CSL sends out a new cohort of SMP.

A new class has gone out for SMP.  Here is the intro of the CSL news announcement:

Eleven Concordia Seminary, St. Louis students celebrated vicarage assignments in chapel and will serve congregations and ministries of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).

Here are the congregations they are serving.

theCross, Mount Dora, FL

Our Savior, Tacoma, WA

Oikos, Houston, TX

St. Paul Lutheran Church and School, Peachtree, GA

New Creation Lutheran Church, Shakopee, MN

Holy Cross Lutheran Church, North Canton, OH

Salem Lutheran Church, Tomball, TX

The Exchange Communities Lutheran Churches, Jackson, MO

The Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, Macon, GA [Facebook Page]



About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


CSL sends out a new cohort of SMP. — 50 Comments

  1. I am not a fan of the SMP program. Creating an uneducated pastor-lite should not the function of our two Seminaries.

    I did notice that the ‘churches’ listed were mostly churches who have removed their Altars and replaced them with a praise band. My hope is that these men have been properly instructed and will promote the change of their congregations to listening to the Word of God in the Divine Service and not just presiding over another Sunday morning free expression rock concert.

    My suggestion to these 11 men is to ditch the t-shirt and jeans and put on a clerical collar so that you are better able to focus on your job.

  2. I was interacting with Concordia Seminary via Twitter yesterday about this. I was confused that almost all of the men are vicaring (and will be serving) at congregations that already have a pastor. And the two others are going to churches in metropolitan areas.

    I was under the impression that SMP was supposed to be for exceptional circumstances–foreign language/immigrant communities, remote rural congregations, etc. This group/class of SMP vicars doesn’t seem to fit those parameters or purpose.

    Anyway, whoever manages the Concordia Seminary Twitter account is very helpful, and they gave me an email to write into for more information regarding this matter. Honestly, I’ve got a boatload of work offsite today and early next week, so I don’t know if I will pursue it in the near future. But since the reply was shared publicly over Twitter I am sure no one would mind if I shared the email address I was directed to here:


    Concordia Seminary

    @Repravda Our description of the SMP program could have said more. Please contact us for more info at [email protected]. Thank you!

    I hope someone can follow up and shed light on this (at least apparent) contradiction.

  3. It definitely looks like an interesting program. Seems like it is geared toward specialized ministry, and I would expect the target group for this program are people who are being called from other careers or stages in life. It seems like it could be really positive if it is executed well by our seminary system. Will pray for these men.

  4. This is not how this program was sold to the synod. At a time when our synodical fellowship is strained almost to the breaking point, the *last* thing we need are cohorts of pastors who have only had minimal theological training.

  5. Per the ‘Reporter’, resolution 5-04B regarding SMP was passed at the 2013 Synodical convention; that, among other things:

    ‘Keeps district presidents responsible for determining the appropriateness of the specific ministry sites that SMPs serve.
    Asks district presidents not to approve SMP sites “which could reasonably be expected to support a general pastor or sites where a minister of religion-commissioned could fulfill the duties pending reception of the recommendations from the SMP committee.”’

    Hence the responsibility for these placements falls to the district presidents of the congregations’ districts.

  6. With the SMP program the Synod will surely shoot itself in the foot. I wasn’t fully ready coming out of the seminary and I stayed for post graduate work. I can’t imagine facing what’s out there today without being fully trained.

  7. The local lcms church here in Az has a SNO pastor. I went once and refuse to go again. He openly admitted to me that he had not completed all the courses the program required. He also stated that he didn’t feel he needed them and was just as qualified as any Sem. grad. His sermon was almost all law, and was more Baptist than anything.

  8. @Rev. Loren Zell #10

    My husband and I were at a LCMS church in California this past summer and heard a SMP pastor preach. Very much like Rev. Zell’s experience. His sermon was law oriented in the vain of ‘how to live a better life’ and one sentence of gospel. However, when our pastor goes on vacation he sometimes lets a SMP fill in for him and that guy always has a good Lutheran law/gospel sermon. IMO, I think some of the men going through the seminary for a MDiv. or SMP are sincere but lack the Lutheran ethos that was innate in men of generations ago.

