Author Topic: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community  (Read 217149 times)

Charles Henrickson

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #930 on: February 09, 2013, 12:21:22 AM »
President Harrison wrote: "The 2004 CTCR document with recommendations regarding 'Civic Events' was a thoughtful attempt to deal with questions that challenged us but has, in my estimation, proven to be less than optimal and helpful."

The 2004 CTCR document "Guidelines for Participation in Civic Events," while commendable in many ways, shows itself to be inadequate at certain points--by the Commission's own admission! They could not even come to agreement with themselves! They say so on pages 19-20:

The members of the Commission disagree about the issue of so-called “serial” or “seriatim” prayers involving representatives of different religious (Christian and/or non-Christian) groups or churches.  Some members of the Commission believe that under no circumstances is it permissible for LCMS pastors to participate in any type of an event in which various Christian and/or non-Christian leaders “take turns” offering prayers, holding that such an activity by its very nature constitutes “joint prayer and worship.”  The majority of the Commission believes that in some instances it may be possible and permissible for LCMS pastors to participate in such an event as long as certain conditions are met (e.g., when the purpose of the event in question is clearly and predominately civic in nature, and when it is conducted in such a way that does not correspond to the LCMS understanding of a “service”; when no restrictions are placed on the content of the Christian witness that may be given by the LCMS pastor; when a sincere effort is made by those involved to make it clear that those participating do not all share the same religious views concerning such issues as the nature of God, the way of salvation, and the nature of religious truth itself).

It should be noted in this connection that all members of the Commission agree that, understood from a Christian perspective, prayer is always in some sense “an expression of worship.”  The question is whether it is possible under any circumstances for an LCMS pastor to offer a prayer in a public setting involving a variety of religious leaders without engaging in “joint prayer and worship.”  Some believe that this is not possible.  The majority believes that it may be possible depending on such factors as how the event is arranged and understood and how the situation is handled by the pastor in question, in order to make it clear that “joint prayer and worship” is not being conducted or condoned.


Charles Henrickson
Pastor, St. Matthew Lutheran Church (LCMS), Bonne Terre, Missouri: stmatthewbt.org

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #931 on: February 09, 2013, 12:24:34 AM »
We still have Scripture and our Confessions. Perhaps, we could consult those.

(We also have a constitution, which has something to say about this)

Harry Edmon

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #932 on: February 09, 2013, 12:29:19 AM »
If I read LCMS By-Law 1.7 correctly, I believe the only items that are binding to members of the LCMS are (in this order):

1. The Scriptures
2. The Lutheran Confessions
3. The LCMS Constitution and By-Laws
4. Synodical Resolutions.

It appears from ByLaw 3.9.5 that the CTCR is mainly to provide advice and guidance.   For example, By-Law 3.9.5.2:

The Commission on Theology and Church Relations shall assist the
President of the Synod at his request in discharging his constitutional
responsibilities for maintaining doctrinal unity within the Synod.
Harry Edmon, Ph.D., LCMS Layman

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #933 on: February 09, 2013, 12:34:11 AM »
I think it's kind of sad to suggest that no one knows what is right, or what to do, without guidelines from the CTCR. Have we lost the ability to understand those greater guidelines I just mentioned?

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #934 on: February 09, 2013, 12:38:43 AM »
President Harrison wrote: "The 2004 CTCR document with recommendations regarding 'Civic Events' was a thoughtful attempt to deal with questions that challenged us but has, in my estimation, proven to be less than optimal and helpful."

The 2004 CTCR document "Guidelines for Participation in Civic Events," while commendable in many ways, shows itself to be inadequate at certain points--by the Commission's own admission! They could not even come to agreement with themselves! They say so on pages 19-20:

The members of the Commission disagree about the issue of so-called “serial” or “seriatim” prayers involving representatives of different religious (Christian and/or non-Christian) groups or churches.  Some members of the Commission believe that under no circumstances is it permissible for LCMS pastors to participate in any type of an event in which various Christian and/or non-Christian leaders “take turns” offering prayers, holding that such an activity by its very nature constitutes “joint prayer and worship.”  The majority of the Commission believes that in some instances it may be possible and permissible for LCMS pastors to participate in such an event as long as certain conditions are met (e.g., when the purpose of the event in question is clearly and predominately civic in nature, and when it is conducted in such a way that does not correspond to the LCMS understanding of a “service”; when no restrictions are placed on the content of the Christian witness that may be given by the LCMS pastor; when a sincere effort is made by those involved to make it clear that those participating do not all share the same religious views concerning such issues as the nature of God, the way of salvation, and the nature of religious truth itself).

