Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What Jesus First Sees

Writes Jesus First in their 50th edition describing why they formed their policial organization to set the direction of the Synod.

"Here is what they were reacting to: “We see disturbing displays of diminished mission urgency, increasing legalism, disrespect for the priesthood of all believers, exaggerated pastoral authority, misplaced uniformity, resistance to cultural diversity, avoidance of other Christians, overstepping the advisory nature of Synod, and a growing spirit of fear and intimidation.”

I have to concur.

1. diminished mission urgency -- while we have this emphasis on Ablaze our numbers continue to shrink. Lutherans understand that people are converted and nurtured through proper proclaimation of the Good News of Jesus (Law and Gospel) and proper administration of the sacraments (they work as God designed them to work). Yet we have diminished stress on Word and Sacrament as means of grace for the work of mission and an increase on personal church growth types of methods.

2. increasing legalism -- again have to concur. CCM judgements are binding. Discipline is threatened against pastors or congregations who would disagree with the administration. There is a difference between upholding Biblical principles and creating and upholding human made traditions and agendas through the use of institutional and social rules and norms.

3. disrespect of the priesthood of all believers -- I see this too. We seem more worried about numbers and money than genuine nurture of the people in our church. I hear alot about we need more people and more money but not so much any more about helping our people grow in their spirituality and understanding of God's Word. I also see said disrespect playing out when we offer smaller and rural churches less trained laymen instead of ordained clergy because of financial reasons.

4. exaggerated pastoral authority -- again have to concur. In fact, though I doubt this was the intention, for all practial purposes we are on the road to creating a heirarchy in the pastoral office instead of holding the Lutheran position that all called servants are equal in authority. Now we have an office of president with greatly expanded authorities and protections which make accountability a more difficult process to enforce. He is supported by a CCM which rules on what is in and what is out for the church and has the final word and their decisions must be obeyed unless overturned in convention -- but by then they have traction --and the President has huge influence over what comes to the floor of the convention. Congregations and pastors can no longer bring concerns about practices or beliefs of members of Synod forward for examination, but all ecclesiastical supervision is now initiated and conducted by our District Presidents.

5. misplaced uniformity -- I again confirm. Uniformity is now based on social and organizational norms and values rather than a common confession of Scripture. What unites us is misplaced. While there is an element that tends to legalism, there is also a very vibrant and powerful element that tends toward anarch -- both driven by human preferences rather than biblical foundations.

6. resistance to cultural diversity -- Rome was a very diverse place where all were welcome as long as they would accept anyone or anything. I may concur here too, probably more in light of their original intent, in that I have seen prejudice and boundaries of congregations so tight they excluded people who were different. Open to people but not open to every teaching or belief or practice that comes in with them. We are all transformed by the truth of Scripture.

7. avoidance of other Christians -- are we avoiding each other? ARe our Districts becoming more and more harbors of people who think like us? Our congregations? Are we talking to each other? Are we really working out our issues?

8. overstepping the advisory nature of Synod and a growing spirit of fear and intimidation? Hmmm. I let these quotes speak for themselves:

From the BOD report on the resolution of the lawsuit (what do you hear between the lines here?)

"No disciplinary action for participation in the lawsuit will be taken
against plaintiffs who sign the Agreement."

And here:

You are free to disagree, everyone is free to disagree, but let me say this: You, pastors, are NOT free to publicly teach or preach that Synod is wrong on ANY given issue. I'll say it again, you are NOT free to teach in a bible class or preach from the pulpit that Synod is wrong on any issue. -- Gerald Kieschnick, President of the LCMS to the Texas District Convention (Source Reclaim News)


At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found your blog on the Lutheran Blog Directory (way to go for getting on this list!), and I figured I would read. Let me say first of all that the title itself is VERY heartening! I myself ran a website that sought to do the same thing and it blew up around the Behnke debacle. May God Bless your efforts here!
Secondly, I was interested by this post. At the first glance, I started seeing all of the hallmarks of the "other side" of Jesus First - the "Confessional Lutherans" Having grown up in St. Louis, I'm beginning to regard these two as nothing more than the Bloods and Crips of the Lutheran world. I'm not even sure where I fit into the pigeon holes - but hopefully its in neither camp. But I was again VERY ENCOURAGED to see a balanced and fair treatment on your blog overall! Blessings again on this continued work!
Lastly - the reason I chose to comment on THIS particular post is the end of the post and the quote from the beloved President. I was aghast to see such a quote. I believe when Martin Stephan said things of a similar vein, we sent him across the river.



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