Christian News, Vol. 41, No. 23, June 10, 2013
Today’s Business – Proposed Resolution 2013 of the LCMS’s 65th Regular Convention to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, July 20-25, 2013 shows that “bureaucratitis” continues to grow in the LCMS. Whereas in former years convention committees considered hundreds of resolutions from LCMS congregations, convention committees now spend a major portion of their time following the specific recommendations of the LCMS president rather than paying much attention to overtures laymen and congregations support. In former year’s convention committees heard from congregation which submitted overtures at open hearing in St. Louis before they formed their resolution. Now such open hearings are not held. Instead committees follow the directive of the LCMS president who appoints all committee and committee chairman. LCMS President Harrison has made sure controversial overtures which show the LCMS is divided will not come up at the convention. A 21st Century Formula of Concord in the Convention Workbook has been declined by a Harrison appointed committee before this convention itself can make a decision.
“Curb the Bureaucracy,” a resolution from Trinity Lutheran Church, New Haven Missouri, submitted to the LCMS’s 2010 convention says in one of its whereas’s: “Professor Kurt Marquart said in a speech he presented at the 2003 Walther Conference at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, where he received a standing ovation: ‘Our tragedy is that this absolute priority of divine truth has become displaced in our synodical life. By what? By organizational concerns. Our disease is, you might say, ‘bureaucratitis.’”
The LCMS refused to publish the overture which documented the long liberal theological record of the majority of the LCMS’s Council of Presidents. CN suggested that other congregations, particularly those in the ACELC, submit the overture to the 2013 convention. No such overture appears in the LCMS’s 2013 Convention Workbook. Congregations and the organized conservatives generally fear to challenge the COP.
“President’s Report, Part 2” on page 16-28 has the “Specific Recommendations” LCMS President Harrison submitted to all LCMS committee members. Harrison’s recommendation for LCMS congregations are twice as long as those of former LCMS President Jerry Kieschnick prior to the 2010 LCMS Convention. The LCMS president selects all committee members and committee chairmen. A former U.S. congressman, who was shocked to learn of this great power of an LCMS president, noted that there would be vigorous protest in the nation if a U.S. president had such power.
Trinity of New Haven petitioned the LCMS’s 2010 convention to elect members of the Commission on Constitutional Matters in a convention rather than giving the LCMS president and COP so much power in appointing them. The congregation also sent an overture to the convention seeking to curb the power of the LCMS president in appointing all committee members and committee chairmen. Both overtures were ignored and the power of the LCMS president only grew. Laymen have been kept uninformed as the bureaucracy and episcopacy grows under those who champion such anti-Walther men as Arthur Carl Piepkorn and Richard Neuhaus.
The number of congregations submitting overtures to an LCMS convention has drastically declined. Few congregations now submit overtures. Interest in doctrine is rapidly fading. Overtures from congregations are discouraged.
The Social Gospel
Controversial matters such as disciplining evolutionists and the supporters of women pastors and violations of the LCMS’s scriptural principles of unionism will not come up at the convention. Social concerns are at the forefront when the major denominations tolerate universalists who do not believe Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. They emphasize the social gospel work, teaching English, and building projects rather than preaching the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, baptizing, communing, etc.
The Wittenberg Project
Harrison told Committee 1: “We need a resolution commending the progress on The Wittenberg Project as a mission for the Missouri Synod and for our partners for 2017.”
Neither the LCMS president’s office, treasurer’s office or LCMS communications would tell Christian News how much money has so far been collected for the Wittenberg Project ever since it began several years ago, how much is now in the treasury for the project and for what the money collected during the last several years has been used. Some claim almost all of the money collected has been used to pay for LCMS officials to travel to Wittenberg and to pay the salary of the director. When a group of 48 Lutherans visited the Wittenberg Project in 2010, Director David Mahsmann, former editor of the Lutheran Witness, was in Chile for missionary training. All the disappointed 48 found was a closed building badly in need of repairs. LCMS Communications told CN that whatever the members of the LCMS need to know about the Wittenberg Project will appear in the Lutheran Witness.
Convention Committee 1 is following Harrison’s recommendation. In Resolution 1-07 it is asking the LCMS convention to resolve “That the LCMS in convention encourage all congregations and individuals within the Synod to support the Wittenberg Project prayerfully and financially. CN’s suggestion is that the Wittenberg Project be used to begin a Lutheran congregation in Wittenberg which teaches that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and to present reasons and exhibits showing that all of Christendom needs another Reformation as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaches in 2017 was turned down. CN has said it is absurd that the director of the Wittenberg Project lives in Berlin many miles from Wittenberg because his wife does not want to live in the small town of Wittenberg.