It should be noted in this connection that all members of the Commission agree that, understood from a Christian perspective, prayer is always in some sense “an expression of worship.”  The question is whether it is possible under any circumstances for an LCMS pastor to offer a prayer in a public setting involving a variety of religious leaders without engaging in “joint prayer and worship.”  Some believe that this is not possible.  The majority believes that it may be possible depending on such factors as how the event is arranged and understood and how the situation is handled by the pastor in question, in order to make it clear that “joint prayer and worship” is not being conducted or condoned.


With guidelines like those . . . 

Harry Edmon

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #935 on: February 09, 2013, 12:38:56 AM »
I will also add that 2004 Synodical Resolution 3-06A had the following "resolves" about the report:

Resolved, That we commend the CTCR’s report, “Guide-
lines for Participation in Civic Events” for study to help
pastors, teachers, and church workers make decisions
about participation in civic events:
• That faithfully reflect our unqualified commitment to the
absolute truth of the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God;
• That seek to take full advantage of every legitimate op-
portunity to proclaim clearly in the public realm that
“only in and through Jesus do we have the definitive rev-
elation of the true and only God,” that God “is known as
Father and Savior only through Spirit-wrought faith in
Jesus Christ,” and that “only the Triune God—Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit—is the object of our worship and the
hope of our salvation”  (GPCE p 8 );
• That honor and uphold the free and willing commitments
we have made with one another by virtue of our member-
ship in the Synod;
• That demonstrate concern and sensitivity for how partic-
ipation (or non-participation) in civic events may be per-
ceived by those inside and outside of the LCMS; and
• That recognize that “clarity in doctrine and practice and
charity in our dealings with one another are both essen-
tial to the church’s life and witness” (GPCE, p. 23); and be
it further
Resolved, That we encourage all the members of the
Synod to continue to study these issues under the guidance
of the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions (see
Res. 3-04 on Theological Conferences) as we face the ongo-
ing challenges to bring God’s unchanging Word to bear on
our increasingly pluralistic and polytheistic culture.

« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 12:41:20 AM by Harry Edmon »
Harry Edmon, Ph.D., LCMS Layman

Harry Edmon

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #936 on: February 09, 2013, 12:47:40 AM »
More from Synodical Resolutions (hope this is not boring):

2007 Resolution 3-05:

WHEREAS, In 2004 Res. 3-06A, The Lutheran Church—
Missouri Synod commended for study Guidelines for Par-
ticipation in Civic Events, a report of the Commission on
Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), “to help pastors,
teachers, and church workers make decisions about partic-
ipation in civic events” (2004 Proceedings, p. 131); and
WHEREAS, Congregations of the Synod have requested
further clarification regarding serial prayer; therefore be it
Resolved, That the Synod in convention assign to the
CTCR the task of providing further guidance for participation
in civic events that includes the offering of serial prayer.

There was also an Overture 3-26 in 2010 to restudy the guidelines for participation in civic events that was referred to the CTCR by the convention in Resolution A.

Harry Edmon, Ph.D., LCMS Layman

pastormesser

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #937 on: February 09, 2013, 01:03:19 AM »
Harry,

Seems like the synod keeps saying that those guidelines are less than optimal and unhelpful, and that they need more work. I read those very sentiments shared in a letter recently. :)

Todd Wilken

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #938 on: February 09, 2013, 01:07:22 AM »
I posted the below on Pres. Harrison's FB page:

Is it doing good to discipline a pastor who was abiding by the agreed-upon rules of the denomination? After considerable trauma, we had guidelines established in the 2004 CTCR document which, arguably, Pr. Morris followed. Now, those guidelines have been set aside by your action, and many people outside the church are condemning us for: a) asking for an apology from a pastor who was only trying to serve his community; and b) doing so when we ourselves no longer know what is right or wrong in a given situation.

Scott,

Is it true that Pr. Morris has been "disciplined"?

Niether his DP or his congregation have taken any action against him. Yes, he was asked to apologize, and did. But He's still serving his parish. He's still on the roster. He's receiving the praise and accolades of the secular media and half the synod. He will be, no doubt, toasted and applauded as the Keynote at the upcoming Festival of Workshops. How, exactly, is that discipline? TW

Todd, if you were asked to apologize for your radio show by your ecclesial superior, would you consider that an act of discipline or not?

Nope. Being asked to apologize should be a pretty routine in the church, shouldn't it? I've apologized to Pres. Harrison twice in the last year.

In my experience, Christians apologize for stuff all the time. Only the world considers it some big scandal to be asked to do so.

