11 July 2009

Meet the Other Synod

I've been pondering how to put this into words and fear I shall fail, but nothing tried, nothing gained. What I saw in San Antonio was "the other Synod." The one that tends to be ignored in the official press of our Church, and in the litter of blogdom. As a friend replied to an earlier post, some Districts won't even commend or mention HT because it's not an recognized service organization of Synod.

We major so much in all that's gone crazy - and I do not mean in the least to diminish the seriousness of what HAS gone wrong. I sat at dinner one night with two pastors who have been dismissed from their churches for no just cause; and listened to a friend whose parish is no longer in Synod. The official Synod, the plastic Synod that seeks to be an imitation of dying Evangelicalism with its big personalities and their "ministries," LCMS, Inc. that is all caught up in itself with its bylaws and handbook, is all too real, alas.

But so is this other Synod, where the youth learn their heritage as nothing to be ashamed of or to hide; where they "dare to be Lutheran" and sing the faith with gusto in our hymns and liturgy. Where pastors toil on in some truly grievous situations all for the joy of imparting to these young folk the unshakable hope that is ours in the Gospel; where their parents and youth leaders want to make sure they know the joy of being a Lutheran Christian.

If at times we are tempted to feel the hopelessness of it all, like Samwise and Frodo headed into Morder, there are times we can look up and say: "A light! Look, Mr. Frodo, it's not all going his way!" Higher Things provides such a light. A time of hope for the future of our church and for the young people who, coming to know and love the Gospel of Christ, will, by that Gospel, be strengthened to carry forward a heritage that serves that Gospel and seeks to impart it to others. An army of future Lutheran laity who will not be sold a bill of goods or trade in their rich heritage for a lousy bowl of evangelical pottage because they will not be robbed of Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone, Scripture alone. They're out there! I've seen and met them.

Often unsung and not terribly flashy, the other Synod is, I would posit, our true future. It will outlast the other, the plastic Synod, for its strength is the Gospel, the gifts of the Lord; and living from His gracious giving, it lives unassailably in Christ. So, ne desperemus et soli Deo gloria!


George said...

I think you said it very well, Pr. Weedon. We pray "Lord, have mercy upon us!" and He does. Glory be to Him!

revalkorn said...

Amen! and Thanks be to God!

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Pastor Weedon--kudos. Good post. Very similar to something I wrote a few years back contrasting "Two Synods" as reflected by HT and the National Youth Gathering. If you're interested, here is the link: http://lutheranpastor.wordpress.com/2006/07/26/a-tale-of-two-synods/

I think you are spot on. That "other synod" is as real as the sunshine. But, like Luther's "two church" theory, the true church is the one that is not recognized, despised, and hated by the one with all the glitz and glamour. That's the theology of the cross buddy!

WM Cwirla said...

I look at it not as "two synods" in terms of two institutions or two church bodies, but rather in terms of something new and alive rising up within the death of something old. We Lutheran too often think of splits and divisions. Perhaps its our idealistic preoccupation with the "true visible church on earth" rather than the actual church that God gives us. The beauty is that there is always life in the midst of death with God working good with the good, the bad, and even the ugly.

So I rather say that what you saw and experienced is not the "other synod," but simply the Church with her identifying marks clearly displayed for all to see. She always looks best that way to the eyes of faith, no matter where she is.

Scott Diekmann said...

Thanks to all of you who labor to make Higher Things possible.

All glory, laud, and honor
To You, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Scott Larkins said...


Thank's Fr. Weedon.

Thank you.

Glad you made it back in one piece.

Anonymous said...

Garden party of congratulation, meet skunk:

Somebody or other, writing someplace or other, said (and as the lawyers say, emphasis added)

3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

Barb the Evil Genius said...

My daughter is going to Higher Things for the first time this year. I'm interested to see how she likes it.

Scott Larkins said...

Eat man! Have some carbs! You're starting remind me of Mighty Mouse. I'll be glad to drive you over a loaf of Honey Wheat from the Missouri side;)

William Weedon said...

Good insight, Pr. Cwirla. Not another Synod, but life in the midst of death!

Past Elder said...

Nice words. Just wish it wasn't us who looks like we're dying, apart from isolated events and parishes and blogs here and there.

William Weedon said...


"Dying and behold we live..." someone said that once. 2 Cor. 6:9 Worth pondering...

Past Elder said...

Well, I can buy that, but even Freud said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes suffering and dying is just suffering and dying.

I can also buy the later verses of that chapter, like what fellowship has light with darkness, and the quotation from Isaias, which is reiterated in the Apocalypse re the Whore of Babylon.