  9. In a conversation with a DP one night in Nebraska a few years ago:

    DP: Every year I have to fill out a request form for graduates from both seminaries and every year I always ask them both for men who are Confessional, Liturgical, and practice closed communion. Every year I receive a response back from St. Louis that they don’t have anyone for me so I get my graduates from Fort Wayne.

    Me: Enough said.

  10. This should have stopped as abruptly as Pastoral comments did after the passage of 12.07, instead of letting them stuff the pipeline with several semesters more of incompletely trained men.

    “Good intentions” are no substitute for education.

    Good night, now.
    Blessings on your Sunday service!

  11. Comparing SMP pastors to the Jews who crucified Jesus seems a little out there.  Lord’s Day Blessings on your ministry.

  12. @Rev. Daniel A. Hinton #4

    Can you elaborate on your comment that SMP grads go through minimal training? Are they not responsible for completing the same curriculum? What academic or vocational training are they lacking? Just curious, still getting to understand what the program is about and how it’s executed.

  13. Although I “get” the concerns surrounding the SMP program I cannot ignore the legions of highly trained and educated Ph.D and M.Div seminary graduates over the decades that have hopped onto the higher critical theology bandwagon leaving confusion in the minds of the congregations or students they serve or have served in.
    All I can ask and pray for is that God continue to forgive us in Christ, bear with our weakness, and not give us the faithless men that we deserve but instead be faithful to His promises that the elect now cling to and provide men willing and eager to be faithful to His Word first and foremost and then secondly, to the Lutheran Confessions.
    For many of His sheep are being starved of the Truth and being fed Lawspel…

  14. @Sean #16

    The course is 16 classes over 4 years. 32 coursework hours. It equates to 1 year at seminary. They are less educated in their field than my dental hygienist.

  15. @Rev. Weinkauf #18

    Thanks for your response. Found the curriculum description. I like that the program consists of two years of vicarage. Disappointed in the overall curriculum. That is a lot of ground to cover in so few courses. I’m also not thrilled that ordination occurs mid-way through the program, rather than after all course criteria are completed. That being said, I wouldn’t automatically assume that an SMP is uneducated or is not solid in their theology as has been presented here. I think District Presidents have to do their due diligence on which candidates they are willing to accept and keep a close eye on their vicarage and academics. I would also assume that a person who is a candidate for SMP already has a bachelor’s degree in some field. One of the things I love about the LCMS is that people don’t just check their brains at the door. We have a wonderfully well educated body of laypeople. Some of us are theology and history nerds, who study not only the Bible, but such “fun” works/authors such as Josephus, Ignatius, Ireneaus, Tertullian, Novatian, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, the Book of Concord, etc. I definitely think there is room to improve here. But keep in mind there was a time when seminaries did not exist (not advocating that we get rid of them) and when they were necessarily abbreviated (Bonhoeffer’s secret seminary). Will keep praying that the program yields some good pastors, and hoping that it will continue to develop and improve. Oh yeah, here is a link to the curriculum description. http://www.csl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/SMP-Curriculum-2012.pdf

  16. Just received info that this spring there will be over 150 congregations requesting a seminary candidate. Only 100 candidates available. SMP is not the answer in these days.

  17. @Sean #19

    The SMP curriculum consists of 16 seminary courses, taught at an M Div level, on top of 7 competencies learned at the local or district level, with at least one annual residential seminary, but it leads to rostering as a “specific ministry pastor,” with restrictions on his pastoral jurisdiction and scope of responsibilities, precisely at those points that go beyond the local level to the breadth and depth of theology and corporate church at a trans-local or synodical level…

    It should also be noted that admission requirements for this program require basic competencies in seven areas, including the same entrance competency exams in Old Testament, New Testament, and Christian Doctrine required by the St. Louis seminary for all programs of pastoral formation. The applicant must also demonstrate a basic competency in the practice of leading worship and preaching prepared sermons, under pastoral supervision and with good public presentation. He must profess an understanding of the mission of the church, including the commitment to seek the lost and nurture them in the faith and the demonstrated facility to articulate the faith and share it with the non-Christian. And he must demonstrate an understanding of the importance of teaching the Christian faith and life to those of every age…

