What Will Get You Thrown Out of Synod?

All confessional guys have said this for as long as I’ve been in the ministry. “I’m going to stay in the Synod till they throw me out.  That’s what Luther did.”

Well what will get you thrown out of Synod?  We know believing, teaching, and practicing open Communion, unionism, or syncretism won’t do it.  I haven’t tried that, but I’ve seen it.  I have tried being in a State of Confession.  I have publicly refused to withdraw my dissent of Synod’s position even after the CTCR said, “There; we’ve answered you.”  Nope, that was 2008 and I’m still here.

St. Kurt (Marquart) said that the only thing that got you booted from a denomination was going against the accepted principle of authority in that organization.  This was St. Kurt’s example at the time, Hans Kung can deny just about every Catholic doctrine there is and is not thrown out, but a bishop who was orthodox otherwise by their standards but refused to recognize the authority of the Pope was booted out swiftly and sharply.

Among the Reformed the ultimate principle of authority is reason.  You will be accepted among them until you believe, teach, and confess publicly a doctrine that goes against the limits of human reason according to them.  Among some you can privately hold to baptismal regeneration and even the Body and Blood of Jesus on the altar, but you can’t publicly teach these things that are contrary to the limits of human reason.

What about us?  Our principle of authority is the Word of God.  Well it use to be.  At the 2004 Synodical convention when it was resolved that the Commission on Constitutional Matters is bound to rule based on doctrinal resolutions and statements, I personally heard St. Kurt express amazement.  He said to no one in particular, “That means the Word of God no longer rules in our Synod.”

St. Kurt was amazed; I was not.  Still am not.  Our principle of authority has for some time now been “the beloved Synod.”  As long as you don’t publicly advocate something more important than keeping the Synod together, you won’t be kicked out.  At least, in the past you wouldn’t.  Now there is growing frustration with those who don’t openly advocate the Synod’s programs, monetize her structure, and emphasize her belovedness.  Now remember originally Synod was an advisory body that had no existence outside of its conventions.  Remember that as long as you’re paying in to her health and retirement programs you are supporting the lion’s share of what this human organization does.   Remember that insisting on closed Communion, the proper role of women, and unity of worship exposes that there is no Synod in the sense of walking together.

So basically what will get you thrown out of this Synod is insisting that there is an authority above her, something dearer than her, and a Church beyond her.


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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