Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Clergy Dominated Church?

The president-emeritus of the LCMS, the Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, has written a blogpost expressing his "perspective" positing that the LCMS has a culture that is unfriendly to the laity.  However, the title he chose, "A Clergy Dominated Church?" makes use of the question mark, which seems to invite answers to his "question."

We respectfully disagree with his premise that the LCMS is a church body in which the laity are dominated, denied a voice in the governing of the church, and treated with disrespect by her pastors - especially in the "direction the LCMS seems to be heading these days."

This is a not-so-subtle reference to the fact that the current synod president defeated the Rev. Kieschnick three years ago, and in some ways broke ranks with the style and substance of the past administration.  It is no surprise that this is a source of disagreement for the Rev. Kieschnick, and may well be especially frustrating given the landslide victory - what secular pundits might consider a "mandate" - in the Rev. Matthew Harrison's recent reelection.  Of course, the Rev. Kieschnick's minority view should be heard and considered, and he is entitled to his dissent.

He writes: "Clergy dominance was particularly evident at last week’s Synod convention, even more so than in the past. In worship services, on the podium and at microphones, black shirts and white collars were abundant."

We think the Rev. Kieschnick's reference to collars is misleading.  There may well have been more pastors wearing clerical attire, as this does seem to be a trend among younger pastors, but there were not more pastors than in the past.  Delegates to the convention are half clergy and half laity.  That formula has not changed.  And in fact, the representation of every congregation by a lay person belies the claim that pastors "dominate" the representative process.

Moreover, it should strike no-one as odd to see a lot of clergy at a church convention.  One would expect to see a good number of lawyers at a bar association meeting, a large proportion of medical doctors at a gathering of the AMA, or a lot of really big tall men at a meeting of the NBA player's union.  This is not a conspiracy - it reflects the reality that in the LCMS, all pastors are members of synod.

He also mentions a dearth of laity in "positions of significant leadership in our church body. That includes, for example, university presidents, significant missionary supervisors, and other leadership positions at the national level."  Of course, the Rev. Kieschnick spent several terms as synod president, as well as previous service as a district president.  Neither of those positions is open to laypeople.  Were the bylaws changed with the new administration to restrict the roles of the laity?  The Council of Presidents is certainly the single most powerful body in the LCMS - and laymen and laywomen are not permitted to serve on this council.  Was the Rev. Kieschnick lobbying for lay membership in the COP when he was a member?

He writes: "Furthermore, there’s a discernible aloofness and even pharisaical demeanor exhibited by some pastors, obvious during worship services and in pastoral ministry functions as well. Intentionally or unintentionally, this telegraphs a 'holier than thou' attitude in both work and worship."

He provides no examples of this sinful and disgraceful attitude.  We do not believe such sweeping generalizations about pastors are particularly helpful.  The strong consensus of delegates and attendees who were at the convention is quite at odds with his description.  To the contrary, there seemed to be a great deal of concord and  harmony at this convention.  We disagree with his conclusion and would not describe our pastors to be "aloof."  To be sure, as with any other group of people, there is a bell curve of any and all human traits, good and bad.  The vast majority of parish pastors are not snobs.  They do not enjoy six figure salaries, big expense accounts, finely tailored suits, expensive cars, and palatial mansions to live in.  Indeed, most parish pastors are endowed with every manner of human sin and frailty.  They often live and work in rather humble circumstances, and relate to the average layperson in a much closer and less aloof manner than those who occupy lofty bureaucratic positions.  And we do believe this observation - which is admittedly anecdotal - is a very good argument for ordained presbyters in the LCMS who hold bureaucratic offices to serve a parish in some capacity, perhaps as an associate pastor, such as the example set by the Rev. Harrison.  We do believe it is very easy for men to lose touch with how ordinary people live when they are treated like princes of the church.  Continued service as a parish pastor is a humbling and grounding opportunity for service.

As to the conclusion that the LCMS is a "clergy dominated" church body, we should consider the following:
  • Most parish pastors are overseen not only by an ordained (but for all practical purposes laicized) district president, who holds an enormous amount of power over him), but they are also overseen by a parochial board of elders, almost exclusively composed of laymen (and in some cases, laywomen).
  • The LCMS holds the laity in such high regard as to permit them to speak the words of institution over bread and wine and to preach from the pulpit - a practice unheard of in other historic Catholic communions (not to mention prohibited by our own confessional documents, to which all pastors and almost no laypeople are bound by oath) - but one that was approved by synod conventions comprised of 50% lay delegates.
  • The LCMS considers schoolteachers and other lay church workers to be "ministers of religion."
  • The LCMS has "licensed lay deacons" - whereas among many of our partner churches around the world, deacons are ordained ministers.  Some LCMS congregations even vest laywomen in albs and stoles and position them at the altar during the Divine Service without censure.  
  • The LCMS has the confusing notion of "lay ministry," as well as outstanding lay training institutes, and many resources for lay people to study theology - both formally and informally.  Laypeople can, and are, fine instructors at our seminaries, professors at our universities, authors, and administrators.  Laypeople typically serve ably in nearly every capacity in our congregations, including those who teach Sunday school, and those who serve on, and chair, boards and committees.
  • It should also be noted that recent changes in the synod's structure to consolidate a great deal of authority at the presidential level (thus making synod more hierarchical and less democratic) were conceived and implemented with the encouragement and leadership of then-synod-president the Rev. Kieschnick and his administration.
While we respect former president Kieschnick's right to his own perspective on the governance of our church body, we believe he could not be more wrong.