    Again, it should be remembered that the amount of theological education does not make one a pastor.  The SMP coursework is rigorous and taught at an M Div level.  Courses are based on the same content as residential courses. At CSSL, substantial interaction with seminary faculty is part of the weekly schedule, including the evaluation of a 5-8 page journal and a two-hour live classroom on-line session.  Students are expected to put in 10-12 hours per week, but most indicate that they commit much more time, as much as 15-20 hours per week. This is not a “light” or “easy” path toward call and ordination.


  18. @John Rixe #21

    Thanks John. What are your thoughts on the program? Have you had any interaction with SMP students or any pastors who have been ordained through this route? I ask because obviously there is a need that isn’t being filled in adequate numbers that has caused the synod to look at a distance learning program. Not trying to slam the door shut on anything, just curious. It kind of reminds me of the Army. We had three main routes of commission for officers: Military Academies, ROTC, and OCS. The academies and ROTC commissioned officers after they obtained a Bachelor from an accredited university and required fulfillment of a military science sequence. OCS was a program where enlisted soldiers with certain potential and ability were nominated to undergo direct commission to become and officer after completing the OCS course. OCS did not immediately require a graduate to have a bachelor’s degree, but previous experience as an enlisted man obviously gave them some unique knowledge. Seems like the SMP route is most analogous to OCS. From my experience each commission source resulted in both good and bad products, from individual to individual. I have seen incredibly fine officers from the Academies, ROTC, and OCS, and I have seen some incredibly inept officers from the same commission sources. I would imagine the same could be said for our seminary system, which helps to explain why the average career span of a pastor can be so short. Some just aren’t called to be pastors regardless of the training and education they receive.

  19. @Rev. Weinkauf #20

    Just received info that this spring there will be over 150 congregations requesting a seminary candidate. Only 100 candidates available. SMP is not the answer in these days.

    There are still [fully trained/ordained] CRM/CA’s praying for a call. (Not my “original concerns” here but a new one); good men are still available but it seems congregations won’t hear that from the DP’s who are supposed to be caring for the men and forwarding their names.
    The congregations are not limited to the DP’s list!

  20. @Sean #22

    I ask because obviously there is a need that isn’t being filled in adequate numbers that has caused the synod to look at a distance learning program.

    IF there is a “need” for ‘pastors’ who are as enthusiastic about praise bands as the DP’s seem to be, then there is a “need”. (Go back to the original article and note the enthusiast congregations that these SMP’s were called to serve.)

    IF congregations are still looking for traditional Lutheran liturgical worship, “not so much”!

  21. @helen #24

    I did look at the list, I can’t remember if I stated it in my original post, but some of the vision / belief pages on the websites looked solid. Some, not so much. I personally do not believe that use of a praise band is mutually exclusive from a liturgical service, nor do I think that a traditional Lutheran liturgical outline is a requirement to be Lutheran. Luther saw the liturgy as a tool in a toolbox, as he did with hymns. He was an innovator. I don’t see why we can’t do the same so long as certain principles are maintained. I have been to Lutheran churches that blended traditional worship with praise and worship, and found it to be very meaningful. We maintained the opening prayer, reading of the word, sermon, confession and absolution, reading of the Apostle’s / Nicene creed, Lord’s Prayer, general prayers, communion, and benediction, while using a mix of both traditional hymns and contemporary worship music just as an example. It can be done. This church in particular offered traditional, contemporary, and blended services without sacrificing anything in my view. I think often times we forget that when we look at the scriptures God reached out to his people in different ways. To say it is illegitimate to provide multiple means of providing God’s word to his people I think is pretty narrow-minded. A good pastor can deliver the same message in multiple ways and still be effective.

  22. @Sean #25

    “Luther saw the liturgy as a tool in a toolbox, as he did with hymns. He was an innovator.”

