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Why the Lutheran World Federation is a Fraud

February 1st, 2013 Comments off

Fraud

Fraud: A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury. Fraud is commonly understood as dishonesty calculated for advantage. A person who is dishonest may be called a fraud. 

Disclaimer: I am well aware that there are well-meaning, sincere confessional Lutherans who have chosen to affiliate with the LWF and there are a variety of historic reasons for this; however, they need to be aware that the Lutheran World Federation, as an “institution” or, as they insist on referring to themselves, as as “communion” of churches is simply a fraud. It is not Lutheran. It is not a Biblical “communio.” Those who continue to affiliate with LWF should do so only under ongoing protest against the insidious anti-Lutheran agenda that has the LWF in a vice-grip of error. Years ago when it was first

Liberal ecumenists and academics throughout much of world Lutheranism will recoil in horror when, or if, they read the assertion: “The Lutheran World Federation is a fraud!” Nonetheless, it is a truth that can not, and must not be, ignored or avoided, or swept aside with the polite tut-tutting of the ever-so proper and gentile pursuers of ecumenical agendas. The Lutheran World Federation is a fraud precisely because it is not Lutheran but wishes to assert itself as such, deceiving the innocent laity and pious who actually still may believe that the Six Chief Parts of Luther’s Catechisms are, wholly, Biblical truth.

The LWF insists on no clear confession of the Lutheran confession of God’s Word. It can not even insist that members confess even the simple truths of the Small Catechism as binding dogmatic statements on all who would wish to be, and remain, Lutheran. For example, when the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America waxes eloquent about homosexuality and ecumenical agreements with Calvinists and Catholics, this is simply the fraud of the LWF on display for all to see. When the LWF claims to represent 70.5 million Christians, this is yet another fraud. It does not see the Lutheran Confessions as a pure exposition of God’s Word, but can only wimper about seeing “in them” a pure exposition of God’s Word. Fraud and more fraud.

Oh, yes, there is much nostalgia about Martin Luther and the Reformation, but the large, liberal Western Churches that ostensibly bankroll the Lutheran World Federation bureaucracy with its incessant conferences, meetings and pious-blathering issuing forth from keyboards in Geneva, have long ago set aside any semblance of orthodox Lutheran Christian confession. No more across their seminaries and institutions of higher learning are the condemnations of the Lutheran Confessions held forth as true for our day, in fact, quite the opposite.

Any such notion that the Calvinist confession of the Lord’s Supper is false is regarded as “rigid dogmatism” or that the Roman view of Justification is contrary to the very Gospel is now regarded as “harsh confessional arrogance” and the like. Many years ago, Herman Sasse was sounding the alarm, which went unheeded even among The LCMS’ academics who were looking all starry-eyed at the notion of Lutheran union in America and in Europe.

Are we who wish to be and remain confessional Lutherans in the United States of America willing to recognize reality and speak against it and in support of the truth of the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions which so beautifully set them forth? Will we continue to welcome the scandal of being a confessional church? We do see encouraging signs coming from member churches of the LWF, rising up to reject and condemn the homosexual and feminist agenda that has exploded throughout liberal Lutheran Churches as the fruit, rotten to the core, born by the great trees planted and watered by the liberal theologians who for many decades have controlled the theology of USA and European Lutheran organizations, churches and “unions” of all kinds.

Keep in mind when you read the following quote from Sasse he was writing this many decades ago, long before the large liberal Western churches that control the LWF had gone even further down the road of compromising the Lutheran Confessions with Reformed, Calvinists, Roman Catholics, etc. and had embraced a social/moral agenda including abortion on demand and homosexuality!

Thus, Sasse:

“According to its very nature, the Lutheran Church, the Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, is a confessional church in the strict sense and can only exist as such. This is the unmistakable lesson of American church history.

“There would be no Lutheranism in America today if Lutherans had lacked the courage to present to the world, also and particularly to the Christian world, the skandalon of a confessional church. They knew from Holy Scripture that there is no heart that believes without a mouth that confesses (Rom. 10: 9– 10). They had learned from Luther that faith comes by preaching, the preaching of the pure Gospel, and that the church lives by the Word of God taught in its truth and purity and the Sacraments administered according to the institution of the Lord Christ. Despite the religious and irreligious trends of their century, they were not ashamed to identify themselves with the great dogmas of the orthodox church of all the ages, with the doctrines of the Lutheran Confessions, because they had come to recognize in them the true exposition of Holy Scripture as the inerrant [untrüglich] Word of God.

