Friday, July 30, 2010

Cruising the Palouse

We took a road trip to Pullman, Washington to check out Washington State University with our son Zach and his friend Andrew. Our Honda Odyssey was appropriately provisioned with a bag of M & M's and some other stuff that doesn't really count until all the chocolate is gone.

It's a short five hour drive to Pullman, heading eastbound from Seattle on I-90. Pullman is a town of about 28,000 people, two-thirds of whom are university students. The town is located in an area called the Palouse in southeastern Washington State. Composed of rich farm soil on rolling hills, it’s a beautiful place, with lots of wheat, legumes, and grand vistas.

I took these photos while watching the yellow stripes flying by.

We ate at a great restaurant called Sella's, just across the street from a quite corner of the campus. Their calzones demanded eating the entire thing, which was a little more than I really needed, but who could stop? There was a variety of artwork on the walls from college age students and younger. The following pic shows a crimson and gray Cougar (school colors and mascot) guarding his calzone from the wily schemes of the Cougar's competitors in the Pac-10, the orange and black Oregon State Beaver, the "much disliked" purple and gold Husky of rival University of Washington , and the green and yellow Duck of the University of Oregon.

In case you've forgotten your head and neck anatomy:

The nickname of Washington State University is "Wazzu."

It seemed a little odd that you could look off in just about any direction while on campus and see the wheat-crowned tops of the surrounding countryside.

They do plenty of crop dusting out on the Palouse. This plane was appropriately named "Agent Orange."

If you're looking for a medium-sized school with a small town atmosphere, Wazzu is worth checking out. And you don't have to drive - Horizon Airlines flies into Pullman from Seattle.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's At Stake?

Quoting from the July 13 segment of Issues, Etc. with Dr. David Scaer discussing the Lord’s Supper:

Host Todd Wilken:

"What’s at stake in these differences over the Lord’s Supper among Christians?"

Guest Dr. David Scaer:

"What’s at stake is that, what is at stake is Christianity itself, because if the position that the bread cannot be the body of Christ is allowed to stand, then the next step is that the body of Jesus cannot embrace the Son of God completely, and taking that to its logical conclusion you end up with Unitarianism or deism. This is exactly what happened to Puritan theology in New England which began in the 1600s, the 1700s. That morphed into Unitarianism very easily, and the emphasis then goes on, as soon as the emphasis goes on the sovereignty of God, the person of Jesus takes a second place, and basic, you change the whole nature of Christianity so it really isn’t Christianity any more."

You can listen to the whole thing here:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Gospel Within the Gospel

Quoting from Joe Strieter's paper on the parable of the prodigal son, titled "Life and Death in the Village: The Parable of the Two Lost Sons":
Almost all commentators agree that this parable is THE parable of grace, that as the father runs to meet his son, falls on his neck, kissing him, places on him sandals, the best robe, the ring, so it is with God our Father. For centuries it has been called “Evangelium in Evangelio”—the Gospel within the Gospel.
“This is the crown of the parables, an evengelium in evangelio, which has no equal in all literature. We first see the Lord and the Church going out to seek and to save: we now see the sinner more clearly and the change that is wrought in him as he is saved.”
A portion of Joe's conclusion reads:
Repentance, brought about by law, the Gospel’s servant (paidagogos, Galatians 3:24), is pure Gospel. Driven in desperation to his father’s house, his “hired hand” speech on his lips, the prodigal is “enfolded in his fathers arms”, and, as he realizes the depth of his father’s love, his repentance is complete. No reparations are required. Lenski (Luke) presents a thorough understanding of grace—he has been forgiven “while he was still a long way off.” The prodigal’s hired servant plan is nuanced, and most commentaries (including Lenski) miss its true purpose:
What is the true purpose of the prodigal's plan that Lenski has missed? Well I think I'll just let you answer that question by reading the paper, which you can find here. It'll be worth the trip.

photo credit: Lawrence OP

When Is a Testimony Not a Testimony?

When is a testimony not a testimony? When it’s in Jim Pierce’s new book Wittenberg Confessions: Testimonies of Converts to Confessional Lutheranism.

Whenever I hear someone is going to give their “testimony,” I generally groan. Testimonies are a statement of some sort that are supposed to reflect a person’s experiences upon becoming a Christian. They’re generally a rambling saga of how God saved the person from their [fill in your worst nightmare here, such as a bad marriage or a gambling addiction], and often end up being about the person telling the story rather than about Jesus and His saving work in their life. So when I heard that my friend Jim Pierce was somehow mixed up with a book on testimonies, I naturally groaned. And even when I read in the preface to the book that these testimonies were nothing like what I just mentioned, I was still skeptical. Call me a doubting Scott, or a Lutheran, I can’t decide which. But now that I’ve read the book cover to cover, I’ve repented of my unbelief and can give this book a double thumbs-up. These “testimonies” really do correspond with Jim’s opening statement: “The tales contained herein are not testimonies but rather confessions of faith” (xi).

Certainly, it’s worth reading the book just to hear Jim’s own story. I don’t know anyone who worked so hard for so long, using so many different techniques, to not-be-a-Christian. But as Jim confesses, God continued to pursue him until the Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin and bathed him in the truth of the Gospel. Anybody that can claim to have been in the Assemblies of God, an ordained preacher in the United Pentecostal Church, a Baptist church member, a non-Christian Trinitarian apologist, a political science major with an emphasis in philosophy, a rationalist, an agnostic, an atheistic humanist, and someone who, among other things, dabbled in eastern occultism and Buddhism, has got a pretty good story to tell. Through all of that, the Holy Spirit continued to work on Jim’s heart through the crushing weight of the Law and the sweetness of the Gospel and saved him.

Each of the other contributors to this book, including Stan Palmer, Dana Palmer, Kelly Klages, Matt Zickler, Kaleb Axon, Larry Hughes, and Robert Shreckhise have stories which, though their starting places are different, end up in the same state of forgiveness and a common celebration of the means by which God grants that forgiveness – through the Word as it is spoken and combined with water, bread and wine. I rejoice with them in their humble retelling of their tales of deliverance from unbelief or of a miserable life vacillating between despair and Phariseeism. Their stories truly reflect a rescue from false doctrine and a reliance on self to a redemption trusting only in Christ’s work and merit.

One of the things I really like about this book is how each author relates their own journey through various denominations and beliefs (without being unkind or rancorous to their former belief systems), and how those beliefs failed to give them peace.

Stan and Dana Palmer both relate the experiential spiritual roller coaster of highs and lows they rode in a Pentecostal church, and the altar calls and life application sermons they endured in the Evangelical Free Church.

Kelly Klages relates her experience as a Baptist, in which the Bible-as-guidebook-for-living led to a belief that “Christians already knew all that ‘gospel stuff’ already, and focused on principles for living instead— maybe choosing to tack on a little bit about Jesus’ death for us at the end for the sake of any possible unbelievers in the crowd” (105). Kelly astutely comments:

You were frequently exhorted to look inward at your own fruits of faith (works) to determine whether you were really sincerely “Christian” enough, and not just a poser. If you did believe that you were too bad of a sinner, there was always the option of walking the aisle again…and again…and re-dedicating your life to make a fresh start. It’s a dreadful concept of “assurance.” To feel for sure that they really have faith, so many evangelical Christians must convince themselves that they truly are more moral and righteous than their non-Christian neighbors, which actually serves to prevent confession of real sins and turning to the Gospel (112).

