Friday, January 26, 2007

Church And Ministry in the ELS in 1952

Clergy Bulletin 11:8 (April 1952) pages 101-105

At the October 9-10, 1951, meeting of the Madison-Chicago Pastoral Conference it was resolved that this conference record its position on the doctrine of the Church and Ministry. Pursuant to this resolution an elected committee reported to a special meeting of this conference held January 22-23, 1952.

We, the members of the Madison-Chicago Pastoral Conference herewith present a brief summary of what we, on the basis of Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, believe, teach, and confess regarding the doctrine of the Church and Ministry.

II Corinthians 4:13b: "I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak."

I. Church
1. The Church is the communion of saints. (The invisible Church, or the una sancta.)
  • Matt. 16:16-19 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
  • Eph. 1:22-23 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
  • The Large Catechism, Triglotta, p. 691 "I believe that there is upon earth a little holy group and congregation of pure saints, under one head, even Christ, called together by the Holy Ghost in one faith, one mind, and understanding, with manifold gifts, yet agreeing in love, without sects or schisms."
  • Also, cf. Augsburg Confession, Articles VII and VIIIa.
2. a. Scripture applies the term "Church" to local congregations. These exercise the office of the keys by virtue of the fact that there are believers in them. A local congregation consists of Christians in a certain place who gather about the Word and Sacraments. Matt. 18:17-20.
That a mere casual gathering of Christians does not constitute a Church (local congregation) is evident from Matt. 18:17, where the pronoun "them" is placed in contradistinction to the term "Church".
  • Matt. 18:15-20 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
  • An example of how this is carried out is found in I Cor. 5. Matthew 18:15-20 is the precept. I Cor. 5 is an example.
b. We reject the claim that the Scriptures apply the term "Church" only to the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.
  • III John 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
  • Rev. 3: 14ff “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”
c. Some Scripture passages use the term "Church" in the plural. Therefore it cannot in such passages apply to the una sancta, which is not many, but one.
  • Gal. 1:2 To the churches of Galatia.
  • I Cor. 16:19 The churches of Asia greet you.
  • Rom. 16:16 The churches of Christ greet you.
d. Our Lutheran Confessions also use the term "Church" in the wider sense (the visible Church) and not only in the narrower sense (the invisible Church.)
  • Apology VII, VIII, par. 11. Trig. p. 229 "And the gloss upon the Decrees says that the Church in its wide sense embraces good and evil"
e. Scripture speaks of hypocrites within the visible Church.

  • Rev. 3:14ff (quoted above)
  • Matt. 13:47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind,"
  • Matt. 25:1-13 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
  • Apology VII & VIII, Trig. par. 47 "we confess that hypocrites and wicked persons have been mingled with the Church"
  • Apology VII & VIII par 3 "For we grant that in this life hypocrites and wicked men have been mingled with the Church, and that they are members of the Church according to the outward fellowship of the signs of the Church, i.e., of Word, profession, and Sacraments, especially if they have not been excommunicated."
f. These hypocrites and wicked persons are in the outward fellowship of the Church, but are not on that account members of the Holy Christian Church.
  • Rom. 8:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
  • I John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
  • John 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
  • John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
  • Apology, VII & VIII, Trig, p. 233, par 19 and 20 "Thus John [Matt. 3, 12: He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff] speaks concerning the whole race of the Jews, and says that it will come to pass that the true Church will be separated from that people. Therefore, this passage is more against the adversaries than in favor of them, because it shows that the true and spiritual people is to be separated from the carnal people. Christ also speaks of the outward appearance of the Church when He says, Matt. 13, 47: The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, likewise, to ten virgins; and He teaches that the Church has been covered by a multitude of evils, in order that this stumbling-block may not offend the pious; likewise, in order that we may know that the Word and Sacraments are efficacious even when administered by the wicked. And meanwhile He teaches that these godless men, although they have the fellowship of outward signs, are nevertheless not the true kingdom of Christ and members of Christ; for they are members of the kingdom of the devil. Neither, indeed, are we dreaming of a Platonic state, as some wickedly charge, but we say that this Church exists, namely, the truly believing and righteous men scattered throughout the whole world..."
3. a. Christians are commanded by God to establish and maintain local congregations for the public administration of the office of the keys.

