Eight Months Out and Not Dead or Dying

A LCMS seminarian told me back in circa 2002 or so: You leave the Synod you die. That’s definitely what you’re led to believe by the churchmen and bureaucrats, who equate to Sauron and Saruman in the Lord of the Rings, and the bureaucrats are Saruman because they control all, move all, seduce all with their voice. Though they be many they speak as one; sort of like in 1984: “This is the only problem the LCMS has and this has always been the only problem.” Till it’s, “Now that is the only problem we have and it has always been that.” Well, we’ve been out from under the protecting wings, I’d say pall, of Missouri-Synodism for over eight months and the sky hasn’t fallen.

What we have in confessional Lutheranism today is described by a 19th century confessional Lutheran’s word about the early days of the 16th century Reformation: “’the evangelical believers existed as ‘sparsi’ [i.e. those strewn among the multitude]. They were still not bound by any sort of external unity, whereas on the Roman side one could point to the one head and the episcopal organization. Only from pure teaching and the correct administration of the Sacraments could one recognize where the Gospel had dominance’” (Von Zezschwitz, “The Churchly Norms for Legitimate Altar Fellowship”, Closed Communion, 119). Not that I can read German, but someone who can has provided me with this: Here’s a link to the original German text for the translated excerpt from Karl Adolf Gerhard von Zezschwitz in his book, Die kirchlichen Normen berechtigter Abenmahlsgemeinschaft: Zur Widerlegung der Rietschel’schen Schrift über “Abendmahlsgemeinschaft” (The churchly norms of legitimate Communion: to refute Rietschel’s writings on “Communion”),  (Hinrichs, 1870, p. 46). https://books.google.com/books?id=DMMQnQEACAAJ&pg=PA46&q=sparsi&f=false)

Independent Confessional Lutheran congregations are the 21st century sparsi, and as the song says, “It only takes a sparsi to get a fire going.” (You’ve got to admit that’s funny if you’re of a certain vintage.) The vehement reactions to our leaving have only come from the Sauron and Saruman types and from pious, confessional Lutheran layman who believe we have deserted under fire. I would say we fled a conflagration of doctrine, to keep the flames of confessional Lutheranism burning. Will any Confessional Lutheran argue that in LCMS, INC., a.k.a. The Synod, Our Beloved Synod, or Lutheran Church Melanchthon Synod argue that the Gospel has dominance there based on the above 19th century Lutheran’s criteria?

Besides, by definition Synod isn’t a fellowship. We left a manmade corporation, an association. Listen to 19th century Pastor Wilhelm Löhe: “’In all the places where the word communion appears in the language of the ancient world and of the Ancient Church, according to the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, it never means an association, never a corporation, never an organization. …But we have to limit ourselves here to the Greek use of the language. Koinonia also never means a corporation, never an organization, never an ‘association,’ neither in profane nor theological church use’” (Closed Communion, 156). We left an association, a corporation, you know LCMS, INC.. that undermined true koinonia and perpetuated a false one.

Rather than continue to believe the corporate lie told to me for over 40 years that “synod means walking together,” I’ve come to believe what Abba Eban, Israeli diplomat and politician, said about a consensus. “A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually.” This right here will be the substance of the Koinonia Project. And if you don’t go along with the program, they will happily show you the door. What will make it so hard to walk out is the Saurons and Sarumans whispering: “Out there is death.”


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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