One of the issues that has come to fore of late (including at the recent convention) is the scandal of the many pastors who were removed from their congregations for unscriptural reasons and who languish on CRM status.  These men, in most cases, were removed by laypeople who oversee them on boards of elders, church councils, or voters assemblies.  In those cases of unscriptural removal from office, the "clergy dominated church" could be interpreted to mean that the clergy is being dominated.

The word "dominate" finds its roots in the Latin word Dominus - which is a title that is applied to our Lord Jesus Christ.  Rather than pit "missionals" against "confessionals"; or "conservatives" against "liberals"; or pastors against laypeople, we should find ways to reconcile, to dialogue, to find mutual respect among all of the Church's royal priesthood - which includes pastors and laypeople.  We should encourage the preachers of the Word, our shepherds, to be shepherds - not hirelings or fence-sitters.  And we should encourage our hearers of the word, our laity, to bring their gifts and talents to the table in areas where they provide valuable expertise lacking by our clergy.  We most definitely should not encourage laypeople to usurp offices to which they have not been called and ordained.

Instead of arguing over domination by clergy over the laity, or domination by the laity over the clergy, we should all humbly submit to our Dominus, the Lord of the Church, our Great High Priest, who has come to serve and to save.



145 comments:

  1. Very well said, particularly regarding the President-Emeritus making general statements regarding the behavior of pastors without naming names or giving specific examples. So I posted a comment on his blog. It is awaiting moderation, See below.

    President Kieschnick-
    as one who officiated under half of the services at this past convention, I was wondering if you were calling me “holier than thou”, a pastor who is “discernably aloof, or if you consider me to have a “pharisaical demeanor”? If you are accusing me of such things, are they sins? And if they are, is it in my best interest for you to put such accusations on your blog rather than contacting me personally?
    Looking forward to reading your reply.

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    1. I noticed that Dr. Kieschnick's blog has multiple authors and most of the articles are not posted by him, so I'm assuming someone else is operating it for him.

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    2. And I've noticed that General Eisenhower had multiple operatives acting for him, and that most if not all of the machine guns blazing away were not his own; still, it seems that Ike always gets the lion-share's credit for a directive spirit and for what happened on the Normandy beaches.

      "On my blog, the buck stops here; but heck, I'm out of my office. And sure enough ... that befuddled physician with the pharisaical attitude is going to crack I'm out counting collars! You watch!"

      Pax et gaudium!

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doktor S.S.P.

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    3. Dr. Anderson, I was referring to the lack of a response to Pr. Ball's not-yet-moderated comment on Dr. Kieschnick's blog, not whether he was responsible for the contents.

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    4. Oh, all right. Have it your way. But I am unable to conclude, from his furnished remarks, that the Rev. Ball is necessarily all in a dither about a delayed rejoinder to his questions. The absence of caps in his post, for instance, suggests that the gentleman is placid, contemplatively seemly and quite under control.

      But, that aside, and in COMPLETE CHRISTIAN AMITY: can we then ALL agree herewith that the REV. KIESCHNICK gives a DISTINCT appearance of being out of (what he THINKS is) HIS office?

      Be it virtual, or maybe OTHERWISE?

      PAX ET GAUDIUM TO YOU, SIR!

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doktor, S.S.P.

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    6. Rev. Kieschnick has given me a distinct appearance of being out of his mind.

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    7. I'm not a big fan of diagnosis at a distance, or "psychohistory," myself.

      But whether the vision of Mr. Schenks is true or not, at last we have something for which William S. Shirer cannot possibly assign blame to the great Reformer's influence.

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doktor

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  2. The Seeker-Driven Baptist President-Emeritus of the LCMS cancelled Issues, Etc. without the consent of the laity.

    However, this is really about the proposed amendment which required Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession to be practiced in the Missouri Synod.

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    1. Joshua,

      When asked about that several years ago, the President-Emeritus replied that the show was cancelled with his knowledge but not at his command. The show was cancelled by Communications Director David Strand ... a layman.

