Friday, March 21, 2008

No more Issues and Mt. Zion

The famous LC-MS ministry, Issues Etc. is no longer on the air. The program has been canceled and the ministry supporters are wondering what happened?

It was Issues Etc. in late 2004 that finally got me taking out that Book of Concord of mine off my shelves. It had been sitting there quietly since 1993. It finally made it to my desk so I could consider what it said. Thanks to the Internet.

I must say though that lately the program featured and of course critiqued movements like the Emergent Church movement and interviews done by the female Head Bishop of Episcopal Church USA. It did pass my mind the possibility of external pressure being exerted from the outside, mainly from other church bodies being pressuring LC-MS leadership. Some discussions lately could have invited that, they were pretty controversial and people from outside (specially those featured, I guess) may have not appreciated what was said.

Some listeners are of course saddened, angered and understandably disappointed towards the Synod itself.

I am not LC-MS, my church is with LC-Aus and so I have no business nosing at other people's business.

However, I do have an attitude towards Synods. No matter how lofty or un-lofty the ideals of your Synod may be, it is still composed of people and in this respect it is no different from other denominations. I just do not believe people who say otherwise, my experience with human nature says so.

The thing is, it is not in your Synod where the action is, it is in your local church. Your contact to your Synod is your local church and through your pastor. So the main concern is what does your pastor teach - is it coming from Scripture and interpreted through the Confession? If so, then work with it. If not, then go somewhere else where Word and Sacrament is delivered to you faithfully. They are out there, it just takes some work to find that faithful shepherd.

This is not the time to slip into the Elijah complex, God says he has not left us without a witness. We have to wake up, we are not in Mt. Zion yet and anyone who implies we have arrived is short changing us.


Past Elder said...

I completely agree that the action is in your local church. That is where you find the whole, or catholic, church -- the overseer with his congregation at what we call the Divine Service.

The pastor in your local church was trained in a seminary run by the church's synod.

The services in your local church are conducted from books prepared and published by the church's synod.

Communication and co-operation with other like minded churches in larger projects is facilitated by the synod.

The teachers in your church's school were educated in colleges run by the synod.

Your pastor's fellowship with other like minded brothers in the Office of Holy Ministry happens within the synod.

The process of calling a new pastor is facilitated by the synod.

Brothers and sisters travelling through or moving to your area find a like minded church through the synod.

In these and many other ways, the life of the local church is supported by the synod. And when the synod no longer does this, or actually assaults this support, then let as Peter said judgement begin at the house of God.

L P Cruz said...


The synod may assist but it should not intrude into the business of the church unless asked by the congregation. In Aus, before the mergers, there were independent Lutherans operating without a synod and they called whomever they deemed fit.

I seem to notice that some folk are so upset at what other congregations are doing in the synod. If I were them, I would be considering first what is happening in their local church, rather than criticize what another local church in the synod is doing.

I am skeptical, my observation is that Lutheran synods are no different from Baptist denominations, when it comes to human frailty, no synod is exempted let it be a warning to us what Jesus said Mt 7:1-8.


Past Elder said...

Interesting that one of the key differences over which LCMS and WELS are no longer in fellowship is this: in WELS, synod is held to be church as much as a parish is helf to be church, or any other organised body of believers, on the theory that all fit the where two or three are gathered etc., but in LCMS church is properly the faithful with their pastor and things like a synod are human arrangements to support that.

Synods are certainly not exempt from human frailty. Neither are congregations. The Issues Etc. thing is about synod.

L P Cruz said...


It is a puzzle to me and I am sure a puzzle to the evangelical thinking of swimming the Rhine why LCMS are not in fellowship with WELS; because this is truly a non-essential definition of what a church is. It is somewhat funny. Do they not consider each other Christian?

Therefore they are not catholic in this respect, for catholic means diverse, they are allowing non-essentials to divide them.

Because Lutheranism's synods exhibit the same flaws it is fitting that we show humility and not appear as if we got it all down to the T. Don't you think?


Augustinian Successor said...

This is so weird. Issues, etc. is no longer broadcasting ...

And it is *iranic* that the so-called low church body that the WELS is known, presumably like the ELS, holds to a view of the church which is hierarchical and thus authoritarian!

