'Jesus First' Says Kuhn
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?
"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