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    2. Which, let's face it, is not exactly the most compelling argument for assigning yet more positions of domination and influence, to laymen.

      Even Christ preferred to give the purse to Judas ... and not Willie Sutton.

      And I thought Sgt. Schultz, of television's Hogan's Heroes, cut a far more sympathetic figure than Missouiri's ex-prexy, as the portly camp-keeper moaned "I know nothing, nothing..."

      Schultz knew nothing, and did nothing, during World War II. Knowing something, and doing nothing, sounds like the workings of a Nuremberg nightmare.

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doktor, S.S.P.

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    3. "I know nothing, nothing..."

      But they blamed that on Martin Luther, didn't they?

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  3. I read Keischnick's blog, and while I agree with some of your conclusions, I honestly do agree with a few of his as well, and I think perhaps you took some of what he said out of context in order to further your conclusions (just as he took some of what he saw out of context to write his conclusions).

    Furthermore this bickering and quibbling that clearly goes back and forth between the "right and the left", as one of your esteemed decided to call it, needs to stop. God gives you but a moment in this world; a moment to be wise and not foolish. A moment to know peace instead of this arrogance that some call "being faithful." If you want to put Keischnick to shame or silence your opposition then be silent yourself and quit picking fights. You're like a bunch of high school kids out to prove yourselves to a girl. Learn a lesson from Proverbs 15, and from Philippians 2, from Romans 3. Instead of spending all your time pointing out everyone else's sins, why don't you repent and try and find a way for unity and peace with the people of God? Unless you believe Kieschnick is an unbeliever.

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    1. Dear "Concerned," the pot is calling the kettle black, I believe. For what could be more "high schoolish" than posting anonymous comments?

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    2. I'm tactful enough to know not to take sides on this sort of stuff. If I put my name, it's as good as taking sides (because people are judgmental and jump to conclusions too quickly when they stand on the fringes), and I'm not going to do that.

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    3. I may be stepping into the doo-doo, here, but I'm thinking that the choice taken by a tactful (sic) believer to hint that another believer may possibly harbor an idea that Rev. Kieschnick is an unbeliever, makes that other decision by the tactful (i.e., to cloak oneself in anonymity) understandable.

      Not something to emulate, perhaps; but it is understandable.

      I mean, it's completely human. Being "anxious for nothing" is difficult to achieve. It's a struggle for all of us. Appreciating Christ's promised and calming Presence in our midst, in the preaching of the Word and the consuming of the Word's Body and Blood ... when the protestants all around us say that He's locked up in heaven, and we have to fly up there in spirit and truth to worship Him there via our stoked-up emotions, which we can feel ... well, it's tough indeed. So then, anxious we are. But cloaking our being is protective of the self and its image; has been resorted to as far back as Adam and Eve; and thence is tactics-full.

      It's very understandable.

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doktor, S.S.P.

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  4. A faithful, wise and peaceable response to Dr. Kieschnick's unfounded allegations against his own church body. TW

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  5. What's so wrong with a clergy-dominated synod? I wouldn't try to deny it. I'd embrace it. Half of the problems we have today in our synod have come from a laity-driven Synod. Aren't shepherds supposed to lead the sheep? Never thought that sheep and shepherds had equal roles in the flock.

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    1. I've heard so many confessional pastors claim that all they have to do is administer the Word and Sacrament, not lead.

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    2. Isn't that how a pastor "leads," by administering the Word and Sacraments? I didn't know there was another way to lead in the Church.

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    3. Pr. Biesel, you apparently have confused being a pastor with being an administrator.

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    4. Well, maybe I have. But it seems to me that the only "administrating" I have been called to do is that which involves words, bread, wine, and water. With what else does a Shepherd "lead" his flock but with the means of grace?

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    6. You left out quite a lot of items from your Diploma of Vocation which many pastors refuse to do today.

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  6. A clergy dominated synod in the 60s and 70s would have been the ELCA. Balance is a fine thing.

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    1. So, you believe the sheep should lead the shepherds? Or, co-lead?

      I think it is a bit of an overstatement to say that the laity "saved the Missouri Synod" in the battle for the Bible. I rather think it was the Lord who saved us, by means of some key individuals who had the right doctrine.

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    2. Well, Paul, if you define lead as "administering the Word and Sacraments", then no.

      However, if one refers to the administration of the Synod and it's entities, it's a good thing there was equal lay representation to counteract decades of trash taught to the majority of our pastoral students. That's a simple historical fact. To admit it doesn't diminish the Pastoral Office, nor undercut the Office.

      Frankly, if we respond to Kieschnick's attempts to make this a lay vs. clergy issue, we are foolish. This was just an attempt to pander to the laity... foolishly.

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    3. Can't argue with you there! I just find it silly to think of sheep being co-rulers with the shepherd.

