Author Topic: Missouri's Horse Race  (Read 14514 times)

revjagow

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Missouri's Horse Race
« on: March 15, 2010, 01:52:39 PM »
Many thanks to the Forum Letter editors for dedicating almost an entire issue the LC-MS in March despite the busy news year with the re-aligning going on in American Lutheranism.  What really got my attention was the look ahead to the upcoming elections for President.  I see that there was a thread about these articles under "Your Turn" but looks like it has been going on for a while and has drifted from the original topic.

I found both articles to be well thought out and well written, which is not uncommon among Forum publications, but less common in other church political writings. 

Two disagreements with the authors: First, to say that Rev. Harrison is not "political" in the first paragraph of the article and then to report that he has proposed a plan for renewal in the LCMS further on, strikes me as contradictory.  Second, Dave (my long lost brother, separated at birth) was writing from his own experience with some church officials who apparently have given up on liturgical church plants (new churches that is, not palm trees and such).  I respect that this is his experience, but I would be hesitant to claim that this is commonplace around the Synod.  One could argue that the District I serve in, the Southeastern District, is perhaps the most Ablaze! (here we go with that exclaimation point) thanks to the leadership of Dr. Diefenthaller, but in our District (especially my Circuit in Northern Virigina) it is uncommon to find an alitugical church.  There is much support for congregations to do mission, but that is normally not attached to "you must do it the baptist way or you will not succeed."  At least, as far as I can see. 

Those who have read any of my posts on this forum would not be at all surprised that Dave's article struck a stronger chord with me than Will's, even though I am grateful for the point and counterpoint as it was presented.  I am also grateful that Will shared Matt's willingness to revitalize burned out neibghborhoods in Ft. Wayne as one of the reasons he would support a Harrison presidency.  I read a lot of Matt Harrison's writings and I put them out in the track rack for the members of my church to do so as well.  The main reason I would give for going in the opposite direction and voting for our incumbent President is found in the first paragraph of Dave's article: "we are, for the first time in my 25 year tenure in the LCMS, coming out of our comfort zone to deliberately and strategically share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those outside our Synod."  Amen!  I respectfully disagree with those that feel that a ten year process to dialog about our differences will help us grow naturally (what I take away from "Its Time").  I beleive that Missouri is turning the tide right now.  Much dialog has already been accomplished by those Circuits participating in the "Faithful and Afire" series.  We are on the right track with the changes made to the dispute resolution process and the decrease in the "spirit of meanness" that so strong characterized our church body.   I feel that if we stay on this trajectory, many of the divisive issues will be worked out by continuing the evangelical dialog of the past decade.   
Soli Deo Gloria!

Dave Benke

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2010, 02:18:06 PM »
Peter Speckhard’s “Blue Ribbon Musings” in the March, 2010 Forum Letter is an extended riff on the restructuring portion of the upcoming Missouri Synod Convention.  All of this is courtesy of incumbent LCMS President Jerry Kieschnick, who five years ago called into being the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synodical Structure and Governance.   

The Task Force’s final report is entitled “Congregations Walking Together in Mission.”  Over 10,000 individuals have had an active role in the process of developing that report.  All top Synodical leaders, from district boards to Synodical boards and commissions to seminary leadership to the Council of Presidents have put their opinions in writing.  Beyond that, however, tons of laypeople have let the task force know what they’re thinking.  Finally, three quarters of the delegates to the convention have had a two day regional face-to-face with the Report’s authors.  The other quarter have received a full-length DVD, so no one’s been left in the dark.  The proposals now are headed to a convention floor committee for finalization.  This is as thorough-going a try at national restructuring as has ever been seen in the Missouri Synod.

Pr. Speckhard accurately describes our denomination as passionate about both its theology and its practice, including the sometimes byzantine bylaws and procedures that determine what we in Missouri believe and confess, say and do.  It should be duly noted that during the assessment phase the Task Force discovered that an aspect of that  same passion, is perceived as bitter battling and sabre rattling.  They noted that it is the strongest negative impression of the denomination by insiders and “Ausländer”.
 
