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Messages - Rev. BT Ball

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1
Your Turn / Re: Ecclesiastical Supervision in the LCMS
« on: May 24, 2016, 06:24:25 PM »
Scott-
I think there is a reason, and that may just be that folks think the current system simply doesn't work properly.  If President Kieschnick attempted to discipline a professor at a University of the Synod who was teaching and advocating false doctrine and the bylaws made it simply impossible for him to act as the Constitution mandated, then I would have supported President Kieschnick's advocacy to change the bylaws in this matter.  Here's the Constitution...

"3.    The President has and always shall have the power to advise, admonish, and reprove.  He shall conscientiously use all means at his command to promote and maintain unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of the Synod."

If the bylaws preclude him from promoting and maintaining the unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of the Synod, then the bylaws should be changed, or the Constitution should be changed and that responsibility removed from him.

Ben+

2
Your Turn / Re: 2016 LCMS Convention President's Report
« on: May 24, 2016, 05:23:27 PM »
Have we lost our sense of the Six Chief Parts? I don't know but like to see the evidence one way or another. Perhaps we have.

If we have, I would say (as I said 45 years ago) we did not need to devote all that attention (obsession?) to the fundamentalist Bible. I don't care one way or another about the fundamentalist Bible but I do about the Small Catechism. That's vital to the Church.

Peace, JOHN

Pastor Hannah-
there is no Small Catechism without the Bible.  For example, God revealed the decalog to a real guy named Moses, who then copied them into the books he wrote.  The catechism says that the Holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and St. Paul the Apostle wrote...

The Scriptures or if you prefer the "fundamentalist Bible" are vital to the Church.  The Small Catechism is the orthodox confession of the Faith drawn from that same Bible.

Dave- you wrote
"While I feel you all getting defensive about being considered to be control freaks, and I empathize with that because the task of bringing what I would consider a fundamental instruction format to all churches is a major thing for us, is the structure drawn up by President Harrison's Task Force on Ecclesiastical Supervision and Dispute Resolution the way to go?  I think it's absolutely the wrong way to go.  I think it is a highly centralizing, highly hierarchical way that will, if adopted, mark the end of Koinonia as a process or as a product, because its component parts are destructive to mutual conversation and consolation.  In other words, if and as adopted, what is at serious risk is an article of the Gospel, according to Schmalkald."

I would think that having been in the DP's chair for a long time you'd welcome one level above you with the authority to adjudicate a matter.  Let's just stick with the catechism.  Let's say there were an Atlantic District pastor and congregation who after your gifts of persuasion were at an end, still refused to teach the six chief parts to young and old.  You, excercising proper authority suspended both.  But...your suspension was overturned because they were able to convince the hearing panel that they indeed subscribed to the Small Catechism and the entirety of the Concordia, but saw parts of it like "As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household" as being descriptive of 16th century practice. 

So what are you to do?  Perhaps, if you were still a DP, through amended bylaws, you could appeal to the President and Vice-Presidents to assist the hearing panel, pastor and congregation regarding their error.  Wouldn't you want that?  Would this be the destruction of the Koinonia project or would it be proper evangelical discipline in line with the very first objective of the Synod - "Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith"?

BB+

3
Your Turn / Re: 2016 LCMS Convention President's Report
« on: May 24, 2016, 12:52:37 PM »

So it is the fault of those who catechized those pastors and taught them in seminary?  Is there no fault or responsibility on the part of those who violate the covenant of our walking together most egregiously?  How long do we work to persuade and how many folks do they teach a Lutherans to that is inconsistent with even the most basic affirmation of the Small Catechism?  These things did not just happen yesterday and have been going on for a generation by those who have discarded the Catechism from adult and youth catechesis and who teach a Lutheranism that would be unrecognizable to that Catechism or the Augsburg Confession.

I think it's a synod-wide fault. We continually operate from a place of anxiety, and that's true no matter who the driving forces are (it goes beyond just synod presidents by the way). I think your sentence here, "These things did not just happen yesterday and have been going on for a generation..." is most instructive. It is clear these things did not just happen yesterday, and have been at play for at least a generation, so why are we looking for a less than a generation "fix?" Why are we expediting the process? "How long do we work to persuade...?" However long it takes, Fr. Peters! We do not/should not work from anxiety, which mandates a "fix it now!" solution. We can and should work as a church, taking our time, being long suffering and patient, and recognizing that it might take a generation or more to "fix" the major issues we are talking about today. And you know what? After that we can begin working on new issues that developed in the meantime. We are constantly in conversation and persuasion and we are constantly working towards healing in our midst. Anyone, any group, any side, any political organization of any persuasion, any blog, any publication, any anything, that wants to expedite this process is not only doing a disservice to the synod here and now but it is unnecessarily setting up more problems for our children. We can do better.

