Dear brothers and sisters in the LCMS…

…while this may be fairly cold comfort after yesterday’s vote, it still it has to be said – things could be worse:

Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of ECUSA   Gene Robinson, 'Bishop' of New Hampshire   Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

I don’t know enough about the LCMS to comment on what the re-election of Gerald Kieschnick means, or should mean, or should result in. I know that lots of people who I’ve come to respect are dismayed by this turn of events, and you all in my prayers today. I know who I personally wanted to win, and was praying would win (I’ll give you a clue: his surname begins with “P”).

But equally, if Gerald Kieschnick is your idea of a “liberal” then things really could be a lot worse. Of course, it may well be that the LCMS is taking the first tentative steps on the journey of a thousand miles that ends in this sort of thing:

Otis Charles, retired ECUSA 'bishop', 'marries' his partner earlier this year

but you’re not there yet, and it’s not necessarily the case that the LCMS will collapse in the same way that ECUSA and other mainline denominations have in recent decades.

As I say, I don’t know enough about the LCMS to give an informed view on what lies ahead. All I can do is look at this “selfishly” from the point of view of a new member of a small synod in altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS. And what I ask LCMS “confessionals” is this: please don’t forget us. Please don’t forget that if you tear the LCMS apart – and I know this isn’t something you will do lightly, if you find it necessary do it at all – that may have terrible consequences for other Lutheran churches around the world: as we are forced to choose which side to take; as the supply of potential pastors dries up as the LCMS busies itself in internal conflict; and as the infection of liberalism spreads into other synods which remain in fellowship with an LCMS abandoned by confessional Lutherans.

In short, the waves created by any rocking of the good ship LCMS are likely to swamp the small boats moored alongside. I’ve already witnessed the consequences of US “ecclesiastical unilateralism” in the Anglican church, and the thought of seeing this happen again within world Lutheranism fills me with anxiety. Do what needs to be done; but please remember the consequences for those of us who wish, as Dan requests, to “stand strong” with you.

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28 Responses to Dear brothers and sisters in the LCMS…

  1. Brian says:

    Thanks, John.
    I hope and pray that the ELCE makes the right decisions and will not be infected by LCMS liberalism. 😦
    I really think that the liberals will be much more zealous now. Now they won’t be as afraid that if they show their true face, they will be kicked out.
    I don’t know what this means, totally, being rather new to the LCMS… But I can see female pastors in the LCMS very shortly. Maybe starting with rogue congregations calling female pastors from an ELCA seminary or something. This is just idle speculation, but still… It seems much more possible than it did just two days ago.
    Expect to see “ecclesiastical supervision” used with impunity, too.
    😦 😦 😦

  2. Brian says:

    Thanks, John.
    I hope and pray that the ELCE makes the right decisions and will not be infected by LCMS liberalism. 😦
    I really think that the liberals will be much more zealous now. Now they won’t be as afraid that if they show their true face, they will be kicked out.
    I don’t know what this means, totally, being rather new to the LCMS… But I can see female pastors in the LCMS very shortly. Maybe starting with rogue congregations calling female pastors from an ELCA seminary or something. This is just idle speculation, but still… It seems much more possible than it did just two days ago.
    Expect to see “ecclesiastical supervision” used with impunity, too.
    😦 😦 😦

  3. Brian says:

    Thanks, John.
    I hope and pray that the ELCE makes the right decisions and will not be infected by LCMS liberalism. 😦
    I really think that the liberals will be much more zealous now. Now they won’t be as afraid that if they show their true face, they will be kicked out.
    I don’t know what this means, totally, being rather new to the LCMS… But I can see female pastors in the LCMS very shortly. Maybe starting with rogue congregations calling female pastors from an ELCA seminary or something. This is just idle speculation, but still… It seems much more possible than it did just two days ago.
    Expect to see “ecclesiastical supervision” used with impunity, too.
    😦 😦 😦

  4. Brian says:

    Thanks, John.
    I hope and pray that the ELCE makes the right decisions and will not be infected by LCMS liberalism. 😦
    I really think that the liberals will be much more zealous now. Now they won’t be as afraid that if they show their true face, they will be kicked out.
    I don’t know what this means, totally, being rather new to the LCMS… But I can see female pastors in the LCMS very shortly. Maybe starting with rogue congregations calling female pastors from an ELCA seminary or something. This is just idle speculation, but still… It seems much more possible than it did just two days ago.
    Expect to see “ecclesiastical supervision” used with impunity, too.
    😦 😦 😦

  5. FDN says:

    Well said John.
    My intuition (based on experience in two small LCMS congregations) is that membership of the “confessional” party is a small fraction of the number who know and love the actual Lutheran Confessions, whether by personal study or devout attention to a confessional pastor (a mode of adherence which, as many of the “confessional” party appear to forget, is perfectly sufficient for most laymen). I think that what will happen is a lot of individual (and a few congregational) defections to ELS/WELS. And those folks unduly flatter themselves if they think they’re the only thing standing between Missouri and full-fledged ELCAism. Let’s not encourage their conceit.
    Something happening outside my local church would have to be pretty horrendous to damage my loyalty to the congregation. I think that theological fellowship with large bodies of people located at great geographical and social distance from ourselves is overrated. It can be a great help to local, on the ground orthodoxy but it’s no substitute for it. Rightly or wrongly, I can’t see myself telling the nice old ladies at church, in effect, ‘I read an incorrect doctrinal position paper on LCMS.org so now I can’t commune with you anymore.’ If that makes me execrably lukewarm, God help me. But I really think it just makes me normal.

