Shouldn’t you know better?

Confusion2That’s the question I keep asking myself. Shouldn’t you know better? Don’t you understand that words actually mean something and your confession or lack thereof is killing people? Growing up I was lucky. I had parents who while they made mistakes were pretty good parents. They kept me out of trouble and taught me right from wrong. If they really screwed up…like beat me, gave me alcohol or let me wonder the wild and crazy streets of Wahpeton, North Dakota as a toddler they would have gotten in trouble. The police would have questioned them and possibly taken me away from them. In many situations it’s a very good thing to have law enforcement and people watching over us. What if that wasn’t in place? What if I could let my two kids roll around in the back of our car and not buckle them into the proper car seat? What if I didn’t really want my kids to go to school? Maybe I’d just let them watch television all day while I’m at work. Besides school supplies and lunches are so expensive. Sometimes oversight is a good thing. Not all dead beat parents who beat their children are caught. Not everyone who speeds through a school zone is given a ticket. Sometimes even murderers get away with it. Crime is still crime, and sin is still sin (even if you don’t get caught).

Sometimes I feel like pastors get a pass. While respecting and honoring the office of the Holy Ministry, I feel like laymen won’t question their pastors. Why should they? Shouldn’t pastors know better? Shouldn’t they understand what it means to be a Lutheran in the LCMS? Shouldn’t they remember the oath they took at their ordination? Shouldn’t they know the people in their flock look to them for answers? Pastors are sinners. They sin. Sometimes they sin in such a way we think “Shouldn’t he know better?” At times, the world, the devil and our sinful flesh are powerful things to resist. We should all remember that when our pastors sin we must pray for them. Pray that they come to the realization of that sin and repent.
To be honest, sometimes our prayers are not enough. This is why we have oversight and “people in charge” in the LCMS. I’m a layman, and I readily admit I don’t know everything. To be honest, I’m not even really sure what the “people in charge” in the LCMS do. And what really burns my ass is that I don’t think they do much of anything. Where is the oversight?  Where is the leadership? I work for Pepsi. If one day I decided to start selling Coke while on the clock for Pepsi, I would get canned. My boss is in charge of making sure I do my job properly. If my boss doesn’t do that, he gets written up by his boss. And so on and so on. This is in the world of sugar water drinks. I love my job and the company I work for, but this doesn’t even come close to the important work the church does. And yet here we are with district presidents “who should know better!” They should be faithfully watching over the pastors in their districts, making sure the Word of God is being properly preached and the Sacraments are being rightly administered. The Word of God and the Sacraments are relevant, and that’s what matters. I know there are plenty of faithful pastors included in the “people in charge” of the LCMS. To you I say – The confessional Lutherans in the LCMS, especially the young people, are not fooled and are not stupid. The confessional laymen in the LCMS are sick of having to explain why all LCMS churches do not worship the same or even confess the same beliefs. You are at risk of losing the very young people you so desire in our church body. We are not church growth, Baptist, Pentecostal, or Lutheran “In name only” – we are confessional Lutherans, and we want our leaders to be confessional. Play time is over, let’s get to work.

 


Comments

Shouldn’t you know better? — 42 Comments

  1. How odd. I’ve never served a congregation that had any trouble questioning its pastor. I’m just glad to finally be serving one for once where I get the benefit of the doubt.

  2. @Alan Kornacki #1
    I suppose “questioning” could be taken to mean something other than “condemning on instinct, with neither knowledge nor inquiry”.

    Although it does not seem to, when the holy Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Philippians so closely pairs up “questioning” with “grumbling”.

    I was once actually told that it was an expression of an ingrown respect for the pastoral office – inherited from former ages – when parishioners would grumble and gossip about their Pastor behind his back rather than talk to him and make it possible for misunderstandings to be cleared up, and for the lies they had heard about him to be disclosed for what they were.