In fact, I think the Church would present a much better witness if we spent more time apologizing to one another, and when necessary, to the whole church. Maybe the world is so shocked by a public apology in the church because we hardly ever do it.

TW

So yes, you have been disciplined with some regularity.

And you can go ahead and apologize for your behavior in creating memes, posts, etc in the latest round of bad behavior.  You're welcome for the opportunity given how positively you view it.

Bad behavior? You're not disciplining me are you? Or, are you asking me to apologize? ALERT the MEDIA! I'm sure Dr. Benke can manage a quote for tomorrow's New York Times.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 01:09:48 AM by Todd Wilken »

scott8

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #939 on: February 09, 2013, 01:10:02 AM »
Harry,

Seems like the synod keeps saying that those guidelines are less than optimal and unhelpful, and that they need more work. I read those very sentiments shared in a letter recently. :)

Any guidelines are better than arbitrary decision making based on the view of the one in power -- which is where now it looks like we find ourselves.

Voelker

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #940 on: February 09, 2013, 01:41:29 AM »
I don't think those who raise objections are tone deaf to how they make the LCMS sound to our culture. I think they expect discord and don't mind it much...I don't think it is tone-deafness. I think it is an expectation of dissonance.

You're likely right in saying that those who raise objections expect discord. There does, however, need to be discernment as to the source of that discord/dissonance. The simple fact that such discord exists is not sufficient evidence for us to say with certainty that it is a reaction to what has been said --- though that certainly can be, and hopefully is the case. Yet that same negative reaction could also be to the message that was actually heard because of how it was presented. We see this in personal interactions all the time, and groups work the same way: the right things may be said, but they're never actually heard, and are drowned out either by the very person who delivers them or how that person goes about delivering their message. It is easy to interpret push-back, when one goes in expecting push-back to one's position, as being push-back against that position even when that isn't the case at all, and the push-back has little or nothing to do with the message itself. There should probably be much more assessment of the why of the discord than there has been in this case.

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #941 on: February 09, 2013, 02:02:55 AM »
Harry,

Seems like the synod keeps saying that those guidelines are less than optimal and unhelpful, and that they need more work. I read those very sentiments shared in a letter recently. :)

Any guidelines are better than arbitrary decision making based on the view of the one in power -- which is where now it looks like we find ourselves.

So, Scripture and our Confessions are not adequate guidelines?

I think we are fortunate to find ourselves with a leader who actually believes our norma normans and norma normans are adequate guidelines, and who is at home relying upon them in his decision-making. I know it's a pretty big change from our recent past when bylaws, CCM opinions, and such ruled the day, but it's a rather refreshing change for a Lutheran synod, in my opinion.

scott8

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #942 on: February 09, 2013, 02:25:20 AM »
Harry,

Seems like the synod keeps saying that those guidelines are less than optimal and unhelpful, and that they need more work. I read those very sentiments shared in a letter recently. :)
t

Any guidelines are better than arbitrary decision making based on the view of the one in power -- which is where now it looks like we find ourselves.

So, Scripture and our Confessions are not adequate guidelines?

Of course they are adequate.  They obviously do not demand an apology from Pr. Morris.  If you disagree, you are de facto in violation of the sources you cite.

Johan Bergfest

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #943 on: February 09, 2013, 05:13:49 AM »
You can see exactly what I posted that evening, right around the time the interfaith service was starting. That post has been put back up at Steadfast (minus the comments that people made that evening). As you can see, it is simply the facts, with no editorial comment:

LCMS pastor scheduled to participate in interfaith service tonight

An LCMS pastor is scheduled to participate in an interfaith service...

Thanks, Pr. Henrickson.

Agreed.  You posted it without editorial comment.  However, when I read your post, I also read the many comments. 

Did your post need any editorial comment?  Among a group of confessional Lutherans, the headline was a red flag.  What kind of response did you expect from it?  How different was your expectation from what was actually posted? (I will grant that you probably didn't expect the post that, on its face, seemed to be the catalyst for taking the blog down)

Norman Teigen

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Re: The Public Role of the Pastor In The Community
« Reply #944 on: February 09, 2013, 06:38:04 AM »
This last post shows the Yellow Dog journalism techniques of the John the Steadfast site, despite the editor's previous explanations.   The readership of the site is controlled by an editorial point of view that expresses a distorted view of Lutheranism.  It is Pavlovianism in action.   I invite ALPB readers who aren't familiar with the site to try it for one week and see if this isn't the case.  On the other hand, don't bother to read Steadfast as it is a waste of time and you will gain nothing positive by doing so.

Norman Teigen, Layman
Evangelical Lutheran Synod
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