Are You Voting for Luther or Eck?

Luther & EckPhilip Melanchthon, author of the Augsburg Confession, sat in Augsburg in early May of 1530 pondering the details of his defense of the Lutheran position to be presented before Emperor Charles V at the upcoming Diet. His contemplation was brought to an abrupt halt when placed before him were Johann Eck’s 404 Theses. The Theses were a series of half-truths, out of context quotes, and flat out lies, not unlike some of the letters to Convention delegates recently circulated in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The Theses painted Luther as a heretic and were designed to dash any hope of theological agreement between Emperor Charles V and the Lutherans (and other Protestants who were invited to the Diet as well).  Eck insisted, among many other things, that the Lutherans had rejected ordination and were allowing laymen to act as Priests.1 Of course this was a falsehood and abhorrent to the Lutherans. In a sense, we can thank Eck for this, because it prompted Melanchthon to add Article XIV to what in less than two months would be professed before the world as the Augsburg Confession:

   Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call.

Oddly, the LCMS has been inching its way towards the very thing Eck fallaciously described. While we haven’t abandoned ordination, we do allow laymen to function as pastors, without a rightly ordered call. Dr. Naomichi Masaki, in a 2006 Concordia Theological Quarterly article, does a masterful job of addressing this topic.2 While it’s beyond the scope of this post to address all of the issues Dr. Masaki covers, let’s hit a few of the high points of his article, which is titled “Augsburg Confession XIV: Does It Answer Current Questions on the Holy Ministry?”

The first portion of Masaki’s article covers two and one-half decades worth of convention decisions. This long-term view reveals a gradual expansion of theological error as CTCR reports are followed by committee reports followed by convention decisions that, little by little, move away from a sound doctrinal position. In this case, it’s a move away from a confessional view of the Office of the Holy Ministry towards one where layman perform roles previously (and Scripturally) reserved for the pastor. As Masaki relates, an everyone-a-minister mindset gradually developed in the 1950s. Lay ministry training institutes began to pop up, and multiple LCMS districts began to offer lay ministry programs. This came to a head in the 1989 Convention decision to allow laymen to do Word and Sacrament ministry. That decision was in part based on the recommendations of the Lay Worker Study Committee’s (LWSC) recommendations, as reported in the 1989 Convention Workbook. (He also notes that “the 1992 Convention changed the direction of the 1989 decision by providing ‘ordination for certain laymen involved in word and sacrament ministry,’ and the 1995 Convention established a concrete procedure for such ordinations. The 2001 Convention, however, reversed this and returned to the 1989 Convention position on the basis that the 1995 resolution did not work” (p. 124-25)).

Masaki points out that while the LWSC acknowledged Augsburg Confession Article XIV, the report endorsed an entirely contrary position, whereby “commissioned ministers, consecrated lay workers, [and] lay leaders” (p. 127) can be delegated functions of the office of the public ministry. Authority for such anomalous action is vested in the congregation according to the LWSC, rather than where all actual authority resides – with Christ. The idea that pastoral duties can be split off from the pastor and assigned to laymen came in part from the 1981 CTCR document “The Ministry: Offices, Procedures, and Nomenclature” and in part from a misconception of some of C.F.W. Walther’s “Theses on the Ministry” in later editions of Church and Ministry. The CTCR document led people astray by a poor exegesis of 1 Peter 2:9 and Ephesians 4:11-12, and similar to the LWSC document, relied on an understanding of the Office of the Holy Ministry as being both abstract and concrete. Masaki meticulously examines the historical distinction between the ministry in abstracto and in concreto, which had been mentioned variously by the Saxons in response to Grabau, by Ludwig Hartmann, Walther, and J. W. Baier.

