Editor’s Note: It doesn’t take long trying to wade through the muddy mess of doctrine and practice in the LCMS before you are accused of violating “dialogue” or that solutions to problems can only happen through such “dialogue”. Recent examples include the Six-Day Creation debate between the Wyoming and South Wisconsin Districts and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. At other times, it was thought that dialogue would fix any problem. This is untrue of course. Then there is a temptation to make “dialogue” into a procedural trick to bury truth and make sure nothing happens again (this is part of that Second Step in C.P. Krauth’s great quote on how error seeks eventual dominance in the Church – from tolerance to equality to domination). This is worst case, but it does happen. The following example comes from Rev. Mike Grieve, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Golden, Illinois. I share it with his permission to show how sometimes the call for dialogue is empty talk.
Information Regarding CSL Passiontide Service With Woman Publicly Reading Scripture by Rev. Mike Grieve
In the spring of 2017 CSL had a Passiontide chapel worship service in which a woman was publicly reading the Scripture. Various pictures, including the woman reading, were publicly posted on its FB page. There was a widespread reaction to the woman reading the Scripture, indicating the division that exists in our synod over this issue. CSL then posted that it requested anyone having questions or concerns about the issue to email them to the Rev. Dr. Kent Burreson, dean of the chapel at CSL. In an email dated April 7 to Dr. Burreson, with CC to Rev. Mike Burdick (Quincy Circuit Visitor); Rev. Pres. Mark Miller (CID); and Rev. Pres. Matthew Harrison (SP), I stated my concerns over this unbiblical practice, citing both 1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2 as the clear Word of God to this issue.
Rev. Pres. Harrison responded to me, asking when the service had taken place, also stating that he thought this had ceased. I responded to his inquiry. In future emails I also CC Rev. Pres. Dale Meyer (CSL Pres.) and Rev. Shawn Kumm (CSL BOR). Dr. Burreson responded to me in an email on April 19. His response included the admission that we are not clearly interpreting the Scriptures, even though the Scriptures are clear. He gave no indication that the practice would cease at CSL. I responded to Dr. Burreson’s email on April 28, stressing the perspicuity of the Scripture on the issue regardless of the synod’s position of the last 30 years, and re-sent the same email on May 9, since I had not heard from Dr. Burreson.
On May 9, Dr. Burreson responded with a brief email, simply stating that he would respond eventually as he had opportunity. In the meantime, I also received an email from CV Pastor Burdick, with whom I met regarding the letter for some fruitful discussion, and prayer. Having heard nothing further from Dr. Burreson, I emailed him on June 6, thanking him for the email saying that he would respond, and stating that I looked forward to his response. I emailed him once again on July 10. All these emails were also copied to the previously mentioned names. I sent another email on Sept. 8, calling for repentance on the unbiblical practice, and citing 1 Cor. 14:34-36 and 1 Tim. 2:11-13 as clear Scriptures on the matter.
Despite Dr. Burreson’s email on May 9 stating that he would respond, he never has. This is particularly troubling, given the fact the CSL, as an institution of this synod, has stated that it wishes to dialogue on issues. Also, Dr. Burreson himself stated in an email on April 20, that he is “happy to interact in whatever way would bless the ministry of Christ’s Word.” Apparently, that is not true with this issue, as there has been no interaction since his email on April 19, despite numerous attempts by me to keep the dialogue going. It is precisely this issue that has direct ramifications on the ministry of Christ’s Word, and the life of His Church.
Rev. Mike Grieve, Pastor, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Golden, Ill.