“Thereby American Lutheranism became an enigma to its environment. For with the exception of a few remnants of old Reformed Churches, American Protestantism is not familiar with a doctrinal type of Christianity. Only by means of this “rigid” (as the world calls it), firm, and clear position was Lutheranism able to maintain itself. There was no Lutheranism that was receptive to the influences of the world, that was broad-minded, liberal, and modern. There were indeed Lutherans who became liberal. But then they ceased to be Lutherans.

“Really that was also the case in Europe. What makes men like Söderblom and Harnack 19 look like Lutherans is finally merely a sort of nostalgia for the Lutheran Church. What is Lutheranism without the actual incarnation, without the miracles that belong to the enfleshed God-man, without the real presence of the body and blood of Christ, without the washing of regeneration? There is no Lutheranism save that which is “orthodox.” Anything else may be a beautiful, congenial humanitarianism and Christianity, but it is not Lutheranism. That must be kept in mind, even when one is, with an all-embracing love, gathering those who adhere to the Church of the Augsburg Confession. Our Church does not burn heretics nor judge consciences. But it does concern itself about true doctrine and must concern itself about it. A Lutheran Church that would not do that, a Church that would not train and guide its pastors to this end, a Church that no longer shields its members against false doctrine is no longer a Lutheran Church.

“There is a connection between this doctrinal character of the Lutheran Church and the fact that in the modern world it invariably functions as a foreign entity. This, by the way, has been the case ever since Luther parted company with Erasmus. The great truths of Lutheran doctrine call forth the ridicule of the world: beginning with the doctrine of man and his sin, which runs counter to all natural anthropology; continuing with the doctrine of justification, which implies the end of all natural morality; culminating in the doctrine of Christ and of salvation, and the doctrine of the church and the Sacraments. But this estrangement over against the world [Weltfremdheit] is the alienization of the true church. This unreasonableness is the unreasonableness of the true Gospel.”

Source:

Herman Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors: Volume 1, “Letter Ten: On the Problem of the Union of Lutheran Churches-1949.” (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2013), p. 167-168.

LCMS Response to ELCA Sexuality Statement

June 6th, 2012 7 comments

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations has made public the response it was commissioned to prepare by The LCMS, a response to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s sexuality statement: Human Sexuality—Gift and Trust. The LCMS statement is very well done and very to the point. Here are the concluding sentences:

“The evaluation of Wolfhart Pannenberg rings true: “If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” The ELCA has now taken this step, embodying apostasy from the faith once delivered to the saints.

Here is a copy of the CTCR statement:

Response_to_Human_Sexuality-Gift_and_Trust_Adopted_04-27-12_with_Appendix

Categories: LCMS

Word of Encouragement for Christian Schools and Christian Teachers from President Harrison

September 21st, 2011 Comments off

Categories: LCMS

Special Report on LCMS Finances: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

May 3rd, 2011 Comments off

A special edition of the Lutheran Witness is going out across the Synod, to many, many people. I urge you to read it very carefully. After many years of increasing financial difficulty and shifting funds around between various accounts, effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul, we are getting a very clear and honest picture of the financial mess our Synod is in, including the problems caused by the Fanning Into Flame and Ablaze! efforts. Here is Pastor Harrison, president of our Synod, giving us a twelve minute video preview of what we will be reading in the special edition of the Witness.

Categories: LCMS

Don’t Miss this Tremendous Presentation by Pastor Matthew Harrison, LCMS President

February 15th, 2011 4 comments

This is a “must watch.”

President Harrison LCEF Presentation from VimeoLCMS on Vimeo.

Categories: LCMS

A Repudiation of Sloppy Scholarship in a Deeply Flawed Book About Martin Stephan

February 8th, 2011 5 comments

At the recent Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, a speech by a descendant of Martin Stefan, Philip Stephan, was given about a book he has written attempting to rehabilitate Martin Stephan. He has done this book and promoted it in in conjunction with his sister Naomi. They are attempting to vindicate their relative, Martin Stefan, the man who led the immigrants to American, who eventually formed The LCMS. It is sad that there are just enough people in The LCMS willing to buy into this nonsense that the man, who has no credentials as a historian, and chose to leave The LCMS and join the ELCA, is given a serious hearing. Be aware that Phil Stephan has been aided and supported in his efforts by Naomi Stephan, who is a lesbian/feminist musician, composing such memorable pieces as Ave Pudendeum. [Read the text of this chorale work at your own risk!] She is responsible for circulating information about this book, creating a web site for it, and advocating for the book. To say that both individuals have a bit of an axe to grind is more than understatement.

