“God is really blessing the LCMS”

Todd Wilken with an important  reminder in light of the uproar over the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s stand against our civil religion, with its president disciplining a pastor for participating in an interfaith service for the school shootings in Connecticut:

God is really blessing the LCMS this week.

How do I know? Here’s how.

All I had to do was read some recent comments on the LCMS Facebook page after the story of the Pr. Morris’ apology hit the secular press. Here are just a few of those comments:

Reminding me so much of the way the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, Sadducees acted. SHAME ON YOU LCMS.

It’s Christless idiots like president Harrison that drive souls into atheism. I say Excommunicate him & those like him.

Wow, I’m so glad I don’t belong to your hateful congregation …Ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, misogyny, and small men puffed up with self-importance are your legacy to the world.

Thanks for reminding me why I got out of your godforsaken religion as soon as I could. 34 years and going strong without your poisonous influence.

How can you possibly be so arrogant as to think YOU know what “the truth” is?

What kind of so called Christians do Gods work by forbidding it’s flock from “joint worship with other religions.”? Quit lying to yourselves and the world. You people are NOT Christians!

Your church is beyond shameful.

You are exactly what is wrong with current organized religion.

It makes you look like exactly what you are: small, backward scumbags.

And not unexpectedly, at least one of our serving District Presidents and a former Synodical President have decided to pile on and join in the chorus of criticism.

Well, that’s what they say. What does Jesus say? Here’s what:

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad. (Matthew 5:11-12)

That’s what’s happening to the LCMS this week. That’s how I know God is blessing the LCMS this week. Jesus says so.

It doesn’t sound like God’s blessing; it sounds like man’s cursing. It doesn’t feel like God’s blessing; it feels like the world’s hatred.

Critics outside the LCMS and political opportunists inside the LCMS can say whatever they want. We believe what Jesus says. And He says that this is God’s blessing. Rejoice, be glad.

 

via Steadfast Lutherans » Rejoice. It’s Been a Week of Blessing.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • George A. Marquart

    This is beneath contempt.
    George A. Marquart

  • Tim Schenks

    Mr. Marquart, I agree with you that unionism and sycretism is beneath contempt. Keep confessing the faith.
    Yours in Christ,
    Tim Schenks

  • #4 Kitty

    Using the same logic…”God is Really Blessing the Westboro Baptist Church”.

  • Rich Kauzlarich

    So where does this leave those of us who raised fundamental questions why Pr. Martin was sanctioned for showing mercy? Are we part of Pr. Wilkin’s “chorus of criticism”?

  • Trey

    @#4 They teach that the sin of homosex is unforgivable, which is against the teaching of Christ. Not the same logic. Enough of the fallacy of the beard.

    @ Rich
    I don’t think he’s questioning fair criticism, just those who condemn us for trusting in John 14:6, Acts 4:12, ect. Oh and this thing called the law of non-contradiction.

  • Gary in FL

    Well….. THAT’S an interesting way to spin it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I think Kitty @ 3 says it best.
    It is one thing to be persecuted for God’s word, being imprisoned for what is good. It is another to receive rightful rebuke. Though the comment threads sometimes betray ongoing animosity against the LCMS for much else, the reaction against our synod for the way in which this has been handled is right. Personally, I wish Todd and Tim would quit blogging for a couple days and absorb it all, think through it all. And perhaps apologize to the synod finally for their part in all of this, their commentary on Brothers of John the Steadfast, their childish antics, and unwillingness to actually do what Harrison had asked which was to drop it, is behind all of this controversy that has developed. I cannot tell you how much respect I have lost for Todd over this whole thing. I look forward to the day when we might be reconciled in that. But currently I am ashamed of him. Tim Rossow, also a critic of Morris, I do not know at all. At this point, I don’t know that I care to know him.
    And then to think the synod is being blessed, look at all this persecution! Thanks for the lesson in JW 101!
    No, if we have been blessed it is that we have pastors like Morris who do not condone syncretism and unionism, but who are willing to risk their reputation and step out offering pastoral support despite appearances and how things might uncharitably be interpreted. It’s as if the who “confessional crowd” forgot the eighth commandment, at this point my fourth grade confirmation class knows the confessions better.
    We are blessed by DP Yeadon who stands with Morris. We are blessed by President Harrison, and his leadership in this synod. We are not blessed by men bragging about the grief they have given Harrison over the last seven weeks. The Missouri Synod has been blessed by these men, who are working with each other in the face of such harsh criticism. Of that I have no doubt.
    What we are not blessed with is this criticism from the outside, we are shamed by that. Neither are we blessed by cantankerous blog sites looking to live off of controversy, and pastors hovering over head like turkey buzzards waiting for fresh carcase to consume, pastors who seem to bored with their own parishes and communities that they have to go meddling into the calls of other men, and tell our synod president how to do his job. We are not blessed by men who can’t accept an apology, or realize when it might be them who need to apologize.

  • Tom Hering

    So at a time when we could be and should be learning from our mistakes, we’re going to circle the wagons instead? Not helpful. And seriously, everyone within the LCMS who doesn’t like the way this matter was handled is a political opportunist? An opponent of President Harrison and the conservative wing, with no other concern than the upcoming convention? Seriously?

  • HippoAugustine

    There is solidarity in suffering. All people, regardless of religion, feel it in time of national tragedy. We come together, we weep together, we are united in our sorrow. But that’s where the commonality ends.

    We Christians believe that Jesus joined us in the flesh to suffer with and for us. There’s solidarity in Christ. In him our suffering has meaning. In him we also have resurrection and hope. In Christ there is much that can be said to suffering people.

    The problem is, Morris didn’t mention anything of the sort. He chose the first kind of solidarity rather than the second. He united with the in sorrow but did not share the hope that he has in Christ.

    To put it another way, he chose the spirit of the time rather than the Holy Spirit. His presence there, while politically correct, was therefore of no count and no purpose. He did not serve God, nor did he really serve the people. The Gospel is the only thing we’ve really got to offer and he did not offer it.

  • Becky F.

    Bror said in #7:
    “Personally, I wish Todd and Tim would quit blogging for a couple days and absorb it all, think through it all. And perhaps apologize to the synod finally for their part in all of this, their commentary on Brothers of John the Steadfast, their childish antics, and unwillingness to actually do what Harrison had asked which was to drop it, is behind all of this controversy that has developed. I cannot tell you how much respect I have lost for Todd over this whole thing. I look forward to the day when we might be reconciled in that. But currently I am ashamed of him. Tim Rossow, also a critic of Morris, I do not know at all. At this point, I don’t know that I care to know him.”

    I agree 100%.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Hippo,
    You don’t choose the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit chooses you. You of all people should know that. And just that comment there shows just why you should refrain from commenting on what, why or how Morris did what he did. You weren’t there. Of course, over the weekend there was much discussion of that particular matter on a different post in this blog, and you might go over there and read all of what has already been said on that matter.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Tom @ 8,
    Right. I’m a political opportunist with no higher aspirations than to be the small town pastor I am. This is what they think. There is no opportunism involved here on behalf of Todd and Tim, none whatsoever, political or otherwise. I hope it all backfires on them, and they lose ratings…

  • Tom Hering

    Re: HippoAugustine @ 9. Meet the frightening and heretical Pastor Morris here. The pastor well known by his own congregation, and for whose sake he participated in the memorial service.

  • Lumpenkönig

    @ Bror Erickson (post#7)

    You don’t like all the chattering on the various Lutheran blogs. Some articles and posts on the various Lutheran blogs are helpful, and some are not. Some look for controversy in order to generate page hits. I get that. However, without the internet, longstanding problems that have existed within the LCMS for decades would never get discussed in public. Iron sharpens iron. I think that is a good thing, don’t you.

    “DP Yeadon who stands with Morris”

    Why is Pastor Morris championed as a “hero.” LCMS DPs need to justify their existence. Who cares what any of the DPs think. Since the Minnesota South incident and the forced sale of the ULC last year, LCMS DPs have lost all credibility. As a consequence, I have made sure that my offering money does not go to support my local district.

    Johnathan Fisk stated it best in a recent YouTube video that the church growth movement is a bridge to liberal Christianity. Missional Lutherans are trying to build that bridge, while Confessional Lutherans within the LCMS are trying to burn it so that none may cross.

  • Tom Hering

    Bad link @ 13. Try this instead:

  • Marilee Litwa

    This latest dust-up looks to me like another shot at fomenting disunity in the LCMS (as if we didn’t have enough already). President Harrison at least used his office correctly to rebuke this pastor, lovingly I might add. For the love of Pete, I can’t understand why we LCMS folks worry so much about what the outside world thinks of us. We will sink or swim according to the Will of God .

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Lumps,
    Tell you what, come back and ask those questions with your real name. And I might consider answering you idiotic post. But until then would you stop insulting my DP and people you don’t know?

  • Joe

    Here is my take. First, I have not been involved in this. I don’t know with 100% certainty what happened and what did not happen. But from what I have been able to read and digest it appears that Pastor Morris engaged in a sycretistic worship service. I understand that he did this after careful thought, prayer and discussion with his congregation and DP. The fundamental issue seems to be that Pastor Morris came to the conclusion that this would not be sycretism because he and his congregation did not view this as a worship service. Unfortunately, I do not think that is the correct way to answer the question. The real question is what do the other participants see it as and what will the audience, world understand it to be. In other words, what does it confess.

    All of this said, I think that Pastor Harrison, Pastor Morris and the DP have been handling this in a very appropriate manner and I am inclined to keep my mouth shut and let Pastor Morris and his ecclesiastical supervisors see if they can resolve this issue in a manner that brings us closer together instead of farther apart.

    Those of us not involved directly should focus our efforts on praying for those who are involved. Pray that God would lead them as they work through it, pray that they will resolve it on the basis of God’s word and that those who have given offense will repent and that those who have been offended will give forgiveness.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Yes, I’m friends with my current DP. And still hold my former DP to be a great friend. There are other DPs in this synod whom I consider to be friends. And though I don’t agree with everything every DP does in his jurisdiction. I refuse to let what one DP does in his district tarnish the reputation of my DP. I elected my guy. I did not elect yours.
    now to go shoot some chukars.

  • Tom Hering

    The real question is what do the other participants see it as and what will the audience, world understand it to be. In other words, what does it confess. (Joe @ 18)

    Was anyone watching led to believe that all paths lead to the same God? Has anyone done a survey? So we know for sure, instead of assuming the worst?

    Did anyone who wasn’t already syncretistic in their views see it as an affirmation of syncretism?

    Did anyone watching miss it when Pastor Morris stated, right off the bat, that he didn’t endorse the other religions participating?

    Did anyone hear Pastor Morris speak of any other God than Jesus?

  • WebMonk

    Kitty nailed it in #3. Just because people are criticizing you means that you’re automatically right and being blessed of God?

    Yeah. And I have oceanfront property in Kansas to sell you too.

    Obviously this Todd Wilken guy is Lutheran, probably LCMS. Is he a denomination leader or something? Anyone can say stuff on the Internet; is Todd Wilken of some importance in LCMS circles? (perhaps my question should be – why does anyone care what Todd Wilken says)

    Oh, and am I missing something, or is Dr. Veith apparently approving of this Wilken guy’s moronic statement? Or is Dr. Veith just putting the article forward for conversation?

    “Todd Wilken with an important reminder….”

    That sounds sort of approving, to me. O.0

  • Tom Hering

    WebMonk @ 21, Todd Wilkin is the host of the radio program Issues, Etc. He’s also considered something of a martyr by traditionalists in the LCMS, having been fired from his hosting position by the previous, liberal President. (The current radio show is an independent production.)

  • sg

    @9

    Well put. It is very unfortunate, but you are right.