Some have attempted to separate the ministry in the abstract from the ministry in the concrete (i.e. the functions of the Office). It had even been suggested that Augsburg Confession Article V related to the ministry in abstracto, while CA XIV related to the ministry in concreto. Masaki summarizes what happens when these distinctions are eisegeted beyond the limits of the meanings the original authors imparted to them: “A key problem for us is the separation of the preaching office from its functions, indicating that the person is inconsequential and anyone can do it” (p. 159). Masaki thoroughly demonstrates that “neither Hartmann, Baier, Walther, nor even Grabau, separated the functions of the ministry from the office of the ministry” (p. 143). That CA V and XIV form a pastoral and Gospel-centered organic whole is a theme that runs throughout the article. Masaki also covers other related topics, including Walther’s Thesis VIII, which is often cited to suggest the delegation of pastoral functions to laymen, Luther’s priesthood of the Baptized, and an in-depth discussion of CA XIV, rite vocatus, and other related topics. The following representative quotes tie these thoughts together:

…Jesus, by sending the Holy Spirit, bestows the fruits of the cross to sinners until the end of the age. The Holy Spirit in turn binds himself to the externum verbum, the means of grace CA V), in order to deliver the forgiveness won on the cross. The externum verbum speaks against any notion of a ministry in abstracto. Rather, the ministry is concrete: the gospeI is located extra nos as a gift. Preaching happens when there is a preacher preaching, a teacher teaching, and a minister administering the sacraments.

CA V reflects a rich biblical theology of the mandate and institution of the office of the hoIy ministry: John 20:21-23 (CA XXVIII, 6-7; Tr 9, 23, 31); Matthew 28:19-20 (Tr 31); Luke 10:16 (CA XXVIII, 22; Ap VII/VIII, 28,47); Matthew 16:18-19 (Tr 22, 25); John 21:17 (Tr 30). Through the apostle, Christ himself speaks (Lk 10:16), absolves (John 20:21-23; Matt 16:19-20), teaches and baptizes (Matt 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-16). The doer and giver of the ministry is Jesus (Matt 20:28; Luke 22:27). The man put into the Predigtamt is an instrument sent by Jesus (2 Cor 5:17-21; cf., Ap VII/VIII, 28: Christi vice et loco; Ap XXIV, 79-81). Just as the Holy Spirit is most pleased when he brings Christ while hiding himself; likewise, the Spirit active in the Predigtamt (John 20:21-23; cf., John 14:25; 15:26; 16:13-14; Luke 3:16, 22; 4:18, 24:49) is all about Jesus and the means of grace, not about the pastor. A pastor is only an instrument to deliver the forgiveness of sins. Attention is not directed on him but on what he is there for: an instrumental servant of the gospel and the sacraments through whom Jesus speaks and gives (p. 147-48).

In our day, the office of the holy ministry is often referred to with language denoting power, ability, right and privilege, function, necessity, good order, piety, leadership, and election. Such language tends to separate the office from its functions. When, however, we begin with the Lord’s words, that is, his mandate and institution of the office of the holy ministry for the sake of the dynamic flow of the Lord’s giving and our receiving, we not only confess this doctrine most concretely and most cohesively, but we also find profound comfort. Let the pastoral office remain pastoral. It is Jesus who addresses us when we hear the words: “I, by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins,” “I baptize you,” and “Take, eat; this is the true body of Christ, given for you” (p. 160).

Who consecrates the bread and wine matters. Who preaches matters. Who baptizes matters. CA XIV confesses the coherence of the office and the functions. It confesses the formation of a pastor. It confesses the office of our Lord Jesus Christ. Laypersons who have not been put into the office of the holy ministry have not been blessed and sent by Jesus to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments (p. 161).

Dr. Masaki quotes Luther:

In all my writings I never wished to say more, indeed only so much, that all Christians are priests, although not all of them are ordained (geweyhet) by bishops, and so not all preach, celebrate Mass or exercise the priestly Office unless they were ordained to it (vorordenet) and called (beruffen). That is all I intended to say, and so let that be that (p. 150; LW 39:233).

In the context of the upcoming LCMS Convention, you’ve got a choice. Who will you vote for? Eck’s straw man come to life, the layman standing behind the altar, or Luther’s called and ordained servant of the Word, the embodiment of CA V and CA XIV, standing behind the altar? It’s time to confess.