L P Cruz said...


What is a puzzle is that they won't pray together nor commune together.

On the misnomer of having an "orthodox synod", see what this one says on the matter of Issues Etc.


Augustinian Successor said...

Big Brother Lito,

You mean to say that the LCMS and the WELS are not in communion with each other? I thought that the LCMS regarded the WELS as an "orthodox" body (whatever that means) ...

L P Cruz said...

Bro. J.

That is right, that is what I have read. That is why there is a joke even amongst themselves, saying they can get a drink together and chat in a pub, but they won't pray together or invite each other to be guest preachers ;-)

I think we will be seeing the splintering of big synods to satellite synods once again. This is going back to the past. We might be seeing again the revival of independent Lutheran congregations (in USA), folk who are not happy with whatever the synod does.

It was like that in Aus. My synod is the largest but if you look at its history, it was a merger of big synods and the joining of independent congregations to its membership.

Do not worry so much if your synod might be categorized 'liberal' because it is a member of the LWF, the main point is if your local church through its pastor is orthodox/confessional.


Augustinian Successor said...

That is a good point, Big Brother. I think we ought to make a distinction between the Roman Church and a Protestant denomination which was historically orthodox (especially in its "high water mark" period, i.e. height of its orthodoxy). In the Roman Church, it IS a matter conscience. In the latter, it can *become* a matter of conscience. That is *when* the "tipping point" ("the straw that broke the camel's back", etc.) has arrived.

L P Cruz said...

Bro. J,

Many folk in confessional synods claim they are "catholic", but they worry about the non-essentials or they major in the minors or they make what is supposed to be a matter of freedom to a matter of law. In my thinking catholic does not only mean the 3 symbolic creeds but also diversity and variety in non-essential, it transcends cultures and nations. One body but diverse members.

In essentials unity in non-essentials liberty and in all things charity, no?

Apparently this was a Lutheran saying, and additionally -- the differences in fasting should not negate unity in the Gospel.

Also I have wondered why there are no strong Asian confessional Lutheran congregations in USA and Aus.

Thankfully my district is intent on changing that and want seriously to have a Lutheran witness to Asian cultures even here in Melbourne. They are quite concern and have reflected on the situation as to what they can do to take off the stigma that the Lutheran Church was meant to be for white folk only.
All are sinners therefore the Gospel is for all.


Anonymous said...


Christ is Risen!

V. interesting to hear of the influence of 'Issues, Etc' on your journey along the 'Wittenberg Trail'.
There is a bit of a campaign going to ask the LC-MS to reconsider this matter. It is thought that communications to that effect from folk outside of the LC-MS and overseas may carry particular weight. Should you deem it worthwhile pursuing, e-mails can be sent to:

Rev Dr Kieschnik

David Strand (Board Of Communications)

LC-MS Synod Headquarters

Up to you, but I am sending one off to Pres. Kieschnik. 'Issues. Etc' was not perfect but it was a great way to get the evangel out via mass communications and helped a lot of people by doing so.


L P Cruz said...

Hi Pr. Mark,

He is risen indeed, hallelujah! Our salvation is secured.

Issues indeed was a great way to evangel specially when it was discussing doctrinal issues.

I signed the electronic petition.

I was a supporter since 2005 when I swam the Rhine.



Past Elder said...

"Catholic" has nothing to do with diverse. The word means whole, entire, complete, and in that sense, universal.

It may be a basis for personal friendship to simply be "Christian", but here it is a matter of what a church does or does not stand for.

Either Christ instituted the Office of Holy Ministry or he did not. If he did not, then to teach that he did is false doctrine. If he did, then to teach that he did not is false doctrine. Both positions cannot be true to the Confessions, and being true to the Confessions is what we are all about -- unless we want to be one in being "missional" but locate that in another way than the missional wing of our church does. Either way, then we no longer are what we are because we stand for what we stand for.

It completely misunderstands the position of WELS to call it hierarchical. WELS is anything but. They maintain that synod is church in the same sense that parish is church, not a different or superior one.

So there too: if synods are human arrangements then it is false doctrine to call them church and if they are church then it is false doctrine to call them human arrangements.

