Thursday, June 26, 2008

President Kieschnick's June Letter to Pastors

Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod President Jerry Kieschnick had this to say in his June letter to LCMS pastors:
Today's challenge
There has been a lot in the news lately about the California Supreme Court decision that overturns that state's ban on same-sex marriages. (My recent statement in response to this decision is posted on the LCMS Web site at: http://www.lcms.org/?13613/.) [It's actually located at http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=13613] This is yet another reminder that our Synod faces the challenge of shifting its focus from being an orthodox, confessional, evangelical, Lutheran Christian church body that defines itself primarily over against heterodox Christian church bodies to being an orthodox, confessional, evangelical, Lutheran Christian church body that must determine how best to reach people who are indifferent-even hostile-to the Christian faith in a post-Christian era in a country that in many ways is in danger of losing its moral compass.
We must continue to speak and work to preserve and strengthen the values we hold near and dear, the values espoused by our grandfathers and grandmothers, especially the sanctity of life, the blessing of marriage between one man and one woman, and the God-designed creation of and distinction between male and female. We must speak and work, in a godly manner, against abortion, unscriptural divorce, homosexual behavior, and any other denigration of God's holy and perfect will for mankind.
I appreciate the first definition of our Synod being defined as "an orthodox, confessional, evangelical, Lutheran Christian church body that defines itself primarily over against heterodox Christian church bodies." This definition partially reflects the first objective of the Synod listed in the LCMS Constitution:
Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Eph. 4:3–6; 1 Cor.1:10), work through its official structure toward fellowship with other Christian church bodies, and provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Rom. 16:17), and heresy.
I would, however, dispute his characterization of this definition as needing to be "refocused." Notice that he redefines our Synod as "an orthodox, confessional, evangelical, Lutheran Christian church body that must determine how best to reach people who are indifferent-even hostile-to the Christian faith in a post-Christian era in a country that in many ways is in danger of losing its moral compass." Certainly "reaching people" is an important task, and partially reflects the second objective of the Synod:
Strengthen congregations and their members in giving bold witness by word and deed to the love and work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and extend that Gospel witness into all the world.
I am, however, concerned that his second definition is overly simplistic and reflects a growing trend in the LCMS to replace the doctrinal foundation on which the Church is built, justification by grace through faith, with a thinly veiled material principle of the Great Commission. His talk of "the challenge of shifting its focus" appears to be another example of the unscriptural paradigm shift that is occurring in the LCMS from justification to mission.
While the LCMS is characterized by our President as your grandfather’s church when it comes to certain social issues, the doctrinal foundation of your grandfather’s church is rapidly being eroded by the continual pounding of the waves of "mission," and President Kieschnick’s more frequent exclamation that "this isn’t your grandfather’s church."

(President Kieschnick’s letter should eventually be available on the LCMS website.)

2 comments:

Eric said...

President Kieschnick appears to be saying that we should find the contrast to orthodox faith, not in heterodox faith, but in pagan/humanistic secularism -- what he calls "post-Christian" culture. Someone ought to ask him, why does it have to be one or the other? Should it not be both? Yes, it is fair to say that we do live in a post-Christian culture, but it is a post-Christian world in which heterodox and heretical Christian confessions are also thriving. We ought to boldly face both challenges, and we ought to have a synodical president who is willing to lead the way on both fronts. I'm sorry to say this letter gives the impression that President Kieschnick is somewhat less than willing to fully engage the Enemy in the battle against heterodoxy.

Family of Michael & Jen-Yi Paul said...
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