The LCMS: A Heterodox Church Body

Issues, Etc

Pastor Jeremy Rhode, being a theologian of the cross, calls a thing what it is in this recent Issues, Etc. 24 segment discussing, in part, FiveTwo and its ramifications for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The following discussion between Pastor Todd Wilken and Pastor Rhode begins at the 49:27 mark in the segment titled “Myths About Lutheranism: ‘Lutherans Believe that Everyone is a Minister.’” You can listen to the whole thing here or below. Pastor Rhode’s sobering comments should serve as a warning for institutionalists among us bent on defending “our beloved Synod” when it should be reprimanded rather than defended.

Pastor Wilken: Lately, in our own circles, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, there’s a term of art that has been spun up by one of those vision casting leaders called Sacramental Entrepreneur, this idea that every Christian, he didn’t say every Christian is a ministry, he said every Christian is a Sacramental Entrepreneur, or at least ought to be. And it has all the hallmarks of these confusions that you’ve talked about, that is, a confusion of Vocation with the Office of the Ministry, a changing of the pastor into a coach, a visionary leader, a trainer of sorts, laying the onus on the people to kind of get out there and be the evangelistic arm of the Church to the detriment of their vocation. What are your thoughts on this in our own circles?

Pastor Rhode: Well, I’m trying to keep my tongue safely in my mouth Todd. I know exactly what the Lutheran confessors of the sixteenth century, what Luther, what Walther himself would say about these things. I know what the majority of our present seminary faculty are saying about these things, and it is simply beyond me that this scam is allowed to be perpetuated upon the people of God. That’s what it is. It’s a lie and a scam of the devil that mocks and overturns the gift of the Office, the gift of the Royal Priesthood, and all the good that comes with that. Turns it all on its head, Eutychianizes it if you will, makes it of, so that Biohazardit’s neither a Pastoral Office nor is it a Royal Priesthood. It’s just something of human and ultimately demonic creation. I’m very sorry for those victimized by it. It’s a travesty, and I’m very sorry that the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod lacks, as the Body of Christ, lacks an immune system, because as the Scriptures themselves show, as all our teachers teach, it is not the presence of error that makes us a heterodox body. All Church for all time has had the presence of error. Rather what makes a heterodox body is the acceptance of that error, the toleration, and well we are well beyond that, because we have people praising and celebrating that error in positions of leadership.

Pastor Wilken: The last question comes from one of our listeners. Christopher asks “How would you suggest approaching a pastor, who preaches more about the church’s programs than Christ, to bring this to his attention, to hopefully get him to stop and return to the preaching of Christ and Him crucified?”

Pastor Rhode: That’s a great question. I don’t know. I don’t think there is a silver bullet. I think most of these guys have bought into it, and until they’re lead to shipwreck, they’re not gonna see the light, although I think one very helpful thing to do, they purport to be Lutheran pastors, great. Ask them to teach the Office of the Ministry. Ask them to do a class; ask them to do a series of classes on the Office of the Ministry. Ask them to teach, to teach it from what the Scriptures say about it, and ask them to teach it about what the Confessions say about it, and then ask them to teach it also what the teachers of the Church, the Fathers of the Church, have to say about it. And why I say this is because he’s a Lutheran, so he has committed himself to all of these things, and it might give him time and opportunity with the Word, where God’s Word will in fact, if and when God wills it, create new faith in him, restore old faith in him, sustain smoldering faith in him, lead him back into a more faithful confession, lead him back in the way of changing his mind and repentance, and leading him back in humility, instead of being something special, and having a church that’s something special in the eyes of men. Lead him back into the humility of being an Office Bearer, and doing the lowly task that Christ has given him to do, which is in fact as high as heaven itself, and proclaiming those excellent things, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, Holy Absolution, and drawing people in to receive those things, and having that be, having Christ be the beating heart, the living heart, of that church. So never underestimate, I guess, the power of God’s Word to convert pastors, and if you’re not eloquent enough to speak and argue it, then invite them to study and teach from the Scriptures, give God that opportunity with them.

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

The LCMS: A Heterodox Church Body — 91 Comments

  1. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #44
    What you say about altering the service is very 21st Century American LC-MS, but it’s not Luther. We have a lot of variety already written into the LSB liturgies and rubrics.

    For the sake of liturgical triage, when an otherwise sound pastor makes unnecessary “enhancements” I’m only going to sit tight-lipped trying not to roll my eyes, but what is the real purpose of alterations in the DS? What advantages have you found that you prefer to public harmony?

    Puzzled,
    -Matt Mills

    P.S. For Luther on outward consistency in the DS find his answer to the Hussites on the elevation of the host. (Probably in one of the W&S volumes of LW.)

    @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #49
    I’m OK w/ that.

  2. @Matt Mills #50
    Don’t pummel the pastor. I am truly on the same page. I do vary, but I use the enhancements, and there are so many beautiful options wound into the liturgies provided and approved for our use.

    And when we vary, I note it in the bulletin. Why, so they understand what the change is for. To enhance a certain aspect of the service.

  3. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #48
    Not pummeling the Pastor I hope; I agree w/ you that the highest best and purest form of worship is the historical Western Divine Service in all its glory, but that’s the absolutely wrong argument to use against the liturgical “innovators” in our synod. It’s the wrong argument because if we use the criteria of the highest best and purest form of worship, we’ve created an open question, and anyone who disagrees can jump in and do as they like.

    That’s why I think we need to go back to the confessors’ argument in AP XV: Human traditions don’t save, and cannot be required for justification. Therefore we are free to use the criteria of love and unity to cling like limpets to the historical Western liturgy, only removing the encrustations that conflict w/ the clear word of God in Holy Scripture. Be it, live it, love it: it’s part of your ordination vows.

    I am asking our theologians to go back to saying:
    ‘it may BE “my favorite,” but that’s not why I use it, I use it because: “in order to cherish harmony, such old customs be observed as can be observed without sin or without great inconvenience. … for love’s sake we do not refuse to observe adiaphora with others, even though they should have some disadvantage; [and]… such public harmony as could indeed be produced without offense to consciences ought to be preferred to all other advantages.” Period. And you have vowed to use the historical Western liturgy for the same reason in your ordination vows.’

    The only arguments against that clear witness are all openly anti-Lutheran. You are right, but you are fighting on the wrong ground.