Pr. Speckhard also reports the downside statistical indication that for the past biblical generation of 40 years we in Missouri, like so many Protestant denominations, have been in incremental but steady decline.  As compared to faith groups more captive to the spirit of the age that have declined and even split over moral and national political issues, Missouri has retained a steadfast and very strong doctrinal position.   It could be asked “at what cost?”, since the bitter battling has succeeded in fragmenting a group who are as tightly knit doctrinally as could be hoped for this side of heaven. 

That being said, it’s plain that President Kieschnick, at whose behest the Blue Ribbon Task Force was created, sees restructuring not as a “game changer” in terms of eternal destiny,  but as a necessary strategy to encourage the practice of the Synod’s solid theological tenets  in congregations and mission stations to maximum benefit of both Church and world.  In that regard Pr. Speckard’s final dictum that the best thing the Task Force could have accomplished would have been to exhort to faithfulness and prayer leaves me scratching my head. 

Why is it considered problematic to change structure, even in meaningful ways?  I’ve been on close to a dozen local, district, synodical and community boards that have made major shifts in governance through the years.  In every case but, it seems, this one, the process toward governance change is greeted with enthusiasm as potentially helpful to the accomplishment of goals and objectives, to the revitalization or cleansing of the springs of action for the organization. 

As an attendee at the Northeast regional pre-convention gathering recently, I was most encouraged by the way the participants engaged the issues and debated points small and large without rancor.  It was exactly the way I’ve experienced it in other organizations.  I don’t believe that comes through much at all in Pr. Speckhard’s musings.  Without predicting outcomes, the churchly, fraternal, engaged attitude of delegates coming to the regional gatherings bodes well for significant structural improvements.

I’m one who enjoys analogies and illustrations.  Peter Speckhard is masterly in his use of these techniques.  And he uses one I particularly appreciate – the image of an urban parish in a changing neighborhood.  I inhabit that world.  Mine is not a gothic brick structure, but a country church in the middle of a very inner-urban block.  Having examined the steady decline inside the urban St. Louis gothic edifice in his recollection, Peter compares it to the Missouri Synod – an ecclesiastical dowager down at the heels – “It will never be what it was.  Never.” 

This is contrapuntal to President Kieschnick’s “It’s not your grandfather’s Missouri Synod.”  The President, to his credit, seeks to un-stick the image from the past in order to call for what he perceives to be a Confessional Lutheran renaissance in the Missouri Synod.  Pr. Speckhard instead counsels prayer and faithfulness to the inevitable end. 

I know virtually all the great stories in the 114 year history of St. Peter’s Brooklyn, that country spire in East New York.  I’ve read many.  I’ve lived even more in my 35 years there.  The pre-eminent story is the same – we are in the middle of an urban block in the middle of an urban neighborhood to stay, with the Gospel, through the Means of Grace, as ambassadors to our world of the reconciliation won in the death and resurrection of God’s Son Jesus Christ.

It will never be what it was.  True enough.   But not sad.  Not sad at all.  There are not 600 communicants with their grandparents’ German surnames today.  There are several hundred with surnames from twenty-five different countries, and it’s changing all the time, growing younger along with East New York.  What a privilege and what a mighty multilingual sound of joy!

Debate on the resolutions on structure presented at the national convention this summer will not be followed closely at 105 Highland Place.  Why would they be?  This Houston is not a street in Lower Manhattan – it’s a differently pronounced city in Texas.

But if and as conventioneers vote to adapt Missouri’s structure in order to better capitalize on mission opportunities?  Then St. Peter’s, one of 6000 plus Congregations Walking Together In Mission, will be the better for it.  To that end, from our spot a thousand miles and many spires away, one old Lutheran parish will be leading the cheers.

Dave Benke

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2010, 03:38:29 PM »
revjagow,

How exactly are we (the LCMS) "coming out of our comfort zone to deliberately and strategically share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those outside our Synod"?  And do you honestly think the LCMS did not "deliberately and strategically share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those outside our Synod" for at least the past 25 years? 

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2010, 06:11:44 PM »
Perhaps I'll re-post the piece that is somewhere on the 'Forum article on LCMS candidates' thread.  It fell among the thread drift, was beaten and left for dead.  (Not that the discussion wasn't interesting, and not that my little piece was anything great, but I think it is worth re-posting.)

The mission talk in both Will and Dave's articles was important to read.  I do think that Ablaze is changing the way mission is viewed, and sometimes that is good, sometimes not so good.  Will mentioned that people (pastors and laity) are feeling guilted into evangelism.  And somewhere I heard that 'mission' is the idol-du-jour in our LCMS.  I can see that happening.

