers” that had been envisioned by the original commissions who created the LCMS adjudication system. The judiciary was folded into the executive branch of the synod–which change was applauded and probably conceived by the executive branch of the synod (i.e., the President of the Synod and the district presidents in alliance with him at that time).

    I did, by the way, protest the changes in the adjudication system at the open hearings of the floor committee dealing with that issue at the 1992 convention. I made many enemies that day. But Jesus said “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you”–so I have been trying to do that, while also looking after the best interests of the pastors, teachers, deaconesses, DCEs (and other church-workers) and congregations in our church-body.

    I think this exhausts the thread-drift. I think it is time to get back to the topic of the main post . . . 🙂

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  37. @Martin R. Noland #39

    Thread drift is the least of our concerns. We have practice drift, doctrine drift, teaching drift, preaching drift, confessional drift, vow drift, and leadership drift.

    I don’t believe the LCMS will survive if we place our hope and focus in synod politics as a means to recovery. Synod politics got us here. Strong, outspoken leadership by professors and confessors of our Faith and the Word of God are the ONLY means that will enable us to turn the corner.

  38. Since the thread was about Pr. Murray’s article and the comments about his speaking out, he does write a daily column, available to any who are interested in reading it.

  39. Martin R. Noland :Thirty-two seminarians at Fort Wayne were denied calls in 1992, because it was reported to the interim dean or interim seminary president–by their classmates–that such seminarians had said a few words in favor of Robert Preus or defended him in some way, even if he just said, “He’s a decent guy.”

    I just missed that mess, graduating from CTS in 1990. But I can attest to the oppressive atmosphere I was startled to find when I returned from my “leave of absence” in the Navy to complete vicarage and my last year of seminary training. While away for five years in the Navy, I was completely ignorant of the whole Bohlman vs. Preus debacle, so I was stunned to discover when I returned to Fort Wayne that you couldn’t say a kind word about either man without kicking a hornet’s nest. I also witnessed when President Preus returned from traveling to discover that he had been locked out of even his temporary office in the catacombs. Shameful!

    What sickens me most about this sad chapter in LCMS history, is that, to this day, the Bohlman/Kieschnick dynasty, including those who sinfully fired Pastor Shulz, have never publicly repented or been held acountable by their ecclesiastical supervisors. So, those poor innocents who fell for the winsome, “nice guy” veneer, are very likely still being led away from the cross. And now a new generation is leading yet another to wherever it is that Benke and Becker plan to take them…

    “For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.” (paragraph 284, The Eighth Commandment, Luther’s Large Catechism)

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