I am not talking about voters’ assemblies. I am not talking about the true visible church of God on earth. I am not talking about the proper distinction of Law and Gospel although in one way or another all of those have been compromised. What I am talking about is Walther’s simple little handbook of duties for the evangelical congregation. The exoneration of Matthew Becker demonstrates that the LCMS is clearly no longer the church of Walther.
Duty five of the evangelical congregation from the above noted booklet is this:
It is the duty of the congregation to be diligent “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” also with all parts of the orthodox Church, Eph. 4:3; 1 Thess. 4:9,10; Rom. 15:26, 27; 2 Cor. 8:19. (Paragraph 10 of the above cited work)
The exoneration of Matthew Becker breaks the simple bond of peace created by the Holy Spirit that Walther identifies as the mark and goal of the evangelical congregation. The Holy Spirit creates the Church through the Word He inspired. Matthew Becker, District President Linneman and the three circuit counselors who exonerated him have sinned against the Holy Spirit by denying the simple truth of His Word. They have thrown that Word back in the face of the Holy Spirit by asserting that “We do not believe in the verbal inspiration of Your Scriptures Holy Spirit. Your Word says “six days” for creation and that women are to keep silent in the church but we are more enlightened than you Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, you are some sort of simpleton fool thinking that evolutionary science is wrong and feminism is false.”
Walther on the other hand, stays in sync with the Holy Spirit. He further explains the fifth duty this way:
F. Of the Performance of the Duty of the Congregation to Endeavor to Keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Love and Peace Also with Other Parts of the Orthodox Church
52. The congregation should be diligent in jointly offering prayer for all saints, Eph. 6:18.
53. As every true Ev. Lutheran local congregation has the same public confessions of faith with the entire Ev. Lutheran Church, so it should also give all diligence to be one with it in point of life and to “speak the same thing, in the same mind, and in the same judgment,” I Cor. 1:10.
54. Each congregation should come to an agreement with the adjacent congregations concerning the local limits of their respective territories (Titus 1:5; Gal. 2:9), and no congregation should receive as members those who reside in the territory of other congregations, I Pet. 4:15; 5:2 (“Feed the flock of God which is among you”); Heb. 10:25.8)
55. The congregation should demand from those who come to it from other orthodox congregations a testimonial (letter of dismissal) issued by the latter and recognize such testimonial. And it should give such testimonials to those who remove to other congregations, Acts 18:27; 3 John 8-10.
56. The congregation should not receive as members such as have been rightfully excommunicated by orthodox congregations, 1 Tim.1:20; cp. 2 Tim.4:14,15.
57. The congregation should receive as brethren such as have been exiled or have been wrongfully excommunicated or come as guests from other congregations and care for them as for their own members, 1 Pet.4:9 (“Use hospitality one to another without grudging; Heb. 13:2; Rom.16:1,2; 1 Cor.16:10,11; John 16:2; cp. 9:22-39.ù Matt.25:35.
58. If the congregation calls the pastor of another congregation, it should ask the latter to give its consent to the pastor’s accepting the call, endeavoring to bring about a mutual agreement as to its being a divine call. If its pastor is called to another congregation, it should examine such call according to the Word of God and willingly release the pastor if the call appears as being of God, 1 Tim.3:13.
59. In grave cases a congregation should seek the advice of one or several sister congregations and, when asked for such advice, be ready to give it according to its ability. Cp. Acts 15.
60. The congregation should regard the distress of sister congregations as its own and give them all the aid and assistance possible, 1 Cor.16:1,2 (“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, so do ye”); 2 Cor.8:1-14; 9:1-15.
61. The congregation should be willing to have its minister, if at all possible, serve as an affiliated charge a neighboring congregation which cannot by itself establish a ministry in its midst nor be merged with the main congregation.
Walther’s Scriptural duties one and two (see paragraphs 20-32 of the above cited booklet) establish even more clearly that the LCMS is no longer the church of Walther. Of course, more importantly, we are no longer the church of Scripture.
It is time to examine carefully the work of the ACELC. The pastors and elders of our congregation have recommended to our voters that we join the ACELC. The voters wanted more time to consider such an important step and a committee of the voters is nearing the end of their study and forming a resolution to join.
The status quo is no longer acceptable. It is probably time rather for a status confessionalis.