Bishop Tyranny and Heresy (Part 1)

Some friends in a Lutheran congregation of a different synod from mine have been in a long pastoral vacancy. The bishop expressly refused to give the congregation any names of candidates for a long time until many in the congregation are desperate for a pastor. Having reached that point, the bishop finally recently gave the congregation but one name, and that of a person teaching such things as universal salvation by way of a purgatory-like intermediate state. This makes waste of the blood of Christ by treating it as insufficient by itself to fully atone for all our sins, and turning us instead to rely on works or sufferings we do for the completion of our atonement. The candidate’s teachings are quite different from the history of the congregation, yet for desperation, the congregation has voted to call the candidate.

This bishop tyranny, this lording it over the congregation, is what is imposing heresy on the congregation against the will of the true majority.

After quite a bit of the delay already had happened, my friends asked me how these things are handled in my synod, Missouri. Simple, I said. In the Montana district, we follow procedures cast from the mold of the confessional writings of the Lutheran church. I was able to say this with confidence because my congregation had just gone through a vacancy when Rev. David Warner was called to be a Missionary in Spain.

Our District President provided the called papers of many candidates. The congregation’s call committee also could request the call papers of rostered ministers. Any individual member in the congregation could suggest names to the call committee. Individual members did suggest four names to the call committee, who then requested the call papers for those additional names, and in short order the District President provided those additional call papers. The District President visited the congregation several times, stayed in touch with the vacancy pastor, and stayed in touch with the call committee. Everything was done from a stance of servanthood in office. We had a good vacancy followed by a good call of our new pastor.

What was all this based on, and why hasn’t that happened in my friends’ synod?

In this two part article, we will ask the question, “What is a bishop?” We will see that it has two meanings:

1.  The Scriptural meaning.

2.  A meaning by human arrangement.

In this article, we will consider the Scriptural meaning. The Scriptural meaning is confessed in the Lutheran confessions. In the next article we will consider a meaning by human arrangement. This meaning is explained in the Lutheran confessions. Then we will make application of the two meanings to the problem my friends have suffered and see the congregation’s rights against bishop tyranny to call an orthodox pastor.

One Office; Three Names. In Scripture, there is one pastoral office that the Apostles call by three names. The three names do not divide the office into three offices. Each name emphasizes an aspect of a single office. Together, they show the richness of the office.

The Three Names. The three names are: pastor (or shepherd); elder; and bishop (or overseer). The word overseer refers to overseeing souls in a congregation, just as shepherds oversee sheep and elders oversee those of less age, experience, seniority, education, or training.

Basic Biblical Evidence. Paul teaches that Christ himself gave the office of pastor. He says, “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” Ephesians 4:11. Consequently, Paul and Barnabas “appointed elders in every church.” Acts 14:23. Paul reminded Titus why he left him in Crete, saying, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you.” A church without a pastor is lacking something, but once Titus appointed elders in every city, they were not lacking, because elders are pastors and bishops.

In the first verse of Philippians, Paul greets his readers, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops.” We have seen that Paul, Barnabas, and Titus appointed elders in every church and in every city. Yet he does not address the Philippians using the term elder, but bishop. That is because the bishops were elders, and they were pastors. He is not omitting a greeting to the pastors or elders.

Traveling through the rest of Acts and the epistles, we keep seeing the same office sometimes called elder, sometimes called pastor or shepherd, and sometimes called bishop or overseer. In one poignant passage, Acts 20:17-36, we see the extended and deeply emotional scene of Paul’s departure from the elders at Ephesus. He had ministered there for three years, the longest of any place in his career as an Apostle. He knew these people well and loved them as himself. At the end, “they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.” Paul, together with these elders, had built up the church of Ephesus to sound and healthy condition. Yet nowhere is there any reference to pastors or bishops in this scene. We see reference only to the elders. Paul was not leaving them without pastors or bishops. The elders were the pastors and bishops.

Two Brilliant Biblical Evidences. Two passages shine especially brilliant light on this truth. The first uses two of the three titles while obviously referring to the single office, and the second uses all three of the titles while obviously referring to the single office.

