Friday, February 23, 2007

The Old Norwegian Synod's Doctrine on Synod Offices

[The following is from the 7th Regular Convention of the Norwegian Synod held at Highland Prairie Lutheran Church, Fillmore County, Minnesota; on June 14-22, 1865. The address is from President H.A. Preus. I put this quotation here so those who claim to be the inheritors of the Old Norwegian Synod's Doctrine can see what was actually believed and taught by the Old Norwegian Synod. The address concerns the adoption of the synod's constitution. For the sake of the congregations the President carefully distinguishes between what is divinely instituted and commanded in contrast with what is done in human freedom and instituted by human freedom.

Does a Synodical President have a divinely instituted and called office simply by virtue of being a Synodical President? The ELS adopted statement in Part II A says that the President of a Synod is one form of the Pastoral Office:
"Missionary, assistant pastor, professor of theology, synod president (who supervises doctrine in the church), and chaplain are some examples of this."
Compare what was believed and held by the Old Norwegian Synod concerning the nature of Synod and its authority in the quotations below. The full document can be found at the ELS website. --Joe]


[S]ince God is a God of order, so will his people also adopt their own ordinances or constitution carefully so that all things can be done in decency and order during their outward course here in the world. Now where the Word of God is proclaimed purely and where its proper authority is acknowledged both as a Means of Grace and as the highest rule and guide for faith and life, there, the above work will all have as its object that the order set down by God himself in his Word is not disturbed or interfered with and that the rules and regulations which are adopted do not conflict with the doctrines of faith revealed in the Word of God, and finally, that neither the use of the Lord’s Means of Grace is restrained and restricted , but is promoted, and neither that the rights which God has given the congregations as well as their pastors in the Word are denied them, because that would also make the carrying out of the duties assigned them difficult, yes, perhaps made impossible.

Naturally this applies where believers unite in a congregation and adopt a constitution for it, but to an even greater degree, where several congregations join together to form what we call a church body, and accept a constitution for it. I say that it applies “to an even greater degree” in this latter instance because the forming of congregations is ordered and commanded by God himself in his Word, and therefore in the proper understanding of the word are an institution of the Lord, a work of the Lord, while the coming together of individual congregations into a larger church body, be it a state church or synods, is not commanded by God. Therefore the necessity of such joining together taking place, as well as also the form, constitution and expansion of such a church body must be dependent upon many external and internal circumstances, and above all, on what may be considered useful and helpful for the individual congregations as well as for the church of God on the whole.

The communion of God, the Christian Church, is, of course, properly speaking, invisible, since it consists of believers in whom the Holy Spirit has worked faith, which is invisible, through the Word. But it is, however, recognizable by the Word of God and the Sacraments which he has commanded are to be proclaimed and administered publicly. And just as God creates believers through these Means of Grace, so he gathers these believers around the public preaching ministry in an external congregation for mutual strengthening in the one saving faith and in the mutual confession of that faith. And just as it would be sin on the part of believers if they would not seek to establish and support the public preaching ministry among themselves, so it would also be sin if someone would not stay with this preaching ministry and the orthodox congregation which gathered around it. Because the Lord says, “He that hears you hears me; and he that despises you despises me,” (Lk. 10:16) and again, “Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is,” (He. 10:25). I well dare suppose that most people among us agree on these things. But it is another matter with respect to the merging of several congregations into a larger church body, a synod, or the like. And it isn’t merely with respect to what can be the best form and constitution for such an organization that more or less different opinions show up. No, it is with respect to the nature and essence of the organization as well of the meaning of the ordinances and regulations adopted by such an organization that views go in opposite extremes.


Now where the rights and the power which God has given his church in his Word, for example, the power of the keys, and with it the right to install and remove pastors, practice church discipline, stipulate ceremonies and the like, have been transferred to the prince and exercised by him down through the centuries partly through worldly advisors, partly through pastors and bishops as royal functionaries, as has readily been the case in the state churches; furthermore, where the prince, so far from recognizing his right to exercise only such authority as has been turned over to him by the congregations, which therefore must always have the right to take it back and to exercise it themselves, much rather, claims it as something which is due him according to divine right (iure divino) whether as the supreme bishop (summus episcopus) or as ruler; where now to this a legislative assembly, parliament or the like, which does not once need to confess the faith or belong to the congregations, has the power to give all kinds of laws and edicts for the congregations which also should be obeyed by them for God’s sake pursuant to the Fourth Commandment, there it is very natural that the concepts of congregation, church and church government become confused, yes, entirely false.

Then when people break from the ties of the state church so that the life of the congregation can take shape and develop freely, the old notions will, however, assert themselves, and people will try as best they can to carry them over into the new, freer situation. Thus we find the error very widely spread that the church which is talked about in Scripture, the church which the Lord of the church calls his bride and to whom he gives the keys of the kingdom of heaven and the power and the rights which are connected with them, is not and cannot be the individual congregation but only a group and combination of them, be it now as a state church, people’s church, or synod, which therefore alone is due the name “church.” These churches of “the church,” as they readily are called everywhere, are regarded then also as an institution and work of the Lord, commanded by the Lord as superior to the individual congregations, with a power and authority over them which is supposed to be given by the Lord himself. A congregation’s refusal to accommodate itself to “the church,” or its disobedience to the Word of God, is thought to be a breach of the Word commanded by God, yes, even as a defection from the orthodox church and the orthodox faith.

Over against this error it is of the highest importance to recognize that every congregation which has the Word of God and the Sacraments, even if it is ever so small, yes, even if there are only two or three believers, true children of God, to be found in it, that it is, however, for their sake who lie concealed in it as the true, invisible church, a church of God and the lawful holder of all the power and authority which Christ has earned for and has given to his church. This is altogether evident from Matthew 18:17-20.

Here the Lord says, “Tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto you as a heathen and a publican.” How significant he thinks that is is evident from verses 19 and 20 where the Lord says , “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” But when he also says now in verse 18, “Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” then, with that, he is giving every visible congregation the power of the keys.

