This past Monday, Issues Etc host Pr. Todd Wilken interviewed Pr. Paul McCain of Concordia Publishing House on “The Smalcald Articles: Excommunication, Ordination, The Call and the Marriage of Priests”. There was a short segment of four minutes that focused on the issue of people taking the pulpit without a rightly ordered call. We thought it worth excerpting this portion because it is a helpful (for laity) “translation” of our Confessions regarding how we train, certify, call and ordain men into the Office of the Holy Ministry.
Some key highlights (not a verbatim transcript) and please listen to the excerpt below:
- There has been a problem ever since the Wichita Convention  which adopted a “footnote to the Augusburg Confession, Article V” instituting lay ministers, which is a self-contradiction.
- It’s not a matter of did they go to seminary or not, but they are not being placed formally and publicly in good order in front of the eyes of their whole church body into the Office of Holy Ministry.
- If they are functioning as a pastor they should be a pastor, and be recognized as such.
- It is highly schismatic and very dangerous to get “90-day” lay ministers or preachers out there.
- As much as I trust my brothers in the ministry I don’t want the responsibility to have the authority to determine who is a pastor on my own. I want to do this with colleagues who together will evaluate, ascertain and judge whether a man is qualified to be in the Office.
- In [the LCMS] we say that the seminary faculties are the ones who are given the responsibility to certify that a man is ready to be a pastor. It is an incredible responsibility.
- On the basis of that certification we agree together via the Council of Presidents that a man may be placed into the Office of the ministry. At that point there is the call to a specific place where they are ordained which is the public rite of the church by which the church lays hands on him – not required, but time honored – and there is a public ceremony with prayer and intercession for that man, and he is formally placed into the Office of the Holy Ministry. At that point he is a pastor.
- To do something other than that is schismatic and contrary to what we teach. The LCMS has been struggling with this for a long time, and we are getting better by degrees.
- If we have individual congregations and pastors within the Synod popping up and saying, “I’ve got a great guy in my church and I put him in the pulpit; he preached a great sermon and now he’s one of our pastors.” That is unchurchly to say the least.