Resolution 7-17A “To
Affirm Synod’s Official Position on Church and Ministry” reaffirmed
Walther’s “Church and Ministry,” as the official position of the LCMS
at its 2001 Convention.One of
the resolves reads: “Resolved, that all pastors, professors, teachers of
the Church and congregations honor and uphold the resolutions of the Synod
as regards the official position of our Synod on Church and Ministry and
teach in accordance with them.”
As of this date, we are appalled to report that the two
LCMS Seminaries, the Council of District Presidents, and the LCMS Praesidium
have not agreed in public with the 2001 LCMS Convention that Walther’s
“Church and Ministry” teaches the only official polity endorsed by the
Synod for all LCMS congregations.Walther’s
“Church and Ministry” teaches a clear Biblical basis for congregational
polity instead of Episcopal or corporate hierarchy.The spread of Romanism and clergy hierarchy must be stopped in the
As a new faculty member at Lutheran High School North
in 1969, I learned that 33 members of the faculty were supporting Dr. John
Tietjen while I was one of two who supported President Jacob Preus.The assistant principal, who was earning his doctorate in theology
here at the Seminary, used to come over to my classroom and tell me why the
Libs were right and Preus was wrong.I
told him that when the lay people in the LCMS found out the Seminary
doesn’t believe the Bible is the inspired word of God they would be fired.He told me that in 10 years all those lay people would all agree with
the professors at the St. Louis Seminary.
The people who led the 1974 Seminary Walk-Out of 45
professors and 450 students, and led 300 congregations and 100,000 members
of the LCMS into what is now the ELCA, were not prepared for the resistance
they encountered from all those informed LCMS lay people working through
congregational voters’ assemblies.It
was those voters’ assemblies that returned
to the Word of God and back on track.
Now, in 2003, those who are once again trying to
overthrow the authority of God’s Word in the LCMS have learned their
lesson.If they can silence the
congregational voters’ assemblies they will have full control over the
Today, 90% of the LCMS lay people have little or no
information about what is happening in their church.“Put me out doc and wake me up when it’s over.”
Wherever clergy authority becomes a priority in the
Church, the word of God takes second place.The two major splinter groups in the Synod have the same goals,
clergy control, only with different techniques.
The “Jesus First/Church Growth/Pastoral Leadership”
axis wants CEO/Pastors running praise band/entertainment based
congregations.The other faction
is those who want to return to pre-Walther European Lutheran Hierarchy also
know as Hyper-Euro-Lutherans.They
are the I’m-a-bishop/ordination-gives-me-special-grace/Episcopal
Hierarchy-is- God’s-way axis.Does
it really matter if CEO’s or Bishops enslave the lay people?The effect is still the same.
At times the arguments between these two factions is
rather amusing.They are usually
arguing about who is following proper procedures, by-laws, rulings, and
practice rather than God’s Word.Their
goals are almost always the same, elect the right man and he will do the
right thing.However, the goal
should be to only elect men who will follow the Bible.
There is nothing like a good old fashion “Whose in
charge” clergy fight.
And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he
asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among
themselves, who should be the greatest.35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If
any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of
Right after Christ consecrated the Lord’s Supper we
read in Luke , “And there was also a
strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship
over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called
This happened again and again.
Luther said he would have followed the Pope if the Pope
would follow God’s Word. Nearly every time we see a usurpation of
authority in the church the second shoe is a redefinition of God and/or His
After writing, “How To Keep and/or Start Your Own
LCMS Church” (sent to every delegate at the 2001 Convention to promote the
adoption of 7-17A) I keep getting phone calls from lay people.They ask me what they can do to keep their voters’ assemblies.I then do a little diagnostic test and ask if their pastor thinks he
is a chairman of the board directors, loves praise bands, and promotes
contemporary worship or if he thinks he is the archbishop and a holy guy
with a sacrament of ordination.
