Thursday, January 31, 2019

Episcopal failure. . .

If you have read here before, you have heard me harp on the failure of bishops, of ecclesiastical supervision and discipline, and of the dangerous distance between what we say we believe and how e live out that faith.  Of late we witnessed a supposed Roman Catholic leading the charge, so to speak, on behalf of abortion laws that now allow abortion up to the point of birth.  Imagine, one minute earlier the child is legally possible to abort and one minute later that same child has all the rights and privileges of being a protected human life.  Perhaps the only thing more shocking than the abortion law itself is the fact that those who claim to belong to the Roman Catholic Church have not only worked for but now celebrate their progressive accomplishment!  Unless, of course, you find the timidity of his Archbishop and others within that church body to condemn those elected leaders a greater scandal.

Perhaps there is another aspect of this to further illustrate the hesitance of the bishops to be bishops.  Cuomo is divorced, living with another woman, and, though claiming to be Roman Catholic, apparently has not presented himself for communion in more than a year.  So he claims without impunity to be a good and faithful Roman Catholic and yet has publicly violated church teaching without showing any repentance, contrition, or remorse.

Lest we Lutherans think too smugly of the sins of Roman Catholics in this, we have our own episcopal failures that should grieve our conscience and cause us concern.  The whole issue here is one of integrity.  Bishops are charged, in large measure, with preserving the public integrity of the Church by watching over doctrine and practice and holding congregation, clergy, and public figures accountable.  Indeed, if we are not so concerned about the integrity of the faith, at least we should be concerned for the salvation of the individual's soul.  The role of ecclesiastical supervisor is to walk the often difficult but essential line between the care of the soul and the preservation of the integrity of what is believed, confessed, and taught.  While it might be a heavy burden to bear and a difficult tightrope to walk, no one compels a man to be a bishop (or whatever other name you choose for those who fulfill this role and purpose).  If it is important for the Church to be a faithful administrator and good steward of the resources entrusted to her, then it is no less important to maintain the unity of the faith and manifest the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


Carl Vehse said...

It's been twenty-seven years since the adjudication system was replaced by a feckless dispute resolution process that has been shown time and time again to be utterly useless. Its uselessness in serving the doctrinal integrity of a synod of evangelical Lutheran churches is unLutheran. Yet nothing has been done by synod leadership to remove the dispute resolution process and restore the adjudication process. In fact, in the 27 years the dispute resolution process has grown into a labyrinth of bylaws that protect the guilty and threaten the innocent.

If an adjudication system cannot be reestablished within the synod's polity, an episcopal polity, as seen in the episcopal failures, isn't going to help the Missouri Synod either.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Carl, we need true Bishops in our LCMS churches. You are correct that the current polity doesn't work. It's not just about the right set of by-laws but men acting, serving as true Bishops for ecclesiastical oversight.

Carl Vehse said...

I don't agree that we need episcopal bishops in an episcopal polity in the Missouri Synod.

What we need is for the synod convention to be allowed (and expected) to do their job and revoke the dispute resolution system and restore the adjudication system. And then the synodical members, including the synod president and district presidents to use the adjudication system... even when the adjudication system is used against one of them, as it was prior to January, 1992, when a corrupt CCM pulled an opinion out of its keister to override the constitution and bylaws.

Today, a Missouri Synod Lutheran pewsitter wonders how many on the CCM or in some Districts would like to see the Missouri Synod swerve off Walther's Kirche und Amt polity road into the episcopal ditch.

As Carl Mundinger noted in his Government in the Missouri Synod, (CPH, 1947, p. 125):

"Was the Vehse-Walther-Luther principle, that laymen have the power by majority vote to regulate financial and spiritual matters, practicable?... Nowhere is the working of this principle better revealed than in the minutes of Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Louis, one of the mother churches of the Missouri Synod... [I]t can be said that by and large the principle of congregational supremacy was applied in the early years of 'Old Trinity' and that it worked."

Carl Vehse said...

Since the Lutheran Confessions make no distinction between “bishop” and “pastor,” I’m willing to call a DP “bishop” –IF he is one, that is, if he is a pastor.

Does he serves as a called pastor of a congregation? Does he faithfully administer the Word and Sacraments (and sees to it that the congregations he oversees do the same)? If yes, I’ll call him “bishop.” Otherwise, he deserves the title “president,” nothing more.

By this standard, few of our DPs qualify as “bishops.”

We shouldn’t apply the term where doesn’t belong, especially not honorifically.

