Pick Your President, LCMS Style, Part 2

LCMS_corporate_sealContinuing from our last post, these questions are a compilation of the most frequently asked questions addressed to the LCMS Presidential candidates on the Synod’s Facebook page. The purpose of these posts is to build awareness of the candidates, stimulate thought, and generate a helpful discussion. You’re encouraged to comment.

 

Question Four:

Please describe for us your daily devotional habit.

Harrison:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Believe me, the LCMS brings one to his knees! Jesus prayed (Matt. 26:36). He invites us to pray (Matt. 11:28). Years ago I built a kneeler. Every morning it “grabs” me first thing. For years I have prayed the Psalms daily. I have also kept lists of those for whom I pray. In do­ing this, I’m constantly reminded of all the answers God has provided. After prayers I try to read one page of the Hebrew Old Testament and a chapter of my Greek New Testament. Words fail to express how these have kept me sane and joyous in Christ.

Maier:

Each day begins and ends with the common confession of sin, “I, a poor miserable sinner … ” and ends rejoicing in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for the world, which assures me of my forgiveness. Daily Scripture readings are enhanced with the Treasury of Daily Prayer (CPH). I strive to include prayer in my daily decisions and conversations and also pray/praise during frequent travel by listening to Christian books, the Scriptures, speakers and sacred classical music as well as Christian contemporary music. I am also blessed by the spiritual insights of, and prayer with, my wife.

Meyer:

I normally awake about 4:30 and with a cup of coffee and in solitude have my quiet time before God. Over the decades I’ve used various devotional resources along with the Bible. Space here is limited, but the introduction to my daily devotional, Timely Reflections, Pages 17–23, presents a much deeper understanding of my spiritual being.

Scott’s comment: Telling us to go read his book isn’t particularly helpful.

 

Question Five:

Currently we have about 375 ordained men who are, for various reasons, on candidate or non-candidate status. What specific things do you believe the Synod should do both to guide and assist these men, recognizing that every case has its unique elements?

Harrison:

“Forgive” (Matt. 6:14f.). “Love one another” (John 15:12). Each case is unique. Pastors, congregations and district presidents have failed in various situations. We started “Soldiers of the Cross” under my leadership at LCMS World Relief. We’ve given a million dollars in three years, largely to pastors without calls. We are conversing with pastors to find additional solutions. Seminaries are working to ensure pastors are prepared. Congregations need the same attention. I support part-time (or non-paid calls in some cases) to move pastors back into pastoral work. It is vital that we reach out to such clergy and their families, lest they be alienated from the Church (Phil. 2:4; Eph. 4:32).

Scott’s comment: Harrison is the only candidate who mentions that congregations also need attention. It’s not just a pastor problem. Many times we laymen are at fault as well. I hope there’s also a behind-the-scenes effort to work with ecclesiastical supervisors who may also be part of the problem.

Maier:

I couldn’t agree more with the last phrase of the question, “that every case has its unique elements.” Therefore, it behooves each district president — uniquely blessed, God-fearing, wise men — to continue to pray for and know each of these ordained men and their particular situations in order to serve and assist them. Then, where and when possible, they can include them on appropriate call lists within their districts or recommend them for a call or placement elsewhere. The Michigan District’s Sowers Fund and the Synod’s Soldiers of the Cross ministry continue to be invaluable assets in helping these men.

Meyer:

One objective of our Synod is to “provide protection for congregations, pastors, teachers, and other church workers in the performance of their official duties and maintenance of their rights.” It’s sad when an ordained man is not happily serving in a congregation that returns love for him and respect for the office, but for various reasons it happens. I will work with the respective district president and the Coun­cil of Presidents to improve this situation, as we seek to use all the gifts God gave in men who speak the Word about Christ (Eph. 4:8).

Scott’s comment: On my first read of his comment, I thought he was saying it’s the pastors “fault;” I don’t think that’s what he’s saying, but the wording in his second sentence is somewhat ambiguous.

 

Question Six:

As a Synod we struggle at times to walk together in the unity of our confession, even as every individual sinner/saint struggles to walk with the Lord in faith. In light of this, what specific things could be done to build on and more clearly express our baptismal unity in Christ and foster a climate of mutual encouragement among laypeople, pastors and district/Synod leaders?