In either case, the scenarios are the same: the pastor
wants to reduce the number of voters meetings to one or two a year and
nearly everything is decided in closed meetings of the board directors or
the elders.Of course,
everything is designed to make the church grow.The CEO’s will tell their members that if they object to their
innovations, they are against evangelism, growth, the business plan, and are
divisive.The bishops will tell
them that they are against God.
When Martin Stephan led the Lutheran immigrants from
in 1837 who were to form the LCMS in this country, he had them all convinced
that he was the chief mediator of the Means of Grace.Without him, they wouldn’t have a church, valid sacraments, or
salvation.God’s grace came to
them, through him.
In rebellion to this teaching Walther wrote “Church
and Ministry.”I quote: "For
when our Savior Christ says, 'Tell it to the church,' He by these words
commands the church [local congregation] to be the supreme judge.From this it follows that not only one state, namely that of the
bishops, but also other pious and learned persons from all states are to be
appointed as judges and have decisive votes."("Church and Ministry" C.F.W. Walther, 1851, CPH 1987, page
is to be understood in the sense not only that the church has the power to
excommunicate impenitent sinners but also that the congregation has the
supreme authority in all church matters such as reproof, church discipline,
divisions, judging doctrine, and appointing pastors, to mention only these
things." ("Church and Ministry" C.F.W. Walther, 1851, CPH
1987, page 343)
when a certain school principal in Brunswick held an erroneous doctrine and
among other things also rejected the Formula of Concord, Chemnitz presented the matter to the whole
congregation as to the final and supreme judge." ("Church and
Ministry" C.F.W. Walther, 1851, CPH 1987, Page 343)
This is what the LCMS agreed to in Resolution 7-17A but
the District Offices, the COP, the St. Louis Head Quarters, the current
Synodical President, and the two Seminaries are not saying Amen in public.
There appears to be no end to the schemes, methodology,
paradigms, resolutions, and reorganization now taking place at the
Synodical, District, and Congregational level in the LCMS with the goal of
reducing, nullifying, and quashing the authority of congregational voters’
laity are not a lower order of Christians. We read 1Peter 2:9 “But
ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar
people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out
of darkness into his marvelous light.”
the LCMS only the congregation can claim to be the true visible church on
earth.In Matthew 18:17, when
disputes arise in the church Christ says: “Tell
it unto the church.”He
doesn’t say “Tell it to the clergy.”
In all matters of business and practice the Voters have
the final authority.In matters
of doctrine the Voters have the final authority in judging if the pastor and
anyone else in the church is following the Bible and the Lutheran
Confessions.See the “Sheep
Judge Their Shepherds” by C. F. W. Walther.
But, as I said, the schemes to undo this God-given
authority never stop.Recent
appointees of the Synodical President to the Synod’s Commission on
Constitutional Matters have made a series of rulings designed to usurp
congregational authority and to centralize power in the office of the LCMS
According to these rulings the Synodical President
cannot be charged with false doctrine while he is in office nor can those
who carry out duties under his direction or with his permission.On January 20-21, 2003, while affirming the importance of
LCMS Convention Resolutions, the Synod's CCM reversed Walther's teaching on
"Church and Ministry."The
CCM ruled that no LCMS pastor could be removed from office if he is
following orders from his superior even though Walther taught that the
Voters' Assembly is supreme.
if the Ecclesiastical Supervisor is wrong?The CCM says it doesn't matter because the pastor in question was
simply following orders.Now
LCMS Congregations are supposed to accept the principle of accountability to
superiors as immunity for their pastors’ actions, a principle that was
rejected at the Nuremberg Trials.