M. Staneck

Matt-
sure we can.  But perhaps it starts with congregations and pastors openly admitting that they don't do something like...teach Luther's Small Catechism.  I think that honesty would go a long way if pastors and congregations, who on paper subscribe to the Small Catechism, simply stated in a forthright manner they have moved past the Small Catechism and are doing something else.  I don't see that happening, but like Larry I have anecdotal evidence that such lack of catechesis both for children and adults is ongoing, people moving to our area, joining as adults an LCMS congregation, not only never having cracked a Small Catechism or even having heard of it.

I have tried to understand how a LCMS pastor or congregation can in good conscience claim to be Lutheran if it is unwilling to use the most basic text of Lutheranism (aside from the Scriptures). 

In my opinion, attempts to direct the cause of this as anxiety or fears are completely misplaced.   Can't we just say they believe, teach and confess differently? 

I don't think you really answered Larry's points.  Where would this persuasion start?  The Seminaries? Are they graduating pastors whose confessional subscription is such that the Small Catechism is not part of their instruction and pastoral care?  District Presidents?  Is there supervision such that Pastors and congregations can continually not have any tangible marks of their confessional subscription evident in practice?  Winkels?  What exactly would this persuasion look like?  Would it ever involve discipline? 

As to the Lutheran Confessions being descriptive -  I do say yes to that.  They describe true Lutheranism.  Not using the Small Catechism in a nominally LCMS parish shows that that parish and her pastor do not fit the description of Lutheranism.  Can you agree to that?

Ben+

4
Your Turn / Re: Post-Dispatch Article on Lay Deacons
« on: May 23, 2016, 09:33:54 PM »
If anyone is interested in what President Harrison said at the conference last week about lay deacons...here is the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_SxSXnCFUE

5
Your Turn / Re: Post-Dispatch Article on Lay Deacons
« on: May 23, 2016, 02:29:18 PM »
I read the article. Seriously, must be a slow news day in St. Louis.

I did find this article to be somewhat ironic. We're not "fighting" (to use the reporter's word) about allowing women to be ordained. We're not talking about active gays being in. We're "fighting" about the necessity of ordination to do pastoral acts.

Yeah, we're really a dull group.

Jim-
I really thought the same thing.  The reporter was here for the whole day of the conference.  I thought he was a layman who was attending, until right at the end of the day someone told me he was from the P-D.  I had introduced myself earlier that morning and he didn't even identify that he was a reporter.  Looking back, I thought that was kind of odd.  But, I'm glad the he came as he was in the services and got to hear God's Word preached, along with everything else that day.
BB+

6
Your Turn / Re: Post-Dispatch Article on Lay Deacons
« on: May 23, 2016, 11:40:09 AM »
Not knowing the church involved, but from the description the notation that the German "Heilig, Heilig, Heilig" was a translation of the English was a jarring note.  Likely the English was a translation of German that was original in the church.

Speaking of translation, I once helped out at a Saint Trinity Lutheran Church in Michigan.  I always suspect that as the church transitioned years ago from German to English something got skewed in translation.

Dan-
yes that was a strange way for the reporter to put that.  We added this during our renovation following the church fire.  It went back and forth in the committee whether or not it would be sanctus sanctus sanctus above the arch to the chancel or simply Holy Holy Holy with the Trinitarian symbol at the peak.  But then the artist suggested a nod to the language of the fathers and mothers who settled the area and founded the church.  So we put the voice of today with the voice of the past together. 
BB+

Here is a pic from Easter Sunday to get a look at what he wrote about.

https://www.facebook.com/stpaulhamel/photos/pb.514122261996521.-2207520000.1464017718./1010099095732166/?type=3&theater

7
Your Turn / Re: Post-Dispatch Article on Lay Deacons
« on: May 23, 2016, 11:15:21 AM »
Jeremy-
it is really a pretty fair treatment of the issue all around.