Matt Zickler, who was born into a Roman Catholic family, and then did a loop through Evangelicalism, is definitely worth a listen:

Monday, July 26, 2010

“This Is Slippery, and It’s Wrong”

During the LCMS convention I posted a brief comment on the devotion that was currently underway, led by Rev. Terry Tieman, the head of the Transforming Churches Network. Rev. Tieman’s message on Matthew 14:22-32 presented three simple steps on how to walk on water, the result of which was to motivate by using the Law (when it should be the Gospel that motivates). Someone suggested that this particular sermon would be a good candidate for a sermon review by Chris Rosebrough on his internet radio show Fighting for the Faith. I thought that was a great idea as well, and emailed Chris, who did just that on his July 19th show.

The response to Rev. Tieman’s homily is a perfect illustration of “group think.” At one point during his homily he said “Go ahead and say to your neighbor right now ‘If you want to walk on the water, you have got to get out of the boat.’ Go ahead and do that.” At that point you could hear the delegates dutifully murmuring what he told them to say. Putting the best construction on it, I’m sure this huge group of LCMS pastors and laymen were saying to each other “I’m not saying that! It’s nothing but Law and will turn us all into Pharisees.” It’s certainly a living testament to the phrase “Don’t believe [or repeat] everything you hear.”

Chris’s review was rather “robust.” Here’s a few of his comments:

…This is some bad, bad preaching.

…It’s very clear in listening to this sermon or devotional homily that this guy has been drinking heavily from the seeker-driven purpose-driven well.

This is slippery, and it’s wrong.

…This is not Gospel preaching, this is manipulation. There’s a difference.

This is supreme Bible twisting and manipulation of the worst kind.

Chris does an excellent job in his review of pointing out the confusion of Law and Gospel, and also plays a sermon preached by Rev. Ron Hodel on the same text which properly distinguishes the two.

I marvel at how this devotion could have been allowed to have been taught at the LCMS convention, with the entire world peering in through the window. There’s a lot of talk at the convention on how we’ve got great theology and wonderful seminaries, and then there’s a devotion that completely butchers the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, which is the centerpiece of Lutheran theology. The speakers, and what they’re going to say, needs to be vetted, lest we lose our credibility entirely.

Chris initially discusses Rev. Tieman's homily from 17:43 to 22:18, and then the actual review begins at 1:17:52 and runs to the end of the show.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Daniel Defoe and I Go Way Back

I write like
Daniel Defoe

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Yes, and I also once helped Martin Luther change a tire on his car.

I remember when I was a kid and you'd go to the "mall," which at that time was called a shopping center, and they'd have this big board with a bunch of flashing lights on it. It was supposed to tell you all about yourself after you'd given it a few clues. I figure this whole deal at I Write Like is a bit like that. But it did say that Mollie writes like David Foster Wallace, and who could argue with that?

To further my trip into unreality, I note that The Literature Network says of Daniel Defoe

First published when he was almost sixty years old, Defoe is considered by many to have written the first English novel. He wrote [Robinson] Crusoe in the style of social realism in which he is the observant reporter, historian, humorist, and grand story teller. With his extraordinary bibliography comprising myriad historical, satirical and political writings, Defoe's most famous novel was an immediate success.

The deal is, you go to I Write Like, give it a sample of your writing, and it'll tell you who you write like. I wonder if it ever spits something out that says "You write like a second-grader," or "You're writing is so bad we're not sure what language that was." If you write like some famous author too, maybe we could form our own publishing company. We can find out if I Write Like is correct, or just making it all up. Somehow, I think it's the latter.

Every Knee Should Bow

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11

photo credit: veggiesosage

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Flee the Absolute God

Quoting from Prof. Roland Ziegler’s paper “Natural Knowledge of God and the Trinity”:

Thus Luther writes: "The people of Israel did not have a God who was viewed 'absolutely,' to use the expression, the way the inexperienced monks rise into heaven with their speculations and think about God as He is in Himself. From this absolute God everyone should flee who does not want to perish, because human nature and the absolute God – for the sake of teaching we use this familiar term — are the bitterest of enemies. Human weakness cannot help being crushed by such majesty, as Scripture reminds us over and over. Let no one, therefore, interpret David as speaking with the absolute God. He is speaking with God as He is dressed and clothed in His Word and promises, so that from the name 'God' we cannot exclude Christ, whom God promised to Adam and the other patriarchs. We must take hold of this God, not naked but clothed and revealed in His word; otherwise certain despair will crush us. This distinction must always be made between the Prophets who speak with God, and the Gentiles. The Gentiles speak with God outside His Word and promises, according to the thoughts of their own hearts; but the Prophets speak with God as He is clothed and revealed in His promises and Word. This God, clothed in such a kind appearance and, so to speak, in such a pleasant mask, that is to say, dressed in His promises-this God we can grasp and look at with joy and trust. The absolute God, on the other hand, is like an iron wall, against which we cannot bump without destroying ourselves" (AE 12, 312). Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Vol. 12: Selected Psalms I, American Edition, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1965), 312.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Plus, he smokes cigars."

Here's a couple of paragraphs from Fort Wayne's The News-Sentinel reporter Kevin Leininger in his article "Ex-city pastor new leader of Missouri Synod Lutherans":
Harrison's election was greeted enthusiastically by Fort Wayne residents who knew and worked with him here.

“He's a wonderful guy who will be a great leader for the church, with his focus on mercy,” said attorney Bill Swift, a member of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, who worked with Harrison on the St. Peter's-Zion Project. “Plus, he smokes cigars.”

Monday, July 19, 2010

Eleven Final Thoughts on the LCMS Convention in Houston

1) What is the difference between Synod politics and secular politics? One gives the impression of piety, the other doesn’t.

2) Regarding the events that occurred during the convention, there were less political hijinks that occurred on the floor than there were at the Northwest District convention. Maybe that’s because most of the hijinks this time occurred before the convention started.

3) Working to elect a Synod president does not necessarily mean you “trust in princes.” My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.

4) Floor Committee 8 sold us a car with shiny chrome wheels and Armor All on the tires, without ever once allowing us to look under the hood.

5) The people who wanted to build a new synodical vehicle didn’t mean to hand the keys to that guy.

6) It was difficult to watch the convention via the live feed and read people’s Tweets knowing that a lot of my friends were in Houston and I wasn’t.

7) If Issues, Etc. hadn’t been canceled, things may have turned out differently. Two years of steam building up in the confessional pressure cooker has to vent somewhere.

8) Calling the question before debate has begun on controversial resolutions breaks the Tenth Commandment.

9) It would be nice to see some of the overtures of Omnibus Resolution A, which included such things as “End Joint Campus Ministry with ELCA” and “Ask CTCR and Seminaries to Evaluate Transforming Churches Network,” come to fruition.

10) It isn’t totally surprising to discover people who are critical of President-Elect Harrison’s acceptance speech, although it’s hugely uncharitable, but it’s more than a little disconcerting when some of those people are people who favored his election.

11) Call me naïve, but I look forward to a time when the Lord will grant the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod a Sabbath rest and a unity around the clear and compelling Word of God and nothing else.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Remaining FC 8 Constitutional Amendments Avoided - LCMS Convention Ends

Floor Committee 8 suggested the LCMS Convention vote on whether or not it would like to examine the remaining proposed Constitutional amendments, or otherwise skip them and go home early. Wisely, the delegates voted to forgo consideration of the Constitutional amendments. The 64th Regular Convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has now concluded.

Thanks to all the delegates for their hard work this week. For a complete rundown of the disposition of all the resolutions, visit the Synod website here.