Harrison:

“Do not grow weary!” (Heb. 12:3). The Synod has been calm the past six years, despite challenging issues, and not by acci­dent. I believed we were drifting doctrin­ally and have done what I can to keep us on the path of biblical and Lutheran ortho­doxy. The long-standing teachings of the Missouri Synod are correct; I was elected to uphold them and have done my best to do so. The LCMS is most at peace when manifesting its biblical and confessional teaching and engaging the world. There is more theological dialogue going on among us today than in decades, also in the COP. The Koinonia Project is slowly bearing fruit (Heb. 12:1ff.).

Scott’s comment: The Koinonia Project may be bearing fruit, but the fruit gets to the supermarket shelves most laymen won’t know a thing about it, and they certainly won’t be slicing it up to put on their pancakes every morning.

Maier:

This is the result of Satan trying to divide and conquer. We need to repent at the foot of the cross and acknowledge that spiritual warfare requires (1) spiritual weapons — the Word, prayer and the rest of the Christian panoply (Ephesians 6), and (2) a singular goal to focus the “troops”: “What an influence it will be on our dear congregations and their pastors and on their relationship toward one another if all acknowledge the saving of souls as the end and aim of our joint work!” — C.F.W. Walther, the Synodical Conference (translator, Rev. Terry Cripe, Ohio District President).

Meyer:

The Corinthian congregation had far greater disunity than today’s LCMS. St. Paul (1) taught them, (2) acknowledged that some of the Corinthians were “strong” in their theological knowledge and others “weak,” but said, (3) “I will show you a still more excellent way”(1 Cor. 12:31). That’s the way of love, especially for those with whom we disagree. Our disunity is guaranteed to continue unless Jesus is the sole and explicit reason for our life together. “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ” (11:1). The Body of Christ will be my constant theme.

Scott’s comment: The Beatle’s song “All You Need is Love” comes to mind.

 

Your comments below are solicited!

Editor’s Note: The LCMS Presidential Election is set for June 11-14, 2016 through an online voting system. If you were a delegate to your district convention you should have already received a notice from LCMS Secretary Hartwig about that. If you would like to know more, click here.

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.


Comments

Pick Your President, LCMS Style, Part 2 — 39 Comments

  1. Rev. Dr. Harrison stated:

    The Koinonia Project is slowly bearing fruit.

    Without specifics, Rev. Dr. Harrison’s comment is nothing more than political doublespeak. I’d like to know if there are any real examples where the KP has led a pastor and/or congregation to repent of false teaching and heterodox practice. Such an outcome would indeed be an example of fruitful progress. On the other hand, attending a retreat once in a blue moon to discuss and debate matters does little more than offer relevance and a voice for heterodoxy.

  2. Regarding Question 6:

    In his February, 2006 (Revised Feb. 2010) article, “A Final Word on a Matter of Syncretism: Seeing the Big Picture and Calling a Spade a Spade,” under the section, “Levels of Fellowship”: A Heresy Coming Back at Us in Ever Bolder Fashion, Rev. Thomas Olson notes:

    In 1992 something happened that is nearly unheard of in the Missouri Synod: then President Dr. Ralph Bohlmann failed to be re-elected as president of the Synod. Pastor Al Barry was elected in his place. Many may not realize it today, but this election more than anything else was a hair-thin rejection of the newly proposed notion of “Levels of Fellowship.”

    Sadly, the “Levels of Fellowship” notion is back (if indeed it ever left completely).

    It is seen in Overture 5-01 To Endorse Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with the Lutheran Church in Norway (2016 Convention Workbook, p. 341). The Scandinavian practice of a partial quia (aka quatenus) subscription to a “Level of [A&P] Fellowship” has been accepted by the SP and the CTCR as equivalent to a full quia subscription to the Book of Concord of 1580, which is required for all rostered members of the Missouri Synod and for all communicant members of Missouri Synod congregations. The LCN confessional subscription is not Lutheran!

    The “Level of Fellowship” agreement with the Lutheran Church in Norway is contrary to A Theological Statement for Mission in the 21st Century, also to be presented to the 2016 Convention delegates for approval: A Theological Statement, Section 11, On being Lutheran today for the sake of Witness, Mercy, Life Together, states:

    “Lutheran mission is defined by an unqualified (quia) subscription to The Book of Concord as the correct exposition of the Holy Scriptures.” [Emphasis added]

    The Missouri Synod’s “Level of Fellowship” practice is also demonstrated with the pastrix-ordaining EECMY in having an ordained LCMS-rostered member serving for the past seven years, and continuing to serve, as the elected EECMY General Secretary, promoting the ordination of women. This makes the ongoing formal fellowship talks pro forma.