writes: "I do not hesitate to say that as important as the Leipzig
Debate of 1519 was for the cause of the Reformation, so important was the
Altenburg Debate (1841) for the development of the polity of the LutheranChurch of the West." (Mundinger,
"Government in Missouri" CPH, St. Louis, p. 114)
was simply following Luther’s writing titled: "That a Christian
Assembly or Congregation Has the Right and Power to Judge all Teaching and
to Call, Appoint, and Dismiss Teachers, Established and Proven by
Scripture" as the official structure for its congregations.(Luther's Works Vol. 39:305-314)
In the Lutheran Confessions where we read:
churches should not be robbed of their power to judge doctrine, and all
things should be judged according to Holy Scripture as the Word of
God." ("Church and Ministry" C.F.W. Walther, 1851, CPH 1987,
page 333 [Trig p. 518])
quote the Lutheran Confessions to teach their position on congregational
Walther regularly speaks
about the Congregation as the final tribunal.He also states the Congregation is the possessor of all church power
in Theses VI and VII.As the
possessor of all church power, the local congregation must be divinely
instituted by God.He regularly
quotes the Lutheran Confessions on this point as follows: “In 1 Cor. 3, 6,
Paul makes ministers equal, and teaches that THE CHURCH IS ABOVE THE
MINISTERS.” (Treatise, Concordia Triglotta, page 507, par. 11)
" . . . the keys belong
not to the person of one particular man, but to the Church, as many most
clear and firm arguments testify. For Christ, speaking concerning the keys
adds, Matt. 18, 19: If two or three of you shall agree on earth, etc.
THEREFORE HE GRANTS THE KEYS PRINCIPALLY AND IMMEDIATELY TO THE CHURCH, . .
. Likewise CHRIST GIVES SUPREME AND FINAL JURISDICTION TO THE CHURCH, WHEN
HE SAYS: TELL IT UNTO THE CHURCH.] (Treatise, Concordia Triglotta Page 511
because 7-17A was adopted, doesn’t mean it is being followed.The current Synodical President has shown no sign of making the
District Presidents and Seminary Professors practice Walther’s “Church
and Ministry.”The 2003
Epiphany issue of "Logia" published an article by Dr. David Scaer,
Professor of Systematic Theology at Fort Wayne titled, "Missouri's
Identity Crisis: Rootless in America."
blames the LCMS "bronze-agers" and those who love the Brief
Statement for passing 7-17A at the 2001 LCMS Convention and making Walther's
"Church and Ministry" the doctrinal position of the LCMS.
warns that Resolution 7-17A, which reaffirmed Walther's “Church and
Ministry” as the official polity of the LCMS, will be used to promote
anti-clericalism, confuses the definition of minister and ministry, and
lives in the past.Commenting
about 7-17A, Scaer states, “A theology that lives within the past is
reluctant to examine itself, because it assumes that in any controversy it
was and therefore is right. Historicism
replaces theology."He also
claims that 2001 Resolution 7-11 “To move Property Ownership Bylaw to
Constitution" reaffirms that the Synod is more of a corporation than a
church by answering that it has no equity in a congregation's property.”
is wrong with the laity owning their own church property? Scaer answers:
"It allows for a bizarre congregationalism in which any number of
people can constitute a legal meeting and can deprive others [like the
District Office] not in attendance of church property."In the Catholic Church the diesis owns all the deeds.Is this what Scaer wants?
is the Missouri Synod, not the Wisconsin Synod.The Missouri Synod is not “Church.”Only the congregations are church. "The name of this corporation
shall be 'Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod'" according to 2001 Handbook
page138, Articles of Incorporation.
is going to happen at future LCMS Conventions if the laity continue to have
less and less voice in the doctrine and practice of their Synod? The
best barometer is what is happening within the largest district, with nearly
10% of the LCMS, the Michigan District.
Michigan is in the vanguard of implementing
the church growth, leadership-training model and the practice of
Michigan District President is also the Chairman of the Council of District
2003 Michigan District Convention scheduled three 20 minutes sessions for
floor committees and resolutions for the entire three-day convention.The District President is given the title of CEO.On Monday morning, it took 15 of the 20 minutes just to read the
resolutions.The 500 plus
delegates at the convention adopted 8 resolutions in 5 minutes with
thunderous and virtually unanimous voice votes.The keypads weren't necessary.
last three resolutions contained the words "unprinted overture" at
the top.In other words, the
delegates voted three times to decline three successive resolutions that
they had not read.Two
individuals did go to the microphones and asked to see what they were.After the floor committee chairman denied their request, the
convention votes to decline the three resolutions were nearly unanimous.