 

Endnotes

  1. Dr. Naomichi Masaki mentions Eck in the article that is the subject of this post: Naomichi Masaki, “Augsburg Confession XIV: Does It Answer Current Questions on the Holy Ministry?,” Concordia Theological Quarterly, 70.2, April 2006, 148-49.
  1. Dr. Masaki is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) program at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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

Are You Voting for Luther or Eck? — 23 Comments

  1. “In the context of the upcoming LCMS Convention, you’ve got a choice.”

    Return to Lutheranism or continue to fondle Lufauxranism.

  2. As a layman,it concerns me that other laymen are being allowed to preach and administer the Sacraments. We need more called and ordained Pastors. It is our responsibility and privilege to pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send more workers into His harvest.

  3. Yeah, this opens the doors for serious problems. Wesley did this in the 18th century, and it played a part in the chaotic revivalism and spread of false teachings in 19th century evangelicalism. I recall reading somewhere where a layman in Wesley’s movement was preaching, and Wesley himself wanted to check on him in order to make sure his doctrine was sound. But when Wesley’s own mother wrote Wesley a letter essentially stating that the layman MUST be sent of God because he was eloquent, Wesley himself declined to follow through on his examination. And so the error began…

    What I don’t get is how laymen are flippantly given pastoral status while true pastors who should be in Lutheran pulpits are stuck in vocational limbo, not receiving a call. This seems like people in the LCMS are robbing Peter to pay Paul.

  4. Excellent article, and timely challenge, Scott.

    This error has been eviscerating the LCMS for decades, and continues to undermine its claim to being an Confessional Lutheran fellowship. If the Convention re-affirms it yet again this year, or fails to deal with it, it will be increasingly obvious that the LCMS is no longer interested in Confessional Lutheranism, but rather an American Lutheranism of evangelical mediocrity.

    And lest the point be lost as esoterica, there are real flesh and blood pastors suffering great loss over this issue– men trained, called, and then abandoned for this implementation of this error.

  5. @Brad #4

    lest the point be lost as esoterica, there are real flesh and blood pastors suffering great loss over this issue– men trained, called, and then abandoned for this implementation of this error

    Maybe we needed this “stop gap” when it was instituted (altho I think the “need” was more political than ministerial) but after a few decades of bewailing the decline of Synod, I should think that it would be sufficient, and better for the laity, to place all our called and ordained men.
    Let’s get back to following the Bible and the BOC, (and scrape off more than a few resolutions and “by-laws”).

  6. I consider myself an orthodox Lutheran. I cling to the scriptures seeking the original meaning to the point of learning Koine Greek. In our daily devotions using the “Pray Now” app on our iPad, my wife and I read both the Greek as well as the English.

    As I read all the informed opinions of this blog, I find no mention of the apostasies of the 20th century theologians and otherwise learned men. Strangely lacking is a mention of how legit LC-MS pastors and professors were taking us laity down a path historical-critical methods of scriptural interpretation. Apparently, that blaspheming was insufficient, because learned scholars are debating the “synoptic problem” as if any of the Gospel writers ever had to compare notes amongst each other to write their “story”.

    A note to the wise: there are many of us in the laity who can hold our own in a theological discussion. There are some such as myself who are so disgusted with the lack of basic scriptural knowledge and faith from the pulpit that we are seeking to be credentialed in some sort of God-pleasing calling that allows Word & Sacrament ministry. There are many decent, God-fearing men serving in LC-MS and I can say in my congregation, this is the case. However, I have had some very recent rubs with fully credentialed pastors who are all about themselves and making a name for themselves – not reflecting much of Christ’s humility. Please do not outdo yourselves with this hiding behind the Augsburg Confession without thinking about who is being excluded from legitimate service all the while hiding some of the major issues ordained servants of the Lord have inflicted on orthodoxy.