    Please, please read Luther’s Works, Volume 53 Liturgy and Hymns. Your premise on liturgy and hymns as merely a tool and Luther as innovator cannot be supported. It’s not true. Quite the contrary as he was fervent against those in the protestant movement who would innovate on the Mass. Luther along with the writers of the Formula of Concord, to dispense with the historical liturgy is contrary to our Lutheran Confessions and thus unLutheran. The Lutheran Confessions have many citations regarding what is proper Lutheran worship.

  23. @Sean #25

    Luther saw the liturgy as a tool in a toolbox, as he did with hymns. He was an innovator.

    Luther scraped the extra-Biblical barnacles off the traditional liturgy and he encouraged congregational hymns. There had been congregational participation and hymns for the first thousand years but Latin was not the vernacular in Germany so the service was reduced to a spectacle which few were educated to understand. Luther provided a service in German, if that’s what you mean by “innovation”.

    You may “blend” your Lutheran liturgy with metho/baptist elements but many do not. The Lutheran liturgy loses in the end. Perhaps people have not been taught to understand and value it, even though it is in English. [See Pr. Weinkauf above.]

    Band instruments and guitars can be used in a Lutheran service if they are willing to be placed with the organ or choir. They have no place in the chancel. Chancel furniture should not be moved (as I have seen) to accommodate them.

    Pastoral vestments may vary from a plain black robe to alb and stole, with the option of a chasuble for the Sacrament.

    Polo shirts and khaki slacks are not Lutheran attire for a pastor on Sunday morning.

  24. @Rev. Weinkauf #26

    No. It’s actually not. I agree that Luther was not an iconoclast and did not believe that he needed to throw the baby out with the bath water. But Luther fundamentally changed the liturgy of his day to draw the lay person and make them a participant into the service. He got rid of those elements he felt detracted from Jesus. He wrote hymns that (gasp) the lay person on understood and sang.

  25. @helen #27

    If you say so Helen. If you say so. The best pastor in the Lutheran church I know of has tattoo sleeves, a pony tail, and a scraggly beard. And his sermons and ability to minister to people are absolutely spot on whether he is in his frock or a polo shirt. Appearance doesn’t make one “Lutheran”.

    And by the way, using a band does not make one Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, etc. The instruments you use in service has zero impact on doctrine.

  26. @Sean #29
    If you agree that Luther was not an iconoclast, why did you overstate that he was an innovator? He accused the Roman church of too much innovation and wished to move back to more appropriate practice. The Radicals throwing out the baby very much upset Luther. And that is what is happening today with the minimalists/reductionists: what is the least amount we need to still be ‘Lutheran’?

    @Sean #28
    I say so, too. Believe me, I have been railed against by a pastor(now on restricted status) about the appearance of evil. (about something that eventually got him restricted) I am sorely not impressed with men who wish to comport to the world. And if he is the best pastor you know, have you seen what Lutheran pastors can be? Or do you just have that bad of pool around you, which bothers me about the state of too many pastors on our roster. (even 10% is too high and way to visible to cast doubt on our clergy)

    And I have seen many different contemporary worship services. a small few are good, and actually LEAD a congregation. Many are just okay, middling enough that I cannot justify the need for change. I am okay with change, but NOT change for the sake of change itself. And many more are just crap, because we are not going to out-Methodists actual Methodists.

    And instruments having no impact? Again you are way overstating with too broad of a blanket statement. Look up to concept of Lex orandi, lex credendi. That convinces me more than what you are bringing to the table.

  27. @Jason #30

    Jason since you are speaking in generalities without having a clue of whom or what you are talking about, I’ll dismiss your statement outright with the caveat that you need to spend some time in the book of Romans for a whole lot of reasons. The fact that you are willing without specifics to assume the worst about people who have bowed the knee to Jesus Christ demonstrates how little you understand of the gospel. The fact of the matter is this man got his tattoos before he was called to be a pastor. His tattoos have opened up inroads to evangelize people that many people on this site would never have, to the extent that he is able to minister to death row inmates in a way they would not open up to others. His previous life has allowed him to bring them into the church and conform them to the likeness of Christ through repentance. The man is such a good preacher that churches have bumped professors of homiletics to hear him preach. Repentance, justification, redemption. That was the heart of Luther’s message. Not banning of guitars.