It is not a matter of freedom to call something Christian doctrine which isn't, or to call something not a doctrinal point which is. And where there is no agreement on this, there can be no fellowship on a church body level.

This issue is not the only one on which LCMS and WELS differ, but the one that relates to the response to Issues, Etc.

L P Cruz said...

Well, how can you be universal and not be diverse? Universal encompasses different ones. That is why the creed one holy catholic apostolic church, it is one though many. The category of universality encompasses the category of diversity.

So who is not teaching that the office of the ministry is not instituted by Christ, LCMS or WELS?

So if you are an LCMS, and there is no LCMS church around, would you rather go to the nearby RCC to take communiion, rather than the WELS church in the corner?

I really think the difference is petty and it is making much ado about nothing. But you have been in both camps so I like to know what the fuss is all about.


Augustinian Successor said...

To say that the local congregation is not as fully a church as the Synod *is* hierarchical. It is precisely this idea of the Synod held by the WELS and ELS which accounts for their authoritarianism.

One has only to look at the unjust deposal of Rev. Rolf Preus from the ELS for holding to a different view of the Ministry.

Augustinian Successor said...

The issue is this and this arises out of a confusion between the hidden and revealed Church. Only the hidden Church is by divine institution and therefore qualify as the Catholic Church in its own right. The Synod as the revealed Church is not by divine institution. No where in Scripture do we find such a warrant. To insist so as the WELS and ELS is to posit the Synod as having a SEPARATE identity and subsistence from the local congregations which IS hierarchical, like the Roman Church. The Synod is simply the broader expression of the local assemblies. The source of its authority derives from the local congregations.

Hence, it is not the local congregations which support the Synod, but the Synod which support the local congregations, i.e. the local congregations helping one another - mutual support.

Hence, by extension, the local autonomy of the local congregation does not derogate form catholicity but precisely establishes catholicity. That is to say, the local congregation is fully catholic by, of and in herself without association with a broader assembly such as a synod.

Thus, the Synod is not a (revealed/INSTITUTIONAL) church (singular) in, of and by herself but the assembling together of churches (plural). Now, the Catholic Church as an assembly of the local congregations can certainly be found at synodical level but not as an institution but precisely qua the assembly of the local congregations.

The confusion of the WELS and ELS is the unLutheran confusion between the hidden and revealed Church, between the invisible and visible Church, between the Church Catholic and the Church politic (institutional).

Only the local congregation self sufficient with pastors and deacons is a proper church, i.e. ESSENTIALLY. The Synod is Church by name only, i.e. NOMINALLY.

Past Elder said...

Catholicity does not address diversity at all. Catholicity is about what is a necessary part of the whole, a whole meant to be the same for all. Diversity is fine outside of those boundaries but not within them.

WELS in no way says the local congregation is not as fully church as synod. Read the black. They say quite the opposite, that parish and synod are church in the same sense, not a different or superior/inferior one.

For the record, both synods declared fellowship with each other in 1869. WELS terminated the relationship in 1961. There are several key points of difference, not this one only.

1. WELS holds that agreement on all teachings of Scripture is needed for all forms of fellowship. LCMS holds that agreement on all teachings of Scripture is needed for formal altar and pulpit fellowship. Related to that, WELS holds that any joint prayer is an act of religious fellowship and therefore cannot be had apart from full agreement on all teachings of Scripture. For example, when we were WELS, we were expected to not say table grace with our LCMS relatives no less than the RC ones, any more than attend their services.

2. WELS teaches that God has estalished no particular form of church, so both the local congregation and the synod are church in the same sense, whereas LCMS holds that the pastor with his congregation is church, and like minded churches binding to-gether is a fine but human arrangement. Related to that, LCMS holds that Jesus himself instituted the Office of Holy Ministry and other offices are established by the church to support that, whereas WELS holds that Jesus established a public ministry, but the specific nature of a given role is determined by the church, pastor being one such role but teachers, professors, administrators etc equally so.

3. While both WELS and LCMS ordain only males as pastors, WELS holds this male headship also extends to any office involving authority over males such as school principals and for that matter, voting in parish meetings.

