09 August 2008

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

When a Church holds and professes the very truth of God in all its parts, and has the pure sacraments, no man has a right to leave it because of any human defects which may exist in its actual state. He must labor and pray to correct them; must apply the Church's own principles to remove her own evils; must reform within the Church. A man who remains within a particular Church is thereby pledged to its officially confessed faith, but not to anything beyond. If a Church has the pure Word and Sacraments it has the essential means of correcting its actual practical defects; and the forming of a new denomination, simply as an easier mode of securing any human ends, however important, is schism. - C. P. Krauth, Documentary History of the General Council, p. 357


Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Without seeking to get into strife, could you offer some exegesis of this passage as you understand it?

William Weedon said...

I'm not sure what you're asking, Fr. Gregory. It seems quite straight-forward. Obviously, Krauth and the General Council went a different way from the LCMS. They didn't insist on perfection BEFORE fellowship was extended; they acknowledged that points of tension that needed addressing could exist, but as long as the constituent bodies were open to addressing them, then the pure confession of the faith was sufficient to allow fellowship and one could trust the Word of God to bring all into unity on those matters where one found dispute. Does that answer your question?

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Thanks, Pr. Weedon. It doesn't, exactly; and your reply raises another. I'll try to be more explicit--again, not wanting to get into a back-and-forth, but simply wanting to understand.

1. What do you think Krauth means by "Church" here--a parish, a denomination, what? That's key to applying the whole rest of what he says.
2. If this doesn't represent the LCMS view, why do you cite it?

(I may have some follow-ups. In no way do I want to "stir the pot". I just want to understand what you think Krauth is saying...)

William Weedon said...

In the context of expounding the Galesburg Rule, he meant the various bodies that comprised the General Council (various ministerium and Synods). These he refers to as "church." So, transparochial, to use your term.

In its historical context, Missouri declined to participate in the formation of the GC because she thought that any poor practice meant not taking the doctrine seriously. The reason I cite it should be clear: Missouri's position was untenable then (a bit of a fiction - the famous quote from Pieper you liked so much, but which was never really so) and now she CLEARLY has diversity of practice ranging from good to quite bad in her midst. Rather than leaving her, Krauth's counsel (from a century ago) would be to stay and seek to heal her through the means that are preserved in her midst: her confession of faith.

Krauth calls for faithfulness to the Evangelical Lutheran Church which is a reality beyond the various jurisdictions in which Lutherans currently subsist. Missouri seems to recognize this reality also in liturgically referring to the Evangelical Lutheran Church and not to herself, which is but a jurisdiction within that greater reality.

William Weedon said...

Various ministeria. Sorry!

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Thank you, Pr. Weedon.

I take it, then, that "Church" here means bodies like the LCMS, the ELCA, and the former Missouri/Wisconsin association whose name escapes me.

On the quote from Pieper: I guess I have no reason to say that it wasn't so, at a given time. It wasn't diversity per se, but diversity in doctrine he rejected; and there certainly seems to have been a time when those of a different doctrinal view were removed from the Missouri Synod. (I think that's why the "Statement of 44" controversy loomed so large--it was a departure from former LCMS history.)

What I'm puzzled by is this: if "Church" is an assembly of congregations (presumably iure humano, right?), how does one cash out the phrase "a Church holds and professes the very truth of God in all its parts, and has the pure sacraments"?

In other words, how do you understand a trans-parish body's holding and professing the very truth of God in all its parts, and having the pure sacraments? Is it a matter
(a) simply of saying the right things; or
(b) of saying the right things and enforcing them in practice; or
(c) saying the right things and having at least a handfull of places where they're also practiced?

I haven't read the ELCA's constitution. Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that its constitution says the right things wrt the Book of Concord and the sacraments. In that case, with everything else remaining as it now is, would you counsel an ELCA pastor who does it all right at his parish to remain in that body?

And here's a second question: Given the "Wichita Amendment to the Augsburg Confession," adopted by the LCMS in the 80's, would you say that the LCMS "holds and professes the very truth of God in all its parts" and (despite officially-sanctioned lay administration of the sacraments) still "has the pure sacraments"? If so, what would constitute circumstances under which that is no longer true?

Forgive me if these questions probe. I'm simply trying to understand where you draw the lines...

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Now I remember. The "Synodical Conference," right?

William Weedon said...

Yup. I'll get back to you tomorrow, God willing. Tonight's already booked.