    Don’t get me wrong; I want to see better training of the Deacons and I think the SMP accomplishes that. But please don’t stand with the Catholic clergy of Luther’s time and try to persuade that only the pastors can interpret scripture. Please don’t be on the side of endorsing pastors and learned scholars who get in the pulpit and twist Gospel into Law, telling me I’ve got to do this or that around the church or imply that God somehow will love me less. The laity is turned off by the unfaithfulness emanating from the pulpit. You do not need to franchise that by going so overboard as to do away with 500 Deacons throughout the Synod. We can work alongside each other, gentlemen!

  7. @Craig Rendahl #6

    Craig, a few points in response to your comment:

    1) When you read all the informed opinions of this blog and found no mention of the apostasies of the 20th century theologians and otherwise learned men, you must have missed an awfully lot of articles in your reading. Here are a few of many articles on BJS that disprove your thesis:

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/2015/05/dr-beckers-ever-shrinking-word-of-god/

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/2015/02/lca-issues-open-letter-to-lcms-officials-to-oppose-false-teaching-or-resign/

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/2015/02/synodical-defection-from-scripture/

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/2014/09/twice-more-to-john-6-an-analysis-of-the-sacramental-interpretation/

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/2014/02/a-wardog-takes-a-bite-out-of-st-louis-seminary-prof-kloha-by-pr-rossow/

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/2014/02/a-reflection-on-the-commemoration-of-martin-luther-doctor-and-reformer-18-february-1546-and-the-commemoration-of-the-seminex-walkout-19-february-1974/

    2) Orthodox Lutherans do not reject articles of doctrine delineated in the Augsburg Confession.

    3) There certainly are laity who can hold their own in a theological discussion. If they think God is calling them to service in the Church, they are invited to apply to one of our seminaries to see it they are indeed correct in their assumption.

    4) That there are pastors out there who twist Scripture while in the pulpit does not mean that we should therefore correct their error with another error. The Office of the Holy Ministry is not a franchise. It is the means that Christ instituted for His Church to spread the Gospel. See Augsburg Confession Article V.

    5) Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of hard working well-intentioned LLDs out there who are very sincere in their service, but they are sincerely wrong. We went overboard when we contradicted our own confession by allowing laymen to do Word and Sacrament ministry in 1989. That was a mistake of which we should repent and correct.

  8. So when, historically, did we stop requiring our pastoral candidates to study the languages of the BOC (Latin and German)? It would surprise me if there wasn’t a close correlation. It’s harder to go down the “layministry” bunny-trail reading the BOC in the original languages. By extension, this also makes me leery of any tracks to ordination that bypass Greek and Hebrew.

    If there is an actual pastor shortage, the real solution is to have the seminaries systematically interview, evaluate and “re-certify” (probably a poor term) the portion of the host of CRM pastors on our books that they believe are most ready for a call.

    @Craig Rendahl #6

    “If a layman should perform all the outward functions of a priest, celebrating Mass, confirming, absolving, administering the sacraments, dedicating altars, churches, vestments, vessels, etc., it is certain that these actions would in all respects be similar to those of a true priest, in fact, they might be performed more reverently and properly than the real ones. But because he has not been consecrated and ordained and sanctified, he performs nothing at all, but is only playing church and deceiving himself and his followers.”
    -the rev. Dr. Martin Luther, AE 25: 234

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  9. Scott,

    Thank you for taking the time to making an informed response. I will visit all of your links when I have more time. I guess the thing that irritates me the most about some of the items in this particular thread is the haughtiness of thinking that only an ordained servant of the Word is capable (“capable” is not the same as authorized) of performing the duties of Pastor. I am in total agreement that LC-MS will benefit from better and consistent training of what are now called Licensed Lay Deacons. I actually am very supportive of getting back to the tenants of the Augsburg Confession. What I am not at all supportive of is doing away with the lay Deacons when we have what I consider a major problem with existing pastors in LC-MS. As a traveling businessman for six years, I got a chance to visit congregations in many parts of the country. There are some sermons I’ve heard that would make Luther turn in his grave. My complaint is Paris is burning and yet we are worried about the LLD program, with probably many of those “licensed” very theologically and scripturally grounded and doing a fine job. I stipulate to not knowing that for a fact, but I use my own experience and my experience with hearing the difference of a sermon from a pastor who only went from college to seminary and then to parish ministry versus a sermon from a second career pastor. There is a tremendous amount of real-life, practical experience of living the faith that comes from a second career pastor. I do not write this to be unkind, but the Christian Apologetics from the sermon of someone who only went to school and then into the parish ministry is sometimes sorely behind where us laity folks have to deal with 8-10hrs/day five days a week. LLD’s do offer something just on life experience outside the cloister and can better relate to 21st century issues. We’ve had to remember our scripture and apply it to a situation or confrontation that has value in relating to others. This is especially true for those of us who have not yelled out “revoco!” when things got tough.