4. WELS holds to close communion and allows only WELS members or members of synods in fellowship with WELS to commune, and while LCMS holds the same position re itself, WELS contends that in practice LCMS actually passively allows open communion though non-inforcement.

5. Related to that, while it was not one of the major issues that led to breaking fellowship, in recent years WELS has been critical of LCMS not disciplining those who teach or preach contrary to Scripture even as understood by LCMS itself.

One big catalyst to all this was the case of an LCMS man in Cincinnati who was excommunicated by his parish for sending his kids to public school, about a hundred years ago. The district did not uphold this action and suspended the parish and its pastors. The parish applied for membership in WELS, which on the one hand officially declined to address the matter but a number of WELS pastors assisted the congregation without synod approval. After a little over ten years, the parish tossed out its pastors and council and returned to LCMS. But it got many thinking, and the current position of WELS on church and ministry was worked out by theologians at then then WELS seminary in Wauwatosa WI. From the WELS side, this was clarification of the true and long-standing Lutheran position on church and ministry; from the LCMS side it was a clear departure from same. Each to this day holds that their position is the true and original Lutheran one. This continued for decades, and confessional elements in LCMS find the failure of LCMS to clearly reject the Wauwatosa position one of the early instances of LCMS not being strong enough on doctrine and discipline.

Augustinian Successor said...

Of course catholicity addresses the issue of diversity - diversity of cultures, liturgical practices, etc. That is what catholicity means. Catholicity loses its true meaning in the Roman Church and in reference to the OT Church in Israel. The NT is Catholic precisely because of diversity. Of course catholicity does NOT only mean diversity nor is it be to equated with as such.

Wauwatosa is strong on discipline and LCMS is not??? Not sure about that.

Augustinian Successor said...

And as I have said before, the Synod is not a Church by divine institution. This would be ridiculous, for it entails that the Synod has a discrete subsistence by itself. This logically requires monarchical episcopate as necessarily jure divino as presiding over the Synod in its capacity as Church. But no, the church officers - presidents, synodical clerks are by human institution. So that is by human institution and the Synod is by divine institution???

So, after all the Synod is a church in a different sense than the local congregation(?!)

The idea of the Synod as a Church in its own right is inherently hierarchical, protestations notwithstanding. Either way by voter's supremacy or episcopacy or bureaucracy, it is hierarchical.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Wauwatosa is strong on discipline and LCMS is not??? Not sure about that." You mean that the confessional elements in the LCMS find that the LCMS does not strongly enough reject Wauwatosa theology ...

Well, Wauwatosa theology has its good points. But whether or not for example it has 'paved the way' to the CGM is perhaps debatable.

L P Cruz said...

Yep, I do think catholicity involves diversity or is implied by it but not the whole of it. In fact that is what the dictionary meaning of it is ...liberality of sentiments or views.

It seems that the WELS is more hardened than the LCMS then, if they are the ones who won't pray nor commune.


Past Elder said...

Maybe it has been lost here, however, if I agreed with the WELS position I would still be WELS. I'm not. I'm LCMS. Stating the WELS position is to do just that -- state it, as it is held by those who hold it, not as it appears to those who don't.

Read the black.

The WELS belief is that what is of divine institution is the call, and the specific shape and content of the call is determined by the church. So, whether "two or three gather to-gether" as a synod or as a local congregation, each is equally church. And when church, either as synod, school, parish, or whatever, calls a person the call is the same whether it be to pastor, teacher, principal, administrator, etc. There is nothing like an episcopate in it. And again, I say this not by way of agreement, but accuracy: I don't agree with the position, but that is what the position is.

Similarly the issue of fellowship. WELS maintains there must be agreement on all points of Scripture for any fellowship to happen, therefore absent such agreement, fellowship from table grace to synodical recognition is impossible and a mockery of what fellowship is.

As to catholicity, the dictionary does not determine what we mean by that word. Its usage as a Christian term began with a desciption of the whole, or catholic, church being found wherever an overseer (usually translated bishop, which is not to endorse RC or EO understandings of that term) is with his flock at the Divine Service, as we usually call it.

