Friday, February 20, 2009

I've Never Been Interested in Synod Politics... but, "It's Time!"

Find more videos like this on The Wittenberg Trail

To the Reader:

This blog is not about Synodical politics, which I really don't particularly enjoy. At the same time, involvement in politics is not a sin. It is a necessary part of the way the left hand kingdom operates, even within a synod. The above video highlights a little of where our Synod has been headed, not just under President Kieschnick's tenure, but before that as well. It would be unfair to say that the Reformed theology which has influenced our Synod so dramatically wasn't already around long before Rev. Dr. Kieschnick was elected President of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. At the same time, he has done little to prevent the problems to which the video alludes, and at times has encouraged them to progress.

While the video is an oversimplification, it does make a good point. It illustrates a disturbing trend in our Synod. We are being slowly overtaken by a flood of ideas that are contrary to our Confession. The Purpose-Driven Life, for instance, should rightly be titled The Law-Driven Life. The historic Liturgy, which has served God's Church for centuries, is being replaced by entertainment and "whatever works." These sorts of little "incursions" into the life of our Synod, over time, gradually erode the truth until one day, we'll wake up, and there will be none left. And nobody will have noticed.

As Luther points out:
Everything depends on doctrine. Where doctrine is right, everything is right: faith, works, life, suffering, good and evil days, eating, drinking, hungering, thirsting, sleeping, walking, standing, etc. Where doctrine is not right, everything is in vain, everything is lost, and everything utterly condemned.
The video ends with the statement "Save The Synod." Obviously, it is only God who can save our Synod, a point with which I'm sure the author of the video agrees. It is He who will do with our Synod as He wishes. To believe for one minute that it could be any other way is to fall into the trap of a theology of glory. Synods come and go, but we can rejoice that our heavenly Father does not change, no matter what the plans of sinful men might be.

Yet we must do our best to be good stewards of that with which God has blessed us. We must strive to protect the Church from threats within and without. We must seek to nurture a right doctrine. I believe that, from what I've seen, Pastor Matt Harrison is an individual who shares these same beliefs. My use of the video is not meant to disparage or show disrespect for our current Synodical President, but to ask you to consider a man whom I believe is a much better choice for President in the 2010 election. You can visit Pastor Harrison's personal blog here. Visit the Harrison for President website here.

Thanks for reading.

Yours in Christ,

Scott Diekmann


Anonymous said...

Politics will not "fix" the Synod. Pr. Harrison cannot "fix" the Synod. Congregations will continue to have 40 days of Purpose and rock concerts because our polity allows this to happen.

What is needed is a return to the Confessions, praying the offices, and gathering around the Table for the Eucharist not Political Ads.

J.A.A. Grabau

Scott Diekmann said...

I totally agree J.A.A. Grabau. I'm hopeful that if a different Synodical President is elected, he will also agree.

Anonymous said...
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Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Excellent post, as usual!

J.A.A. Grabau,
While I agree with what you state is needed, I disagree that our polity allows 40 days of Purpose and rock concerts to happen. Our polity is not to blame, but our lack of church discipline.

Robert Shipe said...

Rev. Messer;

I know this is quite late but I look at things in just the opposite manner. I believe it is our polity which has affected the discipline, or lack thereof, in the LCMS.

I believe the Benke syncretism is a prime example of this as well as the Preus/Bohlman debate in the early 80's. According to the resolutions passed at the last synodical convention someone cannot be brought up on charges of false doctrine if this false doctrine was allowed to occur by an ecclesiastical supervisor. And then to make matters worse our polity now states that nobody can bring false charges against the synodical president unless it is brought up in comvention which only the synodical president can call. Then there is the polity that the CTCR, CCM, and COP are all hand picked by the synodical president. Seems to me that the synodical president has protected himself in the same way the Pope has. Seems to me our polity is not unlike the polity of Rome, though for for over 100 years it was just the opposite of Rome. Now what would have happened if the current "Dispute Resolution" process (which is now part of the LCMS polity) was used in the Preus/Bohlman dispute instead of the Biblical adjudication process which was then part of the polity of the LCMS?

It is precisely because of our polity that false doctrine has run wild in the LCMS and it is because of the polity of the LCMS that it can run wild with nobody held accountable. There are other examples too (1969 convention and 1962 convention) that time and space will not allow to show how the changing of polity affects the discipline of synod. If needed I will give other examples.

Bob Shipe

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...


Good points, all! There have definitely been some recent changes to our polity which do, indeed, make it nearly impossible to practice proper church discipline today. No argument from me there.

However, long before these changes were made, our problem was the lack of church discipline. For nearly the first 100 years of synod's existence, we were pretty good at this. But, since the 1945 Convention, we have allowed the "agree to disagree" mentality to find a happy home among us. I would argue that this false philosophy is responsible for setting the stage for the deplorable changes in polity we have seen since then. In other words, I believe the lack of church discipline and acceptance of the "agree to disagree" philosophy led to the many problems we face in our synod today, including the problems in our polity.

My only point in all of this is that we stopped doing what we said we did on paper long before we changed what we said we did on paper.

Really, at the end of the day, what has happened to our synod is quite simply that we have forsaken God's Word and our Confessions in many and various ways. And now, as you aptly point out, we find ourselves in a position where it is nearly impossible to return to faithfulness, since the powers-that-be hold all the cards.

Lord, have mercy!

In Christ,
Pr. Messer

Robert Shipe said...

Rev. Messer;

I believe we are in agreement here. It just seems to me that church discipline is much harder to deal with because of our current polity. You certainly are dead on when you say: "we have allowed the "agree to disagree" mentality to find a happy home among us. I would argue that this false philosophy is responsible for setting the stage for the deplorable changes in polity we have seen since then." Excellent point!! I sincerely believe that getting rid of the adjudication process has made this "agree to disagree" even more of an issue and harder to combat against.

Dr. John C. Wohlrabe has written a fine paper titled: "Doctrinal Integrety And Outreach Within The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod" that speaks about what we are discussing. If you haven't already done so I would highly reccommend reading this. He makes many excellent points and does a great job explaining the doctrinal problems and how they were developed/handled throughout the history of the LCMS.

I often wonder what in the world would have happened if the battle for the Bible of the early and mid 70's would have occured now. I was at Concordia Ann Arbor when this was taking place. I remember it well. How would our current president handle such a situation? How would our current polity played in his handling it (assuming he wanted to handle it)? Now THERE'S something to make one shudder!!

Thanks for responding to my comments.

In Christ,
Bob Shipe