But, apparently the book caught the fancy of a member of the faculty there, who was a classmate at seminary with Phil Stephan. I was quite pleased to note that the speech Dr. Stephan delivered was poorly done, poorly delivered, and received quite well-deserved scathing criticism during the Q/A time after the speed. I just learned that Dr. Cameron MacKenzie, a genuine historian and scholar, on the faculty of CTS Fort Wayne, published in the journal of the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly a very well done review of Stefan’s book on his relative. He kindly sent me a copy and I’m pleased to share it with you. It is rather pathetic that in a certain misinformed zeal to find fault and tear down C.F.W. Walther, anyone would actually regard this piece of work as at all scholarly. It is no surprise, I would note, that the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau took a shine to the book, since its hobby is trying to deconstruct and tear down the confessional and orthodox theology of The LCMS, aided by two LCMS persons on the board, clinging to a host of mythologies about the Synod, including the notion that the St. Louis faculty majority at the time of Seminex were noble orthodox teachers, attacked unjustly by small-minded conservatives, and so it goes. Anything to keep the mythology alive.

By the way, if you want a glimpse into what Martin Stephan was really like, read this document written by one of his followers who confesses to his sin in following Stephan.

Book Review by Cameron A. MacKenzie

Stephan, Philip G. In Pursuit of Religious Freedom: Bishop Martin Stephan’s Journey. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008.

In 1953, Concordia Publishing House released Zion on the Mississippi by Walter O. Forster. Anyone who has looked at this book knows how thoroughly Forster sifted through the evidence in order to recount “the settlement of the Saxon Lutherans in Missouri 1839-1841”; and Forster’s thoroughness alone is enough to keep most historians from trying it again. Unfortunately, Forster’s work did not deter Philip G. Stephan.

Of course, this is not because Forster is beyond criticism or because his conclusions cannot be questioned. Not at all. However, In Pursuit of Religious Freedom is not a good book. Interesting, yes; but not very well done. One hesitates to say this because the Stephan family has contributed much to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod over several generations; but it deserves better than the work at hand. Compared to Forster it is an embarrassment. It is filled with misstatements, its documentation is woeful, and its argument is tendentious.

A reviewer knows he’s in for a rough ride when the very first page of text contains an error – an assertion that Martin Stephan was “the first and…only bishop the [Missouri] Synod has ever had” (p. ix) – but synod only began in 1847 the year after Stephan had died! Perhaps one could dismiss this on account of its being in a forward not written by the author, but it’s hardly a good omen. And the errors continue: (1) the “Babylonian Captivity of the Church” occurred in the 14th century not the 12th (p. 15); (2) “awakened” in German is erweckt not erwecht (pp. 29 and 30); (3) Benjamin Kurtz’s periodical was in English not German (pp. 49-50); (4) the effort to implement the Prussian Union was not “completed in all of Germany [by] 1847” (p. 77); (5) Loeber preached the sermon that led to Stephan’s downfall on May 5, 1839 not March 5 (p. 179); (6) Augustine did not write, “we were made in God’s own image and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee” but instead, “You have made us for yourself and…” (p. 207); (7) Wilhelm Loehe was from Neuendettelsau not Dresden (p. 258) and his conversations with Walther were about doctrinal agreement not about “merger” (p. 258-59); (8) the Buffalo Synod did not “join” the Iowa Synod after Grabau’s death (p. 259); (9) Ottomar Fuerbringer was not president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis (p. 260); and (10) “Zersen” is spelled with an s and not with another z (pp. 68, 71, 315).

Of course, some of these mistakes show that the author simply needed a good editor. But it is also true that his errors sometime arise from inadequate scholarship. For example, Philip Stephan maintains that Martin Stephan Jr. “enrolled in Concordia College’s first class” (p. 268; expressed more tentatively on p. 230), but Carl S. Meyer’s Log Cabin to Luther Tower names all the students in the first two years of the school’s history and Martin Stephan is not among them – nor is Meyer in the author’s bibliography.

Of all the Stephanites, C. F. W. Walther has been written about most, but the author demonstrates no real familiarity with this material. As a result, he gets little stuff and big stuff wrong. As an example of minor matters, the author writes regarding the candidate who misled Walther into Pietism, “Kuhn is the only name given. No first name is given in any of the literature” (p. 68). But Stephan does not know the literature. In an article by August Suelflow from 1987, we find the name, “Johann Gottlieb Kuehn,” [note also the umlaut that Stephan missed] and in Suelflow’s biography of Walther, even more precisely, “H. Johann Gottlieb Kuehn.”