    I subscribe to this site because it gives me hope that others are seeing what I have been experiencing. However, let’s do this in humility and not just hide legalistically behind what is otherwise a very good article of the Augsburg Confession. Let’s figure a way for those of us feeling called by the Lord to serve but who have no means of time or finances to become a full-time seminarian to have some path to serving as a credentialed servant of the Word. Let’s not automatically assume that an LLD cannot possibly ever serve. While you may not be advocating that and I don’t want to put words into your mouth, there are a sizeable sum of people who think we have no place in the exclusive club and therefore will not even consider a path.@Scott Diekmann #7

  10. @Craig Rendahl #9

    Apparently you haven’t heard any of the ordained men who pursued an initial career and later went to seminary. There are good ones. [You and I might agree about removing “duds” but not, perhaps, who they are.] 🙁

    You do have a point that might well be considered in the future: a pastor may need a “tent making” backstop to his seminary training as the world is going. [FTM, a little more maturity would be an advantage in the undergraduate world; the men who came to college on the GI bill made it a more serious place than it is now!]
    Perhaps the alternate job skills should be developed after high school.

    None of this should be construed as my supporting an LLD as a substitute for a pastor in our Lutheran church. Either we believe our Confessions or we take the name off the door (as some of our “entertainment” units do already, while taking subsidy from Lutheran churches via the district).

  11. No problem. I deeply appreciate the dialog. I think we are about 90% in agreement on the matter. In these latter days it is all the more important to properly equip the saints. To do that, we need properly equipped shepherds and “episcopals”…

  12. @Craig Rendahl #9

    By definition, no one who thinks that a layman should be preaching teaching and administering the sacraments is “theologically and scripturally grounded,” because the scriptures and confessions are clear that those are the duties of the office of the holy ministry. How can it be “haughtiness” for a layman like myself to say that only Pastors should preach teach and administer the sacraments? And how can it be “humble” to insist that you could do a better job at word and sacrament ministry than a man called by God to do so?

    If you see that a brother is having difficulties in his vocation, then help him do it better, don’t try to usurp him. If you think a man is failing as a husband, do you try to lure his wife away from him, or do you try to help him be a better husband? Live out your vocation rather than coveting your brother’s.

    Puzzled,
    -Matt Mills

  13. Matt,

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

    As I mentioned in one of my recent postings, I have had the opportunity to travel and be in several different congregations. I have heard sermons where the presentation lacked any meaningful scriptural references. Too often, I heard sermons that lack exegetics. I have heard sermons with textbook kind of presentations of faith statements but with no meaningful homiletics; no practical application. There are sermons with no Old Testament references to assist with interpreting the New Testament readings.

    You rightfully call me out for lacking humility on this subject. This is my frustration pouring out in my postings and so I will attempt to do a better job in the future of sticking to my central point that there is a role for trained Deacons to be conducting Word & Sacrament ministry in LC-MS.

    I would suggest we all have a calling of some sort consistent with out talents and passions in life. I do feel called to serve in a Word & Sacrament ministry. The question for you and others at the Convention is whether a man sensing a calling and direction by the Lord should be prevented from fulfilling that calling simply because we perceice that man does not fit the traditional template of Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession? I am suggesting there is ecclesiastical room for the 500 or so men of the LC-MS who are LLD’s to perform a ministry and still meet Luther’s intentions of the AC.

