Tomorrow begins the Minnesota South pastor’s convention for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LC-MS). Some pretty momentous things have happened there in recent years. In June of 2009, a convincing majority voted to allow the Alley, an edgier mission congregation (originally planted by an LC-MS pastor, not the LC-MS), to gain membership in the district (one of the objections to this, among other things, was that they were not willing to use the recent hymnal). This year pastors and representatives may well end up voting in some way regarding the University Lutheran Chapel’s building, which the district is selling to raise 3.5 million for new missions (for the latest on this, see here and here… also go here for the most information, and, if you want to material of interest regarding both of these congregations go here and do a key word search for Alley convention and ULC, respectively).
After the Alley was accepted, their pastor (I believe), wrote this on the Alley’s blog:
Prior to the convention many things false and misleading were said about our church. Some criticisms were completely false, some were based on personal preference and few if any were Biblically minded…. at the convention, God spoke… When the vote came, the people of the convention spoke with an overwhelming vote of approval. We are thankful for all who sought God alongside of us for wisdom in this. We continue to pray that God would lead us all the more into the future and that the spiritual forces of evil who fight against the gospel and it’s proclamation would fall on deaf ears. All glory to God. May we be counted worthy of the prize for which He has called us heavenward.
During the University Lutheran Chapel’s long battle, sermons were preached that were later linked on ULC’s website as being relevant to the sale of their chapel (under “Documents, background information, etc. from ULC” here):
“Of course the Jews in Jesus day were not the last of the wicked vinedressers the church would have to face. Century upon century, decade upon decade, there have been those who wish to steal Christ’s Church from Him and from His people. They reason among themselves “if we abuse them, if we injure them, if we cast them out, this will all be ours to do with as we wish!” Oh, they keep their pious face, of course; and they even do it in the name of Jesus as if they were furthering His work. But it is a deception rooted in a lie, a deception that sadly is believed even by those who help perpetrate it. But I ask you as Jesus himself asked: “When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will become of those vindressers?… (Maundy Thursday on April 21, 2001)… [Psalm 37] seems especially potent to me this year… : “Do not fret because of evildoers…” (October 2, 2011)
I have no doubts that Satan attacks everyone in the LC-MS, particularly leaders, and contributes to all manner of sinning among us as He tries to suffocate clear Gospel proclamation. That said, when it comes to caring for one’s brethren in Christ, I do believe that there has, generally speaking, been less love, forebearance, and wisdom shown on one of these “sides” than the other (please note, I realize it is not really fair to assume that all “missional” congregations will side with the district offices when they look into this matter) If I were voting on the ULC question, I definitely know where I would cast my vote.
Getting past issues like this into solutions for realizing true unity, blogging pastor Pastor Peterson had what I think are some compelling words for us to consider….
“We have employed this hermeneutic of suspicion on all levels of our life and discourse…. suspicion [in the recent WI. recall election] was not simply toward the opposing view but toward everyone and everything that was said…. In the Church this has surely been a primary ingredient in the worship wars between so-called “contemporary” worship forms and music and those labelled “traditional.” It has also had a great deal of impact upon the debate between the “creative” and “missional” types who think outside the box and those who look more like the Church has looked and do more what the Church has done in the past. It does not matter which side you are on (and you know from reading this blog which side I am on), the point is we are deeply suspicious of each other and can hardly agree on the meaning of the terminology so that our conversation is hindered from the get go. We do not trust what our “opponents” say and we do not believe their motives are noble (on both sides)…”
Does it seem like the men previously quoted above were being as innocent as doves? (not saying this demeanor should not also involve the “wise as serpents” part)
It seems to me a child would innocently trust what persons say. One would especially hope this would be safe to do in the Church (and of course, that persons who need to speak would feel free to do so…)! In any case, if we do trust what these pastors say above – if they mean what they say – even if they aren’t being as “innocent as doves” themselves – what might this mean? (isn’t it easier to not even deal with the implications of these words!)
Here I pray “Lord have mercy!”, and I include all of us involved in that prayer, regardless of how they interpret all the above matters at hand. I hope you will join me in that prayer for this convention.
May we increasingly trust in the power of His Word to work, as I Thessalonians 2:13 reminds us that it is “indeed at work in you who believe…”
Please note: I changed “Obviously, the men quoted above were not being as innocent as doves”, to “Does it seem like the men previously quoted above were being as innocent as doves?”