More importantly, perhaps, Stephan repeats the story that Walther changed his travel plans at the last moment and so avoided the Amalia (lost at sea during the voyage across the Atlantic) (pp. 130-32). He cites Forster in connection with Walther’s “switch”; but does not inform the reader that Forster rejects the Amalia story for good and persuasive reasons and that both of Walther’s modern biographers, Lewis Spitz, Sr., and August Suelflow dismiss this tale as well. Even if Stephan disagrees, he needs to show acquaintance with the argument but he does not. Incidentally, neither biography made it into his bibliography.

In his second to the last chapter, “View from the Twentieth-first Century,” the author decides to go after Walther’s doctrine of church and ministry as well as to accuse the LCMS of hypocrisy regarding its nature as a “loose federation of independent, autonomous, congregations” but yet binding them to “the Word of God and the unaltered Augsburg Confessions [sic]” (p. 260). Anyone at all familiar with Walther’s commitment to the Scriptures and Confessions knows that he never thought that congregational autonomy extended to doctrine – nor did any of his fellow Confessional Lutherans at the time, including Martin Stephan.

Read more…

Categories: LCMS

Public Confession of a Stephanite: What Martin Stephan Was Really Like

January 13th, 2011 11 comments

Pastor Joel Baseley has recently completed the translation of a signficant document giving an important glimpse into what Martin Stephan was really like and what his high-handed authoritarianism meant for those who came to America, eventually to form The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. I regret that at the upcoming symposium on the Lutheran Confessions at Fort Wayne has given opportunity to a descendant of Stephan, an ELCA pastor turned counselor who, along with his radically lesbian feminist sister, have mounted a campaign to try to rehabilitate Stephan, making all kinds of ridiculous accusations about Walther and others. It is a shame that there are some in our circles who actually believe that Stephan was mistreated and that great evil was done to him by C.F.W. Walther and others.

Read this document and  you will see for yourself that Martin Stephan was an evil shepherd, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, who was an authoritarian legalist, not a truly evangelical pastor.

Here’s the document Pastor Basely translated, click on the link and click on it again when it opens in a new window to download it as a PDF file: Keyls_Confession

Categories: LCMS

Installation of President Matthew Harrison as Assistant Pastor at Village Lutheran Church

January 9th, 2011 1 comment

Installation of President Matthew Harrison at Village Lutheran Church, Ladue, Missouri.

A wonderful thing happened this morning at Village Lutheran Church in Ladue, Missouri. The sitting president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod was installed as the congregation’s assistant pastor. This is the first time in forty years that an incumbent president of The LCMS has been an active parish pastor. I think this is a good thing for our Synod and for our Synod’s president. After the service, I was talking to Pastor Harrison and he was telling me about his first hospital visit to a member of his congregation. He paid a visit on a dear elderly saint of God who was delighted to be visited…by one of her pastors. President Harrison said to me, “The closer the Synod president is to bedpans, the better.” I think there is quite a lot of wisdom in that statement.

Categories: LCMS

Statement by LCMS President Announcing Acceptance of Call to be an Assistant Pastor

December 20th, 2010 2 comments

My district president received this from President Harrison, and passed it along to us.

Statement by Matthew Harrison on the Acceptance of a Call to Serve as an Assistant Pastor

To: District Presidents of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (for distribution as they see fit)

From: Matthew Harrison, President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Date: December 19, 2010

Grace and peace in Jesus, “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25)!

This morning, Sunday, December 19, 2010, I personally informed the pastor, elders and members of Village Lutheran Church, Ladue, Missouri, that I had accepted the congregation’s call to serve as their assistant pastor. The call was not acted upon hastily, or without significant consultation.

In providing you with the following information, I want to lay out for you a brief explanation of the personal and theological reasons why I am taking this path.

The constitution and bylaws of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod specifically allow the President of the Synod to hold such an office. The bylaws state: The President of the Synod shall be a full-­‐time executive and shall serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors of the Synod. (a) He shall not be in charge of a congregation or hold a chair at any educational institution but may be called as an assistant pastor, provided such services do not interfere with his official duties as President. (3.3.1)

There are a number of reasons for this action. I shall only note a few items here.

With respect to the Synod’s national office:

• Though no President (or congregation) has acted on this privilege for many decades, in its wisdom the Synod recognizes that its President may be a called pastor at a local parish. This was long the practice of the Missouri Synod, and has been the practice of the Lutheran Church in general for most of its history.