William Weedon said...

Question 1: Given Krauth's own personal history (eventually breaking from General Synod and helping to form the General Council), his words should not be taken to endorse staying in a jurisdiction where the Symbols are in fact being altered (remember Definite Platform); but he did advocate a great deal of patience where the Symbols are not being faithfully practiced. He believed that the patient and faithful teaching of the Word of God and its pure confession would not eventually be without fruit. I think it was Sasse who said that it was a mark of sects that they have do everything "right" all at once - they have no time for the working of the Holy Spirit. Has the ELCA renounced the Symbols in the same manner as was advocated in the General Synod? I think not, but whether she is beyond recall is a decision that the Lutherans who remain within that big tent need to prayerfully determine. Can the Symbols exercise their corrective function there?

As for Wichita, it did not change the doctrinal standard; it contradicted the doctrinal standard. I am currently in the process of dissent (with a fellow pastor) inviting repentance on the point that was there expounded. In patience, we'll see how that turns out.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Sorry it's taken me a while to reply.

You asked, "Has the ELCA renounced the Symbols in the same manner as was advocated in the General Synod? I think not, but whether she is beyond recall is a decision that the Lutherans who remain within that big tent need to prayerfully determine. Can the Symbols exercise their corrective function there?"

So I take it you would say that one should leave a Lutheran body if:
a) that body renounces the Symbols; or
b) if the Symbols can no longer exercise their corrective function there.

Is that right? If so, how does one determine when b) has occurred?

To use the Wichita example, supposing that you and your fellow pastor pursue the matter through officialdom, and they say, "No; we do not think that the Wichita resolution violates AC 14," would that be a basis for your leaving the LCMS, under case b) above?

William Weedon said...

Fr. Gregory,

The nature of reaching b is obviously one in which people will have disagreements. And I am well aware of the frog in the boiling pot syndrome. If this line is crossed, what about that? If that, then the next? The attempt to address Wichita by the SMP (which is what sold it) remains a tad ambiguous.

The faculties have both written regarding the need to address the matter and that is what prompted our dissent - a desire to encourage and speak in favor of the faculties' insights. Here is what we have offered:

Study Document Regarding Preaching and Administration of the Sacraments by Men Who Have
Not Been Publicly Called to and Placed in the Office of the Ministry
(1989 Convention Resolution 3-05B, 2001 Convention Resolution 3-08B, etc.)
In accordance with Synod Bylaw 1.8.2 we present to the fellowship of peers for study, prayer,
correction, and discussion this study document expressing our reasons for concern over the Synod's
current position regarding preaching and administration of the sacraments by men who have not been
publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry. We ask for your prayers, thoughts, and
comments in return.
1. In certain situations today, the Synod approves of preaching and administration of the
sacraments by men who have not been publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry.
This position is expressed, e.g., in 1989 Resolution 3-05B, “Lutherans believe, teach, and confess
that God has instituted the office of the public ministry (AC V) and that 'nobody should publicly
teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church without a regular call' to serve in this
office (AC XIV). Therefore, only those who hold the office of the public ministry should exercise
distinctive functions of this office. However, when no pastor is available, and in the absence of
any specific Scriptural directives to the contrary, congregations may arrange for the
performance of these distinctive functions by qualified individuals, lest God's people be deprived
of the opportunity for corporate worship and the celebration of the sacraments” (Workbook
p.112) For the following reasons, we believe that this current position of Synod is in error.
The language of AC XIV makes a confession of doctrine and does not allow for exceptions to this
“ecclesiastical order.”
“The verbs in AC 14 (debeat/soll) allow no option; they are the same verbs which describe the
indispensable relation of good works to faith in AC 6. They have the force of the modern English
“must” rather than “should.” The docent (“they teach”) with which the article begins, along with
the location of the article among the doctrinal articles rather than among the reform (or “abuse”)
articles, indicates that the thesis of the article is a dogmatic statement.” AC Piepkorn, “The Sacred
Ministry and Holy Ordination in the Symbolic Books of the Lutheran Churches,” in The Church: Selected
Writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn. MP Plekon and WS Wiecher, eds. (Delhi, NY: ALBP Books, 1993): 53-
76. 62.
Ever since the Augsburg Confession was written in the 16th century, “regularly [publicly] called”
(rite vocatus/ordentlichen Beruf) has been understood to mean the process of publicly calling a
man to and placing a man in the office of the ministry.
16th Century – Martin Chemnitz
“But since the call belongs not only to the multitude of common people in the church, therefore
they submitted those who were chosen and nominated to the judgment of the apostles, whether they
be fit for that ministry according to the rule of the divine Word. And so the election of the
multitude was confirmed by the approval of the apostles. And thus finally the ministries are
committed to those nominated, elected, and called, with the solemn prayer of the whole church and
public testimony, namely laying on of hands. . . . From this there still remains the words
nomination, request, presentation, consensus, confirmation, and conferring; from these words,
rightly considered, it can be understood how and with what order the call of ministers of the church
both was once regulated and ought to be properly administered in our time. . . .[T]hat ceremony or
rite of ordination is nothing else than the kind of public testimony by which the call of that person
2. We further believe that the defense of Synod's current position provided by the CTCR
(namely: “The LCMS has understood that the Lutheran Confessions [Treatise 67-68, Tappert
331] recognize that there may be situations where those who are not called and ordained may
carry out pastoral functions.” CTCR Response to Dissent to 2001 Resolution 3-08B, 2007
Convention Workbook, p. 70.) is based on a flawed reading of The Treatise on the Power and
Primacy of the Pope 67-72. The Treatise does indeed recognize that in a true emergency any
Christian may baptize and/or absolve. However,
A) the situations today in which men who are not publicly called to and placed in the office of
ministry are preaching and administering the sacraments are ongoing situations that cry out for
long-term solutions in accord with our Confessions, not the exigent emergencies discussed by the
Treatise; and
B) even in the case of a such an exigent emergency the Treatise does not envision the current
situation in the Synod where a man preaches and administers the sacraments day in and day out
who is ordained is declared before God and in His name to be regular, pious, legitimate, and
divine” Martin Chemnitz, Ministry, Word, and Sacraments: An Enchiridion (1593), trans. Luther Poellot.
(St. Louis: CPH, 1981) 34-36.
19th Century – Walther, Loeber and Gruber
“(1) A preacher of the divine word is rite vocatus when his entry into the office has happened in a
way that violates neither the divine order nor the existing human order. (2) The divine order that is
pertinent here includes, in the first place, that the vocandus [man being called] have the
unadulterated confession of the pure doctrine, the testimony of a blameless life, and the necessary
teaching gifts. And secondly it requires that everything be conducted in an orderly way with his call
into the office, namely that he be examined beforehand, that he be really called by the
congregation, and that he be installed in his office according to the ecclesiastical order existing in
the congregation.” Evaluation of Grabau’s Hirtenbrief, by Gotthold Heinrich Löber with C. F. Gruber and
C. F. W. Walther, July 1843, translation copyright Prof. William W. Schumacher
21st Century – Departments of Systematic Theology of the Seminaries of the LCMS
“In this way, namely, through Christ's calling and ordaining, the apostles were given not only the
responsibility but also the authority to speak and act in God's name. Through call and ordination,
ministers are given not only the responsibility to speak and acts in God's name, but also the power.
“The Confessions never use the truth that the whole church possesses the power of the keys to
make the office of the holy ministry unnecessary or merely useful. On the contrary, this truth serves
as the basis for the church's right to call, choose, and ordain ministers. . . . [T]he Treatise [on the
Power and Primacy of the Pope] does not imagine churches without ordained ministers of some
kind, even in emergency situations or when no one else will call and ordain men for the office. As
confessors of the same doctrine, neither should we.
“'[C]all and ordination' are essential for conduct of the ministry. . . .What is the sign of authority for
ministers today? It is their call and ordination, which assure that they act by divine right and on the
authority of Christ. This truth makes such ideas as “lay ministers” invitations for difficulties and
troubles to ministers whose authority is doubtful and to laypersons whose assurance of God's grace
may be questioned.” Departments of Systematic Theology, “The Office of the Holy Ministry,”
Concordia Journal 33.3(July 2007): 242-255. 249, 253-4, 255.
without ever being publicly called to and placed in the office of the “ministry of teaching the
gospel and administering the sacraments” (AC V) by the church. Indeed, the Treatise uses the
duty of laymen to baptize and absolve in cases of emergency as the proof that the whole church
retains the right of calling and placing men into the office of the holy ministry - not as an excuse
for not having to do so in certain difficult situations.
3. Finally, we believe that our concerns are in harmony with the concerns raised by the joint
statement of the Systematics faculties of the seminaries as expressed in “The Office of the
Ministry,” Concordia Journal 33.3 (July 2007).242-255. We wish to add our voice to theirs and
urge the Synod as a whole to read their statement with prayerful consideration.
Respectfully Submitted,
Rev. Pr. H. R. Curtis Rev. Pr. William Weedon
Trinity – Worden, IL St. Paul – Hamel, IL
Zion – Carpenter, IL weedon@mac.com
An “emergency” as envisioned by the Treatise is a life or death crisis; an exigent circumstance
that by its nature is a brief point in time, not an ongoing situation. In such exigencies, a layman
may baptize or absolve – but no sanction is given for presiding at the Lord's Supper and
preaching week in and week out.
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 67
So in an emergency even a layman absolves and becomes the minister and pastor of another. It is
like the example which Augustine relates of two Christians in a ship, one of whom baptized the
other (a catechumen), and the latter, after his Baptism, absolved the former. Book of Concord,
Tappert 331.
Departments of Systematic Theology of the Seminaries of the LCMS
“'[A]n emergency,' that is, a situation of imminent danger of death where no pastor is available. In
such situations, 'even a layperson grants absolution and becomes the minister or pastor of another'
(Tr 67).” Departments of Systematic Theology, “The Office of the Holy Ministry,” Concordia
Journal 33.3(July 2007): 242-255. 252.
In prolonged circumstances where a pastor is hard to come by, the Confessions do not sanction or
envision doing without pastors by having men who are not called to and placed in the public
ministry preach and preside at the Lord's Supper. Rather, the Confessions proclaim the right of
the Church to call men to and place men in the office of the ministry in these situations.
“Other churches may find ministers unavailable in time of need. These kinds of situations,
however, do not lead the Confessors to suggest that Christians might do without men called and
ordained to the ministerial office. On the contrary, the fact that the church possesses the keys gives
them not only the right but also the obligation to ordain ministers if necessary: '[W]hen bishops
either become heretical or are unwilling to ordain, the churches are compelled by divine right to
ordain pastors and ministers for themselves' (Tr 72). . . . The point is that the Treatise does not
imagine churches without ordained ministers of some kind, even in emergency situations or when
no one else will call and ordain me for the office. As confessors of the same doctrine, neither
should we.” Departments of Systematic Theology, “The Office of the Holy Ministry,” Concordia
Journal 33.3(July 2007): 242-255. 253-4.