The best lines of the article are these though -

"...St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, a tiny farming town. The words “Holy, Holy, Holy” were painted high on one side of the wall, the German translation on the other: “Heilig, Heilig, Heilig.”  This is the heart of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod..."

I admit to bias.

BB+

9
Whatever resolutions come out of the LCMS convention committee 13 (Routes to Ministry) some will deal with the recommendations of the 4-06A Task Force on Licensed Lay Deacons.  The three presidential candidates were asked (in a round about way) about this in Question #3 of the Candidates Q and A.

The answers are really interesting. 

President Harrison notes that the CTCR and the Seminaries support the proposal and that the recommendations get us in line with the Bible and our Lutheran Confessions.  The support of the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis quite specific.  It is Overture 13-03 on pages 437-438 of the workbook "To Support Resolution 4-06A Task Force Recommendations". 

Of course the President (and member of the faculty) of that Seminary is also a candidate.   There is no note on the Seminary overture that President Meyer was a dissenting vote, so the best construction reading of his answer to the question would be that he believes the Task Force recommendations are the unifiying way to resolve the issue and seek peace and pursue it as he states in his answer to the question.

President Maier of the Michigan District would have to be the candidate for those who want to keep the status quo on this issue.  He notes that often the deacons minister to people who have no other recourse to Word and Sacrament Ministry, but his answer avoids the matter of controversy - the Biblical and Confessional issues at hand.  He also mentions their training and ecclesiastical supervision.  However, neither the training or the supervision of the deacons is the point of contention.  That is, the fact that men without call or ordination preach, teach and administer the Sacraments in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and have since the implementation of the 1989 Wichita resolution.  It should be noted that the 1989 resolution specifically states that these men are not called by any congregation but licensed by the District President so it cann

Harrison and Meyer direct us to the proper way of resolving the controversy, and I think Harrison's leadership on this particular Confessional issue makes him worthy of the support evangelical/catholic Lutherans.

Ben+





Q3: In the context of our walking together as Synod, what is the best way to address the concerns of many that we have individuals who are publicly preaching, teaching and administering the Sacraments without being recognized by the church as pastors?

Matt Harrison:
“I appeal to you, brothers … that there be no divisions among you” (1 Cor. 1:10). The 2013 convention asked me to appoint a task force to (1) Provide flexibility so that 200+ parishes served by Licensed Lay Deacons will still be; and (2) Get us in line with the Bible (Rom. 10:14f.) and Confessions (AC XIV), such that men who are preaching and administering the Sacraments regularly are called and ordained. I refuse to pit mission against doctrine or laity against clergy. They should be colloquized as SMP pastors (1 Tim. 5:17). No parishes need close. CTCR and seminaries support this proposal.

Dale Meyer:
Those who are “publicly preaching, teaching and administering the Sacraments without being recognized by the church as pastors” are not being independent and unmindful of the whole church but acting according to [a] 1989 Synod convention resolution. This issue is indeed troubling the church and can be resolved in a unifying or divisive way. Either side can get a majority to impose its position on those who disagree or both sides together can patiently but persistently work toward a resolution that most will embrace. “Seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11).

David Maier:
Licensed Lay Deacons (to whom the question refers, I believe) are generally worker-priests, under or uncompensated, serve under the supervision of an ordained pastor, often assisting pastors at their home congregation’s request. Highly trained, educated and certified annually, those they minister to frequently have no other recourse for Word and Sacrament ministry. I am thankful for their hard work, labor of love, allowing themselves to be used by God in surprising ways. Remembering Paul’s words, “I planted, Apollos watered,” (1 Cor. 3:6) and Jesus’ words to His disciples in Mark 9:40, “for whoever is not against us is for us,” is helpful.

10
Your Turn / Re: 2016 LCMS Convention President's Report
« on: May 19, 2016, 01:53:53 PM »
I think this is all well and good if you consider "Synod" to be the central offices in St. Louis.  I think the people in the regional VP areas and those who serve in and around the universities are Synod too. 

I'm for a strong center when it comes to pastoral formation.  Less so for the administration and governance.  Going back to our formation, I feel the reason why we individual congregations even agreed to have a Synod in the first place was to train church workers and send missionaries.  The more the LCMS as an entity has concentrated on other things, the less effective she has been.