I'll likely have a few more thoughts on the convention next week.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Nearly a Clean Sweep of United List Candidates at the LCMS Convention!

The balloting for positions on the Board for National Mission and the Board for International Mission have been completed. Of 20 positions being filled, the United List made recommendations for 18 of those positions - 16 were filled by the candidate suggested by the United List. The two deviations from the list were the election of Linda Stoterau as Layperson for the West region of the Board for National Mission, and August C. Schwark as Layperson for the West region of the Board for International Mission.

Who Says the LCMS Convention Can't Be Unanimous on Something?

The first ballot has just occured in which a 100% vote occured. Of course, it was a case in which there was only one person on the ballot. Ernest E. Garbe was elected with 100% of the vote as layperson to the Board for National Mission in the Great Lakes region. Congratulations to Mr. Garbe.

Another Tight Race Developing at the LCMS Convention

Another tight race is developing at the LCMS Convention to see who can get more air time – Delegate John Ramey of the Southeastern District or Chair Gerald Kieschnick. It would seem appropriate that the Chair win this particular race - no single delegate should think that they own the convention.


A delegate just suggested that we thank Floor Committee 8 for their hard work and dismiss them for the remainder of the convention. Perhaps a good idea, but the chair ruled the delegate’s motion out of order because of blah blah blah (because of a resolution already on the floor?, as the parliamentarian ruled). Too bad they don’t have instant replay.

Is It Too Late to Get Resolution 8-39 to the Floor?

Resolution 8-39

To Allow Circularizing in Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections

WHEREAS, Bylaw 3.12.1 (e) reads “Groups and individuals within and without the Synod are urged to refrain from circularizing the Synod or areas thereof relative to favoritism in nominations for President, First Vice-President, and other vice-presidents in line of succession;” and

WHEREAS, Many candidates, either with or without their approval, have campaign committees that circularize in spite of the Bylaw prohibition discouragement ; and

WHEREAS, The prohibition discouragement against circularizing offers a large advantage to the sitting President of the Synod; and

WHEREAS, The prohibition discouragement against circularizing makes it difficult for the Synod to ascertain the position candidates may hold on any given topic; therefore be it

Resolved, That in the interest of electing candidates for President and Vice-President based on informed decisions, that Bylaw 3.12.1 (e) be removed from the Bylaws; and be it further

Resolved, that a committee consisting of four laymen who have no knowledge of Synod politics be formed which will adopt a simple set of guidelines on ethical matters related to circularizing; and be it further

Resolved, that the committee will have a budget of $250 to accomplish their task; and be it further

Resolved, that these guidelines are to be developed and published by August 1, 2011, and that these guidelines will be binding on the candidates for the 2013 and subsequent elections; and be it further

Resolved, that the committee will reconvene following the 2013 Convention to revisit these guidelines and adjust them as needed.


Congratulations to Sandra Ostapowich and Glen Piper, both friends of mine, who have been elected to layperson positions on the Concordia University Irvine Board of Regents, as well as Mary Dittmar, who was elected to the Concordia University Wisconsin Board of Regents, and Pastor Wil Weedon, who was elected to the Concordia University Chicago Board of Regents.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Couldn't Agree More Mollie

A Couple of highlights from Mollie Ziegler Hemingway's post "Notes on trust" on The Brothers of John the Steadfast:

I have been calling this the “Issues, Etc.” revolution. You are seeing that the folks who are being elected are the folks you might hear on Issues, Etc. Or maybe they even work for Issues, Etc. (Jeff Schwarz, producer, was just elected to the CTCR board). And, of course, it was the cancellation of Issues, Etc. two years ago — and the unceremonious firing of Schwarz and Todd Wilken during Holy Week — that made a whole generation of Lutherans realize that control of Synodical boards and offices actually DID have an impact at the local level. So again: This is an Issues, Etc. revolution.

...For the last couple of days, the delegates here have been talking about how excited they are to have been participants in a “historic” convention. They definitely think that the election of Rev. Matthew Harrison has a deeper significance about the direction of Synod. Confessional Lutherans are hopeful about what can be achieved.

President Kieschnick Rejoices at the LCMS Convention

The proceedings were briefly interrupted today at the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Convention while President Kieschnick rejoiced over his conquest of a particularly pesky fly.

President Marky Kessa Addresses the LCMS Convention

Rev. Marky Kessa, President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti, addressed the LCMS Convention today. He asked the delegates to observe a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the Jaunuary 12 earthquake which devastated Haiti. He also thanked the members of the LCMS for their prayers and support, as the ELCH continues to lift high the cross of Christ in their nation.

Immediately afterwards, Resolution 6-01, To Commend LCMS Disaster Relief Work, Particularly in Haiti, was adopted.

This Just Off the Wire - Jeff Schwarz Elected to CTCR

Everybody's favorite, Jeff Schwarz, who is the producer of Issues, Etc., was just elected to a layman position on the Commission on Theology and Church Relations. Congratulations Jeff - you're the right man for the job.

Resolution 3-03 Adopted

Resolution 3-03, Cooperation in Externals with Theological Integrity, on page 65 of the original Today's Business, has just passed, 961 to 175, with amendments as shown below. This resolution garnered more debate and ate up more floor time than did 8-08A, which restructured the entire Synod. The debate stretched out over two days and three different time blocks. It's the resolution that just wouldn't go away. President-Elect Harrison spoke briefly to the convention earlier this morning, indicating that he was not satisfied with what the floor committee had produced regarding this resolution, mentioning that the status quo could not be maintained. He also indicated that he did not think that the LCMS should cease all cooperation with Lutheran World Relief. He didn't indicate how he thought the resolution should be changed, and it was adopted without any further amendment.

The massive amount of time spent on this resolution was both good and bad. It was good, because it shows that there are many people in the Synod who are concerned that works of mercy continue, and because it shows that there are many people in the Synod who are concerned about the possible unionism that may occur because of our joint work with the ELCA. It was bad because it may indicate that the delegates do not understand that there are theological concerns contained in the resolutions dealing with structural changes, not just those resolutions explicitly labeled "Theology and Church Relations." We should be just as diligent in our discussion of structural changes as we are in our discussion of obvious theologically-oriented resolutions.

The resolved text is contained below, along with the amended text.

Resolved, That the task force be thanked and commended for its work on identifying practical implications of the 2009 ELCA decisions on human sexuality; and be it further

Resolved, That, in keeping with the basic principles set forth in the task force statement, cooperation in externals with other Lutheran churches, including the ELCA, continue with theological integrity; and be it further

Resolved, That we give thanks to God for the opportunity to give witness to God’s care for all people through such cooperative work; and be it further

Resolved, That the CTCR, in consultation with the Praesidium and other entities and individuals as needed, develop more in-depth theological criteria for assessing cooperative endeavors, determining what would necessitate termination of such cooperative efforts; and be it finally

Resolved, That the Praesidium, in consultation with the CTCR, provide an assessment of the current state of cooperation in externals and a full report of criteria for on-going assessment of the same by the next convention July 13, 2011.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

President-Elect Harrison: "It's Ironic..."

A quote of President-Elect Matt Harrison from the article "Conservative pick wins Lutheran denomination's presidency," written by Tim Townsend:

"It's ironic that the guy who had no desire to see an increase in the power of the presidency of the synod is now in that position," Harrison said in an interview after the election. "The way forward is going to be deliberate and slow and involve the council of lots of folks."

