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Thursday, August 21, 2008 

LCMS Church Governance Proposals By Dan Over At Necessary Roughness

Dan over at Necessary Roughness has a great post on the LCMS’s restructuring convocation. I’m too busy with a customer this week to keep track of what’s going on. Dan has graciously allowed me to copy his post in it’s entirety here at POTF. Thanks Dan for this thoughtful post;

The news broke on the Steadfast Lutherans site: the LCMS has published Walking Together — The LCMS Future: Proposals and Possibilities for Consideration and Discussion. It is available on the LCMS web site as a PDF.

Walking Together is a 6-page brainstorm of proposals for the LCMS. The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance has submitted this for consideration and discussion.

It is important to note that once the reader passes the Foundational section of the document at the top of page 2, there is no Biblical or Confessional justification for any of the ideas. In fact, the Book of Concord is completely missing, unless you count “Our confessional basis remains unchanged (LCMS Constitution, Article II).” This is therefore a document of left-hand governance that operates independently from theology. We have to be very careful not to imply that God has given his blessing to any of these ideas.

If you want to put the force of God behind something, you have to back it up specifically with the plain reading of scripture. Otherwise, it’s merely groupthink in God’s name.
I’m not a pastor or an expert in synodical governance, but there are some things that caught my attention.

Page 4:Larger congregations could get more delegates to district conventions. This is a change from equality among congregations.
The term of the Synodical President and other officers could go from 3 years to 6 years.
The Divine Call of the treasurer. Can a layman receive a Divine Call?
Communication with delegates using “secure electronic communication technology.” The LCMS is a public entity. Unless there are legal issues involved, communication should be open.

Page 5:There seems to be a lot of hurdles to get something discussed. It is desired that a congregation get its overture blessed by district convention and circuit forum before it goes national. That’s a good deal of bureaucracy. A lot of people have to be friendly to an overture.

Two-thirds votes for items of doctrinal significance. This is probably a good thing, but we have to worry about words that change meaning and thus change doctrine without a two-thirds vote.

At the end of Page 5, there is an implication of power that sounds less like a synod and more like a majesterium:

The task force proposal clarifies and affirms that the Synod expects every member congregation of the Synod to respect its resolutions and to consider them of binding force on the assumption that they are in accordance with the Word of God and that they are applicable to the condition of the congregation.

A synod is a group of members or congregations who agree. They are either in agreement or not; they cannot agree with “binding force.” If this is “walking together,” it must look like a three-legged race.

Indeed, let’s consider the proposals, but let’s do it recognizing that while this concerns the church, it concerns primarily the business of the church. We should continue to recognize the efficacy of God’s Word and Sacraments and pursue those activities which maximize preaching, teaching, and confessing.

Also, there are good posts by Rev. Todd Wilken over at Steadfast Lutherans, an uncredited post also over at Steadfast Lutherans, and Pastor Christopher Hall over at This Side of the Pulpit. Good posts all!

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