In the next place, while as I said before, we must acknowledge that the forming of congregations is God’s command and God’s work, and voluntary submission to and joining an orthodox congregation, everyone’s absolute duty, thus on the other hand the individual congregation’s joining a so-called church body is nowhere commanded or required in the Word of God. Not doing it would therefore not be a sin for the individual congregations which are involved, when circumstances and the needs of a congregation might persuade it not to join. Even less would it entail their exclusion from the Church of Christ. On the contrary, such congregations would each for themselves possess and properly be able to use the authority of the church which Christ has acquired for his entire church.

But at the same time as we assert the right and the authority of the individual congregation which is given it by Christ over against the false conception of the church,


However, even if we agree that a joining together of our individual congregations is useful, yes, necessary, and that failing to do it would expose the individual congregations to great danger and be a great hindrance and would harm the building up of God’s kingdom in and outside our circle, yet it is, however, not said that we agree about the form which such a joining together ought to take, nor about the provisions and the regulations, or the constitution, as it is generally called, which ought to be adopted as regulatory for the church body. Here the widest range is revealed for the most opposite opinions and views. Although now the greatest freedom must be preserved here for the congregations to give their joining together the form with which they might find themselves best served, yet it is, however, as I said before, their duty through the arrangements to follow such principles as agree thoroughly with the rule of the Word of God, and in their application see to it above all, first, that the pure faith and doctrine can find their expression and be preserved and furthered thereby, as well as in the next place that love can find its greatest possible exercise as a fruit of faith. History surely shows us the joining together of congregations in the most varying forms, all the way from the church-state, or papal church, and the various forms of state churches, to alliances and synods. These last also have the most diverse arrangements and constitutions.

We take it for granted that the joining together of congregations ought only take place by orthodox - we do not say those of identical belief - congregations. A merger like that American-Lutheran General Synod is a babel, just another organization of many disunited churches. But orthodox congregations also have to watch with the most extreme diligence that through their joining together and through their adopting a constitution for it, that while they do relinquish a portion of their freedom and independence voluntarily in love and with concern for their own as well as the common good, that they do not, however, transfer to the synod or to the joint-church such rights or such power which the Lord has not only entrusted to the congregations themselves, but whose exercise by themselves is the best guarantee for the preservation of the pure faith, for example, installing and removing pastors, practicing church discipline, and adopting hymnbooks and school books. But even less must congregations give to the joint-church or its officers such a power and authority that their decisions should be binding law for the congregations by virtue of a divine authority which should be due them as those who are over them according to the Fourth Commandment - even if their decisions do not conflict with the Word of God. Such a concession on the part of the congregations would make the synod a papacy which would be just as unchristian as the one which reigns in Rome. It would make the congregations slaves of men and would place a yoke upon them which would be heavier to bear and more difficult to remove than that which imprisons and oppresses them in the state churches.

The history of the church past and present shouts its warning! There is the papacy where the congregations, as is well known, are as good as deprived of all their rights. The church, as it is called, that is, the clergy, with the pope at the head, possesses them. As a worldly authority it demands unconditional obedience according to the Fourth Commandment.

The yoke of bondage which laid upon the congregations under the papacy, the Lord lifted through Luther, when as an angel of God this man brought the pure Gospel to light and taught believers to know the Christian liberty which Christ earned for them with his death, and the church learned to know the rights which the Lord of the church had given it in the power of the keys. And even where he agreed that certain of these rights were exercised by the worldly princes because of the congregations’ plight, there, with all the rest of the reformers, Luther is untiring in reminding both them and the congregations of the fact that they did not exercise this power as rulers but only because it was transferred to them by the congregations who possessed it as they who were looked upon as the congregations’ first and leading members because of their power and position. The power which they possessed as rulers only gave them occasion and right to serve the congregations so much more as members of the congregation.


Insofar as the congregations transfer to the synod and through it to its officers some right and authority to direct, then they do not have this office by divine right (iure divino) but by human right (iure humano); nor does their power reach further than the Word reaches, as it must always be exercised without outward force. In everything else its activity is essentially only advisory.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Christian Anderson's 3rd and 4th Points

[The following is from a paper by Pr. Christian Anderson found in The Clergy Bulletin
September 1953, Vol. 13 entitled "Underlying Causes of the Deterioration and Breakdown of the Old Norwegian Synod" which he Delivered at the General Pastoral Conference of the Norwegian Synod held July 27th to July 31st, 1953 at Bethany College, Mankato, Minnesota.

His paper closes with these words:

"Our purpose in considering these things is not chiefly to satisfy our curiosity and to evaluate the weaknesses of our fathers and former brethren. But it should serve as a lesson for us, who are still exposed to the same dangers as they were. And it will help us also to understand the problems of other synods; for, as The Preacher says "There is nothing new under the sun." History is sure to repeat itself in so many ways. The arch-enemy of the saving truth will use pretty much the same tactics at all times, to rob us of this truth, though they may appear in somewhat different form as the occasion demands. The Lord protect us against his machinations."
Presented here are his third and fourth pints on the reasons for the deterioration and breakdown of the old synod. They are relevant today, just as he said they would be. -Joe]

"3) In the period following the withdrawal of the Anti-Missourians there arose a number of very able leaders within our Synod. For a long time they were thoroughly sound doctrinally, and they worked diligently for the true welfare of the church. While this no doubt was a blessing, it however tended to encourage a greater part, at least of the clergy, to be satisfied to follow the leaders without seeking diligently to inform themselves on the issues, so that they would be prepared to hold back in case those leaders should go wrong. A spirit of indifference developed both among the clergy and the laity. New elements gradually entered the ranks of ministers, which did not fully appreciate the historical position of the Synod. Those needed only the right kind of opportunity to cause mischief. And as a large part of the laity had been seriously affected by the constant cry for a union of all Norwegian Lutherans, it is no wonder that any demagogue who might arise would find a fertile field of operation. And when some of the leaders who long had been looked up to were ready to make compromises, it is not strange that they would gain a following. We need only remember how the multitudes were ready to follow Dr. F. A. Schmidt for the same reason. I remember from the time of my youth and on, that I repeatedly heard such expressions as this: "When the old war horses are gone, we shall have no difficulty to effect a union." And this was heard even from some of whom you would not have expected it. When the last of the leaders of the old staunch defenders of the truth lay down to rest, it was not long before a new spirit gained the ascendancy. We see before our eyes this very day how quickly such a sweeping change can take place.