    Advent Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  4. Luther applied his thoughts on Christian freedom to the matter of worship. Under the Gospel, “a Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.” Under the law of love, “a Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all” (Luther’s Works, vol. 31, p. 344). There is unbelievable freedom in worship (Gal. 5:1). Yet, as St. Paul teaches, we are to use our freedom in service to our neighbor, and we therefore accept limits to our freedom (Gal. 5:13). It would be irksome or even offensive for everyone to have completely different worship practices and forms every week, though it would not necessarily be sinful. Many would find it irksome and tiring to have no variety in the weekly service. The hymnal allows both stability and variety. To be sure, the freedom we have stretches beyond using the hymnal, so long as what is done in song and liturgy does not confound the Gospel and detract from Christ. We do say, however, that the order of the service should be followed. At the least, the parts of the service should be present.

    Why? They hold up Christ and deliver the Gospel. We should not omit a clear confession of sins by the people and absolution by the pastor. We should not ditch the readings. We should and must preach textual sermons, with clear Law and Gospel applied directly to those present. The Lord’s Supper should follow confession and preaching as preparation. We should not be messing with the Lord’s Words of Institution. We are to be responsible in distributing the Sacrament to those who confess that the body and blood that are present and who are in confessional fellowship with us (see Explanation of the Small Catechism, especially Question 305). Exceptions are exceptions, not the rule.

    – Pr Matt Harrison [emphasis added]

  5. @Matt Mills #3

    Matt Mills, Pr. David Prentice:

    There are other arguments that also need to be addressed with regards to contemporary worship in Lutheran services. Due to time restraints this week, I will simply list a few, and then get back to my work. You can debate them as you wish. (This has to be my last post on the issue).

    1) The efficacy of the Word. Lutherans have always taught that the Holy Spirit works in and with the Word, and therefore the Word is efficacious in and of itself, simply by it being taught in its truth and purity. The Calvinist Reformed tradition, and the Arminian tradition along with it, taught that the Holy Spirit does NOT work in and with the Word, so the Word is not efficacious. For the Arminians, the Word is dead and inert information (contrary to Heb. 4:12). What is efficacious for Arminians, is man’s will.

    How does this relate to music? Simply, that to emotionally sway man’s will to make a decision to accept Jesus into the heart, the Arminian tradition used emotionally manipulative music. They chose the soft rock style, though other styles have been adopted too now. Coincidentally, this is why contemporary worship didn’t begin with the Eastern Orthodox or the conservative Presbyterians, but with the Arminians.

    The problem is, that when Lutherans adopt the same music as the Neo-Evangelicals, being in the same environment where Neo-Evangelical theology is also heard and appreciated, it carries the same mindset towards the inefficacy of the Word. The Word itself is no longer seen as living and powerful. While it may be described as such, it will not be thought of as living and powerful by those who are of the Neo-Evangelical mindset if that Word is attached to liturgy and hymnody. Those who are misled already by the false teachings of Neo-Evangelicalism and poorly taught in Lutheran theology will see any attempt at keeping the traditional music of the liturgy and hymnody by a pastor as a deathwish for a congregation.

    Here’s how the conversation usually goes for such a pastor who has patiently tried to teach about the riches of the music of the liturgy and hymnody to such a person steeped in Neo-Evangelical theology who bears the name Lutheran. “But Pastor! No one will be excited enough by that music! And if they’re not excited enough, then they’ll go somewhere else and our church will die!” The reason they say this? They don’t believe the Word is truly efficacious and that the Holy Spirit works by the Word, purely taught. Instead, they believe that Word is dead and inert information, and that the Holy Spirit does not work where God’s Word insists that He will work, by the Word purely taught, with nothing else added to it. Plus, poorly taught people who are swayed by Neo-Evangelical false teaching assume that man’s will is efficacious in deciding for Jesus, and think that when the emotionally swaying mood music of contemporary worship is played, they feel closer to Jesus than what they normally do, and so that must be where the power truly is. Even though it is completely false and heretical, because it contradicts Heb. 4:12 by building off of the assertion that the Word of God is dead and inert information.

    2) The argument of “Style doesn’t affect Substance” is false. The person who originally argued this among Lutherans was Rev. David Luecke in his book, “Evangelical Style and Lutheran Substance.” His main premise in this book was that even though you change your style to match the Neo-Evangelicals, your substance remains Lutheran.

    This book came out in July 1988. A generation later, has David Luecke’s substance remained Lutheran? You be the judge.

    This paragraph is a synopsis of a presentation Luecke will be giving at a conference coming up. “Thriving in the Spirit, Part II—Preparing for the Spirit’s Work”
    “Today We cannot control the Spirit, but we can seek Him and cultivate the soil of church life in preparation. Do this by telling more faith stories, recognizing transformational Awakenings, and
    being open to supernatural interventions. Especially old churches need to refresh Memory by telling fresh stories of the Spirit.”

    Think style doesn’t affect substance? Try this with clothing style. Try seeing a male pastor lead a service dressed like a woman. Or dressed like a football player on Super Bowl Sunday. Or made up to look like he was Jesus Himself. I’m sure that would go over real well. You could also use this analogy. If a man proposed to his girlfriend with a real diamond ring inside a novelty store’s fake ring’s box, what would her reaction be?

    Style is deeply related to Substance. Style flows out of Substance. That’s why football fans don’t wear jerseys of the other team, even though it’s just a change in clothing style. And that’s also why certain theologies gravitate toward certain worship styles. If your theology is more Arminian, you will gravitate towards contemporary worship. If your theology is more Lutheran, you will gravitate towards traditional Lutheran liturgy and hymnody. If your theology is traditional Roman Catholic, you will gravitate towards Latin Masses, rosaries, and prayers to saints albeit without much help in congregational singing, unless you’re in a really talented parish. If your theology is Baptist, you will gravitate towards white walls without art, empty stages with tables, dunking pools or tanks, and services without creeds. It is just the way of theology and substance. Style is the Form for the Substance. Change the Style, and it’s probably because the Substance has already changed before it.

    I really need to get back to work. Blessings as you discuss this. This will be my last post on the subject.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  6. @Rev. Robert Mayes #5
    Thanks Pastor,
    Everything you say is true, but in the context of our “worship wars” it represents a totally unnecessary opening of a can of worms. Every one of your excellent points can be contested, studied, and debated ad infinitum by the Schwärmeri. I think we need to stick to saying that Lutheran worship is, confessionally speaking, NOT an open or debatable point. The Lutheran confessors, out of love and a valuing of unity, have constrained their freedom, and that of their posterity forever, to worship using the historical Western liturgy. Period, no debate, no wiggle room.

