Wiki III: Let’s Just Talk about this

liberalgirl

This conclusion to my experience with the Wiki15 conference is extremely delayed. One of the reasons is because I didn’t know where to go from here. The men and women gathered at the conference are not terrible people, nor do they desire to destroy the Church. They are our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have the desire to proclaim the Gospel to the lost. They have the desire to share the love of Christ that they have. This isn’t a bad thing. This isn’t a terrible and heretical thing. This is a good intention and as they understand it, the fulfillment of the Great Commission. We are given to reach the lost with the love of Christ. This is why I can’t say, “What a bunch of heretics. They are the worst thing that has happened to the church since Arius arrived on the scene.” Our prayer shouldn’t be the humiliation of our brothers and sisters, but that we all walk together as guided by the Word Of God which is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path.

So, where do we go from here? We have to first stop pretending that there isn’t a massive division in our church body. The issue isn’t one of practice, nor of relevance. The issue isn’t that I have the best practice and you have one that is good as well. The issue is that some are faithful to their Ordination Vows and others are not. The issue is that some churches are guided by the Scriptures and the Confessions and others are not. We have a real division not just of practice, but of Doctrine and Proclamation. This is the first step. We are not reading the same book, let alone on the same page.

After we admit this, both confessional and relevant alike, then we can begin to talk. We have to take the two documents that we swear to at our Ordination, the Scriptures and the Book of Concord, and study those. We need to meet and pray, meditate, and suffer according to the Word together. We can’t have a massive division of teachings. We can’t expect one Pastor to be reading the Formula of Concord as opposed to reading John Piper or Beth Moore and expect them to both be Lutheran. One is Lutheran and other one isn’t. Or we can’t expect one pastor to be reading the Large Catechism in opposition to reading John Calvin and expect them to both be Lutheran. We have to meditate, pray, and suffer together. This isn’t the Koinonia project, but a real dialogue about our division. This isn’t a critique of the Koinonia Project, but just an honest statement that we aren’t there yet. First we have to confess together that we will be guided by Holy Scripture and the Book of Concord.

After this, if there are those who don’t desire to have this dialogue, then they must be excluded. Meaning, they should be disciplined by our theological supervisors. If that is not happening, then we have to warn our flocks to stay away from churches within our own LCMS that are poisonous and heretical. Since I posted my first two articles and done some interviews, I have had some very fruitful conversations with some brothers. However, I have also had some pretty terrible talks with some brothers. To have this discussion there has to be a maturity level that I just don’t see in our beloved LCMS. We don’t have men like Luther and Chemnitz, but more like the bratty little girl from Willy Wonka who wants her golden egg now and if she doesn’t get it she is going to scream until she does. No matter the fraternal spirit or calm reasoning from the other side one group just won’t listen.  We have some of the most immature clergy on both sides and it is sickening. We must grow up and act like who we are, Stewards of the Mysteries of God.

Let’s act like we care about each other. Let’s look out for each other. Let’s talk and strive for unity in both doctrine and practice, not according to a compromise, but in accordance with Holy Scripture and the Confessions. Let’s study and grow together in faith and love towards one another.  If this doesn’t happen, then God help us come to repentance and receive holy absolution for our lack of compassion and love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

About Pastor Chris Hull

Chris Hull is the Senior Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tomball,Texas. He was married to Allison Desiree Monk on June 3rd, 2006. They have been blessed with four boys, Lochlann Richard Patrick, Eamonn Julius Luther, Tiernann Thomas Walther, and Jamesonn Frederick Flacius. Pastor Hull graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, Il in 2006. He received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2010. He is currently in the STM program at CTSFW.

Comments

Wiki III: Let’s Just Talk about this — 27 Comments

  1. Very good post Chris. You are doing some incredible work by seeking out genuine dialogue. I was privileged to see your approach in action in a real live laboratory a couple of weeks ago. It was impressive.

    I do however disagree with your proposed solution, at least I think it is your proposed solution. I do not think genuine dialogue is the answer. You have stated that some of us follow our ordination vows and some of us don’t. I agree that is the situation but I think the answer in that sort of deal is oversight and oversight with consequences.

    I realize you are proposing something different than the Koinonia project (although I do not see the difference) but dialogue is just not cutting it and it never will. Someone has to say when someone else is wrong and those people in the LCMS are Circuit Visitors, District Presidents and the Synodical President.