Are You an LCMS Anti-Establishment Insurgent Too?

The Religion News Service had this one sentence report in its "Wednesday's roundup" :

Speaking of Tea Parties, the anti-establishment insurgency that could give Republicans control of Congress also ousted the president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; incumbent Gerald Kieschnick was depicted as a power-hungry megachurch wannabe, and delegates elected the church's disaster response chief in his place.

The author of the quote is obviously someone who wants to sell "newspapers" by using journalistic sensationalism. I don't think it's at all accurate to depict the people who voted for Rev. Harrison as anti-establishment, nor would I call President Kieschnick a "power-hungry megachurch wannabe."

HT: Johannes

'Stache Supporters Since 2003

The Diekmann family has been 'stache supporters for a long while, as these photos from 2003 clearly indicate.

Results of LCMS Secretary & Board of Directors Elections

Results of Secretary balloting:

Raymond L. Hartwig- 998
Larry S. Harvala- 100

Results of Board of Directors balloting:

Layman candidates elected:

James W. Carter, Jr.
Ed Everts
Keith Frndak
Warren Puck

Ordained candidates elected:

Victor J. Belton
Michael L. Kumm

The New LCMS Praesidium

The new Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Praesidium, from left to right:

President Matthew C. Harrison

1st Vice-President Herbert C. Mueller Jr.

2nd Vice-President John C. Wohlrabe Jr.

3rd Vice-President Paul L. Maier

4th Vice-President Daniel Preus

5th Vice-President Scott R. Murray

LCMS Convention Comic Relief #3

Pastor Todd Peperkorn, speaking from the floor, suggested to President Kieschnick that the next hymn they sing should be “The People That In Darkness Sat.” President Kieschnick didn’t appear to be amused, although there was a fair bit of laughter coming from the floor.

Rev. Larry Stoterau & Floor Committee 8: Just Vote "Yes"

District President Larry Stoterau, the chair of Floor Committee 8 on Synod Structure and Governance, just returned to the podium, continuing Floor Committee 8's presentation from yesterday. He points out that the Floor Committee only has 1 ½ hours left to make their presentations throughout the rest of the convention, and points out that there are many amendments and possible substitutions which have already been proposed. He notes that there are many good resolutions that they are trying to get to, and is concerned that they may run out of time to get these things done – “We ask your caution in trying to move forward on these issues.”

Translation: Quit debating, amending, substituting, thinking, making points of order, and defending the truth, and just vote “yes.” Trust us.

LCMS Convention Comic Relief #2

The definition of praesidium according to

a permanent executive committee in socialist countries that has all the powers of some larger legislative body and that acts for it when it is not in session [syn: presidium]

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'm Calling the Question

I'm going to stop posting the result of every single vote at the LCMS Convention, but may comment on some of them. They way the convention has gone so far, I'd call it a rubber stamp overall. Just expect everything to pass, with the possible exception of Constitutional amendments, which require a 2/3 majority. Many resolutions have been adopted with almost no debate. A couple of times the question has been called (which stops debate) as soon as a resolution was presented.

Basically, the rules of engagement really haven't changed - vote against any resolution that comes from Floor Committee 8 and you'll be doing yourself and the rest of us a true service. Especially those which require a Constitutional amendment.

I really haven't seen anyone being obnoxiously celebratory over the election of Pastor Harrison as President, and hope I won't. While he was definitely the clear cut best choice, there are others who don't feel that way - put yourself in their shoes.

Have a good night's sleep. Don't forget your thinking cap in the morning.

photo credit: Lori Greig

President-Elect Matt Harrison's Speech on YouTube

President-Elect Matt Harrison’s Acceptance Speech

Given at the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Convention, July 13, 2010:

If one member suffers, all suffer together. If one rejoices, all rejoice together. Right now there are many rejoicing and there are many suffering. Luther says when you’re walking along and you strike your little toe on a chair or a table, a table leg, what happens is the whole body bends over, the face grimaces and grabs that little toe. And there’s no use saying “that’s just a little toe,” because the whole body suffers.

This I realize is a tumultuous change in the life of our Synod. I wish to thank President Kieschnick for his heart for evangelism, and his deep desire to move this Synod forward. Many are suffering, and it will be very challenging times to work together.

I wish to inform you that you have kept your perfect record of electing sinners as presidents of the Missouri Synod. [applause] I guarantee you I will sin and fail. I will fall short. I will sin against you. I wish also to say, that right now I forgive all who have in any way have sinned against me or anybody else, and plead your forgiveness for anything that I said or did that offended you. I beg of you your prayers, I beg of you your daily prayers and intercession. These are challenging times. I promise you that I will be as straight with you as I possibly can, to the best of my ability, guided by the Spirit of God. I pledge to you that I will not coerce you. I will do my best by the Word of Christ to lead with a generous Gospel of Jesus Christ, which forgives us all of our sins, and motivates us to love and care for our neighbor in mercy and compassion. And I will work as hard as I possibly can for unity around the clear and compelling Word of God and nothing else.

I wish to just introduce my dear wife to you, Kathy. Please Kathy, would you stand. [applause]

I’m so impressed by you at this convention, how you have borne with one another, been patient, asked for forgiveness. This is the greatest privilege and honor of one’s life to stand before this body in this fashion. I could never imagine it. And I pray the Lord will bless you in the days to come to work for unity and love and compassion, that the Gospel of Christ may go forth from all of us, in every single place, everywhere around the world, that many may know, many many more may know, the Gospel of Jesus for eternal life. The Lord be with you. [“And also with you.” Applause.]

Resolution 3-02A Adopted

Resolution 3-02A, To Support Confessional Lutheranism at Home and Abroad, on page 359 of Sunday's Today's Business, is adopted.

Resolved, That the LCMS earnestly pray for her brothers and sisters in the ELCA, including those who have departed from this biblical and Christian understanding, asking that the ELCA would reconsider—even now— its actions; and be it further

Resolved, That the LCMS provide encouragement to other Lutheran church bodies as they strive to remain faithful to confessional Lutheranism; and be it further

, That the LCMS commend groups such as Word Alone, Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC), Lutheran CORE, and others for their courage and faithfulness in opposing the ELCA’s recent decision; and be it further

Resolved, That the LCMS commend efforts such as the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR)-sponsored Confessional Leadership Conference (June 2010) which gathered Lutheran leaders from around the world for the purpose of promoting confessional Lutheranism; and be it further

, That the CTCR be requested to continue to develop plans for confessional leadership (cf. 2007 Res. 3-03) by sponsoring an international model theological conference on confessional leadership in the 21st century; and be it finally

Resolved, That the LCMS through the Office of the President and the CTCR continue exploring ways together with the ILC to bring together Lutherans for the purpose of promoting confessional Lutheranism throughout the world.

Resolution 3-01A Is Adopted

Resolution 3-01A, To Commend ILC and Task Force Statements as Responses to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly Actions, on page 424 of Monday's Today's Business, was adopted without debate. It should have been a stronger statement.