    What you have provided is still very valuable, but as a way to teach those Lutherans who ARE willing to live under the discipline of AP XV to love the liturgy, not as a way to convince the Schwärmer to return to Lutheran worship.

    I need to get back to work too.
    Advent Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  7. @John Rixe #4

    First, please read what Pastor Mayes just wrote. Very good words there for all of us.

    The progressive/liberal/CGM/CoWo crowd seldom put the emphasis on harmony, but instead put all the emphasis on freedom (see Matt Mills’ posts). One could call this reckless freedom. It’s only natural for those exercising reckless freedom to push the boundaries. As is often the case when boundaries are pushed, boundaries are exceeded. Look at Crosspoint in Katy, TX. Their reckless freedom has resulted in heterodox Practice and Doctrine.

    A quote comes to mind.

    “The lost enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded and are therefore self-enslaved.” C.S. Lewis

  8. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    The basic rules for all Lutheran worship, in order for it to be “Lutheran,” are stated in our Lutheran Confessions:

    http://bocl.org?AC+VII+3 – “it is not necessary for the true unity of the Christian church that ceremonies instituted by men should be observed uniformly in all places.” (AC VII, 3)

    http://bocl.org?Ap+VII+30 to http://bocl.org?Ap+VII+46 (Ap VII/VIII, 30-46)

    http://bocl.org?Ep+X (FC Ep, X)
    http://bocl.org?SD+X (FC SD, X)

    In his preface to the German Mass (“Deutsche Messe und ordnung Gottis diensts” 1526), Luther explained how this was to work out in practice:

    Where the people are perplexed and offended by these differences in liturgical usage, however, we are certainly bound to forego our freedom and seek, if possible to better rather than to offend them by what we do or leave undone. . . . As far as possible, we should observe the same rites and ceremonies, just as all Christians have the same baptism and the same sacrament of the altar, and no one has received a special one of his own from God. . . It would be well if the service in every principality would be held in the same manner and if the order observed in a given city would also be followed by the surrounding towns and villages; whether those in other principalities hold the same order or add to it ought to be a matter of free choice and not constraint. (LW 53:61-62).

    Up until the 1960s, when all the Christian churches went crazy in their worship practices, the Lutherans have followed this counsel of Luther in his German Mass preface..

    To prove this, see Joseph Herl, Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism: Choir, Congregation, and Three Centuries of Conflict (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2004), includes charts pp. 215-238, that show how the elements of the Lutheran liturgy were the same, and only slightly varied, from 1523 to 1747.

    The regular elements of worship with the sacrament, per Herl’s charts, are: 1) Latin Introit or German Psalm; 2) Kyrie; 3) Gloria and Et in terra; 4) Collect of the Day; 5) Epistle; 6) Gradual, Alleluia, or Psalm; 7) Gospel; 8) Credo and Patrem; 9) Sermon; 10) Exhortation to communicants; 11) Preface; 12) Sanctus; 13) Our Father; 14) Words of Institution; 15) Elevation; 16) Agnus Dei; 17) Psalms or hymns during distribution of elements; 18) Thanksgiving collect; 19) Benediction.

    For those who do not know, this was the service for every Sunday morning, usually about 8 or 9 AM (see LW 53:68). Other services offered on Sunday and other days of the week were Matins and Vespers, with their traditional elements as we still use today (see LW 53:68-69). Occasional services included those for baptism, preparation for the sacrament, marriage, confession/absolution, and ordination (see LW 53:91-126).

    Martin Chemnitz discussed the proper role of traditions in the church in his Examination of the Council of Trent (St Louis: CPH, 1971), 1:217-307. Here he sets forth the same criteria and parameters for worship as found in the Formula of Concord, SD X (linked above).

    On the survival of medieval traditions in the Lutheran worship service, see: Ernst Walter Zeeden, Faith and Act: The Survival of Medieval Ceremonies in the Lutheran Reformation (St Louis: CPH, 2012).

    On the role of hymns in the Lutheran Reformation, see: Christopher Boyd Brown, Singing the Gospel: Lutheran Hymns and the Success of the Reformation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).

    On the role of worship music in the Lutheran Reformation, see: Carl Schalk, Music in Early Lutheranism: Shaping the Tradition (1524-1672) (St Louis: CPH, 2001).

    The single best monograph for evaluting worship materials is: LCMS Commission on Worship, Text, Music, Context, 2nd ed. revision by Paul Grime (St Louis: LCMS, 2011).

    Advocates of “Evangelical style” worship ignore all this sound scholarship and deceive the common folk with their untrue accounts about Luther and the Lutheran worship tradition.

    I hope this helps a bit.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  9. @Randy Yovanovich #7

    Many if not most LCMS congregations incorporate some elements of COWO at least occasionally.  At my congregation we have had a “contemporary” Saturday service for over 15 years incorporating Pr Harrison’s guidelines and synod approved materials.  Sorry but I can’t relate this carefully prepared, reverent worship to reckless freedom or pushing the boundaries.

  10. @John Rixe #8
    “Many if not most LCMS congregations incorporate some elements of COWO at least occasionally.”

    That might explain the title of this thread.

    Cheers!
    -Matt Mills

  11. @Rev. Robert Mayes #6
    Thank you Pastor Mayes. The only thing I’d like to add and this may sound harsh but it’s the truth-

    The historic liturgy of the Church is not the plaything of a bored pastor or congregation. It isn’t the personal property of any one congregation or synod. It belongs to the whole Christian Church.

    Kyrie eleison,
    Diane

  12. @Matt Mills #4
    Hi Matt,

    Could you please give the paragraph numbers to the quotes of the AP XV in your comment? I have the Reader’s Edition of the BOC and can’t seem to find your quotes or maybe you were paraphrasing the whole article?

    Thanks,
    Diane

  13. Martin,

    I think if we talk about “elements” of true worship we have lost the war.

    I am starting to see the correctness of Matt Mill’s point. The hymnal is the way Lutherans worship. It is like, dare I say, the third use of the law. It is what gives us the order. If you do not have a set of orders to use, you have disorder, even if the “elements” are there.

    Elements get so loosely defined by COWO’s that the unity is lost.

  14. To further that point, up until 30 years ago our LCMS Handbook stated that we were to use only approved hymnals. Lutheranism in the LCMS was pretty healthy for the 120 years leading up to when that was loosened.