"4) The custom of continuing the same men in office for a long time helped to centralize power and influence in a few. It is no doubt an advantage to let those who have proven their ability continue at the head of the organization, rather than have frequent changes. Experience surely counts for much in carrying out the duties of the office. But on the other hand there is the grave danger that the prestige connected with holding office a long time may be abused when a crisis arises. After all, even the best among us are only human. Because of the experience we had in the formation of the late merger, there was a gentlemen's agreement among us, when we re-organized the Synod, that the term of office of the President was to be only two years, and that no one was to be re-elected more than once. We have hereby no doubt lost some of the valuable service of experienced men, but this loss has been offset by the safeguard against anyone wrongfully usurping power which this arrangement has given us.

"An institution in the Old Synod often mentioned was the so-called Church Council (Kirkeraad). It is sometimes spoken of as the root of all evil in the Synod. We have virtually the same thing in many of our congregations today. At first the members of this Council were elected directly to this office by the convention. It was composed of three pastors and three laymen; but after the Synod was divided into districts it was composed of the general and district presidents, a layman elected from each district and one lay member at large. The duty of this council was chiefly to look after the interests of the Synod between the conventions. Many matters which required investigation and special study were usually referred to it. This Council no doubt became an important factor in promoting the best interests of the Synod. Especially in the controversy in the eighties did it perform yeoman work in defending the truth against the propagandist of error.

"For a long time, reports of the meetings of the Church Council were published in the official organ of the church. This kept the membership informed on its work, gave them an opportunity to offer criticism, and in general helped to stimulate their interest in the work of the Synod. It is unfortunate that this practice gradually died out after the presidents became the leading element in the Council, so that their deliberations were carried on more or less in secret. While there was frequent rotation among the lay members, the office of the president practically became one held by the incumbent for the rest of his life. Dr. Koren was a member of the Church Council from 1861 to his death in 1910. Through his long tenure in office he gained a great deal of influence, which was freely made use of also in practical matters. This caused growing resentment in many quarters. And this dissatisfaction gave strength to the more liberal element which was developing. At the time of Koren's death most of the older conservative presidents were gone too. Koren's successor in office, who had always been a champion of the cause of union, found little difficulty in lining up the majority of the Council for this cause. One district president who opposed a union on the basis of "Opgjør" as easily defeated in the next election. And the reputation of another was so vulnerable that his opposition to the program of the head man was easily silenced.

"Since the Church Council had gradually become such a strong influence in the Synod, when its power was taken into service of the liberal element, it was something which was not easy to resist. Woe to the poor pastor who dared to oppose this Council and come into its disfavor! And because this institution had so long been highly respected by the majority of the members of the Synod, the culprit could not count on much support.

"We see this same danger asserting itself in other synods, even if the vehicles of power may be called by different names."

Norwegian Synod 1907 Catechism: Office of Keys

The following is the 5th part of the Catechism from:

Thorough Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism.
Presented as Questions and Answers

Dr. Johann Conrad Dietrich,
Former Superintendent in Ulm, Germany.

With additions from the Dresden Cross Catechism and the
Evangelical Lutheran Church's Confessional Writings
together with quotations from the Holy Scriptures
and with two Appendices.

Abridged Version.

Decorah, Iowa.

The Norwegian Synod's Publishing House.
Printed in the Synod's Book Printing House.


Concerning the Fifth Chief Part in the Catechism


Concerning the Office of the Keys and Confession

509. With what does the Fifth Chief Part Deal?

It concerns the Office of the Keys and Confession.

510. What is the Office of the Keys?

The Office of the Keys is the special power, which Christ has given to His Church on earth, to forgive repentant Sinners their sins, but to bind the unrepentant to their sins, as long as they do not repent.

511. So how many kinds is the power of the Keys?

It is are twofold:

    The first is the Loosing Key, which absolves from sin and unlocks Heaven; from this is Absolution or Acquittal;

    The second is the Binding Key, which binds Sinners and locks up Heaven for those who are tied to sin's leash; from this is Excommunication or Exclusion, which is also called the Ban.

    Matt. 16:19: And I will give to you the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth, that shall be bound in heaven, and what you loose on earth, it shall be loosed in Heaven.

512. Why is the Office of the Keys called a special power of the Church?

Because, outside the Church or Christendom, where the Gospel is not, neither is there any forgiveness of sins.

Ephesians 2:11-12: Therefore remember, that formerly you were Gentiles after the flesh, who were called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision", that in the flesh which is done by the human hand-- that you were at that time without Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and were strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Deut. 4:7: For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him?
Ps. 147:20: He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the Lord!
Acts 4:12: And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.
John 14:6: I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by Me.

513. Are thus the Keys not given to a particular individual man alone?

No; "It is necessary to acknowledge that the Keys do not belong to nor are given to an individual man alone, but rather to the whole Church. For just as the promise of the Gospel undoubtedly and immediately belongs to the whole Church, in this way the Keys are the direct possession of the whole Church." [S.A. Tr.§ 24 Triglot p 511 German text p. 510]

    Matt. 18:17-20: But if he will not listen to the church , then let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you: What ever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you: that if to of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be don for them by my Father, who is in heaven.
    Matt. 18,20: For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.
    1 Pet. 2:9: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
    1 Cor. 3:21-23: So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

514. Why is this?

"In as much as the Keys are nothing other than the Office, by which this promise is communicated to everyone who desires it." [SA. Tr. 24]

    Rom. 1:16:For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek
    Luke 24:46-47:And He said to them: "So it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations--beginning from Jerusalem.