Lutheran Malaria Initiative
In his report to Committee 2 – President Harrison recommended “a strong finish to Lutheran Malaria Initiative” (p. 18). Following Harrison, Committee 2, in Resolution 2-06 is recommending “That the LCMS encourage a strong finish of LMI, as it concludes as planned on World Malaria Day 2014 (April 25th).” When the drive for Lutheran Malaria Initiative began Harrison, who was then with Lutheran World Mission, was a leading supporter for the LCMS to work with ELCA to collect 75 million to fight Malaria. CN was unable to find out from both ELCA and the LCMS just what percentage each of the two said they would collect. Resolution 2-06 says that “To date, the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI), in partnership with Lutheran World Relief (LWR() and the United Nations Foundation (UNF), has received over seven million dollars from US Lutherans to help educate, treat and prevent malaria deaths in sub-Sahara Africa.” (p. 64).
When Harrison went to Washington, D.C. to lobby the federal government to give money to fight malaria in Africa, David Becker commented in an article titled “Beane Says That the LCMS Is Becoming Enamored with Caesar” (CN, January 21, 2013, p. 1). “It is indeed true that Harrison was absolutely horrible. Totally violating the doctrine of the two kingdoms as taught by Jesus and historic Lutheranism. Harrison in my views actually went far beyond what ELCA and the Roman Catholics do as far as religious lobbying. I think the LCMS should lose its tax exemption based on what Harrison did.”
Enamored With Caesar
Rev. Larry Beane wrote on the Gottesdienst blog (CN, January 21, 2013) I just read through the latest Reporter. I’m concerned that our church body is becoming so enamored with Caesar.
It’s one thing to go to Washington and demand that the state obey the constitution and respect the rights of churches, it’s quite something else for the church to transform itself into a lobbying organization to try to get specific bills passed that would give tax-appropriated funds to the church for its pet projects.
There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution authorizing the federal government to collect tax funds from Americans (and taxes are collected by compulsion) in order to fight disease around the world. That is a very good cause indeed - which is why it should be supported voluntarily, out of love, from “cheerful givers” - not expropriated by compulsion through the state apparatus. Moreover, in case nobody has noticed, Washington is broke. Where is the money going to come from for the American people to support Lutherans fighting malaria? If Christians can disagree about certain appropriation bills in congress, does the LCMS leadership have the right to lobby for those bills?
It may make for some good photo ops for our leaders to be seen in the Presence of Senators and Congressmen and in the shadow of Columned Marble Walls - but let’s not forget that our Lord’s Kingdom is “not of this world.”
It is one thing to advocate for protecting human life. Of course, nothing is ever addressed about black-ops and torture and drones and provocative and imperious blowback-ridden foreign policy and the military-industrial complex. It is one thing to advocate for the natural right to private property, though the church never has anything to say about the absolutely fraud-based social programs paid for by morally (and literally) bankrupt ponzi schemes - not to mention the unconscionable practice of devaluing the currency through the federal reserve system - which openly violates Scripture. It is one thing to defend human dignity and human liberty, but the church utters not one peep about the NDAA that allows the president to arrest anyone - including citizens - without trial, without due process, without the right to a lawyer - and hold them in secret prisons indefinitely. Similarly, the church seems to have nothing to say when it comes to the Orwellian surveillance society we now live under - a system that has been used by governments to crush Christianity when the church became the opponent of state worship.
When it comes to such matters, the cat seems to get the LCMS’s tongue. It seems that the church will not make any statement unless it is cleared by its own GOP gatekeepers.
The church should not be shilling for the Republican Party (or any party), nor should she be so enamored of being seen as important in the eyes of the world. The state has a pretty abysmal record when it comes to dealing with the Bride of Christ - and coziness with the state has resulted in chaos in the Lutheran world.
Every state church (and many Lutheran churches were) has become apostate - even to the point where faithful Christians are enduring persecution at the hands of government bureaucrats. This is what happens when you lie down with dogs.
The church ought to understand better than any other institution the pitfalls of dancing to Caesar’s tune and cozying up to state power. John F. Kennedy summed it up best when he said: “In the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding on the back of the tiger ended up inside.”
Maybe I should just toss the Reporter into the trash when the next one comes. Posted by Rev. Larry Beane
Koinonia Project and CPH
Harrison asked Committee 3 “Life Together” to “Prepare a strong resolution supporting the Koinonia Project” (19) and “Commend CPH for the resources they have produced” (p. 20).
Resolution 3-01, “To Expand the Koinonia Project” (p. 69) says: “Resolved, That the continued participation of the Council of Presidents, as well as that of the theological faculties of our seminaries, colleges, and universities by encouraged.”
CN has often shown that under the Koinonia Project there is plenty of room for evolutionists such as Matthew Becker, the hundreds associated with Jesus First, who support women pastors, charismatics, who speak in tongues and liberals who reject the inerrancy of the Bible, universalists, who refuse to confess that Christianity is the only saving faith. Under the Koinonia Project the only person denied Holy Communion is someone who files charges of false doctrine vs. an evolutionist on the LCMS clergy roster.
Committee 3 in Resolution 3-18 is asking the convention to “commend Concordia Publishing House for the resources it has produced, its faithfulness to the Lutheran Confessions, and its support for the Synod’s churches, schools, and families” (82) – While CN has commended CPH for publishing some good orthodox material, CN has also noted that at times CPH publishes and recommends several volumes by the liberal German theologian Albrecht Peters and promotes books by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who denied the resurrection of Jesus Christ and promoted demythologizing of the Bible. CPH also promotes the ESV which undermines direct messianic prophecy and the deity of Jesus Christ.