    Can we also assign blame where it is due? It was terribly insensitive of the organizers to structure the memorial service with an invocation and benediction etc. Seriously. That is just offensive. They could have had faith leaders come and encourage everyone and show unity in caring for the emotional trauma of the victims’ families, and then invitee people to their own houses of worship for separate services that would include prayer, readings, blessings etc.

    I blame the incident on the bald insensitivity of the organizers.

  • Joe

    Tom @ 20. I am not attempting to finally answer that question. In fact, if you keep reading my comment you will see that I am suggesting that you and I (and others) shut up about it and let the people whose job it is to handle this handle this.

  • Tom Hering

    But Joe @ 24, you couldn’t help but not shut up about it yourself (@ 18), right? Anyways, it’s way too late for that – it’s in the New York Times and on CNN, for goodness’ sake. And the cone of silence never worked very well for Max and the Chief, either. ;-)

  • Steve Bauer

    The tradition in Synod, when someone makes a mistake or sins, is to shoot first and ask questions later. Then the other side gets defensive and hardens their position. Both sides stake out their claim, circle the wagons, and commence throwing theological spitballs at each other. That’s what happened at the Yankee Stadium event after 9/11. We’re addicted to this form of entertainment. President Harrison is trying to break this cycle of abuse but there will be many of those who championed him who didn’t really hear what he was saying when he spoke about being sinners constantly in need of repentence when he was elected.

    Harrison has now admitted he handled the matter badly, even sinned in the way he did it, and asks for forgiveness. He was trying to avert a repetition of what happened a decade ago, but failed. He asks for forgiveness. That’s a Synodical president I can listen to.

    For my two cents, I think we in Synod should stop this Scholastic hair-splitting about what is and what is not unionistic and syncretistic. When civic events come up and pastors are approached about participating, we should see it as the opportunity for a public witness to the Gospel. We should also 1) Tell our congregation we are going to “give an account of the hope that is within us” because that it what we are called to do, 2) tell the organizers of the event exactly what we are going to say (no “ambushing”), 3) wait and see if we are still invited. If they politely tell us to go away then we have faithfully followed 1 Peter 2:20, “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.” And if we are allowed to stand up and proclaim Law and Gospel, we will also have much tribulation and the blessing Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount will be ours.

  • sg

    “When civic events come up and pastors are approached about participating, we should see it as the opportunity for a public witness to the Gospel. We should also 1) Tell our congregation we are going to “give an account of the hope that is within us” because that it what we are called to do, 2) tell the organizers of the event exactly what we are going to say (no “ambushing”), 3) wait and see if we are still invited. If they politely tell us to go away then we have faithfully followed 1 Peter 2:20,”

    Okay but what if what the other clergy will say is offensive? I mean how do you follow a guy who invokes the demons? Just go ahead and call on the Holy Spirit to bless all the prayers to demons, idols, and false gods? Seriously. That is so incredibly offensive.

  • Steve Bauer

    Well, I guess it all depends on whether one believes the Gospel really is the power of God to salvation and whether the Holy Spirit can actually bring people to faith through the Word when and where He pleases.

  • Tom Hering

    I mean how do you follow a guy who invokes the demons?

    How did Paul follow other speakers on Mars Hill, a venue where he was surrounded by a forest of idols and temples – a context in which all gods, including all unknown gods, were believed by everyone to be just gods among other gods? Or how did he preach in synagogues?

    Just go ahead and call on the Holy Spirit to bless all the prayers to demons, idols, and false gods?

    Are you suggesting that’s what Pastor Morris did? Do you have evidence – a quote or something?

  • sg

    @28

    What do you mean?

  • sg

    @29

    Did Morris know in advance what the other clergy were going to say?

    The whole thing is a mess. I have read prayers to false gods in books in history classes etc. But imagine going to an actual service and having to listen to people actually invoking them. OFFENSIVE!!!

  • Tom Hering

    But imagine going to an actual service and having to listen to people actually invoking them.

    Like Elijah? :-)

  • sg


    How did Paul follow other speakers on Mars Hill, a venue where he was surrounded by a forest of idols and temples – a context in which all gods, including all unknown gods, were believed by everyone to be just gods among other gods? Or how did he preach in synagogues?

    Paul in no way indicates that he agrees with them, nor is he praying with them. He was not there because it was a prayer service in which false gods were invoked and he was going to just participate like anyone else in pantheon prays to whatever idol or demon they will.

    Acts 17:22-31
    English Standard Version (ESV)
    Paul Addresses the Areopagus

    22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

    “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
    as even some of your own poets have said,

    “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
    29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

  • HippoAugustine

    @bror #11 Of course I know that the Holy Spirit chooses us to come to faith. I wasn’t questioning Morris’ faith in Jesus. I was questioning his faithfulness to his calling to proclaim the Gospel as a holder of the office of the public ministry… a different thing. In much the same way that Paul questioned Peter for acting like a Jew (see Galatians), I question Morris. Paul was not assuming peter had ceased to be a christian, but he pointed out that Peter was in error and by actions he misrepresented Christ. That’s what we got going on here. By his actions, morris misrepresented Christ.

    @herring #13 I did not say he was a heretic; nor did I say he was frightening. I merely said that in the case in question he failed to represent Christ. Like the apostle Peter, I’m sure he is capable of doing good things. However like Peter (ala Galatians) he felt the pressure of the crowds and complied. Harrison acted like Paul did toward Peter in Galatia and told him to knock it off.

  • sg


    Like Elijah?

    Not exactly.

    40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.”

    1 Kings 18:40

  • HippoAugustine

    @33 Sg Very good point.

  • Tom Hering

    Paul in no way indicates that he agrees with them, nor is he praying with them. (@ 33)

    Not only did Pastor Morris “in no way indicate,” he clearly stated to everyone that he didn’t endorse the other religions present. So all we’re left with is the context, and the fear that a syncretistic message was sent (anyways) by his mere appearance in that context.

  • Abby

    @33 “. . . 29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17

    If Pr. Morris had used words like this or like that of Stephen (Acts 6,7) he would have been ushered from the building. The hair that is being split with this situation is the distinction between “service” and “prayer vigil.” (I think.) One seems to be more acceptable than the other, even though I can’t tell the difference between the two because it was laid out in a “service” format.

    Pr. Morris said he was there more in the role of a “community chaplain.” If that would have been the case, he would have been in charge of the “service,” the readings, prayers, blessings, clergy, etc. If he could say he was being “community chaplain” all the other participants can say this too.

    I believe he was there to serve the community and his church in Christ’s name. I didn’t hear him comprise his beliefs in what he said. In fact, I’m wondering what the Rabbi, the Muslim, and other non-Christian entities, really thought of his blessing? I would have to think they were deeply offended since they deny Christ as God.

    The portion of Scripture from Revelation that he read, was meant to issue a statement of comfort from God himself over this tragedy. But, to me, this particular isolation of verses sounded like an “inclusionary” statement to all of the interfaiths present. The rest of the Book of Revelation would come across more as the portion of Acts I included above (17:30,31) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqHQ0ksSOAM

    Yes, Jesus name was present in his words. And he was there to boldly use that name. He was also seeking to comfort the community and his congregation.

    Lord, help us. Give the men and pastors of LCMS wisdom to get through this in a manner pleasing to You.

  • sg

    “I’m wondering what the Rabbi, the Muslim, and other non-Christian entities, really thought of his blessing? I would have to think they were deeply offended since they deny Christ as God.”

    Well, Pr. Morris apologized if he caused offense, so maybe they accept his apology.

  • sg

    “But imagine going to an actual service and having to listen to people actually invoking them.”

    “Like Elijah?”

    Given that Elijah had them killed, it stands to reason, he was offended by their worship of idols/demons.

  • Tom Hering

    sg @ 39, now you’re twisting things in a nasty way. Pastor Morris apologized to the LCMS, not to the other clergy who were at the service.

  • Lumpenkönig

    @ Bror Erickson (post #17 and #19)

    The DP in your area is your “friend.” Wow. That settles it. He must be a competent guy!

    Promoters of the church growth movement within the LCMS would of course be upset that Pastor Morris had to apologize.

    The ULC situation is one example of the “missionals” at work within the LCMS. The sullied reputation of LCMS DPs will not change until all of the LCMS districts are restructured. How many congregations in your district are being forced to dump Lutheran worship and study materials in favor of Willow Creek and Saddleback. How many LCMS church plants use exclusively Willow Creek and Saddleback materials. How many other traditional LCMS congregations will be squeezed out of existence if they refuse to replace the organ with a praise band.

    Who cares whether or not my real name is used. How would I know if you are using your real name. Furthermore, what difference would it make if your name were real or imaginary. Instead of dismissing my post as “idiotic,” why not address the content of my post. You will not, because you cannot. How sad. I was looking forward to a thoughtful response.

    The church growth movement exposed:

    http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/

    I don’t care if my local DP is a “nice guy.” Why would anyone want to adopt this kind of postmodern-Christianity for the LCMS?

  • Abby

    “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” (1st commandment) Martin Luther said that if you break any other commandment you have already broken this one.

    Samuel also was not “nice.” http://www.esvbible.org/search/1+Samuel+15%3A1-3%3B+1+Samuel+15%3A32-33/

    Right after this incidence, Samuel was directed to go to Bethlehem to annoint David as the new king of Israel. When he arrived there: http://www.esvbible.org/search/1+Samuel+16%3A4/ A little worried were they?

    Whole context: (1 Samuel 15:1-16:23)

    Where in the world do some still act like the Old Testament prophets? Those trying to still eradicate Christianity?

    Everything in our lives still hinges on “Thou shalt have no other gods beside Me,” and idolatry. Any single small thing in our life that is more important to us than the True God is still an idol.

  • sg

    @41

    Pr. Morris said this in his letter:

    ” Thus, to those who believe that I have endorsed false teaching, I assure you that was not my intent, and I give you my unreserved apologies. If any of you know church members or friends or family who are now confused because of my participation, believing that the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod fully endorses the doctrine of anyone else who was on that stage, please correct this confusion lovingly, and I will personally be happy to help in any way that I can. Feel free to pass on my apologies for having given that impression.”

    Confused friends certainly could include the clergy who were also there.

    Look, the stuff he says has some measure of ambiguity, perhaps deliberately, so as to allow some to hear what they want to hear. I don’t know what is in his mind. I do know that objectively speaking the service and the words spoken there were inappropriately deferential to false teaching/idols/demons and their worshippers that an LCMS pastor really could not properly participate in such a gathering due to its structure and content.

  • Abby

    I don’t get what the love affair with Willow Creek is. A few years ago that church did a survey among their members. To Bill Hybles utter dismay, it was “revealed” that 25% of his congregation — and they were the “strong, previously supporting” ones — were ready to leave (bolt) because they didn’t believe they were getting truly “fed” by attending this church. He didn’t like this feedback and put the blame back on the parishoners by saying they needed to learn to become “self-feeders.” Bill Hybels left, and now he is back. Things are not so hunky-dory at his place either. 25% of his members considering leaving is a big chunk.

    http://www.religiontoday.com/news/a-shocking-confession-from-willow-creek-community-church-11558438.html

    http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2011/08/12/the-business-of-the-church/

  • Tom Hering

    Confused friends certainly could include the clergy who were also there.

    Wow. Talk about stretching something to defend your argument.

    I do know that objectively speaking the service and the words spoken there were inappropriately deferential to false teaching/idols/demons …

    Which words – whose words? You consistently fail to provide evidence in the way of Pastor Morris’ own words from the service. Why is that?

  • sg


    ”Thus, to those who believe that I have endorsed false teaching, I assure you that was not my intent,

    But he still appeared to do it. His intent is not what offends. His action offends. We can’t know intent.

    “and I give you my unreserved apologies.”

    For what? For our believing that you endorsed false teaching?

    Look, the sentence makes no sense. You can only apologize for what you do. You can’t apologize for what other people think. That is ridiculous.

