Continuing 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.
Please describe for us your daily devotional habit.
“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.
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.
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.
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?
“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.
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.
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.
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?
“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.
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).
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.