In Titus 1:5-9, quoted below, we see Paul talking about elders in verse 5, but then in verse 7 he uses the title bishop. He does this although it is obvious that he has not changed subject to a second office in the church. He still is talking about only one office, but he calls it by two names in the same passage. In fact, the word “for” at the beginning of verse 7 shows that what he is about to say explains or gives the reasons for what he already said in verses 5 and 6. That makes explicit that only one office is being discussed.

5) For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you–

6) if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.

7) For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,

8) but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,

9) holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

In 1 Peter 5:1-3, quoted below, we see Peter talking about elders in verse 1, but then shepherds (pastors) in verse 2, and then before he can finish the sentence in the same verse, overseers (bishops). He does this even though it is obvious that he has not changed subjects to a second and then again to a third office in the church.

1) The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:

2) Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;

3) nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

Both of these Apostles, Paul to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews, use the three terms in the same way to refer to the single gift of Christ to the Church, pastors.

In part 2, we will consider a meaning of the word bishop by human arrangement. This meaning is explained in the Lutheran confessions. Then we will make application of the two meanings.

About T. R. Halvorson

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of LutheranCatechism.com.

Comments

Bishop Tyranny and Heresy (Part 1) — 25 Comments

  1. Why can’t they just call someone and ignore the Bishop? I mean if they can find a guy willing to come serve them, and they can agree that they want him like by the congregation voting to call him? Seriously, why not? I mean, an entire congregation and no one has any leads on a pastor? No one knows anyone? Seems a bit unlikely. I don’t understand waiting around on some Bishop. Just go around him. Ignore him.

  2. @Mrs. Hume #1
    Dear Mrs. Hume,
    Yes, the congregation still holds the call and can issue it to whomever they want. It might cause a stir, but ‘oh well.”
    Here is the kicker, most congregations still do not want to burn the bridge so to speak with District and Synod. You go it alone, and you can; but ‘if’ trouble happens, then that congregation had best be ready to handle whatever.
    remember, if they call a man, and ‘perhaps’ trouble occurs, etc.; what do think district and synod would say if the congregation seeks help?
    I can see the conversation like this:
    “Oh, now you want our help??”

  3. “Some friends in a Lutheran congregation of a different synod from mine have been in a long pastoral vacancy. The bishop expressly refused to give the congregation any names of candidates for a long time until many in the congregation are desperate for a pastor.”

    Well, this can’t be referring to a congregation in the XXXA or NALC, since the former is an apostate-perverted religious cult and the latter is a pastrix-ordaining Lufauxran religious body.

    ElDoNa (aka eLdOnA, ELdoNA, elDOna, etc.) rejects the Lutheran doctrine on objective/subjective justification so it’s not Lutheran either.

    And the WELS, ELS, ACLC and CLC don’t typically use the title of “bishop” for their clergy or organization leaders.

    So, one wonders in what nanosynod with an episcopal-style tyranny is the name of an obvious heretic given to a congregation, who would then vote to call the heretic to be pastor.

  4. @Pastor Prentice #2

    remember, if they call a man, and ‘perhaps’ trouble occurs, etc.; what do think district and synod would say if the congregation seeks help?

    Nothing, (same as they would if they put the man there).

    Ask No. MN district, which put a predator in place, how much they did to redress the error. (They worried about someone suing the district, is what they did.)

    Since it is the congregation’s responsibility to call a Pastor, with/without district help (altho the Bishop is negligent if he doesn’t offer a good choice for consideration) the congregation should not be punished for not taking “an obvious heretic”.

    [I realize that’s not a “real world” statement.]

  5. Simple explanation: In some Lutheran Synods the Synod owns the property. The sheriff could padlock your doors if the DP so desires. Still, most laymen rely on the advise of their officials and representative as to what they can or can’t do, and would feel ill-equipped to step outside the given boundaries.

  6. @Michael Piper #7

    In some Lutheran Synods the Synod owns the property. The sheriff could padlock your doors if the DP so desires.