    “If any of you know church members or friends or family who are now confused because of my participation, believing that the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod fully endorses the doctrine of anyone else who was on that stage,”

    Oh, please! No one has said, and surely he knows that no one thinks the LCMS “fully” endorses the doctrine of anyone else who was on that stage. Rather we complain that he tolerated it, not that he endorses it. So, this is a straw man. This is also where I would lose patience with my teen-aged son, because it is teen-aged straw man weaseling like this and pretending not to understand, when we all know he does understand the complaint.

    “please correct this confusion lovingly, and I will personally be happy to help in any way that I can. Feel free to pass on my apologies for having given that impression.”

    Yeah, no one got that impression. They got the impression that Christian ministers tolerate and embrace religious diversity. We don’t. It is of the devil.

  • Joe

    Tom – I am not trying to offer any judgment. I only laid out what I did in the first part of my comment because I think that is the proper frame work (what the participation confessed) by which Harrison, the DP and Morris must work through this. I’m not going to say whether I think it passes or fails under that test because I don’t know everything that happened before, during and after and I am going to trust those involved to investigate it.

    But I am curious about something you’ve said twice now. When did Pastor Morris state he did not agree with the other clergy, etc. at the event? I’ve seen his part of the service and it does not include any such statement. My understanding of the facts is that he stated is disagreement with the other participants to his congregation days before the service as part of his discussion with them of whether he was going to participate. Did he make a statement that he disagreed with his fellow services participants during the service?

  • sg

    @46

    The structure and words: A prayer vigil in which false gods were invoked and prayed to.

    He participated in a service where these things occurred. That is it. Just being there in his official capacity and participating by blessing it is the problem.

  • Joe

    fyi — here is Pastor Morris portion of the service.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/07/1185372/-Pastor-Apologizes-for-Participation-in-Sandyhook-Vigil

    It is not the complete service.

  • Steve Bauer

    Maybe you couldn’t find a post in this Blog about the Church Growth Movement but you had to make your point somewhere.

    All you have to do is look up Bror’s name in the Lutheran Annual and you will find that he is really who he says he is. I can’t find Lumpenkoenig in there at all. A real name matters because it prevents us from maintaining the facade that we are not responsible for the…how shall it be put?…”intemperate” things we throw out anonymously.

  • Abby

    How can you fault this man? I really really hope he is reelected as President of the LCMS.

    http://wmltblog.org/2013/02/president-harrisons-video-on-the-newtown-conn-statement-of-unity-and-pastoral-letters/

  • Tom Hering

    He participated in a service where these things occurred. That is it. (sg @ 39)

    President Harrison doesn’t seem to think it’s as cut-and-dry as you do.

    … we as a church body have struggled and continue to struggle with how to respond to civic/religious services in the midst of such events and to do so in a way that is in accord with our core convictions about the uniqueness of Christ. There are strong differences of opinion on this issue within the Missouri Synod, and that is because we all take our commitments to the Bible and to serving the neighbor very seriously. One view is that by standing side-by-side with non-Christian clergy in public religious events, we give the impression that Christ is just one path among many. Others view participation as an opportunity to share Christ and to truly love a hurting community, which may not happen if we are not participating. We struggle with the tension between these two views.

  • Grace

     ‏

    Have any of you people given any thought to how the parents, brothers and sisters, and all other relatives and loved ones feel, when they hear, and read all the discord, arguments, anger, over a prayer given by a Lutheran pastor, at a memorial service, held in an auditorium, not a church.

    You people are showing no love whatsoever, and neither did the Lutheran who made such a spectacle of himself, for being so mean spirited, when such a disaster has brought untold grief to hundreds of people, who loved these dear children.

    YOU people fight over prayer to God ALMIGHTY?

     ‏

  • Tom Hering

    Well! This thread is bound to take the right track now. :-D

  • sg


    “Have any of you people given any thought to how the parents, brothers and sisters, and all other relatives and loved ones feel, when they hear, and read all the discord, arguments, anger, over a prayer given by a Lutheran pastor, at a memorial service, held in an auditorium, not a church.”

    Yes, which is why I fault the organizers for the way they structured it. It didn’t have to be that way.

  • Grace

    sg @ 56 “Yes, which is why I fault the organizers for the way they structured it. It didn’t have to be that way.”

    How then would you have organized the memorial service?

  • Grace

    Joe @ 18 “Those of us not involved directly should focus our efforts on praying for those who are involved. Pray that God would lead them as they work through it, pray that they will resolve it on the basis of God’s word and that those who have given offense will repent and that those who have been offended will give forgiveness.”

    How can one repent for praying to God ALMIGHTY? Do you think it can be retracted?

  • Joe

    Grace – one can repent for engaging in actions that give the impression that Christianity is only one of many ways to eternal life. And, one can repent for putting the worst construction on the actions of a young pastor who found himself in a very emotional situation.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Tom @53,
    You are very right, in fact Harrison doesn’t even seem to disagree with Morris. Why? Because Harrison knows it is not as cut and dry as people are trying to make it out to be on this blog. Harrison still seems to remember a bit what it was like to be a pastor. That is kind of nice. That and he’s a fairly good theologian. And I judge that fact not by way of his Sasse translations but his fondness for Bo Giertz :)
    To the rest of you who think this was syncretism,
    Morris wasn’t standing up in a Buddhist Temple, or a Mosque, or even a synagogue. The point of this service was not Oprah trying to say everyone believes in the same god, or some such thing. This wasn’t the annual lets get together for Easter service so everyone will believe our differences don’t really matter service. Morris was invited to a community gathering, billed as a vigil. The community rightly wanted to grieve together in the wake of this tragedy. They also, to their credit if you ask me, wanted to hear from the clergy in town, and in some way incorporate and not leave out any of them. That is really the underlying issue. The community could not rightly exclude the other faiths and churches. They invited Morris, who could not rightly turn down the invitation without thereby communicating that he did not care, or that God did not care. (Though, I doubt any believer in God would have believed God doesn’t care, they just would have thought Morris to be a complete jerk.) The community wanted to hear and see Pr. Morris. They extended what they believed to be an honor to him, and it was an honor, and not an ungodly one. Yes he had to share the venue. It was clearly indicated that by sharing this venue you were not endorsing other faiths that were represented. He did what any right minded pastor would do, he went. He spoke what gospel he could.
    All this about he should have said more, he should have jockeyed for a different position etc, is a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking. He jockeyed for a lot, he got disclaimers read. That was a phenomenal achievement in itself. He has been in the town as pastor for less than a year, and the president was speaking, believe me, he had no control over who spoke when or where. They gave him the last word and he made the most of it. He rightly knew that this was not the time to denounce other faiths or otherwise make a jack ass out of himself, but to merely faithfully proclaim what he believed. He did so. He did what he could. Be thankful you didn’t have to be there. Be thankful you didn’t have to be the pastor who had to endure what he did that week, only to be turned upon by your own brothers in the office.

  • Abby

    Bror @60: “Be thankful you didn’t have to be there. Be thankful you didn’t have to be the pastor who had to endure what he did that week, only to be turned upon by your own brothers in the office.”

    My last word on the subject: Totally agree.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Steve Bauer,
    I don’t think anyone has to look my name up in the Lutheran Annual. Googling would probably work, I would think. I doubt anyone googling my name would leave that search thinking I was a liberal, or contemporary worship guy either. And yeah, I use my real name partly to keep me from being a jerk, but it doesn’t work so well.

  • Tom Hering

    Bror!! You’re NOT a liberal (theological or otherwise)?? What have I been thinking all this time! :-D

  • Grace

    Joe @ 59 “one can repent for engaging in actions that give the impression that Christianity is only one of many ways to eternal life. And, one can repent for putting the worst construction on the actions of a young pastor who found himself in a very emotional situation.”

    I watched the memorial service – there wasn’t a moment that ” the impression that Christianity is only one of many ways to eternal life.” That’s an excuse, based not on facts.

    Death is “emotional” that doesn’t mean the Lutheran pastor made a mistake, I’m sure he had time to think about his choice, and go forward to pray for those who were wounded and hurting. That’s what pastors do. The choice to pray is not a sin, it’s certainly doesn’t need repentance.

  • Tom Hering

    … one can repent for engaging in actions that give the impression that Christianity is only one of many ways to eternal life. (@ 59)

    That’s exactly the issue here. DID Pastor Morris give anyone such an impression? Or do we just fear he did? Have any of his accusers even bothered to try and find out? You know, like searching the internet for posts where interfaith types exclaim, “This Missouri Pastor just validated other religions – how cool is that?!” Heck, even in court, they usually try to produce a body before saying there’s been a murder.

  • tODD

    Tom (@65), the very fact that we’re having this conversation makes clear that some people got that impression. Perhaps you were merely limiting your question to those non-Lutherans who weren’t at the service, but there’s no reason to limit it so. If the question is valid at all, then it’s also valid to ask it of Pastor Morris’s fellow Lutherans. And there, the answer is, quite clearly: yes, some people got that impression.

    I’m not weighing in on whether this or that person was right, by the way. Just answering your question.

  • tODD

    That should have been (@66), “to those non-Lutherans who were at the service”. Sorry.

  • Grace

    I doubt any normal thinking indivdual thought it was a service of everyone believes there is many paths to God, it’s absurd.

    One can also ask those who are all in bundle over the Lutheran pastor praying:

    Do Lutherans have Cemeteries, Mortuary’s just for themselves and their families?

    What other cloistered ways do you live your lives?

    Do you buy homes in areas that only go to Lutheran churches – do your children play with other children who attend other churches, or are they restricted to associate only with Lutherans?

    When you go to relatives, or friends homes – invited for dinner, (where your hosts are affiliated with a Christian Church, other than Lutheran) do you wait until the blessing is said by your host, before you come to the dinning room to be seated?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Tom,
    When I was ten a friend called me a pinko commie, I’ve been trying to compensate ever since :)

  • Grace

    Bror @69 “When I was ten a friend called me a pinko commie, I’ve been trying to compensate ever since”

    What I want to know is this; what did you do to him? Did you box his ears in? or re-arrange his nose? LOL

  • Tom Hering

    Todd, I’m glad you’ve joined this conversation. The issue for the Lutherans who got the impression Pastor Morris was validating other religions (and they got that impression from his attendance alone) seems to be whether or not people out there in the great wide world also got such an impression. I haven’t seen any evidence they did. And if no one did, then what in heaven’s name did Pastor Morris do wrong? Jeepers, even if some people out there did indeed get such an impression, I believe we need to weigh that against the comfort he gave to his congregation and community – and his speaking a passage of Scripture, to everyone there, and in the television audience, that told them what our God is like. Do we throw that away to maintain a scrupulous idea of faithfulness? I say no.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Well Said Tom,
    But I’m beginning to feel uncomfortable agreeing with you so much…

  • Tom Hering

    Don’t worry, Bror. We’ll have the chance to exchange views on guns or vegetarianism again someday, I’m sure. :-D

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    You have put me at ease!

  • James Sarver

    Bror Erickson @ #60,

    “Morris wasn’t standing up in a Buddhist Temple, or a Mosque, or even a synagogue.”

    No, you’re right. He was standing in the house of American Civil Religion. Lutherans don’t belong there. The demand/threat of that religion is “participate or you are a jerk”. It appears you are buying into it. Why can’t we just be “civil” without being officially religious? Because offense will be taken if we don’t loan out our pastors for that purpose?

    You have missed Pr. Wilken’s point entirely, and by doing so have amply demonstrated it.

  • Lumpenkönig

    @Steve Bauer (post #51)
    I hope that visitors to this blog will connect the dots. The church growth movement promotes a particular kind of evangelical theology that is hostile to Lutheran doctrine. My point was that the action taken by Pastor Morris (with the full support of his DP) was an expression of this theology. It was a Rob Bell “Love Wins” moment. In other words, Morris’ behavior at the interfaith service was consistent with the tenets of the emergent church, whether he fully realized it or not. By the way, did the DP apologize?