  28. @Sean #31

    Sean, I was going to respond to you last night, but to be honest… between being sick and quitting smoking, I resisted out of the concern that I might come across as too grouchy. With that being said… forgive me if I come across as grouchy. The situation is no different this morning than last night.

    To begin with, I have tattoos and a scraggly beard (my wife doesn’t let me forget this). I don’t wear polo shirts because I much prefer a flannel and jeans. Nothing against polo shirts, just not my style. I had piercings, but they have been gone for several years now. I had folks in my congregations who were genuinely under the impression (or concern for my safety) that I was a biker… of which I explained to them that I’m not, nor will I ever be. I can’t rock a pony tail as that section of hair required has gotten thin over the years (or man-bun which apparently is a thing nowadays). I was a punk-rocker who played guitars that were way too loud during most of my youth and early adulthood… so, I’m all too aware of the fact that I don’t ‘appear’ like the text book definition of who should be a Lutheran pastor. Sure, I’ve struck up conversations with people over these aspects of my life… and some folks may have avoided me because of them, too, for all I know.

    All that being said, what’s the point of me bringing this up on a public forum with my name attached to it? Nothing, really. It’s all superficial. Which means, not trying to be grouchy/rude, your argument is also quite superficial. You’re appealing to an external that has no real bearing, which I will explain shortly here. In fact, it’s a bit jabby at those folks who don’t fit the mold that you are touting and applauding so much.

    So being that I’m an inked up rebel who appears to be up to no good… I wear my collar every Sunday, for many hospital visits, and shut-in visitations. I don’t wear it 24/7. I prefer to be casual throughout most of the week. But, on Sunday, that collar is on. My alb is on. My stole is on. My shirt sleeves are long 99.9% of the time when I’m on duty so to speak. And the reason for that is because it isn’t about me. It isn’t about my personality. It isn’t about my appearance, my preferences, my style, or anything that might distract folks from what they are supposed to be focusing on – which is Jesus Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins. That’s my duty and vocation first and foremost, to preach Christ crucified through Law and Gospel and to administer the Sacraments. My duty is not to stand out, but stand in the stead of Christ proclaiming the forgiveness of sins. My duty is not to draw attention to myself, but to point the people of God to the cross where their salvation is accomplished for them. I wear my collar, alb, and stole, not because I think they look fashionable and are comfortable… but, because these are markers of the office, not the man. I may look like a biker hooligan on Tuesday morning, but on Sunday morning, I look like a called and ordained servant of the Word who declares in the stead of Christ the forgiveness of sins… hopefully without the thoughts and hearts of the people focusing on anything other than those words of Absolution from our Savior.

    As for music, someone already mentioned Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. I’m a fan of guitars. I own a number of them, along with ear splitting half-stacks and other combo tube amplifiers. And not a single one of them graces the presence of either of the sanctuaries that I step foot into on Sunday morning. It isn’t because I hate guitars. I love them. I dream about them in all of their various configurations and capabilities. I don’t like CoWo because it creates a different worship environment and actually prevents congregational singing. I mean, I realize it looks like the congregation is singing when the band is up there playing. And they are. But, a congregation singing is not congregational singing. What you witness in CoWo services is what we lovingly refer to as ‘sing-along’ in the punk realm. The band is leading you on in song. You are singing along with them. The organ and traditional hymns of our church body on the other hand let each and every person in the pews lead with their voices. We won’t get into the fact that the over-whelming number of CoWo songs out there are not Lutheran in doctrine, or are so flimsy in substance that they clearly have no theology behind them in the first place. If you know of any Confessional Lutheran alt. rock bands with Confessional Lutheran songs… please, I’d like to know who they are and listen to some of the tunes. Also, bear in mind, that the hymnody of the Church is easily identifiable with the Church due to historic usage and practice. Whereas, contemporary Christian music… isn’t everyones cup of tea. If we are going to appeal to the world by emulating their music… I hope your church and pastor is encouraging the use of hip-hop, rap, dub-step, and other forms of music to reach out to the community. Not everyone likes soft-rock inspirational hits from the late 80’s and early 90’s. At least with the organ and hymns, whether people like them or not, it isn’t going to a be catering to any one specific demographic in the community while excluding another. Does your church have rap / hip-hop (electronic styles of music) as part of their contemporary worship? If not, then it is about musical instrumentation and style, even for you and your church – it’s just the style you happen to prefer and want to justify… whether or not you are comfortable admitting that. That might have sounded grouchy. Not my intention.

