Why Missouri Will Never Move From the Fence

I don’t know the pastor who said this about me, but you do. He is all over the LCMS. He is a fence-sitter posing as pastoral, compassionate, Gospel-oriented to cover his ambiguous confession. I really don’t know the man, so I’m taking out any identifying characteristics of the email concerning him which another man I never met sent me.

The layman wrote me:  “’The email I sent Pastor X was a copy of your letter dated 12 September 2019 asking that your name be removed from the clergy roster. I sent this to Pastor X to inform him that there are those who still want the LCMS that was, that they want a church more like Martin Luther believed what the church should be. I pray that I didn’t use your letter in a manner that would offend you. If I did, I apologize. I really did not expect a response, as he, Pastor X, most times never puts his answers to me in writing [emphasis mine].  Below is a copy of his response as I received it.”

“’I am familiar with Paul Harris, he has been pastor at Trinity in Austin a long time, probably for most of his ministry.  He has always been known as an ultra-orthodox, ultra-traditionalist pastor in the LCMS.  Without knowing what specific issues of open communion, syncretism, unionism, feminism, and LGBTQ he is referring to, I really can’t fully respond to his  accusations.  It has been my experience that pastors like Harris throw out these broad accusations when another pastor or congregation doesn’t operate or act like they would in a given situation.  They confuse the word “synod” (“walk together”) to mean that we must walk in goose step.  The synod has always acknowledged congregational autonomy when it comes to church leadership structure.  For some pastors,  allowing women to vote in congregational meetings is a form of feminism. For others, it means allowing them to serve in positions of leadership on the Church Council. The LCMS officially endorses traditional Biblical marriage; however, some congregations may not be addressing the issue of same sex marriage in their midst.  Given that Pastor Harris is in Austin, he is in the center of liberal progressivism in the state of Texas. It would be like combining this city [   ] in our state and this one [  ]. Academic and political progressive activism abounds in Austin.  If Harris’ congregation has gone independent, I don’t know why he wants to remain on synod’s roster as emeritus since he disagrees with official doctrines and practices in the LCMS. It sounds to me that he doesn’t want to take any responsibility for his congregation’s choice to go independent. However, you and I both know that doesn’t happen without guidance and direction from the undershepherd of the Lord’s flock. I hope you and Joanne are doing well and staying healthy.

Pastor [first name only]’”

The man who sent me this email closes with: “If he calls Austin the ‘center of liberal progressivism,’ I don’t know what he thinks about our Florida-Georgia District.”

The responding pastor obviously didn’t read the pages of documentation concerning why we left. Neither did he read the letter where I specifically resigned from the clergy roster. Styling the expectation that people actually walk together in doctrine and practice as requiring people to goose step is a reference at best to the 20th century Soviet Union and at worse to Nazism.

Two things have been constant in 38 years of dealing with LCMS churchmen, bureaucrats, moderates, fence-sitters. 1) They abhor taking a definite position and anyone being disciplined for a doctrine or practice contrary to the agreed on confession. Anything other than their fence-sitting is ‘ultra’. 2) They don’t refute confessors; they make fun of them.

When that doesn’t work, and the confessors continue to confess, guess which one goose steps the other out the door?

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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