Saturday, July 29, 2006

News Report: CTCR May Actions

Kieschnick seeks expansion of his authority

Kieschnick wrote the CCM seeking authority to decide who can be hired or fired in the corporate Synod based on his perception of whether the individual belongs to certain political entities critical of him or even if they might subscribe to views that he would find contrary to the position of Synod. Not only is he seeking extension of authority to evaluate who should be hired, but in this instance would seek to be judge and jury over the indivdual's positions determining what they are an if they are in line.

Writes Kieschnick to the Committee on Constitutional Matters for the LCMS:

May an individual, whether or not an individual member of the Synod or a member of a
congregation of the Synod, be called to, contracted for, or employed in a staff position of the
corporate Synod or an agency of the Synod not requiring the mutual concurrence of the
President, if such individual
· is an officer or member of a group whose theological position is contrary to that of
the Synod;
· publicly subscribes to the theological positions of such a group; or
· has publicly taught, written, or spoken, without public retraction, contrary to the
theological positions of the Synod?

Kieschnick would even use the extension of his authority to deny positions to those who think our consitutional framework could be improved. This would discourage conversation about how the system is working and how the system is broken and could be improved, but would rather maintain the status quo. A question to ponder is why does an administrator believe he needs to protect the system from those critical of it, if there is nothing to be critical of (truth can stand scrutiny)?

Writes Kieschnick: May an individual, whether or not an individual member of the Synod or a member of a congregation of the Synod, be called to, contracted for, or employed in a staff position of the corporate Synod or an agency of the Synod not requiring the mutual concurrence of the President, which position requires responsibility for upholding the Constitution, Bylaws,
and/or resolutions of the Synod, if such individual
· is an officer or member of a group that publicly proclaims opposition to or criticism
of portions of the Constitution, Bylaws, and/or resolutions of the Synod;
· publicly proclaims opposition to or criticism of any part of the Constitution, Bylaws,
and/or resolutions of the Synod; or
· has publicly communicated, verbally or in writing, without public retraction,
opposition to or criticism of any part of the Constitution, Bylaws, and/or resolutions
of the Synod?

Another question to ponder: When did the Consitution, Bylaws, and resolutions of the Synod become so inspired by God to rise to the position of an authoritative tradition within Lutheranism that they cannot be examined or even disagreed with? It has always been my understanding the Synod operates on the principal of the priesthood of all believers where all may interpret God's Word contextualized within the understanding that since all people are sinful, they are bound to make mistakes, even when good intentioned. So, it becomes even more important for us to be open to one another's voices so that we do not loose our way. Again, truth can bear scrutiny, but can the actions of our synodical leadership? There is of course a danger in such public discourse, that of anarchy and conflict, unless there is an overriding and guiding principal(s) so perfect it can be trusted. Since when, in Lutheranism, did these principals (by principal I mean a description of truth not necessarily a moral law) of the Scripture (Law and Gospel) become replaced with human created principals reflected in the Constitution, bylaws, and resolutions of the Synod.

Factor in too, the one of the first things the President of the Synod did in 2002 when people began to be critical of some of his decisions was to replace members of the CCM with those who had publically written in his support prior to their appointments -- hence providing an important source of support for his agenda, since the CCM works much as the Supreme Court does in the US. Also factor in that despite receiving numerous resolutions from entire Districts of the LCMS in the last convention that disagreed with some of his and some of the CCM's actions and called for discussion and change, but because the President appoints the floor committees, none of these resolutions were heard before the assembly. Is this facts seeing the light of day? Is this truth standing up in the light of scrutiny?

The amazing thing about this resolution -- the CCM did not expand his authority, at least not exactly in the way he asked. The frightening thing is that it was asked for. What is our Synod becoming?

Perhaps more frightening is how the CCM did come up with a way to quieten down further dissent:

Writes the CCM:

While agencies may offer contracts or calls to individuals regardless of their histories, it should be pointed out that prior to acceptance of a position, potential staff members will be required to signstatements that they have received, understand, and agree to abide by the conflict of interest provisions of Bylaw 1.5.12.1 (see Bylaw 1.5.12.2). Presumably individuals as identified in the questions, in order to fulfill their responsibilities in a manner reflecting the highest degree of integrity and honesty consistentwith the Scriptures and in order not to enter into activities detrimental to the interests of the Synod, will have determined, in advance of acceptance, no longer to associate with groups whose theological positions are contrary to the Synod, to publicly subscribe to theological positions of such groups, or to publicly speak, teach, or write in a manner inconsistent with the theological positions of the Synod or to take any other actions which may be detrimental to the interests of the Synod or its agencies. If inappropriate activity continues, the position must be vacated pursuant to Bylaw 1.5.12.1 (b) (5).

The language is couched very positively but ask: what is in the interest of the Synod? Truth or existing policy and struture? Are we beyond improvement?

One could say we are over reacting and being overly suspicious, but the next post gives more to chew on to consider is the adminstration seeking to encompass even more authority and allow less discussion and dissent and potential for growth?

Remember the context of how our Synod works: Resolutions about practices and beliefs are submitted to the convention. The President appoints various committees (the Districts have some input as to who they will be) who use the submissions as suggestions, but craft their own agenda for the most part. Last time around the convention did not hear from the committees much in the way of any criticism of the President though there were abundant instances from a multitude of districts. The CCM then determines what these resolutions "mean" in the light of receieved questions, many coming from the President himself. One such decision had made it impossible for the President to be placed under ecclesiastical discipline during the term of his office, but this was so radical the previous convention did put a process into place, though it is so difficult to achieve the votes necessary, it is unsure how effective the process would be if it needed to tackle something needing such discipline. And remember, the President appoints the members of the CCM.

And the final big context is this: our Synod is divided (my next post will reflect this as well) on some fundamental issues of belief and practice. In my opinion, for the sake of unity, we need discussion to see if agreement is possible. What we have is not that. The Synod is divided. Is the approach of the administration about seeking the "Synod's" interests or rather about achieving an agenda, so strongly believed in, it would even seek to eliminate dissenting voices in the name of that synod. Remember, the CCM gets to tell us what the overatures we pass mean. And remember it is getting more dangerous to disagree with the CCM -- as disagreement is against the Synod's interests.

An exercise in curiosity: read the minutes for yourself and ask how many of them are related to defending or expanding the President's authority

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