Resolved, That the LCMS join with the ILC in declaring “our resolve to approach those with homosexual inclinations with the deepest possible Christian love and pastoral concern, in whatever situation they may be living” (“Same-Gender Relationships,” 2010 CW, p. 66); and be it further

Resolved, That the LCMS recognize that “Our Lord’s intentional outreach to those who were marginalized and excluded during His earthly ministry is a reminder that the Scriptural judgments against homosexual behavior must not become the cause for hatred, violence, or an unwillingness to extend the Gospel’s promises of forgiveness and reconciliation to the homosexual or any person caught in sin’s traps” (“Theological Implications,” 2010 CW, p. 15); and be it further

Resolved, That the LCMS affirm that love for the neighbor includes not only that we accept and welcome (Luke 15:1-2) our neighbor as a fellow human creature for whom Christ has died and risen, but also that we speak the truth of God’s Word to our neighbor; and be it further

LCMS Convention Elects 2nd through 5th Vice-Presidents

Congratulations to the following gentlemen, who have been elected to 2nd through 5th Vice-Presidents of the LCMS:

2nd Vice-President- John C. Wohlrabe Jr.

3rd Vice-President- Paul L. Maier

4th Vice-President- Daniel Preus

5th Vice-President- Scott R. Murray

LCMS First Vice-President Results

The results of the balloting for First Vice-President of the LCMS are as follows:

Herbert C. Mueller Jr. - 631

William R. Diekelman – 339

Daniel Preus - 82

Wallace Schulz - 81

Jeffery Schrank- 64

Congratulations to First Vice-President Elect Mueller.

Rev. Matthew C. Harrison Elected LCMS President

Congratulations to Pastor Matt Harrison, who has just been elected as the 13th President of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The number of votes received for each candidate are as follows:

Carl Fickenscher II – 5

Daniel Gard – 1

Matthew Harrison – 643

Gerald Kieschnick – 527

Herbert Mueller Jr. – 8

I wish President Kieschnick and his wife Terry well as he makes the transition to “private life.”

President-Elect Harrison certainly won’t have a lack of items on his to-do list after the convention floor has been swept. I pray our heavenly Father will grant him a double-portion of wisdom as he works to guide the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod by the power of the Word.

Resolution 4-02 Adopted

Resolution 4-02, To Address Corporate Synod’s Financial Crisis, on pages 71-72 of the original Today's Business, has been adopted 869 to 270.

Resolved, That each recommendation in the task force report for increasing unrestricted revenues be placed on the agenda of the Synod’s Board of Directors for disposition by the next LCMS convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the Board of Directors evaluate all assets, taking action to ensure that they are being used effectively to carry out the Synod’s mission and ministry or to make recommendations to the next convention for their appropriate use.

Resolution 4-03 Adopted

Resolution 4-03, To Broadly Communicate the Statement of Financial Position of LCMS, on page 72 of the original Today's Business, has been adopted 1108 to 32.

Resolved, That each November, the Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer of the Synod use widely available means, (i.e. The Lutheran Witness, Reporter, the LCMS Web site) to state the financial position of the Synod in a format easily understood by persons unfamiliar with financial terminology.

Resolution 4-05 Adopted

Resolution 4-05, To Revise Convention Election Process, found on pages 73-74 of the original Today's Business, has been adopted.

Resolved, That the first paragraph of Bylaw be amended to read: The Board of Directors shall consist of 15 voting members.

1. 13 members are elected by the Synod in convention and serve a maximum of two six-year terms: four ordained ministers, one commissioned minister, and eight laypersons. No more than one member from each category and no more than two members total may be elected from any one district.
2. The President and Secretary shall be voting members of the board.
3. The First Vice-President and the Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer of the Synod shall be nonvoting members.

and be it further

Resolved, That Bylaw be amended to read: The President shall determine and announce a period of time during the convention for the election of the members of all elective boards and commissions.

(a) After the election of the President, the First Vice-President, and the other vice-presidents in that order, and the election by ballot of the Secretary shall next be conducted.

(b) The election by ballot of the members of the Board of Directors shall next follow. Each category (ordained, commissioned, and lay) shall be elected separately, the order of the elections to be rotated to allow each category to be the first elected at every third convention, as monitored by the Secretary of the Synod.

(c) The election by ballot of the members of all elective boards and commissions shall next follow.

(d) A majority of all votes cast shall be required for election to all elective offices and elective board positions. Candidates receiving a majority on the first ballot shall be declared elected.

(e) Except in the elections of president and vice-presidents, when a second or succeeding ballot is required for a majority, the candidate receiving the fewest votes and all candidates receiving less than 15 percent of the votes cast shall be dropped from the ballot, unless fewer than two candidates receive 15 percent or more of the votes cast, in which case the three highest candidates shall constitute the ballot.

(f) The tally of the votes cast for each candidate shall be announced after each ballot in all elections.

A Substitute for 8-30A Fails

It was proposed, and voted down 527 to 573, that Overture 8-16, To Retain Current Constitution Articles II–IV, VI–VII, found in the original Convention Workbook on page 227, substitute for Resolution 8-30A, To Amend Article VI, found on pages 389-390 in Sunday's Today's Business. I'm sorry this one failed.

Resolution 4-01A Adopted

Resolution 4-01A, To Lead Districts and Synod in a Stewardship Renaissance, found on page 363 of Sunday's Today's Business, has been adopted with friendly amendment underlined, 1005 to 131.

Resolved, That LCMS congregations be encouraged to search the Scriptures for all stewardship examples; and be it further

Resolved, That LCMS congregations study biblically based and Gospel-centered stewardship principles; and be it further

Resolved, That the Synod and its districts promote the Lutheran understanding of biblically based stewardship principles with emphasis on (1) gratitude for God’s gifts, (2) the need of my neighbor, and (3) trust that “I will never be without”; and be it finally

Resolved, That each district president lead his district in a stewardship renaissance using the resources that are available to him within the Synod.

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 11

Len Young, the LCMS Convention's parliamentarian, speaking at the Convention, has got his rally 'stache on.

LCMS Convention Comic Relief

A comment left on another blog:

"Remember. Synod is not 'Church' – Synod is merely financial power over donations freely given. Synod is pomp and circumstance."

Resolution 8-39 Adopted

Resolution 8-39, To Appoint the Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer, found on page 470 of Tuesday's Today's Business, has been adopted, 576 to 534.

Resolved, That the position of the Vice-President–Finance—Treasurer now be appointed by the Board of Directors of the Synod after consultation with and with the concurrence of the President of the Synod. The Vice-President-Finance—Treasurer will serve a three-year renewable term of office at the direction of the Board of Directors; and be it further

Resolved, That Bylaws 3.4.1– be amended accordingly, as shown (“2007 Handbook Convention Version,” TB, pp. 245–246.)

Resolution 8-16A Has Been Adopted

Resolution 8-16A, To Ensure Regional Representation on the Board of Directors, found on pages 385 and 386 of Sunday's Today's Business, was adopted 760 to 402.

Resolved, That effective at the next regular convention the Synod’s Board of Directors be composed of no more than 14 voting members, as follows:
- five laypersons, one elected from each of the five designated geographical regions
- two ministers of religion–ordained elected at-large from the Synod
- one minister of religion–commissioned elected at-large from the Synod
- two laypersons elected at-large from Synod
- up to three at-large laypersons appointed by the elected members of the Board of Directors to obtain needed additional skill sets (legal, finance, investment, administration, etc.)
- the President of the Synod

and be it further

Resolved, That with the exception of the President of the Synod, no more than two voting members be elected from the same district; and be it finally

Resolved, That Bylaw be amended accordingly, as shown (“2007 Handbook Convention Version,” TB, p. 242–243).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pastor Matt Harrison Today on the CTS Podcast

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 10

The latest emoticon:

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 9

I guess now it's got to be a mustache and a crown.

Resolution 8-13 Adopted

Resolution 8-13, To Elect the First Vice-President, which was amended, with the new language below, has been adopted, 597-567.