  29. @Rev. William Ringer #33

    Thanks for the response and I do t take that as grouchy at all. I had a different person in mind, but glad there are others out there. My point was not that people should not be conformed to Christ. The person I had in mind has a past, and this past lead to his calling, and is an important part of equipping him for the ministry he provides. We see others such as Paul who have the same sort of experience. My point is that God reaches us in different ways and by different paths. The same message of law and grace can be delivered in multiple ways. Consider for example the gospels. Four different and unique accounts of the ministry of Jesus Christ making different points to different audiences. Same result, the gospel is preached. Consider the prophets. Same condemnation of Israel/Judah and call to repentance and redemption, delivered in multiple ways, using multiple sets of imagery, etc. To say that the gospel is limited by the vessel in which it is carried is unscriptural in my viewpoint, so that’s why I get a little heated when some of the previous responses just dismiss the validity of a ministry without looking at how it can be achieved and accomplish the same end result. Anyway, that horse is dead no reason to keep beating on it. Wish you well. Thanks for your response.

  30. @Rev. Jakob Fjellander #35

    Hitting the nail on the head, I see. I don’t think many people are aware of the disadvantageous position the SMP program puts these men in. SMP has become a great opportunity for congregations of certain persuasions to maintain their status quo by training from the inside rather than risking an M.Div Sem student coming into the congregation and shaking up their fun. Considering the ‘hands on’ nature of the SMP program, these guys are generally viewed as putty to be molded by a congregation to do what the congregation wants without risking as much out-side influence. The congregation (which is who the SMP student is predominantly exposed to during his training) gets to call the shots, the man learning has to go with the flow or find himself taking on debt only to be run out before completion of the program. The ‘restrictions’ of the SMP program in many ways force these men to play by the rules of those in charge of him, regardless of whether or not he may see a conflict with what he is learning in light of what the congregation is doing. Of course, this isn’t something generally brought up (as far as I’ve seen in the various channels of communication on the internet) when discussing the meaningful differences between the Traditional Residential and Distance Education options currently being offered in the Synod.

  31. The SMP program is a way for the senior pastor to have a staff trained after his own heart without being bothered by Synod.

  32. @Rev. Jakob Fjellander #35

    If it is bad that the SMP men serve in praise band congregations, then the problem is not the SMP men, but the praise band congregations.

    In many cases that’s exactly right… because it doesn’t stop at “praise bands” (shorthand here for the enthusiasts, let the musicians be at peace!); it goes on to things like “5/2” which are no way Lutheran.
    But our DP’s allow it… and our DP’s are re-elected!

    And the pew sitter can only say, “LORD, have mercy!”

    @Richard Lewer #37

    The SMP program is a way for the senior pastor to have a staff trained after his own heart without being bothered by Synod.

    And keep his “Lutheran” label (and pension) without being bothered to teach his congregation to be Lutheran (and in some cases, I wonder about “Christian”).

  33. @Sean #39

    Just curious, what do you mean by your reference to 5/2? Not sure I’ve heard that one before.

    If you will go to the top of BJS and put “5/2” in the search block there, you will get several threads from past years. (It’s the latest in “enthusiasm” originating in Texas and spread to Michigan.
    Understandably, more was said about it on this site before the 2016 convention [mindlessly] passed a gag order so confessional pastors and web sites can’t openly discuss deviations from Lutheranism in the Synod. Can’t question the Chm of the COP…the DP from Texas!

    [No problem for the liberals; who don’t discuss doctrine anyway!]
    Sort of like “we don’t have politics in church”, except where Democrats take over pulpits, get their pictures in the papers and all is approved. 🙁

  34. @helen #38

    But our DP’s allow it… and our DP’s are re-elected!
    If so, maybe the LCMS is not orthodox?