asked Christian News Editor, Rev. Herman Otten, if he had heard of LCMS
Conventions approving resolutions that they were not allowed to be read.Otten stated that this was how resolutions X1 and X2 were passed at
the 1965 Detroit Convention on the recommendation of Dr. Patty Wolbrecht.The Libs, who later led the Walk-Out, did everything they could to
keep people from knowing what they were voting for.
of the Michigan District delegates are probably offended when state and
local proposals are printed out in their November civic election ballots.
said that when clergy authority becomes a priority, the Word of God takes
second place.In the 60’s the effort was to replace the Bible.It now appears there is an effort by LCMS innovators to redefine the
Trinity.Let me give some
The effort for
innovation by the Church Growth CEO pastors led them to invent their own
designer creeds for church services.The
1998 LCMS Convention adopted a resolution requiring that only the three
ecumenical Creeds be confessed in LCMS worship services.
Hyper-Euro-Lutherans speak about the pastor as Jesus.Their claim of a spiritual transformation through the sacrament of
ordination makes them tantamount to living communion wafers.Episcopal hierarchy is claimed to be God’s order for the church and
will supposedly bring peace to the LCMS.
a clear attempt to silence all opposition, the
October 22, 2003
letter from the Atlantic District to me reads “This
letter is a stern and forthright warning that any conference items or public
statements that call Dr. Benke a unrepentant sinner will lead to
ecclesiastical proceeding according to Scriptural process and the Handbook
and Bylaws of the LCMS.”
The Atlantic District is threatening anyone in the
Synod with expulsion who claims that Benke sinned by praying with Moslems.
President Kieschnick gave his public approval and
support for Atlantic District President David Benke’s prayer with Moslems,
Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, etc. in “A Prayer for
” in September 2001.It is not
OK to pray with those who don’t believe that Jesus is God.
Atlantic District claims that the Dispute Resolution Panel speaks for the
Synod.The Panel claims
the Bible and Confessions are important but they had to follow the
Constitution and Bylaws, which is why they agreed with Benke.However if they had followed the Constitution they would have only
followed the Bible.
Panel has clearly violated the Constitution of The Lutheran Church-Missouri
Synod and sinned against the Word of God, since Article VIII of the LCMS
Constitution states "All matters of doctrine and conscience shall be
decided ONLY by the Word of God."
In a communication with a layman from
Benke wrote, "The Muslim God is
also the true God (there IS only ONE TRUE GOD, right?) but worshipping
[worshipped] in an inadequate way.”
entire controversy is rooted in the fact that Benke and the Atlantic
District don’t have the same definition of God as most of the other
Districts in the LCMS.
my reply to the Atlantic District, I asked them to tell me if they agree
with Benke that Moslems also worship the true God.Thus far they have not answered.
Doctor Waldo Werning sent a copy of his book “Health
and Healing for the LCMS (pages 33-34)”
to every 2001 LCMS Convention Delegate.He redefined the Trinity as experiencing God in a three-fold manner,
three manners of being, three levels of reality, three forms of address, and
three ways in which God has revealed himself.
This is a contradiction of the Athanasian Creed, which
states that anyone who divides God’s substance is eternally damned.When I published my objections, the South Wisconsin District
President defended Werning and claims that I have broken the Eighth
Commandment.The Texas District
President also defends Werning’s false doctrine and is also filing charges
against Rev. Al Loeschman because Loeschman published my objections on the
President Kieschnick accepted Werning’s charges
against me.He wrote that they
were considering my expulsion from the Synod.After a year of adjudication the Praesidium dropped the charges but
President Kieschnick refuses to answer any questions about God.In other words, anyone can be charged with breaking the Eighth
Commandment for telling the truth about God in the LCMS.
At this time the President and the Praesidium have
written that they will not answer any of my questions about God.Kieschnick claims the right to adjudicate the case but refuses to
explain anything about God related to the case.