I do not hold to all of the views of WELS, but I do not at all begrudge them saying there is no fellowship then with those with whom they are not fellows. That's just the way it is. I disagree with their take on some of what is held to be the Lutheran faith of the confessions, but I respect their integrity in insisting on there being fellowship before saying there's fellowship, and that fellowship is not created by asserting a fellowship when there is fundamental disagreement on some matters. IOW, one may disagree with some of a church body's beliefs, but agree that the church body certainly can articulate its beliefs and insist that those who seek membership in or fellowship with them accept those beliefs.

L P Cruz said...


I can appreciate the accuracy and "for the record". I am not convinced though that you have to have a pastor in order for Jesus to be in the midst of disciples.

Any two or three who are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst - Jesus said that.

I do not believe that - because the Real Pastor promises to be there. All others are hirelings. No offense, I was a pastor too.

As to catholicity, the dictionary does not determine what we mean by
that word. Its usage as a Christian term began with a desciption of the
whole, or catholic, church being found wherever an overseer (usually
translated bishop, which is not to endorse RC or EO understandings of
that term) is with his flock at the Divine Service, as we usually call it.

Bro, this though reminded me of my debate with the so called Fr. Bollywood and what he did with the term Protestant. He refuses to accept the historical meaning of the term supplied by Wikipaedia as if Wikipaedia had no scholarlly credibility.

Don't follow his philosophy, bro. That kind has a way of turning people into a clique, detaching them from the people they must reach and relate.


Augustinian Successor said...

As I have said before and I'll say it again, the WELS understanding of the Synod as Church carries with the hierarchical baggage. I don't give a snap if it's voters' supremacy, monarchical episcopacy or bureaucracy, the result's the same.

You jest canNOT haev a situation where the local congregation's ministry is divinely instituted whether qua ministry or plus the specific offices within the ministry and then says nothing about the church leadership for the synod - human arrangement/convenience or divine mandate???

This to say that there is no confessional and Scriptural warrant to say that the Synod has a separate existence from the local congregations.


SATIS EST ... it is enough that churches agree on the proclamation of the Word and Gospel. Period ... says the Augsburg Confession.

To insist beyond the public ministry which is specifically tied to the local congregation is to breach the eschatological limits and confuse the hidden church with the revealed church ... a very unLutheran confusion, it must be said.

The unity of the congregations or churches is a matter of FAITH, not sight. Just as individuals who make up the ekklesia are justified by faith alone, so likewise the unity of the churches is a matter of faith alone.

Beyond that is a matter NOT of DIVINE institution but human arrangement. Which is why it to include the synod as a divine institution cannot be but hierarchical.

The WELS, which is why I have said despite its low church reputation, it is another variant of Lutheran Puritanism and much more closer to Rome in that respect.

As for the term catholicity, it is clear that it implies and says something about diversity. Of course it does. To limit the term to just the whole is a self-contradiction, which is precisely why the name Roman Catholic Church is a misnomer.

L P Cruz said...


My initial reaction is that I do not sit well with the WELS and LCMS understanding of church. Both of them I think are out in left field. It is amazing though that such a point has become a basis of fellowship and dis-unity.

For the LC-MS, if the pastor and congregation constitute a church, what happens when the pastor leaves the congregation as they often do???!!!

They can take a call somewhere else. So does that mean that those folk meeting on a Sunday for fellowship cease to be church? That definition provided by P.E. sounds Romanist to me. It means it is the ministry that creates the church.

Rather, the Protestant view from what I can gather is that it is the Word of God that creates the church and the **ministry**>

Get those folk without a pastor meeting around the Word and pretty soon God will send them or cause one of them to rise up to the office of the elder/pastor. God makes that happen because they are the church not the other way around.

Past Elder said...

The meaning of "catholic" in early church writings has a specific reference, and the reference is not other meanings the word has acquired. When I was younger, one could still for example hear a person described as having "catholic tastes", meaning a wide ranging set of interests -- diverse. This in no way meant to say their tastes were Catholic as in RC, or catholic in the non-Roman ecclesiastical use of the term. So, neither does the Catholic or the non-Roman ecclesiastical use of term mean what the world generally means. Fr Hollywood is quite right on that.