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    4. "it's a good thing there was equal lay representation to counteract decades of trash taught to the majority of our pastoral students. That's a simple historical fact."

      Maybe. Because I'm in a warm, fuzzy and non-argumentative mood, I concede that it could be something "simple." But it could be a historical fact, as easily, that it was a good thing for lay folk to be grounded by good shepherds, so as to counter the trash spread about by the hirelings. Polycarp, for example, didn't spring out of the womb, ready to assume the Office at Smyrna. Oh sure, he may have been influenced by "equal lay representation" ... a most interesting phrase, demand for which I'll have to search the index of the Book of Concord, if not the surviving bricks of the Bastille, sometime this evening ... but I think old man Polycarp would cite the mentoring of St. John as being significantly influential and shaping. I trust that the doughty lay-folk of the 70's would also ... for the most part, if not exclusively ... commend and extol faithful and catechizing pastors and the like for their wisdom and convictions.

      Great Scot, I may actually be agreeing with a sentiment expressed by Vehse Jr., below.

      Clerics mold and influence the laity. Real shepherds wield a staff and a rod, for a purpose. It wouldn't surprise me at all if a cleric or two looked the other way ... shirking the role of shepherding force, and maybe cowered ... when the most unseemly laity whipped out their riding crops and rioted along the banks of the Brazou, a long time ago. Forster names no ordained individual(s) specifically, as directing affairs or lurking in the woods, but then he needed a book to be published.

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doktor

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  7. "Half of the problems we have today in our synod have come from a laity-driven Synod."

    Thus it would seem that the remaining half of the problems we have today in our synod have come from the clergy, who should be more theologically trained than the laity to avoid causing such problems, and who largely trained the laity contributing to the other half of the problems.

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  8. I was wondering what Rev Kieschnick wore when he presided at convention. Did he wear clericals or a business suit? Did he wear clericals to signify his own dominance of position? Or did he wear a business suit to identify his role of business presider?

    I remember reading a piece that he wrote that he did not self identify as a theologian, so perhaps he's more comfortable wearing and being in the presence of street clothes in his job. Perhaps he sees a convention as a simple business meeting where business clothes would be the order of the day, regardless of the quantity of clergy in attendance, whose actual numerical presence would be mandated by the bylaws both in the past (in his presumable non clergy dominated time of service) and in the present. Perhaps he himself is uncomfortable, and feels intimidated and dominated by men who prefer to hold themselves to both Godly and public accountability by wearing the garb of their calling, their servant clothing, even to a business meeting.

    All of this is purely conjecture, but he has invited the conjecture when he hit the publish button on his own public expression of opinion.

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    1. I recall during Houston 2007 he wore a clerical on the first two days of the convention, one day Roman tab and the next day Anglican dog collar. After the election he switched to a black suit suit for the rest of the convention, white shirt with a red tie on day three. The fourth day he went to a black suit, red shirt, and red tie, which I though was very gaudy.

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  9. "Furthermore, there’s a discernible aloofness and even pharisaical demeanor exhibited by some pastors, obvious during worship services and in pastoral ministry functions as well. Intentionally or unintentionally, this telegraphs a 'holier than thou' attitude in both work and worship."
    Without speaking to the "offending brother(S)" first privately, and then taking along another one or two... would that NOT be an EIGHTH Commandment violation ??

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    1. Well, if you don't use names it doesn't count as a violation I guess?

      +HRC

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    2. I know an old pastor who thinks its okay to share confidential information, even from the confessional, as long as the person's name isn't used.

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  10. As momma always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, blog anyway, but avoid using any real names or pointing to anything specific." Similar to momma's other advice: "If you don't have anything nice to say, post anonymously."

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  11. A number of things.

    1. "Tthat the LCMS is a church body in which the laity are dominated, denied a voice in the governing of the church, and treated with disrespect by her pastors," is not Rev. Kieschnick's "premise," it is his "conclusion," based on the alleged evidence he provides.

    2. "Landslide victory" and "mandate" are difficult to prove this election cycle, given that there was hardly little to no competition from the theological Left. The 1980 US presidential election was a landslide for Reagan, who handily defeated then-President Carter. Likewise, the 2010 LCMS presidential election might be termed a "mandate" or "landslide." Don't read too much into the 2013 election and resolution results.

    3. Kieschnick does not equate "clergy dominance" by suggesting that there was a clergy/laity imbalance among Synodical delegates, as this post suggests. Rather, it seems that he feels that pastors wearing clericals to the convention gives an inappropriate appearance of pastoral dominance through the use of distinctive clothing.

    4. It is true that there is a general trend to employ church workers, specifically pastors and deaconesses, in more and more synodical positions. KFUO is a clear example, as is the International Center. There likewise a trend toward pastors as missionaries, with a decreased emphasis on using laypersons.

