Tuesday, April 9, 2019

More important than many care to note. . .

Churches like the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod face a convention cycle every now and again, well, in this case every three years.  There are enough shenanigans and goofiness in this preconvention time to make even the most stoic among us nervous.  Truth be told, it is not simply about issues but about personalities, not simply about visions for the future but the sins of the past, and not simply about what is best for the church as it is who gets to decide what is best for this church.  I wish it were over.

There are tales of doom and gloom that make the end of the world look tame.  There are accusations of incompetence and incoherence that would suggest we have a habit of electing the most flawed leaders among us.  There is the great temptation to make mountains out of mole hills and mole hills out of mountains.  It is a messy experiment -- this democratic style institution -- and it seems to get messier with every passing triennium.

Although reading this blog you might get another idea, I am far removed from the halls of power.  I have opinions and sometimes people agree with them but I have little influence and little desire to be a king maker.  That said, I do have a stake in the outcomes -- as does everyone in this church body.  We have a stake in what happens.  That is why we owe it to ourselves to be well informed -- and not simply from the tabloids or slick marketing tools of the various camps.  We need to look deeper to find out what is really at stake.  This is not a referendum on praise bands or a popularity contest about who you like or who you don't.  These kinds of gatherings have a great deal to do with who we are and how we present ourselves to the world around us.

So if you happen to be a delegate, take that responsibility seriously.  Before you peruse the pages of a weekly newspaper or internet site to find out how you should vote, you need to know who we are as Lutherans.  Try reading the Augsburg Confession.  Review the Small and Large Catechisms of Luther.  Read the Apology.  Check out the Formula of Concord.  Make sure that you can discern the funny stuff from the serious, the truth from error, and reality from the sensational.

We are voting on substantial things but we cannot vote on God's Word.  Doctrine is not established by majority or plurality.  We need to make sure that we are students of the Word and students of the Book of Concord before we study up on what the old voices of discontent in our church body and the new voices of change are saying.  Perhaps we need an SAT or ACT exam on Lutheran teaching and practice before exercising the vote.  It is, perhaps a radical idea, but it could not hurt.  So if you will be headed to lovely Tampa in July of this year, do yourself and your church a favor and dig into the Word of God and our Lutheran Symbols.  Make sure you can spot a red herring or a straw man or a sensationalist position.  Give us all a break and take your role, responsibility, and purpose very seriously.  Just a few radical thoughts. . .


Carl Vehse said...

"There are enough shenanigans and goofiness in this preconvention time to make even the most stoic among us nervous."

Like claiming the Missouri Synod is a "Church" or that District Presidents are "Bishops."

"I am far removed from the halls of power. I have opinions and sometimes people agree with them but I have little influence and little desire to be a king maker."

Says a member of the CCM.

Anonymous said...

I don't care what anyone says, making the convention theme the same as the name of a book you wrote is pure genius. Absolute. Gold.
Collver who? Engelbrecht goofiness? Just ignore it all while we vote on banning lay lectors...

Carl Vehse said...

Speaking of reducing shenanigans and goofiness, maybe convention delegates will propose and pass a resolution that Synod and District executives and administrators not include "Dr." in their title unless it is an earned academic doctorate from an accredited school.

Anonymous said...

Anon 833.
The Bible bans women lectors, women giving children sermon in the Congregation worship setting. Get mad at Jesus. Where does it come from? Heterodox churches introduce it! Those who dismiss God's Word to allow it. How else can you do it? When you dismiss God's Word (Ordain Women) and make worship a work of the people (Vatican 2 introduces it) that's where this comes from in the last 100 years, and into the LCMS after Rome's Vatican 2.

And Harrison uses a theme for a convention and matches it with a devotional book on the Catechism. How is that bad? Better than the last SP who puts out a book (that no one wants to buy) before a Convention, fills the cover with his face in full color and phony tile of doctor (it was honorary!).

Anonymous said...

Hello Pastor Peters,

Yes, I am a delegate from the WY district and I have been receiving some "funny" mail to say the least. Thanks for your helpful advice, and I will do all the things you list here. I was reading my AC last night, and have spoken to my pastor about how to vote on a number of issue. Thanks for this post, and I will continue in prayer and study of the important issue of this convention.