    @Abby (post #45)

    Thanks for the links.

    For everyone:

    Feel free to listen to the podcasts and poke around the related websites. After a while, you will begin to understand the viewpoint of confessional Lutherans and why the “missionals” inside the LCMS are dangerous:

    http://www.piratechristianradio.com
    http://www.fightingforthefaith.com
    http://www.worldvieweverlasting.com

    Enjoy!

  • Grace

    James @ 75 “You have missed Pr. Wilken’s point entirely, and by doing so have amply demonstrated it.”

    It is you James who have missed the most important point – the memorial service for all those little children and adults was an opportunity to pray and comfort those who are greiving.

    If I were a pastor, I would have gone to the memorial service in the school auditorium, and prayed for the families and loved ones, asking God to comfort their hearts. If I lived in the area of such a horrible disaster, and knew only one of the familes who suffered loss, I would have been there to show my support, to pray to the LORD, for their comfort. If my father were still alive, he would have done the same thing, knowing so many people, and those in his congregation. He would have done whatever he could to help.

    I would never again attend a church who’s pastor’s presence and comfort, were denied by church leaders – leaving my family, and me out, by avoiding to come and be with us at such a terrible loss.

    As a pastor’s daughter, I have witnessed grief, and sadness. PRAYER to God ALMIGHTY to comfort those great pains within the heart and soul, are what is needed, not condemnation for a pastor, who took his place to pray, not to a false god, but the LORD.

  • Grace

    Bickering over a memorial service, that touched the lives of many, not only the families and friends, but our entire country. All because a pastor attended and prayed.

    SHAMEFUL!

  • Abby

    @76 ‘I would never again attend a church who’s pastor’s presence and comfort, were denied by church leaders – leaving my family, and me out, by avoiding to come and be with us at such a terrible loss.”

    That is not true — Pr. Morris conducted a service at his church daily to comfort his congregation. One (or more, I’m not sure which) children belonged to his congregation. He has been non-stop with comforting and ministering to his people.

  • Tom Hering

    He was standing in the house of American Civil Religion. Lutherans don’t belong there. (@ 75)

    Do we have American flags in our sanctuaries? Do Lutherans recite the pledge of allegiance? Do more than a few Lutherans (including their leadership) believe America has been given a special purpose by God? Seems to me, James, you’re demanding a consistency from Pastor Morris that we Lutherans, as a whole, don’t demand of ourselves. Of course, we’re not Seventh Day Adventists. But that’s the point.

  • Grace

    Abby @ 78 “That is not true — Pr. Morris conducted a service at his church daily to comfort his congregation. One (or more, I’m not sure which) children belonged to his congregation. He has been non-stop with comforting and ministering to his people.”

    I’m sure he did just as you say – however, that doesn’t mean he would cloister himself away from the rest of those who were suffering – needing prayer and comfort. If he had chosen not to attend a memorial service and give a prayer, it wouldn’t speak well of his church. What it would convey, is a pastor who cares only for his congregants, ignoring others. Do you remember the passage of Scripture which reads:

    Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

  • Grace

    Your neighbour, is not always within your church. This was an auditorium, it wasn’t the LDS church or a Buddist Temple, etc.

  • Nicholas

    Lutheran sanctuaries should not have American flags in them. America has not been given a special purpose by God. And I see no good reason why we should continue to say the pledge of allegiance. It is idolatrous and was unsurprisingly the work of a socialist mnister. I obey the laws but and am a born US citizen but do not have any personal allegiance to the USA.

    Tom Herring’s “tu quoque” arguement will not work. American civil religion is false and idolatrous all the way around. Morris did not preach the Gospel at the interfaith worship service. He merely gave the blessing on the whole affair and pronounced the Holy Spirit on all those in attendance.

  • Nicholas

    Anyone can watch video of the worship service here: http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=26555

  • kerner

    Bror @60 and Tom H:

    I think Joe asked Tom something like this earlier, and i can’t find the answer. You (Bror) say that Pr. Morris “got disclaimers read”. I’m not doubting you but I can’t find them. Can anybody give us the text of the disclaimers and or the point at which they were read? It would make a big difference to meif somebody could point me to the disclaimers. Apparently the whole vigil was videorecorded. Is there a link to them available? It would make a big difference to me if someone could direct me to the disclaimers.

  • sg

    @84

    Pr. Morris said, “And now a final blessing of hope through faith in Jesus Christ from the words of St. John and St. Paul…”

    Then he proceeded to read a quote from the Bible.

    So, there was nothing wrong with the way he prefaced his comment. It is, in fact a disclaimer. It is only hope through faith in Jesus Christ, not a bald declaration that the quoted scripture describes some kind of universal salvation regardless of faith or confession. It is what he says it is, a blessing of hope through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Abby

    Kerner @ 84 — at minute 6:47 Service opens; at 8:59 is the “disclaimer.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC3AQhNKEn4 Service continues here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tELlxvqx-lw Part #3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvftFvlSbOU Part 4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsEL39CFFnw
    Part 5 President Obama http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDp0AbdiQo0 Part 6 Pr. Morris at minute 4:42

  • Abby

    Forgot to paste Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Pn-hkOkRmo Pr. Morris at minute 4:42

  • Tim Schenks

    Grace,
    Do you not get that the LCMS was founded to avoid unionism and syncretism? It’s one of the main reasons in our constitution for the creation of the synod. For you to call that shameful is insulting to a lot of people, past and present.

    Tim Schenks

  • Grace

    Tim 87 “Do you not get that the LCMS was founded to avoid unionism and syncretism?

    A memorial service for all the children and adults in an auditorium is not a fusion of differing systems of belief, nor is it joining or merging anything together. It certainly isn’t “syncretism” as you would like some to believe. All prayers were totally separate from each faith represented. To think you’ve made a point here, is nonsense. I don’t believe YOU “GET IT” –

    People aren’t ignorant Tim, they know the difference between a Buddhist monk, and a Christian pastor, Roman Catholic priest, or a Rabbi, just to name a few.

  • James Sarver

    Grace @ #88,

    “People aren’t ignorant Tim, they know the difference between a Buddhist monk, and a Christian pastor, Roman Catholic priest, or a Rabbi, just to name a few.”

    But there seems to be quite a number of people who don’t know the difference between Christianity and American Civil Religion. Or the difference between personally participating in a civic event versus being co-opted by the agenda of a civic event while acting in an official capacity.

    This was not just some grassroots welling up of community will to grieve together. The “Pastor-in-Chief” doesn’t just show up spontaneously to deliver an extemporaneous “sermon”.

  • James Sarver

    Tom Hering @ #79,

    “Seems to me, James, you’re demanding a consistency from Pastor Morris that we Lutherans, as a whole, don’t demand of ourselves.”

    So since some other Lutherans get it wrong on a variety of subjects we should just not say anything about any of it? Great logic! Then we can all just get along. I feel a chorus of Kumbayah coming on…

    For the record, I am not demanding anything of anyone. That is for those who have the vocation for it. My vocation is to comment. :)

  • Tom Hering

    Kerner @ 84, sorry I neglected Joe’s request @ 48. From Pastor Morris” letter of apology:

    Thus, with a disclaimer at the outset (which I requested) having stated that participation did not mean endorsement of the other religions represented …

    The disclaimer that Pastor Morris requested was made at the start of the service by Rev. Matt Crebbin (Congregational). The video is here. At the 8:58 mark, Rev. Crebbin says,

    We are not here to ignore our differences, or to diminish the core beliefs which define our many different faith traditions …

    Further on, at the 10:22 mark, Rev. Crebbin says that the community’s different believers are ready to pray with everyone in Newtown, and to offer comfort to them. The Jews to the Catholics, the Methodists to the Jews, the Muslims to the Congregationalists, the Pentecostals to the Episcopalians and the Bahais. He then, it’s clear to me, speaks of the Lutherans in a way that is much more carefully worded:

    Lutherans offering ministries of Grace in Jesus Christ to independent Christians and to others …

    To Lutherans, “offering ministries of Grace in Jesus Christ” means offering Word and Sacraments. “Independent Christians” can only mean “not belonging to another denomination,” and that’s a tighter qualification than “not belonging to another religion.” “And to others” rightly leaves the door open to seekers and inquirers.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    All,

    First of all, this is a highly emotional topic. Veith’s place is for the most part a very civil and kind place, where vigorous, but not mean disagreement, can take place. Kudos to the host and to all.

    Bror,

    I have seen conservative pastors attribute nothing but the best motives to Pastor Morris (but maybe you could show me something that suggest otherwise). On the other hand, I must say that I don’t see you doing the same with them (comment #7 and your comments on the other thread about this topic).

    I think Pastor Harrison respects both Pastor Wilken’s stance (of civil/ecclesiastical disobedience perhaps – note that Harrison *agreed* with them that this was syncretism in his Feb. 1 letter) – and that he also greatly respects Pastor Morris – again, even as he agrees with Pastors Wilken’s position (even if Wilken’s personal stance – perhaps the stance his conscience told him he must take? – made things difficult for the President)
    Also Bror – I am not convinced Rossow is that far from Morris here (or you?). See this comment he made: http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=26851#comment-800818

    Tom,

    “Did anyone watching miss it when Pastor Morris stated, right off the bat, that he didn’t endorse the other religions participating?”

    I don’t think he did this in the service, did he? If he did, I think that is important information (not saying that means that this was a strong witness though). Also note that in Harrison’s first letter he made his own views clearly known. He and Wilken evidently disagreed on the way their views needed to be advanced.

    “DID Pastor Morris give anyone such an impression? Or do we just fear he did? Have any of his accusers even bothered to try and find out?”

    From what I have heard, “yes” (to your second sentence). And to the first sentence, “yes”.

    “Do we have American flags in our sanctuaries? Do Lutherans recite the pledge of allegiance?”

    I don’t think these are things we should not think deeply about and struggle with.

    Steve Bauer @ 26 – I am with you 100%.

    I’d be very interested in person’s responses to the following (my reasoning about why I am with Steve B.):

    The fact that even some of our brother Christians (including pastors like Pastor Morris who seems to be a faithful shepherd) struggle with this idea that we should not participate *in any way* – particularly those thrown into such circumstances themselves – should be significant.

    We don’t want to be men-pleasers, but Paul says that we are to try and please everyone in every way – doing what is right in the eyes of all – as much as possible.

    We don’t want to give the false impression that we want to avoid these services because these people are “worse sinners” who are beneath us, and not worth our time.

    Personally, I don’t doubt that there are next to very conservative person in the LC-MS who have this attitude.

    That said, do any of us love our neighbors quite like we should?

    How can we be absolutely sure that in this case, it is the cross and Jesus’ exclusivity that is the stumbling block – and not our own *fearful-of-the-world* selves?

    Is it always true that “You can only apologize for what you do. You can’t apologize for what other people think” as SG says, without any nuance? I can’t go there.

    If this is one’s conviction, it may be wise for pastors who are offered a spot at events like this to say “Yes, but I would say something like this: Jesus only way, other ways false, He is the only real hope in this evil and sinful world….”

    That said, if this is not one’s conviction (Wilken, Harrison, etc?) I respect that 100% and will explain their actions in the kindest way and sympathetically, like it appears Pastor Morris is doing.

    Thoughts? (besides the fact that I am an arrogant ass who thinks he can even attempt to speak to all of these things in such a tidy fashion? : ) )

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Tom,

    You quoted what was said at the service:

    “We are not here to ignore our differences, or to diminish the core beliefs which define our many different faith traditions …”

    Right. Differences are valuable. They are cultural. We don’t want to force the individual to think and act the way other do. That doesn’t mean that we don’t see our differences as valuable – as we follow the same path to the Higher Power who blesses us all with comfort in this place.

