Thursday, July 24, 2008

Be Wise as Serpents and Innocent as Doves

Lora at The Rebellious Pastor's Wife posted this a while back. LCMS President Kieschnick's response to Mollie Hemingway's Wall Street Journal article is old news, but Lora's discussion of convention politics and the way dissenters to the current synodical "powers that be" are dealt with is news that we need to revisit and keep afresh in our minds. Republished with permission.

Synodical President Cornelius Fudge

President Kieschnick, the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, issued a response yesterday to the article that M.Z. Hemingway wrote in the Wall Street Journal. In the article, he wrote:

In truth, last summer the LCMS had its most positive and unified convention in years. Our church remains faithful to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions, an integral part of our identity as a church body. As stated in a resolution adopted last summer by the national Synod convention: “From the founding of our Synod 160 years ago, we have been blessed by unity in our common confession and the articles of our shared faith, such as the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, original sin, baptismal regeneration, the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Sacrament, the inerrancy of Scripture and many others.
The fact of the matter was it was the most "peaceful" because nothing that could cause contention was allowed to be discussed. The year before the National Convention , the district conventions were loaded with resolutions from pastors, circuits, and congregations issuing formal protest against the resolution put out by Synod that basically said that individuals (including individual pastors) did not have the authority to interpret Scripture--that it was Synod's responsibility to interpret Scripture. This flies in the face of the purposes of the very founding of our Synod, and indeed in the very face of the Reformation itself.

But in many districts, these resolutions were left to the end, when many delegates were no longer in attendance, were combined together into a form that did not exactly say what the previous resolutions had said, and some district conventions attempted to pass over these many resolutions as already being resolved.

The few that did make it out of the district conventions again were combined by the committees to say something that none of the original protests actually said, and then were passed over as already being decided on.

The reason that the Convention was "peaceful" was that those who had grievances to voice before the body of the church were bound and gagged.

While I may maintain that the Harry Potter books are not Christian, there is a good deal of worldly wisdom in them. I believe it was Sirius Black who said "The world is not divided into good people and Death Eaters." There are also those who will change laws and ignore the need for true justice in the name of peace.

After Harry had witnessed Voldemort's return, and Dumbledore proclaimed it as truth, the Ministry of Magic, in fear of loss of order, ignored these claims and proclaimed Potter and Dumbledore to be nutcases. They also controlled the media and directed what and when things should be covered. They put a representative in Hogwarts to control Harry and keep an eye on Dumbledore. As the attempts to bring forth the truth continued, official "educational resolutions" came forward to prohibit gatherings, to silence protest, and to bolster authority of the bureaucracy and their representatives. Those who continued to protest were punished. Systems of justice that had always been in place were cast aside as well and replaced with new laws that dealt with the perceived crisis at hand.

In the last several years, the Synod has done just that. When they chose to not do their duty in administering church discipline to pastors who were not exhibiting unity in doctrine and practice, those who were voiced protests were silenced. Resolutions have been passed that took the authority away from the the believer, the shepherd, and the congregation to read Scripture and determine what it means -- in order to silence a beloved leader of the church who had the audacity to back up his claims that the Synod was wrong with Scriptural proof. Those who were not in agreement have been fired and/or kicked out of the Synod. Resolutions have also been passed that can be used to restrict independent gatherings and publications. The loves of our Synod since its beginnings -- mission and outreach have been drastically cut in order to support the burgeoning bureaucracy that is in St. Louis.

Martin Luther taught us that it is our individual responsibility to hold clergy accountable to follow the Word of God. He put Scripture in the language of the people so that they may learn the gospel, and also not be bound by laws that were not Scriptural. The LCMS was founded on the rights of individuals to do so. What authority Synod has comes to it because it was handed to it by the individual congregations. The synodical bureaucracy does not have the right to take it away from the very place it came from. I don't think that the answer is to leave and walk away, but it is our responsibility to not be silenced. It is our responsibility to know our Scripture, to know our catechisms, our history, and our bylaws so that we can cry out against this usurping...defending ourselves with the Word of God and to be sure that in our (just) anger, we do not sin. And to trust in the Spirit to change hearts and minds. We are to pray.

At the national convention, a call was made to create a new constitution. I believe that good COULD come out of this. But I am concerned. Soon, congregations will be handed synodically written Bible studies to start exploring the issues that will be addressed. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves as you evaluate these. Peace and silence are not necessarily the same thing. We do not have peace.


lawandgospel said...

Hi Scott,

This is a good article! The more I read about problems with the LCMS and the SP the more convinced I am that either new leadership needs to be put into power, or a split will happen with conservatives leaving the LCMS and the new Pietists will remain in control.

God have mercy on us!


Rollin Shultz said...

Yes it is a good article and historically accurate as well, for this is how the churches allowed Hitler to burn the Jews in his day.

This time will be different because we are in the "Time of Jacobs Sorrows" leading into the "Rapture" and after that those left in the LCMS and all other churches will be in alignment with such foolishness and depravity.

These left overs from the churches will form the "Church of Laodicea" and widespread persecution of the Jews will begin.