    Why did that get loosened up? It was because of the cultural wars of the 1960’s and 70’s and mass media.

    That is no reason to change.

  15. @Diane #13
    Nope, they are quotes. It’s basically the conclusion of Apology XV. (51ff if memory serves). If I were to paraphrase I’d say that Dr. Phil wrote 50 lines ripping up the Pope’s insistence that human traditions were necessary for JUSTIFICATION, and then said in conclusion that they WERE necessary, but out of love.

    We need to get away from translating adiaphora as “whatever fills the offering plate” or even “whatever blows the old Adam’s skirt up.”

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  16. @Pastor Tim Rossow #14
    You’re right Pastor. I’ve been looking for a way to put that, but it is very like the 3rd use to say that something (in this case the historical Western liturgy) is necessary, though not necessary for justification.
    Thanks,
    -Matt Mills

  17. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I have been thinking about what Pastor Rhode said on the Issues, etc. show, especially this comment quoted by Mr. Diekmann: ” it is not the presence of error that makes us a heterodox body. All Church for all time has had the presence of error. Rather what makes a heterodox body is the acceptance of that error, the toleration, and well we are well beyond that, because we have people praising and celebrating that error in positions of leadership.” From that statement comes the title of this post. Mr. Diekmann is accurately reporting what Pastor Rhode said.

    I think it is best that we stick to how the orthodox Lutherans talked about and explained orthodoxy and heterodoxy. I don’t have the time, and this comment box doesn’t have the space, to quote all that–so I will do the best I can with citations that point the reader to the actual texts they should read (all in English).

    The first source one should consult is Johan Gerhard’s “On the Ministry” (CPH edition). I don’t have that at home with me, so I don’t know if it is part one or two. I think it is paragraph 370 where he distinguishes between heresy (i.e, a sect) and schism (i.e., a division) based on Augustine’s teaching on the same. This is where the language originates that is found in the LCMS Constitution, Article III, first point, regarding unity of the faith and combatting both heresy and schism (which are two different things by this definition).

    The second source is Walther’s “The True Visible Church” (CPH, 1961), pp. 20-39, 128-131. Walther agrees with Gerhard’s distinction, though sometimes uses different terms.

    The third source is Walther’s 1868 “Theses on Open Questions,” which were developed for and used for the establishment of fellowship between the Wisconsin Synod and the Missouri Synod. It is found in the WELS document “Theses on Church Fellowship” at their official website.

    Among those 1868 theses, which are official Wisconsin Synod doctrine, are:

    Thesis II “The error of an individual member of the Church even against a clear Word of God does not involve immediately his actual forfeiture of church fellowship, nor of the association of brethren and colleagues.” and

    Thesis III “Even if an open error against the Word of God has infected a whole church body, this does not in itself make that church body a false church, a body with which an orthodox Christian or the orthodox church would abruptly have to sever relations.” (my emphasis).

    Read the entire 1868 theses to see how Walther balances these statements with the necessity to reject error through rebuke, correction, etc.

    The fourth source is Francis Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics, volume 3 (CPH, 1953), pp. 422-427. Here Pieper retains the distinction between heterodoxy and schism. Heterodoxy refers to divisions due to corrupted doctrine and doctrinally-governed practice; schism refers to divisions due to “church customs, church terms, order of worship, etc.” (p. 427).

    Pieper’s discussion and definition of “Open Communion” is found in the same volume, pp. 381-391.

    So far the orthodox understanding of “orthodoxy, heterodoxy, and schism.”

    Here is how I read all of that, and apply it to the LCMS today.

    The LCMS is fractured with a number of divisions, which are being initiated and aggravated by schismatics. I listed those schismatic organizations in a previous comment.

    So for example, the Jesus First organization and its allies promoted orders of worship that caused divisions. Those pushing for this type of worship were not, as far as I know, advocating non-Lutheran doctrine, although they were politically allied with some people who were doing that.

    So the worship problem is a problem of schism, not a problem of heterodoxy, unless the lyrics of the songs and the preachers actually teach heterodox doctrine–which is another issue.

    The ministry problem, where clergy want to be “Herr Pastor” and the laymen want to control their pastor to do their personal bidding, has to do neither with doctrine nor with customs, worship, etc. It is simply sin.

    The open communion problem may be a heterodoxy problem in some cases, not in others. Where congregations let anyone communion, they are heterodox. If congregations limit their communion to only Lutherans, include examination of Lutheran guests, and accept ELCA communicants, the latter part of the practice (i.e., accepting ELCA communicants) is divisive and schismatic, due to a lack of proper discipline, but it is not heterodox since they include the examination.

    The church fellowship problem is complex, because it covers too many possibilities. I think we need to re-examine this problem on the basis of Walther’s essay on Syncretism (based on Baier’s dogmatics) in Lehre und Wehre–I can’t find the citation off-hand, since I don’t have Lehre und Wehre in my library–and I don’t think this essay has ever been translated.

    The problem with 5-2, as I have seen so far, is a matter of “church terms,” and thus is divisive and schismatic, but may not be a matter of heterodoxy.

    We do have some individual pastors in the LCMS, not many, who are heterodox in their doctrine by the previous definitions. I know that one of the most prominent, about my age, has had charges brought against him, but where he stands right now, I don’t know.

    So what we have in the LCMS is a complex situation. We have a lot of schismatic division over worship and open communion. We have some heterodoxy here and there. We are thus a divided church, not a heterodox church, at least according to the definitions of Gerhard, Walther, and Pieper.

    I close with Walther’s quote of Abraham Calov, one of the most orthodox of the orthodox Lutheran fathers: “The apostle here [1 Corinthians 11:18-19] says that he readily believes that there are divisions and wrangling among them because of matters of lesser importance, since there must be among them even heresies and sects because of articles of faith” [Calov, Biblia Illustrata, cf. 1 Cor 1:10 and 11:18-19].

    The Corinthians had both divisions and heresies in their midst–and this is the way it must be (Augsburg Confession VIII). And so faithful pastors and laymen will continue to speak out and rebuke, exhort, and correct such errors, until Christ comes in his kingdom. Pastors who fail to speak out to correct such errors neglect their office and, in fact, are bad shepherds.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  18. @Diane #13
    The historic liturgy of the Church is not the plaything of a bored pastor or congregation. It isn’t the personal property of any one congregation or synod. It belongs to the whole Christian Church.
    Kyrie eleison [!]

    AMEN!

    (Let’s say that with emphasis!)