  3. I pray there is more going on behind the scenery than in front of it. We did eventually find out it took two years to remove Becker. Perhaps there is hope for other removals.

    Maier, who has invited the scorpions of “5/2” into his District and embraced them, preaches “repentance”. Better that man should stay in Michigan and clean his own house!

    “All you need is love”… and contempo worship at the seminary, it seems.

  4. Our constitution, Article X(B)(1)(d) gives the SP ecclesiastical supervision of DPs. The Synod’s constitution also recognizes that local supervision, through the DPs, is the best and most biblical way in which to exercise ecclesiastical supervision at the local level(Article XII(7). Why did Pres Harrison not use his authority to deal with the concerns for over 2 years? Why did he not exercise ecclesiastical supervision over the DP?

    Do we really want a Lutheran pope? What happens when someone else holds that office?

  5. @J. Dean #6
    Dear J.,
    I want to agree, but cannot. proper doctrine is good, right, proper, salutary, etc. But practice comes from within, the person applying (or not) applying the doctrine.

    Perhaps the devil gets in the way, internal demons, whatever…but proper practice comes from proper oversight and correction of error.

  6. @Carl Vehse #2
    “The Scandinavian practice of a partial quia (aka quatenus) subscription to a “Level of [A&P] Fellowship” has been accepted by the SP and the CTCR as equivalent to a full quia subscription to the Book of Concord of 1580, which is required for all rostered members of the Missouri Synod and for all communicant members of Missouri Synod congregations. The LCN confessional subscription is not Lutheran!”

    I would like to see some of your documentation on this. Not because I do not believe you, but because I would like to be enlightened.

    I have heard similar rumours about the LCN in Scandinavian circles, but I myself have not been able to find specific documentation for anything (not that I have searched that diligently, but I have looked).

    So I should be very interested to learn at least a bit of what you know about the LCN.

  7. The Lutheran Church in Norway website, and its English translation, substantiate the statement in Overture 5-01 (2016 Convention Workbook, p. 341):

    “As has been the practice among Scandinavian Lutherans, it subscribes to the three ecumenical creeds, the Small Catechism, and the Augsburg Confession, with the Book of Concord as authoritative for interpreting these documents.”

  8. @Carl Vehse #9

    Well, as far as that goes, there is nothing new under the sun. This only means that the Lutheran Church of Norway in its statement of beliefs only refer to the same confessional documents as the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Denmark – a faithful and unreservedly Confessional Lutheran church body with which the LCMS established church fellowship already in Walther’s days, that is: in 1882.

    And this phrasing does it is not at all in itself indicate a “quatenus” subscription – rather, depending on the actual practise of the LCN, it might just as well be an unreserved “quia” subscription to the Lutheran Confession, although, for historical reasons, only explicitly referencing a smaller selection of the documents found in the Book of Concord – as is the case with regards to the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Denmark …

  9. Dear BJS bloggers,
    Don’t confuse the small LCN with the state church of Norway. The
    latter is as liberal as they get; the former is a new church and is very conservative and confessional. The analogy with the small Danish free Lutheran church is correct.
    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  10. @Jais H. Tinglund #10: And this phrasing does it is not at all in itself indicate a “quatenus” subscription – rather, depending on the actual practise of the LCN, it might just as well be an unreserved “quia” subscription to the Lutheran Confession

    “Woulda, coulda, shoulda…” doesn’t count.

    The Lutheran Church in Norway does NOT have an unqualified subscription to the Book of Concord of 1580. It only has an unqualified subscription to the creeds, the AC and SC; the other Symbols are conditional, as acknowledged even by Overture 5-01 That does not meet the requirements specified by the Missouri Synod for A&P fellowship, including A Theological Statement for Mission in the 21st Century, to be presented to the 2016 Convention delegates for approval.

    Also, in his “Why Should Our Pastors, Teachers, and Professors Subscribe Unconditionally to the Symbolical Writings of Our Church” (Concordia Theological Monthly, 18:4, 1947, p. 241-53), C.F.W. Walther writes:

    “By demanding only a conditional subscription to its Symbols the Church forfeits its distinctively Lutheran characteristics” [p. 245]

    Finally, the Formula of Concord designates all the previous Lutheran Confessions as “a unanimously accepted, definite, common form of doctrine, which all our evangelical churches together and in common confess, from and according to which, because [not in so far] it has been derived from God’s Word, all other writings should be judged and adjusted as to how far they are to be approved and accepted.” (SD, RN, 10) [p. 249]

  11. As noted earlier, Den Lutherske Kirke i Norge (The Lutheran Church in Norway) consists of Messiaskirken (Christ Church) in Oslo, with a few satellite churches in other cities.

