Sunday, May 11, 2003

Professor Marquet is sending a letter of encouragement to the confessionals throughout the Synod. Take a look.


Having been asked by friends to address the plight of those who are so deeply discouraged by the turn of events in our Missouri Synod that they are tempted simply to leave, I humbly offer a few thoughts:

It is quite natural to become discouraged when things go wrong. To see our Synod--once known throughout the world for its firm, unyielding, and united stand for the pure Gospel of Christ--now awash in confusion and contradiction, even about such clear and basic issues as joint services with official representatives of paganism, that is of course profoundly and painfully sad.

And while the Lord founded His Church so solidly on Himself that the very gates of hell shall not prevail against her (St. Mt. 16:18), it is true that no visible church of a particular town, region, nation, or continent has the guarantee of remaining faithful to the truth forever. Indeed, history teaches us that even great and strong churches can ultimately abandon the truth. Think only Jerusalem, Rome, Wittenberg!

But now is not the time to abandon our Synod. It is not a false, heterodox church, but an orthodox church with serious troubles. For confessionally sound pastors and people to leave the Synod now, is simply to hand it over to those who hate its strict, confessional stand. Besides, we didn't get into this mess in a hurry, and we're not going to get out of it quickly either. But, to put it colloquially, "the old girl is worth fighting for"! Think of all the generations of devout souls who prayed and sacrificed for this Synod--and of those many who still do! Our Dr. Walther himself wrote to a confessional student in Erlangen, who wanted to leave the Bavarian Lutheran state church:

"I can advise separation from a degenerated communion which formerly had taken the right stand, only when it is notorious that it has 'hardened ' (verstockt) itself; and that is notorious only when everything has been tried to lead it back, but in vain . . . Would to God that I had had this understanding thirty-some years ago, then I would likely still be in America, yet not as one who had abandoned his office, but as an exile (Briefe von C.F.W. Walter, Concordia, 1916, pp. 196-197, my translation)."

And to another pastor in Germany he wrote:

"From a heretical or schismatic communion one must exit without consulting flesh and blood, also from a syncretistically constituted one; it is not so with a church which originally took the right stand, and in which false faith and unbelief still fight for the right to exist. Here it is a matter of leaving the sinking ship, not the one that has sprung a
leak (p. 194)."

It seems that most of our troubles in doctrine began as loose practice: open communion, neo-Pentecostalism, joint services with official representatives of false doctrine, and so forth. Then there came the pragmatic urge to adjust our formerly strong theology to our weak practice. The basic problem, it seems to me, is an organizational, bureaucratic approach to theology and church life. People want to justify any status quo that has become customary, and habitual--"like petty public officials [who] quietly approved the errors of their superiors, without understanding them." (Apology XII, 69, Tappert, p. 192).

The problem is not new: The Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) "now has well-nigh total and absolute power to turn any issue involving the practical application of the Confession into a constitutional one," and then to issue a "binding" decision! "The real question is the wisdom of such total concentration of virtually unchallengeable power in a small body of administrative appointees. Should someone be thinking of theological, churchly remedies?" (Church Polity and Politics, John Fehrman and Daniel Preus, eds, Luther Academy and Association of Confessional Lutherans, 1997, pp. 199-200).

The cat is fully out of the bag in the new CCM ruling that one can't be charged for actions for which one had prior approval from one's ecclesiastical supervisor! The practical import is that bureaucratic standing may now override Holy Scripture and the Confessions! For details see the argument in the attached resolution. You are free to use this resolution, or any part or aspect of it you find helpful, as you see fit.

Of course only God can help us. Relying on Him alone let us do what we can to encourage good outcomes at the 2004 Convention, and the one after that, and the one after that, etc. That will mean sharing relevant factual and doctrinal information, also at District conventions, sending in appropriate resolutions, nominating and electing confessionally responsible people, and defeating the dishonest emotional propaganda which seeks to exploit the sacred urgencies of Mission to sweep inconvenient doctrinal issues under the carpet.

Finally, the battle for the sacred truth of the Gospel must be fought with kindness and love. We must not demonize human opponents, but realize, as St. Paul teaches us, that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph. 6:12, NIV). The Lord of the Church bless us with zeal and courage and joy in Him Whose mercies are new to us every morning!

Fraternally yours,

Kurt Marquart,
Ft. Wayne, IN, 8 May 2003

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