    I a strange way, I can actually see how that might have made its own weird kind sense in a day and age when the pastoral office was, in fact, respected, and the authority of the Pastor assumed, and the Biblical principle that only God Himself can remove the Pastor, anyway, was acknowledged – so that gossip and lies about a Pastor would be less consequential, and less likely to develop into an actual demand for his removal – and when it was less likely that a District President would see no need whatsoever to enquire and investigate as to the veracity of the gossip and the lies prior to announcing his judgement of the Pastor , and subsequently, after the lies had been exposed, express his approval of the practice of gossiping and lying …

  3. Best construction?  I’ve never had any trouble at all with asking pastors (including Steadfast Brothers) and my district president anything.  How hard have you tried Nathan R?  🙂

  4. “Where is the oversight? Where is the leadership? I work for Pepsi. If one day I decided to start selling Coke while on the clock for Pepsi, I would get canned.”

    I work for the LC-MS. If one day I decided to start teaching and worshipping like an American Evangelical, my boss (ecclesiastical supervisor) would applaud me for being so “mission-minded.” My boss’s boss (that is, my ecclesiastical supervisor’s ecclesiastical supervisor) would make Facebook posts about canoes (while Missouri burns).

    Wilken said it best, this is what it means to become “missional”:
    To the Jews I became as an American Evangelical, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became an American Evangelical that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became an American Evangelical that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became an American Evangelical, that I might win the weak. I have become an American Evangelical to all people …

  5. It’s OK, diesirae; if history is any indication, the German Evangelical Church didn’t win too many under/outside the law, either…

  6. What if I could let my two kids roll around in the back of our car
    and not buckle them into the proper car seat?

    Those were the days!
    When my three were small, we drove “back home” [1100 miles].
    I put luggage on the floor of the back seat, to make a “play pen”
    and padded it with blankets. They had some books, a few toys,
    and when they got tired, they could lie down and sleep. Comfortably.

    And they all grew up! 🙂

  7. Hmmm, you bring up an interesting point.

    If we questions pastors, many in BJS and others may say “how dare you”. In fact, some pastors who are on CRM (not all) and some out of the business belong there because a congregation questioned first, and then the answers are junk, then the congregation took action and had the “bad” pastor removed.

    Then the congregation takes the hit, “how dare they.”

    Good pastors know better.

    Now the problem is oversight, because there is little; because in our polity, not much can be done unless we err so grievously.

    In fact, correction stand with YOU, the congregation. If we err, call us out. Now be prepared, you may not like the answer or what may happen.

    I can walk over to another pastor and correct them, and get an answer back like “get lost.” (or worse).

    Good article, makes you think.

  8. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #7
    I can walk over to another pastor and correct them,
    and get an answer back like “get lost.” (or worse).

    I can do that, too.
    And have, and have “gotten lost” from that congregation.
    Because most pewsitters will watch injustice done,
    or doctrine defied, and just sit there.

    “Too bad” about the good man
    [who got caught in a “Brother’s” sausage machine],
    but “seminary will send us another one.”

    [Unfortunately, they will, too.] 🙁

    The LCMess isn’t just about Pastors!
    Members who stand by and do nothing are a large part of the problem. 🙁

  9. Thank you Nathan well said for a Pepsi guy ;-). Synod is STILL silent on this. What a pity.

  10. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #9
    When a congregation stands up to a pastor,
    rarely are they supported, they get beaten down.

    “They” is a confusing pronoun because it’s so often used with the singular these days.
    So I don’t know if we’re on the same page.
    I haven’t seen a congregation “beaten down” … because I haven’t seen one get up yet.
    I’ve seen Elders seriously abuse their elected office, and get away with it.

  11. Our polity is such that an ecclesiastical supervisor is not the “boss” of the pastors in his district, and a pastor is not an “employee” of the LCMS; he is a member of it, along with the congregation that called him. Consequently, as Pastor Prentice has pointed out, there are practical limitations on what can be done in a “top-down” fashion. It will be interesting to see if this is altered at all by the recent CCM opinion on “Advocacy of Doctrinal Positions Contrary to the Synod’s Stated Positions.”