    Satellite churches with no pastor are led by laypersons with the sermons from the pastor at Christ Church transmitted by internet.

  12. @Scott Diekmann #14: “The Lutheran Church of Norway holds to a quia confession.”

    Yes, but to what? The LCN website and the 2016 Convention Workbook both say the LCN quia confession is to only the Creeds, the AC and SC.

    BTW, if you hear from Dr. Collver again ask him about these conflicting statements:

    According to the LCMS webpage, Den Lutherske Kirke i Norge (The Lutheran Church in Norway), the LCN consists of four churches and four pastors.

    According to the International Lutheran Council (the Executive Secretary is Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, who is also LCMS Director of Church Relations-Assistant to the President), “The Lutheran Church in Norway’s origin dates to the 2005 founding of The Church of the Messiah.” The ILC also notes that the church body consists of one church, 8 parishes, three pastors (plus one retired pastor), fifty baptized members, and headed by Acting Bishop Torkild Masvie. [Emphasis added]

    According to the 2016 Convention Workbook (p. 71), “The Lutheran Church in Norway (LCN), a small, confessional church which has had a close relationship with the LCMS for several decades.” [Emphasis added]

    According to The Lutheran Church of Norway Facebook page Torkild Masvie is listed as “Provisional Bishop” installed on January 16, 2016.

  13. Two observations:

    First, regarding the last line of Dr. Meyer’s response to Question #5; Is there a significant, efficacious theological distinction between speaking “the Word ABOUT Christ” and speaking “the Word OF Christ”?

    Second, though I understand the point Herr Vehse is raising, to properly correct the discrepancy we have with the historic Scandihoovian Lutheran church, we are going to have to return to before the 1580 Book of Concord and get the Norsk embroiled in the German theological controversies of that time. If my history is correct, the Scandinavians embraced Luther’s reformation very early on–as in, just after the AC and the Small Catechism, and before most of the rest of the BoC was even written, much less canonized–and they embraced it as a church as a whole, so they were not engulfed in the controversies in which the rest of the confessional documents were forged and from which “The Lutheran Confessions” were birthed.

    My understanding is not that they rejected the Book of Concord, but rather that they simply were already comfortably settled into their Lutheran identity and doctrine before it came about. (Maybe that comes from being laid-back ex-vikings rather than cantankerous Germans (guilty!).)

    Thus, their subscription to only the Creeds, the AC and the Small Catechism is–or at least was at the time–rather a circumstance of history than a theological stand.

    For what it’s worth, and awaiting correction.

    soli Deo gloria,
    Grendelssohn

  14. Thanks for your comment Grendelssohn. Another minor detail: The Book of Concord hasn’t been completely translated into Norwegian. It’s difficult to subscribe to something that you cannot read.

  15. @Scott Diekmann #17: “It’s difficult to subscribe to something that you cannot read.”

    When responding to the questions, variously worded, whether one holds the canonical books of Holy Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God, and whether one confesses the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from Holy Scripture, whether or not the various BoC Symbols containing such doctrine are individually named, to be a faithful and true exposition, is it required that when making such a valid unconditional confessional subscription a Lutheran confirmand or Lutheran pastor has read all of the BoC, in the original German, and not some English or other language translation? And is it required that an individual communicant member of a quia-confessional Lutheran congregation has compared the doctrine contained in the German Book of Concord with all of the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Old and New Testaments before affirming such an unconditional subscription? Does each communicant member of a quia-confessing congregation need to provide an affirmation that they have read and compared all of these documents before they dare to publicly subscribe without reservation to the BoC and have their subscription acknowledged as valid and become communicant members, who hold the same quia confession in Article II as the Synod’s individual and congregational members?

    From the Book of Concord website:

    “Being a Lutheran is being a person who believes the truths of God’s Word, the Holy Bible, as they are correctly explained and taught in the Book of Concord.”

    Any lesser belief is just Lufauxran.