515. Shall then in accordance with this any Christian be so bold, though himself having no call, as to administer the Office of the Keys?

By no means; for "No one in the Church shall teach or preach or administer the sacraments without a proper Call". [Augsburg Confession, Article 14]

    Rom. 10:15: And how shall they preach, unless they are sent?
    1 Cor. 12:29: Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? Are all Teachers?
    1 Cor. 4:1: Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
    James 3:1: My brothers! Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that as such we shall incur a stronger judgment.
    Jer. 23:21: I have not sent these prophets, but they ran.
    Hebr. 5:4: And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

516. Who are those that are properly the Church's servants?

Those who by a proper Call from God are ordained can rightfully teach others God's Word and legitimately administer the Sacraments.

517. How many kinds of a legitimate Call are there?

There are two kinds, non-mediated and mediated.

518. What is an non-mediated Call?

That which comes from God himself without man's participation.

    Gal 1:1: Paul, an apostle, not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised Him from the dead.
    Jer. 1:4 ff.:(The Lord's Call to Jeremiah); Now the word of the Lord came to me saying "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." Then I said, "Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth." But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, `I am a youth,' Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you," declares the Lord.
    Matt. 10:1 ff.:Christ sends out the twelve Apostles.

519. Should one in our days still expect an non-mediated Call?

No: For we have concerning this neither any command nor any promise; for this reason those who pretend to have such a call should be condemned and reckoned as false prophets.

    Exodus 4:2-9: (The non-mediated Call is accompanied by Miracles)
    Matt. 7: 15: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
    Deut. 13:1 ff.: (God's directions to the church for testing prophets)

520. What is a mediated Call?

It is that call which goes out from God through His church's participation in a certain manner and according to certain rules which are prescribed in God's Word.

    1 Cor. 12:28. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
    Acts 20:28: Be on guard for yourselves and for 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! (The also who have a mediated Call are called by God.)

521. Who has, then, the power to call a Pastor?

The whole church:

    because the Office belongs to the whole church;

    Matt. 18:17: And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.
    1 Cor. 3:21-23: So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.
    1 Cor. 4:1: So then let man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
    2 Cor. 1:24: Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.
    2 Cor. 4:5: For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.
    1 Pet. 5:2-3: ... shepherd the flock of God among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.
    ?Ps. 68:13: When you lie down among the sheepfolds, Your are like the wings of a dove covered with silver, And its pinions with glistening gold.

    because the whole church has the duty to determine who conducts all of its teaching, both as a body and to the delinquents.

    Acts 1:15-26: (Peter speaks to the rest of the disciples about the necessity of calling another to fill the place of Judas.)
    Acts 6:1-6: (The selection of seven men to wait tables carried out by the congregation so that the Apostles could dedicate themselves to the ministry of the Word.)
    Acts 14:23: And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

522. How do our Lord Jesus Christ's words of institution read concerning the Office of the Keys?

Thus the Holy Evangelist John writes in the 20th chapter: "The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said to them: Receive the Holy Spirit! Whosoever's sins you forgive, they are forgiven them. Whosoever's sins you bind they are bound to them."

523. What do you believe according to these words?

I believe, therefore, that when Christ's called servants deal with us according to His divine command, their dealings are valid.

In particular I believe that when they shut out those manifest and impenitent sinners from the congregation and, on the other hand, when they unloose those who repent of their sins and will amend themselves, so this is also likewise powerful and certain in Heaven as if our dear Lord Christ had done it in person.

524. So can a pastors forgive sins?

Yes; certainly God alone can forgive sins by His own power, but Pastors forgive them only as God's instruments or on account of the external Preaching Office, through which the Holy Spirit works.

    Mark. 2:7: Who can forgive sin, except God?
    2 Cor. 2:10: But whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ.
    Luke 24:46-47: ... and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations-beginning from Jerusalem.
    2 Cor. 5:18-20: Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
    2 Cor. 3:6-8: ... who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading though it was, how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?

525. But what if the pastor who pronounces absolution is an ungodly person?

Absolution is valid in the same way as the Sacraments, that is, "neither does the fact that they are administered by the unworthy detract from their efficacy, because on account of the call of the Church, they represent the Person of Christ, and do not represent their own persons, as Christ testifies, Luke 10:16 'He who hears you, hears Me'". (Apology of the Augsburg Confession 4, §28, Triglot, p. 237.)

526. Will then also those that only for the sake of appearance and out of hypocrisy go to Scripture, by the absolution become free of their sins?

Since the servant of Christ does not know the heart, he uses his office for the benefit of all of those who show contrition outwardly; but since there are those who are impenitent and hypocrites, make themselves unworthy before God, such as these the holy Office cannot exercise its power on them, and they will therefore remain in their sins and their condemned state.

    Is. 26:10: Though the wicked is shown favor, he does not learn righteousness. He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, and does not perceive the majesty of the Lord.
    Luke 10:5-6: And whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house.' And if a man of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him; but if not, it will return to you.

527. What do you understand by the Ban?

It is:

    The proclamation of a sinner's binding, which a legitimate servant of the Church pronounces in Christ's Name to those unbelieving and obstinate sinners and their exclusion from the Church until they repent.

    1 Cor. 5:11-13: But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
    2 Thess. 3:14: And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame.

528. Dare anyone use the Ban according to his own particular pleasure?

Far from it! Much more should one specifically bear in mind that the Ban must not be used arbitrarily, but that its proper use is precisely decreed by God's express Word.

    Matt. 18, 15-17: And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be confirmed. And if he does not listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.
    1 Cor. 5:11: But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-not even to eat with such a one.
    1 Cor. 5:3-5: For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
    2 Cor. 2:6: Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority.