The International Lutheran Conference and Alister McGrath
Harrison asked Committee 4 to present a resolution “supporting the International Lutheran Conference” (23). Harrison’s appointed committee Four in resolution 4-04 is asking the LCMS convention to resolve: “That we give thanks to God for the International Conference on Confessional Leadership held near Atlanta in the fall of 2012 (with generous support from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, as well as from the Lutheran Church Extension Fund), which brought together over 120 Lutheran leaders from around the world for edification and encouragement.” The LCMS repeatedly said the 120 Lutheran leaders represented 20 million Lutherans. The LCMS would not tell CN if any of the 20 million were in the Lutheran World Federation. Neither Thrivent nor the LCMS would release the cost of the conference. The chief speaker on Reformation Day 2012 was Dr. Alister McGrath, an Anglican who supports evolution, women pastors, and undermines the scriptural doctrine of justification by faith alone. McGrath was highly praised by Harrison, the CTCR, and some of the LCMS’s organized conservatives. CN published an open letter by LCMS theologian Matthew Becker commending McGrath for his support of evolution. CN also published essays by Dr. John Warwick Montgomery and Dr. Craig Parton showing that McGrath undermines the scriptural doctrine of justification by faith alone. Scott Murray’s Committee 4, following Harrison, expressed no concern for having McGrath serve as the keynote speaker on Reformation Day.
In his report Harrison made no recommendation about Overture 4-71 calling for a 21st Century Formula of Concord. Committee 4 in Resolution 4-16 DECLINED Overture 4-71 “To Produce a 21st Century Formula of Concord.” The only reason given is: “Not necessary.”
When CN attempted to present reasons and documentation showing why a 21st Century Formula of Concord and Reformation was necessary, Dr. Scott Murray told CN that CN would not be permitted to present these reasons and documentation. The 21st Century Formula of Concord recommended that disciplinary action be taken against those who promote evolution. Committee 4 in Resolution 4-15 is recommending the LCMS “To Reaffirm Synod’s Position on Creation.” It is not making any recommendation that evolutionists be removed from the LCMS after proper evangelical discipline. The LCMS has repeatedly reaffirmed its position on creation but has never removed an evolutionist from the LCMS.
Concordia University System
Harrison urged Committee 5 to “Prepare a resolution giving thanks to God and extolling the positive elements of our Concordia University System (CUS). There are many.” (23) Resolutions 5-01 “To Encourage Continued Faithful Witness to the Concordia University System” asks the LCMS to resolve “That we commend the CUS institutions for their faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and adherence to the teachings of Holy Scripture, especially with regard to cultural challenges faced by their students.” Nothing is said about removing religion and science professors who are now teaching in CUS schools that women may be pastors and God used evolution to form man and the world. A survey showed that hardly any schools in the CUS insist that all professors affirm that evolution and women serving as pastors is contrary to Scripture. Here LCMS evolutionist Matthew Becker, who taught in CUS schools, told the truth. Evolution is being taught as fact in CUS schools says evolutionist Becker who is now at Valparaiso University.
Resolution 6-17 is declining Overture 6-11 “To Make Available International Center Salaries and Benefits”, claiming it “Violates Missouri Law.” Any member of a congregation can find out what his pastor is being paid. There is no reason why members of the LCMS should not know what church officers and executives, whom they are asked to support, are being paid. Officials should be paid according to the district salary scale for pastors in their district. Yet some of these bureaucrats get paid several times the salary of the average pastor. The LCMS’s “unelected ruler,” CPH’s Paul McCain’s salary is $186,000 a year plus benefits. Harrison’s is about $171,000 a year plus benefits. Why should these church officials be paid far more than the average pastor when the LCMS says the pastoral ministry is the highest calling? There should be full financial disclosure.
Some 50 overtures will not be submitted to the LCMS convention. Among them are Ov. 2-10 “To Speak Boldly re Employment of Women in Military Combat,” Ov. 3-26 “To Reject Use of NIV in Catechism,” Ov. 4-03 “To Evaluate Fellowship with AALC,” Ov. 4-17 “To State that Women Are Not to Have Authority Over Men in the Church,” Ov. 4-20A “To Reaffirm Scriptural Teaching of Women in Congregation and Synod Offices,” Ov. 4-47 “To Clarify Synod Position re Joint Prayer with Those Who Deny Christ,” Ov. 4-49 “To Recognize It is Contrary to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions to Join in Public Prayer with Those Who Deny Jesus Christ is the Only Way to Heaven,” Ov. 5-50 “To Proclaim Boldly Jesus to the World.” Such “controversial” overtures are being referred to the President of the LCMS, CTCR, Council of Presidents or CCM .The Harrison administration wants to keep them off the floor of the convention. The bureaucrats will take care of them without any voice from the laymen and average pastor. Big brother knows best. Bureaucratitis Grows in the LCMS. The pro-Loehe, hierarchilists, anti-Walther Congregationalist, and liberal faction are winning.