    In my above comment, I did read at one point a commentator on a blog who claimed to have done what you asked – looking for evidence that the impression was given that we all were on the same path, so to speak – and found it. Don’t remember where I read it though.

    +Nathan

    +Nathan

  • Tom Hering

    I don’t think he did this in the service, did he? (@ 92)

    No, it wasn’t Pastor Morris himself. The minister who introduced the service (Crebbin) made the disclaimer at Pastor Morris’ request – which is just what Pastor Morris stated in his letter of apology, which I misunderstood (sorry). It’s also clear that the careful way Rev. Crebbin spoke of the community’s Lutherans was the result of conversations with Pastor Morris before the service (see my comment @ 91). Pastor Morris is to be commended for the way he insured that the Lutheran faith was properly represented.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Tom,

    “Pastor Morris is to be commended for the way he insured that the Lutheran faith was properly represented.”

    He certainly tried and did what he thought best.

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    “We don’t want to give the false impression that we want to avoid these services because these people are “worse sinners” who are beneath us, and not worth our time.

    Personally, I don’t doubt that there are next to very conservative person in the LC-MS who have this attitude.”

    should say:

    We don’t want to give the false impression that we want to avoid these services because these people are “worse sinners” who are beneath us, and not worth our time.

    Personally, I don’t doubt that there are next to NO very conservative persons in the LC-MS who have this attitude.

  • Tom Hering

    Right. Differences are valuable. They are cultural. We don’t want to force the individual to think and act the way other do. That doesn’t mean that we don’t see our differences as valuable – as we follow the same path to the Higher Power who blesses us all with comfort in this place. (@ 93, emphasis mine)

    Well, you’re obviously bound and determined to interpret what was said according to your views. But your speculating as to true motivations.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    James Sarver, @75,
    I hear a lot of clamor about this civil religion bit. Funny though, I don’t hear it when Lutherans are sharing the stage with whomever at pro life rallies, and other such venues.
    Time, place and intent of the service as well as what is said have everything to do with determining Syncretism. You say it is American Civil religion. I think that is more of a boogy man than anything, unless we are going to start coaching our kids not to say the pledge of allegiance because there might be a Buddhist in the room. I say it is the public square, and the community has said, we want to hear from you, we don’t get that very often from the public square. No, I got Todd Wilken’s point loud and clear. The abused become the abusers. I heard his point. I think he is trying to relive a battle from over a decade ago. He’s like those old hippies that show up in the park and still think they are protesting Vietnam.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    Every Newspaper article i read when this story broke against Harrison had the disclaimer as read by the congregational pastor. Even BJS, who have acted inappropriately in this whole matter, acknowledged that there was a disclaimer. Tim Rossow is quoted as saying “the disclaimer amounted to the same thing as two adults about ready to commit adultery affirming that they still loved their spouse and this act didn’t mean anything it was just sex.”

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Tom,

    I am saying that is one likely interpretation (Grace’s is another interpretation – and I believe her when she says she understood it the way she did) – and I base that not only on my own instincts and knowledge about human nature (which is religious) – but also the post that I read from a commentator who said they had checked to see if this is the way many persons actually did take it.

    +Nathan

  • Tom Hering

    Bror @ 100, I remember that the host of Issues, Etc. a decade ago was Rev. Don Matzat, and that Matzat defended Benke. I’m sure Wilkin remembers Matzat too, and doesn’t want the same treatment his predecessor got. ;-)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Nathan 94,
    Before Morris even got up to speak, BJS had tried to launch a lynch mob. Harrison had them take it down. Then when the letter came out in which, Harrison seeing the complexities of the issue, did not demand Morris apologize for syncretism explicitly, the BJS crew was back at it, figuring they had a green light to stir up the controversy again. No, I’m not going to be charitable about any of that. I will not be charitable towards the actions and behaviors of these men in this situation, not when they dismiss Morris intentions with juvenile analogies to adults fornicating. No, they most certainly did not even try to put the best construction on everything, or defend the reputation of Morris.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    “I hear a lot of clamor about this civil religion bit. Funny though, I don’t hear it when Lutherans are sharing the stage with whomever at pro life rallies, and other such venues.”

    I’d share the stage with atheists who are pro-life if it means *loving my neighbor* better or in effective ways (i.e. passing good laws protecting the unborn).

    Bror, I also take it you don’t respect Pastor Wilken’s and Pastor Rossow’s position – which is also President Harrison’s by the way (even if the way they choose to communicate this truth is different)

    Rossow also said this to me:

    “I would have no problem if Pastor Morris had gotten up and said something to this effect. ‘There is only one way to heaven. Faith in Jesus Christ and his death to forgive the sins of the world is God’s answer to this tragedy. We preach Christ crucified. Most of the things you have heard tonight are inventions of the human mind. Jesus Christ and his salvation is what I will preach to my congregation in the face of this tragedy and it is the message I bring to you tonight.’

    Of course, if he had said that, this would be an even bigger issue than the religious left is making it now.”

    Which is why I point back to Steve B @ #26: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2013/02/god-is-really-blessing-the-lcms/#comment-256197

    +Nathan

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Furthermore Nathan,
    They still haven’t apologized for their actions. Not that I have seen. They haven’t even gone so far as to apologize for offense! They haven’t apologized for making a tactical error! Infact, as far as I can see, everyone has apologized so far but those who actually have something to apologize for.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    “Before Morris even got up to speak, BJS had tried to launch a lynch mob. Harrison had them take it down. Then when the letter came out in which, Harrison seeing the complexities of the issue, did not demand Morris apologize for syncretism explicitly, the BJS crew was back at it, figuring they had a green light to stir up the controversy again.”

    Bror – first of all, I didn’t know that they had attempted a “pre-emptive” strike. Still, they did what they thought they needed to do – I believe they followed their consciences (after the Benke fiasco can you blame persons for being a bit “on edge” about this?) You might think their faith is weak or immature, but no, I do think you need to be more charitable. They really *did believe and still do believe* the analogy they used it apt (and I would guess that President Harrison realizes that, if indeed this was a worship service of any kind, that the analogy is in fact apt). That said, they did not say that Pastor Morris thought that this is what he was doing. They acknowledged that he was trying to be a good pastor and do his best. They acknowledge that he had the best of motivations.

    But that is not something that you can give them. You trample their consciences. Do you not?

    +Nathan

  • Tom Hering

    ‘There is only one way to heaven. Faith in Jesus Christ and his death to forgive the sins of the world is God’s answer to this tragedy. We preach Christ crucified. Most of the things you have heard tonight are inventions of the human mind. Jesus Christ and his salvation is what I will preach to my congregation in the face of this tragedy and it is the message I bring to you tonight.” (Rossow quoted @ 105)

    Boy, for some of you guys, being faithful is inseparable from giving offense. It seems to be the sole effect by which you measure your faithfulness.

    Okay, now go ahead and misquote Scripture at me. ;-)

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    “As far as I can see, everyone has apologized so far but those who actually have something to apologize for.”

    Then consider them weaker brothers. Is the church to be ruled by weaker brothers then? Well, Paul does seem to imply this.

    Note what I said above: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2013/02/god-is-really-blessing-the-lcms/#comment-256334 That is the position that I want to discuss with them. That is what my conscience says. If I were a pastor and dared to do what I said in that comment, I would even let them vet my prayers and comments before going into a place like that – to make sure that they thought I had sufficiently made it clear that Jesus was the only hope and that all other hopes were false. False. False. Those other gods are despicable! Thank God they are false! Would we even be having this conversation if these religions were not forced to act in a Christian way by virtue of the cultural influence and pressure there is to conform to the Prince of Peace who alone – ALONE! – give live, light and life.

    No!

    Not saying we Christians can take any credit for being good, but that God is good – valuing and treasuring each human life – desiring all to be saved – even if humans don’t.

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    As I said to you on the other post about this topic….

    Kerner: “The anti-syncretist voices among us exist for a reason and are entitled to some measure of respect. At their best, it is not people, but their errors, that the anti-syncretists don’t care for.”

    Wisdom. Let us attend.

    “Amen”, right?

    +Nathan

  • Joe

    Tom and Abby, thanks for pointing me to the disclaimers (even if you only did so after Kerner asked :))

    I think these are important. I am still unsure of what the correct answer is and I will still not pass judgment on Morris, his DP or President Harrison. But I would also like to take one more shot at clarifying what I have been trying to say, I don’t think Pastor Morris needs to apologize for anything more than he has already done. When one brother pastor does something that is seen by other brothers as violating a synodical position based on scripture, he has two choices. He could say “screw you guys. I’m in the right” or he can say, “brothers, I did not intend to give offense. I don’t believe I have violated scripture. If you think I have, then please know that I repent of any such violation, I did not intend it and I wish to work with you to resolve our differences.” Morris did the later and it was the correct, brotherly act. By analogy, when your wife or you son believes you have sinned in your vocation as husband or father do you tell them to piss off? No you apologize freely and seek forgiveness and work through the issue. The same must be true of us as a Synod, especially her pastors or we will never truly walk together.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Tom,

    My whole point is that it is to be the Gospel that it offensive, not us. Unless we get people to focus on the message – and being able to reject it – they will find other things that offend them (like a perceived lack of love on our part over not wanting to sully ourselves with sinners – even though love – and real fruit by the way – is first and foremost about loving God!).

    Now, would a person have to say things like Rossow did? Maybe not. My dad is a CCM pastor and his conscience it troubled by the things Benke and former President Kieschnick say. If anyone could go into that room and give a faithful witness to Christ – saying the same content as Pastor Rossow while doing it differently – using different words, with kindness, and even winsomely – it would be my father.

    It might take some of them an hour or so to realize that they wanted to kill him for what he said – but there would be no mistake about the content of what he’d communicated….

    Or maybe not – as Walter says, pastors preach faith into hearts. But again, there first must be an understanding of sin – and this especially includes idolatry – before a person is ready to hear the message.

    +Nathan

  • kerner

    Bror Erickson @101:

    Take it easy. I just wanted to be directed to where I could find the disclaimers. Which Abby and Tom H. have done (thank you very much).

    Don’t taze me Bror…

    (I’ve been waiting years for a proper moment to say that)

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Joe,

    “By analogy, when your wife or you son believes you have sinned in your vocation as husband or father do you tell them to piss off? No you apologize freely and seek forgiveness and work through the issue. The same must be true of us as a Synod, especially her pastors or we will never truly walk together.”

    Exactly. And this seems to be exactly what Morris is doing. If it is, I thank God for His providence that he has a pastor so concerned about real unity in that place…

    +Nathan

  • Tom Hering

    Joe @ 111, I think your view is accurate in regard to the facts. Unfortunately, certainty isn’t an option in many pastoral situations. But charity always is. :-)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I love when people play the “weaker brother” card. It is almost as fun as the pharisee card. But the weaker brother card is the epitome of the passive aggressiveness that has come to characterize large portions of our Synod. I think we first learned it from evangelicals trying to get us to stop drinking because they were weaker brothers. Now we use it to defend vindictive behavior and fending off actually having to apologize for it, when as leaders of the church we are called to be a bit more rational about things.
    I doubt Todd or Rossow or any of the BJS readers were at all tempted to lose faith over this ordeal. They are not weaker brothers. Go ahead and ask them.
    Ruled by the weaker brothers… Paul did not make the weaker brothers pastors. If they want to be weaker brothers they can step down from office, leave their collar and communion kit on Harrison’s desk.
    Nor were they standing up for weaker brothers. Weaker brothers are run off from the synod because of behavior like theirs.