    We had a District President take oversight action with Matthew Becker and it ended properly. The false teacher stopped teaching in the orthodox synod.

    This is the only way this problem is going to be solved but hey, if your proposal has a chance to work it is in the hands of people like you but I am not sure there are enough of you to go around and I think your failures are going to far outnumber your successes over the years. The Truth does not work that way. I think we will have just as many successes, maybe even more, if the law is used to bring false practitioners to repent.

  2. Dear Pastor Hull,
    If a Church is not guided by Scripture and guided by the Confessions, why do you not call it heretical? it is a tough, lousy, stinking word; one we do not wield much. But if a person, a pastor, a Church strays; what other word is there?

  3. Dear Pastor Hull,
    Here is another problem, the ones of a different “nature” and outlook on Scripture ae probably the most dialog-ing people around. They will talk your ear off.

    It is the confessional and like minded, in practice (outside of blogs) good luck, talk is almost non-existent.

  4. You are right, Pastor Hull; I don’t think the question is one of sincere motivation. John Calvin had sincere motivation. So did Zwingli. So did Spener, Franke, Arendt, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, etc. That’s not the issue here. And it is not the final standard of justification on this matter.

    You say we need to talk. Talk how? And whose responsibility is it to talk? For example, if I recall correctly (and Todd Wilken will have to confirm this) Todd Wilken invited Bill Woolsey to come on Issues etc to talk and Woolsey dismissed him out of hand. Wilken initiated the outreach and Woolsey declined it. That wasn’t the “stodgy confessional” refusing to talk, that was the “hip” guy shunning dialogue.

    Furthermore, will the Wiki folks listen to Lutherans who have already been down the evangelical road that Wiki is flirting with and listen to us when we say to them that we’ve seen the end of this road and it ultimately ends up undermining Christ and Christianity? Will they listen when we ex-evangelicals point back to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions and proclaim that there is more soundness and security there than in any and every faddish “trend” that springs from the muddled well of evangelicalism? Will they listen when we tell them that everything they need is already expounded upon and taught in the Book of Concord (including the doctrine of vocation, which would do a great deal in dispelling the “missional” gobbledygook of modern evangelicalism)? Will they give an honest, Scripturally-accurate and doctrinally sound response when asked “Why are you throwing out centuries of historical church for something that will quite likely be another ‘here-today-gone-tomorrow’ trend in the manner that Baptists, Wesleyans, and Charismatics always do, chasing after the next best thing and drifting further and further from the sure foundation of God’s Word?”

    Dialogue sounds like a great idea, but far too often dialogue seems to be framed as “You conservatives sit down and shut up while we trendy new-thang Christians talk about how good and superior we are, and how bad you people are.” Far too often it’s a code word for compromise, and it seems that whenever confessionals and liberals/anti-confessionals come to the table to talk, it is only the confessionals who make concessions.

    And if I seem a little snarky or angry about it, it’s because I’ve come from out of movements that are the result of the same sort of thinking found in the Wiki conference, and I dread seeing Lutheranism fall prey to the same erosion and destruction.

  5. Dear BJS (and Pastor Hull),
    I understand your desire to be nice, but in reality, as you state, “The issue is that some are faithful to their Ordination Vows and others are not.”; these that fail their vows must be called to correction from their error. Dialog is not an option, albeit, as you call them to error, know the error, do the homework, and then back it up…be prepared to repercussions.
    Part of the problem, the ones that fall into a path of error, they are the nicest people and pastors much of the time.
    It really comes back, take dialog and nice out, “what does the Lord say”…what do we ascribe to in our ordination.

  6. I’m always torn on the matter of “dialogue” or “discussion” with these groups as it doesn’t usually accomplish anything good. Consider the LCA for example. They’re getting talked to death by heretical groups regarding the subject of Women’s Ordination. The problem with dialogue in this age is that nobody ever gets past that stage of the process. Dialogue is another way of establishing “gridlock” where nothing gets accomplished and heresy is able to continue unhindered in our midst. Talking is a nice substitute for action.