529. Can a sinner become freed of the Ban and be readmitted to the Church?

Yes certainly; The purpose of the binding key is not the soul's destruction, but its salvation. Therefore, when a sinner who was hardened up to now repents, makes true repentance and earnestly amends his life, he shall again be assured of God's grace and helped up with the Gospel's comfort.

    2 Cor. 2:6-8: Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm love for him.

530. What is Confession?

Confession consists of two parts: One, that one confess sin; the Other, that one receive absolution or the forgiveness of sins from the Father Confessor as from God Himself, and finally in no way doubt, but firmly believe that sins are thereby forgiven before God in Heaven.

531. What sins shall we confess in Confession?

Before God we should confess ourselves guilty of all sins, also even those we do not know about, just as we do in the Our Father. But before the Father Confessor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in the heart.

    Confession before God:
    Ps. 32:3-5: When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groanings all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever-heat of summer, selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"; and You did forgive the guilt of my sin, selah.
    Prov. 28:13: He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
    Ps. 19:13: Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults!
    Confession before the confessor:
    Matt. 3:5-6: Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
    Ps. 19:13: Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults!
    Confession before one's Neighbor:
    Matt. 5:23-25: If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way, first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way; in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
    ?Joh. 5:16: And for this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.

532. Which are these sins?

Here consider your station according to the Ten Commandments, whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, master, mistress, a man-servant or maid-servant; whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, slothful; whether you have grieved any one by words or deeds; whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted anything, or do other injury.

533. What short form of confession has Luther set up in his Small Catechism?

Thus you shall speak to the confessor:
Reverend and dear sir, I beseech you to hear my confession, and to pronounce forgiveness to me for God's sake.

Then you shall say:
I, a poor sinner, confess myself before God guilty of all sins; especially I confess before you that I am a man-servant, a maid-servant, etc. But, alas, I serve my master unfaithfully; for in this and in that I have not done what they commanded me; I have provoked them, and caused them to curse, have been negligent in many things and permitted damage to be done; have also been immodest in words and deeds, have quarreled with my equals, have grumbled and sworn against my mistress, etc. For all this I am sorry, and pray for grace; I want to do better.

A house father or house mother may say:
In particular I confess before you that I have not faithfully trained my children, domestics, and wife, or family, for God's glory. I have cursed, set a bad example by rude words and deeds, have done my neighbor harm, and spoken evil of him, have overcharged and given false ware and short measure. And whatever else he has done against God's command and his station, etc.

534. But when he does not find himself burdened with such or greater sins, what should he do according to Dr. Luther's instructions?

But if any one does not find himself burdened with such or greater sins, he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins, and thereby make confession a torture, but mention one or two that he knows. Thus: In particular I confess that I once cursed; again, I once used improper words, I have once neglected this or that, etc. Let this suffice.

But If you know of none at all (which, however, is scarcely possible), then mention none in particular, but receive the forgiveness upon the general confession which you make before God to the confessor.

Then the confessor shall say:
God be merciful to you and strengthen your faith! Amen.

535. How does the General Confession go?

O almighty God, merciful Father, I a poor, miserable, sinner confess before you all my sins and all my wrong doings, by which I ever have offended you and by which I have earned your temporal and eternal punishment. But all my sins cause my heart pain, and I repent of them sincerely and beg you, that out of your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, blameless, bitter sufferings and death your dear Son Jesus Christ be willing to be merciful and graceful to me a poor sinner.

536. Which other form of Confession could one also use?

Say this:
I, a miserable sinner, confess before God and you on His behalf, that I was conceived and born in sin and in many ways have transgressed God's Will with thoughts, words, and deeds. Should God now desire to deal with me according to his mighty righteousness, then I should die in my sins, perish and be damned eternally. All this gives my heart pain, and I repent of them greatly. Therefor I confess my sin and flee to God's boundless mercy and my Savior and Ransom, Jesus Christ's dearest merit, because I live in the certain hope that God, out of Grace, for the sake of His Son will pardon me of all my sins. I beg you, reverend sir, that you will on God's behalf release me from all of my Sins; and I promise, also, that I hereafter will, with the Holy Spirit's help in dutiful obedience better my life and become more faithful.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Luther's Theology of the Cross, from H.A. Preus (the younger)

[This is from my battered old copy of A Theology to Live By written by H. A. Preus, a grandson of the Norwegian Synod founder by the same name. The quotation is from pp. 45-47 and concerns Luther's Theology of the Cross. My copy is a 1977 edition from CPH. My wife just got us a new copy. Happily, CPH has republished this valuable book in 2005. The pagination for this new edition is different. In the new edition the following quotations are from pages 55-58. --Joe]

[T]he true knowledge of God is not found through Romans 1 but through 1 Corinthians 1. The preaching of the cross is "foolishness." The theology of the cross means: "God lets Himself be known in that which according to natural judgment is the opposite to the Divine; His wisdom appears in foolishness, His glory in ignominy. His revelation is for natural man sheer hiddenness."

Here Luther is confronting us again with his idea of the Deus absconditus (hidden God) and the Deus revelatus (revealed God). God hides Himself behind forms or signs or masks, which appear foolish to man. Yet man will learn to know God only if he seeks Him under these forms, particularly the Word and the sacraments. In the Old Testament God appeared to fallen Adam "in a gentle breeze as though enveloped in a covering." Later He manifested Himself in the tabernacle by the mercy seat. Moses speaks of the "faces of God" through which God showed Himself. No more can we recognize God without a covering. Therefore "God envelops Himself in His works in certain forms, as today He wraps Himself up in Baptism, in absolution, etc....Whoever desires to be saved and to be safe when he deals with such great matters, let him simply hold to the form, the signs, and the coverings of the Godhead, such as His Word and His works. For in His Word and in His works He shows Himself to us." This theology of the cross, of Word and Sacrament, Luther opposes to the theology of glory of the scholastic theologians. "But those who want to reach God apart from these coverings exert themselves to ascend to heaven without ladders (that is, without the Word). Overwhelmed by His majesty, which they seek to comprehend without a covering, they fall to their destruction....Therefore, if we want to walk in safety, let us accept what the Word submits for our reflection and what God Himself wants us to know."