  16. @Carl Vehse #18

    Question 1: When responding to the questions, variously worded, whether one holds the canonical books of Holy Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God, and whether one confesses the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from Holy Scripture, whether or not the various BoC Symbols containing such doctrine are individually named, to be a faithful and true exposition, is it required that when making such a valid unconditional confessional subscription a Lutheran confirmand or Lutheran pastor has read all of the BoC, in the original German, and not some English or other language translation?

    Answer 1: In reference to pastors, in the LCMS, as far as I know, the answer is no. In reference to confirmands, I’m unaware of any congregation in the LCMS where confirmands are required to make a valid unconditional subscription to the BOC. To my knowledge, confirmands accept the OT, NT, and the Small Catechism. If there is such a congregation(s), that would seem like a rather absurd requirement.

    Question 2: And is it required that an individual communicant member of a quia-confessional Lutheran congregation has compared the doctrine contained in the German Book of Concord with all of the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Old and New Testaments before affirming such an unconditional subscription?

    Answer 2: Not that I’m aware of.

    Question 3: Does each communicant member of a quia-confessing congregation need to provide an affirmation that they have read and compared all of these documents before they dare to publicly subscribe without reservation to the BoC and have their subscription acknowledged as valid and become communicant members, who hold the same quia confession in Article II as the Synod’s individual and congregational members?

    Answer 3: As noted in answer 1, I don’t know that congregations have their congregants subscribe to the BOC, but if there is such a congregation, if I understand your question correctly, I would think the answer would be no.

    Now Carl, I assume that the purpose of your questions is to somehow uphold your original thesis which I think is this:

    It is seen in Overture 5-01 To Endorse Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with the Lutheran Church in Norway (2016 Convention Workbook, p. 341). The Scandinavian practice of a partial quia (aka quatenus) subscription to a “Level of [A&P] Fellowship” has been accepted by the SP and the CTCR as equivalent to a full quia subscription to the Book of Concord of 1580, which is required for all rostered members of the Missouri Synod and for all communicant members of Missouri Synod congregations. The LCN confessional subscription is not Lutheran!

    Assuming that is indeed your thesis, with respect, your thesis is incorrect for a couple of reasons. First, there is no level of fellowship other than “on” or “off.” Dr. Collver pointed out to me that you’re either in fellowship or you’re not in fellowship. The current administrative iteration of the LCMS doesn’t buy into the levels of fellowship bologna. The levels of fellowship quagmire is certainly worthy of a detailed post all on its own. Maybe I’ll actually get to that some day. Second, a minor point that I already pointed out, I know of no congregations that hold congregants to a subscription to anything other than Scripture and the SC. You must know of some which is fine, but I think its the exception. Third, while our pastors are held to a quia subscription to the BOC, that is not necessarily the case with other church bodies with which we are in fellowship. What we look for in other church bodies is agreement in all articles of faith as delineated in the BOC. That is the situation with the LCN. Our people met with their people. They went through the BOC to determine that the LCN does indeed hold the same doctrine to which we hold, which, according to our people, they do. This is not some new “level of fellowship” hocus pocus. This is the way the LCMS has handled altar and pulpit fellowship in the past as well. You saw up above some of the historic reasons why the Scandinavians haven’t subscribed to the BOC. I’d certainly like to see them officially subscribe, but am satisfied that they hold to the same doctrine. As you point out Carl, “Being a Lutheran is being a person who believes the truths of God’s Word, the Holy Bible, as they are correctly explained and taught in the Book of Concord.” That describes LCN, even though their wording does not match our own. Their practices are not identical to ours, but their doctrine is. I’ve know Dr. Collver for a lot of years. We’ve had some good conversations as well as some friendly disagreements about various things, but we’ve never differed about doctrine. I, like you Carl, am suspicious of what goes on behind the curtain, especially given the sometimes differing opinions and practices that come from various official committees and commissions, etc. Unfortunately, we can’t all sit there and supervise the proceedings. At some point we have to allow our elected officials to do their jobs. If we find out down the road they were mistaken, we’ll know whom to vote out at the next convention!

  17. @Scott Diekmann #17
    A minor detail indeed; so minor that it is not true.
    Lunde Forlag published “Konkordieboken” in the year 2000.
    Prior to that, Caspari and Johnson published their translation in 1862.

    Furthermore, a person who has earned a Norwegian Theological education can reasonable be expected to be capable of reading the Book of Concord in both German and Latin.