    I have been asked why not just apply to the Sem and become ordained? One should not answer a question with a question, but I ask you if that would be practicle for you to do? I’m 55 and have sets of parents who need our attention as well as an adult married son who has two of his own little ones. As my wife says, we are the sandwich generation and do not have the mobiliy to suddenly move 1400 miles and go to the Sem full-time for the next 4yrs.

    I don’t think I’m alone in this circumstance. You would rightly question me if I did suddenly tell both sets of parents that whatever I give of my life is corban and excuse myself to neglect their needs. I politely ask you, do you really think people such as myself have no reason to expect that we should, with proper training and examination, be called to participate in a Word & Sacrament ministry?

    I am grateful ACELC has allowed me the opportunity to make the case for LLD’s in this forum. If there is any dissagreement between us, it is in practice and not doctrine.

    Craig

  14. @helen #10
    Helen,

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I suspect we have more we agree upon than disagree.

    The concern I have throughout this discussion is the automatic assumption that just because someone has a title, they are automatically “correct”. As applied to Article XIV, are we creating more problems for the Kingdom of our Lord becuase we think someone with the title of Pastor can do no wrong and an LLD can do no right just so we can say we uphold the confessions? I happen to agree that to be consistent with the Lutheran Confessions we need to apply equal vigor to upholding all.

    My problem is looking at the situation since the 1989 decision on LLD’s and saying the 500 or so men who have felt called to serve are all of the sudden unwelcome in their service. It’s too late in my estimation to do away cold-turkey with LLD’s. The more appropriate question should be, what do we do to make this situation correct – consistent with the Confessions in a God-pleasing way?

    In a somewhat related circumstance, I know of a WELS congregation that called a man right out of college to be pricipal over a school of 100 or so students, K-8. There were women teachers with more teaching experience and a solid record of upholding the Confessions and the Scriptures upon which the Confesssions are based. If fact, two of the teachers had more experience that the age of the new principal. Isn’t there something wrong with that situation? Do we really want to diminish the relevance of the office of principal by creating such a lopsided injustice to sensibility just so we can have a man as the head of the school? Was that decision really God-pleasing to knowingly elevate someone to head of a school with a $600k budget when they have no business holding a position like that fresh out of college? Where is the concept of good stewardship in that decision?

    The Lord has given us a tremendous amount of freedom under the Gospel. I would add that all things are permissible but not all beneficial. This is where the Lord expects us to us our head when deciding how to best use His gifts to bring glory to Him and bear fruit. To me, this means having the 3rd use of the Law handy when exploring that freedom under the Gospel, but also really taking an honest look at all the guidance we have inthe Word and our Confessions and making wise decisions. Is it wise to throw out of the ministry 500 men without looking at ways to make the situation work consistent with what we believe, teach, and confess? I don’t how we cheapen the office of Pastor or compromise our Confessions by making the situation meet ecclesiastical conditions.

    Thank you for your time you have devoted to this discussion.

    Craig

  15. @Craig Rendahl #14

    “If there is any dissagreement between us, it is in practice and not doctrine.”

    Craig,

    You’ve been charitable in your dialogue, and I will attempt to be so, as well. I think the point you missed in Matt’s post was the vocational validity of a person’s calling. The allegory to husbands and wives is not so far afield from that of the pastoral office, though others might also be offered (police and citizens, judges and juries and the communities they serve, officers of the Republic, etc.) If a man and a woman are married, no one has a right, no matter how they feel inwardly, to violate that outwardly confirmed calling/vocation. God provides through His Word no appeal to sentiment or pragmatism to excuses adultery; i.e., the feelings or emotions or practicality of the situation are moot.

    The same is true of the pastoral office. Christ established His Office, for His purposes, within His Church, to use His Means of Grace according to His Word. It is a visible vocation, and more than sentiment or pragmatism. Violating it is violating God’s Word, His Order, and His institution.