This theology i no vague theory with Luther. It is a theology to live by. It is the theology of Christian experience. An adult comes to conversion and faith like St. Paul on the Damascus road. The apostle is brought to his knees in fear before the Lord he has been persecuting. But he is lifted up to faith by the wounded hands and the forgiving Word of the risen Lord, who sends him on to be baptized and to be commissioned for His service. This is the way men are brought to faith. Luther says, "Faith is born in the agony of conscience."

This is not the kind of theology that is palatable to natural man. Nor is it palatable to many who sit in the pews of our churches. Even a good Christian must confess that even Jesus' "Take up the cross and follow Me" is a hard saying. Though the cross to the crown is not the way we like to go. Must we really go through the agony of conscience to reach mature faith? We like to hear about the love of God. But who wants to hear about His wrath or even His righteousness? We love to hear about God's grace, but we are impatient when the preacher tells us about our sin. The hope of heaven is palatable preaching, but don't threaten me with the possibility of hell.

But is this cozy theology really a theology to live by? Has it anything to do with the Way to which Jesus calls us? Is it the Way the apostles laid out for the Christians of the early church, saying, "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22 KJV)

Luther's theology of the cross presents a life lived in tension between the Law and the Gospel, between what Luther calls the foreign work and the proper work of God. A sinner who is to be brought to repentance and faith must hear the law of God which tells him that he is a lost sinner, that he is "by nature sinful and unclean," that he has sinned against God "in thought, word, and deed," and that all his "righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Is. 64:6 KJV) This is what Luther calls the foreign work of God, which He must perform before He can accomplish His proper work, which is to save man through faith in Jesus Christ. This latter must be accomplished by the Gospel of God's grace in Christ. "Man, driven into fear and anxiety by the preaching of the Law, hears this Gospel message, which, instead of reminding him of God's demands, tells him what God has done for him. It points not to man's works, but to the works of Christ, and bids him confidently believe that for the sake of his Son God will forgive his sins and accept him as his Child. And this message, when received in faith, immediately cheers and comforts the heart. The heart will no longer flee from God; rather it turns to him. Finding grace with God and experiencing his mercy, the heart feels drawn to him. It commences to call upon him and to treat and revere him as its beloved God. In proportion as such faith and solace grow, also love for the commandments will grow and obedience to them will be man's delight"

.... [then later on p. 50 (1977 ed); p. 61 (2005 edition)]

This kind of theology is puzzling to the average Christian, who is apt to think that as he increases in Christian maturity his spiritual struggles and doubts will diminish. But we need only look at the saints of God to see that the greatest saints are the ones who experience the greatest intensity in their struggle with sin and temptation and the "flesh." We remember the agony of David in Psalm 51. Isaiah cries, "Woe is me, for I am undone!" St. Paul sighs, "For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate....Wretched man that I am!"

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Walther's introduction to his 4th Evening Lecture

"When a theologian is asked to yield and make concessions in order that peace may at last be established in the Church, but refuses to do so even in a single point of doctrine, such an action looks to human reason like intolerable stubbornness, yea, like downright malice. That is the reason why such theologians are loved and praised by few men during their lifetime. Most men rather revile them as disturbers of the peace, yea, as destroyers of the kingdom of God . They are regarded as men worthy of contempt. But in the end it becomes manifest that this very determined, inexorable tenacity in clinging to the pure teaching of the divine Word by no means tears down the Church; on the contrary, it is just this which, in the midst of greatest dissension, builds up the Church and ultimately brings about genuine peace. Therefore, woe to the Church which has no men of this stripe, men who stand as watchmen on the walls of Zion, sound the alarm whenever a foe threatens to rush the walls, and rally to the banner of Jesus Christ for a holy war!

"Try and picture to yourselves what would have happened if Athanasius had made a slight concession in the doctrine of the deity of Christ. He could have made a compromise with the Arians and put his conscience at ease; for the Arians declared that they, too, believed Christ to be God, only not from eternity. They said: ἦν ὅτε οὐκ ἦν (there was a time when He did not exist), meaning, He had become God. But they added: “Nevertheless He is to be worshiped, for He is God.” Even at that remote time, had Athanasius yielded, the Church would have been hurled from the one Rock on which it is founded, which is none other than Jesus Christ.

"Again, imagine what would have happened if Augustine had made a slight concession in the doctrine of man’s free will, or rather of the utter incapacity of man for matters spiritual. He, too, could have made a compromise with the Pelagians and put his conscience at ease because the Pelagians declared: “Yes, indeed; without the aid of God’s grace no man can be saved.” But by the grace of God they meant the divine gift which is imparted to every man. Even at that time, had Augustine yielded, the Church would have lost the core of the Gospel. There would have been nothing left of it but the empty, hollow shell. Aye, the Church would have retained nothing bu the name of the Gospel. For the doctrine of the Gospel that man is made righteous in the sight of God and saved by nothing but the pure grace of God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, is, as everybody knows, the most important doctrine, the marrow and substance of Christin teaching. Wherever this doctrine is not proclaimed, there is no Christ, no Gospel, no salvation; there men perish, and for such people it has been in vain that the Son of God has come into the world.

"Lastly, picture to yourselves what would have happened if Luther had made a slight concession in the doctrine of the Holy Supper. At the time of the Margburg Colloquy he could have made a compromise with Zwingli and put his conscience at ease, because the Zwinglians said: “We, too, believe in a certain presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, but not in the presence of Christ’s corporeal substance, because God does not set up such sublime, incomprehensible things for us to believe.” By this claim Zwingli made Christianity in its entirety a questionable matter, and even Melanchthon, who was usually greatly inclined to make concessions, declared that Zwingli had relapsed into paganism. Had Luther yielded, the Church would have become a prey to rationalism, which places man’s reason above the plain Word of God.