  18. @Grendelssohn #16
    The church in Denmark and Norway did, in fact, reject the Book of Concord as such, with exception of the documents she had already embraced at the time of its completion. Or rather, Frederik II, King of Denmark and Norway did, in his capacity of head of the national church.

    Shortly before his sister, married to a German prince, sent him the first copy of the Book of Concord known to have been brought to Denmark, the king had been forced to removed the much beloved professor Niels Hemmingsen after he had been found to follow Melanchton rather than Lutheran in the question of the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament, which was a traumatic experience. Presented with a copy of the Book of Concord, the king feared that further doctrinal issues would be taken up in the churches of the Dual Kingdom, and further painful conflict arise. So he cut out the pages of the book one by one with a knife and threw them in the fire – and prohibited that the Book of Concord be introduced in Denmark and Norway.

    To my knowledge, however, there is nothing to suggest that the Lutheran Theologians in Denmark and Norway during the age of Orthodoxy rejected or failed to embrace any of the teachings of the Book of Concord.

    Just as the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Denmark does not in any way reject any of the teachings found in the Book of Concord – even though the Ancient Creeds, the Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession are the only confessional documents she explicitly cites in her Constitution.

    I have, however, heard rather persistent rumours that questionable teachings and practices – open Communion being one – are being espoused by the Lutheran Church of Norway .

    I was hoping to be enlightened beyond the level of having heard rumours, which is why I directed my question to “Carl Vehse”, who has an incredible talent for finding the documentation for which nobody else even thought to look …

  19. To me it seems problematic to request a quia subscription to the BoC as the LCMS doesn’t uphold that standard herself. (The LCMS tolerates different teachings, contrary to the BoC, http://bookofconcord.org/sd-election.php#para95 et al.) Of course I advocate confessional unity.
    The mere undersigning of a certain confession is of very little value if not preached and practiced. It often isn’t good at all, it is deceptive, it gives a semblance of something which isn’t there.

  20. There seems to be a need to remind readers what Rev. Noland stated above. There is more than one church body in Norway claiming to be “Lutheran.”

    There is Den Lutherske Kirke i Norge (The Lutheran Church in Norway), which Pres. Harrison declared to be in A&P fellowship with the LCMS, even though both the LCMS and LCN admit the LCN public confessional subscription is not to the entire Book of Concord of 1580.

    There is Den Evangelisk Lutherske Frikirke (Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Norway), which also subscribes only to the Creeds, AC, and SC. The ELFCN was founded in 1877 and has 81 congregations, 21,817 baptized members, and is a member of the Lufauxran World Federation.

    Then there is Den Norske Kirke (The State Church of Norway), which is not Lutheran, and may even be apostate.

  21. @Scott Diekmann #19

    Scott Diekmann #17: “It’s difficult to subscribe to something that you cannot read.”

    Scott, your answers to some of my questions regarding your comment substantiate the fact that there are Lutherans who do unconditionally subscribe to the Book of Concord, even though they have not read the actual German Book of Concord of 1580, or the Hebrew and Greek texts of Holy Scripture exposited by the BoC.

    In subsequent posts I’ll comment on your concerns about those questions dealing with confirmand and communicant members of a Missouri Synod congregation, so that you will be able to answer those questions in the same way you answered the questions dealing with ordained pastors.

    I’ll also address the issue of the LCMS A&P fellowship policy (compared to its erroneous practice with the Den Lutherske Kirke i Norge).

  22. @Scott Diekmann #19: “First, there is no level of fellowship other than “on” or “off.” Dr. Collver pointed out to me that you’re either in fellowship or you’re not in fellowship.”

    Dr. Collver’s (correct) claim that levels of fellowship are baloney from a Lutheran viewpoint becomes hypocritical when levels of fellowship are practiced with other heterodox church bodies (e.g., EECMY, LCN).

    “Our people met with their people. They went through the BOC to determine that the LCN does indeed hold the same doctrine to which we hold, which, according to our people, they do. This is not some new “level of fellowship” hocus pocus.”

    To the contrary, Scott, this is exactly a “level of fellowship” hocus pocus. The LCN simply does not hold the same doctrinal subscription. It’s so stated in the LCN website. It’s admitted in Overture 5–01. President Harrison declared fellowship on November 7, 2014. If the LCN actually had changed to unconditionally subscribe to the entire Book of Concord of 1580, it has had more than enough time to change the LCN website’s public confession of faith, and the LCMS would not need to admit in Overture 5-01 that the LCN really doesn’t have the same confessional subscription.