• While those of us in national leadership have noted a lessening of local loyalty to the national church, we have less often acknowledged the local perception that the national office has distanced itself from congregations. Accepting this call is my own concrete affirmation of the 2 vital, in fact, most vital role of local congregations and pastors in our mission, mercy, and life together as a Synod (John 10:12-­‐16).

• The new structure of the Synod greatly increases the CEO responsibilities of the President. It is more vital than ever that amidst the many tasks of the office, it be carried out pastorally, and with the church’s pastoral and missionary task firmly in focus and close at hand (1 Pet. 5:2).

• In this called, pastoral position, I am directly responsible to the senior pastor and board of elders of Village Lutheran for my preaching and teaching there. I believe it is healthy even (especially!) for the President of Synod to be directly accountable to a local congregation in this way, and to God himself for such a congregation (Heb. 13:17).

With respect to my particular person I note the following.

• St. Paul states, “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1).

• In the core of my being, I am a pastor. I view life pastorally. I view the mission of the church pastorally (Jer. 3:15). My work at LCMS World Relief and Human Care moved the church’s work of mercy to a pastoral model, closely connecting care with local altars, fonts, and pulpits worldwide.

• I am energized by and find great joy in preaching, teaching, and pastoral visitation (2 Cor. 1:24).

• A called pastoral relationship with a local congregation allows me and my family to be cared for by a group of Christians in a way that would otherwise not occur (Gal. 6:6). Village Ladue recognizes this care as a vocation of service to the Synod.

• My two boys are in high school. Their time at home is short. For ten years they have rarely heard me preach or teach. I desire to preach to my own children in these vital years of their Christian formation. As Synod President I could well be absent every weekend. For the sake of my wife and boys at this stage of our lives, travel must be reasonably limited. Wonderful things may be accomplished for the Missouri Synod over the next number of years, but (God help me) not at the expense of the faith of my own family (Eph. 5:25; 1 Tim. 3:4).

The bylaw states that the president “may be called as an assistant pastor, provided such services do not interfere with his official duties as President.” I note the following:

• This called pastoral position involves preaching once every month or two; teaching the occasional Sunday Bible study; and visiting a handful of shut-­ ins each month (1 Tim. 5:17; Matt. 25:36). It involves no meetings and no administrative duties. I shall receive from this position no compensation, or even reimbursement for mileage. This call is a gift. My service shall be a gift (1 Thess. 2:9). This call is not a so-­‐called “status call”—a call merely for the purpose of an ordained man being able to remain on the LCMS roster.

• My clear priority is and has to be the called position of Synod President, which is more than full-­‐time (Luke 17:10; 1 Cor. 15:58).

With respect to district presidents:

• While I have chosen to act upon a matter of freedom, not all district presidents have such freedom in their respective district constitutions, nor are their respective circumstances the same. I will guard each district president’s freedom, right, and responsibility to act as he and his district believe is best for his particular circumstances (2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:13). Their office alone makes them worthy of our deepest love, support, and continual prayer (2 Cor. 11:28).

Finally:

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. . . . Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:18-­21).

Pastor Matthew Harrison

Categories: LCMS

Witness-Mercy-Life Together Emphasis Banner, Prints and Posters Are Now Available

November 9th, 2010 4 comments

I’m very happy to announce that banners, prints and posters of the new LCMS emphasis: Witness – Mercy – Life Together are available now from Concordia Publishing House. Please visit the LCMS.ORG site and you can click on the various options and take a look at what we have, by clicking on the “order from Concordia Publishing House” links under each item. Here’s the link. The banner turned out just beautifully, and the prints and posters are super.

Categories: LCMS

President Matthew Harrison Visits Concordia Publishing House and Praises “Lutheranism 101″

September 24th, 2010 4 comments

President Harrison paid an unannounced visit to Concordia Publishing House today and were were able to present him with one of the very first copies of Lutheranism 101. Here is a video of his brief encouraging remarks with the team responsible for the book. My apologies for the poor sound quality. If anyone knows of a way to use an external microphone with an iPhone 4, please let me know!

Witness-Mercy-Life Together Emphasis: Graphics Available for Download

September 22nd, 2010 4 comments

The LCMS President’s Office has released a series of graphics in support of the Witness-Mercy-Life Together emphasis. You can find them all at this page, and have access to high and low resolution full color and black/white images, etc.

Categories: LCMS

Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis and President Harrison

September 16th, 2010 1 comment

I picked up this post from Dr. Al Collver’s blog site, reporting on the first visit of President Harrison to the faculty of Concordia Seminary. Very encouraging report!