Resolved, That upon the election of the President-elect, he will be required to select five names from the list of 20 nominees for the office of First Vice-President at least two of whom shall be taken from the top five nominees; and be it further

Resolved, That the convention will be required to elect the First Vice-President from the list of five chosen by the President-elect; and be it finally

Resolved, That Bylaw 3.12.1– be amended accordingly, as shown (“2007 Handbook Convention Version,” TB, pp. 303–306).

Resolution 8-07 Is Adopted

Resolution 8-07, To Study Future District Function and Configuration, found on pages 137-139 of the original Today's Business, with friendly amendment underlined, is adopted 693 to 474.

Resolved, That the 2010 LCMS convention direct the President of the Synod to convene a special task force to work in consultation with the Council of Presidents and the Synod’s Board of Directors to submit to the next Synod convention a recommendation that includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• General principles of viability for a district as called for in Bylaw (b) (3)
• The purpose and function of a district
Recommendations to improve efficiency and coordination between the synods and districts and among the districts including possible changes in the number and configuration of districts
• An implementation plan for any recommended changes that will address staff personnel and financial operations, as called for in Bylaw (b) (5)

and be it further

Resolved, That after the task force has completed its study and determined the principles of viability, purpose, and function of a district, it be encouraged to work closely with the Atlantic, Eastern, New England, and New Jersey districts in a pilot program for implementing its recommendations for district configuration; and be it further

Resolved, That the work of the task force be done with great care and sensitivity to the history and tradition of current districts, working cooperatively and collegially with each district; and be it finally

Resolved, That the task force consist of 15 members:
• Appointed by the President of the Synod in consultation with the Board of Directors and the Council of Presidents:
+ Two representatives (one lay and one rostered member of Synod) from each of the five geographical regions under the current district groupings of the Council of Presidents
+ One district executive
+ One member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance
• One member of the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) selected by the CCM
• One district president chosen by the Council of Presidents
• The Chief Mission Officer of the Synod

Resolution 8-17 Is Adopted

Resolution 8-17, which would elect the Synod President prior to the start of the Convention, was adopted, 749 to 419.

Resolved, That information concerning the three candidates receiving the highest number of nominations and consenting to serve, including biographical information and further information outlining each candidate’s vision and direction for the Synod, be shared with all congregations of the Synod two months prior to the election; and be it further

Resolved, That four weeks prior to the start of the convention, two of the delegates to the previous district convention from each congregation be provided opportunity to cast votes in a secure fashion for the office of President; and be it further

Resolved, That if no candidate receives a majority, a second ballot for the top two candidates be cast in a similar fashion; and be it further

Resolved, That the results of the balloting be announced to the Synod two weeks prior to the start of the convention; and be it finally

Resolved, That Bylaws 3.12.1– be amended accordingly, as shown (“2007 Handbook Convention Version,” TB, pp. 303–305).

The Law-Driven Approach

Currently, Rev. Terry Tieman is leading a devotion. Rev. Tieman is the head of the Transforming Churches Network.

His message: "If you really want to make a difference, you've got to...." Right now he's giving us a list of what we need to do to be able to walk on water.

Behold the King

And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you. If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king.

1 Samuel 12:13-15

Resolution 8-14A Is Adopted

Resolution 8-14A, To Elect Five Vice-Presidents by Geographic Region, with amended language as below (not sure I got the language exactly right), is adopted 611 to 571

Resolved, That the Synod create five geographic regions within the Synod; and be it further

Resolved, That the Board of Directors, with coordination through the Council of Presidents, designate the boundaries of the five regions at least 24 months in advance of each Synod convention, appropriately considering geographical and confirmed membership information and numbers of congregations; and be it further

Resolved, That for the purposes of regional elections, individuals will be considered a part from the geographical region where their congregational membership is held. Canadian congregations will be placed into regions as a whole which the Board of Directors and the Council of Presidents deems appropriate the regions to which they are adjacent; and be it further

Resolved, That the congregations of each of the five geographic regions within the Synod nominate from their regions candidates for the position of Synod vice-president and, from these nominations, the Synod in convention elect a vice-president from each geographical region; and be it further

Resolved, That an employee of the Synod or its agencies and auxiliaries not be eligible to serve as a regional vice-president; and be it finally

Resolved, That Bylaws 1.2.1 (r), 1.3.2, 3.2.1, 3.2.4(a),,,, 3.10.1,,, and be amended accordingly, as shown (“2007 Handbook Convention Version,” TB, pp. 171, 172, 236, 237, 238, 241, 242–243, 274–275, 303–305).

and to replace Bylaw 3.12.1 which was initially printed in TB, p. 303 with

Resolution 8-09 Passes

Resolution 8-09, To Develop Process for Developing Quadrennial Mission and Ministry Emphases, passes 781-380.

Resolved, That the Synod adopt a process for identifying Synod-wide mission and ministry emphases on a cycle consistent with the national convention schedule; and be it further

Resolved, That the congregations, schools, and agencies of the Synod be encouraged to embrace the mission and ministry emphases between conventions by developing individual ministry goals that can be carried out by each entity, thus providing a common focus for the entire LCMS as it engages in ministry together; and be it finally

Resolved, That Bylaws, 3.5.1, 3.5.2, 4.2.1 (d), and 4.4.2 (a) be amended to facilitate the regular development of mission and ministry emphases as shown (“2007 Handbook Convention Version,” TB, pp. 239, 248, 311, 313).

Resolution 8-15 Passes

Resolution 8-15, To Enable Regional Elections at 2010 Convention, passes with amendment. In passing this, the convention essentially also set up five regions as found on page 427 of Monday's Today's Business. This did not seem wise to me. We just set up five regions in the LCMS. We did this by debating about the actual composition of the makeup of each region for several minutes, and that was it. Not a way to do business. The delegates should have been allowed much more time to consider the makeup of the regions.

Resolution 8-36 Passes

Resolution 8-36 has been adopted, 1050 to 99.

Resolved, That all who have been serving on boards and commissions which have been eliminated and who have not reached term limits and desire to continue serving be available to the nominating committee for nomination to one of the new positions; and be it further

Resolved, That it be understood that all who have signed “Consent to Serve” agreements to serve on “Advisory Commissions” have agreed to serve on the new “Elected Board.”

Resolution 8-08A Has Been Adopted

Resolution 8-08A, with minor amendment, has been adopted by a vote of 613 to 568.

Who’s Driving the Verbs?

If you’re an Issues, Etc. fan, you recognize the question. It’s one of the questions Pastor Wilken asks when he’s doing a sermon analysis. Hopefully, the sermon contains Jesus, that He’s “driving the verbs,” and the actions He’s performing in the sermon are those such as forgiving sins, not those such as making your life better.

The live feed for the beginning of today’s LCMS Convention included a song sung by the “praise team.” It was Jeremy Camp’s song “You’re Worth of My Praise.”

I didn’t catch the whole song, but here’s the lyrics as found on the internet:

I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise

I will worship, with all of my heart
I will praise you, with all of my strength
I will seek you, all of my days
I will follow, I'll follow all of your ways

I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise
You are worthy of my praise

I will bow down, and I'll hail you as king
I will serve you, I will give you everything
I will lift up my eyes to your throne
I will trust you, I will trust you alone

I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise

I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise

You are worthy, You are worthy
You are worthy of my praise

Oh, I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
Well, You alone, I long, I long to worship
Well, you alone, are worthy of my praise

Well, I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
Well, you alone, are worthy of my praise
You are worthy of my praise

Who’s driving the verbs? Certainly not Jesus. This song is characteristic of the praise songs sung in many LCMS congregations. It’s a song about me and what I’m doing, not a song about Jesus and what He’s done and continues to do, forgiving sin and sustaining and holding all things together.