    Sure, we need to be talking to the people falling prey to false teachings. I’m all for engaging with those folks who support the weird doctrines of Woolsey and others. Engaging with the hope that perhaps they can be set free from the chains of false doctrine. Sure, we need to call out the leadership as well, let them know where and what the problems are. But, Woolsey will do what most heterodox individuals do when cornered – leave. And he’ll take his living sacraments with him. The question is, will anyone do the work of cornering him?

    The place where the real discussion needs to be taking place is at the District and Synodical level. Why are these groups being tolerated in Synod? If our leadership cannot recognize false doctrine and deal with it swiftly, that speaks more loudly about our leadership than the heretics operating in our midst. 5/2 is a problem in its own right. But it is a symptom of a much greater problem – the dysfunction of Synod as a whole to deal with rogue doctrines posing as a true confession and exposition of faith. Not to dig up the dead horse and beat it some more, but the whole situation with a certain individual who was openly teaching false doctrine in our Synod is a prime example. How long did this go on for before anything was done? How long will 5/2 be allowed to flourish? At the pace our Synod deals with these issues – if anyone ever directly deals with this, 5/2 should be around for another twenty years.

    That’s my little rant.

  7. 2 John 1:9-11 (J.B. Phillips New Testament):

    The man who is so “advanced” that he is not content with what Christ taught has in fact no God. The man who bases his life on Christ’s teaching, however, has both the Father and the Son as his God. If any teacher comes to you who is disloyal to what Christ taught, don’t have him inside your house. Don’t even wish him “God-speed”, unless you want to share in the evil that he is doing.

  8. I think the problem is more than imitating the theological patterns of the broader Christian culture. I’d like to propose, that, for whatever reason, the formation which the seminaries and Concordia Universities provide is either deficient or ignored/neglected by those attending those institutions, perhaps even both.

    Also, it is difficult to have genuine conversation and dialogue unless both parties are on the same plane. Their needs to be a mutual recognition of the authority and regulative power of the Scriptures and Confessions as the article notes. How can the layperson/fellow minister determine whether conversation or escalation to charges is to be had?

    Apologies for the length,
    Micah

  9. Mark 6:11
    “And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”

    Romans 16:17
    I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

    2 John 9-11 (Again)
    9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

    Someone should ask Bill Woolsey if he is concerned about the angst he has caused among the body of Christ known as confessional Lutherans. Wiki is doing something new, changing the order of the Church with no regard for the impact it has on its brothers and sisters in the LCMS and we are labeled as having a regressive attitude. Let the dialogue begin.

  10. I’ve had the opportunity to befriend many charismatic Christians throughout my life. They’re good people and I really love them, but I’ve found that we’re so different in our doctrine and practice that we’re simply better off keeping a distance when it comes to church fellowship.

    I’ve also come to the realization that the LCMS as a synod cannot really maintain church discipline or Christian doctrine and practice among all of it’s members. Perhaps that function is reserved for pastors among their flock. As a result I’ve become more selective in what areas of synod I support and where I worship and commune.

  11. @Pastor Tim Rossow #1

    Pastor Rossow, I am afraid you are right, but I think that the sole reason for this is congregational autonomy. The LCMS insists on an unbiblical commitment to and dogmatization of it, which I understand to be contrary to the confessions (the commitment level: congregational polity itself is not necessarily).

    The lack of church authority, oversight, and accountability is a recipe for disaster in the ecclesial free market. As long as our churches can hide under autonomy clauses, any such calls to repentance of deviant practices are heard merely as suggestions and opinions.

    Congregational autonomy is a wide open door for wholesale adoption and endorsement of the Evangelical circus. The state of our synod is nothing if not proof of this. Unless we recover a healthy understanding of the role of authority in the church, any synodical reform efforts will be viewed by dissenters as nothing more than bullying, not because it necessarily is, but because they are under the impression that the Synod is not allowed to tell them what to do, or at least not allowed to override their “pastoral discretion” so long as they aren’t preaching blatant Arianism or Zwinglian sacraments (why such prevalent enthusiasm and revivalism get a free pass is beyond me.)

    Autonomy is the antithesis of “walking together.” Both the confessional Presbyterians and Roman Catholics have a much stronger understanding and practice of church discipline and authority which grants them, though far short of perfect on top of their doctrinal errs, a considerably stronger degree of uniformity in doctrine and practice than we have. I do not think hierarchical governance is the solution, but if we do not check our blind allegiance to local independence and be wiling to adopt a more federal structure with checks and balances, the best efforts are reform will have all the success of a skillful cat herder.