  19. @Martin R. Noland #20
    Dear Pastor,
    For you to say “the worship problem is a problem of schism, not a problem of heterodoxy” I fear you have to ignore WHY these men are advocating for non-Lutheran worship styles. Here is the answer I got from one such advocate on this site in a previous discussion, and I’ve seen similar answers from others:

    “So, why did we introduce CoWo? As a loving way of bringing the Gospel to the unchurched. No more, no less. If that is not necessary, I don’t know what is.”

    The root problem in the “worship wars” is the active, intentional rejection of AC IV and V. It is synergism plain and simple, and that definitely crosses the line into heterodoxy.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  20. @Matt Mills #22
    Hmmm, can’t you have both? But retain as the Book of Concord says, the HIGHEST FORM OF WORSHIP, the forgiveness of sins from faith in Christ, which the Divine Service is all about?

    So, worship is really a week long opportunity at Church:
    01) Highest – the Divine Service with Holy Communion
    02) Next and in any order you want > Prayer Worship, praise worship, study worship, worship of vocation. But all this flows from one place, Divine Service where we gather in His Presence to receive.

    And in the end, all worship is JUNK if you do not have a heart. And that heart has been claimed and saved by Word and Sacrament.

    Please enjoy what God has given us.

  21. @Matt Mills #24
    OK, perhaps this is the COWO problem? We Lutherans in our current tradition want to squeeze it all in, to 1 hour on a Sunday.

    What if this:

    Worship on Sunday:
    9 am – Worship of Divine Service with HC. Stick to the Liturgy.
    10:15 – Worship of Study in the Scriptures.
    11:30 – Worship of Praise and Prayer.

    We are done at noon or so. In our tradition, good luck. But where I am at, seems like people say, “we rush things.”

    Toss in various prayer offices during the week. All we do is worship. OK, except a meeting on the building, etc.

  22. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #25
    I believe you’re missing the real problem Pastor, it has nothing to do w/ time constraints. From what I’ve read and seen, the pastors who are implementing “Praise Worship” are doing so because they are synergists. They are implementing “Praise Worship” to reach the lost in a more culturally relevant way. They are saying loud and clear that their new worship forms are necessary for the justification of certain demographics of the lost. That’s synergism on the half-shell pastor, and “this train don’t pull no synergists.”

    The DS can take as long as it takes, that’s a red herring. There are plenty of good prayer liturgies in the LSB for additional services (Matins, Vespers, Compline, the litany etc.) so that’s a red herring too. Lutherans reject the premise that CoWo (or any other human tradition) is “necessary for justification” and we worship using the “customary rites” (not post-modern American pop-evangelical “Praise Worship.”)

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

    P.S. I am puzzled because you cannot “have both” the monergistic doctrine of the DS, and the Synergistic doctrine of CoWo. You can “do” both, but in that case you’re “doing” the DS as a synergist, believing that there is another demographic best reached by liturgy. Again, that’s not consistent w/ our doctrine of worship in AC IV and V, which is monergistic.

  23. @Matt Mills #27
    In fact, with this last comment, we are EXACTLY on the same page (or super / semantics taken out, real close).
    God is cross culture, duh; albeit, we need to speak the language of the people. So COWO as you say is not about the music, but about changing the theology of what we believe and practice in the Divine Service, the Liturgy.
    thanks.

  24. The problem is FiveTwo’s (Bill Woolsey’s) teaching that laity may preach and administer the sacraments, contrary to AC XIV. See the Issues, Etc. interview with Chris Rosebrough to hear this from Wiolsey’s own mouth. This is false doctrine.

    The secondary problem is that there is no public corrective of this whatsoever from Woolsey’s District or Synod. On the contrary: FiveTwo is funded, promoted, and tolerated along with it’s false doctrine.

    What Pastor Rhode did was line these facts up with another fact: “a congregation or church body which, in spite of the divine order, tolerates false doctrine in its midst is properly called a heterodox church” (Pieper III:422).

    We can “not like this” all we want it, or bury it in a more “complex conversation” but, at the end of the day, we’re really talking a bout three indisputable facts. 1. There is false doctrine being taught. 2. There is tolerance of this false doctrine. 3. This fits Piepers definition of heterodoxy.

  25. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #28
    Absolutely not Pastor,
    We need to speak the language of our “cross-cultural” (“catholic,” right?) God, and resist to the point of death speaking the “language of the people” (if by “language of the people” you mean anything past “the local venacular,” in the case of the LC-MS most likely “English.”)

    To try to speak the language of the people rather than the language of God is again to practice synergism. Just use the LSB, and you’ll be fine.

    (Now I’m back to being puzzled.)
    -Matt Mills

  26. @Martin R. Noland #20

    Dr. Noland:

    First, thank you for your excellent and very detailed responses. Your scholarship is very commendable and there is great help in them.

    One comment, however. In your post, after defining the terms quite well, you mentioned this:

    “The LCMS is fractured with a number of divisions, which are being initiated and aggravated by schismatics. I listed those schismatic organizations in a previous comment.

    “So for example, the Jesus First organization and its allies promoted orders of worship that caused divisions. Those pushing for this type of worship were not, as far as I know, advocating non-Lutheran doctrine, although they were politically allied with some people who were doing that.
    So the worship problem is a problem of schism, not a problem of heterodoxy, unless the lyrics of the songs and the preachers actually teach heterodox doctrine–which is another issue.”

    Answer: Dr. Noland, this is true if the division over worship in the LCMS promoted by Jesus First and its allies were operating within the Lutheran Biblical and Confessional theology of worship. In my earlier post, however, I challenged this on the basis that style and substance are deeply connected, so that one cannot radically change the style of worship without also having first changed the substance to which that style conforms. The relationship between Substance and Style is that of “matter and form.” I also have written about this in my previous research before.

    I actually think the debate is not helped by beginning at AC XV. Instead, the debate needs to go back at the very least to AC IV, since there is a predisposal to decision theology and the new methods of Neo-Evangelicalism among those who push for contemporary worship. The books read and cited by those who promote contemporary worship in missions are not the Confessions or even Lutheran, but usually those endorsed by Fuller theological seminary profs and the latest business strategy books. I find it difficult to say that this is purely schismatic, and not heterodox.

    You may differ with me, and if so, please feel free to engage with me in discussion. (Though it being Advent, you don’t have to do it right away. You can wait til you have time). But if you do wish to, let’s keep it public here. With all respect, I think might others would benefit too.

