On August 8, 1945 the United States became the first nation to sign the United Nations Charter in hopes for continued peace after World War II. The next day the United States dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki (This Day in U.S. Military History Calendar, A&E Television). I’m not questioning the morality or necessity of dropping the bomb; I just find the timing incongruous. About as incongruous as talking of peace in a church body where bombs are still being dropped.
The bombs I’m thinking of are found in the “Pastor Profile Texas District LC-MS.” A layman from another congregation in the Call process sent me the document. I quote below the opening paragraph and then questions 4, 8, and 9.
Pastor Profile Texas District, LC-MS
This survey seeks to clarify what our congregational members believe to be the key roles, functions, attributes and qualities of the pastor we are seeking to call. Your responses to this survey will provide information that will help in the process of identifying one or more pastors who are suited for our ministry and would, therefore be good candidates for our call. Please answer all questions, carefully following instructions. Please return your completed copy to the call committee.
4. Communion Practice – Think about your congregation’s practice of distributing Holy Communion. Rank the following three practices in order from 1 to 3 with 1 being most like your desired communion practice and 3 being least like your desired communion practice.
____Our congregation serves the Lord’s Supper only to communicant members of this congregation, of other LCMS congregations and to members of congregations in altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS. No exceptions to this practice.
____Our congregation serves the Lord’s Supper to baptized believers who confess their sins and come to the communion table after being educated in what the LCMS believes, teaches and confesses about this sacrament.
____Our congregation serves the Lord’s Supper only to communicant members of this congregation, of other LCMS congregations and to members of congregations in altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS. Discretion is given to pastor and elders to commune others in exceptional circumstances.
8. Roles for Lay Women: Think about how your congregation involves laity in worship and leadership roles. Check all of the roles currently available to women in your congregation.
____Congregational Chairman of Board of Directors and Vice Chairman
____Lay Reader (Lector)
____Children’s Sunday School Teacher
____Adult Bible Class Teacher
____Board/Action Team member
____Board/Action Team chair
____Other, please specify:
9. Roles for Lay Women: Think about the roles you checked in the previous question and how important it is to that our new pastor support women serving in these roles.
1=Very Strong Emphasis
3=Moderately Strong Emphasis
____Emphasis our new Pastor should have in supporting these roles for women.
Here we see the officially adopted policies of the 2004 Convention at work. At that convention closed and open Communion were recognized as differences only in practice. Here we see you can have open Communion (option 2); closed Communion with the open-ended option of “exceptional circumstances” (option 3); or you can have closed Communion as I have never known it practiced, with no emergency exceptions.
At the 2004 convention the roles of women were expanded to include any man- made office. Here we see that in practice women are congregational chairman, elders, lectors, and Communion assistants. The only thing the layman is asked to consider is how important it is to him that a new pastor emphasize the ongoing roles. There is no hint that some of these roles might be contrary to Scripture.
We can’t call on ecclesiastical supervisors to correct, discipline, or work to change anything reflected in these questions. Why? Because these practices are supported by reports made to Synod and by resolutions passed by Synod. That’s why when I expressed dissent I was told I was free to leave Synod but I was not free to teach contrary to these things. And neither are you. Neither is the president of Synod.
That’s why Resolution 4-10, passed at this last convention, is meaningless. District Presidents are encouraged, never required, never instructed to “address the congregation’s administration of the Lord’s Supper…and…that those practices which are not in harmony with the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions be addressed fraternally and evangelically.” The Communion practices listed above are all acceptable.
So who is fooling who? What will talking about peace in our Synod do when bombs like these are going off everyday? And remember we have agreed that these aren’t bombs at all. These departures from the historic position of our Synod are not subject to discipline.
The path many confessional pastors, myself included, have chosen is to build bomb shelters within Synod. This is preferable to thinking there is peace when there is no peace, or that bombs are not bombs, but this leads to a “bunker mentality” where you are always on the defensive and never on the offensive. It is already hard enough to “fight” with people who tell you there at peace with you. But the boxer who hugs the other boxer is not doing so because he is at peace, but because he doesn’t want to be hit anymore. So rather than talk of peace let’s launch some bombs. Its bombs that got Japan to the peace table not talk fraternal, evangelical, or otherwise.