Surely there are those who think themselves the consciences of the churches and the enforcers of a mindless uniformity -- even where Scripture and the Confessions allow room for difference. But there are far more of those who hide their heads in the local congregation, try to ignore what is going on in St. Louis and the larger church, and who wish we could all just get along and overlook such unpleasantness. There are those who seem to test every rule, throw doubt on every certainty, raise questions that have already been answered, and who do so under the guise of gospel freedom or faithfulness to something larger than a church body, a confession, and a constitution. And then there are a few who risk being misunderstood and unfairly characterized in order to hold the churches and her ministers accountable, to challenge divergence that departs from Scripture and the Confessions, and to call to repentance those who enter into error or call error truth.
I do not intend to defend the thought police. I do not desire to let the false charge of politics to stain those or their efforts to hold us all accountable. I will not allow the congregations and clergy of our church to bury our heads in the sand while our confession and doctrinal integrity is rendered weak and impotent by our unwillingness to deal with this thorny and messy problem. I am ashamed of those who believe that in the name of truth they would ask us to depart from every truth we have believed, confessed, and taught in accord with Scripture since our Synod's founding. I will publicly support those who, in true love of Christ and their brothers and sisters, practice doctrinal supervision and the ecclesiastical discipline. I hope and pray you will join me in this cause.
The Rev. John Pless has written well of the consequences of failing to practice this supervision of doctrine and practice and ecclesiastical discipline. Read all his words here. I quote a paragraph below.
The office of the ministry is not an entitlement but carries with it accountability to the public standards of Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. It is far more than adhering to humanly-devised bylaws and legal procedures; it requires fidelity to the teachings of Holy Scriptures and an unqualified commitment to the Book of Concord. Werner Elert’s words are to the point: “Because evangelical Lutheran confession accords with Scripture, it is intolerable for an entity not bound by this confession to have jurisdiction in the realm of doctrinal matters.”He warns us well. We who serve the Church as her ministers have not been given free rein to doubt or challenge the faith once delivered to the saints and faithfully confessed. This is not politics or matters of mere constitutional article or by-law provision. This is about the certainty our people may have with the doctrine in which they have been catechized (Luke 1:4). Just as we dare not raise false charge, we dare not fail to hold accountable those who violate Scripture and the Confessions and the public witness of our Synod. Such a failure does nothing less than rob Christ’s people of the truth of the saving Gospel.