Innocence Lost

My eyes were opened today as to how the Synod at convention really works. Perhaps it was not always this way, but somehow I doubt it. So what is this great revelation that I had at our pre-convention meeting today? Basically this: Aside from seeing good friends and renewing acquaintances, Convention is pretty much a pointless waste of time and money. Yes, I will be there. Yes, I will vote faithfully. Yes, I will participate in the Synodical process. But it is so hard not to be cynical when you see how diabolical the whole “process” really is. Examples? There were several overtures in the Convention workbook, some sent in by whole districts, that seem to have been entirely ignored by the Committees. Some of these overtures dealt with very important issues in our synod, calling the Synodical Convention to rescind previous resolutions that promote false doctrine and practice. They were well written, supported by Scripture and references to our Confessions, and instead they were replaced by resolutions “to engage in more theological study and dialogue.” Same p.c. crap that you see in the secular world. For heaven’s sake–at least let us debate and vote on these things! Instead it seems the powers that be want to give the appearance that all is “hunky-dory” in Missouri.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t be angry. I shouldn’t be frustrated. “Don’t lose any sleep over it,” so I’m told by my good friends. And maybe I’ll lose a little tonight, but tomorrow I’ll be back to preaching and teaching, where the real stuff of the Church happens. But tonight I am very frustrated.

Another thing I do not quite understand but am not unwilling to be persuaded about: “Here-I-stand” Missourians. By “Here-I-Stand Missourians” I mean my good friends and colleagues who are convinced that they will never leave the Missouri Synod, no matter how bad it gets, so long as they are permitted to teach and practice the way they want. I question this, simply because this was not the attitude of the Synod’s founder, as understood by this quotation:

“Whether our Synod gains friends or makes enemies, wins honor or invites disgrace, grows or declines in numbers, brings peace or incites enmity, all this must be unimportant to us, just so our Synod may keep the jewel of purity of doctrine and knowledge. However, should our Synod ever grow indifferent toward purity of doctrine, through ingratitude forget this prize, or betray or barter it away to the false church, then let our church body perish and the name ‘Missourian’ decay in disgrace.” (C.F.W. Walther)

I realize how painful it would be to dissolve the Synod. But it does seem that the Synod, as “Synod” is no longer functioning the way it was intended to function. The system is broken. It has become its own worst nightmare, if you catch my drift. I do agree with my good friends that there are greater things happening in Missouri today than ever. And I understand that there will never be a completely “pure” church this side of heaven. This is not about trying to root out every hypocrite from our congregations; the wheat and the tares must grow up together. This is about being in fellowship with the false church, as it is represented by those congregations and pastors that practice open communion, adopt unorthodox worship practices, and in general, let everyone do what is right in his own eyes. As much as we hate to admit it, we are already a “church within a church.” I just do not see where this idea comes from that it is either Missouri or nothing. Why are we so afraid to take a stand and say: “No more”?

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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16 Responses to Innocence Lost

  1. Lincoln - BoW says:

    At our circuit forum to elect delegates, it looked like people might vote for me, so I explained my reasons for not wanting to go this way :

    Just to be clear, if you elect me, I will spend the entire week at the Johnson Space Center.

    For some reason, I didn’t get elected as the delegate, or the alternate.

  2. Carl Vehse says:

    They were well written, supported by Scripture and references to our Confessions, and instead they were replaced by resolutions “to engage in more theological study and dialogue.”

    Did this just magically happen? Or did a Committee chairman and his supporters replace these resolutions?

    We need names and faces associated with this reprehensible activity.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Believe me, I feel your pain.

    Nonetheless, I’ll give you some friendly, albeit unsolicited, advice.

    Pray for the Church and Synod. Roar the “amen.” Then go have a cold beer.

    Otherwise you are going to develop ulcers.

  4. OSC says:

    No, by all means, be angry about it. Be frustrated by it. I wouldn’t counsel anyone to lose sleep over it, but the facts seem to be clear. Willfully embracing erroneous theology is worth being angry over. Our charge in it all is to be angry about it without sinning. There’s the rub, at least for me.

    For my money, there’s way too much parliamentary procedure, and not enough study and prayer. And there has been for quite some time. Concordia Historical Institute has put together a CD cataloging the resolutions that have been passed from 1847-2004. It only tells part of the story, but it gives an interesting look at the Synod In Convention.

    I would have gladly served as a pastoral delegate to the Synodical Convention. I don’t need the headaches, but I would have gladly made my voice heard in favor of Scriptural and Confessional resolutions. (Of course, there are simply way too many resolutions in the first place, and unsere geliebte Synode has got her fingers in entirely too many pots.) Having done the district convention thing several times, I know what it is to be frustrated (and frustrating to those who just want some of this drivel to sail through). But we’re theologians of the cross. And Satan militates against the Lutheran Church because we read Scripture clearer than most of what’s out there, and the Gospel is proclaimed more purely according to the Lutheran Confessions than in the other denominations. (Were it not so we would be serving in other denominations).

    What’s my point? (I’m starting to lose it myself in my rambling!) All human institutions will crumble and fall. That does include the LCMS. The Church continues, but synods come and go. I’ll stay and speak until it’s time to go, and then I’ll have a tough choice to make. There will be options should such things become necessary, d.v.