    I believe it’s “in the case of a congregation closing” (or was) but that’s incentive enough for a “bishop’s” deliberate neglect, if the property has value. The old ALC congregations were secretively “sold” this way by their leaders in the formation of elca; they had in their own synod had ownership of their own churches.

  7. Thanks, TR, for the opening elements of the study. Even without the Greek references, it is easy to follow. I look forward to your continued analysis in part 2.

    I’ve observed a certain tendency in American Lutherans not only to confuse the biblical and human elements of episcopacy (what is established by divine versus human right,) but also a common rancor for traditional bishops… even among those who cling tightly to the traditions of of the liturgy, without realizing the complimentary traditions which support a traditional episcopal model. Often lost in my discusssions with American Lutherans, is the preference for the traditional canonical orders found in the Augustana and its Apology, and which exist in the vast majority of the world’s Christian churches from antiquity through the current day.

    Holding that proper tension between what God has established by His Word (which is immutable and unequivocally good) and that which man has established by his own word (canons, liturgies, orders, rites, traditions, by-laws, constitutions, blue ribbon committees,etc., which have a relative goodness and mutability based upon their relationship to the immutable Word of God) is a witness we must never lose, for the good of the broader church.

  8. However, I must note at least two very disturbing critiques of your otherwise good article:

    1) That picture of a soft, uncalloused hand wouldn’t scare a grade school student away from a cookie jar. You need to find a good biker or construction worker fist to photograph… something with gnarls and knicks of bar brawls or tool mishaps. Sheesh.

    2) You’ve once again, through use of examples, caused me to covet your District, and think I need a 30-40 year vacation there. Please, in the future, share something less favorable from Montana to help a brother out… I bet they have lots of good, gnarled hands to photograph, for example.

    😉

  9. “Often lost in my discusssions with American Lutherans, is the preference for the traditional canonical orders found in the Augustana and its Apology, and which exist in the vast majority of the world’s Christian churches from antiquity through the current day.”

    Also not to be lost is the Lutheran confessional understanding exposited in the Smalcald Articles, particularly in SA,II.IV9, which states:

    “Therefore the Church can never be better governed and preserved than if we all live under one head, Christ, and all the bishops equal in office (although they be unequal in gifts), be diligently joined in unity of doctrine, faith, Sacraments, prayer, and works of love, etc.”

    And also in the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, particularly the section, Of the Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops, which states:

    “The Gospel assigns to those who preside over churches the command to teach the Gospel to remit sins, to administer the Sacraments and besides jurisdiction, namely, the command to excommunicate those whose crimes are known, and again to absolve those who repent.

    “And by the confession of all, even of the adversaries, it is clear that this power by divine right is common to all who preside over churches, whether they are called pastors, or elders, or bishops. And accordingly Jerome openly teaches in the apostolic letters that all who preside over churches are both bishops and elders….

    “Jerome, therefore, teaches that it is by human authority that the grades of bishop and elder or pastor are distinct. And the subject itself declares this, because the power [the office and command] is the same, as he has said above.”

  10. @Brad #10

    You need to find a good biker or construction worker fist to photograph… something with gnarls and knicks of bar brawls or tool mishaps. Sheesh.

    Isn’t he trying to represent the tyranny of the district office?
    Have you ever seen anything but soft hands there? [Maybe in Montana!]

    Calloused hands are found in small parishes, where the Pastor helps church renovation or construction by getting in there with carpenter’s tools (and he knows how to use them). He does his own plumbing, his yard and spades over his own garden. I’ve seen those hands….

  11. @Brad #10

    Hi Brad,

    Thanks for the humor. It was well timed for me today.

    Part 2 of this article will not reflect on the Montana district particularly, but in my next article, also a two parter, I’ll be making a report on the Montana district convention, and unfortunately, I won’t be able to help a brother out in that article either, and both parts are going to be tough on you.

  12. @Mrs. Hume #1 “Why can’t they just call someone and ignore the Bishop? I mean if they can find a guy willing to come serve them, and they can agree that they want him like by the congregation voting to call him? Seriously, why not? I mean, an entire congregation and no one has any leads on a pastor? No one knows anyone? Seems a bit unlikely. I don’t understand waiting around on some Bishop. Just go around him. Ignore him.”