    In a sense, this makes it all the more important for the laity to hold their pastors accountable in a “bottom-up” way. At the same time, we always have to keep in mind that none of us is called (let alone ordained) to do our pastor’s job, let alone that of his ecclesiastical supervisor. I have had some serious conversations and e-mail exchanges with my pastor about certain issues that have come up, but I have always tried to be respectful, and ultimately I was satisfied with his responses. At least he knows that I am paying attention!

  12. @aletheist #13

    You’re missing a key concept. The by-laws be-damned. The Word and our confessions clearly states what we are to do. NOTHING is stopping DPs and the SP from publicly rebuking the actions of those that stray. NOTHING. Right?

    AND, the laity can’t stop movements like “FiveTwo.” Why? Because the whole thing was a bad seed planted from the start. Willing, seeker driven laity are recruited.

  13. helen :What if I could let my two kids roll around in the back of our carand not buckle them into the proper car seat?
    Those were the days!When my three were small, we drove “back home” [1100 miles].I put luggage on the floor of the back seat, to make a “play pen”and padded it with blankets. They had some books, a few toys,and when they got tired, they could lie down and sleep. Comfortably.
    And they all grew up!

    Helen you beat me to it, I remember the folks doing basically the same thing for us kids riding in the back of our Chevy II (While they both smoked cigarettes!).

  14. Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. :
    Now the problem is oversight, because there is little; because in our polity, not much can be done unless we err so grievously.

    I would like to think the teaching coming out of some of our supposedly LCMS congregations that clearly conflicts with our confessions is considered grievous error.

    But what do I know. It’s all a matter of post-modern opinion these days, even within our synod.

  15. @Randy #14
    There is no need for such language, especially since the LCMS Constitution and Bylaws–not the Word and the Lutheran Confessions–are what establish the specific offices of DP/SP and define their duties, including ecclesiastical supervision. Our Synod explicitly defines itself as an advisory body, not an ecclesiastical government.

    In any case, neither one of us is (or ever has been) a DP or the SP, so who are we to tell them how to do their jobs? They are called and elected to those positions, we are not. Perhaps there is something stopping them from “publicly rebuking the actions of those that stray” in some instances; how would we know? We certainly have the right (and sometimes obligation) to speak out ourselves, but I personally think that anger or frustration directed at Synod officers for not complying with our demand for a particular kind of response is misplaced.

  16. @aletheist #17

    Our synod may be an advisory body, but when is the last time you saw them advise us to avoid movements like “FiveTwo?”

    Next, I agree, you and I will never be a DP or SP, BUT, that’s not our vocation. Still, it doesn’t mean that we don’t hold those in leadership positions accountable. If al-Qaida showed up on your doorstep you’d be p!ssed off and demand accountability, right? You may never be the POTUS or a special ops team member, but you damned well would demand accountability, right? You would be right! Just because you don’t hold those vocations doesn’t mean you can’t hold those who do accountable.

  17. @Randy #18
    I guess that I am just not convinced that criticizing Synod officers in an online forum–for not complying with our demand for a particular kind of response to what we perceive to be a situation that calls for rebuke–is an appropriate or effective way to hold them accountable.

  18. @aletheist #19

    aletheist,

    I respect that. Seriously, I do. From my perspective, I have brought significant error to the attention of the SP and praesidium, but nothing ever happened. For instance, three rostered LCMS pastors subscribed to C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), in which they believed they were/are modern day apostles. I brought this to the attention of the DPs and entire praesidium and SP, only to be ignored! Think about it. Pastors in the LCMS who believe they are apostles. If you don’t believe me, listen to Rev. Mark Zehnder’s (King of Kings in Omaha, Nebraska) associate pastor talk (about 16:30 into the sermon):

    http://kingofkingsomaha.org/media/messages/nightbefore/?enmse=1&enmse_spid=2&enmse_mid=43&enmse_av=1

    So, this stuff is real! Please listen to it and tell me what you think.

