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When Assurance Isn’t Reassuring

Here’s the latest statement from the LCMS Council of Presidents (pasted below), released on the Witness, Mercy, Life Together blog.   While I am hopeful that the LCMS will steer a more confessional course in the future, I am not willing to “smile for the camera” and paper over our differences at the expense of the truth.  Implicit in the agreement to pledge “our on-going due diligence in maintaining sound doctrine and practice in our respective districts” is the latent axiom that we have more than one definition for sound doctrine and practice. The law of noncontradiction still stands.  As an example, one District President is in favor of open Communion, while another is not.  They can’t both be correct – and the difference represents a serious theological dichotomy that cannot be joined. Notice in their statement where there is unanimity (on ecclesiastical matters), and where there is not unanimity (on doctrinal matters).  Statements like these really aren’t helpful.  They sound pious, but people instinctively spot the dichotomy (although few people are willing to point this out except behind closed doors, for fear of being labeled a naysayer).  It’s safe to say that in this case, the emperor, played by the COP, has no clothes. I continue to pray for President Harrison, that led by the Word and our Confession, he may fashion real clothes for the emperor.  We have a real Christ; let’s have a real Confession.

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A Statement of Assurance Regarding

Ecclesiastical Supervision


[Note: Meeting February 9-13, the members of the Council of Presidents (35 district presidents, 6 vice presidents and the president of Synod) adopted the following statement as a document which “speaks to the church on behalf of the COP.”]


“Sanctify them by Your truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

In response to recently expressed concerns over maintaining sound doctrine in our synod as well as our need to follow the prescribed process for ecclesiastical supervision in our synod’s bylaws, we the Council of Presidents (comprised of the synodical president, vice presidents, and 35 district presidents of the LCMS), offer the following assurances:

  • We remain committed to the authority of the inspired, inerrant Scriptures as the only source and norm for our doctrine and practice and the Lutheran Confessions as a true exposition of the Scriptures. That commitment includes our solid affirmation of our Synod’s stances on such Biblical teachings as these:
    • In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth by the power of his Word, in six natural days. We reject the evolutionary hypothesis, including “theistic macro-evolution.” (Genesis 1; John 1:1ff.; Matthew 19:4-6).
    • Holy Scriptures elevates the dignity and equality of both men and women in the sight of God (Galatians 3:27–28; Ephesians 5:21–33). The Scriptures also teach that men and women have distinct and complementary vocations. The Scriptures limit the office of pastor to qualified men, while inviting sanctified women to serve in many capacities (1 Timothy 2; 1 Corinthians 14).
    • Marriage, instituted by God, is only between a man and a woman. Homosexual behavior, like all adulterous behavior, is sin against the Sixth Commandment (Matthew 19:4–6).
  • We pledge our on-going due diligence in maintaining sound doctrine and practice in our respective districts.
  • We promise to abide by and uphold the Synod’s bylaws guiding ecclesiastical discipline.
  • Along the way of doctrinal supervision, we will continue to seek restoration and repentance in a process which honors our synod’s constitution and bylaws.

Responding to concerns in the Synod regarding the present process of ecclesiastical supervision and discipline, we, the members of the Council of Presidents, unanimously affirm the following:

  • The doctrinal integrity of our Council of Presidents as we carry out our role of ecclesiastical supervision;
  • The need for our present process of discipline to follow the existing bylaws of the Synod;
  • Our desire to evaluate the current procedure of discipline, leading to a more effective process.

The Council of Presidents also cautions that members of Synod be careful in their analysis of matters of ecclesiastical supervision, especially in social media and blogs, lest we sin against the Eighth Commandment, marring reputations and making public what is required to be private.

Finally, the Council of Presidents requests members of the Synod to pray for us as we carry out our role of ecclesiastical supervisors in accordance with the Scriptures, the Confessions, and our Synod’s Constitution and Bylaws.


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.


When Assurance Isn’t Reassuring — 9 Comments

  1. Because about 1/3 of the COP is liberal, and about another 1/3 is a mushy middle that doesn’t feel like rocking the boat. So we get a semi-neutered statement.

    We need a 1975 convention again. Pres. Harrison needs to carefully stock the floor committees. (no Benke because he’s retiring) Then hopefully the delegates can debate and pass a few resolutions with teeth. For example, the lay ministry task force will recommend again (just like almost all task forces and CTCR reports before) to STOP lay men acting like pastors. I believe Matt Mills shared earlier that DP Linneman will choose to die on that hill. Let him take the fall. Oh yeah, then Matt Becker will lose another protector. 😉 And maybe a message will be sent: stop being anti-Lutheran, you naughty pastors.

    That’s my rant and opinion.

  2. “[We] unanimously affirm the following: …The need for our present process of discipline to follow the existing bylaws of the Synod.”
    And Scripture? What about following Scripture and the Confessions? Hmmm…

    “The Council of Presidents also cautions that members of Synod be careful in their analysis of matters of ecclesiastical supervision, especially in social media and blogs, lest we sin against the Eighth Commandment, marring reputations and making public what is required to be private.”

    “For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.” (Do they not know that this is in the Lutheran Confessions, explaining the Eighth Commandment?)

    As usual, the biggest concern is for the precious reputation of the pastor doing the false teaching (and already publicly soiling his reputation). What about the precious souls of those being led away from Christ, as all false teaching does lead precious souls away from Christ?

    Are they not leaders of Israel and yet they do not know that the “supreme” Eighth Commandment also includes this concern for the sheep?

  3. COP seem not to care about Second Commandment violations (see Luther’s Large Catechism) by public utterances of false teachers shielded by DPs.

  4. People are waking up. This statement is a wake up call. We are dying folks.

    These are our leaders. They can say the right things but they do nothing. Where is their call to action? They should have lived by the words they published and at their meeting call DP Linnemann to repentance for harboring a false teacher in our midst.

    How can they possibly publish words about the truth but not act? They lack courage. They have now clearly demonstrated that they do have the capability to exercise supervision.

    We have now heard a second round of fine sounding words and not a one of the DP’s have actually lifted a finger to do anything. President Harrison and the rest of the presidents on this council should be ashamed of themselves.

    The gavel should not have fallen at that meeting until the false doctrine in our synod was dealt with by Scripture.

  5. Dear BJS,
    Note that comment on elevating ecclesiastical procedures to handle error, yes, it needs to be worked on, as best a congregational system will allow. I wonder what would happen to Dr. Becker if the bishop in charge had a cardinal in charge, etc.? OK, Father Phleger still rants and makes a mockery in Chicago, and he does not get censored or reprimanded. So that thinking goes out the window.

    Note the comment on privacy. Sorry, we should as pastors watch our tone and comments, make them concise and to the point, and if we post them, don’t do it anonymously.

    When I hear the word privacy, the first thing I think about is lawsuits that might come up? Sad that they do.

    And we shall pray too.

  6. What a hoot! They are affirming the doctrinal integrity of the COP. Really??? So there is doctrinal unity between DP Linnemann and Bryan Saunders? There is doctrinal unity between President Harrison and David Benke? How gullible to these guys think we are?

  7. Pr. Ted Crandall, You voice what disturbs me the most. What about the sheep who are being led astray? Where is the concern from the top?

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