Andy- (Matt and Scott)

Who said anything about St. Louis?  When I said the Synod, I mean how it is defined in the constitution - Congregations, and Ordained and Commissioned folks.   There is no distinction between my parish 30 miles from the Mississippi and yours  30 miles from the Chesapeake and one way over in Oregon.  We are equally part of the Synodical union and that union meets to make decisions every three years, as do the districts which are creations of the Synod as a whole.  That isn't centralization it is a fact of the Constitution and bylaws.

Please don't take this in an antagonistic way, but your feelings about the reasons as to why a Synodical union was formed are beside the point.  The reasons are objective, quite apart from how any of us feel about them and in 1847 in Chicago they actually listed them.    http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/lcmsconstitution.pdf

To quote...
Reasons for forming a synodical organization.
1. The example of the apostolic Church. (Acts 15:1-31.)
2. The preservation and furthering of the unity of pure
confession (Eph. 4:3-6; 1 Cor. 1:10) and to provide common
defense against separatism and sectarianism. (Rom. 16:17).
3. Protection and preservation of the rights, and duties of
pastors and congregations.
4. The establishment of the largest possible conformity in
church government.
5. The will of the Lord that the diversities of gifts be used for
the common good. (1 Cor. 12:4-31. )
6. The unified spread of the kingdom of God and to make
possible the promotion of special church projects.
(Seminary, agenda, hymnal, Book of Concord, schoolbooks,
Bible distribution, mission projects within and outside the
Church.)

What you feel about the reasons for Synodical union are certainly there, at number 6 on the list.  It is a very interesting list to be sure.  Maybe the reason why we have been less effective relates to how we have not concentrated on #2.  I think going ad fontes regarding our Synodical Constitution would be a really good move.

Ben+ 

11
Your Turn / Re: 2016 LCMS Convention President's Report
« on: May 18, 2016, 07:10:41 PM »
Andy-
I'll disagree a bit.

the colleges and the universities are of the Synod, not of the region.  They are entities created by the Synod, operated by the Synod, funded by the Synod (obviously a miniscule small part of their funding, but it is the Synod that owns the indebtedness of much of them).  As such, the Synod as a whole should be involved in oversight.  The way that happens is that the Synod elects some of the regents.  Some.  Each college and university already elects some of  the regents from the district they are located.

As for the regional vice-presidents.  You'll remember that this is a relatively new practice.  Vice-presidents only in the last 6 years were elected this way, with nominations coming from the regions, and again, they are vice-presidents of the Synod.  This is particularly important because they are in line of succession to the Synodical Presidency.  As such they are to represent the entire Synod which is why the entire Synod in convention should elect them.

Peace, Ben+

12
Your Turn / Re: Things found in the 2016 LCMS Convention Workbook
« on: May 17, 2016, 12:11:28 AM »
I've been a pastoral delegate to two conventions and will attend against this year.  My first convention was fairly early in my career.  At that time one of the questions asked was who had not yet attended a convention.  I attended again in the late 90s.  I'm not sure why I was chosen.

This year one of the rules for selecting the delegates was that the Circuit Visitor had to be notified before the Circuit Forum meeting where the delegates were selected of nominees for delegates, no nominations from the floor.  Only two of us pastors did so, so I had a 50/50 chance of being selected.

Dan-
that is kind of strange.  I've been a circuit counselor/visitor a few times and have presided at the forums for election.  According to the bylaws, all sole pastors, senior pastors and associate pastors serving congregations are automatically eligible and comprise the slate for potential election as delegate.  There is no prior nomination for pastoral delegates.    The bylaws are very clear on this.  Pastors obviously can remove their names for consideration, but they are all eligible without nomination.

There is prior nomination process for laity  Their names must be received by the circuit visitor one day prior to the circuit forum to be eligible for election.

Ben+

I would add only one condition: churches with more than one pastor must designate one as the potential candidate.  Also, I believe that "assistant pastors" cannot be considered.

Nope, not according to the bylaws.  They have to designate who will be voting at the circuit forum, but if a congregation has a senior pastor and however many "associates" they are all eligible for election. 

You are correct about assistant pastors; they are ineligible.


13
Your Turn / Re: Things found in the 2016 LCMS Convention Workbook
« on: May 16, 2016, 09:14:17 PM »
I've been a pastoral delegate to two conventions and will attend against this year.  My first convention was fairly early in my career.  At that time one of the questions asked was who had not yet attended a convention.  I attended again in the late 90s.  I'm not sure why I was chosen.