  6. FDN says:

    Well said John.
    My intuition (based on experience in two small LCMS congregations) is that membership of the “confessional” party is a small fraction of the number who know and love the actual Lutheran Confessions, whether by personal study or devout attention to a confessional pastor (a mode of adherence which, as many of the “confessional” party appear to forget, is perfectly sufficient for most laymen). I think that what will happen is a lot of individual (and a few congregational) defections to ELS/WELS. And those folks unduly flatter themselves if they think they’re the only thing standing between Missouri and full-fledged ELCAism. Let’s not encourage their conceit.
    Something happening outside my local church would have to be pretty horrendous to damage my loyalty to the congregation. I think that theological fellowship with large bodies of people located at great geographical and social distance from ourselves is overrated. It can be a great help to local, on the ground orthodoxy but it’s no substitute for it. Rightly or wrongly, I can’t see myself telling the nice old ladies at church, in effect, ‘I read an incorrect doctrinal position paper on LCMS.org so now I can’t commune with you anymore.’ If that makes me execrably lukewarm, God help me. But I really think it just makes me normal.

  7. FDN says:

    Well said John.
    My intuition (based on experience in two small LCMS congregations) is that membership of the “confessional” party is a small fraction of the number who know and love the actual Lutheran Confessions, whether by personal study or devout attention to a confessional pastor (a mode of adherence which, as many of the “confessional” party appear to forget, is perfectly sufficient for most laymen). I think that what will happen is a lot of individual (and a few congregational) defections to ELS/WELS. And those folks unduly flatter themselves if they think they’re the only thing standing between Missouri and full-fledged ELCAism. Let’s not encourage their conceit.
    Something happening outside my local church would have to be pretty horrendous to damage my loyalty to the congregation. I think that theological fellowship with large bodies of people located at great geographical and social distance from ourselves is overrated. It can be a great help to local, on the ground orthodoxy but it’s no substitute for it. Rightly or wrongly, I can’t see myself telling the nice old ladies at church, in effect, ‘I read an incorrect doctrinal position paper on LCMS.org so now I can’t commune with you anymore.’ If that makes me execrably lukewarm, God help me. But I really think it just makes me normal.

  8. FDN says:

    Well said John.
    My intuition (based on experience in two small LCMS congregations) is that membership of the “confessional” party is a small fraction of the number who know and love the actual Lutheran Confessions, whether by personal study or devout attention to a confessional pastor (a mode of adherence which, as many of the “confessional” party appear to forget, is perfectly sufficient for most laymen). I think that what will happen is a lot of individual (and a few congregational) defections to ELS/WELS. And those folks unduly flatter themselves if they think they’re the only thing standing between Missouri and full-fledged ELCAism. Let’s not encourage their conceit.
    Something happening outside my local church would have to be pretty horrendous to damage my loyalty to the congregation. I think that theological fellowship with large bodies of people located at great geographical and social distance from ourselves is overrated. It can be a great help to local, on the ground orthodoxy but it’s no substitute for it. Rightly or wrongly, I can’t see myself telling the nice old ladies at church, in effect, ‘I read an incorrect doctrinal position paper on LCMS.org so now I can’t commune with you anymore.’ If that makes me execrably lukewarm, God help me. But I really think it just makes me normal.

  9. Thomas says:

    Please allow me to say that I agree completely with FDN’s comments, and share your concerns John. I would also add that there is perhaps an underrated value to staying put, enduring patiently whatever providence provides, and so learning patient endurance. Of course, I’m terrible at that, so have no personal authrority with which to beat people over the heads. But folks who think that an exodus to a smaller, supposedly purer denomination may find that these problems are endemic to any communion of Christians – heresy and orthodoxy exist side-by-side in any gaggle of folks you can find, and have from the beginning. I think some people mistake hanging in and accepting our own mediocrity for lukewarmness and confessional impurity. But hey, I’m all confused most of the time, so take all this for whatever it’s worth.

  10. Thomas says:

    Please allow me to say that I agree completely with FDN’s comments, and share your concerns John. I would also add that there is perhaps an underrated value to staying put, enduring patiently whatever providence provides, and so learning patient endurance. Of course, I’m terrible at that, so have no personal authrority with which to beat people over the heads. But folks who think that an exodus to a smaller, supposedly purer denomination may find that these problems are endemic to any communion of Christians – heresy and orthodoxy exist side-by-side in any gaggle of folks you can find, and have from the beginning. I think some people mistake hanging in and accepting our own mediocrity for lukewarmness and confessional impurity. But hey, I’m all confused most of the time, so take all this for whatever it’s worth.