  • Tom Hering

    Nathan @ 112, we aren’t called to give offense. We’re called to proclaim Christ crucified, whether that gives offense or not. It isn’t the same thing as making sure you’ve offended the non-Christians present.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Kerner,
    Not tazing you :) I would check the article out that was in the St. Louis paper. I’m sometimes bad at remembering the names of sources from newspapers. But if you google it?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Tom @ 117,
    Right!

  • Tom Hering

    Bror @ 119, careful, you’re in dangerous territory again.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Nathan,
    I think you are wrong concerning Harrison. But I’ll leave it at that. Harrison is a political animal par excellence. I respect him quite a bit. In situations like this he can couch his words quite effectively.
    What Harrison wanted, and explicitly stated was that he wanted people to follow his lead and accept the apology. Somehow that was taken to mean, lets run as many articles as we can about how stupid Morris was to participate even “if” his motives were good, and why he should have known better. Articles that were not at all helpful to the Missouri Synod, Harrison or Morris. This controversy was then picked up by the left in our synod, and given differeh nt spin, so that even the secular media could pick up on it. Now in the wake of all that, and people looking in from the outside to see the dysfunctional mess are badmouthing the synod, well we are told we are being blessed we know this because we have been persecuted. Hah. Now were all Jehovah Witnesses asking for doors to be slammed in our face!

  • Abby

    Here is a newer St Louis Post Dispatch article written by Tim Townsend:

    The facts are more completely expressed than the first article he ran, I think last Saturday.

    http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/harrison-apologizes-for-his-handling-of-sandy-hook-vigil-controversy/article_da74480c-0625-54b3-8048-e310f8bb40ad.html

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    “vindictive behavior”. There you go again. You focus on perceived motivations and not actions. What in their actions makes is necessarily “vindictive”?

    And no, you shouldn’t drink around your simple Baptist friends with weak faith, even as you explain to them that they ought not think someone is not a Christian – or can’t be a Christian – if they do drink in moderation (but don’t do this while drinking in front of them to make your point! : ) )

    I also think that Todd and Tim were not ready to lose faith over this. But there are many who look to them as guides and leaders who might. Not only that, I must ask myself if it is rather I who have weak faith – since if I was told to stop speaking I probably would have.

    “Weaker brothers are run off from the synod because of behavior like theirs.”

    That may be true. Could they have kept talking about the issue publicly – but perhaps done so differently – showing a greater level of concern and sensitivity about how their actions might be being perceived (after all, you think they are acting vindictively). Men who want to be manful might not like to consider this, but it is true.

    And Harrison has led the way.

    +Nathan

  • Abby
  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Tom,
    As my Missions prof, Douglas Rutt, once told the class. “Yes the gospel will offend and cause offense, but you do well to make sure it is the gospel causing the offense and not you.” I’ve tried to take those words to heart. I think too often guys read that phrase and think if no offense was seen, then the gospel wasn’t presented, and possibly no offense given. This is not necessarily so. I gave a funeral when I first got to town. Everything seemed calm after the service, but six years later I went to get lunch at a bar down the street that used to be a brothel, and I was accosted by a woman for the sermon that I had given six years earlier. You never know. One thing I have learned though, is you don’t have to mean to give offense to give it. And ministry takes time, it cannot be reduced to a five minute segment on television. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so forth. Preaching the whole counsel of God’s word takes time, it can never be done in one sermon, or one event. The best you can hope for is to open conversation.

  • Tom Hering

    The Mormons were blessed before they beat feet westward? Remember that we’re blessed when we’re reviled and persecuted for false reasons – not when we’re despised for instances of actual lousy behavior. Like, they’ll know we are Christians by our readiness to jump one another’s case?

  • Abby

    From the Huffington Post, no less. A Tim Townsend article (2012) about the LCMS work to engage other religious traditions:

    http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/controversy-over-newtown-vigil-exposes-divisions-among-lutherans/article_15397b42-0abe-5cc5-ad56-e730040a0d98.html

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    “Harrison is a political animal par excellence. I respect him quite a bit. In situations like this he can couch his words quite effectively.”

    Yes. But here we might be getting into motivations again. For example, is his “repentance” politically motivated? All of us our sinners, but I think we should probably assume he has already asked God for forgiveness if he has detected any of these thoughts (like: hey, maybe this could also help me politically) already. I’m glad you respect him though.

    As for the rest of your comment, I point back up to my concession in comment #123 (last part of it). I’m not saying that Pastor Wilken and others should not have spoken out publicly when asked to keep silent – just that there is room to question them about the way they went about doing it.

    In Christ,
    Nathan

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Nathan,
    If there are people who look to Tim and Todd as guides in the faith, then it is my inclination that Tim and Todd had reason to act even more responsibly in this situation, and not cause a scandal. In otherwords they had more reason to take Harrison’s counsel, and not start screaming about the sky falling down, and the liberalization of synod etc. etc.
    No, I think we confuse who are weaker brothers are. It is usually not those who are trying to put cuffs on you. It is not your Temple Baptist “friends.” The weaker brother is the one thinking he is going to hell because he had a couple beers, and the pastor at the Temple Baptist told him in the name of God that he was going to hell for it. Perhaps if a man is an alcoholic, I will refrain from bringing booze over to his house and drinking in front of him. A good reading of “On the Freedom of a Christian” goes a long way in that. But we digress.
    Again, we don’t make weaker brothers to be leaders, and leaders have reason to comfort and lead weaker brothers, not exaggerate their fears.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    “As for the rest of your comment”
    #121

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    “The weaker brother is the one thinking he is going to hell because he had a couple beers, and the pastor at the Temple Baptist told him in the name of God that he was going to hell for it.”

    Sure – but if its true for him, its true for his neighbor as well. He might think you are going to hell for it also, though not savoring the thought.

    +Nathan

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Oh, most of my neighbors think I’m going to hell, or outer darkness, at the very best the terrestial kingdom… But not so much for drinking. My neighbor can think what he wants about my final destination, he can even come talk to me about it if he is so concerned… But thinking a person is going to hell for engaging in activity that you think is sinful does not make you a weaker brother. I mean I’m sure you have plenty of neighbors you think are going to hell. I do.

  • sg

    “Tim and Todd had reason to act even more responsibly in this situation, and not cause a scandal.”
    .
    They just reported it.
    .
    What if no pastors ever complained of any errors ever? Would everything just be all peachy?
    .
    Look, this is just blaming the messengers, Tim and Todd.
    .
    I understand that our corrupt world is so corrupt it can’t even see its own corruption and therefore expects us to get in line with what it thinks is the right way to deal with good and evil: treat them as equals. But we know other religions are not equal to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We cannot allow even the appearance that we sympathize with their teaching. It is deceptive to say that there are differences between Christianity and other religions without stating that the difference is the difference between life and death. A highly discerning listener could hear that Morris said that, but those folks are few and far between. The general feeling from the service was that the differences are not all that important.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    “But thinking a person is going to hell for engaging in activity that you think is sinful does not make you a weaker brother.”

    To my knowledge that is precisely what Lutherans have always believed makes one a weaker brother – the idea that anyone (not just one’s self) who does these things can be a Christian or remain one.

    We aren’t talking about your neighbors. We are talking about fellow Christians. Incidently, I live in the Midwest. I’m pretty sure none of my neighbors think I am going to hell.

    By the way, President Harrison (Feb 1):

    “Nevertheless, the presence of prayers and religious readings, as well as the fact that other clergy were vested for their participation, led me to conclude that this was in fact joint worship with other religions (as previously defined by the Synod). I could draw no conclusion other than that this was a step beyond the bounds of practice allowed by the Scriptures, our Lutheran Confessions, and the constitution of our Synod, which seeks to uphold both. There is sometimes a real tension between wanting to bear witness to Christ and at the same time avoiding situations which may give the impression that our differences with respect to who God is, who Jesus is, how he deals with us, and how we get to heaven, really don’t matter in the end. It was not Pastor Morris’s intention at all to give that impression. He does not believe that at all. In fact, he’s been very fastidious with his congregation on such matters, pointing to Jesus alone as Savior.”

    There is no indication that that is what he repented for.

    +Nathan

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Nathan,
    I think you need to study what a weaker brother is more, perhaps read “On Christian Freedom.”

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Sg,
    They did not “just” report it. Reporting is what Tim Townsend did.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    “To my knowledge that is precisely what Lutherans have always believed makes one a weaker brother – the idea that anyone (not just one’s self) who does these things can be a Christian or remain one.”

    should be

    “To my knowledge that is precisely what Lutherans have always believed makes one a weaker brother – the idea that anyone (not just one’s self) who does these things CAN’T be a Christian or remain one.”

    Oye. Read first…

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    I’ve read the book many times – and more on the topic to boot. I’ll stick by my definition.

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    The weaker brother is the persons who feels constrained and limited in their actions, as regards their faith.

    Romans 14:

    Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not ***treat with contempt*** the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything ***must not judge*** the one who does, for God has accepted them.

    Where am I getting this wrong?

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    Look at it this way. The “Confessionals” feel constrained about participating in events like this with non-Christians – unlike Pastor Rossow some would even have a problem just showing us! They feel limited. Don’t treat them with contempt, but consider them weak – and don’t ever do this kind of thing out in the open in the public eye so as to cause offense. But if you feel that the boundaries should be somewhat broader *within Biblical parameters* (as I do), they must not judge us as not being accepted by God when make these arguments with them with a concern to be faithful (as I have).

    Or maybe we should look at it this way to?: the “missionals” (and others) feel constrained about when we should speak out in public about brothers who we think are in error (not naming names, stuff like that). They feel limited. “Confessionals” should not treat them with contempt but consider them weak – and they can try as hard as possible to not correct public sin publicly for a period of time [since God has forebearance so should we!], and when feel they must do it, they can do it as kindly, compassionately, and sensitively as possible. But if they feel that the boundaries should be somewhat broader for making judgments, they must not judge the missionals as not being accepted by God.

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    I’m really sorry:

    “some would even have a problem just showing UP!”

    I did re-read several times in fact…

    +Nathan

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I resent the label “confessional” being applied in a way that does not include me….

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Tom at #117:

    “Nathan @ 112, we aren’t called to give offense. We’re called to proclaim Christ crucified, whether that gives offense or not. It isn’t the same thing as making sure you’ve offended the non-Christians present.”

    Anywhere outside of church (and maybe in!) you will cause offense some of the time, even if some do hear and believe the message for the first time. No, you *will* cause offense, even if you behave as well as you possibly can, not only giving them the words that God means to give them through you, but the “speaking in love” as well.

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    Me to. I am confesional *AND* missional. I’m sure you’d say the same. That’s why I put them in quotes.

    +Nathan

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I also resent the label “missional” being applied in a way that does not include me…
    And I think whether you are confessional or missional you should feel thee same way. I’m a Lutheran. I hold to the confessions I study them inside and out, read them in German and wrestle with the Latin. I also in good Lutheran fashion, support missions and evangelize. So in the end, I eschew any more restrictive label than Lutheran.
    As to the weaker brother. When the “weaker brother” takes it upon himself to judge, and or set up laws concerning “disputable” matters, he is no longer the weaker brother, he is in the pharisee camp. But again read Luther.

  • kerner

    Nathan @141:

    Happens to me all the time. You should give up worrying about it. I had to.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    Why do you think I don’t read Luther? No, I like “Lutheran” much better to. But these are the labels that persons take upon themselves not merely to distinguish themselves from others but to try and get a handle on the situation and actually be able to talk about what’s going on. I’m not nearly as sensitive to those names as you are, but I’ll try not to use them.

    “When the “weaker brother” takes it upon himself to judge, and or set up laws concerning “disputable” matters, he is no longer the weaker brother, he is in the pharisee camp.”

    The Pharisees insisted that a person could not be saved unless persons followed their man-made traditions. This means man-made traditions are set up and persons are told that they must follow them in order to be saved. I don’t see anyone doing this, but rather persons concerned about their brothers. Maybe they aren’t as sensitive about it as I’d like, but that’s what I see.

