Sacer What?

Issues, Etc

There may be a few pastors in the Missouri—Synod who lord it over their flock. Some of those who have donned the mantel of CEO, as is often mandated by the Transforming Churches Network, come to mind. There are also a very few pastors within, and notably outside, the LCMS who accuse the LCMS of sacerdotalism. Pastor William Weedon nicely answers their charge in his recent appearance on Issues, Etc.:

…Any time you hear the word “sacerdotal” and Missouri—Synod you should have a massive cognitive dissonance. The Missouri—Synod is fundamentally the most non-sacerdotal body you could ever hope for.

You can listen to the whole segment, titled “Myths About Lutheranism: ‘Lutheran Worship is Adiaphora,’” here or below.

About Scott Diekmann

Scott is a lifelong LCMS layman. Some of his vocations include husband, dad, jet driver, runner, and collector of more books than he can read. Oh, and also chocolate lover. He’s been involved in apologetics for over a decade, is on the Board of Regents at Concordia Portland, and is a column writer for the sometimes operational Around the Word Journal. He’s also written for Higher Things Magazine, The Lutheran Clarion, and has been a guest on Issues Etc. as well as the KFUO program Concord Matters.

Comments

Sacer What? — 16 Comments

  1. Sacerdotalism is a Roman Catholic belief that ordination gives priests the power to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Lutheran pastors do not have this super power; they use the Word of God.

  2. The Christian Cyclopedia defines sacerdotalism as the view according to which the laity can establish relation with God only through priests. More broadly speaking, sacerdotalism is viewed as the elevation of the Office of the Ministry above that of the laymen, or even more broadly, pastors lording it over their parishioners.

  3. @Scott Diekmann #4
    or even more broadly, pastors lording it over their parishioners.

    Which can be defined as “Pastors saying no to bands and female vocalists in the chancel, or women behind the rail, or women lectors.”

    Or anything else that can be invented as an excuse to get rid of a confessional (“I really believe the BOC”) Pastor.)

  4. Can a congregation be sacerdotal? Because it sure looks a lot like what’s happening in the LCMS with the improper removal of pastors. 🙂

  5. There is a delicate but necessary distinction, between a system that militates for a specially legitimized priesthood as necessary for the life of the Church, and a system that encourages the Office of the Ministry as normative for the life of the Church. One becomes a series of necessary canons that speak of legitimate vs illegitimate, licit vs illicit pastors (and by consequence legitimate/licit sacraments and churches) while the other recognizes the Marks of the Church established by and emerging from the working of the Word.

    While the Radical Reformation (and Lutherans) are right to pillory Rome on her human construction of canons that only legitimize her own pastors (i.e., putting human traditions above the Word,) those same Radical Reformers also attack any Biblical notion of a necessary Office established by Christ for the express purpose of preaching, teaching, and administering the Means of Grace. Enthusiasts of all types rebel against the Means of Grace, and the Office of administering them according to Christ’s institution and command, preferring their own experience and direct connection to God on their own terms.

    But of course, when ostensibly Lutheran pastors and laity become in reality Enthusiasts of various flavors, they will disdain the Lutheran Confessions, together with our biblical doctrine of the Office and the Means… and act like the Radical Reformers they have become.

    To be frank, I think it is a greater error to destroy the Office and despise the Means of Grace, than it is for Rome to abuse them… which is why Confessional Lutherans and Romans are still fundamentally catholic, and the Radical Reformers are not.

  6. @Brad #9 “To be frank, I think it is a greater error to destroy the Office and despise the Means of Grace, than it is for Rome to abuse them… ” I am not sure two wrongs make a right. Both are sins of the holy office instituted by Christ. Could you please explain the last half of that sentence? Thanks.

  7. Sacerdotalism is when pastors think that once they are ordained they are always pastors. They think they are imbibed with some grace because they have been ordained. It is a call that makes one a pastor not ordination. For example, any pastor who has had a call and leaves that call to work in say the Purple Palace is no longer a pastor. (I think it was very telling that Harrison received a call to the parish in Ladue. Harrison therefore is a pastor because of the call to the parish and not because he was elected president of synod.)

  8. @Brad #9
    There is a delicate but necessary distinction, between a system that militates for a specially legitimized priesthood as necessary for the life of the Church, and a system that encourages the Office of the Ministry as normative for the life of the Church.

    Which is why Lutherans, if they are Lutherans, do not approve of untrained laymen in the OHM, (the subject of several other threads here).

    I quote Dr. Luther, (borrowed from this a.m.’s Memorial Moments; bolding mine).

    “It is a common occurrence in life that superiors address not only their equals but even their inferiors in a courteous and respectful manner and defer to them in their offices. Thus love is accustomed to assist and promote even inferiors with every kind of office. Thus a pastor of the church, when he sees a man tried and afflicted with terrors of conscience who seeks consolation from him, offers to the afflicted man even the most humble and absolutely servile offices, so that he may arouse and strengthen this weak and broken soul. However, he does not hand over the rule or governance of the church by doing this, but he himself retains the function entrusted to him.
    [Emphasis, Pastor, not screaming at you] 🙂

    “These are the offices of godliness and genuine humanity by which great offenses are often able to be avoided, and they are not forbidden by God. Indeed, it is commanded that we should be subject to equals as well as inferiors for the benefit and advantage of our neighbor. By this humility we lose nothing at all of our dignity, even though we accommodate ourselves to save another and, indeed, for the glory of God.”

    Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 33.3

    When I was young and we were better trained in our Lutheran faith than most are now, we deferred to the Pastor. (Unless he was going against God’s Word, of course.) Now we are so puffed up that we want to equate the OHM with the janitor, to be removed on demand and listened to only when we like the message!

  9. @helen #14

    😀 Thanks Helen, for the quote and the courtesy of pointing out that you were emphasizing. Back to work for me.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

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