    Your friend in Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  27. Thank you Pastor. In the end, all ecclesiastical fights are about AC IV, and the LC-MS “worship wars” are no different.

    Advent Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  28. @Rev. Robert Mayes #31
    “So for example, the Jesus First organization and its allies promoted orders of worship that caused divisions. Those pushing for this type of worship were not, as far as I know, advocating non-Lutheran doctrine, although they were politically allied with some people who were doing that.

    If you don’t think the “…us1st” was “advocating non-Lutheran doctrine” how would you explain the membership of the Texas District as a District in the Willowcreek organization, and the individual memberships of the congregations of “…us1st” in Willowcreek? I submit that’s exactly what they were and are doing.

    [When complaints were made, the Texas District’s name was taken off the Willowcreek web site. Nothing else changed; new “mission starts” are only CoWo, unless they are supported independently of district by confessional churches.
    And in that case, district tries to woo them away from their sponsors. Ask Faith, Plano, why it has a “Wylie campus” instead of an independent congregation in Wylie. A central secretarial staff is only part of it, as I understand the situation.]

  29. @helen #33

    Helen:

    That is a very good question. Since the quote you cite from me is one I took from Dr. Noland, I would be very interested to hear his response. (But again, when he has time – possibly after Advent is done).

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  30. @Rev. Robert Mayes #31

    Dear Pastor Mayes,

    You are correct to note much rush amidst so many other duties in this season, so my reply will be short.

    First, we need to keep a proper distinction between how some groups justify what they are doing and what they actually do in practice. It could be that their justifications are heterodox and their actual practice well within the bounds of orthodoxy–or vice versa.

    Second, the quotes from Luther, Walther, and Pieper that I have posted recently (maybe not all under this post) define “schism” as an offense againt fraternal love. In other words, they will change worship practices and say, “I don’t care who I offend. If you don’t like it, you can leave.” In such cases, the new practices might be just fine, but how and why they changed it is schismatic. I think we need to review the distinction between heterodoxy and schism, so we talk about this the right way (look at Pieper, in his section on the Church).

    Third, I don’t agree with Luecke’s distinction between Style and Substance; although your use of those terms might be fine, and I would think they are. This is like the distinction our theologians used to make about the difference between a formal and material principle in theology. That distinction comes from Aristotle and his four causes, but is confused and confusing. The term “substance” is fine, but the term “style” is ambiguous—too many problems with the term and its definitions to load anything on it.

    There is a whole lot more that could be said about the proper Lutheran theology and practice of worship. What we have agreed to follow is found in Scripture and the Confessions–so that is always our starting and ending point, not abstract distinctions like “Style and Substance.”

    All the time I have for now.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  31. @Martin R. Noland #35
    Second, the quotes from Luther, Walther, and Pieper that I have posted recently (maybe not all under this post) define “schism” as an offense against fraternal love. In other words, they will change worship practices and say, “I don’t care who I offend. If you don’t like it, you can leave.”

    I have heard those words from the mouth of a district officer and a local pastor. The changes which followed began with communing of elca and have deteriorated to a lay read “liturgy”(including a confession I couldn’t recite in good faith & “absolution”) and a litany of “intercession statements” that would have required another absolution, (but there was none). All with a guest Pastor sitting there, to read the Gospel and his sermon.

    [And that was the “traditional” service! I didn’t stick around to hear the array of electronic musical instruments.]

  32. @Martin R. Noland #35

    Dr. Noland:

    Thank you for responding. I appreciate your careful distinctions, and will try to look over the Pieper section again as you suggest. Thank you also for directing the conversation to always begin where it should – Scripture and the Confessions.

    A blessed Advent to you.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  33. I am just a member (yes, I have come back to the LCMS). Quote, what you like, I know my Hymnal.

    I’m thinking, after reading the article & posts, the Hymn, “Built on This Rock, the Church Doth Stand”, makes this simple, sweet, & direct to point.

  34. @Martin R. Noland #70

    Dear Pr Noland,
    (I was directed to your comment from comment #33 at the post https://steadfastlutherans.org/2016/05/pick-your-president-lcms-style-part-2/comment-page-1/#comment-1094780)
    The history of the LCMS shows that the way LCMS today handles fellowship issues is not how it worked during Walther’s and Pieper’s time. Pick any controversy! Different teachings were not tolerated. Those who adhered to false doctrine were expelled after due investigation. You must admit that Walther and Pieper handled the question of unionism and church fellowship differently! Or don’t you?
    Your main witness is Walther’s 1868 “Theses on Open Questions”.
    1/ The first thing is, that these theses by Walther are not theses on unionism or church fellowship. They are not exhaustive on our subject. They are about the issue of Open Questions and contain some material on our matter. (For a full treatment, see for example http://els.org/resources/document-archive/convention-essays/essay1957-pieper/ )
    2/ The WELS article https://wels.net/about-wels/what-we-believe/doctrinal-statements/church-fellowship/ where the theses are quoted is a rather good one, showing the difference, showing why the WELS had to break with the LCMS. (Dear bloggers, why not read it?) The WELS were the ones more faithful to Pieper/Walther. Or don’t you agree, Pr Noland, that it was the liberalism in the LCMS that was the problem? Do you mean that the problem between WELS and LCMS in the 40-50’s was that WELS changed into schismatic stubborn “hyperorthodoxy”?
    3/ You quote Walther’s theses II and III to show that Walther admitted that even a whole church body could be infected without being a false church. That is true, but it is not the whole truth. Presented as the whole picture it is misleading. A basic distinction must be made between weak brothers and false teachers. A weak brother may adhere to false teaching, but does not defend it when a stronger brother shows him the truth. Instead the weak brother changes his mind to stick to the right doctrine. This is the content of thesis II. (This is so often happening in any confessional church body, for example as the children grow up, sometimes catching something wrong somewhere. )
    Walther says with thesis III that even a whole church body may be weak brothers. Walther does not thereby say that we should tolerate false teachers. Let’s look at the Election Controversy, I think that is a very good illustration of this thesis and how such problems were handled. In 1872 as the Synodical Conference was established, the Ohio Synod was a member, in full doctrinal agreement. Some years later the Election Controversy started, and the unlutheran position was found almost everywhere in the Ohio Synod. Did Walther immediately dissolve the fellowship with the Ohio Synod? No! But the LCMS never tolerated the false teaching. The issue of Election was thoroughly investigated; Walther showed diligently and extensively the Biblical teaching and the matter was solved. Unfortunately the Ohio Synod refused to accept the truth, so the ties with the Synodical Conference were cut.
    Pastor Rhode is right: “it is not the presence of error that makes us a heterodox body. All Church for all time has had the presence of error. Rather what makes a heterodox body is the acceptance of that error, the toleration, and well we are well beyond that, because we have people praising and celebrating that error in positions of leadership.”
    When a controversy arises, it has to be treated, immediately but not hasty. As it passes the highest level (in your case the LCMS Convention), the question is settled.
    Dr Pieper wrote: If any one shows us that even only one pastor preached false doctrine, or that even only one periodical is in the service of false doctrine, and we did not remove this false doctrine, we thereby would have ceased to be an orthodox Synod, and we would have become a unionistic fellowship. (Quoted from http://meansofgrace.0catch.com/cascionegassyone.htm)