    I’d say there comes a time when a person becomes not necessarily a Pharisee (who totally rejected Jesus) but more a fallen-from-grace Judaizer (who wanted to have Jesus +) – that is, when you have informed a weaker brother that he does not need to – or, depending on his attitude, should not – discern that persons claiming to be Christians are actually not Christians (or won’t be for long) because they are participating in a certain disputable matter and he persistently refuses to listen to you, despite your pleas of concern and care.

    At that point, you should treat him as a Pharisee or tax collector – which means to love them even more, of course. To pray for them that they would be unbound from the devil’s shackles.

    +Nathan

  • helen

    Bror @121
    What Harrison wanted, and explicitly stated was that he wanted people to follow his lead and accept the apology. Somehow that was taken to mean, lets run as many articles as we can about how stupid Morris was to participate even “if” his motives were good, and why he should have known better. Articles that were not at all helpful to the Missouri Synod, Harrison or Morris.

    Thanks for summarizing my complaint (at various places on BJS)!

    AND, they gave our former SP (he of the “I’m no theologian” brag) a chance to jump in with both feet and prove his words again. [Comparisons to Elijah!] Lord have mercy on invinceable ignorance!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Nathan,
    Luther “on the Freedom of a Christian” or any of the other titles it goes by in English. If nothing else it will show you are being simplistic in your understanding of who the weaker brother is and who the pharisee is. And again Pharisee has obviously taken on a greater meaning than a first century Jewish sect. The pharisees judged others for not following their rules, and made life hard on weaker brothers. This was Jesus chief complaint about them. They knew not mercy. But in anycase, when someone thinks you should not drink, or you should not smoke if you are a Christian, they have in fact made a man made law.

  • kerner

    But anyway, like Joe, I’m still struggling witrh this. Which is why I may be arguing both sides at the same time.

    On the one hand, some conclude that this was not a worship service; it was more like a town meeting that diverse clergy were invited to to say whatever they thought appropriate. Bror’s “public square”, so to speak. It does, in fact, seem to have been held in an auditorium in a local public high school, i.e. emphatically not a religious venue. And when the “public square” convenes for an important reason, it is a statement in and of itself to fail to attend. And that statement would probably not have been, “We love you but we won’t worship with you.” It would more probably have come across as, “We don’t care about this, or we don’t care about you.” Not the message we want to send. But, when given a chance to speak briefly in the public square, Christians have to be mindful of context. I mean, I have told a Muslim friend to his face that I believe the only way to heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ, knowing that he is smart enough to figure out that excludes Muslims and he is, if I am right, going to Hell. I managed to do this with enough tact so that he seems to have remained my friend. But I don’t think there is enough tact in the world to tell him something like that at a point (which will eventually come) when he is in the acute pain caused by the recent death of a Muslim loved one. How could we expect Pr. Morris to say, at that gathering, something tantamount to “All those Ba’hai, and Muslim, and Jewish, and generic unbeliever murder victims are eternally lost”? I realize that this is the truth, however harsh it may seem, but telling that particular truth right at that particular moment seems prohibitively harsh to me. So, Pr. Morris got what disclaimers he could, and read what Scripture he could. And said an Apostolic benediction; no doubt he did so not as a statement of fact (you’re all ok just as you are) but as more of a prayer that it would eventually be so.

    On the other hand, clearly come of the syncretistic clergymen participating (as well as the President, whose religion I believe is syncretism personified) DID want this to be more of a joint syncretistic worship service. And a lot of what they said bears that out it seems to me. Which is to say they may have neutralized Pr. Morris’ attempt at (shall we call it) finesse. Yet I don’t mean to disparage Pr. Morris or what he did by calling it “finesse”. As I hope I made clear, at a time like this, some finesse is required.

    I was also struck by the Arabic prayers of the Muslim boy heard on the BoJS video. I wonder what he was chanting. I’ll bet it wasn’t syncretistic at all. Which (if I am correct) would mean that the Muslims solved their own similar dilemma by saying all their hard core doctirnal statements in a language nobody else could understand.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror,

    Again, I have read that book several times. And I read quite a bit of Luther. How, specifically, have I been simplistic? How do you interpret Romans 14:1-3?

    “But in anycase, when someone thinks you should not drink, or you should not smoke if you are a Christian, they have in fact made a man made law.”

    Yes. I never denied this. But it is more nuanced than that.

    Let’s look at some more:

    “5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God…. ”

    Now, has this person made a “man-made law” for himself? Paul says he should. But he would also says that the persons who feels limited in what he eats (or in special days) is not to judge the other person who is not as constrained as ***not accepted by God***:

    10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. …

    ( please see verses 1-3 again to)

    ” I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.”

    For the person who at the moment feels constrained and limited, they “should be fully convinced in their own mind” and “for that person [the food others eat] it is unclean”. Further if they eat while doubting they are “condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin”.

    Where am I going wrong? What specific quotes from Luther would you like me to read. I have access to the whole American Edition right now.

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Bror, all,

    I need to bow out for today. I really appreciate the cordial dialogue. Hopefully I can check in again soon.

    Blessings,
    Nathan

  • James Sarver

    Bror Erickson @ #100,

    “I hear a lot of clamor about this civil religion bit. Funny though, I don’t hear it when Lutherans are sharing the stage with whomever at pro life rallies, and other such venues.”

    Pro life rallies can be problematic in this way as well, depending on the circumstance, and I have been critical of it. But the government is not sponsoring or organizing those. Just the opposite. Try to get the Pastor-in-Chief to speak at your pro life rally and you’ll see what I mean.

    As I said to Tom Hering, just because some other Lutherans get it wrong doesn’t mean we just say nothing. You might try a different approach to refute my point…

    Oh, wait. You did! American Civil Religion doesn’t exist. It’s a “boogy man”. A leftover from the 60′s (or 911, or something anachronistic like that). Very convincing. I’ll try to be more modern from now on.

  • sg


    “They did not “just” report it. Reporting is what Tim Townsend did.”

    Do you think that Tim and Todd caused greater awareness of the scandal than did Tim Townsend?

    Look, Tim and Todd report tons of stuff including stuff that Matt Harrison does, and Tim Townsend and the NYTimes don’t even notice or care. They opportunistically reported this for the purpose of causing misery to as many as possible. The NYTimes doesn’t bother to notice or report when a prominent NYC rabbi pulls something similar for no particularly pressing reason and the rabbinical council notes it as an infraction of their rules for rabbis. Why? well, probably because they don’t want to salt the wounds or publicly humiliate the rabbi as a hypocrite or whatever. But Tim Townsend and the NYTimes very much wish to salt any wounds we have or cause. Duh. JTA reported the rabbinical council’s comments about the offending rabbi, because they are an “inside baseball” kind of outfit like BJS. We just seem to have a really hard time seeing who the malicious gossips are in all of this. Tim and Todd actually give a rat’s rear about this issue as did the JTA reporter who commented on the rabbi’s behavior. Townsend and the NYTimes care about neither incident, both examples of issues lacking broad appeal of general interest to the public, but they do like to embarrass and humiliate some folks more than others by reporting in such a fashion as to put the worst construction on the whole goings on.

  • James Sarver

    Kerner @ #150,

    “But I don’t think there is enough tact in the world to tell him something like that at a point (which will eventually come) when he is in the acute pain caused by the recent death of a Muslim loved one. How could we expect Pr. Morris to say, at that gathering, something tantamount to “All those Ba’hai, and Muslim, and Jewish, and generic unbeliever murder victims are eternally lost”?”

    Maybe there is a time to remain silent. We cannot offer comfort that is not ours to give. But American Civil Religion (that supposedly non-existent construct) demands it, else we are labeled as jerks.

  • Tom Hering

    Well, it seems there are those who feel it is never okay to participate in an event like the Sandy Hook interfaith memorial service. So no factual or theological argument will ever convince them that Pastor Morris did the right thing in the right way. I would just remind them that President Harrison doesn’t reject the possibility of participation, and believes we need better guidelines for participation than we have now. I just pray we’ll get them, because we most certainly will find ourselves in a situation like this again. Probably sooner rather than later.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Tom,

    Good observation (I note this latest BJS article: http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=26952 ) But I wonder if it is true only because we have not seen what kind of real courage – and real love! – is possible in such a time as this.

    +Nathan

  • Joe

    Bror – I wasn’t attempting to trot out the weaker brother as a trump card. My comment suggested that the parties need to work together to figure out the right answer. I believe that the first step toward that kind of productive activity is for both parties to repent of the offense given (unintentional though it be). I don’t think an end result of agreeing to disagree or deference to one person going forward simply because they refuse to be corrected is an adequate solution. Our pastors need better, clearer guidance. As Tom notes we will be here again. I just hope that this incident can serve as an opportunity for Synod to finally speak with one voice on this issue.

  • Abby

    I was working on this when I noticed #157,158 :)

    Mine is long. May not be read. But I do understand this whole thing a lot better now. I hope and pray Pastors will convey they to their people in the right manner.

    ——————————
    I’m breaking my promise to not speak about this again. Also, this is only my opinion.
    I think I get it now. According to the new St Louis Post Dispatch article by Tim Townsend: “The constitution of the 2.4 million-member denomination, based in Kirkwood, prohibits members from taking part in worship services that blend the beliefs and practices of Lutherans with those of other faiths and Christian denominations.

    The prohibition on worshipping with other Christians stems from the synod’s 19th-century history in Germany, when its members were forced by the government to accept Calvinism against their will — and fled to the United States to preserve their religious freedom.

    Harrison said Monday that the synod’s constitution “gives a clear indication of our practice,” and that the guidelines “are somewhat problematic.” The guidelines “are not in themselves totally clear,” he continued. “Any and all guidelines have to be interpreted in light of the constitution.”

    President Harrison went on to say: ““He (Pr. Morris) didn’t need to be attacked,” Harrison said. “We don’t need a public airing of our pent-up grievances.”

    Morris was “a young pastor in a difficult situation who took action which he felt was the right thing to do in the circumstance, and he did the best he could,” Harrison said. “I also believe that when you get into those situations, you should be ready to repent boldly, and to forgive boldly.”
    http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/harrison-apologizes-for-his-handling-of-sandy-hook-vigil-controversy/article_da74480c-0625-54b3-8048-e310f8bb40ad.html

    This constitutional “law” came as a result our having to flee from German because the government there was forcing the Lutherans to merge/join together as one church body with the Calvinists. They came to the U.S. to protect their freedom. From what I know, we could not “merge” with the Calvinists because of their view of the Sacraments as being merely symbolic. It is a matter of strong Scriptural doctrine.

    So, if this is the case, that makes what happened here completely different. This is not the United States government saying to us, ‘We’re tired of all these denominations, so we are demanding that all of you merge/join together and make one denomination out of (how many hundreds?). This is from the StLPD article. I don’t know the wording that is in the Constitution.

    George Marquart put it this way: “If we had “the same thing” in Scripture for everything in life, we would not need what St. Paul calls “spiritual discernment”. Paul frequently joined in Synagogue worship, where he had an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel . . . With notable exceptions, there is very little argument in this debate based on Scripture.” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2013/02/lutheran-crisis-deja-vu/#comment-256114

    One of my previous questions was: “In the division we have regarding this dilemma, how can anyone know on which side of the horse to fall off?”