    Because the congregations will never get a pastor in the future when they go around the DP. And the pastor will labeled as a pastor as one who never received a call the “correct” way going through the office of the DP.

  13. @Carl Vehse #11

    I hope my statement did not seem to insinuate otherwise. Like a Christian congregation can still be Christian without the traditional liturgy of the Mass, they can also still be Christian without the traditional orders of the clergy– so long as what is essential is still retained (ostensibly, what the rites, liturgies, canons, and orders were developed to safeguard, with varying levels of historical success.) But as confessional Lutherans, we must always be suspicious of the arguments that take us away from those stated intentions to retain authentically catholic traditions– and it’s hard not to see the traditional orders of clergy in a similar light to traditional orders of the Mass. At the very least, no Lutheran guided by the Confessions should be hostile or derogatory to traditional episcopacy, even if their own polity (for ostensibly good reasons) decided to do without it (or apply it solely at the congregational level; i.e., every parish pastor a bishop.) The burden is with the Lutherans who jettisoned the traditional orders or the traditional liturgy, to explain how their necessity has driven them to set aside the Confessional intentions of the Augustana in these cases… and how their innovations serve the Word better than the traditions we inherited from the Fathers. And in most cases of American Christianity, the abondonment of tradition hasn’t been an organically Lutheran enterprise, but informed by the Radical Reformation sects.

    Should be an interesting article, and spur interesting discussions.

  14. “it’s hard not to see the traditional orders of clergy in a similar light to traditional orders of the Mass.”

    OTOH, it’s hard to see the continued Lutheran use of the term, Mass, given that Luther was definitely opposed to using the term “Mass” even before Luther’s Smalcald Articles, in which, separate from SA.III.VI, “The Sacrament of the Altar,” Luther calls the Mass (in SA.II.II) a “Dragon’s tail.”

    While in 1530 the German word, “Messe,” was used in the Augsburg Confession to refer to the Lord’s Supper, by 1533 Martin Luther no longer believed the term, “mass,” should be used, as clearly explained by Daniel Preus in his paper, “Luther and the Mass” (Logia, Vol X, No. 4, Reformation 2001, 14-20).

    Excerpts from the paper, and quotes from Luther, were presented in a March 14, 2012, BJS post and a March 15, 2012, BJS post.

    Luther even had a prayer against the use of the word, “Mass”:

    May God grant to all devout Christians such hearts that when they hear the word “mass,” they might be frightened and make the sign of the cross as though it were the devil’s abomination; on the other hand, when they hear the word “sacrament” or “Lord’s Supper” they might dance for pure joy… (AE 38:227)

    That prayer is still useful for Lutherans today!

  15. @Carl Vehse #16

    I have made it a point in recent years, to use the phraseology of our Confessions. We have a great wealth of material to draw from in our patrimony, but theology drawn expressly and directly from the Scriptures and Confessions is to my mind, bettter served when using their respective language. The amount of false theologies and errors that creep in seem aided too well by shifting the language, even in small ways. I also think it helps innoclute Lutherans from the errors of the fanatics, amongst whom I delight to speak of priests, the Mass, Sacraments, rites, the Fathers, the Creeds (especially the catholic faith (Athanasian) and the catholic church (Nicene/Apostles)). I think it also helps Lutherans remember that we are, at least confessionally, the most authentically catholic church on the planet, having a duty to neither surrender catholicity to the domain of Rome, nor flee into the arms of sectarians.

    But, I am more beholden to Scripture and the Confessions than I am to the beloved Luther– even if he were ready to ditch the term, our Confessions do not.

  16. @Brad #17

    I think it also helps Lutherans remember that we are, at least confessionally, the most authentically catholic church on the planet

    The “catholic church” refers to the invisible church, the holy Christian Church, and the Church of all true believers. Lutherans, such as C.F.W. Walther, refer to the Evangelical Lutheran Church as the true visible Church on earth. The Lutheran confessions are the confessions of the true catholic faith. But because we cannot see into the hearts of those claiming to be Lutheran, we cannot equate the true visible church with the true invisible church. Equating visible and invisible churches is a Romanist heresy.