  35. Dear Pastor Fjellander,

    Thanks very much for your reply to my comments. This discussion was almost two years ago, so I can’t quite remember what the issues were all about. I don’t work on these theological issues every day. I am a working parish pastor. I am not a theological faculty member whose job includes working out such difficult issues, so I hope you will understand my delay in trying to restore my own train of thought.

    I am going to look at the things you cite and the reasoning you give, and mull it over for awhile. I never assume that I am right, just because I thought through something once. Sometimes there is new evidence, or others find an error in my logic. So I appreciate your help here.

    I would like to reply to one point. You talk about where the “weak brother” is confronted by the “stronger brother” and that the weaker one needs to comply or agree with the stronger. That is not language we normally use in the LCMS, so I am not sure what it means. I’ll have to think about that one.

    I’ll give an example of “weaker vs. stronger” from my own experience.

    When Dr. Waldo Werning published his infamous book titled “Making the Missouri Synod Functional Again,” I wrote a criticism of his book titled something like “Mythperceptions in the Missouri Synod,” ca. 1991 or 1992, published in Christian News.

    It was one of the few pieces I have written specifically for Christian News, but I did that because it went out to Werning’s audience. In that book, Werning lambasted Robert Preus and just about all the members of the CTS Fort Wayne faculty. He even included my own father in there for good measure, although he said nothing about me.

    After Werning read my criticism of his book, he demanded I retract the entire thing or he was going to use the new Dispute Resolution, with his personal friends administrating it, to remove me from the synod. I refused to retract what I wrote.

    At the Pittsburgh Convention, he gave me his “warrant” of charges that he was filing with the LC-MS courts, and then also later in the convention told me he would do everything possible to get rid of me permanently, to get me out of the synod and, with his connections, make sure I would never be accepted into any Lutheran or Bible-believing church-body again. He said some other threatening things, but I don’t remember them now.

    Now being obviously the “weaker brother,” I should have agreed to his demands. I was just a cub pastor, with no influence and no network of friends and allies.

    Werning had been a District Executive, Head of LCMS Missions, Professor at Fort Wayne, liason with many Evangelical leaders, board member of LBT, author of numerous books, and founder of some company dealing with Stewardship. He also claimed to be the father of Church Growth in the Missouri Synod. After Dr. Barry was elected in 1992, Werning helped with the startup of the now defunct Jesus First organization. Who was I to disagree with him, the stronger brother in the church?

    I think there is a problem with determining who is the “weaker brother.” If Werning’s charges against me had gone to the church courts, because of his prominence and my own unimportance, I would have been considered by everyone to be the “weaker brother”–and I would have to agree to whatever he said–or be removed from the synod.

    I am not saying that no one should be removed from our church body for false doctrine or immoral living. Far from it! If you look at the “Open Letter to the Missouri Synod” in the March 2015 issue of the Lutheran Clarion, p. 3 (see http://www.lutheranclarion.org ), I was one of the signers asking the LCMS to support President Harrison’s statement about the Dr. Matthew Becker case. But I also believed that Dr. Becker deserved a fair trial with impartial judges, as anyone does.

    I am one of the people in the LC-MS that have, for the last twenty years or so, been trying to restore genuine doctrinal supervision and discipline where it has been lacking. See my recent lecture at the April 2016 ACELC conference in Nashville, which is in video and in print here: http://www.acelc.net

    I hope this gives you some idea of where I am coming from. Let me look at these issues again, and I will reply ASAP, but that looks like sometime next week right now.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  36. A REPLY TO PASTOR JAKOB FJELLANDER – to his June 3, 2016 comment #89 at BJS to the December 2014 post “The LCMS a Heterodox Church Body”

    June 7, 2016
    Dear Pastor Fjellander,

    I am sorry for the delay in my reply to your comment #89 on June 3, 2016. I have traced the links in that comment and it appears you are addressing a different issue than I was in my original BJS comments. For that reason, I will just address your questions to me on June 3, 2016 and not try to recover the entire “train of thought” two years ago.

    I don’t think we have been introduced. You seem to know something about the Wisconsin Synod (WELS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), though I don’t remember your distinctive surname appearing in their directory of pastors, nor in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LC-MS). Perhaps you are a new pastor, or maybe in some other synod.

    As for myself, I am a lifelong LC-MS Lutheran, was ordained 32 years ago, and have served mostly in small parishes of mostly elderly folks for those years. My maternal ancestors were members of confessional Lutheran congregations in the U.S. prior to the founding of the LC-MS.

    Though we are not in church fellowship, I personally have an excellent relationship with many members of both the WELS and ELS. I was on the board of the Luther Academy for ten years with Dr. Wilhelm Petersen, who had for a period of time been ELS President and also President of their seminary. Through my work at LOGIA, I have known several faculty members at the Bethany Lutheran College, and also several ELS pastors. I have also gotten to know well, through LOGIA, a number of WELS faculty at Wisconsin Lutheran College, WELS pastors in the parish, and was even privileged to have some excellent discussions over meals with President Mark Schroeder at the Free Conference at New Ulm in 2013. All these personal relationships are congenial, fraternal, and something I look forward to renew when the opportunity arises.

    YOUR QUESTION #1 – you say regarding Walther’s 1868 Theses on Open Questions: “these theses by Walther are not theses on unionism or church fellowship.” If you have evidence of that, you should offer that evidence to the WELS. They have posted on their website a document “WELS Theses on Church Fellowship” which states that this 1868 document was the basis for fellowship in the Synodical Conference (see http://wels.net/about-wels/what-we-believe/doctrinal-statements/church-fellowship ). I have not found any evidence contrary to what the WELS states on that website.