The Michigan District Convention was presented with a
Resolution titled, "To Clearly
Confess in the Public Realm the True God and Atonement of Christ for the
Sins of all Mankind."However
they defeated an amendment to the Resolution by 47 to 53, which stated,
“As confessed in the Athanasian Creed.”This took place immediately after President Kieschnick told the
convention that he had an inner fire to save the lost and that the Synod had
to be careful not to spend to much time on the over purification of
If the LCMS lay
people don’t get involved and take some responsibility for the doctrine
and practice of their congregations, districts and Synod, they are going to
lose everything they won back in 1973 and 1974.
I went to the
funeral of a long time friend, Al Briel, in Toledo on October 28, 2003.He was 82.We met at St. PaulLutheranChurch in Evansville, IN, in the summer of 1974 while I was an Assistant Professor at Southern
Indiana State University.He was
the Chairman of the Evangelism Committee, and we used to make house calls
together.He had served in all
kinds of positions at St. Paul.
He was a CPA,
survived by three sons, and his a wife, Veleda, whom my wife calls the salt
of the earth.
It just turned
out that this average fellow had been elected by the 1973 LCMS Convention to
be on the Board of Control at the St. Louis Seminary.There were eleven votes on the Board.Al cast one of the six votes, a one-vote majority, that led to the
suspension of St. Louis Seminary President John Tietjen, which then led to
the Walk-Out at the Seminary in 1974.
If Al hadn’t
cast that vote, I wouldn’t be an LCMS pastor because liberals would
control the LCMS and the LCMS would be a part of the ELCA. That one man,
casting one vote, changed the course of millions of Lutheran lives.Who knew all this would happen?
discovered that he had more friends and more enemies than he ever imagined.
Al kept telling
me to go into the ministry.
later, I was a student at Fort Wayne and he had already moved to Fort Wayne and had become the Seminary’s
Business Manager.There is so
much more I could say.
about 75 mourners at his funeral in Toledo.He moved there to be with
one of his sons for the last two years of his life.Whoever heard of Al Briel, whose vote changed millions of lives?
For all the
work and service Al did for his church, he never said, “Look what I
did.”However, Al was quick to
tell people what Jesus Christ has done for all of us.Al loved leading people to Christ.One of his houseguests became a Christian, married a Lutheran Pastor,
and now lives in Japan.
people who worked for, struggled, and dedicated themselves to Christ’s
work have helped direct the history of the LCMS.
It was Walther
who recognized that in America the energy and dedication of lay
people could be harnessed and united through congregational voters’
It is through
the devotion of an army of unpaid workers, at times in the face of
opposition from misdirected clergy, as Al had to face, that God has
continued to bless His church.
Al now has his
reward, the gift of salvation through faith in Christ alone.
continue to raise up lay people who have a love for God’s Word and pure
doctrine, a desire to serve their church, and the courage to commit
themselves to the task at hand, as He did in Al Briel.
Consequences of Action Taken Upon Approval of Ecclesiastical Supervisor
(02-2296; 02-2320) http://lcms.org/ccm/min012003.pdf
Opinion: The Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod do not allow or
contemplate the expulsion of a member of the Synod on the basis of an
action taken with the full knowledge and approval of the appropriate
a thorough treatment of this issue, see Opinion 02-2309."
the same ruling the CCM affirmed the importance of doctrinal resolutions
they also reversed 7-17A.On
2003, the CCM also wrote that doctrinal resolutions of the LCMS that were
adopted by more than a two-thirds majority are the official position of
the Synod as follows:
Application of 2001 Resolution 3-07A (02-2294) http://lcms.org/ccm/min012003.pdf
"Doctrinal statements, as compared to resolutions, set forth in
greater detail the position of the Synod, particularly in controverted
matters. Doctrinal statements must be subjected to the more rigorous
procedure provided by Bylaw 1.09 c. That bylaw requires, among other
procedures, adoption by the Synod in convention and ratification by a
two-thirds majority vote of the Synod's congregations. Bylaw 1.09 c 7
states that 'such adopted and ratified doctrinal statements shall be
regarded as the position of Synod' and, as with doctrinal resolutions,
are to 'be honored and upheld . . . until such time as the Synod amends
or repeals them.'"