Was that pre-VII spellings of things? Better stop now before I get on a tear or go into German or something. Ich bin am Ende.

William Weedon said...

Pastor Beisel,

We were definitely tracking down the same path on that one! Thanks for pointing me to your writing on it - and you joined together what I wrote with the point that Cwirla made and did so three years prior, reflecting on the same divergence.

WM Cwirla said...

Ah, sweet cynicism. The last refuge of the idealist, noted Cicero.

William Weedon said...

Cicero aside, I do recall Gabe Huck at a Valpo Liturgical Institute gathering some years back saying: "We must learn to love the Church as she is; for that is how God loves her." I thought it profound then (and convicting!); I find it profound now.

Past Elder said...

Didn't stop St Paul from clearly identifying false teaching and false Apostles, warning against those who have gone out from our number, and speaking anathema against those who deliver another Gospel. Hell, most of the Epistles were written to correct the suffering and dying in the local churches of his day!

Past Elder said...

PS. Cicero not aside -- I like Cwirla! Always making his point solidly, often with indirect yet clear references bordering on sarcasm and/or irony, parodies, clever word plays and twists, even a little cheek and outrageousness. So unlike myself. I don't dive either.

William Weedon said...

Yup on Cwirla - I'm definitely in his fan club!

And yup on the importance of "marking and avoiding" the false teaching and false teacher. Yet I think Missouri above many others has had a history of being a bit precipitous in that regard; perhaps that explains a bit the hesitancy many feel toward rushing to judgment? How do you strike the right balance between the patience trust in the Word of God to accomplish exactly what it promises (including bringing back the erring); and the recognition that something/someone has hardened against the Word and thus needs to be excommunicated?

Jacobs to me struck the right tone when he wrote:

A schism occurs wherever there is a disruption in the Church's organization for any other reason than that of notorious impurity in the teaching that has prevailed and has not been remedied after repeated and patient attempts to have it corrected. With all the emphasis we very properly place upon unity in faith as [not] subordinate to union in organization, we should not close our eyes to the sinfulness of schism, or attempt to justify divisions for any other cause than for that of fidelity to our testimony to all the counsel of God.... The problem of Church Union will be solved only by holding firmly to the pure faith of the Gospel, once delivered to the saints, and heartily uniting with all who upon the basis of this pure faith, and for the sake of advancing this pure faith, thankfully accept and appropriate everything developed in the Church's experience, that is not contrary to God's Word. (p. 214, 215)

Notorious impurity in the teaching that has prevailed ends up being a sort of value judgment about which there will be disagreements among those of like-confession until the clarity that it HAS prevailed forces all to admit and see it. I think we're coming close; and there are obviously those who have departed because they've become convinced that we're already there.

WM Cwirla said...

Glad to be around real drinkers with a sense of the ironic!

It occurs to me, after our humble Divine Service this morning and our post-conference discussion in Bible class, that what we saw and heard at Sola-San Antonio is not the "other Synod" but the Synod that could be if we "dared to be Lutheran." Perhaps the rising generation will do a better job of it than we have. Hope abounds.

WM Cwirla said...

I don't dive either.

Diving teaches you to breath before you act. You also can't talk, which I find to be a salutary discipline in itself.

Cell phones don't work underwater either.

Past Elder said...

On the not talking thing, diving seems better than monastic discipline any day!

And all seriousness aside (for the humour-challenged, this is a reference to a tag line of Steve Allen, a huge influence on me, here quoted ironically as I am about to make a serious point; this sort of stuff will appear in footnotes when The Complete Works of Past Elder is published after I have gone to my heavenly reward such as it may be) I completely agree that this is the synod we could be, should be, and are, when we indeed dare to be Lutheran.

I think Luther wrote something about all he had to do was keep preaching the Gospel, and anything that one might have thought would be accomplished by calling up the regiments etc happened by the work of the Holy Spirit. AKA Holy Ghost.

My younger son's Samsung Slash survived a five minute swim after a dive in the pool. Love Samsungs, had three of them including my current phone. However not sure it works well diving in Belize. Don't think they speak Spanish there either, which, as you know, is God's preferred form of really, really late Latin.

Past Elder said...

Speaking of which, what happened to Consensus? There was a great paper on there, showing how our recent difficulties are really just the most recent example of LCMS not confronting false teaching as clearly as it should and the consequences thereof, all the way back to a guy in Ohio who got excommunicated by his congregation for not sending his kids to Lutheran school, then the district stepped in, then WELS stepped in, well sort of, then the Wauwatosa boys got to thinking and on and on. It was great! One of the things that got me to thinking LCMS, in the words of a non-layman (another play on words as I pitifully attempt to follow sensei Cwirla), is the worst synod in the world, except for all the others, so, I'd better join.