    5. It is likewise true that there is a certain aloofness and pharisaical attitude among some clergy. The Council of Presidents has been talking about this for years, and one seminary in particular continues to spoken of as contributing to this attitude, although I remain skeptical about the source.

    6. Further, it is also true that a "holier than thou" attitude on anyone's part is a bad thing. Is it not?

    7. Still further, although we might not agree on what Kieschnick has written, let us do agree that had a layperson written it, we would not be so upset.

    8. Finally, let us also agree that lingering anger and bitterness over past wrongs is not only psychologically unhealthy, it also is a violation of the Fifth Commandment. Brethren, repent, and return to our merciful Savior!

    Robert C. Baker
    (Real Name)

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    1. Missionaries are the pastors. If they are laymen, then they are on vacation.

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    2. I'm not disputing that, Tim. What I am disputing is that there a distinct change in direction here, one that clearly you would affirm.

      Rev. Kieschnick is noting that as well.

      Robert C. Baker
      (Real Name)

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  12. Robert, it is clear you are attempting to be an apologist for Rev. Kieschnick, but think about what you have stated.
    1) "His conclusion" is based on nameless,vague allegations; very unbecoming of an ordained minister, wouldn't you admit?
    2) The margin of victory is the largest margin in the last 12 elections except 1983. Regard of other candidates, Rev. Harrison vote tally is impressive and a clear message, unless you can assume things about the voters without any facts to support it?
    3)"he feels that pastors wearing clericals to the convention gives an inappropriate appearance of pastoral dominance through the use of distinctive clothing." "Inappropriate appearance" for clergy to dress in clergy attire? This is item #23 of "Something a true Lutheran would never say." Everyone knows the ratio of people there was still 1:1. This is "dominance?" So he is commenting about some people wearing black? This is beyond pathetic.
    4)"likewise a trend toward pastors as missionaries, with a decreased emphasis on using laypersons" O the humanity, if there is a trend to have Word & Sacrament missionaries? Imagine that, missionaries that are actually missionaries in the historical sense of the word.
    5) "there is a certain aloofness and pharisaical attitude among some clergy." Any concrete facts or names to substantiate another vague, derogatory, accusatory claim?
    6) "it is also true that a "holier than thou" attitude on anyone's part is a bad thing." Now this is one of the critical issues since he is referring to a certain handful of people that were involved in this. Rev. Kieschnick is disgraceful to make public allegations against them.
    7) Red herring, groundless misdirection of a claim since your original positions lack any merit.
    8) As Christ would have us, we are called on to rebuke and reprove as needed. "anger and bitterness over past wrongs" Really, like what? Who has shown anger or bitter? So Rev. Keischnick makes serious allegations against the church, clergy and people involved, and we are to look the other way in keeping the 5th commandment?

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    1. Robert,

      Could you explain to me how critiquing a poor argument posted on the Internet makes one an apologist?

      1. Rev. Kieschnick has drawn conclusions. Whether those are sound and valid conclusions is another matter. I think that it is very unbecoming of ordained ministers, specifically of the "confessional" variety, to continue to bad-mouth people, clergy or lay, in our own Synod. Unprofessional, uncharitable, unChristian.

      2. Figures lie and liars figure. According to Dr. Rick Strickert, who I suspect is good at math, surmises that, discounting for eligible voters who did not vote, Matt actually won at 52%, *** which is consistent with the previous five Synod elections. *** Futher, regarding resolutions, it is well-known that most resolutions were non-constroversial, having been declawed and defanged (or in some instances completely replacing overtures) by the floor committees. I'm surprised that you don't know this.

      3. Please calmly read what I've written. Kieschnick himself wore a clerical, even at conventions. My assessment of what he recently wrote was that he noticed more clergy wearing clericals, which to some is an unnecessary distinction of garb and a "business" meeting.

      4. I'm not sure if you're trying to make an argument here. I'm simply making a factual statement.

      5. That's an observation, one that I've made, as well as one that continues to be made by pastors and laypeople. I've been hearing this from these folks since being ordained. If you choose not to believe this, do so because you think that I'm an untrustworthy, vicious liar, not because I don't supply you a list of names, telephone numbers, etc.

      6. What certain handful is Rev. Kieschnick referring to? Do you have names, telephone numbers, etc.? I don't suspect you of being an untrustworthy, vicious liar.

      7. Go fish. That's not a red herring, that is a proposition. Please look up red herring at plato.stanford.edu under logical fallacies.

      8. Rev. Kieshnick shared his opinion. You and I can't divine his intent. Despite his warts and wrinkles, I suspect that he does care for his church body, and wishes to see it reflect, in part, what he understands to be the truth. I also suspect that I don't share his vision.