    YOUR QUESTION #2 – you ask whether the breakup of the Synodical Conference was due to the WELS and ELS “hyperorthodoxy” (your term) or LC-MS liberalism. Of course, it was the liberal movement in the LC-MS that was in the ascendancy at the time, both in the area of ecumenism and the doctrine of Scripture, which caused the breakup of the Synodical Conference. But the liberal movement was arrested in 1974 with the walkout at the LC-MS seminary in Saint Louis. By God’s grace, not by our own merits, the LC-MS has been making a slow but perceptible comeback to its original founding doctrine and purposes.

    YOUR QUESTION #3 – in your longest query, you ask about whether I think we should tolerate false teachers. And you quote a statement by Francis Pieper that might lead one to conclude that the continued existence of one false pastor in a church-body negates its orthodoxy.

    In principle, NO, we should not tolerate false teachers or preachers in our church-body. In practice, the determination of who is a false teacher or preacher is much more difficult than appears at first hand. I have known a number of laymen, and a couple of pastors too, who think that anyone who disagrees WITH THEM is a heretic and will go to hell if such disagreeing person does not agree WITH THEM.

    The determination of who is a false teacher or false pastor is covered under the doctrine of “heresy.” This is explained carefully by Johann Gerhard (see “On the Ministry, Part Two,” Theological Commonplaces XXVI/2 [St Louis: CPH, 2012], 274-279. I won’t repeat his discussion here, as that work is now in print and in English for everyone to see and consider.

    So, first, you have to define carefully who a heretic (i.e., false teacher) is.

    Second, you have to carefully define what the doctrines are, whose contradiction could be considered to be heresy. For example, I once had an elder who thought I was incompetent, and probably heretical, because I didn’t know what happened to Goliath’s head after David removed it from its body. In his essay “On Syncretism” in the new volume “Church Fellowship” (ST Louis: CPH, 2015), pp. 80-94, C.F.W. Walther describes at length many examples of theological teachings which are “problems,” and not doctrines. We can’t answer these “problems” or define them as “doctrines” because there is no clear Scripture teaching about them. The examples he gives are not exhaustive, just examples.

    Third, those who hide their errors from the supervisory authorities in the church cannot make the church-body less heterodox, because the church authorities have no knowledge of the error, and therefore cannot act. An example we have in the LC-MS are “closet charismatics,” which are leftovers from the 1970s and 1980s charismatic movement. President Al Barry and his staff dealt with those charismatics who were known among the pastors, and eventually they “went away.”

    Fourth, if a false teacher and his false doctrine has been positively identified, we still need to follow due process, as the Treatise demands (Treatise on Power and Primacy of Pope, 51; Tappert, 329).

    Fifth, in the adjudication process, church officers and even entire synods may err, with the result that some false teachers are acquitted who really should have been required to recant or be removed from office. Does that mean that the church-body is no longer orthodox? The church in such cases tried to deal with the problem, but was unsuccessful. This is explained by the fact that “there is an infinite number of ungodly WITHIN THE CHURCH who oppress it” (Apology VI/VII, 9; Tappert, 169). Look at all the passages in the Lutheran Confessions that explain this phenomenon in the General Index to Tapper, p. 660,under “Church-2.a) It’s servant form.”

    Sixth, as a result of the ungodly who oppress the church and its faithful ministers, there are in reality “levels of purity” when it comes to matters of orthodoxy. On this point, see C.F.W. Walther’s classic “The True Visible Church” (St Louis: CPH, 1961), 18, where he quotes Gerhard’s Loci “On the Church.” In Gerhard, see “On the Church,” Theological Commonplaces xxv (St Louis: CPH, 2010), p. 241 (section 126). Walther quotes this from Gerhard at that place “We must note that there are certain levels of that purity, because at times the Word of God is preached in church more purely and at other times less purely. However it does not immediately cease to be the church, even if the Word is not taught purely in some of the chief parts of religion.”

    Seventh, so I will concede that some church-bodies are more orthodox than others. But how do you measure that? It could be that one church is filled with nothing by cranky complainers, and so based on the complaints, it would be considered heterodox. In the other church, it is filled with nothing but easy-going accommodators, and you would never know there was a problem there.

    Eighth, Francis Pieper in his “Unity of Faith” (Einigkeit im Glauben, August 8-14, 1888) explains how important it is to deal with erring brothers and sisters in love and forebearance. See his Thesis V (CTS Fort Wayne print shop, pp. 20-24).

    Ninth, Francis Pieper in his dogmatics, states “A church body does not forfeit its orthodox character by reason of the casual intrusion of false doctrine. . . .A church body loses its orthodoxy only when it no longer applies Romans 16:17, hence does not combat and eventually remove the false doctrine, but tolerates it without reproof and thus actually grants it equal right with the truth” (Christian Dogmatics, Vol. 3 [St Louis: CPH, 1953], 423). But members of the LC-MS have persistently combated the false doctrine in our midst—and we have had many successes, though a few setbacks here and there. As long as we have groups of pastors and laymen in our LC-MS that struggle against false doctrine, we have not lost our orthodox character—groups like Brothers of John the Steadfast (www.steadfastlutherans.org ), ACELC (www.acelc.net ), Lutheran Concerns Association (www.lutheranclarion.org ).

    Tenth, you quoted from a monograph allegedly written by Francis Pieper “The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches.” This is the one where he supposedly says something to the effect: “find one heretical pastor in the LC-MS and the entire synod is heterodox.” You first need to know that only pages 5-51 are the essay by Pieper with that title. The rest of it is from other authors or other writings of Pieper. Your quote is from page 55, which is supposedly from a Pieper “Lehre und Wehre” article translated only by the editor, a Pastor E.L. Mehlberg, apparently a member of the “Orthodox Lutheran Church.” I have never seen another translation of that article, so it could be mistranslated or out of context. I don’t have access to “Lehre and Wehre” here, so I can’t confirm or disconfirm the provenance of these statements. Even if Pieper wrote that in 1890, at the theologically immature age of 38, he never repeated that statement in his dogmatics or his other significant work on the church “The True Visible Church” (see http://www.logia.org/luther-academy-books/the-church-and-her-treasure ), and it would contradict what he did say in his dogmatics, which I quoted above in my ninth point.

    This is not a general treatise on the topic. I am only responding to your questions. You’ll have to ask some seminary professor who has access to “Lehre und Wehre” the true provenance of that quote from Pieper.

    Blessings to you and yours!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

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