Precept:
  • Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—
Examples:
  • Acts 14:23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
  • Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
  • Heb. 10:25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • Romans 10:14, 15, 17 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” ... So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
  • Matt. 18:17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
  • Treatise, Trig p. 524, par 72 "the churches are in duty bound before God, according to divine law, to ordain for themselves pastors and ministers."
3. b. The outward features of organization, such as the adoption of a constitution, election of a president, secretary, treasurer, etc., are not divinely instituted since they are not commanded in Scripture.

II. The Ministerial Office

1. a. Every Christian is a priest by virtue of his baptism, but he is not a pastor unless he has been called to that office by a Christian congregation.

b. The holy Ministry, or pastoral office, is distinct from that exercise of the spiritual priesthood which is to be carried out by all believers.

c. The rights and power of the spiritual priesthood belong to all Christians (I Cor. 3:21-23 "All things are yours.") The pastor exercises these rights publicly, that is, in the behalf and in the name of the Christian congregation.
  • I Cor. 12:29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?
  • Acts 20:28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
  • Heb. 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
  • I Thess. 5:12-13 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.
  • Rom. 10:15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
  • Augsburg Confession, Art. XIV "Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called."
2. The pastoral office proceeds from the apostolate established by Christ. The office of elders or bishops established in the New Testament congregations under apostolic direction (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5) was essentially the same office as that of the apostles, that is, to "feed the flock."
  • 1 Peter 5:1-4 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
  • John 21:15-17 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep."
  • I Cor. 4:1Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
  • I Tim. 3:1-7 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
  • Titus 1:5ff For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
  • I Thess. 5:12-13 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.
  • Heb. 13:17, 24 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. ... Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints.
  • Acts 20:28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
  • Treatise, par. 10 (Triglotta p. 507) "the office of the ministry proceeds from the general call of the apostles."
3. Therefore the pastoral office is not a product of Christian liberty, but is an office established by God.
  • Titus 1:5f you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city (kata polin) as I commanded you
4. Scripture sets forth the duties of the pastoral office, for which the incumbants of this office must render an account to God, I Cor. 4:1-2; Titus 1:7; Heb. 13:17, and also the duties congregations owe to this office, I Cor. 4:1; Heb. 13:17. Scripture also sets forth the qualifications for candidates for this office, Titus 1:5-9; I Tim. 3:1-7.

5.a. The Pastoral office has been entrusted by God to the local Congregation.
  • Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city (kata polin - city by city) as I commanded you
  • Acts 14:23 So when they had appointed elders in every church (kat' ekklesian - church by church).
b. While the apostles were called directly by God, that is, immediately, pastors are called by the local congregation, that is, mediately. There is neither precept nor example in Scripture of a mediate call to the pastoral office being extended through any group other than a local congregation. Two or more congregations may in Christian liberty cooperate in performing their divine work. (Scriptural example: I Cor 14 - the collection for the poor.)

6.a. Christian congregations, in Christian liberty, have the right to establish new offices, as circumstances require, for the efficient performance of their divine work. Acts 6:1-6; I Cor. 3:21-22.

b. Such new offices as concern functions of the pastoral office are divine offices and require a divine call. But the church is not in duty bound, according to divine law, to maintain any office established in Christian liberty.

7. The pastoral office is to be distinguished from all offices established in Christian liberty because the church is commanded to maintain this office.
Titus 1:5ff. Extraordinary circumstances (disappearance of the visible church in times of persecution, isolation in a desert place) belong to cases of casuistry, and cannot be used to establish doctrine.
  • Treatise par. 72 (Triglot. p. 524) "the churches are in duty bound before God, according to divine law, to ordain for themselves pastors and ministers."
III. Synod

1. There is no command for a synod in Scripture.

2. There is nothing in Scripture to prohibit local congregations from working together in carrying out the divine work assigned to the local congregation.

3. Those who have the unity of the Spirit are encouraged by Biblical example to help one another in works of charity and other affairs of local congregations which they in Christian liberty decide upon.
  • I Cor. 16:1-4 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.
  • Gal. 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
4. Synodical conventions are actually representative of the member congregations.
  • Treatise, par. 7-9 (Trigl. p. 505) "let us show from the [holy] Gospel that the Roman bishop is not by divine right above [cannot arrogate to himself any supremacy whatever over] other bishops and pastors." Scripture passages: Luke 22:25; Matt. 18:2ff; John 20:21; Gal. 2:7f; I Cor. 3:6.
5. The administrative offices of a synod are not divinely instituted as is the pastoral office of the local congregation.

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