  12. @Miguel #11: “I think that the sole reason for this is congregational autonomy. The LCMS insists on an unbiblical commitment to and dogmatization of it, which I understand to be contrary to the confessions (the commitment level: congregational polity itself is not necessarily).”

    Just where is this doctrine of “congregational autonomy” stated in the Missouri Synod, for which, you allege, the “LCMS insists on an unbiblical commitment to and dogmatization of it”?

    And what part of Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions do you understand is being violated?

  13. @Carl Vehse #12

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I am under the impression that the confessions espouse economic polity, i.e. whatever is most efficient for the promotion of the Gospel. Therefore no particular model (episcopal, presbyterian, congregational) is sacrosanct.

    However, congregational-ism is core to the DNA of the LCMS. I believe part of it comes from Walther’s Church and Ministry, but regardless of origin, synodical legislation is constantly quoted me by innovators who think they know better than tradition (who actually betray their ignorance of the importance, meaning, and value of these traditions).

    It is a violation of the confessional teaching, as I understand it, to express a formal commitment to one polity, as the one true Biblical approach. But you try to convince the LCMS that congregational autonomy has become a destructive force that functionally eliminates accountability. Watch how fast they default to “but the synod said I can do what I want.” Yeah, that’s the epitome of a mature theological argument there.

    It stands to reason that an unqualified commitment to congregationalism without the option of critical review is not a biblically defensible position, AND that it is completely obvious from casual observation that is a destructive force in the synod today.

    I think I understand how it became a part of the synod, and how it may have been a very valuable and efficient tool early in our development. I am convinced that it has run its course and needs to be reevaluated, but immunity from oversight has become a drug that the hyper-independent Western mentality has become too addicted to.

    I’m not proposing that a political solution is the silver bullet to our synodical woes. But there is a swinging pendulum, and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to ascertain that we are suffering far more from a lack of accountability than we are from an abuse of institutional power.

  14. @Miguel #13

    Miguel,

    While our Confessions are not dogmatic as to ecclesiastical polity, they do show preference for the canonical norms of the western catholic tradition in which they emerged. Tolerance of a radical congregationalism may be found as exceptional necessity in the Confessions (i.e., the bishops failing to do their duty, repressing the Gospel, persecuting faithful pastors, etc.,) but I do not find there any sense of preference for congregationalism as an enduring form. I suspect the Confessors could foresee much of what you identify as problematic, not only in the LCMS, but in other Lutheran synods which institutionalize radical congregationalism, and for the sake of freedom sacrifice their Confessional catholicity.

    I’m not sure precisely when the first radical congregational autonomy model arose in Lutheranism, but I suspect it is with the Pietists. That it found a place in resistance against state church movements toward false unity and apostate bishops, or on the American frontier, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good or bad… but like all theological exceptions, they make very unstable rules or norms.

  15. Ultimately, a well-versed laity are to judge whether a teaching is false (Acts 17:11). The problem is Biblical illiteracy. Keeping faithful to pure doctrine depends on a well catechized laity. That’s why the Synod is in the shape that it’s in. We have abdicated the task of judging doctrine and delegated it to Synod officials and we can see the results. The onus is on informed individuals diligent in the Word.

  16. @Miguel #13,

    You previously made two assertions:

    1. The LCMS insists on an unbiblical commitment to and dogmatization of it [congregational autonomy].
    2. [Congregational autonomy] I understand is contrary to the confessions (the commitment level: congregational polity itself is not necessarily).

    I asked where such a Missouri Synod doctrine is stated and to what part of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions are you claiming a violaton.

    However, your latest post simply repeats your unsubstantiated assertions, which you ratchet up with phrases like “economic polity,” “DNA,” “part of it comes from Walther’s Church and Ministry,” “epitome of a mature theological argument,” “hyper-independent Western mentality,” “silver bullet,” “swinging pendulum,” “and “brain surgeon.”

