Sunday, April 14, 2013
Wish I had not read it. . .
You can read it all here....
The main points of the findings are that disharmony is caused by and reflected in:
1. Inability to Deal with Diversity.
2. A Lack of Civility.
3. A Politicized Culture
4. Primarily a Clergy Problem
5. Poor Communication
6. Lack of Accountability
Let me begin by saying I do not argue with any of those seven points as being a cause and an encouragement of the disharmony in Synod. What I do find shocking, however, is that missing from this list are doctrinal disagreement and practices at odds with our confession. I have no doubt that these are as causal and as important, if not more so, than the seven identified by the commission.
The first point is a fruit of our lack of trust and so it is connected to the last point on the list. Our inability to deal with diversity is fueled less by our lack of trust, however, and more by the dramatic differences, dare I say conflicts, between the doctrine taught and the practices of the parishes of Synod and their Pastors. I have never said that I am the model of what all Lutheran Pastors should be. I have never said that my parish and its practice should be normative for Synod. What I have challenged is the open hostility toward liturgical congregations and doctrinal teaching and parish practice that is more congruent with our Synod over history. We lived through a decade or more in which the liturgical parish and faithful confession and confessional practice were held up as impediments to growth and ridiculed openly at District and Synod levels by our leaders. Happily that is changing but the idea of diversity cannot be discussed apart from the conflicts with confession and practice that openly exist between the congregations and clergy of our Synod. These are not small matters. We do not need uniformity in every way but we do need consistency and we need parishes that reflect a familial identity in what doctrine is confessed and how it is practiced. That has been sorely lacking and the problem here is not so much an inability to deal with diversity as much as it is a diversity that betrays our unity by consistently living on the edge.
Of course it is primarily a clergy problem. The clergy are the teachers of the faith in the parish and those who oversee doctrine and practice are clergy so, duh, it is a clergy problem. But it is NOT a simple issue of problem clergy. There is a difference. Yes we do have problem clergy; those who cry the sky is falling every time a song is sung they do not like. But this is a clergy problem only because it is the clergy who are teaching the faith and handling the bulk of the practical decisions about how that faith is done. We must be careful to make this distinction. A few angry voices silenced might make the scene quieter but it will not end the problem of disharmony.