    And the pew sitter can only say, “LORD, have mercy!”
    Well, that’s not correct if you want to follow Walther (or the Bible). A famous sermon of his is The Sheep Judge Their Shepherds

  35. Are you interested in helping someone find an orthodox church where they live Rev. Fjellander, or is your goal to just bash the LCMS?

  36. As a minister of Christ my goal is always to help people be faithful to God.
    But are my motives entirely pure? I say like Jeremiah and St Paul: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

  37. @Rev. Jakob Fjellander #44

    Walther would not agree. In the sermon he says: If those who are rightfully called become wolves, Christ bids us flee from them.

    Oh, I’m pretty good at “fleeing”, Pastor! I belonged to 7 congregations in Texas (in two cities). It hasn’t had noticeable effect on the “wolves” or the policies of District (which lean toward feeding them). 🙁
    [I can recommend the last of the 7 as confessional liturgical.] 🙂

  38. I’m not pleased about “The Exchange Community” in Jackson, Missouri. It was spun off from a larger congregation under an assistant pastor affiliated with FiveTwo, who is now the sole pastor there. The rest of our Circuit congregations were not consulted about it. Why they would need a SMP there I have no idea, or how they’re able to financially support a Sole Pastor and an SMP Vicar at the same time. The coffee house alternative-contemporary organization claims to be a church for people who hate church, who don’t want to be told what to do, and prefer not to identify themselves as part of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Their mission projects are in areas that already have a heavy and traditional LCMS presence. Past District President Mirly’s home congregation is just a few miles north of it.

  39. @Nathan Rinne #48

    Nathan, I don’t really know quite how to answer your question because I don’t know if I completely understand what you mean by how it was worded. Your statement uses a lot of potentially loaded words and I don’t want to make assumptions. In addition, your question is specific to the nature of the gospel; however, the article you posted has to do with worship practices. The two are not the same, so I am not quite sure where you were headed with that. So here goes: There is one gospel, and it is an objective gospel. Any supposed “gospel” that contradicts what has been revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ is immediately suspect (examples: prosperity gospels, hyper grace, legalism as justification, etc.). That being said, the means of communicating or conveying that gospel are many. Just as an example, there are 66 different books of the Bible, all conveying the gospel to specific audiences at different times and in different ways. As another example, every week most LCMS Churches will follow the lectionary, essentially preaching on the same message. The sermons will differ, but the gospel message remains the same. In other words, the exegesis of the text should essentially convey the same or very similar messages, maybe with differences in focus based on the needs of the audience, but it’s the same gospel. It is no different than a pastor who is confronted by a parishioner who asks if some specific act is sinful. The discerning and wise pastor, will ask the parishioner to be specific as to why they are asking the question. If the situation calls for it, the pastor will start with the law to convict the person of sin then lead them to the grace of Jesus Christ. For someone who is repentant, you may take the opposite approach, offer grace, but remind them that sin leads to death. Once again, same gospel, different means of communicating it. If you are asking if I believe the gospel is based on what I feel or think, no, I don’t believe that, the gospel is independent of what I think or feel. Now as to your question of forms of worship, I have mixed feelings. There are definitely means of worship that God has forbidden. When you read the epistles of Paul he demonstrates this. Many of the former cultic practices of the Gentiles in the Corinthian church were still being practiced: temple prostitution, participating in meals offered to idols, etc. Others were using grace to justify doing things such as incest that were odious to even the surrounding pagan community. We would all agree that these practices are incompatible with the Christian faith because they either directly involve worship of other deities or involve practices that God has always revealed are abhorrent to him. But when you are talking about something like incorporating the use of the guitar, drums, keyboard, into worship, there is no similar prohibition. Not even a hint of one. So while I can’t agree with the original statement that the gospel can be preached in all forms and manners, I also believe what Paul told us about things such as dietary restrictions, observance of Sabbaths, etc., namely that we shouldn’t quibble about matters of preference. Hopefully that answers your question.

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