Much Ado about Something

I referenced in an earlier blog post Dr. Dale Meyer’s article “Pedagogy for a Politicized Church” in the Winter 2014 Concordia Journal, pp. 6-13.  He references there a report to the 2010 convention that said the task force involved repeatedly “heard that the problem of disharmony is the LCMS is primarily a clergy problem” (6), and I believe it.

C. F. W. Walther said that a congregation better perceive that their pastor is more concerned with doctrine than they are. Don’t you want your doctor to be more concerned with disease than you are?  Don’t you want your lawyer more concerned with legalities than you are?  Do you want your doctor to overlook that mole you do? Do you want your lawyer content with your standard of following the law?

But there is a problem, and I feel it in myself.  Charles Porterfield Krauth exposes it when he writes, “They [the Lutheran Reformers] understood well the two counter-tricks of polemics: the one, to exaggerate differences until innocence looks like crime; the other to diminish differences until truth seems nearly identical with error” (Conservative Reformation, 282). I’m quite sure, well-intentioned or not, I have done both.

Later on, however, Krauth deals with the hard truth that polemics are indeed warfare of some type.  Just look at the Greek origins of the word.  He says, “The era of the Reformation could not be an era of Melanchthonian mildness. To ask this, is to ask that war shall be peace, that battles shall be fought with feathers, and that armies shall move to the waving of olive branches” (327).

Then, although writing the century before the last, he is speaking to us when he says, “Most surely will time bring all that love our Church to feel, that without the second war and the second peace, the war and peace of Conservation, the richest results of the first, the war of Reformation, would have been lost” (327-328).

In between the two above comments, Krauth advises that unless the issues the war is to be fought over are clearly defined it will digress into a “savage, ill-defined warfare on the border, and of the bush” rather than that of the “struggles of nationalities, under the laws of war” (326).

Because our leaders our crying “peace” and declaring “koinonia” when parish pastors know we have neither, we are experiencing border and bush warfare.  There can’t be peace when I am war with praying with pagans and by brother pastor is praying with them.  There can’t be koinonia when my brother pastor is practicing open Communion and I am practicing closed.  And no amount of talking about how much we agree and certainly no amount of communing contrary to our own confessions (I mean the pastor who believes in open Communion going to the altar with the pastor who believes in closed) is going to help define the issue.

“Truthful separation is far better than dishonest union” (326).  The first step in mending a relationship is to admit it’s broken. Anyone who has been married for any time at all knows the frustration of the spouse telling you “nothing is wrong” when you know in fact something is and until that something is brought out into the open in reality everything is wrong.


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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