    Furthermore, you assert that “an unqualified commitment to congregationalism without the option of critical review… is a destructive force in the synod today.” with the only evidence being “it is completely obvous from casual observation.” No, there are numerous other alternatives for the problems within the Synod today, e.g., poor synodical leadership, the rise in district bureaucracies and power, the influence of liberal, non-Lutheran doctrine and practices, the failure by pastors and congregations to maintain strong congregational polities at the local and synod levels.

    Again, I am asking where in Scripture, the Confessions, and Missouri Synod documents or websites is there evidence supporting your assertions.

  17. Bogeyman words, e.g, “demogoguery,” “extreme congregationalism,” “radical congregationalism,” “amerikanische Poebelherrschaft,” seem to show up as labels in articles and blogs critical of the congregational polity in the Missouri Synod, especially its founding. This is despite the fact that Walther stated in his Introduction to Kirche und Amt:

    “We have not molded the doctrine of our Church according to our conditions, but we have molded these according to the doctrine of our Church. To him who doubts this we cheerfully say: ‘Come and see,’ and him who with astonishment finds principles and doctrines which he has hitherto shunned with horror as teachings of religious enthusiasts (Schwaermereien), presented by us as principles and doctrines of the Lutheran Church, we can cheerfully refer to the proofs we have adduced, permitting him the choice of either leaving us the reputation of Lutheran orthodoxy or denying this to a great cloud of faithful witnesses from Luther down to a Baier and a Hollaz.”

    Translation excerpted from Ebenezer (William Herman Theodore Dau, Concordia Publishing House, 1922, p. 155).

    Furthermore, the subtle (and not-so-subtle) denigration of Missouri Synod polity (often along with promoting Loehe’s episcopal doctrine of church and ministry) has even gotten to the point where a Lutheran pastor asserted on his blog:

    “Certainly Walther and the Saxons were scandalized by what had happened to Lutheranism in America and went so far as to refuse to borrow Lutheran church buildings for their services (choosing instead to use the Episcopal cathedral in St. Louis).”

    This claim is, of course, ridiculous. In fact it was a pastor of a German Protestant (Union) church in St. Louis, who threatened to resign immediately if his congregation allowed the Missouri Saxons to use their faciliites. The evidence can be found in the books of Gotthold Günther, The Destinies and Adventures of the Stephanists who emigrated from Saxony to America (Dresden, 1839, pp. 49-50), Carl S. Mundinger, Government in the Missouri Synod (CPH, 1947, pp.86, 149-154), and Walter O. Forster, Zion on the Mississippi (CPH, 1953, pp. 320-323, 345 435, 460-461, 504).

  18. Dear BJS,
    I see the thread going down a polity twist…we are congregational, episcopal, in the middle, etc….in practice, we do all, “when convenient”.

    That is a problem. When threatened, a Pastor and Church becomes congregational, “don’t tell me so and so”. When Rev. Becker problems hit, we pulled into a top down (well, we tried model), When a pastor has a problem, the DP can exert his weight.

    But we seem to do it as a defense mechanism. And “it works”.

  19. @Carl Vehse #16

    Again, I am asking where in Scripture, the Confessions, and Missouri Synod documents or websites is there evidence supporting your assertions.

    Aw, Rick! You know that a lot of Synodical ‘resolutions’ or decisions end with the weasel words, “encumbent upon the congregation UNLESS it is inexpedient for them” (or equivalent language; I am not looking at a particular document.
    [The only exceptions were GK’s CCM decrees; they really were ex cathedra. Pastors were not even to speak a word in dissent.]

    With “expediency” as an excuse, the enthusiasts have gotten away with murder (yes, I meant it)…open communion first, lay ministers and women in the chancel… now “5/2” and other non Lutheran heresy.
    Rabid congregationalism is not in Scripture or the Confessions…when the Confessions talk about ordaining our own Pastors, they mean that other Lutheran Pastors will do it instead of a bishop; they really don’t mean laity.
    (Your hypothetical “alone in a boat and about to die” is hypothetical!)

    Sheep without a shepherd are in danger, in every Scripture referring to them, [and in real life]. Where have you seen sheep electing one of their own to be “shepherd”?

  20. @Pastor Prentice #18

    But we seem to do it as a defense mechanism. And “it works”.

    It does not “work” for the edification of the congregation or the building up of the Church of God. It most certainly does not “work” for theological or doctrinal unity in Synod!

