"When a theologian is asked to yield and make concessions in order that peace may at last be established in the Church, but refuses to do so even in a single point of doctrine, such an action looks to human reason like intolerable stubbornness, yea, like downright malice. That is the reason why such theologians are loved and praised by so few men during their lifetime. Most men rather revile them as disturbers of the peace, yea, as destroyers of the kingdom of God. They are regarded as men worthy of contempt. But in the end it becomes manifest that this very determined, inexorable tenacity in clinging to the pure teaching of the divine Word by no means tears down the Church; on the contrary, it is just this which, in the midst of greatest dissension, builds up the Church and ultimately brings about genuine peace." C. F. W. Walther
I thought of this quote at the very moment I was reviewing the PIF (Pastor's Information Form" and SET (Self-Evaluation Tool). In particular, I note the section on theological and liturgical stance. In the liturgical attitude section you can choose between rigid (oh, bad, very bad) and flexible (good, always good). It also offers you a chance to mark Traditional (what, page 15?), High Liturgical (suggests here chanting, additional vestments like a cope? or formal attire like a clerical collar?) or Contemporary (write your own and do your own thing). In the theological section you place yourself on a continuum which goes from 5 (hard core conservative) to 1 (flexible and willing to adjust to others).
I wonder how a C. F. W. Walther might fill that out..... Hmmmmm.
Just in case you think any Pastor might just lie about himself to look good on paper (how who would do that), the Elders of your congregation get a shot at defining you and your DP (perhaps influenced by the Circuit Counselor) also gets to second guess your answers. Of course all of this is completely Scriptural ("do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought").
Just thinkin.... and you know how dangerous that can be.
BTW I put these thoughts away and then re-thought them after pulling out the mysterious envelope I got at the District Pastoral Conference.... So I decided to pass it all on to you, my BFFs.
WWJFO - What Would Jesus Fill Out? For God so loved the world that He did not send a committee or a survey!
So sad that even in the LCMS (believe me, the Baptists have this stuff down pat) the devil is in the paperwork...
Temptation meets us everywhere, and pastors are their own biggest idols, just like the rest of us.
For all the LCMS pastors who have to use these forms, please note that there is an instruction sheet that goes with the PIF. It gives an official definition to the various options--somewhat different, I might note, than a pastor or call committee looking at the form might understand from the form itself. Anyone filling out or reading a PIF should also have the instruction sheet and use it. Otherwise you might as well read tea leaves, they would be almost as helpful.
The point of the post still stands, but the instructions mitigate some of the potential harm.
I say there is an excess of seminarians that create a bureaucracy of detached theory versus spiritual reality. Nothing a theologian says now beats anything that was said before. Especially where patriarchs of The Reformation are concerned. In the Priesthood of All Believers i reject such intellectualism. Burn the books.
There seems to be a question missing:
Have you stopped beating your wife?
The questions are inherently biased such that any but the very most confident, informed, wary, wise pastors/congregations will be manipulated into answering/choosing the preferred responses.
I want to know who wrote those questions. An actual individual wrote those statements and selected each word very carefully. What is that man's name? Let him explain to the synod why he wrote it as he did. As a lay person, I would really like to know his name.
I looked at the instructions on that PIF and it does appear to do exactly what Pastor Peter's post says. It says: 3 indicates a pastor who evangelically follows the synodical position on doctrine and practice. 5 or 1 mean he is very conservative to the point of causing problems in congregation or district or is very liberal and has caused problems in both.
Writing about this nonsense in a blog is important, indeed. But very much like citizenship in this country, if all the Christ-centered ones sit back, whine and complain, evil will continue to rule the day. However, remember,ONE LITTLE WORD SHALL FELL HIM. Rise again, ye lion-hearted! Make a noise! Call the DP and the Purple Palace. Flood them with the TRUTH!
I think it's helpful to remember -- all of this in service of making "suitable, prayerful 'matches'" between congregations and potential pastors.
Note the "Caveats on the Calling Process" circulated in recent months in one district president's newsletter. In it you'll see that the LCMS practice teaches that the Holy Spirit needs help because He can't be trusted to gift men for the office He places them into. So the point to these things is to allow Christ's vicars on earth to make decisions and take things off God's plate so He can focus on more important matters.
I should mention, not ALL of the admonitions contained in the following quote are improper. It is unseemly for ANY man to inject himself into the process in such a way as to manipulate the outcome. This is true whether it is a potential candidate putting his own name forward -- or someone who ate some bad cheese claiming to feel the movements of the Holy Spirit in making prayerful "matches".
Caveats on the “Calling Process“– Please read, honor, and observe:
For ecclesiastical, legal, and moral reasons, it is not appropriate to contact vacant congregations, solicit for a call, or suggest names of pastors to a vacant congregation’s call committee.[??? - emphasis added] Names that might be suggested for a vacant congregation MUST be given to the District President (Bishop), who then contacts the District where that Pastor is either serving or on candidate status. Sometimes pastors are on a restricted status (ineligible for a call) or there are special considerations (examples: a wife cannot handle cold winters, a child has epilepsy, or a family member has severe allergies) or special concerns (no details needed). It is the ecclesiastical responsibility of the District President, having visited the congregations of his District, to know the needs and concerns of a vacant calling congregation and to make suitable, prayerful “matches.” [emphasis added] Congregations are not to solicit PIFs and SETs from various organizations and “lists” from various groups. Nor are pastors to give congregations PIFs and SETs of themselves or other pastors, and thus by-pass the agreed upon means of call process in the LCMS which honors our theology and passes through the offices of our 35 DPs. Information on PIFs and SETs is confidential and not to be distributed except by district presidents and through the circuit visitor (counselor) handling a vacant congregation’s call process. When a congregation is vacant, the call committee can request “names” from church members for a couple of weeks, and then those names are given to the District President for consideration and review. Most DPs spend a lot of time in carefully considering candidates for a call list of a vacant calling congregation.
Post a Comment