  17. @Carl Vehse #18

    The visible church which believes, teaches, and confesses the faith which is confessed in Scripture and the Confessions is, in fact, the beating heart of the universal catholic church on earth. In so far as other visible churches confess likewise, they are more or less Christian, having defects of error either greater or lesser. Hence, in so far as the Evangelical Lutheran Church is faithful in her confession, she is the true church on earth, unmixed with error. But such a name alone is not sufficient to claim title to the visible church (another heretical error of Rome, who thinks she maintains catholicity by virtue of her name and history, without regard to her actual faith and practice.)

    While we recognize distinctives between the visible church (where the faithful are gathered around Christ in His Word rightly taught and the Sacraments rightly administered, which is observable by the fruits of faith in public doctrinal confession and the living out of that confession) and the invisible church (where the faithful are gathered around Christ in His Word rightly taught and the Sacraments rightly administered, in which the faithful and repentant hearts of the people are observable alone to their Lord) we recognize that the two cannot be separated. In essence, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is both visible and invisible, just as the life of the Christian is both invisible (faith and repentance worked by the Holy Spirit unto eternal life) and visible (the fruits of faith and repentance born out in the life of the Christian, again by the power of that same Holy Spirit.)

    But we are far afield from the original post.

  18. @Brad #19

    “In essence, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is both visible and invisible”

    “But we are far afield from the original post.”

    Furthermore your statement above is also far from the position of Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, Martin Luther, and Lutheran theologians, although some modern Lufauxran theologians have enthused about a combined invisible/visible Church.

    In his Christian Dogmatics (CPH, St. Louis, 1934), in a section on “The Properties of the Christian Church (pp. 547-549), John Theodore Mueller summarizes: “All who affirm that the Church is either wholly (papists) or partly (modern Lutheran [sic] theologians) visible destroy the Scriptural concept of the Church and change it from a communion of believers to an ‘outward polity of the good and the wicked’”.

  19. @Carl Vehse #20

    When I return to my library, I will check your reference in Mueller, but I am unaware of having taught anything that diverges from his understanding that the true Church– the household of faith– is invisible but to God’s eyes alone, and yet this invisible true Church is manifested in the world where the Word is rightly taught and the Sacraments rightly administered. I have tried to articulate nothing other than what our Confessions teach in the Small Catechism’s explanation of the 3rd Article:

    “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.”

    And Articles VII and VIII of the Augustana, respectively:

    “Article VII: Of the Church.
    Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

    And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one
    God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4, 5. 6.

    Article VIII: What the Church Is.
    Although the Church properly is the congregation of saints and true believers, nevertheless, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ: The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat, etc. Matt. 23, 2. Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the institution and
    commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil men.

    They condemn the Donatists, and such like, who denied it to be lawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and who thought the ministry of evil men to be unprofitable and of none effect.”

    So if I have erred against the Scriptures or the Confessions, show the error from the Scriptures or the Confessions. Otherwise, I think your critique is off base.

  20. @Carl Vehse #20

    As i suspected, Mueller in his section regarding the Doctrine of the Christian Church, is fundamentally working to bolster and defend the doctrine of faith alone– a common theme throughout his Dogmatics. What you have excerpted is not a summary of this entire section, but a subsection misapplied to my statements. In regard to the invisible universal church known only unto God by faith, and the visible local church in which the faithful are gathered around Christ in His Means of Grace, I think this is a better summary exerpt (pages 554-555):

    “With respect to the relation between the Church Universal and
    the local churches, Scripture teaches clearly that these are not two
    different churches or two different kinds of churches, but the Church
    Universal consists of all true believers who are found in the local
    churches. Since it is God’s will that all believers should be joined
    to local churches, all cases where an individual believer on account
    of special circumstances temporarily does not hold membership in
    a local church must be regarded as exceptional and hence require
    no consideration in this connection. Local churches therefore are
    true believers, or true members of the Church Universal, who are
    joined together in a visible communion for the purpose of executing
    the Office of the Keys, or the peculiar church-power which Christ
    has given to His Church on earth. This point must be clearly
    understood; for local churches, in the proper sense of the term,
    consist only of true believers…

