Friday, March 4, 2016

Just say no. . .

Although the number is not high, it is no longer “exceptional” to have priests turn down an appointment as bishop, according to Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Speaking yesterday about the annual course his office sponsors for new bishops, the Cardinal was asked about rumours that more and more priests are saying they do not want to be a bishop and declining an appointment even when the Pope, on the recommendation of Cardinal Ouellet’s office, has chosen them.

Read the whole story here. . . 

I am happy to report that there is little chance I will ever be a bishop (Lutheran or otherwise) and many of you are breathing a sigh of relief about that fact.  I am not even sure I want to be a Senior Pastor (but that is mostly about age, something I cannot do much about).  But it appears that I am not alone.  There are those who are following William Tecumseh Sherman's dictim:  "If nominated, I will not run.  If elected I will not serve." I respect that.  Being a bishop (or even a District President, for those of the Missouri variety who eschew the episcopacy) is hardly a plum job.  You get all the responsibility with not much direct authority and every kind of complaint imaginable.  I have great respect for those who humbly accept and do the job well but for every one like this there are mediocre candidates and even less than mediocre men who serve without much distinction.  It saddens me that such is the case.  We need good strong bishops (DPs for the weak stomached among us) who do not merely listen but lead, who do not merely administer but minister, and who do not merely talk but teach.  That said, when a man knows he is not that fellow and does not believe it is God who is calling him, the one who declines is wiser beyond his years.

All in all it is an angry time in America.  People are angry for all sorts of reasons (the Trump phenomenon is certainly due to the pent up anger and frustration of many).  It is also a troubled time when being correct is not enough to prevent you from being assaulted from all sides.  It is a time when authority is demanded and authority is rejected.  I have never aspired to the office and am pretty confident that I possess neither the temperament nor the requisite wisdom and patience for the job.  For that matter no one has suggested I did.  But I have the greatest respect for those who do and also for those who know they do not and so decline.  It is the best of times and the worst of times -- really.  We need a few good men.  In the parish and to serve the episcopal responsibilities the church requires.  Pray for them.  Pray for those who will be asked, elected, and installed.  And pray for your pastor just the same.


Carl Vehse said...

Rev. Peters: "I am happy to report that there is little chance I will ever be a bishop (Lutheran or otherwise)"

Wait. What?!?

At your ordination, Rev. Peters, you were asked, "Do you confess the Unaltered Augsburg Confession to be a true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church? And do you confess that the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Authority and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord — as these are contained in the 1580 Book of Concord — are also in agreement with this one scriptural faith?"

Didn't you answer: "Yes, I make these Confessions my own because they are in accord with the Word of God"?

And doesn't the Treatise on the Authority and Primacy of the Pope state: "61] And by the confession of all, even of the adversaries, it is clear that this power by divine right is common to all who preside over churches, whether they are called pastors, or elders, or bishops. 62] And accordingly Jerome openly teaches in the apostolic letters that all who preside over churches are both bishops and elders, and cites from Titus 1:5f : For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain elders in every city [and afterwards calls these persons bishops]"?

Thus, by Scriptural authority as exposited in the Treatise and by your Divine Call, you are (and you confessed to being) a bishop.

As for being a "bishop" as defined by some human authority or polity, or distinguished by wearing a pointy hat, that is a separate issue.

Carl Vehse said...

Rev. Peters: "DPs for the weak stomached among us"

As a member of the Commission on Constitutional Matters, you, Rev. Peters, should show a little more respect for the polity of the Missouri Synod for which the CCM exists to ensure that polity is followed according to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod, and particularly regarding the title of "District President," as repeatedly explained by the CCM.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if enough people declined accepting the office of district president, true reform of the districts can actually take place.

Carl Vehse said...

Anonymous: "Maybe if enough people declined accepting the office of district president, true reform of the districts can actually take place."

That assumes that having newly-elected DPs replacing long-time incumbents is hindering needed true reform. Given the problems in the Missouri Synod, particularly those noted by the ACELC, one could argue that it's just the opposite.

In any case, there has been no evidence presented that the statement by a Roman Cardinal in Canada, about a "not huge" number of priests declining to become Roman bishops is also occurring with the 35 DP positions in the LCMS.