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

A STATEMENT FROM THE COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS

[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.”]

A STATEMENT OF ASSURANCE REGARDING ECCLESIASTICAL SUPERVISION

“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.

 

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