The opening “church service” at the convention, which included Holy Communion, was called a “Worship Service,” not a “Divine Service.” “Worship Service” is an appropriate title for a theology which believes that you go to church primarily to serve God, rather than the other way around. Hopefully you understand that a church service should be primarily about God showering us with His good gifts.

Where are we as a Synod? It’s disconcerting when what we’re singing and how we label things both point to a theology which is not our own. Perhaps some of what we’re doing at this convention, and how we’re trying to restructure the Synod, are related to this adoption of foreign theology as our own. While you may argue that polity is an adiaphoron, it is not necessarily theologically neutral. What you believe influences your practice, and vice versa. We are on the brink of making decisions which, for all intents and purposes, are irreversible. Now is the last chance to sit down and consider how our actions will influence what we believe. Vote wisely.

Resolution 8-08A Is Being Debated

Resolution 8-08A is currently being debated. It would eliminate the program boards, keeps the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, and create an Office of National Mission and an Office of International Mission. This thing would change the entire nature of the Synod to a top-down Synod. The Committee has anteed all its chips on this one. Vote NO.

Resolution 8-18 Has Been Defeated

Resolution 8-18 had been defeated. There were 680 votes in favor and 495 against. Since it required a 2/3 majority to pass it has been defeated.

Resolution 8-18 resolved that the Synod adopt a four-year cycle for district and national conventions, and that in the four-year cycle, circuits may hold theological convocations in year one; districts shall 36 hold theological convocations in year two; district conventions shall be held in year three; and the national Synod 37 convention shall be held in year four.

I assume the Committee decided to begin its presentation with this resolution because they thought it would likely pass, and they wanted to get things off on a positive note. The defeat of this resolution won't help their cause.

Let the Voting Begin

The convention has just voted to allow Floor Committee 8 to begin presenting the resolutions, which allows for debate and voting on the resolutions themselves, rather than continuing on with the presentation of segment 5. Resolution 8-18, which would adopt a four year convention cycle, is currently being debated. If the Committee can't get this resolution passed, it may be tough sledding ahead for them. Let the voting begin.

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 8

This is your grandfather's mustache!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway on Issues, Etc. Daily This Week to Discuss LCMS Convention

Tune in to Issues, Etc. each day this week at 3:00 p.m. Central Time to hear Mollie Ziegler Hemingway provide live updates on the LCMS Convention.

What’s Best for “Your Guy” at the LCMS Convention?

Today’s session of the LCMS Convention has just concluded.

Judging from the internet questions and comments flying back and forth (which of course is the ultimate arbiter in taking the “pulse” of public opinion), many people are talking about the defeat of the proposed amendment to today’s agenda which would have moved the balloting for President to this morning. Like trying to discern the future using tea leaves (or a Magic 8 Ball, which is my preferred method), people are trying to read something into the results of this vote, which by the margin of 51.5% was voted down (i.e. the vote for President will be taken on Tuesday).

Putting the best construction on the vote, I’d think that many of the delegates really voted based on their personal opinion of what was best for doing the Lord’s work. Yes, I’m sure there were quite a few who were voting based on what they perceived was best for “their guy” (which I'm sure they believe is doing the Lord's work), but from what I’ve seen, many people weren’t really sure what was best for their guy.

My personal (if somewhat unsolicited) opinion, if you want the best indicator for how the delegates will vote for President, take a look at the number of nominations received for each candidate for President (which just happens to be in favor of “my guy,” Pastor Matt Harrison):

Matthew Harrison - 1,332

Gerald Kieschnick - 755

Herbert Mueller Jr. - 503

Carl Fickenscher II - 5

Daniel Gard - 3

Segments 1-4 of Floor Committee 8’s presentation have been completed. When business resumes tomorrow, it will be voted upon whether or not the delegates would like further discussion and continue on with segment 5, or whether they’d like to begin voting on portions of the resolutions immediately.

Thanks to all the delegates out there for putting in the time commitment to do a good job. I appreciate all of your hard work.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD" (Jeremiah 17:7 ESV).

photo credit: bark

If This Is True, Is It Fair?

For a break from convention news, pasted below is a quote from St. Louis station FOX2 made on July 6. Is this just inflammatory language meant to create news, or are the former employees of KFUO-FM being treated unfairly?

ST. LOUIS, MO ( - After 62 years, St. Louis' only classical music radio station has gone off the air. KFOU FM, also known as Classic 99, was sold by the Lutheran Church to a contemporary Christian music station. The Lutheran Church forced all Classic 99 employees to sign an agreement that is at the least questionable under Missouri and federal labor law. It states that if employees want six months severance pay they can not work for anyone, at any job, anywhere, for those 6 months.

No Vote for President Today

A proposed amendment to today's convention agenda to vote for President today has been voted down. No vote for President today.

Voting for President Today at the Convention?

Page 392 of Today's Business contains a proposed amendment to the convention agenda, which if passed would cause the balloting for President to occur at 11:25 a.m. CST.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Altered Altar

For an interesting post on the altar used at the Divine Service at the LCMS Convention (complete with a very good photograph), check out what Pastor Heath Curtis has to say at Gottesdienst Online. My own comment: The altar isn't the place to make a fashion statement. What does the design of the altar say about our theology?

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 7

It's contagious. Here's a photo of a group of happy campers from Peace Lutheran in Alma, Michigan. They're obviously not lacking in unity up there in Michigan. The tall guy on the back right is their undershepherd, Pastor Thomas Messer. To see more great photos of this "mustache momentum," check out Pastor Messer's blog, Abide in My Word.

Saturday Tweets from the LCMS Convention in Houston


We've just finished a rather(how to put best construction ???) eclectic worship service. Will post more tonight on the blog.


"Manipulative mishmash" comes to mind…


Musical thoughts on the #LCMSConvention opening service: "One People" with a whole lot of different musical tastes.

Alleluia Verse. Very nice setting. It looks like the children are being led by Kantor Janet Muth of Memorial, Houston.

Interesting setting of "Thy Strong Word". Does the music overpower the text?


Hearing lots of disappointment with the music of the service.

Link for St. L. P-D article:

St. Louis Post-D: "vote on restructuring has been 5 yrs in making. Kieschnick is primary designer, and he has sold it hard"


"Thy Strong Word," praise band rendition? Interesting choice.


Dr. Stoterau says: Written questions of Floor Committee 8 to be addressed during Q&A @ 2:20 p.m. Sun.

The Mustache Coalition - Forming at an LCMS Convention Near You

The ever growing Mustache Coalition. Collage created by Pastor Todd Wilken and used with permission from his facebook page.

The LCMS Convention on the ALPB Forum

You can follow various topics related to the 2010 LCMS Convention on the ALPB Forum here. As with everything else, read with discernment.

Attendee Podcasts from the Convention

If you go here, you can watch short podcasts of various delegates and attendees at the convention, recorded at the Concordia Theological Seminary booth.

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 6

An English Proverb:

"A man without a mustache is like a cup of tea without sugar."

