Do You have the Gift of Intercession? President Kieschnick, Ablaze and the Nation Need You, by Pr. Rossow

(Pastor Rossow blogs regularly on the site under the title Editor’s Blog and also writes an occasional post, such as this one,  archived on the Regular Columns page under the title “The LCMS in Her Own Words.”)

Here is a quote from today’s online issue of the LCMS Reporter:

Synod “intercessors” are being invited to gather in St. Louis Sept. 10-11 for “PRAY 2009,” an inaugural event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (St. Louis Airport) that two pastors initially planning it pray will spark a prayer movement for the church body.

Dr. Victor Belton of Decatur, Ga., and Rev. Cliff Bira of Flushing, Mich., began contacting Synod intercessors they know in late spring, inviting them “to come together for a time of prayer and intercession.    
Belton said that as far as he and Bira know, this is the first time that Synod intercessors have been invited to come together.

This story sounds more like something you would read in the Assemblies of God denomination newsletter and not in the LCMS.

Actually “synod’s intercessors” have been coming  together  in the divine service each week in everyone one of our parishes. The general prayer of the liturgy is one big, weekly  intercession. This is what disturbs us most about this story. The same thing  we said a few weeks ago in our critique of President’s Kieschnick’s district convention presentation applies here. He talks about being confessional and liturgical but then his actions are not consistent with that claim. Likewise, the synod likes to claim that it is liturgical but when push comes to shove, the language that we use betrays what is really going on. We have no problem with people getting together to pray for the synod but to speak as though this is something unique and not realizing that each confessional congregation intercedes in prayer every week is very annoying and belies an enthusiastic and non-liturgical approach to church.

There are other  disturbing things about the language of this story.  The charismatic feel of the language of this story  makes it  sound  like a story in a Pentecostal denomination. I grew up around charismatics and this language of “intercessors,” “the war between the church and the world,” and “a prayer movement” are all phrases and notions that I heard among them and that I do not hear in the Lutheran Confessions. Again, I want to emphasize that prayer is a powerful gift of God and it is good for Lutherans to get together to pray but  those of us who are aquainted with the heterodox world of “charismania”  know that there it is a strong pentecostal undercurrent in  the move toward contemporary worship and away from the historic liturgy in the synod and it is apperent in this Reporter story.

Amongst its other shortcomings the charismatic movement  is overly focussed on  the gifts of the spirit, identifying some Christians as having some gifts that others do not have (as is the case with the notion of “intercessor” in this  story). It also elevates the experience of the faith over the teaching of the faith as the organizers of this event are also doing as is evident by this quote:

We will not talk about prayer. There will be no presentations on prayer.   There will be no diagnosis of the types of prayer.   We are coming together to pray.”Belton and Bira define a Synod intercessor as “[anyone] who regularly intercedes for our nation, our church, church leaders, and the world.”

Why would we not want any teaching on prayer when we gather together for intercession? Why would we gather together for intercession and not preach or sing or confess the ecumenical creeds? I have an idea why, because many among us wish to replace our grandfather’s church which properly balances prayer, preaching and singing with a church that stresses emotion, a personal relationship with Jesus, and other pentecostal traits.

The words that we use are important. The LCMS in her own words is often troubling. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

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