    Unfortunately, this is not merely a disagreement on practical application apart from doctrinal requirements– this is doctrine in practice. One cannot dissolve the relationship between the doctrine regarding husbands and wives from the practical act of adultery, anymore than someone can dissolve the relationship between Christ’s Office and those who presume to take it without a valid call from Christ through His Church. Doctrine brings forth practice, and practice reflects the quality of that doctrine– just as faith brings forth works, and works reflect the quality of the faith which produced them.

    Peace to you.

  16. @Craig Rendahl #14
    Craig,
    As a retired Air Force Officer I’ve also been in a few churches. I’ve worshiped in LC-MS churches in OK, ND, CA, NM, FL, NV, MA, AK, (und andere staten) my son was baptized in our UK sister church (the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England), I taught a several month-long Bible study in a congregation of our Korean sister church (the Lutheran Church in Korea) and I’ve attended services in our German sister church as well (Selbständige Evangelisch—Lutherische Kirche.)

    In Alaska I’ve attended services led by about a half dozen different LLDs, admittedly not a huge sample, but none of these men preached orthodox Lutheran sermons, and none of the LC-MS pastors who allowed LLD’s to “fill-in” in their churches preached orthodox Lutheran sermons either. What I typically got was Arminian decision-based theology. That is my experience, but it’s NOT why I insist that there is absolutely no role for trained Deacons to be conducting Word & Sacrament ministry in LC-MS (we’ve got plenty of ordained Pastors preaching Arminian decision-based theology.) The fact is that from a Biblical and Confessional perspective there is no such thing as “lay-ministry.” Biblically the role goes w/ the office, Period. Confessionally, our position is that we will not do it, Period. The practice of permitting laymen to preside over Word and Sacrament ministry is historically innovative, and frankly sectarian. Back to my Luther quote, from LW AE 25, even if the so-called “LLD” performs Word and Sacrament Ministry “more reverently and properly than the real [pastor]… because he has not been consecrated and ordained and sanctified, he performs nothing at all, but is only playing church and deceiving himself and his followers.” Harsh words, but straight from Martin Luther’s pen.

    The fact is that when we look at AC XIV in the original languages, and in its historical context, it is equally unambiguous as the Luther quote above. I’d suggest Dr. Kleinig’s article: “Lay Presidency: Does a lay man have the authority to administer Holy Communion?” This article can be found here under unpublished papers and essays: http://www.johnkleinig.com/index.php/publications/ . But the upshot is that the Latin text of AC XIV literally reads: “Concerning churchly order, they teach that no one should publicly teach or administer the sacraments in the church, unless having been called with [by means of] the proper religious ceremony.” The ceremony by which men are called to publicly teach and administer the sacraments in the church is, and always has been the laying on of hands: ordination. This literal reading of “nisi rite vocatus” is also certainly the one the Roman response to the Augsburg Confession assumes. The Roman Confutation’s only point of contention with Article XIV was that the Confessors must still use the canonical forms of the proper religious ceremony (ordination by Bishops.) Apol XIV confirms that that was the intent of the Lutheran reformers.

    I personally cannot think of any more dangerous or pernicious practice than going through life making choices based on the assumption that my “talents and passions” are solid guides to God’s will, or the good of His bride the Church. The analogy of marriage is solid, and Biblical. I’m not married because I “feel married” and should I occasionally no longer “feel married” to my wife (to whom I am in fact married) that changes nothing.

    The Church needs solid laymen, who know that their vocations are also from God and a blessing to the world and the Church. Any pastor who tells you otherwise isn’t Lutheran.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  17. Matt,

    It appears we have similar experiences while sojurning throughout the Synod.

    So you’ve made your point and now it’s decision time. If you can wave a magic wand how do you fix the situation with 500 LLD’s currently serving? Let me add that there are people out there who do not see things the way you & I see them – meaning there needs to be a practical and dare I say political solution everyone can live with. I have offered my own situation as an example which apparently means nothing. So what’s your solution in 2016?