    “Lastly, all the divinely imposed obligations of the local
    churches presuppose that those who fulfil them are true believers;
    for these Christian duties can be performed rightly only by persons
    who are truly regenerate; e. g., mutual instruction and admonition,
    Col. 3, 16. 17; church discipline, Matt. 18, 15-18; 1 Cor. 5,
    1-13; preservation of the true doctrine and spiritual guardianship
    over the teachers, Rom. 16, 17; Col. 4, 17; preaching the
    Gospel, 1 Pet. 2, 9 ; Christian conduct in the fear of God, 1 Pet. 3,
    8-17; etc. Before hypocrites can become members of the local
    churches, they must first “repent and be converted,” Acts 3, 19.

    “We therefore rightly define local churches as assemblies of
    true believers, who are gathered at a certain place for the purpose
    of preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments. If in
    a general way we apply the term also to heterodox congregations
    or even to antichristian cults, this is done in a wider sense, either
    by way of synecdoche, because also in heterodox local churches
    there may be members of the Church Universal, or improperly
    (improprie), i. e., according to the common mode of speaking
    (unchristian cults).”

    Hopefully that clarifies my intent, and takes me off your heretic / Lufauxran list.

  21. @Brad #22

    Your quote from pp. 554-555, refers to “local churches” as part of the “Church Universal” (i.e., the invisible Church). As you quote, “We therefore rightly define local churches as assemblies of true believers.”

    But my excerpt from Mueller is the best response to your earlier misstatement, “In essence, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is both visible and invisible.” Here you are mixing, not invisible and local (as Mueller does on pp. 554-555), but invisible and visible, which Mueller rejects on p. 547.

    Furthermore, Mueller states (p. 383):

    “Hypocrites, or nominal Christians, are not members of the [invisible or local] Church, though in this life they are outwardly joined with the visible Church.”

    And again (p. 542):

    “From this it follows that all unbelievers and hypocrites (mali et hypocritae) who outwardly belong to visible churches are really outside the pale of the [invisible or local] Christian Church.”

    And yet again (p. 543):

    “The Lutheran Church thus professes the Scriptural doctrine that all true believers are members of the [invisible or local] Church, while unbelievers are not members, even though they are outwardly joined to a visible church.”

    Your excerpt from pp. 554-555 doesn’t mention “visible churches” at all, and only speaks about true believers in local (invisible) churches “being joined together in a visible communion.” That communion may be understood as occurring within a visible church, but from what Mueller stated earlier it is NOT equated with being the visible church, in which hypocrites are joined.

  22. @Carl Vehse #23

    Perhaps we are talking past each other, or I have been less precise than I should have been… or we are borrowing someone else’s thread to have an unnecessary verbal duel. I am trying to say nothing more or less than our Confessions teach regarding the Church– if you are doing the same, then let’s retreat to our respective corners. I doubt the manner in which we are engaging this topic is helpful to the other readers, so I’m leaving it at that.

    Peace.

  23. Absolutely, the reason we quote St. Jerome is that we are arguing that any (extra-parochial) episcopal structure in the church is to be understood as an extension of the one office of the holy ministry established by Christ; before God, according to Scripture, there is only one definition of Bishop: “the pastoral office.” However according to the Apology, we fervently wish to maintain the canonical form of hierarchy, as long as [technical] bishops be understood as being of the same office [pastor], rather than a separate divinely established office.

    Yeah, both Augsburg/Apology and the Smalcald articles are to be taken as holding in check one error against the other. Anarchy without structure, and tyranny by the structure.
    The top of Page 19, Johan Gerhard’s “On the Ministry” part two, dives into this topic more deeply than I can or will here. (suffice to say, he demonstrates that it is of the radical reformation to refuse episcopal hierarchy entirely which is the opposite error of the abusive Roman/Eastern structure with all of its “divinely enforced” authority — Lutheranism is, and must always be… the lonely way).

    @Carl Vehse #11

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