  11. Thomas says:

    Please allow me to say that I agree completely with FDN’s comments, and share your concerns John. I would also add that there is perhaps an underrated value to staying put, enduring patiently whatever providence provides, and so learning patient endurance. Of course, I’m terrible at that, so have no personal authrority with which to beat people over the heads. But folks who think that an exodus to a smaller, supposedly purer denomination may find that these problems are endemic to any communion of Christians – heresy and orthodoxy exist side-by-side in any gaggle of folks you can find, and have from the beginning. I think some people mistake hanging in and accepting our own mediocrity for lukewarmness and confessional impurity. But hey, I’m all confused most of the time, so take all this for whatever it’s worth.

  12. Thomas says:

    Please allow me to say that I agree completely with FDN’s comments, and share your concerns John. I would also add that there is perhaps an underrated value to staying put, enduring patiently whatever providence provides, and so learning patient endurance. Of course, I’m terrible at that, so have no personal authrority with which to beat people over the heads. But folks who think that an exodus to a smaller, supposedly purer denomination may find that these problems are endemic to any communion of Christians – heresy and orthodoxy exist side-by-side in any gaggle of folks you can find, and have from the beginning. I think some people mistake hanging in and accepting our own mediocrity for lukewarmness and confessional impurity. But hey, I’m all confused most of the time, so take all this for whatever it’s worth.

  13. Thomas says:

    My goodness, there’s some terrible grammar in that comment. I really does no how to talk english good, but you’d never guess from that, that thing. I do apologize for my sloppiness. Now, if I could only extract the thought I was trying to convey from the wretched constructions….

  14. Thomas says:

    My goodness, there’s some terrible grammar in that comment. I really does no how to talk english good, but you’d never guess from that, that thing. I do apologize for my sloppiness. Now, if I could only extract the thought I was trying to convey from the wretched constructions….

  15. Thomas says:

    My goodness, there’s some terrible grammar in that comment. I really does no how to talk english good, but you’d never guess from that, that thing. I do apologize for my sloppiness. Now, if I could only extract the thought I was trying to convey from the wretched constructions….

  16. Thomas says:

    My goodness, there’s some terrible grammar in that comment. I really does no how to talk english good, but you’d never guess from that, that thing. I do apologize for my sloppiness. Now, if I could only extract the thought I was trying to convey from the wretched constructions….

  17. Umm…
    Why are those guys wearing flowers on their heads? Are they gay or something? That’s not a picture of a gay union, is it?

  18. Umm…
    Why are those guys wearing flowers on their heads? Are they gay or something? That’s not a picture of a gay union, is it?

  19. Umm…
    Why are those guys wearing flowers on their heads? Are they gay or something? That’s not a picture of a gay union, is it?

  20. Umm…
    Why are those guys wearing flowers on their heads? Are they gay or something? That’s not a picture of a gay union, is it?

  21. John H says:

    That’s not a picture of a gay union, is it?
    We can’t get anything past you, can we, Ron? 😉
    The purple shirt and dog-collar of the gentleman on the left are more germane to the discussion, though…

  22. John H says:

    That’s not a picture of a gay union, is it?
    We can’t get anything past you, can we, Ron? 😉
    The purple shirt and dog-collar of the gentleman on the left are more germane to the discussion, though…

  23. John H says:

    That’s not a picture of a gay union, is it?
    We can’t get anything past you, can we, Ron? 😉
    The purple shirt and dog-collar of the gentleman on the left are more germane to the discussion, though…

  24. John H says:

    That’s not a picture of a gay union, is it?
    We can’t get anything past you, can we, Ron? 😉
    The purple shirt and dog-collar of the gentleman on the left are more germane to the discussion, though…

  25. A. J. Nolte says:

    First, love the blog, and will be recommending it to a friend who is planning to attend Westfield House next spring. Second, as a right-wing member of the ELCA, I’d encourage all those in the LCMS to stay put. Trust me, things could be much worse, and we ELCA right-wingers need some place to go if–no when–our ship sinks.

  26. A. J. Nolte says:

    First, love the blog, and will be recommending it to a friend who is planning to attend Westfield House next spring. Second, as a right-wing member of the ELCA, I’d encourage all those in the LCMS to stay put. Trust me, things could be much worse, and we ELCA right-wingers need some place to go if–no when–our ship sinks.

  27. A. J. Nolte says:

    First, love the blog, and will be recommending it to a friend who is planning to attend Westfield House next spring. Second, as a right-wing member of the ELCA, I’d encourage all those in the LCMS to stay put. Trust me, things could be much worse, and we ELCA right-wingers need some place to go if–no when–our ship sinks.

  28. A. J. Nolte says:

    First, love the blog, and will be recommending it to a friend who is planning to attend Westfield House next spring. Second, as a right-wing member of the ELCA, I’d encourage all those in the LCMS to stay put. Trust me, things could be much worse, and we ELCA right-wingers need some place to go if–no when–our ship sinks.

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