Monday, January 19, 2009

COP addresses important issues -- A prayer of thanksgiving for Pres. Schroeder

What a blessing Pres. Schroeder is to the WELS.

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The Conference of Presidents (COP) held its quarterly face-to-face meeting last week. Here's a recap of the most important matters discussed. Doctrine and practiceOne of the most important roles of the COP is to oversee doctrine (what we believe and teach) and practice (what we do in applying our beliefs). When it met, the COP had a lengthy discussion about the importance of retaining our unity in both areas.

Some congregations, in a desire to reach as many people as possible with the gospel, have been considering some new and different approaches and methods, especially in the areas of worship and outreach. Cautions and concerns have been voiced about some of these trends. Expressing the commitment to maintain our synod's faithfulness to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, the COP concluded that "the underpinnings of 'non-traditional' type of worship cannot be ignored" and that we need to be careful to "walk the 'narrow Lutheran road' between legalism—and ignoring and failing to admonish where practices are contrary to or dangerous to the principles of gospel proclamation and the efficacy of the means of grace."

As a result of this concern, the COP resolved that "an ad hoc committee be convened in consultation with the [COP] doctrine committee that can . . . address this issue and produce a study document that can be shared with circuits and also congregations for study and careful evaluation of practices in worship, sacraments, outreach, organization, music selection, etc."

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

What are the odds that we will observe a strong secessionist movement by Church and Change congregations to leave the WELS, especially if the synod tries to reign in some of the more liberal congregations?

Do you think C & C churches might opt to join either Missouri or ELCA ?

Anonymous said...

I hope desperately that the Church and Change congregations will secede. The synod will be much, much better for it.

Anonymous said...

Do you think C & C churches might opt to join either Missouri or ELCA ?

personally, if they continue on their course i'd rather see them join there or start their own synod than have them continue to contaminate and water down the wels. pray president schroeder can help our synod. God help us all.

Anonymous said...

The sky is falling...the sky is falling...

Freddy Finkelstein said...

These WELS congregations would be far more at home among those in the charismatic wing of LCMS -- the "Renewal in Missouri" congregations -- and among the congregations of the AALC (of currently Charismatic and, going way back, formally Pietistic subscription), which now enjoys formal fellowship with LCMS.

Freddy Finkelstein

Anonymous said...

If C&C churches wish to leave, I will hold the door open for them.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for President Mark Schroeder. My prayers are being answered.

Anonymous said...

"where practices are contrary to or dangerous to the principles of gospel proclamation and the efficacy of the means of grace."

If this truly existed, these "C & C" churches would have been removed. This seems to be more about some wanting the "narrow Lutheran road" to turn sharply right elevating the Western Rite to a biblical mandate.

Anonymous said...

Well, listening to President Schroeder speak specifically about this very topic yesterday, it's not about wanting the "'narrow Lutheran road' to turn sharply right elevating the Western Rite to a biblical mandate." He said it's not about doing everything in a uniform way in every place. It's about the trend that "we aren't growing, we need to do something about it." And more often than not, he said, we are turning to evangelical sources for those answers. This study, he said, will go back to Scripture and the confessions. One thing he said about that was very interesting. He said "If you are nervous about such a study, I ask why? Why are you nervous about going back into God's Word? Why are you worried about a study what scripture has to say?" (A paraphrase, not an exact quote).

All in all, the main concern seems to be that evangelical means and methods are creeping into our churches way too much, and the COP has decided to address those concerns, and, prayerfully, deal with them accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

>>>All in all, the main concern seems to be that evangelical means and methods are creeping into our churches way too much... <<<

Why do churches often have 'Evangelical' as part of their name? Isn't it a biblical mandate to evangelize? (and be faithful to the gospel message.)

Paul's arguments on circumcision, The Lord's message to Peter about eating "unclean" food, etc., were warnings that petty legalism is an impediment to spreading the Gospel. The message to the Apostles was that they should find a way to relate to their audience while avoiding sins prevalent in the culture.

Music and electronic media are powerful tools. If you are trying to reach a community that has lived with rock music all their lives, it makes sense to write hymns (or rearrange existing ones) to modern musical forms. If Christians and the Christian Church do not make good use these tools, they will fail in a critical part of their mission.

That being said, the contemporary styles should not be adopted carelessly. We need to guard against becoming like an ELCA church I saw a couple years ago, with smiling glassy eyed women passing out the Lord's Supper assembly-line style like it was Kool-Aid. I wanted to run out in the street and vomit.

A parting question? Was the Roman Catholic Church wrong to set Christian holy days on or around existing pagan celebrations? Or to change the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday? There are still folks screaming about that one!

--pt--

BTW, the 'preview' button is not working for me. I have attempted to proof-read but apologize for any grammar or spelling errors.

Anonymous said...

--pt--

Sigh.

I sincerely hope that you read and ponder the study document that will be produced by the new ad hoc committee. Equating liturgical worship with "petty legalism" demonstrates your complete ignorance.

Anonymous said...

good words, pt. Anon @ 821; pharisee comes to mind...

Benjamin Tomczak said...

PT ~

While evangelism certainly comes part and parcel with calling ourselves Evangelical Lutherans, it's not the primary meaning of the term.

When the Reformation got going, "Lutheran" was a pejorative term, applied by the papal party, to talk badly about the Reformers. It was eventually co-opted by the reforming party, so much so that today there are "Lutheran" churches. And we wear the badge proudly. (Interestingly, in much the same way, "Mormon," was also a pejorative, which has now become a common way to refer to members of the LDS.)