President Harrison Speaking before the

Faculty of Concordia Seminary STL

Yesterday, due to a gracious invitation of Dr. Dale Meyer, President, via Dr. Rick Marrs, Dean of Faculty, President Harrison spoke with the faculty of Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis. President Harrison thanked Dr. Dale Meyer and the Seminary Community for working so hard to make the installation service happen the way it did and for extending such hospitality. As the international church leaders know, Mrs. Meyer even extended them an invitation to her house on Sunday evening for dinner. The seminary community has been great! President Harrison also expressed his belief in necessity of residential seminary education and how he looked forward to hearing from, listening to, and working with both Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.

After the introduction, President Harrison began to explain how he and his staff came to “Witness, Mercy, and Life Together.” Essentially, after the convention, he and his team had to confront the reality of implementing the new structure that the Synod’s 64th regular convention adopted. We were looking for a way to get a handle on it. Rather than primarily talk about the “structure” of the church, which is necessary for the well being of the church on earth, we wanted to talk about what the church does. Structure supports what the church does but it is not what the church is about. What we came up with to talk about what the church does is witness, mercy, and life together. The church’s structure supports the work of witness, mercy, and life together, but it is not the work or purpose of the church. President Harrison expressed reluctance that his first meeting with the seminary faculty was a “presentation.” He stated that the purpose of the presentation wasn’t to give a new mandate or new marching orders but to ask the seminary for their opinion  on it and for help in improving it. He also stated that this isn’t “brilliant” or “new” but simply a description of what the church always has done using Biblical language. President Harrison also said, “The church wants pastors who witness to the world, act with service and love, and know how to live together in their families, church, and world.” After President Harrison’s introduction, he introduced me so I could present it to the faculty, as I had previously done to the Board for National Mission, the Board for International Mission,  and the International Church partners a few days before.

abc3+ presenting Witness, Mercy, Life Together

(This photo actually was taken at the presentation given to church partners)

The last time that I had addressed the Concordia Seminary faculty was at the presentation of my Ph.D. dissertation Real Presence: History and Development of the Term in the 16th Century almost 10 years ago. (Here is an article that summarized some aspects of the dissertation from the Concordia Journal, April 2002.) Presenting to the seminary faculty is in itself somewhat intimidating. The seminary faculty has the expertise to identify problems, pitfalls, and failures with Witness, Mercy, Life Together rather quickly. At both of our seminaries you have some of the best experts in Biblical, Historical and Dogmatic theology — and we were asking them for feed back and to critique it.

Title Slide from Power Point
Key Bible Passages for Witness, Mercy, Life Together

We chose three Bible passages to help capture the central point for teach area: Witness, Mercy, and Life Together. Other passages could no doubt be used. For Witness,  1 John 5:7  and 1 John 5:8 was chosen because it focused on what creates faith, namely, the proclamation of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the Sacraments — Baptism and Holy Communion. For Mercy, Mark 10:45 was chosen because it proclaims who Jesus came to be a servant. For Life Together, 1 Corinthians 1:9 was chosen because we are called into fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

The reaction of the seminary faculty present at the forum was generally positive. The seminary faculty brought some insights and helped to define a few items more clearly. For instance, one faculty member pointed out how this “model” (for lack of a better word) was not all inclusive in that it focuses primarily on the 2nd and 3rd article of the Creed. While you can find a place for 1st article gifts — after all you can’t do works of service and mercy without the created order — the 1st article isn’t the primary focus. He was correct. There are a whole range of 1st article things like aesthetics, music, et al that support and assist the church in witness, mercy, and life together but are not directly addressed. It would be a mistake for us to portray this as inclusive of everything under the sun, etc. Nonetheless, it can still be a helpful way to talk about the church’s work. Some on the faculty asked if they could write Bible studies around the emphasis of witness, mercy, and life together. Some asked if perhaps they could help by providing greater theological depth. Basically, the faculty’s comments were positive, helpful and came from a spirit of wanting to help make how this is presented to the church better. I look forward to seeing contributions from both CSL’s and CTSFW’s faculty in the future.

Animation showing interconnectedness of Witness, Mercy, and Life Together

Well, I had hoped to write a more extensive post about Witness, Mercy, and Life Together but time was short. Soon (within days) the Synod’s website will have downloadable resources for pastors and congregations to use if they wish. The entire Power Point Presentation will eventually be available for download on the Synod’s website as well as a leader’s guide. Concordia Publishing House also has expressed interest in providing materials.