This year one of the rules for selecting the delegates was that the Circuit Visitor had to be notified before the Circuit Forum meeting where the delegates were selected of nominees for delegates, no nominations from the floor.  Only two of us pastors did so, so I had a 50/50 chance of being selected.

Dan-
that is kind of strange.  I've been a circuit counselor/visitor a few times and have presided at the forums for election.  According to the bylaws, all sole pastors, senior pastors and associate pastors serving congregations are automatically eligible and comprise the slate for potential election as delegate.  There is no prior nomination for pastoral delegates.    The bylaws are very clear on this.  Pastors obviously can remove their names for consideration, but they are all eligible without nomination.

There is prior nomination process for laity  Their names must be received by the circuit visitor one day prior to the circuit forum to be eligible for election.

Ben+

14
Your Turn / Re: Things found in the 2016 LCMS Convention Workbook
« on: May 16, 2016, 08:19:55 PM »
I've been a delegate once in '07 from the Northern Illinois District and will be again this year from Southern Illinois District.    In 2013 I had the honor of being Assistant Chaplain for the convention.  Being part of planning of the convention services, conducting them and offering pastoral care to lots of people during that week was really an wonderful experience. 

Back to the workbook, I read the called to glory section last night, and I saw that two of my Lutheran School teachers (My first and second grade teacher, and my 11th grade Christian Doctrine teacher) were listed.   It sure did give me a chance to give thanks to God for them.

Scott Yak-
I'm not so sure I agree with you regarding repeat delegates.  Those folks can't send themselves, the circuit forum has to elect them, and on the part of the laity, they have to be nominated by a congregation in the first place to even be on the ballot to be elected.  I think it is a pretty fair process. 

Ben+

15
Your Turn / Re: Things found in the 2016 LCMS Convention Workbook
« on: May 15, 2016, 10:26:54 PM »
I am attempting to be a diligent delegate to our convention this summer.  It's Saturday morning, 5:45.  I'm up with the dog on an unusually chilly morning.  We go out and come back in.  The coffee is ready.  I sit at the kitchen table.  The dog is at my feet and I continue to go through the workbook.  Eventually my 6yo daughter wakes up and comes downstairs.  "What's that book, Daddy?"  "It's a workbook for the convention I get to go to this summer."  "It's big."  "Yup.  478 pages."  "What's in that book?"  "Reports from people about the work do in our church body.  Ideas from people about things they think we should do."  "Do you have to do a book report on it?"  "No sweetie."  "What would you say if you did have to?"  "Jesus loves his church."  "Ok.  I'm going to sit on the couch under the blanket with my baby dolls."  "Ok." 

It wasn't too long after that conversation that I came across my favorite section in the workbook- the listing of those ordained and commissioned ministers who had died in the last three years.  There was a tremendous equality in the listing.  Yes, the font size had to be same, because 478 pages of workbook doesn't need to be 500.  But all the names were the same size, the same font.  There was no bolding, no italicizing, no underlining, no distinction.  I venture to say that the majority of names on the list were retired workers, old, and full of years.  I also know that a few weren't.  There was a classmate of mine on the list.  That was sad.  It brought his death back to the front of my mind.  He was listed with pastors, missionaries, organists, teachers, circuit counselors, doctors of the church, leaders.  But all of them were what they had been formed to be: servants.  It's always nice to see this list and give thanks to God that there are people who respond to His call, "Who will go?"  "We will.  And we will do our duty."

Those faithful servants are dead.  Their souls have departed to be with the Lord and they are ever before the Lord, beneath His altar.  They fervently ask, "How long, O Lord?"  And the Lord kindly assures them, "Soon."

Do you have any favorite parts of the workbook that you look forward to reading/noting?  What are things that you have found that were of interest to you?

Jeremy

Jeremy-
I had the same conversation with my 8 year old daughter.  When I said it was all the things that were going to be talked about at the big church meeting I had to go to this summer, she said, "Yuck!"

Thanks for pointing out the Faithful.  I will look at them tonight.

Also, if you were really doing your diligence you would be getting up early on Tuesday morning and heading over to Hamel for the Gottesdienst conference.  No one has claimed our guest room yet

BB+

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