    What is embarrassing to the Synod about Dr. Collver’s claim for the LCN is that it is the LCN itself which should be making its own public quia confession to the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in the BoC. For Missouri Synod Lutherans to accept Dr. Collver’s word alone about the LCN’s subscription, rather than what the LCN has publicly stated, is like a pastor having his former professor or a friend or his parents give his ordination vows instead of publicly doing it himself.

    Again, LCN has indeed made its public confession on its website, and the LCMS Overture 5-01 publicly agrees with it. These public statements are in conflict with the secondhand statements from Dr. Collver.

  23. @Scott Diekmann #19: “Second, a minor point that I already pointed out, I know of no congregations that hold congregants to a subscription to anything other than Scripture and the SC.”

    It is a standard that is supposed to be in every Missouri Synod congregation’s constitution. According to the Guidelines for the Constitution and Bylaws of a Lutheran Congregation a Missouri Synod congregation’s constitution (which needs to be approved by the Synod) is to contain the following or equivalent wording:

    Confessional Standard: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod requires that its member congregations accept the confessional standard of the Synod. It is recommended that Article II of the Synod’s Constitution be adapted for inclusion in congregations’ constitutions. A congregation’s confessional standard cannot go beyond that of the Synod.

    Membership: Communicant members are those baptized members who have been instructed and are familiar with the contents of Luther’s Small Catechism, have been confirmed in the Lutheran faith, and accept the confessional standard of Section [Confessional Standard] of this Constitution.

  24. @Scott Diekmann #19: “I’m unaware of any congregation in the LCMS where confirmands are required to make a valid unconditional subscription to the BOC.”

    To the question, “Do you hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God and confess the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from them, as you have learned to know it from the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true?” those confirmands in a Missouri Synod congregation who answer, “I do,” are making an unconditional subscription to the BoC, which contains the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church drawn from Holy Scripture. (It is not just the SC to which they are subscribing.)

    A confirmand, in becoming a communicant member of a Missouri Synod congregation, is also asked, “Do you desire to be a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and of this congregation?” As explained previously, a LCMS congregation constitution requires communicant members to hold the congregation’s confessional standard as a member of the Missouri Synod.

  25. @Scott Diekmann #19: “Third, while our pastors are held to a quia subscription to the BOC, that is not necessarily the case with other church bodies with which we are in fellowship.”

    To the contrary, this IS the case (of the standard, if not practice) for the Missouri Synod. This is why the declaration of A&P fellowship with a Lufauxran church body is so odious.

    Excerpted from LCMS document The Lutheran Understanding of Church Fellowship (CTCR 2000):

    “[T]he limits or boundaries of the external fellowship are creeds and confessions. Churches in altar and pulpit fellowship share the same confession, including the rejection of errors that contradict this confession. Where churches cannot agree on a common confession, the basis for church fellowship does not exist.” (p. 5)

    “The Book of Concord is the ‘single, universally accepted, certain, and common form of doctrine which all our Evangelical churches subscribe and from which and according to which, because it is drawn from the Word of God, all other writings are to be approved and accepted, judged and regulated’ (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 10). Its confessions comprise the Lutheran church’s solemn and official confession of the Gospel and sacraments and provide the basis and limits of church fellowship. Professing allegiance to the Lutheran Confessions while practicing altar and pulpit fellowship with those who oppose their doctrine is a denial of them.” (p. 12)

    The writings in the Book of Concord under the norm of Holy Scripture
    comprise the Lutheran church’s solemn and official confession of the
    pure Gospel and Christ’s sacraments and provide the basis for and limits
    of fellowship among Lutheran churches
    … Sufficient was agreement in the Gospel, which they understood to be all of Christian doctrine derived from the Scriptures. That is to say, the Gospel was more than a minimal confession that Jesus died and rose for all, but it comprised the entire Christian faith (FC SD, X, 31).” (p. 31)

    Excerpted from the Policy for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Declaring Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with Another Church Body (Commission on Theology and Church Relations, adopted as revised May 16, 2014):

    “Altar and pulpit fellowship is a relationship which signifies agreement not only in a
    church body’s formal statements but also agreement in the implementation of the formal confessions of a church body in its actual life and practice.” (p. 3)

    “When fellowship with such a church body [‘a small, formative, emerging confessional Lutheran church’] is initially requested, the church shall be asked to share any information and/or documentation that identifies its doctrinal
    convictions (for example, doctrinal statements, its constitution and bylaws, copies of doctrinal materials used in the church, materials for training clergy and laity, and so forth). On the basis of such information and discussions with church leaders, the
    President of the Synod, assisted by the CTCR at his request, shall determine whether the requesting church is committed to the full authority of the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God and subscribes without reservation to the Book of Concord (to the extent that it is available in the primary language of the church).” (p. 5) [Emphasis added]

    The Policy also quotes the excerpt from p. 5 in the “Lutheran Understanding of Church Fellowship.”