  19. BTW, listen to it fast, because, that which is pointed out sometimes disappears from the internet quickly.

  20. Nathan says, “Growing up I was lucky”. For the Christian
    it is better to say, “Growing up I was blessed by God.”
    Your parents were a gift from God and one of his many
    blessings to you.

    There is no luck in a Christian’s life, everything is a
    blessing from God.

  21. “To be honest, sometimes our prayers are not enough. This is why we have oversight and “people in charge” in the LCMS”
    Wow! Waiting for God to do what we ask right now is not enough! We must take this to an organization of humans (LCMS people in charge)?

  22. @Randy #20
    You have brought what you believe to be significant error to the attention of the Synod officers, which is perfectly appropriate. However, they may not agree with your assessment; and even if they do, what action they take as a result–if any–is up to them to decide, as the Holy Spirit leads them.

    I listened late last night to a minute or two of the sermon that you linked, right around the 16:30 mark (I cannot stream any media at work right now). The speaker seemed to be affirming that no one today holds the office of apostle in the same sense as the Twelve or Paul of Tarsus, but claiming that there is still a spiritual gift of apostleship. He did not define exactly what he meant by that, so I cannot yet evaluate such a position, unless there is some information online–preferably written, since I do most of my learning by reading–that elaborates on this.

  23. I’ve been reading a lot about out-of-place-movements and the accountability of men in positions of power as well as congregants to take a stand against that which is contrary to what it means to be Lutheran. It all makes me wonder…

    Who are the architects of these things? How old are the creators and leaders of things like FiveTwo?

    I suspect they are Boomers. The same people who would never trust anyone over 30 will not now trust anyone under 40.

    Surely there are Xers and Millennial involved, but I doubt that they came up with these programs. I doubt they would choose to reach out to their peers with pandering and processed food instead of the nourishment found in the church when the Word is preached and the sacraments administered. Perhaps it’s an issue of not having been properly catechized, but rather pandered to with 40 or 50 year old innovations.

    Why on earth would a youngster be interested in a even 30 year old novelty as opposed to an eternal truth?

    They aren’t.

    “The confessional Lutherans in the LCMS, especially the young people, are not fooled and are not stupid.”

    “You are at risk of losing the very young people you so desire in our church body. We are not church growth, Baptist, Pentecostal, or Lutheran “In name only” – we are confessional Lutherans, and we want our leaders to be confessional.”

    The youth involved in these fads have bought in to a system of belief that they have been told speaks to them and was created just for them. Some buy in to this. More and more I tend to blame the Boomers for the short-failings of Gens X and Y. Those born after 1964 hunger for the meat that has been meet for Milena. Yet so much pasteurized, homogenized, non fat milk is poured from the bosom of the Boomers as they dismantle: liturgy, tradition, and identity; along with the confessions of faith; the Book of Concord, the Sacraments and the Word of God.

    Yes, those in authority need to be held accountable. (Are they also of the generation that goes Boom?) They will be held accountable, and the next generation will begin to rebuild the Church that was dismantled by their parents.

    I’m sorry if this offends some of the Boomers who read and post here, but perhaps I’m not speaking to/of you, but rather others of your generation.

  24. It’s hard to believe that so many leaders of a confessional Lutheran synod could seem so negligent or uncaring about issues causing so much division in their synod. It’s hard to believe public confession against false doctrine in our synod comes from so few in our synod. It’s hard to believe so many LCMS leaders appear to be in agreement with so much false teaching. It’s hard to believe, but we as Lutherans know why it is.

    They should know better. They should know better just as we should all know better about everything all of the time. But they, like we, are poor miserable sinners. They, like we, get caught up by our old sinful Adam which tries to replace God’s true doctrine with our feeble false doctrines. Pray for them and pray for us all. Pray that we all may always be led to repentance in Christ and never handed over to our sinful thoughts, words and deeds.

