Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Eroding Christian Freedom?

HandcuffsBelow are four quotes, taken from three different eras, past, present, and proposed future, that represent the attitude of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod towards its member congregations. As you can see, our proposed future is one of possible servitude if left unchecked. Now is the time to speak out. A freedom lost is not so easily regained. Don't let your freedom in Christ to be taken away, or we'll be "walking together" in handcuffs and leg irons.

...according to the constitution under which our Synodical union exists, we have merely the power to advise one another, that we have only the power of the Word, and of convincing. According to our constitution we have no right to formulate decrees, to pass laws and regulations, and to make a judicial decision, to which our congregations would have to submit unconditionally in any matter involving the imposing of something upon them. Our constitution by no means makes us a consistory, by no means a supreme court of our congregations. It rather grants them the most perfect liberty in everything, excepting nothing but the Word of God, faith, and charity. According to our constitution we are not above our congregations, but in them and at their side.


PRESENT

Article VII, 1. of the current LCMS Constitution:

In its relationship to its members the Synod is not an ecclesiastical government exercising legislative or coercive powers, and with respect to the individual congregation’s right of self-government it is but an advisory body. Accordingly, no resolution of the Synod imposing anything upon the individual congregation is of binding force if it is not in accordance with the Word of God or if it appears to be inexpedient as far as the condition of a congregation is concerned.
Bylaw 1.7.2 of the current LCMS Constitution:

The Synod expects every member congregation of the Synod to respect its resolutions and to consider them of binding force if they are in accordance with the Word of God and if they appear applicable as far as the condition of the congregation is concerned. The Synod, being an advisory body, recognizes the right of a congregation to be the judge of the applicability of the resolution to its local condition. However, in exercising such judgment, a congregation must not act arbitrarily, but in accordance with the principles of Christian love and charity.


PROPOSED FUTURE

The change proposed by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance in its “Walking Together: The LCMS Future” document:

The task force proposal clarifies and affirms that the Synod expects every member congregation of the Synod to respect its resolutions and to consider them of binding force on the assumption that they are in accordance with the Word of God and that they are applicable to the condition of the congregation.

4 comments:

josh said...

Nice. It seems to operate on the "slippery slope" logic. The nuances are subtle but one can see what's happening: consolidation of power. They are also assuming a lot about synod's ability in (and out) of convention to do theology.

Randy Asburry said...

Scott,

Thanks much for the "before and after" view of LCMS polity! Something we all need to beware of and work to resist!

Red said...

Forgive me my language, but...

Holy Crap!

I hadn't actually read that text yet, but I am certain there is more than one member - voting member - of our congregation that has already and will be taking action as best he can on what seems to be a losing battle to Pope K.

Todd Wilken said...

A subtle shift indeed. From "if they are in accordance with the Word of God and if they appear applicable..." to "on the assumption that they are in accordance with the Word of God and that they are applicable..."

What if one is unwilling to make the latter assumption? Will there be a convention resolution requiring one to do so?

One can only wonder what other new and binding convention resolutions await us in the proposed future LCMS.

TW