    President Harrison said in one of his letters: “We as a Synod have a challenge in front of us. The 2010 convention (Res. 8-30B) gave the President of Synod the task of leading a Synod-wide study of the meaning of Article VI of the Synod’s constitution, especially with respect to the words requiring every member of Synod to renounce “unionism and syncretism of every description.” Several significant aspects of this work are well underway. What do these words of our constitution mean? And whatever they mean, does the Bible teach it? Do we as a Synod still believe that joint worship with those with whom we are not in doctrinal agreement on the Gospel and all its articles (Formula of Concord, Epitome X 7) is something forbidden by the Scriptures? Just what constitutes “worship”? How do we as citizens express love and social unity with fellow citizens of good will (be they Christians or not), and support our communities in times of horrid duress, while trying not to violate our biblical commitments and convictions (Heb. 12:14)? . . .

    All these questions raise the issue of why the Missouri Synod came into existence, as well as the issue of what our purpose is into the future. I, for one, believe this constitutional article (VI) is vital to the future of our church body as a truly confessional fellowship, its members standing together with God-given courage, continuing to confess the full truth of the Gospel of Christ according to the inerrant Scriptures.” http://wmltblog.org/2013/02/letter-from-president-harrison-on-newtown-ct/

    It seems to me that all the “apologies” were in response to the firestorm that ensued within our walls. They don’t “sound” like apologies because the issue is not clear.

    The firestorm also erupted due to unloving political words spoken by both sides of our two-party system – some of the conversation has been a sincere dialogue regarding trying to figure this thing out.

    I like what Bror said here: “And I think whether you are confessional or missional you should feel the same way. I’m a Lutheran. I hold to the confessions I study them inside and out, read them in German and wrestle with the Latin. I also in good Lutheran fashion, support missions and evangelize. So in the end, I eschew any more restrictive label than Lutheran.” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2013/02/god-is-really-blessing-the-lcms/#comment-256410

    The “missionals” are some who have even stripped the name “Lutheran” out of all public function. They leave the name “Lutheran” off of their building, websites, service style, etc. The only thing left that expresses any Lutheranism is in their constitution because there are still men/elders in their congregations who insist on this. They don’t even like being Lutheran anymore because they follow and join other associations. The only time you hear anything Lutheran is when they criticize Synod. I really do wonder, why are they still “with” us? So to these I plead – don’t even speak about these issues since you don’t want to regard our history and Constitution and by-laws anymore. Unless you want to really be with us and work together to resolve these issues in a uniquely Christian manner — because the world is watching.

    “ . . . that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. . . I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” http://www.esvbible.org/search/John+17%3A1-26/

    What we need is a new resolution/by-law(?) to be written to add to the constitution to make this clear for interfaith services resulting from a local or national tragedy. Our best heads should get together and work on this. Pray for our Convention coming up this summer. That we will not lose the “golden nugget” of the Reformation. And that with all our resolutions and actions we can make God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit – and Luther proud of us.

    I can see why, like Kerner, that I could see the “right” on both sides. And that I considered no one at fault. All the attacking should stop. And all the forgiving commence.

    This work will take a lot of time. We need to be patient and put our best together. If the LCMS is diminishing it is because of lack of love. We can fix that. I hope and pray we will. “. . . so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

  • dust

    Re: 101….i kind of like Rossow’s analogy to extra-marital sex as a way to clarify the fellowship issue in terms regular folks might understand, in terms of these various separate faiths and belief systems getting together for a combined service, an ecumenical “hookup” if you will? but can see why others might not though too….an inconvenient truth perhaps?

    but it seems his analogy can be “adapted” to the problem within the lcms as it appears to me when reading all these comments. it would be like a married couple in which one of the partners wanted to have an “open” marriage and the other was against it. it is easy to see why they could never come to an agreement acceptable to each, and if they each want to insist on having it their way, it’s best to split up. it’s really not a marriage after all, at least according to one of the spouses and it’s best to move on, for the spouses and the children (congregations)?

    that’s what the lcms should do. my understanding is the wels church would not allow this kind of service, so one “spouse” can go sign up with them, and the other “spouse” can go swinging to their hearts content with elca and anyone else who will have ‘em?

    Am sure some good lawyers can find a way to divide your assets and guarantee you’ll be taken well care of in your golden years :)

    cheers!

  • sg

    Well, it seems there are those who feel it is never okay to participate in an event like the Sandy Hook interfaith memorial service.”

    If it had been a memorial service and not a prayer vigil, it is possible that some kind of memorial event could be okay.

    So no factual or theological argument will ever convince them that Pastor Morris did the right thing in the right way.

    Remind me of the factual and theological points/arguments in favor of his actions.

    I would just remind them that President Harrison doesn’t reject the possibility of participation,

    Um, maybe Harrison just doesn’t reject the possibility that the guidelines are so vague that two people could read them and not agree on what they mean.

    and believes we need better guidelines for participation than we have now. I just pray we’ll get them, because we most certainly will find ourselves in a situation like this again. Probably sooner rather than later.

    Yeah, I agree.

  • Tom Hering

    Dust @ 159, I think it’s too soon to suggest that synod has no choice but to split over this issue. And I think it’s very wrong to suggest synod should split over this issue. We’re going to be dealing with it, and everyone’s voice will be heard. We may get guidelines that are helpful to everyone, regardless of their position on this issue, or we may get guidelines that exclude some positions. Who knows? But now is the time to lay aside accusations and talk things over, Scriptures and Confessions in hand.

  • kerner

    Tom H @161:

    Right.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    This may be something to think about in light of all that has happened;

    http://1minutedailyword.com/2013/02/13/1-corinthians-12/

  • Abby

    @164 Really beautiful. Thank you.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Old Adam,

    “The nasty atmosphere in which we find ourselves these days is characterized by a prickly defensiveness that uses the slightest differences between Christians as an excuse to repudiate Paul’s words. The last thing many in the churches want is to be “members of one another”. Furthermore, there are plenty of Christians who are more than willing to let you know, in no uncertain terms, that because you disagree with them you are going to hell.”

    I’ve never known any LC-MS who has said anything like this. I don’t think this kind of characterization helps.

    +Nathan

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Old Adam,

    That said, this I really like:

    “For my part, the question that the presence of other Christian communities raises is not ‘Who is a Christian?’ Rather, as I sat among those Serbian brothers and sisters years ago, the question that came to me and that has been with me ever since was this; ‘What is a Christian?’ Following this question into Scripture, the Confessions, tradition, the Church and the world has been a fruitful, challenging and humbling journey. It has taught me to be content with letting Jesus be the Lord of His people, the Church, even as I struggle to understand what it means to belong to Him – and to all those who confess His name.”

    +Nathan

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “Moreover, Christ also warned us in his parables on the church that when offended by the personal conduct of either priests or people, we should not incite schisms as the Donatists wickedly did.” AC VII.

  • James Sarver

    Bror Erickson @ #168,

    Just to clarify, are you suggesting that the conduct of Pr. Morris (that’s what is at issue, right?) acting as an LCMS pastor in a public setting (not as an individual member of the community and not in private) is simply not a matter for discussion in the church according to Our Lord as exposited in AC VII?

    I am not “offended” by the conduct of Pr. Morris, but I am hard pressed to find a way to interpret it as “personal conduct” or to view discussion of it to be an incitement to schism.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    If you don’t find it to be the personal conduct of Pr. Morris, than you have little understanding as to what the Donatist controversy was. In that the Donatists created schism for among other things, priests bowing to pressure and burning incense to Caesar. Something that Pr. Morris fell far short of doing.
    But no, I don’t think it prohibits discussion. I do think it prohibits calls for a split in the synod. I do think it says, we should be careful to have a much more civil conversation than was initiated in the Blogosphere, drawing attention to secular media and inviting ridicule. I think it even perhaps at this point, calls for the only parties left, the only parties that have anything to apologize for, to finally apologize.

  • Abby

    “Many LCMS members, including most of the 800 attendees at the Best Practices Conference in Phoenix last week, have expressed to me their anger and embarrassment at this whole fiasco. Sadly and regrettably, nothing anyone can say will satisfactorily mitigate those emotions. . .

    People are asking … Since last week, I’ve been hugely humbled by folks I know and folks I’ve never met who are asking if I would consider the possibility of serving again as LCMS president. While I’ve heard those questions from time to time the past two and a half years, their frequency has increased exponentially in the last few days. I believe they deserve an answer.

    My response now is the same as it has always been. In nineteen years of district and national leadership, I have never coveted an office and have never sought to be elected. My firm conviction is that in any process involving a calling from the Lord, the office should seek the man and not the man the office.

    In our system, a candidate does not simply throw his hat in the ring. Congregations have the opportunity to nominate leaders they believe would serve faithfully and fruitfully. The three pastors who receive the largest number of nominations, and agree to serve if elected, will be on the ballot for LCMS president. The deadline for nominations is February 20, which means that most congregations choosing to participate in the process have probably already done so.”
    Pastor Kieschnick
    http://www.icontact-archive.com/BLfgmhzNAinjEDvhgKWsUuW3VxPEP_o6?w=1

  • James Sarver

    Bror Erickson @ #170,

    “If you don’t find it to be the personal conduct of Pr. Morris, than you have little understanding as to what the Donatist controversy was.”

    My understanding of the Great Persecution and the Donatist Controversy that followed is not at issue. Pr. Morris did what he did not as an individual but as an LCMS pastor in his official capacity. He was not just citizen Morris but Pastor Morris. The translation in my copy of the Apology (that refers to AC VIII and is the source of your quote) reads “private sins” rather than “personal conduct”.
    Regardless of whether one views the conduct as sinful it was surely not private.

    Your reference to the Donatist Controversy is not applicable. Those who lapsed in the Great Persecution did not act on behalf of the Church. Nobody is questioning the validity of Pr. Morris’
    call or his administration of the sacraments. And who, specifically, is inciting schism?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Sarver,
    Go read up on the Donatist Controversy, the schism was over bishops and priests who rather publicly burned incense to Caesar. The personal or private conduct has nothing to do with how publicly it was committed, but rather with whom the fault may lie. The church as a whole, or the individual. I suppose some could argue that it lies with the church as a whole, since Morris followed the guidelines the church accepted, but then those calling for retribution now, should have left when the guidelines were drawn up…
    And yes schism is what is being incited, Schism is the end for which many are using this tempest. Even on this blog it has been suggested.

  • James Sarver

    Bror Erickson @ #173,

    “Go read up on the Donatist Controversy…”

    In fact I did review that before responding to be sure I remembered correctly. We will just have to disagree on what it means.

    “And yes schism is what is being incited…”

    Again, specifically by whom?

    Anyway, I just have to roll my eyes when anybody starts hollering about schism with regard to LCMS. In our Christian freedom the congregations of the LCMS have chosen a polity which makes the smallest possible division of the church also the largest (unless you thinks synod=church – let’s not get into that). It is not something that fourth century Christians (or 16th century Christians for that matter) would find recognizable regarding schism so their take on it really does not apply to our situation. How is anybody going to incite a sundering of that which cannot break up further without losing it’s character altogether?

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Pastor Rossow:

    http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=27306

    Comment #7: “I apologize for saying those things in the wrong forum and at the wrong time.”

    +Nathan

  • Moallen

    If I went and prayed with a group of LDS friends at a Community Center – allowing them to lead, and then at the end offered the benediction from the Treasury of Daily Prayer would this be okay or would I be guilty of syncretism? Are joint services like this permissible all the time or just part of the time? Something like what I described has occured in my life (a couple of times) – so was I in need of repentance or does it not really matter?

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com Nathan

    Moallen,

    Do you not think that by praying with them in this way you give the impression that the differences that we have with them over who God is and what He has done do not really matter?

    I would not do what you did. I always invite Mormans and JWs into my house when they come. They often ask if they can close our time of discussion in prayer and I tell them I can’t pray with them because they are not praying to the true God. I tell them that I will say a prayer for them though if they want, and they have at least on one ocasion let me do that (in the prayer I asked God to reveal the truth to them)….

    For more on this topic, see what this young Lutheran pastor says here: http://www.worldvieweverlasting.com/2013/02/15/the-state-of-the-unionism/

    +Nathan

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