Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Institutionalism: A Lack of Confidence

Heard on the October 23 Issues, Etc. segment on "The Reformation Today" with Dr. Laurence White, Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston:

Institutionalism is by nature a reflection of a lack of confidence in what the founding President of our church body, C.F.W. Walther used to talk about as the power of the Word of God in convincing. We don’t need constitutions and bylaws and more power and centralization for the officials and elected officers of a denomination to draw us together, because all of those things are inherently inimical to genuine Scriptural doctrinal unity, and when we resort to them we’re indicating a lack of confidence in the power of the Word of God and convincing.

There was a time in our own Missouri Synod where, when the Synod gathered for a national convention, the major feature of the convention was the doctrinal essay that went on and on and on throughout the convention. And that was what the delegates talked about when they went home - how we as a church body discuss the truths of God’s Word together and celebrated our unity in that truth. But the less confident we are, about the truth as it is confessed in God’s Word, and the power of that Biblical truth to unite us and bring us together, the more prominent human rules and regulations will necessarily become, and the more grasping for additional authority our leaders will become because we really don’t believe any more that God’s Word and a common confession of the truth of that Word can unite us and hold us together.

1 comment:

JS said...

Excellent quote! This is true on the congregational level. "If only we could fix our constitution so things would run more smoothly." "If we could change that bylaw then this would get done more efficiently." But ultimately the church is ruled by the Word of God. And the part about the conventions is golden. I would actually go to conventions for theological learning and discussion!