Anonymous said...

Cicero aside, I do recall Gabe Huck at a Valpo Liturgical Institute gathering some years back saying: "We must learn to love the Church as she is; for that is how God loves her." I thought it profound then (and convicting!); I find it profound now.

Pastor Weedon, my curiosity is getting the better of me. Is that the same Gabe Huck who was dismissed as director of Liturgy Training Publications by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago?


Jeremy Loesch said...

Will, perhaps you should suggest "The Other Synod" as the new name for the LCMS. See what happens on the ALPB forum.


VirginiaLutherans said...

Pastor Weedon,

Good post. I am very thankful there are remnants within the LC-MS. However, I left the Synod because I could not get (and was told I would not dare start) true Lutheranism near me. The Synod would not stand for the tenets and Doctrine it "officially" professes. I was traveling an hour each way to an excellent LC-MS church with a wonderful pastor. However, I cannot achieve proper Catechisis with my (now) 4 children traveling so far. During this unfortunate course of events, I was also claimed to be a "schismatic" for holding to the Confessions and eschewing the worldly organization of the Synod.

I pray one day our independent Lutheran church will be able to join with the "Other Synod" in unity, this side of heaven.

John Wurst said...

Pastor - You tried and succeeded in conveying your thoughts. Thank you and AMEN!

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Anonymous said...

As one who grew up going to the Synodical Youth gatherings and Lutheran Youth Encounter, HT is a breath of fresh air. Howeer, I wouldnt' have know how much more there could be to Lutheranism and Christianity and that it is all about the gifts from Christ had it not been caring pastors. These pastors filled in the gaps of my average run-of-the-mill confirmation with hearty catechesis. I wonder how many more are out there in the synod who have had incomplete catechesis or even have left the synod.

HT and the pastors who care to make sure their youth are well catechized have made a huge difference in our church. This is not due to the numbers of youth that are retained within the church and don't ditch it when they "grow up," but rather that they know Scripture and the Confessions, the Commandments and the Catechism that lead them with Christ's love all day and all life long. They are prepared to give a confession of the hop that is in them to their unbelieving friends, but also they have a well rooted faith built on Christ's love and forgiveness to carry them all through this life and into the their heavenly life ever after.

Anonymous said...

In rereading my query to Pastor Weedon regarding Gabe Huck I wanted to clarify that this was in no way a criticism of Pastor Weedon. Most Catholics who grew up in the pre-Vatican II church wouldn't be familiar with him. Having encountered much of Huck's philosophy while I was Catholic it sends up alarm signals to me that Valparaiso embraced a liturgist who is so solidly imbued with the more radical "Spirit of Vatican II" as Huck was. There's solid reasons why he was released as director of LTP.

Huck's progressive views are still available on the internet for anyone to examine, especially on the pages of the heterdox National Catholic Reporter.


William Weedon said...


Yes, I'm sure it's the same man. He's very Vatican II (Terry wouldn't like him, I'm sure!), but he was also quite insightful. I enjoyed the times I heard him speak.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I'm sure it's the same man. He's very Vatican II (Terry wouldn't like him, I'm sure!), but he was also quite insightful. I enjoyed the times I heard him speak.

Thanks for the heads-up, Pastor Weedon. One thing I discovered very quickly as a Catholic was that there are very differing interpretations of what is authentically "Vatican II." The liturgical crowd that Huck (and many of the gang at The Liturgical Press that Terry is so familiar with) has their own vision of "The Spirit of Vatican II."

The parish where I was received into the Catholic Church used a lot of the materials from Huck when he was heading up Liturgy Training Publications.

I'll never forget the sight of the women who processed up the aisle bearing bowls of burning incense to "honor the assembly." I wondered if at any moment they were going to worship the ancient Ashteroth. There were other liturgical aberrations that made my head spin.

That Huck was a good speaker is not surprising. The progressives have a way of sounding very benign.

Further sayeth Die Christine naught (-:

Past Elder said...

Huck came along after I left; Christine would have better experience than I.

Googling him, it's the same old stuff, just a new (to me) mouth saying it.

This bunch has nothing whatever of the mission of the Reformers re liturgy, and the RCC is reaping the effects of letting them carry on for so long, as we are well on our way to finding out too.

Virginia's words are the reality. In most parishes, you wouldn't even know there is a Higher Things, if you bring it up, it will be taken for what it is, something outside the synod and not supported by the synod, and the best you can hope for is a half-assed RC novus ordo service at 8 and a half-assed Willow Creek service at 1030.