"Let us, therefore, bless all the faithful champions who have fought for every point of Christian doctrine, unconcerned about the favor of men and disregarding their threatenings. Their ignominy, though it often was great, has not been borne in vain. Men cursed them, but they continued bearing their testimony until death, and now they wear the crown of glory and enjoy the blissful communion of Christ and of all the angels and the elect. Their labor and their fierce battling has not been in vain; for even now, after 1500 years, or, in the last-named case, after several centuries, the Church is reaping what they sowed.

"Let us, then, my friends, likewise hold fast the treauser of the pure doctrine. Do not consider it strange if on that account you must bear reproach the same as they did. Consider that the word of Sirach, chap. 4, 33: “Even unto death fight for justice, and God will overthrow thy enemies for thee,” will come true in our case too. Let this be your slogan: Fight unto death in behalf of the truth, and the Lord will fight for you!"

Walther's The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel. Available at Concordia Publishing House and online at

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

G.E.O. Lillegard Review of the CC

Clergy Bulletin X:5 (January 1951) pages 46-48.

[ In 1951 the General Pastoral Conference assigned papers to study the various sections of the LC-MS Common Confession. The Common Confession (CC) was to be the basis for the LC-MS' unity with the American Lutheran Church. G. O. Lillegard wrote the evaluation of the CC section on the Church. Note especially the closing two paragraphs with reference to the doctrine of the Ministry.

This part of the CC can be found on p. 426 of Wolf's Documents of Lutheran Unity in America. -Joe]

"The Church"
(Common Confession, Article IX.)

The Common Confession is remarkable throughout for the manner in which it presents, tersely yet adequately, the doctrines on which American Lutherans have long been in essential agreement, while ignoring and by-passing those points of doctrine on which there has been public disagreement. Thus there is nothing in Article IX, on the Church, which was not stated long ago in even clearer and more definite terms in such confessional documents as the Constitution of the American Lutheran Church, Article II, Confession of Faith, (1930); in the "Toledo Theses" which formed the doctrinal basis of the ALC, (1918); in the "Minneapolis Theses", on which the American Lutheran Conference was based, (1925); in the "Chicago Theses" of 1928, which was adopted by the Iowa and Buffalo Synods; and even in the "Washington Declaration" of the United Lutheran Church, (1920). In contrast with the Common Confession, the Missouri Synod's "Brief Statement" goes into specific detail with regard to the points on which there has been disagreement and states the Biblical teachings as briefly as it can be stated without sacrificing clarity and definiteness. It was correctly named "The Brief Statement". There is no superfluous verbiage in it. Every point in it, as someone has said, is a dagger directed at an error held by opposing Lutheran churches; and every one of the sentences is needed. We have a right, accordingly, to be suspicious of those who would substitute some other doctrinal theses for it, or who would try to cover the ground in briefer term than it, while still claiming to settle the controversies which have afflicted the Lutheran churches in our country.

The the Brief Statement emphasizes the fact that the Christian Church on earth is invisible, and that the visible means of grace through which the Church is created and preserved are "marks of the Church", but are in no sense the Church or any part of the Church itself. The CC ignores this point of doctrine entirely, though the ALC still confesses in its doctrinal basis, the Toledo Theses: "Common participation in the means of grace is the necessary form of the Church's appearance and the infallible mark of its existence; and in so far the Church is visible." (Thesis I b.)

Similarly, in the paragraph on "Church-fellowship", the Brief Statement defines Unionism in exact terms, referring to specific Bible passages on each point, while the Common Confession quotes Bible passages only in a very general way and leaves out such pertinent passages as 1 Pet. 4:11; Matt. 7:15; 2 Tim. 2:17-21; Acts 20:30; and 1 Tim. 1:3. The Brief Statement also emphasizes the fact that it is the doctrine which is actually taught in a church, not that which it may profess in its Constitution, which is to determine for us whether it is an orthodox church or not. In the CC, this essential point is omitted entirely. Then, the Brief Statement uses the inclusive term, "Church-fellowship", in defining Unionism, which through almost 80 years of Synodical Conference history has meant "prayer-fellowship" as well as pulpit- and altar-fellowship. But the CC specifies "altar and pulpit fellowship", pointedly leaving out any reference to prayer-fellowship at all. In all of the confessional documents referred to above, including the Washington Declaration of the ULC, wefinde statements repudiating pulpit and altar fellowship with errorists. The so called Galezburg Rule: "Lutheran pulpits are for Lutheran ministers only. Lutheran altars are for Lutheran communicants only," has been in effect ever since 1870 in General Council (not ULC) circles. Thus the CC marks no progress whatever in settling the disagreement in Lutheran circles with regard to what "sinful unionism" is and means.

In his essay on "Unionism" (1927), Dr. Fr. Pieper, who was also chiefly responsible for the Brief Statement, wrote: "God here (Rom. 16:17) forbids Unionism, church-fellowship with such as are known as false teachers. With such we are not to fellowship in prayer or in Holy Communion, etc.; for in so doing we would, as the Apostle says (2 John 10:11) be partaking of their evil deeds." It will not be necessary to quote further evidences from the writings of Synodical Conference theologians to prove that this has always been the position of that church. Nor need we quote statements from other Lutherans to prove that they have condemned us, often in the most bitter language, for refusing to pray with errorists of any kind. They have sought for years to show that pulpit and altar fellowship with errorists is, indeed, to be condemned, but that "prayer-fellowship" is another matter. For, they say, we can pray together with anyone who claims to be a Christian, though he may be guilty of many doctrinal aberrations. Cf., e.g., Dr. M. Reu's pamphlet on "Unionism", in his publication, "In the Interest of Lutheran Unity". (1940)

But if the Scriptural admonition against fellowship with errorists and false prophets of every kind mean anything, they must certainly apply to praying together with them, since men nowhere draw more closely to God than in prayer and must needs be united "in the same mind and the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10), if their prayers are to be pleasing to God. It is a vain thing for those who do not share the same faith to try to pray together, since divergent beliefs are bound to make the prayers conflict with one another, thus presenting only a Babel of confusion to the ears of God. The Holy Spirit of prayer should not be accused of inspiring or sponsoring such prayers.