Both articles were well done and I appreciated reading them.  Peter's piece was quite nice too.  (Congrats on the new child, Peter.  Hope mother and child are doing well.  I suppose the oldest child can handle some of the responsibilities, right?   ;))

Jeremy
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2010, 06:39:20 PM »
That being said, it’s plain that President Kieschnick, at whose behest the Blue Ribbon Task Force was created, sees restructuring not as a “game changer” in terms of eternal destiny,  but as a necessary strategy to encourage the practice of the Synod’s solid theological tenets  in congregations and mission stations to maximum benefit of both Church and world.  In that regard Pr. Speckard’s final dictum that the best thing the Task Force could have accomplished would have been to exhort to faithfulness and prayer leaves me scratching my head. 

 The President, to his credit, seeks to un-stick the image from the past in order to call for what he perceives to be a Confessional Lutheran renaissance in the Missouri Synod.  Pr. Speckhard instead counsels prayer and faithfulness to the inevitable end. 

Dave, it might not be presented as a game-changer, it is, as you say, presented as as big part of President Kieschnick's idea of a Confessional Lutheran renaissance. I don't think addressing structure can accomplish or even do much to facilitate such a renaissance. That's why I took no side on any of the recommendations. I do not think they are problematic. Some of them might be downright smart. I just don't think that is the issue. It might be smart for Messiah to save on heating bills by insulating the windows. Good idea. Not in the least problematic. I'm not agin' it. I'm saying in the larger picture it won't make a difference for Messiah because the problem is not really the heating bills, even though it might seem like that in the winter months. Such a proposal should not be understood in connection with a renaissance for Messiah, and the task force recommendations should not be seen as in any way related to a Confessional Luthean renaissance more generally in the LCMS.
 

I realize falling back on "faithfulness and prayer" seems like a wuss-out. Pastor Beckman used to counter nay-sayers who complained about his changes by saying "I like my way of doing something better than your way of doing nothing." And he had something of a point. I don't have the solution. Faithfulness and prayer are all I have to recommend. I was up front about that. The point of the piece was to pre-pacify; to make the point that the disagreements over the task force recommendations (about which I took no sides), bitter though they be, are done in in the context of love between people whose frustration and disagreement itself is a fruit of love and therefore not simple nastiness, mean-spiritedness, or any of the things it is likely to get called.

Dave Benke

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2010, 07:40:58 PM »
Thanks, Peter - congratulations on the baby, first of all.  Life, and life in Christ - great!  After a more formal presentation above, informally I want to add that although you're wanting to give off a studied neutrality, once you've indicated that the better course of action than involving 10000 people, five years and a ton of time and energy would have been to send an email exhorting everyone to faithfulness and prayer, the end-vibe is you don't think much of the restructuring concept itself, whatever the proposals might be. 

Each district has a constitution committee; ours is ably headed by someone other than me, but the district board has to approve constitutions brought up for change.  We have one old Don Abdon parish with that governance model.  They have 25 people, and 16 subcommittees inside the council.  Our advice was, "It seems a bit unwieldy."  We didn't want to appear to be too directive. 

My little mantra has been that a sure sign of congregational deterioration is a sharp increase in meetings combined with a sharp decrease in membership.  The process is to meet more and more about less and less until we meet constantly about nothing at all.  That's all at the local level. 

So for our many smaller parishes, in order to encourage a shift from the inside to the outside and from the same old agendas to items for action, we often recommend a very much more abbreviated constitution and bylaws, with less meetings and more ministries behind some kind of very basic plan.  It's not rocket science.  And guess what?  In many cases, it works. 

Nationally, the restructuring has a lot of good insights, plenty to chew on, and options that include forms of streamlining.  What I think is most important is pushing the direction of the synod away from.......the synod, and down to the congregations, where that Neuhausian axis mundi moves people from the altar to the world around them.  The title says it all - congregations walking together in mission.

Yes, the questions begged are what is walking together, and what is mission.  Restructuring cannot put The Ministry of Silly Walks into a bylaw, mandating The Synod Strut, or some humbler version of arm-in-arm-we-go.  And restructuring cannot define mission other than the way it is already defined in the constitution and the national mission statement.  However, those are, frankly, pretty doggone worthy definitions.  And so we walk on.