      Robert C. Baker
      (Real Name)



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    2. Figures lie and liars figure. According to Dr. Rick Strickert, who I suspect is good at math, surmises that, discounting for eligible voters who did not vote, Matt actually won at 52%, *** which is consistent with the previous five Synod elections. ***

      Then there's the mind-readers. Boy, do they ever fib.

      But really, why figure in, or "discount," the non-voters at all? Who knows, really knows, what they're thinking or what motivated their (in)actions? They're silent. Maybe they were slothful, maybe they were forgetful (I sympathize), maybe they were Axis II rebellious, maybe they were apathetic, maybe they wanted to avoid technology and having their vote recorded by the NSA. Maybe they would have voted for Harrison; or his opponents; or maybe Mickey Mouse, if he had elected to run.

      But criminey, this is how a democracy, with the balloting works. You'd think the Supreme Voter Assembly guys would get it by now. It's the actual votes ... by actual voters (and haunts, if you live in Chicago) ... that count. Period. Anything else is pure speculation, and scarcely worthy of the attention of a good preliminary orals exam committee. Unless you talk to all the eligible voters who didn't act the part, and get 'em to talk. "Hey, who were ya going to vote for, ya good-for-nuthin' thievin'-slacker?" Speak up! It's not like this is the Great Commission or something!' And how about a little extra for the collection basket? Hey, hey, HEY ... what's in that cane, over there?"

      This is Missouri, so maybe scraping a riding crop along the exteriors of their residences might get the job done.

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doctor, S.S.P. (earned)

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  13. Nobody resents the fact that "lay-doctors" are not permitted to do that triple bypass, or that we don't allow a neurosurgeon to take a few internet courses instead of actually attending medical school, all the while slicing into people's cerebrums as part of his mentored, on-the-job training. We don't allow untrained, uncertified people to fly planes, drive buses, cut hair, or even run a lemonade stand.

    Pastors are far from perfect, and so are surgeons, pilots, and barbers. And yet, we don't just fling the doors of the ER open to anyone who "has a heart for medical work." The same people who would never trust their mortal bodies to a "lay doctor" seem to have no problem entrusting eternal souls to those lacking training (even as that training is readily available) and certification to shepherd souls in the church according to Christ's institution (which is called "ordination"). Moreover some seem to resent that the synod is actually emphasizing the use of theologically-trained, properly-called and "ritely" ordained pastors to do mission work. There is also resentment that there are voices in the church (lay and clergy) calling for the abolition to the unscriptural, unconfessional, and unchristian practice of allowing laymen to play pastor.

    Of course, the church's track record of anticlericalism goes back to the terrible way the called and ordained bearers of God's Word: the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles and their successors - not to mention the Word Incarnate, our blessed Priest and Rabbi, the Lord Jesus Himself - were hated and maligned by those who were not called to those shepherding offices, the very people to whom prophets and pastors lay down their lives in serving and delivering the eternal life-giving Word according to their vocations.

    In fact, I think this episode makes it clear that we as God's people need to spend more time in the Old Testament. The fact that people are not afraid to behave this way shows, at best, an unfamiliarity with the consequences of anticlericalism and "lay ministry" from the Holy Scriptures themselves.

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    Replies
    1. A lay doctor would be the same thing as a doctor since an M.D. is required to be a doctor. Does the state certification make one a doctor, or the education? Or does the hospital hiring someone make them a doctor?

      Isn't there such a thing as a lay theologian? There are layman who know more of the Bible and the Confessions than some pastors, yet it is the Call and Ordination that makes one a pastor. Kieshnick once stated the he "was no theologian". Is an MDIV required to be a pastor? You're ordaining pastors who have no education, and you've had MDivs serve as pastors (Herman Otten) without being certified.

      Delete
    2. Dear Timothy:

      Maybe I didn't make the point very well. My point is that (even if it were legal), the vast majority of people would not seek surgery from someone lacking training and certification, someone who just put out a shingle that says: "Joe Smith, Neurosurgeon" and set up shop. We do have a lot of "ministry" in the U.S. that works that way. Not in the LCMS, however.

      There is a process.

      There is training. There is testing. There is a certification process. In the medical field, this is because people can be hurt by an untrained and uncertified surgeon. Of course, "real" surgeons can also be harmful, but education and peer-review and evaluation helps us, the patients, to get better odds.

      There is indeed a role for lay theologians - I think of Gene Edward Veith, for example. His vocation is to teach, write, think, and serve as a professor. He is brilliant and needed by the church. But his role is not to be a pastor, a "church-shepherd" as the Swedes say.

      Most people with advanced theological degrees in the LCMS are ordained pastors. Not all are. But every person who ascends the altar and speaks the words of institution should be "rightly called" - unless we don't believe our own confessions.