Categories: LCMS

Archbishop Walter Obare’s Sermon Preached at LCMS Installation Service

September 15th, 2010 2 comments

The LCMS just posted Archbishop Walter Obare’s sermon that he preached at the service of installation. You can watch the video here, below is the written text (which may differ a bit from what was delivered). You can listen to it here.

For Immediate Release

Rev. Walter E. Obare’s sermon at the installation of
LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 11, 2010—Rev. Walter E. Obare gave the following sermon, with the theme “And God Has Sent Me to Seek the Lost,” at The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod‟s “Service of Installation” for President Matthew C. Harrison held at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis:
“Dear saints in Christ Jesus; brothers and sisters, I salute you all in Him who is, who was and who is to come; our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

“It‟s a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. „That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of which I am the worst.’ I was shown mercy. He considered me faithful, and appointed me to His service.
“In Ezekiel 34 the sovereign Lord says: „I myself will search for the lost and bring back the strays.’

“And today He says to me as His servant: „Go after the lost sheep and find them’ This is not only to all Christians in the common priesthood, but is to all the folks in the clergy roster. But now in a special way to you my son Matthew as you take upon yourself the call to be the servant of servants in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), and in the church Catholic.

“The most well known tribe in East Africa is the Maasai. They are pastoralists and they have an old story about their origin and how in the beginning God gave all cows in the world to them. Even today cows are their bank accounts and especially the old men are very keen on their cattle.

“When in the U.S.A. happened 9/11 attacks that saw the Twin Towers come down and even the Pentagon aimed at. One young Kenyan Maasai man donated 20 cows to show solidarity with Americans when America was afflicted. In fact, this was the highest action of sympathy from the Maasai point of view.

“Also, when preaching to the Maasai, the language they best understand is to speak about their cows, sheep or goats. Today‟s text fits them very well. Speaking of cattle and saying that one of them is lost, you can see on men‟s faces how they become alert and filled with awe on their faces. A big question comes to their minds: Has someone stolen my dear one or has it gone astray? Now we must go after the lost and find it! Nothing more can be so urgent than to go out for the lost. And when the lost one is found or some cattle are brought by force from some other tribes, a feast is organized. This is certain.

“In the book of Ezekiel and also in our Gospel text, the Lord accuses the shepherds of Israel that they did not care for His sheep. They don‟t care, but still themselves they eat of the best of the sheep. Therefore the sovereign Lord says: „I myself will search for the lost and bring them back.’ All people in the world — call them Europeans, Arabs, or Asians, Americans, Oceanics or Africans — are created by the living God. And all fell into sin by the fall of the first Adam, and all are redeemed by the death of His only Son Jesus Christ. Like all cows all over the world belong to the Maasai (as they believe), the same is, all people on earth and under the earth and in heaven belong to God. He has created them and has paid the most precious price for them, the blood of His only Son.
“After the fall, all people as descendants of Adam and Eve are lost and are under the wrath of God. There is only one way to be saved. It is on account of the death of the only innocent one, Jesus Christ. He came to seek the sinners and save them. He did this by His suffering and death on the cross.

“After completing His redemption work, Jesus instituted the Holy Baptism as the Sacrament of rebirth. There‟s no other way to be saved, and no other way to enter heaven, than the Sacrament which Christ instituted after His death and resurrection. In the Holy Baptism, all the heavenly treasures are given to us as was said very well by Dr. Martin Luther in his Small Catechism. „It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and evil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believes this, as the words and promises of God declares.’
“We are clothed (covered) into the righteousness of Jesus, in His name and by His blood we have forgiveness of sin. And where there is forgiveness of sin, there is also life and salvation. And this is absolute truth.

“But as we still live this earthly span of life, living in this sinful and dark world, it so happens to many baptized children of God, that they are (as Ezekiel writes) scattered in all kinds of places on the day of clouds and darkness. But God has not forgotten them, in fact He says as Isaiah writes, ‘Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show compassion’. Is. 30:18. We must repent and hear His voice, the voice of the good Shepherd; the voice of God.

“Besides the Holy Baptism, Christ has also instituted the Holy office of preaching God‟s Word and administration of the Sacrament of the altar. You cannot hear the voice of the good Shepherd from the air; Christ is using His own instituted means of grace. Stop and hear His voice today and now; hear what apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians, ‘Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived, neither the sexually immoral nor the idolaters nor adulterous nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor greedy nor drunkards nor slanders nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God.’ 1 Cor. 6:9-11.

“To be ‘scattered in all kind of places on the day of cloud and darkness’ means two possibilities:

“One, you have moved to live and work in another place and have not found the same kind of Lutheran congregation, and have joined another church-body or congregation, sect or cult where you cannot hear the same voice of God any more. This can lead to getting lost or to stray.