Calling DPs who aren’t pastors “bishop” won’t make them act like pastors; it will only make them think that they are churchly princes –which most of them already think anyway.

Oh, wait! I didn't write the above. Pastor Todd Wilken wrote that.

Anonymous said...

Matt Harrison has done nothing to restore the adjudication process. Perhaps he is a fraud only pretending to be a confessional reformer as the mobbing article by Pastor Engelbrecht suggests.

Anonymous said...

Episcopal Failures in the LCMS indeed.

When will the LCMS finally confront the Gerry Kieschnick crowd and the Evangelical Church Growth nonsense. I know I will never trust my LCMS pastor again. Below are a couple of recent Facebook comments from Chris Rosebrough:

Carl Vehse said...

Various overtures submitted by congregations or the Wyoming District to restore an adjudication system have been derailed or subsumed as references for non-relevant resolutions for the 2010, 2013, and 2016 synod conventions.

The chances of an Adjudication-restoration overture being promoted by (or surviving) the CCM, the Commission on the Handbook, and the floor committee for the 2019 convention are likely miniscule.

Engelbrecht's article did not advocate for or discuss restoring an adjudication process. Nor are liberal organizations like "CongregationsMatter" likely to promote the restoration of the adjudication system.

Lutheran Lurker said...

There is no hitch with the CCM to restore adjudication since it was previously the practice of Synod. Neither would the Commission on Handbook have a problem. Neither commission weighs in on the value of things -- only the format and constitutionality of what is proposed. The floor committee and convention would be the only hurdles.

Anonymous said...

Why does this poor, pathetic person Richard Strickert, son of a LCMS Pastor, feel this obsessive need to comment on Lutheran forums when he so obviously suffers from such an ignorance about Lutheran theology and practice? He has absolutely no idea what he ever is talking about. He cherishes what can only but be described as a deranged understanding of Lutheran history and he obsesses over this odd man named "Carl Vehse" ... it is pathetic, and it would be laughable, were it not so utterly and totally shameful.

Carl Vehse said...

In Zion on the Mississippi, Walter Forster wrote (pp. 171-3):

"By the beginning of September, 1838.... the idea of formally establishing a hierarchy was growing apace. Those in the inner circle, of course, had had ample opportunity to accustom themselves to the idea, since it had been formally presented to them at the meeting in 1836. But now other members of the Gesellschaft and the entire committee made direct references to Stephan as the 'bishop.' While the various Codes constantly refer to him as the clergyman who is first in rank (der erste Geistliche) and studiously avoid use of the term "bishop," they nevertheless endow him with episcopal powers and thus justify the conclusion that to them der erste Geistliche was indeed a 'bishop,' or, a 'primate.'

"It is hard to escape the conclusion that before leaving Germany, Stephan and the majority of pastors, candidates, and lay leaders were clearly committed to the plan of introducing the episcopal polity."

Yet fourteen months later, Dr. Carl Vehse stated to the Stephanite clergy:

"One can give up only that which one has. What one does not have and is not properly one’s own, one cannot give up. The choice of a bishop or adoption of an episcopal form of church government is a matter for the congregations, not for the pastors. The clergy may accept the office of bishop or an episcopal form of church government if the congregation decides to confer it upon them and if they find it to be for good. Herein we see clear evidence that the position of the clergy has been erroneous."

Carl Vehse said...

"I do wonder why there is this seeming need to refer to district presidents as 'bishop'. In what way is a district president a 'bishop'? What altar/pulpit/font does he serve? The LCMS constitution and bylaws speak of the office of district president, not of bishop — for a reason.

"But the LCMS does not have 'bishops' unless it is in the sense of pastor... As I am sure you know, the LCMS had some bad experiences with the title and intentionally chose NOT to use that word in reference to its synodical or district presidents.

"Why this desire to ascribe titles to men they do not have?... [A district president] is an honorable and useful office. But he is not a bishop. Not even in the sense of 'all pastors are bishops'. A pastor is one who has been called by God to shepherd a flock with the Means of Grace."

Rev. Steve Bohler wrote that here and here.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @ January 31, 2019 at 6:33 PM

Your post proves the point that mobbing does indeed occur throughout the LCMS.

Carl Vehse, however, injects a healthy dose of realism to every online discussion regarding LCMS matters. What wise ruler wouldn't want a devil's advocate at the king's table of trusted advisors? Given his extensive knowledge of LCMS politics and bylaws, it is disappointing that Synod and district leaders do not offer him a seat at the policymaking table.

Keep up the good work, Carl. You are evidently irritating the right people!