On the October 14th Issues, Etc. Comment Line, a listener phoned in with show suggestions, one of which was “How can the LCMS appoint kingdom of the left administrators, give them kingdom of the left job titles, like ‘District President’ or ‘Synodical President,’ and give them kingdom of the left job descriptions, and then be surprised when they utilize the most recent kingdom of the left methodologies to come to conclusions that make absolutely no sense in the kingdom of the right.”
Pastor Wilken’s response has a ring of truth to it:
…The words we choose mean things. They actually shape what happens. You know if we want Bishops, if we want ecclesiastical supervisors, and that supervisor simply means “Bishop,” that’s what the word Bishop means, it means overseer, a shepherd. If we want Bishops, then let’s have Bishops. If we want presidents, administrators, bureaucrats, functionaries, cogs in the wheel of a bureaucracy, synodocrats, then let’s be prepared to live with the consequences. Now, we can go one of two ways, and I think there’s actually wisdom in going one rather than the other way. Everybody’s for Bishops in the church until it comes to the question of who should be the Bishop. I generally operate on the theory that guys who favor Bishops, I mean full-blown Bishops in the church do so because they think that it is they who will be crowned with the miter when all is said and done. When they talk about “I think we ought to have Bishops in the church” what they’re really saying is “I should be Bishop in the church.” Honestly. But it’s not, we cannot create a hybrid between this ecclesiastical office and this bureaucratic office. We can’t create it. We tried, and what has always in every case won – you can’t serve two masters. What has always in every case won is the bureaucrat. The bureaucrat kills the Bishop, if we tried to make one man embody both offices. It, in the best of men, in the most sincere of men, even faithful unto death men, in actual practice, day to day, how things are done, how decisions are made, even in the best, the bureaucrat kills the bishop, if we try and have one man embody both. There’s a certain wisdom in going one way or the other. And look, I kind of like the idea, of maybe, if we want to have bureaucrats, then let’s really do it, and let’s just toss aside the façade of doing all this stuff as church, and just say “look, we’re kind of like the military. We’ve got the, we’ve got the actual soldiers, the pastors out there, who really do what needs to get done, and then we have a civilian leadership that sits in the office and thinks about what needs to be done.” Right? That would be a great division to make in the church.
Graphic derived from a photo by Lawrence OP