Dave Benke

Richard Johnson

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2010, 08:25:59 PM »
and I put them out in the track rack for the members of my church to do so as well. 

I guess that means "tract rack"?

Which reminds me of an old LP I have some place of some group of Lutheran ladies singing a bunch of satirical songs, one of which, as I recall, is called "The Tract Rack." Ring any bells with anyone? I wonder if I can find it in my garage.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2010, 09:21:40 PM »
Elll-pee?  What are these things of which you reference?  (Just had to get that out of the way.   ;)

On Sunday, following worship, there were some repeat visitors.  I greeted them and we chatted for a moment.  As they went to get their coats from the coat rack, they stopped and perused our tract rack.  (We try to keep all our racks in the same location.)  They picked up a few things from LHM (Luth. Hour Ministries) and some things that we have published.  I was encouraged because I'd never seen anyone take some of those things before.  Our worship assistant was standing next to me, and he happens to be our congregational liason for LHM.  I pointed out the the tract 'thievery' and his response was an amused and pleased "How 'bout that?"

Perhaps in Andy's congregation, they have a rack filled with track pieces for model trains- HO, N, and other guages.  That might come in handy in the metro DC area, given that region's need for improved maintenance of the Metro system.  A train track rack might serve a useful purpose should train engineers visit one Sunday.  If I'm not mistaken, Andy's church is not too far from the Yellow Line and the Blue Line.

Jeremy 
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2010, 11:34:34 PM »

Thanks, Peter - congratulations on the baby, first of all.  Life, and life in Christ - great!  After a more formal presentation above, informally I want to add that although you're wanting to give off a studied neutrality, once you've indicated that the better course of action than involving 10000 people, five years and a ton of time and energy would have been to send an email exhorting everyone to faithfulness and prayer, the end-vibe is you don't think much of the restructuring concept itself, whatever the proposals might be.  
Dave, I think you're mischaracterizing what I wrote. I am not wanting to give off a studied neutrality. Where I say I am neutral (i.e. concerning the specific recommendations) I really am neutral. I've never voted in a convention, read the handbook, or even studied the recommendations in depth. As to the specifics, I couldn't not be neutral even if I wanted to. There probably isn't a single recommendation on which I could take a passionate, informed side pro or con, with the possible exception of the name change, which I oppose for reasons I've stated publicly in this forum. As to whether I think the whole restructuring concept is likely to lead to a Confessional Lutheran renaissance, I am not neutral and I made no claim to be. I came right out and said I didn't think that it would. I could be wrong. Have been before, will be again. If you genuinely think that these recommendations are an important step in a Confessional Lutheran renaissance, I can only disagree. That is my honest opinion forthrightly stated, not hidden behind a facade of studied neutrality. It strikes me as a couple trying to save their marriage by doing something external like moving to a new town or having a child. All might be good ideas in their own right, but none are likely to solve the marriage issues. That is what I think about structure and governance as it relates to the overall vitality of the LCMS. It has to be done, someone has to do it, better be done well than done poorly, but not going to kick-start a Confessional Lutheran renaissance. Take the opinion for what it is worth, which, since I regularly offer it for free, well...  

My second point was that people passionate on both sides of the issue are not necessarily passionate about the proposal they're discussing but about the synod, which they love and are distressed about. And they're not necessarily being hateful and mean-spirited even when they're at each others' throats. They're not arguing about district size or whether DCE's should be able to vote or whatever, they're arguing about whether to disappear numerically or disappear chameleon-like into Evangelicalism the way the ELCA is disappearing into liberal protestantism. My goal in writing the article was twofold. I wanted to get people to look at the big picture in order to see the real issue rather than thinking that reorganizing the flow chart would solve anything larger than inefficient governance. I also wanted to re-spin the perception of infighting into something I think more accurately reflects the state of the synod by showing how nastiness, mean-spiritedness, narrow-mindedness, parochialism, and all the other words regularly used to describe our internal workings actually miss the mark. I used examples, like saying that I thought the people sending Brad Beckman hate-mate and the people whose hero he was were really quite similar in many of the ways that count-- they passionately loved Messiah Lutheran Church. The brother who wants another round of chemo for grandpa and the brother who wants to let grandpa enjoy his last days chemo-free are actually both expressing their love for grandpa by fighting with each other over it because they hurt to see grandpa like this.

