'Jesus First' Says Kuhn Should Apologize

By: Rev. Jack Cascione

The following is a newly posted article on the "Jesus First" website calling on Dr. Kuhn, Chairman of the LCMS Board of Directors,  to apologize to the CCM for critical comments he made in the inaugural "Consensus" newsletter. Your reactions, please?

May 2003
"Not So With You"

In the twentieth chapter of Matthew's Gospel, James and John, with their mother, ask Jesus for power and influence in His coming kingdom.  The other disciples are indignant.  Jesus soon will ride into Jerusalem and ultimately give His life as a sacrifice for our sins.  He does not need political posturing.  He needs His disciples to witness to the salvation of God's creation, the redemption of the world and the resurrection to eternal life of all who believe in Christ.  Four words help end the posturing: "Not so with you."  We are called to serve one another, Jesus tells His disciples. "Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant."

Power Brokers in the LCMS

Two thousand years later, politics and political posturing are alive and well in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  As in most organizations, there are in the LCMS written and unwritten rules about politics.  Perhaps the most important written rule is Jesus' admonition, "Not so with you."  James and John tried to grab political power for themselves.  Their mother tried to use her influence with Jesus to get power for her sons.  All three were following the political behavior they saw in the rulers of their time. Jesus calls for His followers to be different from the leaders of this world.  We are to be servants, slaves, of one another!

For years the LCMS has watched a small group of people create political power and influence for themselves.  Words like "conservative" and "confessional" have been misused to disguise political machinations.  Words like "balance," "consensus," "affirm" and "concern" have been misused in effort to convey that these power brokers are not just politicians.  These people meet and discuss plans for endorsing and electing candidates who agree with the positions of their group.

Politics in the LCMS Board of Directors

While it is common for politicians in the United States to question the actions and decisions of other leaders, it has not been common in the LCMS-up till now.  Recently, the Rev. Dr. Robert Kuhn, Chairman of Synod's Board of Directors and a recognized leader of the church, wrote the lead article for the inaugural edition of a newsletter that uses as its slogan the phrase, "Building the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  In this article Dr. Kuhn criticizes Synod's Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM):  "Not only is this [CCM] opinion a questionable interpretation of the bylaw, it is detrimental to the welfare of the Synod." The CCM ruling in question clarified that President David Benke cannot be expelled from the Synod because he followed Bylaw 3-07a and obtained the support and permission of his supervisor, President Kieschnick, to pray at Yankee Stadium following 9/11.

It matters very little what opinion the CCM is rendering.  The Chairman of the Board of Directors has no business publicly commenting on their decision.  He has an obligation to express his concerns directly to the members of the CCM-as a fellow servant of Christ, since his current position gives him no supervisory role over the CCM.  Moreover, how is Dr. Kuhn "building the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" when he publicly questions the decision of the Commission on Constitutional Matters?

A Call to Dr. Robert Kuhn

We call upon Dr. Kuhn to apologize for questioning the CCM in print. If Dr. Kuhn will not do this, then we ask him to consider resigning his position as Chairman of Synod's Board of Directors so that he can share his personal political thoughts without abusing the authority of his office.

What is at Stake?

Immediately following our Lord's command to the disciples, "Not so with  you," they leave Jericho and head toward Jerusalem.  Matthew records that two blind men were calling out from the roadside for Jesus.  "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asks them.  They answer, "Lord, we want our sight."  Little do they realize that physical eyesight is nothing compared with the spiritual eyes of faith Jesus will grant them.

Two thousand years later people are still crying out for spiritual sight. They do not know and believe in Jesus as God's Son.  Billions of people need to hear the precious Name of Jesus in our witness, our prayers, songs and teaching.  We hear their cries.  Will we stop political posturing long enough to share the light of Christ with them?

In contrast to political posturing, Jesus First affirms the precious words of Jesus, "Not so with you."  We do NOT ask elected officers of the church to criticize other leaders in the church. Doing so would not show respect to the offices in which our elected leaders serve. We affirm the fact that Jesus calls all people to a life of service. Our elected leaders need to be "servant leaders" who honor and respect the "servant leadership" of others.

May 7, 2003