  26. @Rev. Jakob Fjellander #24: “To me it seems problematic to request a quia subscription to the BoC as the LCMS doesn’t uphold that standard herself.”

    The cynical answer would be for the Missouri Synod to water down its confessional standard to the lowest common denominator of its practice. Perhaps some Lufauxran pastors and congregations in the LCMS have pursued such a course, including A&P fellowship with Lufauxran church bodies.

    My preference is to maintain the Lutheran confessional standard and to encourage Lutherans in the Missouri Synod to also maintain that standard, and to remove individual and congregational Synod members who chose not to.

  27. @Rev. Jakob Fjellander #32

    My comment, “The cynical answer would be for the Missouri Synod to water down its confessional standard to the lowest common denominator of its practice,” referred to accepting a sad reality in an individual A&P fellowship case to become a permanent reality.

    “Are there any limitations about for how long one should stay in a heterodox church body?”

    Rev. Noland’s December 7, 2014 at 11:57 pm BJS post might be helpful in answering your question.

    Some congregations within a church body have taken an in statu confessionis position against heterodox leadership of their church body.

    Ultimately there may come a time when confessional pastors and congregations will need to leave a church body that has mandated heterodox doctrine and practices. If that time comes, in my view it should be a “scorched earth” leaving.

  28. “Scott’s comment: The Koinonia Project may be bearing fruit, but the fruit gets to the supermarket shelves most laymen won’t know a thing about it, and they certainly won’t be slicing it up to put on their pancakes every morning.”

    Exactly what tangible theological fruit has the Koinonia Project produced? What decrease in the rot of heterodoxy has the Koinonia Project brought about? What increase in Lutheran confessionalism has blossomed from the Koinonia Project?

    The report on the Koinonia Project (2016 Convention Workbook, p. 55) shows zero, zip, zilch.

  29. @Carl Vehse #34

    I see my original comment was missing the word “until”: The Koinonia Project may be bearing fruit, but UNTIL the fruit gets to the supermarket shelves most laymen won’t know a thing about it, and they certainly won’t be slicing it up to put on their pancakes every morning.”

  30. @Carl Vehse #25

    And to that one could add the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Norway, which is a far from entirely insignificant factor in Norwegian Church life, and the Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Church (ELBK).

  31. Yes, Det evangelisk-lutherske Stift i Norge (The Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Norway ) only subscribes to the Creeds, the AC, and the SC. It was founded in 2013 in Kautokeino and includes four parishes.

    Den Lutherske Bekännelseskirke (The Lutheran Confessional Church) was organised in 1974, and states that it subscribes to the entire Book of Concord of 1580. It has congregations in Sweden and Norway, and has church fellowship with the Lutheran Confessional Church in Sweden, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) in the US, and Evangelisch-Lutherische Freikirche in Germany.

  32. Getting back to Scott’s actual post…

    In reference to Question #4, Dr. Maier’s answer…

    I enforce this little discipline upon my self; whenever I stumble across a “Christian” radio station–which seem to be multiplying; clearly a money-maker–while I am driving around in my car, I do not allow myself to change the station for two stop-signs/lights, or two overpasses if I am on the interstate. Thus, yesterday I found myself listening to Erehwon on a long stretch without stoplights.

    Any “theologian” or “churchman” who lists as a positive thing willingly listening to ARP* as part of his “devotional life”… That needs to be a HUGE red-flag, brothers. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re on the interstate, listen to Erehwon (nation-wide) or one of the other “Christian” music stations, and figure out what–according to their music and their DJs–is the “Law” (what is our problem), and what is the “Gospel” (what is the answer/solution). At the very BEST, it ain’t Lutheran, which is to say…

    soli Deo gloria,
    Grendelssohn

    *”American Religions Pop”; I prefer this term because it is more honest and factual than “CCM” (“Contemporary”: not really; “Christian”: No; “Music”: Arguable)

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