Tuesday, June 15, 2010

President Kieschnick is Right – This Really Isn’t Your Grandfather’s Church

Compare how you feel about the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod today to how Dr. Franz Pieper felt about it in 1890:

In short, the mark of an orthodox church body is that throughout the church the true doctrine alone prevails, not only officially and formally, but also in actual reality. The entire practice of our church rests upon this fact. For example, we unhesitatingly transfer members from our congregations in St. Louis to our sister congregations in San Francisco. But this only occurs because we know that the member who has been released will find the pure doctrine in all its articles in that new congregation. Under the same assumption, other congregations can release their members to the congregations in St. Louis. The unhesitating transfer of members of our fellowship would be unconscionable if we could not assume that the pure doctrine sounds forth from every pulpit in the Synodical Conference. If we were to define an orthodox fellowship in any other way, if we would say that it does not depend on the doctrine which actually sounds forth but only on the officially recognized doctrine; or if we believed that it was sufficient for a majority of the pastors to teach the right doctrine; we would then have already given up the distinction between an orthodox church and a unionistic fellowship. We would then be deceiving orthodox Christians when we encouraged them to join any one of our congregations without misgivings.

The quote comes from Dr. Laurence White’s excellent paper titled "The World in the Church,” which he presented at the Texas Confessional Lutherans Annual Free Conference in 2006. Another quote from Dr. White’s paper, this time of Professor Frederick Bente in 1923:

Our fathers in the faith surrendered nothing; made no concession; deviated not a hair’s breadth from the Old Lutheran position concerning the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures. They delivered to us a fortress intact - where no rock was torn from its foundation, nowhere a breach, all of its walls strong and plumb. Results? Down to the present day, not a solitary modernist has every been heard on the floor of the Synod which our fathers founded. Not a liberalist ever occupied a chair in her colleges and seminaries or filled a pulpit of her congregations. Concordia Publishing House, also founded by our fathers, in its publications from the first issue of ‘Der Lutheraner’ down to its latest book or pamphlet, there cannot be found a single sentence endorsing Darwinism, evolution, or any single Lutheran doctrine. The entire literature of our Synod does not contain a single statement which in any way denies the incarnation, the virgin birth, the atonement, the resurrection or any other Christian miracle - not even a single passage that charges the Bible with any kind of error - religious, historical, chronological or astronomical. This large convention, together with all the pastors, professors, teachers, and laymen which it represents, believes and confesses the old creeds of Christendom...entirely, unanimously and without reservation, or without taking exception to a single clause. We all, with all our hearts, still sing our old Lutheran hymns. As to the old Lutheran liturgies and sacred forms for baptism, the Holy Eucharist, ordination, etc., there cannot be found among us a single pastor or congregation desiring to modify them doctrinally.

Another quote of Dr. Pieper:

The mark of an orthodox church is that throughout the church the true doctrine alone prevails, not only officially and formally, but also in actual reality.

As the LCMS moves towards its 64th Regular Convention, its current state of affairs is aptly described by Dr. White in its

…trend to replace clear affirmation of absolute Bible truth with delicately crafted synodical statements and regulations, the most recent of which, in the ongoing development of an infallible “magisterium,” are binding upon every member of the Synod and may not be contradicted. Thus have the heirs of Luther inadvertently built their own Rome on the Mississippi. The devaluation of doctrine and doctrinal unity in Missouri is also evident in the practice of adopting those doctrinal resolutions by simple majority vote, thereby tacitly acknowledging and condoning the existence of doctrinal diversity within the Synod.

And lest we sit smugly in an ivory tower, Dr. White Warns:

The moderates have maintained that the conservative insurgency was really about politics and power, not doctrine, from the very beginning. The longer we keep trying to fight our battles in the courtroom and on the convention floor, the more compelling that argument becomes. We have come to look more like a pack of hyenas and jackals snarling over the bones of the corpse than pastors and theologians of genuine biblical integrity. My friends, the time has arrived for Missouri’s confessional remnant to put up or shut up. We must either articulate the false doctrine being tolerated and taught in the Synod or admit that there are no real doctrinal issues and this struggle has been about power and politics all along.

Now would be a good time to start thinking about these issues. It is readily apparent that “doctrine” without discipline is nothing other than a playground for the old Adam to do whatever he wants. It is a strategy which Satan is perfectly happy to employ, knowing that a Christian church body which preaches the “go and make disciples” part of the Great Commission without at the same time “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” won’t be a Christian church body for long.


Dennis Peskey said...

Do we love our neighbor so little we are unwilling to offer correction when they err? Can this truely be called "love?" If we believe, teach and confess all that our Savior taught, we should gladly reach out to our neighbor when they begin to drown in troubled waters. Extend your hand of love and fellowship where we show their error gently but firmly and guide them back to the rock of their salvation. The one lost is more important than the ninety-nine stuffing the pews. Help them.

Anonymous said...

Scott--thanks for posting Dr. White's paper here. I just gave it the "Evelyn Wood" speed reading treatment--I'm printing it out for a more thorough read. It is a sobering piece of work, and ought to be required reading.