Walther regularly speaks about the
Congregation as the final tribunal.He also states the Congregation is the possessor of all church
power in Theses VI and VII. As the possessor of all church power the
local congregation must be divinely instituted by God. He regularly
quotes the Lutheran Confessions on this point as follows: “In 1 Cor.
3, 6, Paul makes ministers equal, and teaches that THE CHURCH IS ABOVE
THE MINISTERS. Hence superiority or lordship over the Church or the rest
of the ministers is not ascribed to Peter [in preference to other
apostles]. For he says thus: All things are yours, whether Paul, or
Apollos, or Cephas, i.e., let neither the other ministers nor Peter
assume for themselves lordship or superiority over the Church; let them
not burden the Church with traditions; let not the authority of any
avail more than the Word [of God]; let not the authority of Cephas be
opposed to the authority of the other apostles, as they reasoned at that
time: "Cephas, who is an apostle of higher rank, observes this;
therefore, both Paul and the rest ought to observe this." Paul
removes this pretext from Peter, and denies [Not so, says Paul, and
makes Peter doff his little hat, namely, the claim] that his authority
is to be preferred to the rest or to the Church. (Treatise, Concordia
Triglotta, page 507, par. 11)
"...the keys belong not to the person of one particular man,
but to the Church, as many most clear and firm arguments testify. For
Christ, speaking concerning the keys adds, Matt. 18, 19: If two or three
of you shall agree on earth, etc. THEREFORE HE GRANTS THE KEYS
PRINCIPALLY AND IMMEDIATELY TO THE CHURCH, just as also for this reason
the Church has principally the right of calling. [For just as the
promise of the Gospel belongs certainly and immediately to the entire
Church, so the keys belong immediately to the entire Church, because the
keys are nothing else than the office whereby this promise is
communicated to everyone who desires it, just as it is actually manifest
that the Church has the power to ordain ministers of the Church. And
Christ speaks in these words: Whatsoever ye shall bind, etc., and
indicates to whom He has given the keys, namely, to the Church: Where
two or three are gathered together in My name. Likewise CHRIST GIVES
SUPREME AND FINAL JURISDICTION TO THE CHURCH, WHEN HE SAYS: TELL IT UNTO
THE CHURCH.] Therefore it is necessary that in these passages Peter is
the representative of the entire assembly of the apostles, and for this
reason they do not accord to Peter any prerogative or superiority, or
lordship [which he had, or was to have had, in preference to the other
apostles. (Treatise, Concordia Triglotta Page 511 par. 24-25)
"The Congregation, Not the Pastor, Has
Supreme and Final Jurisdiction.--In according with the Scriptures (see
texts quoted in previous paragraph)[These passages are printed at the end of this article after the
say:--"CHRIST GIVES SUPREMEAND
FINAL JURISDICTION to the church when he says: "Tell it unto the
church'" (Smalcald Articles, Of the Power and Primacy of the Pope.Trigl.,p.511.)("Pastoral
Theology", John Fritz, CPH 1932, page 314)
“While it is true that only The Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran
Confessions are the basis of membership in or expulsion from the Synod,
it is also true that the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod represent
the collective study and will of the members of the Synod as to what the
Scriptures say and how its members covenant together and teach and
practice its doctrines.”
President Benke has also defended his view that Allah is the true
in an exchange with Mr. Poholman as follows:
Muslim God is also the true God (there IS only ONE TRUE GOD, right?) but
worshipping [worshipped] in an inadequate way.In other words, the Muslim is worshipping God but understanding
God's LAW (and there is really no religion like Islam when it comes to
the Law.)- what's missing?The
GOSPEL.JESUS as the Son of
God.Jesus as the Savior of
the World.The death and
resurrection of Christ for the world.That's what the witness is about when it's given "in the
Precious Name of Jesus" which is how I ended my prayer."