Luther, of course, didn't want a church named after him. He said (probably more than once), "Did Luther die for you? Did Luther save you? Is Luther Christ?" No, of course not. To name the church after a man could be dangerous, a sentiment Paul would certainly agree with, based on his struggles in Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 1).

As the movement grew, the reformers, those gathered around the bright, shining star that was Luther, called themselves "Evangelicals." The reason? Because among them the Gospel was being proclaimed. And that's the root meaning of that Greek word. To be "evangelical" is to be Gospel-centered, to be about the Gospel, that is Jesus on the cross for me, Jesus bursting out of the tomb for me, Jesus declaring ME, me of all people, not guilty of my sins! Free for nothing!

This was what set them apart from the papal party. So much was this the difference between the papists and the reformers, that Melanchthon (he of the spaghetti noodle spine), in his subscription to the Smalcald Articles wrote, "But regarding the pope, I hold that, if he would allow the Gospel, we could agree to his superiority over the bishops..."

Of course, evangelism is included. The Gospel-centered Church can't help but proclaim that Gospel to the world, as our Savior proclaimed. But the historical origin of the term is found in a slightly different place.

What also needs to be noted is that what we mean by Evangelical-Lutheran is also different from that amorphous religious group in America called "Evangelicals." The Evangelicals in America aren't some single denomination, but a melange of fundamentalist, sometimes conservative, sometimes not so much, mostly Reformed (that is, from the left-wing of the Reformation) Christian groups and denominations.

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak

Anonymous said...

"Anon @ 821; pharisee comes to mind..."

Calling someone a Pharisee is an extremely serious charge, since, in essence, it is equivalent with unbeliever.

If you're going to throw around charges like that, if you are going to question someone's salvation, you had better be ready to provide evidence to back it up. Could you please show me, from what I said, how I am a Pharisee? If not, then it is your duty to apologize.

I simply stated that I hoped pt would read the study document produced. Are you saying people shouldn't read it? I also said that pt was ignorant. As Pastor Tomczak showed, pt is indeed ignorant of what "Evangelical" really means.

So what was wrong with what I said? I challenge you to tell me. Or does the contempo crowd have so little to stand on that they resort to name calling?

Anonymous said...

This COP action is a timely blessing. I was struggling to develop a strategy for introducing this topic at a voters meeting in a few weeks. I think a motion thanking the COP for this review and suspending our congregation's research into alternative worship services until the ad hoc report is released.

Remember, God didn't promise that your church would grow as fast as you want.

Anonymous said...

Anon 824...

I will not apologize. I did not accuse you personally. I only inferred. Your condescending attitude needed rebuke. The Pharisees were believers. They were just skewed like you are. Some of them did become true believers and like them there is hope for you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, there are so many things wrong with such a short statement.

>>>"I did not accuse you personally. I only inferred."

So it's OK to infer that you can read hearts and see faith as long as you don't actually say it? Yikes.

>>>Your condescending attitude needed rebuke.

Then rebuke my attitude without declaring that I am an unbeliever bound for hell.

>>>The Pharisees were believers. They were just skewed like you are.

Umm, Jesus sure acted like they were unbelievers. Remember all of that "Woe to you..." stuff? Trusting in one's good works for salvation is not "just skewed". It is damnable heresy. Though I suppose that when you are in a contempo church which stresses sanctification over justification, works righteousness is only a minor problem.

>>>and like them there is hope for you.

I don't know what's more disturbing about this sentence, the fact that you claim the ability to read my heart or the fact that you seem to equate favoring contemporary worship with the hope of salvation.

When President Schroeder's study document on the means of grace is published. You need to read it. Over and over.

I think it's an excellent sign that these contempo heretics are so clearly scared and offended by what President Schroeder is doing. It means he's getting to the heart of this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1215...

All I was saying is there were some Pharisees that converted and I was critiquing your particular attitude in your post. How am I damning you to hell?

There is a Lutheran tradition and I encourage you to indulge in it. Have a brewski and chill...

Anonymous said...

>>>All I was saying is there were some Pharisees that converted and I was critiquing your particular attitude in your post. How am I damning you to hell?

No, that's NOT all you were saying and you're not getting off the hook simply by telling me to "chill".

You said that I was Pharisee, a term commonly used to describe any unbelieving legalist. (There's no such thing as a believing legalist.) You then said that some of the Pharisees saw the light and were saved, thus there was still hope for me.

This, in no uncertain terms, implies that you are able to read my heart, that you see no faith there, and that I am therefore an unbeliever bound for hell.

This is a serious charge and a serious problem, one for which you need to repent. Perhaps you will be more careful in the future before throwing out damning charges in defense of your heresies.

I truly hope that this is not the way that all contempos view everyone who supports liturgical worship, though I have long feared that this is EXACTLY how all contempos view Confessional Lutherans.

Anonymous said...

327...I could care less how you want to worship as long as it is Biblical. I expect the same respect from you. Yes, I like a more 'contempo' format, but it is still Biblical. You have never been to my church, so shut your pie hole.

Anonymous said...

"I could care less how you want to worship as long as it is Biblical."

What about Confessional? Do you care if worship is Confessional?

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
"I could care less how you want to worship as long as it is Biblical."

What about Confessional? Do you care if worship is Confessional?

January 23, 2009 12:44 PM"

Well according to all of the Confessional Crusaders, Confessional Worship is Biblical and I agree. It's the absolute application by these folks that is un-biblical.

Anonymous said...

"I could care less...." - meaning you must care since you could care at a level that is less than you currently do. Did you perhaps mean "I couldn't care less"?

Anonymous said...

"What are the odds that we will observe a strong secessionist movement by Church and Change congregations to leave the WELS, especially if the synod tries to reign in some of the more liberal congregations?"

Nil.