The only thing I seem to disagree with you about in all of this is whether the task force recommendations will play a noteworthy role in a Confessional Lutheran renaissance. You say yes, I say no. But we both hope you're right, which matters more.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 08:36:08 AM by peter_speckhard »

John_Hannah

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2010, 06:23:47 AM »
Perhaps another way to say it is:

The reform of American Lutheranism will not come from our political structures. Our political structures are incapable of reform. If reform comes, it will be in spite of our political structures.

Peace, JOHN HANNAH
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

FrPeters

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2010, 07:42:40 AM »
John is the wise sage here.  The structures of our Synod are not the reform agent or even the grease to aid reform.  Reform comes from leaders and people who are determined to lead and to act together as a ground swell of change.  BUT... it would help if the structure were more consistent with the Confession...

Whether good or bad or neutral (and the proposed changes fall into all three categories), it is window dressing and not the instrument through which a more evangelical (read that Gospel centered and Gospel outreach motivated) and catholic (read that Confessional and outwardly identified through a catholic liturgy and eucharistic practice) LCMS will result.

The changes in structure will have little impact upon how Missouri operates -- that is the culture of the church body and not its constitution and by-laws.  The changes that will result in change in this Synod will have to be changes that actually affect or are driven by the congregations.  It is impossible to have a more outreach oriented Synod if the congregations are not... it is impossible to have a more catholic identity for the Synod if the congregations do express it locally.

I intrigued by those who say that the aliturgical congregation is the odd duck where they are at (I don't remember the thread or poster) but where I am at it is definitely the opposite.  It may not be true in all areas, but there are many places in Synod where the hope of change has been deposited in finding an evangelical identity not rooted in our Confession and a practice not at all catholic.  These congregations (LakePointe in Arkansas, The Alley in Minnesota, to name a few) are not just using contemporary music but speaking the language of the evangelicals in terms of conversions and decisions for Christ.  If that is the direction we are headed, Missouri will not find any peace from the restructuring nor will it find any revitalization there.

Check out these videos from the Arkansas congregation in my district.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcIKFP_hsw8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNOkKCx98BA&feature=channel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKfhbBb4O4Y&feature=channel

You can see the Ablaze! logo prominently on the wall on one of them... if this is the direction of the church, then Kieschnick is right, this is not your grandfather's church....






Fr Larry Peters
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janielou13

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2010, 07:48:43 AM »
True enough, and oft observed point, Pastor Hannah.  Any word on when your book review is going to show up on LF.org ?

Pastor Peters,,,, if you think you're rowing upstream, read up on what ACP and BvS went through,,, the Piepkorn site is a good place to start.  Reform from the ground up is what they were called to, and I don't think things have changed all that much.

FrPeters

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2010, 08:24:01 AM »
But things have changed... Precisely because of people like ACP and BvS and a host of others like them... Congregations are celebrating the Eucharist more often (when I was a child it was 4x a year and now that same congregation is 2x monthly plus the 5th Sunday and it is not a "high" liturgical at all -- just a hymnal congregation)... I would say that the Eucharist is offered every week by nearly every hymnal congregation that has two services and a significant number have it at every Sunday service.  It is my experience that those using CCW are not as eucharistic although there may be exceptions...

Things have changed and not because of Synodical resolutions but because of teachers and teaching and people listening... We are a vastly more liturgical and more eucharistic church body than we were when I was confirmed more than 45 years ago...

It may sound like we are complaining about the old complaints and fighting the old battles but it is a vastly differently landscape among the congregations using the hymnal... think Eucharistic prayer... think seasonal liturgical variation as built in to the hymnal... think richer and deeper core and practice of hymnody...

Things have changed... that cannot be denied... but are we ready to exchange this more catholic movement for the identity rooted in TCN and other programs that speak a language foreign to the Confessions and promote a liturgical identity foreign to the one presumed in those Confessions?

Fr Larry Peters
Grace LCMS, Clarksville, TN
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Dave Benke

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2010, 08:43:57 AM »
I'm happy to understand better the kind of neutrality you were striving for in your musings, Peter.  And it's never going to be possible to win an argument among Lutherans when being perceived as positing that a matter of Law (governance) can accomplish a graceful end (Confessional renaissance).  