Friday, July 9, 2010

An Excellent Convention Post by Pastor Todd Peperkorn

For a wonderful perspective on someones first day at the convention, read Pastor Todd Peperkorn's post on his blog Lutheran Logomaniac. Here's a sneak preview:
I know this is a little rambling. It’s late, but I wanted to get something written for the day. There are many friends here, old and new. It’s great to see them all. There are people I have been in conflict with in various was here as well. I pray for reconciliation. There will be lots of back room deals and shenanigans. There always are. But in the midst of it all, God can and is still at work. Sometimes it happens through us. Sometimes it happens in spite of us. Sometimes both at the same time. It is my prayer this week that the decisions and elections that take place here in Houston will further His Kingdom, and that the old hymn will remain true, “Lord, help us ever to retain, the catechisms doctrine plain, as Luther taught the word of truth, in simple words to tender youth!”

Today's Tweets on Floor Committee 8

Tweets from today's open meeting for Floor Committee 8 - Structure & Governance:

PPPadre / Rev. Michael Mohr reports:
I have been sitting here for three hours and have only heard one person supportive of the restructuring proposal.
LCMS2010 states:

Lay delegate just left 8 saying the cttee's defensive response to all questions was a "joke"

Thus far, all degate questions have expressed concern about proposals

Floor commitee 8 struggling to explain their claim that proposals increase congregational authority.

LCMS Convention News from a Confessional Perspective:

For you confessional LCMS Lutherans who want to keep close tabs on the convention, head to They are keeping track of what's going on in Houston. This should be a very helpful site as the convention progresses, especially if you're a delegate. They provide timely and useful information. From the site:

We have developed several methods to get our message out to the delegates or other interested parties.

■ You may check this website for information during the convention
■ We will be holding gatherings for each district to get information out as well .. if you are interested in this and have not yet been contacted, please contact us and we’ll get you in touch with your district contact person
■ If you have email that you will be regularly checking during the convention, you may sign up for our email list below
■ We have set up a twitter account that we will be using during the convention.

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 5

Get your Rally 'Stache now! This Houston vendor told me he can't keep them on the shelf.

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 4

I didn't realize it, but Dumb Dumb has fans too. This one by request. Dumb Dumb and Paige with their game faces on. Dumb dumb is pretty stoic about it - even he knows that It's Time!

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 3

Stars do it,

Trees do it,

Even Polaroid devotees do it!

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 2

Birds do it,

Bees do it,

Even old hippies do it!

The Rally 'Stache Is Upon Us, Part 1

Photo credit: ginnerobot

Pastor Wilken on Table Scraps

Evan Goeglein interviewed Pastor Todd Wilken in the June 28 edition of Table Scraps, which is a production of Table Talk Radio. It was a great and far-ranging interview while discussing President Kieschnick's five critical considerations which we face going into the convention. Here's a quote of Pastor Wilken:
...I think that we need to finally admit that just because we're rich, and just because we have peace on our borders, and just because we drive fancy cars and are able to build big office buildings for our church officials, that doesn't make us leaders. What makes for a leader in global confessional Lutheranism are Christians who are faithful to the Scripture and the confessions and will not compromise with the culture. And whoever is doing that I will call a leader in global confessional Lutheranism. And at this point, honestly, I can't say that of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod or of its current leadership.
Listen to the whole interview:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This is Missouri’s Moment

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s 64th Regular Convention begins on Saturday. As the convention draws closer, I become more and more excited about the opportunities which confront us as confessional Lutherans.

For decades now our Synod has become increasingly fixed on a reliance on answers that come from on high, i.e. Synod boards, task forces, and committees such as the Commission on Constitutional Matters, the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, and the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance, rather than on the plain and simple Word of God and our Confession. A burgeoning body of “canon law” is being created. All of this complexity and reliance on official pronouncements is not lost on the laity.

While the average Jane and Joe pew-sitter may not be aware of every “ruling” in the Synod, they do notice billboards proclaiming that “JeffersonHills Church Sucks” [sic], they do read about Holy Week firings in The Wall Street Journal, and they do make note of missionaries being pulled from the field. They shake their heads and wonder what is going on in St. Louis. While they may not be interested in reading the LCMS Board of Directors “Board Briefs,” they still understand the difference between their own congregation’s grass roots efforts to proclaim the Gospel to those who hunger for the forgiveness of sins versus an evangelism marketing campaign on a web page.

For all the talk of restructuring, the congregational polity is still alive and well in the LCMS, because it is here that the mission of the church has taken place, and it is here that it will continue to take place. From pulpit, font, and altar, the Lord grows His Church, at times rapidly, at other times slowly, as we continue to wait on Him. This, we laymen understand.

Ultimately, the impending Presidential election and the restructuring proposals are not about this or that personality, they are about in Whom we place our trust. No amount of restructuring will rush the Lord in His mission, and very few laymen want to see a 2010 Convention commemorative coin minted with the LCMS logo on one side accompanied by the motto “IN STRUCTURE WE TRUST,” and a likeness of the LCMS headquarters on the other side with the motto “SOLA STRUCTURA.”

As the structural bridle is cinched tighter and tighter on the congregational horse, it increasingly chafes. The horse can see the lush grass of Lutheran theology. Will he be allowed to graze, or be put to the whip?

C.F.W. Walther, the first president of the LCMS warned:
God forbid that we ever get to the point where we merely put on a big show and then have a convention in which we discuss all sorts of peripheral piffle about ceremonies, rules, and insignificant trifles (armselige Lappalien). Instead of that, may we always concentrate on the study of doctrine.
     …We come here to be strengthened in our faith and knowledge, and we desire this not primarily for the salvation of our souls, but so that we might become more proficient in feeding our congregations in the green meadows of the Gospel. …If the study of doctrine is not the number one priority at synodical conventions, then one of two things will happen: either the convention will be manufacturing laws, or even worse, it will degenerate into an affair of mutual praise, love-assurance, and life-insurance. [emphasis in original] (Essays for the Church, Vol. I, 46, 47)
Our congregational horse needs some breathing room. Now is the time to loosen the reins, returning to the theology that at one time unified us, rather than the tighter rein of Synodical structure. I cannot help but be optimistic that we will slacken the reins and loosen the bridle so that the wonderful Lutheran theology on which the LCMS was built will once again be allowed to guide our thoughts and actions, that the truth of the Gospel will be unbridled and proclaimed to a world thirsting for living water. As I’ve heard Pastor Matt Harrison say, “It is Missouri’s moment!”

photo credit: pmarkham

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Not Called to Amateurish Ecclesiastical Bungling and Blundering

From a comment by Pastor Clint Poppe on The Brothers of John the Steadfast website:
Friedrich Wyneken, in his 1860 Synodical address, said:

God has put into our hands His “sword,” i.e. His holy, eternal Word, especially His saving Gospel. Through the Word, He has led us back to Luther’s writings. And through Luther’s writings, He has led us to the chief article of justification in particular. And He raised from the dead the proven commanders-in-chief of our spiritual fathers and has placed them at the head of our army. We have not been called to amateurish ecclesiastical bungling and blundering, to present from beautiful paragraphs well-enumerated orders for ecclesiastical government. We have not been called to drill and train well-dressed honor guards with pretty uniforms-in whose revolutionary tiny machinations today’s religious faith seeks and finds most of its special satisfaction and edification. We have not been called to haul together building stones for the empty space of an empty-headed, wavering church of the future… However, as we well know, everything hinges upon the following fact: that the article of justification be and retain its place correctly in this arena. This is what diferentiates between those who merely strike in the air and are warriors of the devil, and those who are true Christians and warriors of God [1 Cor. 9:26].

“At Home in the House of My Fathers,” p 412-3.