  25. Dear BJS Bloggers,
    I see a lot of comments here that are the results of corrupted adjudication process. This was foisted on the LCMS in 1992 by design–Ralph Bohlmann, Wil Sohns, and their allies were the chief architects. I have written about this often–also gave a few lectures. We need to reform this system so it is both fair and exerts proper doctrinal discipline. Watch BJS for more on this subject, targeted for the 2016 convention. Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  26. I’ve questioned my pastor if I’ve heard him say something that didn’t sound right, but I wouldn’t advise having a public argument while standing in line after the Divine Service. My pastor is open to correction and will announce it to the whole congregation during the next week’s sermon if he’s wrong about something.

    Then again, if a congregation member confronts his pastor and objects to something that is Scriptural and Confessional, the pastor should lovingly tell that person to go pound sand.

  27. @Martin R. Noland #28

    The 1992 adjudication process was bad enough, but the dispute resolution abomination sold to the 204 convention is an absolute disaster. 12 pages of corporate/bureaucratic gobbleygook. If that is the only item on the 2016 Convention agenda, it will be worth fixing. Expect a donnybrook, however.

  28. @Joe Strieter #30
    If that is the only item on the 2016 Convention agenda, it will be worth fixing.

    Since the COP has entirely too much power with that one, it will be hard to change.
    Between that and irreversible CCM decrees, if we don’t have an ‘episcopacy’ it looks very like a dictatorship.

  29. helen :Between that and irreversible CCM decrees, if we don’t have an ‘episcopacy’ it looks very like a dictatorship.

    CCM opinions are not irreversible, they can be overturned by majority vote at a Synod convention. Are there any in particular that especially bother you? I actually have some concerns about the one that I mentioned above on “Advocacy of Doctrinal Positions Contrary to the Synod’s Stated Positions.”

  30. @aletheist #32
    CCM opinions are not irreversible, they can be overturned by majority vote at a Synod convention. Are there any in particular that especially bother you?

    I am perfectly aware that CCM decrees can theoetically be rescinded “at the next convention” but can you tell me any that have been? DP’s control floor committees; resolutions which don’t suit them either aren’t presented or are so mangled that the result is the opposite of what was intended, although with irony, I think, they still append the originating body’s name to them.

    If CCM decisions expired, unless they received a pro vote in advance of the convention by 2/3 of the congregations (since other important business is too unimportant for convention) perhaps they would get a reading by more members… and there might be less of them in the first place!

    To answer your question: I agreed with Joe, for beginners!

  31. @Tim Schenks #29

    What if your pastor is ‘more moderately confessional’? While there are various good points with many pastors in my area, many of the same also have a few unBiblical opinions. And if you try to challenge them on the occasional bad points?… Have I told you I switched congregations? I lost big time recently. With my current shepherd, he is about at retirement age. Not saying he is planning it soon. I thing or tow pops up and I get worried about the direction he is taking us. Not all bad, but if it leaves a certain number of cracks, the next guy if missional can really do some terrible work. Gets tricky with the particular leadership roles I have, and what modest influence I can be. Because last time I ended up being a nobody, maybe even a pariah to many of my former congregants.

  32. @aletheist #32

    Jumping in here, Aletheist. What specifically do you reject or have issue with regarding the Jun 2014 CCM opinion? I think it’s important that you state what your issue is before Helen or anyone responds.

  33. @Randy #35
    Basically, I think that CCM opinion 13-2694 is unconstitutional for the same reason as 1959 Resolution 9 of Committee 3, as initially determined by the CCM and then confirmed by 1962 Resolution 6-01–it effectively changes Articles II and VI.1 without meeting the requirements in Article XV for amendments, by claiming that non-adherence to doctrinal resolutions and statements constitutes violation of the Synod’s confession. Ironically, only a couple of years ago, CCM opinion 12-2634 extensively cited that very precedent to support its quite definitive holding that the Synod does not require, as a condition of membership, that members be bound by doctrinal resolutions and statements; only that they accept the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions without reservation.

