Grace Through the Pastor
Life of the World in an article titled, "Called & Ordained" by Rev. Chad Bird is troubling.
My call document states that I am called to administer the Word and Sacraments to the congregation. It never says these things come through me. They come through Christ. The Augsburg Confession states:
What does the writer mean when he says "through"? The Lutheran Confessions say:
In other words the correct view of the pastoral office is that the Minister administers the Word and Sacraments for the entire congregation.
The Augsburg Confession calls the Office of the Ministry the office of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacrament as follows:
To further safeguard the efficacy of the Word and Sacraments independent of the men who hold the pastoral office "Article VIII: What the Church Is", states:
Again the Apology tells that the Holy Ghost works through the Word and Sacraments.
The Lutheran Confessions do speak of God speaking through pastors in the same way He also speaks through whoever speaks His Word correctly, including a five-year-old girl. Five-year-old girls are precluded by God from holding the Pastoral Office but the Word can never lose its power.
If Life of the World is saying that God speaks and acts through those called and ordained just as he speaks and acts through all Christians then the sentence in the Life of the World is correct. If Life of the World is saying that God speaks and acts through those called and ordained because they are called and ordained, then they have made the Office of the Keys the property of the Clergy and excluded the Royal Priesthood of all believers.
They used to call Martin Stephan the "Hauptgnadenmittel" or the head grace mediator. This is exactly what the pastor becomes when God speaks and acts through him because he is called and ordained.
The Office of the Ministry is to administer the Word and Sacraments on behalf of the congregation. These things already belong to the entire congregation. There is no thought of the pastor being a conduit or channel for what already belongs to the entire congregation.
Why is Fort Wayne raising the issue that God speaks and acts through those who are called and ordained when God also speaks and asks through those who are not called and ordained? In the best light they make a point with no distinction.
It would be much better if Fort Wayne promotes the Office of the Ministry instead of raising questions about whether God comes through those who are called and ordained?
The congregations are able to call and ordain their pastors. Of much greater importance to the congregations is that the Seminary has thoroughly educated their graduates in sound Christian doctrine.
Let's leave the calling and ordaining to the congregations and the preparation of pastors to the Seminary. Calling and ordaining isn't the Seminary's job, teaching and preparing graduates for the congregations is their job.
November 22, 1999