What should happen if the Synod declines to correct its contradiction of AC XIV? Should Synod be unable to convince US of being in error, we prayerfully and carefully would have to move to the next step - marking and avoiding - painful as that may be. We have hope, given the reasoning advanced for SMP that perhaps the Synod is prepared to revisit and revise this matter. We pray so, at any rate.

William Weedon said...

Ack! Copying from PDF doesn't format footnotes and stuff correctly. So you have to go back and piece together the dissent. But it's fairly clear what joins to what and what is footnote and such. You just have to skip lines!

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

I want to respect your usus loquendi, Pr. Weedon; but I also want to make sure I understand what you're saying.

1. I think it's clear you'd say a Lutheran pastor is under obligation to leave a Lutheran body that renounces the Symbols. Is that right?

2. I hear you saying that if your appeal is rejected, you would "move to the next step." You refer to that step as "marking and avoiding." Two things:

a. A question concerning means: Is there some *quantitative* set of steps that constitute the course of your appeal (i.e. to Board x, Commission y, and Convention)? If so, what are those steps? If not, how will you know when you have come to the time to move to the next step?

b. A question concerning ends: Can you translate "mark and avoid" into Iowa West talk? Do you mean "resign from the ministerium" or "pull a Herman Otten"--or something else?

Thanks for your patience with me...

William Weedon said...

The steps are first to discuss this among our peers in circuit and district. This we have done. We have also presented it to the Circuit Counsellors of the District and have received input throughout from the District President. Our District is still discussing this, but we did go ahead and send it in to the CTCR for their opinion. Our hope is that the District itself will stand behind the joint facutlies words and our dissent. We await to hear back from them.

As for mark and avoid, it means departing from the fellowship of the Synod. Some, who have already reached the conclusion that Synod will not repent on this (and other things), departed the fellowship after announcing a time of suspended fellowship. I certainly hope and pray that it does not come to that for this issue!