In Christ,


Anonymous said...

"We need to make sure that we are students of the Word and students of the Book of Concord before we study up on what the old voices of discontent in our church body and the new voices of change are saying. Perhaps we need an SAT or ACT exam on Lutheran teaching and practice before exercising the vote."

Agreed. LCMS leaders like to spend more time and energy reviewing and making bylaws and resolutions instead of studying and promoting the Lutheran confessions. Suggestion: Would it be possible to eliminate some of those bylaws that no one, neither "old voices" nor "new voices," bothers to follow in the first place?

No one wants to address the issue that the mega-churches offer a watered-down (Baptist) theology that is hostile to the Lutheran confessions. How should confessional Lutherans witness to the unchurched hipsters? If Lutheran congregations were to offer a product indistinguishable from the non-denominational mega-church, the hipsters will laugh at them:

The Truth About Hipsters

"All Hipsters look the same. All megachurches look the same."

The core problem with becoming an LCMS Lutheran is that the new Lutheran layman begins to view not just Lutheran theology, but all Christian theology through a political lens.

Anonymous said...

In the weirdo-verse that Carl V. inhabits the items he keeps copying/pasting over and over ad infinitum actually matter. The rest of us just read his endless repetitions and laugh, hard and often.

It is admirable that Pr. Peters continues to tolerate his presence on his blog site. It is a kindly gesture toward a dotard such as Carl.

Carl Vehse said...

Delegates to the synod convention should also read C.F.W. Walther's Church and Ministry or at least Walther's Theses on Church and Ministry (in German and various translations). These theses of Walther have been been the official position of our Synod on church and ministry since 1851 (reaffirmed in 2001), and Walther's book has been declared the definitive statement under Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions of the Synod’s understanding on the subject of church and ministry, to be honored and upheld by all pastors, professors, teachers of the church, and congregations.

As in previous convention years, these theses are likely to be important in considering some of the proposed resolutions dealing with the polity, structure and operation of the synod and how the synod and congregations relate to each other.

William Weedon said...

Pastor Peters, thank you for this post. I could not agree more strongly with the BEST preparation for a Synodical Convention delegate being a thorough review of the core confessional documents of our Church. Sometimes folks rag on the LCMS structure, but you know, it works well when you bring the assumption to it that its founders had: that those who are operating within it are Lutheran not by accidental association, but by conviction of heart and confession. At bare minimum if delegates would read and study the Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism, they’d be far better equipped to do the work they gather for than by reading any piece written in the last year to sway opinion.

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry, just where does Jesus ban women lectors? (You said 'get mad at Jesus', so I suppose He bans the practice.) If you cannot understand that there is a huge difference between allowing women to be lay readers and ordaining them as pastors, then I don't know if anyone can help you. My guess is that while you would probably find few active pastors in the Synod who reject women serving as lay readers, you would find even fewer active pastors who support women's ordination.

I do not know why you are so upset with President Kieschnick putting out a book and using the (honorary) title of "Dr." on it. Al Barry did the same thing. In 1997, he published a book called 'To the Ends of the Earth' which was then used as the theme of the convention. He used the title "Dr." consistently (although it was also honorary). I agree with Carl that such terminology should only be used by those who have earned the degree, not by those who have an honorary one, but this is the Synod's tradition and I doubt it will go away.

I agree with what Pastor Peters writes here. I also think it would behoove us to spend time in prayer for the convention and the Synod leadership.

Carl Vehse said...

The cover of Al Barry's book, To the Ends of the Earth : A Journey Through Acts, had the title on the top half of the cover, a map of the world on the bottom half and "A.L. Barry" in smaller font at the very bottom.

Jerry Kieschnick's book, Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Birth, Growth, Decline, and Rebirth of an American Church has "Rev. Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick" at the top of the cover just above the title.

BTW, the phrase "sleeping giant" comes from a Foreword by Billy Graham to James Kennedy's 1970 Evangelism Explosion book, referring to a Canadian pastor using the term to describe the laity. Billy Graham also referred, at various times, to the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, and Native Americans, as a "sleeping giant."