There is also wide disagreement between the Synodical Conference and other Lutherans on the matter of cooperating with erring churches in the practical work of the Church. The Synodical Conference has maintained that it is sinful Unionism to conduct church work together with errorists, as well as to pray and worship with them. Other Lutherans have insisted on their right to associate and cooperate with heretical churches in various fields,-missions, charities, etc.,-and in what they call "the externals" of church work, as they are doing, e.g. in the World Council of Churches and the newly-formed National Council of Churches. The CC says with regard to this: "We dare not condone error or have...unscriptural cooperation with erring individuals, church bodies, or church groups that refuse to be corrected by God's Word." This seems to imply that there is such a thing as "Scriptural cooperation with errorists". It is clear form the Bible that we can, indeed, cooperate with errorists and heretics in social, political and other matters which lie outside of the sphere of the spiritual work of the Church. Here we do not draw the line even against Catholics, Jews, Mohammedans or heathen, who so often seek to exclude Christians from all association with them, yes, even persecute true believers with fire and sword. But in the work of the Church, whether it be in the field of Missions or Education or Charities, the Bible precedent and the rule is to work together with those who share our faith and confession. Otherwise we weaken our testimony and become guilty of building "wood, hay stubble" (1 Cor. 3:12) on the foundation, Jesus Christ, instead of "purging ourselves...of the vessels of wood and of earth" (2 Tim. 2:20). When the "adversaries of Judah and Benjamin", the Samaritans, came to Zerubbabel as he was building the temple in Jerusalem and, like good unionists, said: "Let us build with you; for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither," the leaders of Israel said to them: "Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel," (Ezra 4:1-5). so we today need to say to the unionists who beckon to us from every hand, asking us to join with them in at least some fields of Church work, if not in all: "Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God."

The CC errs also in its reference to "our Lord's intercessory prayer" (John 17) when it applies His words, that we "may be one, even as He and the Father are one", to the external fellowship of professing Christians. Christ's prayer is heard and answered wherever Christians are brought into fellowship with God through faith in Jesus, whether they are united in the bonds of a visible fellowship with them or not.

Finally, the Brief Statement comes with specific warnings, both in the article on The Church and in that on The Public Ministry, against the hierarchical, romanizing tendencies which manifest themselves also in Lutheran churches, including the ALC. It emphasizes the fact that the office of the Ministry is to be established "by order and in the name of a Christian congregation", not independently of it; nor can it claim the right to "demand obedience and submission in matters which Christ has not commanded." These points the Common Confession ignores completely.

We conclude that the CC is not only inadequate to settle the controverted issues which have troubled the Church hitherto, but does not touch on the controverted issues at all. Hence, if the CC is to be accepted as a settlement of doctrinal differences that for two generations have separated Lutherans from on another, we must either condemn the "fathers" who manufactured issues where none existed, thus proving themselves schismatics, or else condemn the CC as in very truth but a "Missouri Compromise", a tragic surrender of everything that conservative Lutherans have contended for from the beginning.

-Geo. O. Lillegard.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Politics, Sinful Human Nature, and Synodical Business

Clergy Bulletin, X:I (September, 1950) page 9
Impressions Gained At Ft. Wayne - Milton Otto

A statement read to the Convention by one individual revealed that there is a lot of "muddleheaded" thinking (as Dr. Fuerbringer once said) in some quarters as to the manner in which disagreements should be solved.

Further confusion resulted from the emphasis placed on the precedure [sic] when discussing Synodical Conference affairs. To a certain extent there was one point to that, but it became evident by the many "points of order" when controversial subjects were boached, that proper "procedure" rated higher than did what is proper accoridng to Scripture. Add to this an in-experienced chairman, which Dr. Barth in private readily admitted to the undersinged he was, and you have quite a situation [sit.]

Because of the aforementioned "shibboleth" it was almost impossible to get any discussion on the "Comnmon Confession" on the floor. Several memorials on the matter were as good as ruled out of court, on the grounds that the Synodical Conference was not the forum before which that should be discussed, as Dr. Behnken had just at this meeting delivered the document to the individual synods for study and action. In this connection the remeark was made that the Wisconsin and Norwegian Synods should not exercise their veto power like the Russians to obstruct a favorable treatemnt of the "Common Confession."

In general, much of the heated debate on the floor on the current isssues was generated pro and con by Missouri's own constituency. Our men spoke but seldom, but when they did it was to the point and with telling effect. The Wisconsin men likewise aligned themselves on the conservative side, with some very pointed arguments advanced by some of their able leaders. In fact, one of their number practically held the Convention at bay for refusing him a hearing; the Convention had to yield, rather than have the minutes report such a refusal (which he was going to demand). His statement as short -- he was promising not to keep silent on the "Common Confession" especially, lost Missouri at the moment adventitious to it, later say "Why didn't you say something before."

There were those who at one time in the meeting feared that Wisconsin and Missorui men were walking out of the Convention. Some Missouri men would like that, so people would not say that they broke up the Synodical Conference. It was quite evident that the situation in the Synodical Conference is today a precarious one. One went away from the meeting with a heavy heart.

On the business before the Convention there seemed to be unanimity, that is, on the matters relative to our joint Negro and Nigeria mission work. And there were some rather lengthy reports acted on by the Convention.

A very heartening aspect of the Convention was the series of devotions on the individual petitions of the Lord's Prayer. They were gem and the preachers spoke quite pointedly and frankly. The speakers were all Missouri men of the South Wisconsin District. If the Synodical Conference affairs can be handled in the same spirit there is still hope.

Milton Otto

(Editor's note: The writer of the above paper informs us that this review was suggested by our Synodical President, in addion to the more or less official one which appeared in the Sentinel. - F. R. Weyland)