    Craig

    Ps> i will try not to be personally offended by your trivialization of the calling I know exists between my Lord and me. Perhaps you will eventually agree that comment of yours was over the top, especially when directed against a brother in Christ.

  18. @Craig Rendahl #18
    Craig,
    As Lutherans we do not believe teach and confess that God calls men to be pastors directly or internally. We believe teach and confess that God calls pastors through a “mediated call.”

    Again, like what I said above about why Lutherans oppose LLDs, my experiences don’t drive my doctrine, but I’m not w/out the “feeling called” experience myself. Approaching my Air Force retirement I contacted both seminaries and basically tried to start the admissions program. I was told frankly that neither seminary would take me w/ a practicing Roman Catholic wife. I dug around for a few months, my pastor and circuit counselors wrote glowing recommendations, and it all went basically nowhere. I asked the question, I got an answer, I moved on. I think the answer is, “I thought I was being directed into the ministry by my talents and desires, but it turns out I was wrong”. I’ve never had the experience of having a marriage proposal being turned down, but the right answer probably isn’t stalking either the lady or the man she preferred.

    So what do we do now? We have two very good examples from Luther. When Carlstadt started his bad iconoclastic weirdness in Wittenberg, Luther jumped in and stopped it dead. When the reformers opened communion in two kinds to the laity, Luther went slow. Which model fits LLDs? For my money it’s the former, because, if Luther is right in AE 25, LLDs are robbing the sacrament from their congregations (“… he performs nothing at all, but is only playing church and deceiving himself and his followers.”) They should stop LLD W&S ministry tomorrow. Still, AE 25 isn’t in the BOC, so this is something that could be seen by others as more analogous w/ communion in two kinds. In that case, set a date, and a timetable and I suspect this is the way the convention will go.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  19. Matt,

    You apparently were spot on with what you thought the Synod should and would do. This news comes at personal dissappointment, but I’m sure many on this page are cheering. There just seemed to me to be a more Gospel-centered solution, but I am in the minority.

    Sad to read of your personal experience with the seminaries. I hope it has not changed your relationship with the Lord. This was a decision made by fellow sinners. For what its worth, you are well schooled in the Confessions and I would be surprised if you weren’t equally as knowledgeable of the Scriptures. Your skill with rhetoric is on par with the ante-Nicene fathers. I encourage you to continue in your growth of knowledge and understanding of the Lord’s Word.

    The laity played a role in keeping LC-MS from totally losing its way back in the early 70’s and it is people like you who will work toward fixing the problems in the pulpits where problems exist. My tactic is more of one of encouragement and working toward classic theology, willing to settle for baby steps at times in order to achieve the ultimate goal. I had hopes of doing this through Word & Sacrament ministry, but the Lord isn’t done with me in this Age yet I guess…

    Nothing more to discuss concerning LLD’s. Thanks to all who took the time to read my rants, offer correction when necessary, and in general share the faith.

    Craig

  20. Wow; after reading the actual Resolution, I’m actually very pleased with the result. I was denied entry into the SMP in the past because I did not have sufficiently specific a ministry that I was performing. I agreed with the decision and did not reapply for this coming Fall Cohort at St. Louis.

    I think this was a Gospel-centered decision by LC-MS and does address the divine call issue. It addresses securing proper preparation for Word & Sacrament ministry by having current LLD’s take the same courses full time seminarians take. Congregations relying on LLD’s have a period of time to figure out what to do going forward.

    I’m not so down after all (about my personal situation) now that I finally found the actual resolution that was passed! I totally agree that this situates LC-MS closer to Article XIV. Ordination with consistent preparation was something everyone felt was lacking up til now.

    Craig

  21. Thanks, Scott!

    No, no more questions or comments. I need to get in touch with our Bishop of the English District and see what is the next step for me as a Deacon.

    I probably shouldn’t write this in this forum, but the reason for my delay in responding was due to me conducting four services this weekend as liturgist and preacher. I absolutely loved it and look forward to eventually being fully credentialed.

    Thank you for your efforts and answers to my posts.

    Craig

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