“Secondly is to be drowning in the post modern thoughts that create doubts in your mind to an extent of questioning the authority of scripture: God being behind all creations
The Biblical narratives on miracles, the incarnation, resurrection, ascension up to the existence of God.

“Reasoning that only ends in you, and makes to you be your own god.

“Another case is where you have followed your earthly lusts and the secularized world. You might have heard it from your peer group that you need to obey your feeling [rather] than obeying the good council of elders, parents etc even extending it to disobeying the church. You can enjoy alcohol even to the point of being drunk. You can cheat to your superiors, parents, pastor and even your spouse. As though this is not enough: You can follow homosexual or lesbian predispositions. Some church leaders may even tell that same sex life is a created predisposition; you don‟t need to fight against it.

“Brothers and sisters, sin is sin! God did institute from the beginning the lifelong marriage between a man and a woman! You can fight the good fight against homosexuality just as you can fight against other earthly lusts e.g. cheating, and other vices that came to us by the fall. Full joy, not just in our world, but also in heaven, for they who repent and in Christ, find their way back home. This home is heaven through the church.

“The confessional church and a confessional church leader must keep the clear biblical stand in the teaching and preaching of the Word. He must also be an example for the sheep over which he is made an overseer. This is your call Matthew and all of you newly elected into your new positions. Bring the doubting, those who are not sure whether to follow the Bible or to follow the post-modern views of our day. Help The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to remain a confessional church within the church Catholic. The catholicity of the church is known by these marks: The Holy ministry headed by the faithful ministers of the Word. The Holy liturgy as has come down to us through the ages. The so-called contemporary that I only compare with the spontaneous fashions in ladies dresses that appear in the market almost every six or even four months in Kenya deviates from it. The pure preaching of the Word – Law and Gospel.

“Brother Mathew and all of you who will be commissioned here today, be ready to go out in search for the lost sheep and bring back the strays. The mission must continue, here in America and beyond the seas. This is God‟s will for you and for your church body. „Fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith’ 1 Tim.1:18-19.

“May God abundantly bless you and your church body as you faithfully serve your people and also go out into the entire world in mission.

“And now, may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts steadfast in Christ Jesus!”
“Amen.”

–end–
Disclaimer: Text provided may differ slightly from the actual sermon presented.
For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Vicki Biggs, Director, Public Affairs & Media Relations, at (314) 996-1236 or by e-mail at Vicki.Biggs@lcms.org

Categories: LCMS

Installation of The LCMS President’s Executive Staff

September 13th, 2010 10 comments

I and a number of other CPH editorial staff members were invited to the installation of President Harrison’s executive staff. It was a beautiful order of Matins, featuring a piece by J.S. Bach, performed by Rev. Vieker’s talented violist daughter, and a closing trumpet piece, the name escapes me, preformed by his talented trumpet playing son. A choral piece by J.S. Bach was sung, the whole service was beautiful. President Harrison preached on 1 Peter 4:7-11, an excellent exegetical homily, in which he began by reading from his own personal copy of the first edition of the Book of Concord of 1580, the rousing closing words that follow the Formula of Concord:

Since now, in the sight of God and of all Christendom [the entire Church of Christ], we wish to testify to those now living and those who shall come after us that this declaration herewith presented concerning all the controverted articles aforementioned and explained, and no other, is our faith, doctrine, and confession, in which we are also willing, by God’s grace, to appear with intrepid hearts before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, and give an account of it; and that we will neither privately nor publicly speak or write anything contrary to it, but, by the help of God’s grace, intend to abide thereby: therefore, after mature deliberation, we have, in God’s fear and with the invocation of His name, attached our signatures with our own hands.

I shot the video in the chapel and I apologize for the sound, so, crank up your computer volume to hear it as best you can. At the end of this post, you will find an exclusive interview with President Harrison. It did not quite turn out as I hoped it would, but maybe next time?

Here is the service folder, which used one of my favorite typefaces as the header and title font: Optima. Whoever prepared this service folder obviously has excellent typographical taste!

Here is the installation, the first two the order itself, and the last, words afterward. Sorry, again, for the sound level.

The reception following was very nice. Pastries and fruit were provided. I chose pastry. The frosted blueberry scones…wow.

And here is a photo of President Harrison with his staff members, Mrs. Below, Rev. Vieker and Dr. Collver.

A brief interview with President Matthew Harrison, with a bit of encouragement from the Synod’s First Vice-President, Rev. Mueller:

Categories: LCMS