    I’m rambling. Nagel would tell me (and you) to speak what you’re given to speak. If that happens to be in the context of the Synod In Convention, then by all means, do it there. And let’s pray for the convention, that God’s name would be hallowed, His kingdom come, and His will be done.

  5. Past Elder says:

    You are a good and faithful pastor and I am glad you will be there.

    Walther pretty much said it all.

    I joined LCMS last year, quite aware of its problems, and having followed the last Convention carefully. Why? Because there are people like you in it, and other pastor bloggers who more faithfully what we confess in the BOC than I find anywhere else

  6. summer ice says:

    My eyes were opened at my very first District Convention. A congregation sent in an overture asking the District to send 30% of total receipts to the synod as determined by the previous District Convention. The solo overture went to committee and the committee changed it to “Let the District Decide How Much To Send to Synod”. And voters passed it.
    But as you can see it was the exact opposite of the overture.

  7. Rev. Eric J Brown says:

    Well, I’ll be there, you’ll be there – hopefully we can vote well and hinder things. Maybe if there are enough, we can actually restore amendments from the floor. Who knows, who knows?

  8. Anonymous says:

    “Orthodoxy is not an end in itself. It’s a means to an end, that we may be Christ’s church and behave as Christ’s church should be behave.”

    Dr. Fred P. Kramer
    CTS, 1951-1976

  9. Emily H. says:

    As much as we hate to admit it, we are already a “church within a church.”

    It may be for this reason that people will generally favor a schism rather than an entire dissolution of the synod (should it come to that).

    Your sister in Innocence Lost…

  10. Anonymous says:

    The unsolicted advice I gave above about praying and drinking a beer was most sincere. I wasn’t trying to be a smart-alec or anything. The LCMS desperately needs good and faithful pastors like you.

    I’m glad you have “fire in the belly.” But I don’t want you to become discouraged and lose patience. If, by some miracle, this ship can be turned around…it’s going to take awhile to do so. The good ship Missouri has built up a grerat deal of momentum. Changing course will take time.

    So while others counsel anger (righteous indignation!?) I counsel patience. FWIW.

  11. Paul T. McCain says:

    It is tempting when things are not going “our way” to get all discouraged and want to “tune out.” But, we dare never forget that decisions are made by those who show up!

    Perhaps if some groups spent more time actually doing things, instead of huddling in their secret Internet chat rooms talking about things and whining, well…more things might get done.

    For what it is worth, from one who has been there, and done that, for longer than I care to recall.

  12. Lawrence says:

    Synods, like any other administrative bureaucracy, come to take on a life of their own after awhile. {read into this whatever is necessary at this stage of the Synodical rivalry}

    As far as going and doing at the convention… I wasn’t selected… But I understand why it is impossible for everyone to go. And I have full confidence in the people who representing me.

    So I am left to my own devices to huddle in various “secret” Internet chat rooms.

    And yet, I know that my congregation is holding fast to the Lutheran confessions and teachings, and will continue to do so, regardless of whatever happens at Synod. The Synod leadership should take serious note of what I am saying, or implying, as the case may suite.

  13. Favorite Apron says:

    Pastor – I really appreciate your faithfullness and willingness to attend. Even if things are not going in the right direction, I hope you’ll stay to the end and provide vocal opposition.
    The church depends on men like you.

  14. Pastor Beisel says:

    Thank you for the vote of confidence. (Better than “no-confidence,” right? 🙂

    Things won’t go in the right direction, because the only direction they can possibly go is nowhere. But yes, I will be there and vote, and I will do my elected duty. And I will enjoy seeing good friends. But all hopes of actually making a difference are pretty much shot.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What if something happens that you don’t approve of in the church? then what? Would you close your pocketbook and quit contributing? No. Neither should you ask people to send their money elsewhere or anything like that. The unity of the church is very important and let’s foster it. Let’s foster it also when there are some things that are not desirable. What if the church flew apart everytime something bad happened? Where would we land? There is a German saying…which translated into good English is: “I cook myself and eat for myself alone.” We would be preaching ourselves and praying by ourselves alone if we fly apart everytime something happens in the church that is not as it should be.

    Dr. Fred P. Kramer
    CTS, 1951-76

  16. Pr. H. R. says:

    Paul,

    Let’s also recall, however, that the man you quoted, CFW Walther taught false doctrine: Receptionism. And if he wasn’t flat out wrong on the Ministry (I’m trying to be more charitable) – he at least said some things so poorly that others were led there (and allowed to publish under his watch at Lehre und Wehre).

    The point? Missouri has never been a pristine jewel of pure teaching. That’s just a fact (if you believe that Receptionism is false teaching).

    So why stay? She wants to be pure. She has us swear to uphold the Confessions unconditionally even though she herself has sometimes (receptionism, ministry) mistaken what they say. As Petersen says, all the messed up things she says and does are tempered by her saying that she wants to uphold the Confessions. It’s like that line in every congregation’s Constitution: anything we do that is contrary to the Word of God or the Confessions is null and void. So long as she says that, she’s worth fighting for and staying in and leading along the weaker brothers. As soon as she quits that, like the ELCA, then it’s time to go.

    Heath
    (Same goes for ELS and WELS and AALC. If born and ordained into those places I woundn’t leave them either today, and for the same reasons as above with MO)

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