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 it’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.