  21. @helen #20
    Dear, dear Helen,
    You are SO RIGHT……………..but pastors do it. Here is the tough part, if you call us on that, well, you are just a bunch of rabble rousing pew sitters trying to cause trouble.

    No one said it is easy being the shepherd of a bunch of sinners, and the shepherd is one too.

  22. One should not equate polity with politicking.

    In his “Walther and Church Polity” (Concordia Theological Monthly, 32:10, 1961, pp.632-641), August Suelflow discusses a number of translated documents from Walther * and the early Missouri Synod. Suelflow concludes:

    “Congregational autonomy was therefore protected against synodical dictation. By joining the Synod the congregation, however, entered into a compact or solemn agreement to co-operate in the objectives set forth in the constitution. The responsibility and supervision in achieving these purposes were committed to conventions, boards, commissions, and executives. Thus autonomy was not to be interpreted as “nonco-operation,” nor was it to be lost in the co-operative efforts of the Synod.”

    *E.g., C.F.W. Walther, Grundlegende Siitze uber die Kirchenordnungs- und Kirchenregimentsfrage nebst einigen Zeugnissen alt-Iutherischer Theologen zu denselben (Leipzig und Dresden: Justus Naumann Buchhandlung, 1864). English translation in Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, XXXIV (July 1961), 33, 34.

  23. @helen #19: With “expediency” as an excuse, the enthusiasts have gotten away with murder (yes, I meant it)…open communion first, lay ministers and women in the chancel… now “5/2” and other non Lutheran heresy.

    These Lufauxran heretics got, and get, away with it, not because of the Synod’s polity, but because the DPs refuse(d) to do the duty they promised to do in their oath of office. And the SP has refused to do his duty promised in his oath of office by not suspending errant DPs.

    And if any Missouri Synod Lutheran congregation(s) submit(s) to the Synod convention an overture calling the administration to task, or requiring specific action be taken in support of the Synod’s doctrinal position, the overture gets derailed off the tracks by some corrupt floor committee.

  24. @Pastor Prentice #21

    you are just a bunch of rabble rousing pew sitters trying to cause trouble.

    🙂 Usually I am just one “rabble rousing pew sitter” asking “Why don’t we follow the Book [behave as Lutherans] on this?”

  25. Miguel,

    The only thing that matters in the Church is the Gospel and that it be kept pure. In that sense you are correct, autonomy is bad. The truth is though, that there is no autonomy on that in the LCMS and there never has been.

    Rick (“Carl Vehse”) is right in asking you to prove your point from the Confessions or the LCMS by-laws. It is just not there.

    Congregations do owe the synod allegience in lesser things like following the call process, and what not. Congregations are autonomous in some other lesser things and they are things that we want autonomy in such as property ownership and the ability of the synod to tax congregations.

    Getting back to the important thing, the Gospel, we are not autonomous from the synod and its commitment to it. We have several by-laws which hold congregations accountable to keeping the Gospel pure. That is a good thing. We just don’t have leaders who are able and willing to hold congregations accountable. That is why I say the ultimate problem is not autonomy but the lack of conviction in our leaders. We need more of that. President Forke from the Montana District showed it but not many others are.

  26. @helen #24
    Dear Helen,
    And in love (as I know you do), keep asking and testing. A loving pastor will take it all in.

    Albeit, do know this, even us pastors are human and stress does get to us, “if” we ever seem to snap a bit, give us the benefit and ask again.

  27. Actions Speak Louder than Words
    James 2:14-26

    The exact language about the LCMS’s affinity with church autonomy is likely not in a By-Law or confessional document but the overall “immunity from oversight” is evidenced throughout the LCMS : A quick search of the web unearthed this helpful list: http://www.lutherquest.org/walther/sub/union-sync.htm

    Our Synod demands that churches seeking altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS should jump through all manner of hoops to get the St. Louis nod. What must those seeking fellowship think when they see the LCMS splashing its money around with heterodox groups, some of which literally hate the Gospel?

    Source: //steadfastlutherans.org/2015/03/what-does-the-lcms-reap-by-sowing-confusion-among-its-members/

    “It is, in truth, no easy matter to be separate from so many people and to teach a different doctrine, BUT THERE IS GOD’S COMMAND, instructing everyone to beware of joining hands with those who teach error.”

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