      I'm unfamiliar with Pres. Kieschkick's "I am not a theologian" statement. I don't know the context. Perhaps it was humility. Nevertheless, he was awarded a master's degree in "divinity" - which is theological in nature. He uses the title "doctor" which is indicative of academic and/or professional mastery. As a pastor, he is deemed (according to St. Paul and the Holy Spirit) "apt to teach." He is also a preacher.

      I'm reminded of my dad (former USMC) describing the U.S. Marine Corps, and why they have Naval chaplains. It is because every marine is required to be a combat trained and armed warrior - even if he flies jets, fixes helicopters, or sits in a cubicle. Therefore, chaplains (who are disarmed) cannot be marines.

      In the same way, I think every pastor is a theologian. He may not have a doctorate or an S.T.M. - but an M.Div. from one of our seminaries is outstanding theological training. Moreover, I don't know how long Pres. Kieschnick spent as a parish pastor, but service as a parochial shepherd is also a tough teacher (even more demanding than David P. Scaer in a classroom of Sem Ones).

      The norm (which is the ideal) is for a pastor to have an M.Div. and to be certified. In dire circumstances, an ordained presbyter may lack formal training and/or certification (although being ordained, having hands laid on by another pastor, is a form of certification for service). In emergencies, laypeople can, should, and do baptize. They do not consecrate Holy Communion or ordain themselves. A layman is simply not a pastor. An unordained man functioning as a pastor is either like a single guy wearing a wedding ring as a subterfuge, or like a guy shacking up with his girlfriend and scoffing at matrimony.

      The Holy Spirit, through scripture, gave us the call and and the laying on of hands. We did not just make it up because we thought it would be cool. The Holy Spirit calls men into the ministry - and it is most disrespectful to Him to place men whom He has not called into a confusing sort of pseudoministry apart from the process revealed to us in scripture.

      I hope this clarifies my comments! Thanks!

      Delete
    3. SP Emeritus' "doctorate" was presented for giving a commencement address at Concordia, Texas, when he was a member of the Board of Regents, as DP in Texas.

      I don't know why so many DP's crave honorary "doctorates" and use them as if they were real, but it is not "indicative of academic or professional mastery" ... it's more like sailing under false colors.

      Delete
  14. I don't think that this article will bring concordia or harmony to our church body, either Dr. Kieschnick's blog.

    ReplyDelete
  15. President Kieschnick said that lay people were needed in "significant missionary supervisors" roles. Looking through the LCMS website, I noticed that Dr. Michael Rodewald is the regional director for Africa. He is a layman (http://www.lcms.org/rodewald). Also, Mr. Darin Storkson (http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=1221) serves as the regional director of South Asia. Regional Directors supervise all mission personnel in a given area. So it seems that the LCMS already has lay people in significant mission leadership.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Didn't realize links weren't automatically made live ..

      Dr. Rodewald

      Mr Storkson

      Delete
  16. May the members of "our church body" have fewer concerns about the paucity of layfolk found in those desirable positions of so-called significance, power and domination ... yet more material stuff sought after by the Gentiles (Mt 6:32) and the corporate bees of GM; and may the Head of His Body deign to drag another little fellow into the center of our midst, for a lip-smacking taste of humble-pie and a well-deserved warning (Mt 18:2-4).

    Evidently if some are not given over to counting the number of souls marching into hell every 5 seconds, they're inclined to keep busy tracking the number of collars parading about a Synodical Convention floor.

    Then again, what's the difference?

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor, S.S.P.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "Furthermore, there’s a discernible aloofness and even pharisaical demeanor exhibited by some pastors, obvious during worship services and in pastoral ministry functions as well. Intentionally or unintentionally, this telegraphs a 'holier than thou' attitude in both work and worship."

    You know, I'm beginning to think that heavenly worship may prove to be a bit of a grind for some influential Lutherans, given the demeanor and gravitas of this Pastor (Rev 1:13-16).

    Not to worry. I suppose one could take up one's time through-out eternity, counting the clerical collars found in the environment.

    But no doubt about it. Intentionally or unintentionally, the attitude driving the inspired St. John to a position of prostration (Rev 1:17), is not that of your typical fishin' Buddy. A golden girdle? "Fella, around these here parts, we good ol' boys make do with denim, y'all hear?"

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor, S.S.P.

    ReplyDelete
  18. When I was perusing the convention documents that were put online, I noticed that some people were designated as 'advisory delegates'. If most of the advisory delegates were clergy and wearing their clerical collars, one might assume more clergy than laity were at the convention as voting delegates. Perception is reality sometimes. I'm enjoying the discussion.