    This really goes back once again to our polity, in which the Synod is an advisory body, not an ecclesiastical government, per Article VII.1. It also reflects the clear statement in Article VIII.C that “All matters of doctrine and of conscience shall be decided only by the Word of God. All other matters shall be decided by a majority vote.” Since the adoption of a particular doctrinal resolution or statement is decided by a majority vote, it cannot be treated as a matter of doctrine or of conscience.

    I am not disputing the right of the Synod to adopt doctrinal resolutions and statements as expressions of its doctrinal position. I am not disputing the presumption that all members of the Synod should voluntarily adhere to all of its resolutions, including doctrinal resolutions and statements, as an essential aspect of “walking together.” I am definitely not disputing the Synod’s doctrinal position on any of the issues that are specifically mentioned in CCM opinion 13-2694. What troubles me is the notion that the Synod’s doctrinal position, which is always subject to change by a simple majority vote at each and every convention, is being treated as equivalent to its confession, which never changes. In this regard, I think it is clear that CCM opinion 12-2634 is correct, and 13-2694 is wrong.

  34. @aletheist #36

    13-2694 simply reinforced that the SP has the obligation to uphold scripture and the confessions. However, it’s irrelevant! The SP has no intention of using the CCM opinion, so, let it rest. Becker, and others, will continue to spread their heresy among the sheep without synod resistance. We continue to be exposed sheep without protection of the over-shepherd.

    Don’t trust what the ALPB nutjobs profess.

  35. Randy:13-2694 simply reinforced that the SP has the obligation to uphold scripture and the confessions.

    No, it went beyond that by claiming that the SP and DPs also have the authority and obligation to enforce doctrinal resolutions and statements that were adopted by majority vote at conventions and are always subject to change by the same process. Is it really a good idea to treat these two categories as if they have equal standing?

    What if the conventions that elected SP Kieschnick by majority vote had also adopted doctrinal resolutions by majority vote that we would find objectionable? Under CCM opinion 13-2694, he would have been able–in fact, he would have had the duty–to sanction any Synod members who engaged in “open and repeated advocacy of theological positions contrary to Synod’s stated positions.”

    In case anyone is interested in reading the two referenced CCM opinions, here are links.
    12-2634: http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=1754
    13-2694: http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=2935

  36. Jason :@Tim Schenks #29
    What if your pastor is ‘more moderately confessional’? While there are various good points with many pastors in my area, many of the same also have a few unBiblical opinions. And if you try to challenge them on the occasional bad points?… Have I told you I switched congregations? I lost big time recently. With my current shepherd, he is about at retirement age. Not saying he is planning it soon. I thing or tow pops up and I get worried about the direction he is taking us. Not all bad, but if it leaves a certain number of cracks, the next guy if missional can really do some terrible work. Gets tricky with the particular leadership roles I have, and what modest influence I can be. Because last time I ended up being a nobody, maybe even a pariah to many of my former congregants.

    My District’s President pits “Missional” vs. “Maintenance” when advising congregations that are calling a new pastor. I’ve seen him do it. But, at least he’s retiring next year.

  37. Randy:We continue to be exposed sheep without protection of the over-shepherd.

    In our polity, the SP and DPs are not bishops/overseers; in effect, every pastor has that role with respect to his own congregation. This obviously calls for discernment on the part of the laity, as I have acknowledged previously. Ultimately we cannot rely on any humanly devised offices (including SP and DP) or the individuals who occupy them to protect us; that job belongs to the Good Shepherd, and He has promised that no one can snatch us out of His hand.

  38. Actually, you can disregard my last post. I actually don’t have any idea why we elect DPs and SPs these days. Perhaps at one point they served a purpose. However, as a whole, for years they haven’t done much good.

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