So what can the better or wiser or more equitable or more judicial practice of governance accomplish?  My 20 years of experience at the ecclesiastical governance end of church work tells me that better governance structures allow more people more opportunities to practice what they preach.  They can live what they believe.  If they don't agree on what they believe, that's going to be a problem, to be sure.  But there's at least room for the dialog then.

For instance, take the small parish where the entire membership met every month for the voters' meeting.  It deteriorated down to about fifteen people who gathered not to make any decisions but to argue, usually about a light fixture replacement or plumbing bill, all done as a committee of the whole.  At the end of the evening, they'd all hug and go home.  New members arrive along with a new pastor, put some changes into the governance that do away with this monthly gabfest.  More new people arrive as the parish is focused not on the light fixtures but on their faith in action in the neighborhood.  The old voters' assembly crowd feels left out of the governance, but is happy at the new faces.  What took place?  Governance change allowed, against the grain and desire of the long-timers, for a fresh and real approach to the neighborhood.  Slowly, the sense of loss of that monthly gathering is being replaced by the joy of new energy in the parish.

Nationally, take the changes in ecclesiastical supervision.  I'll say a couple of big positives and a negative about them.  The big positive is that cross-country complaint filing has dwindled down to nothing since 2004.  This is averred in Padre Poedel's column.  Eliminate the all-time illuminated case, which was mine.  There were dozens and dozens of other cross-country cases swirling around the Missouri Synod system beginning in the mid-90s.    Rafts of time and energy funnelled into these, and nothing to show for it.  The change in the system in 2004 simply made it more difficult for that approach.  A big positive is that energy could and should have been put into parish work by pastors and the people of God.  Padre Dave is one who has appreciated this.  So another kudo goes out to governance.  (I would also state that it wasn't as big a positive as it might have been due to the explosion of internet forums and the time and energy spent on them, but if I said that, I'd be speaking against my own participation here.)

The big negative is that the methodologies attempted thus far to dialog about the underlying concerns have not proven fruitful (by and large), so the resentment about false practice still poisons the national system.  This actually gets down to a point on another thread about what is meant by "the Gospel in all its articles," and the drilling down of every bit of doctrine into "quia" subscription to the confessions in order for there to be confessional agreement.  If that's the goal of some, it's doomed to fail because it's a perfectionistic dream without adiaphora.  In other words, part of the problem is a desire either taught or caught for absolute agreement on everything as an option on the planet earth.  Not going to happen.  So how to more effectively engage dialog on essentials?  The "model" conferences have been an honest attempt, but in my estimation somehow the structure of them prevents sustained engagement.

I'm not sure how to solve that - in a sense, now I can state in the positive that this particular internet forum is exemplary, because it is a relatively collegial interactive with relatively strong proponents/opponents in the same space.  I did say "relatively."  

Anyway, enough for now.

Dave Benke  

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Re: Missouri's Horse Race
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2010, 09:24:19 AM »
I agree, Dr. Benke, that those "cross-country" complaints have dwindled.  But not because the problem was dealt with (let alone solved) but simply because one group was muzzled and forbidden to voice their  concerns.  Let's take your case (since you again bring it up!).  As I recall at least one of the men who brought charges tried to speak with you about what transpired at Yankee Stadium but was rebuffed.  What recourse did he have but to pursue charges, since he was convinced you had sinned -- and that your sin was adversely affecting not just you, your congregation, or even district but the whole Synod?  Even more to the point: that your actions violated the First and Second Commandments and that it thus impinged upon the proper proclamation of the Gospel?  I am sure that you disagree with that view of your actions but simply stifling the voice of others does not help.  An investigation (done privately, out of the public spotlight and the press) would have helped -- but you and Dr. Kieschnick (and others on your behalf, most notably Rev. Don Matzat) repeatedly broke the bylaw forbidding publicity during this part of the process, even after it was pointed out to you (by many, including the Board of Directors of Synod).  Part of the real anger about that situation was that the only way to make their concerns heard was for those pastors and congregations to file charges.  Now that venue has been taken away.  So, do you think their concerns are gone?  Or their anger at being ignored?  
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 10:18:06 AM by swbohler »