    Diane

    ReplyDelete
  19. Diane: Most 'advisory delegates' are laity by strict definition, neither fish nor fowl by Missourian definition. They are Commissioned "Ministers" in the LCMS - i.e., Teachers, DCEs, etc... - members of Synod, but unable to vote. Each district gets a certain number of Advisory Delegates to parcel out to those non-voting members of Synod in their midst, and they then can "advise" their delegations as well as speak on the convention floor.

    -Glen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Glen for clearing this up for me.

      Diane

      Delete
  20. As one who served two Synod presidents, I remain simply mortified by the behavior of the former president, now retired. Such behavior is beyond my comprehension when I recall with great affection the memor of Pastor Barry who was, always, ALWAYS, such a class act and would never have dreamed of engaging in such "sour grapes" behavior.

    Ironically, the Council of Presidents, in 1990, adopted a statement about how a pastor should treat other pastors and included comments about how a retired pastor should stay out of the affairs of his former congregation and be very careful not to meddle in the affairs of his successor.

    Gerald Kieschnick was serving on the COP at the time and voted to adopt this statement.

    It's just so incredibly sad and embarrassing.

    I honestly believe the best thing we could do for Dr. Kieschnick is pray for him and NOT draw attention to his embarrassing remarks.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Pastoral dress and dignity appears pompous to those coming from the radically informal culture of American evangelicalism. This prejudice disappears quickly when a person learns the reasons why confessional pastors dress and act as they do. For Pr. Kieschnick to encourage this prejudice is distasteful: he should know better. His blog post feeds the attitude of the church-growth faction that believes that confessional pastors are Really Bad People out to take over everything.

    ReplyDelete
  22. "I honestly believe the best thing we could do for Dr. Kieschnick is pray for him and NOT draw attention to his embarrassing remarks." -- the Rev. Paul Mccain

    These are noble and kind sentiments, Rev. McCain. They are worth heeding, in one's journey along the Way.

    Permit me to observe that in my experience, they have applied equally well to the delirious and the demented ... who can be physically aggressive and sexually uninhibited as well as verbally outrageous to bystanders, and truly "know not what they do."

    Nonetheless, at times a firm directive and even restraints proved meet, right and amazingly salutary. As well as the occasional shot to the butt.

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor, S.S.P.

    ReplyDelete
  23. http://thebarebulb.com/2013/08/08/clergy-dominance-fact-check/

    ReplyDelete
  24. So there you have it, gentlemen. Perhaps the Chestertonian or Menkenian jab ... i.e., the "needle" ... is certifiably appropriate to the circumstances.

    The proof is in the pudding ... and sadly, on so many other occasions (as the private investigator will claim) in the photo.

    Although how the black cat strayed onto the convention floor is rather beyond me. Must be a New England delegate, from Salem MA.

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor, S.S.P.

    ReplyDelete
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  27. THE PASTOR
    Was there ever and office of, The Pastor, approved of or mentioned in New Testament Scripture? No, there was not. There was no single pastor appointed as the authority over any local church congregation.

    The word pastor is mention one time. (Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (NKJV)
    Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (ESV)

    Pastors were shepherds. Bishops, elders, and overseers are one and the same; and they were the pastors or shepherds.

    1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; (NKJV)
    1 Timothy 3:2 So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. (New Living Bible)
    1 Timothy 3:2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (New International Version)

    Titus 1:5-7....appoint elders in every city....7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, (NKJV)
    Titus 1:7 Since an overseer manages God's households, he must be blameless--not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.(NIV)
    Titus 1:7 An elder is a manager of God's household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. (NLT)

    Acts 20:17,28 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you
    overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (NKJV)
    Acts 20:28 Pay attention to yourselves and to the entire flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as bishops to be shepherds for God's church which he acquired with his own blood. (God's Word-Translation)

    Notice that the apostle Paul called for the elders (plural), he did call for The Pastor (singular).


    Acts 14:23 So when they had appointed elders in every church,and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

    The apostle Paul and Barnabas appointed elders (plural) in every church congregation. They did not appoint a pastor (singular) in every church congregation.

    Elders, bishops, and overseers are the same office and their responsibilities were to pastor or shepherd the individual church congregations.

    THERE WAS NO SINGLE PASTOR WHO HAD AUTHORITY OVER A INDIVIDUAL CHURCH CONGREGATION.

    Men today like to called Reverend Pastor.
    Reverend means awesome. So they want you to refer to them as Awesome Pastor.

    Psalms 111:9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name. (KJV)

    The Lord has earned the right to be called reverend (awesome).
    Is there any man that has earned the right to be called Reverend (awesome) Pastor?

    THE NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES ONLY MENTION A PLURALITY OF ELDERS IN CHURCH CONGREGATIONS.

    MEN HAVE INVENTED THE REVEREND PASTOR (SINGULAR) AND HAVE PLACE HIM IN AUTHORITY IN LOCAL CHURCH CONGREGATIONS.


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