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)