"Communion" is another such term. We do not derive our understanding of it re the Sacrament from the world's meaning. "Liturgy" would be the same except the world has abandoned it use of the term as a beneficial act for the citizenry undertaken at the expense of a wealthy free class member. For that matter, there are in many professions words that have a specific meaning within that profession, usually called "technical terms", apart from the meaning in general usage. This is just a simple fact of language.

No a church without a permanent pastor does not cease to be church. It forms a call committee and eventually installs another pastor. No-one just rises to the office. Absolutely no-one is to preach or administer the Sacraments in the Office of Holy Ministry without a proper call. To abandon this is as apart from the faith of the Lutheran Confessions as to make the process by which the church selects its public ministers into a sacrament itself.

L P Cruz said...

Actually Fr. Bollywood was not quibbling with 'catholic' he was quibbling with Lutheran being 'protestant', IIRC. He did not like Lutheran being 'protestant'.

No a church without a permanent pastor does not cease to be church.

This is what I want to get at. Sure, no one should preach unless the congregation allows that person the priviledge. That is a different matter.

What I am getting at is that the definition of church is not tied to a pastor. Church is ekklessia 'the called out ones, people called by God to become a people for himself'.

As I said, the orthodox Protestant understanding of church and ministry is that the Scripture is the one that creates the church and the one that creates the ministry.

The ministry does not create the church, necessarily.


Past Elder said...

It's not the definition of church but the definition of catholic -- of or relating to the whole, not the diverse elements which may be legitimately part of the whole.

The WELS/LCMS rift is about what is church, not what is catholic. One of the three major reasons I left WELS for LCMS is that understanding of church and related lack of understanding about the Office of Holy Ministry, and one of the reasons why the ELCA was never in my mind as a possibility, not being Lutheran at all except in name, though I might add within it one can find outstanding individual Lutherans and congregations here and there.

Augustinian Successor said...

But the thing is that is not the only meaning of the term, catholic. Universality, wholeness, necessarily imply diversity UNLESS the distinction between the hidden and revealed Church is collapsed. It's either ecclesial totalitarianism or sectarian legalism.

That is why Roman Catholic Church is a self-contradiction. There is diversity of views in theology and liturgy. The Roman Church cannot claim catholicity on non-essential matters. Likewise, Baptists cannot claim apostolicity on non-essentials.

It's precisely people like Mr. Hollywood that claim non-essentials as marks of catholicity. He is dead wrong. That would be to confuse form with substance. The liturgy is a vehicle for catholicity in action, but does NOT necessarily COINCIDE with catholicity.

L P Cruz said...

I gotcha.

I will have problem with WELS too I think rather, they will have a problem with me.


Past Elder said...

What is it that is trying to be maintained by finding diversity essential to catholicity?

For a different example, the word apologetics. In ordinary language, to apologise means to say I'm sorry. In ecclesiastical usage it means nothing of the sort, but means to set out a defence of something. One word, more than one meaning.

Who though would say, in discussing Christian apologetics, but it also means saying you're sorry, it has to at least imply that, since that is what the word means according to the dictionary and usual usage? It makes no sense.

Another example would be the medical and the usual meaning of insult.

This catholicity/diversity thing makes no sense either, on the same grounds.

Perhaps that is why Fr Hollywood is not understood at all either. Or, for that matter, the differences between LCMS and WELS or why, given those differences, fellowship between the two cannot be.

Augustinian Successor said...

Listen here, limiting catholicity to just wholeness is self-contradictory. It is essentially a misunderstanding of the term catholic. This is why Mr. Hollywood is dead wrong in persisting in his erroneous thinking.

It is clear except to those who refuse to accept that the WELS is in error regarding its refusal of fellowship with the LCMS grounds, which I have just shared.

Their position is not misunderstood, but precisely is in error. So, we are discussing two errors here today. The WELS error of confusing synod as church only by human arrangement and synod as church by divine appointment. To insist as the WELS does is to invite more problems than applying solutions.

Augustinian Successor said...

Catholicity is this: that the wholeness of the undivided and singular Faith is preserved and maintained and confessed and professed by a Church in the diversity of Church through its local expression, that is to say that the Substance of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Faith is expressed in different cultures, times and locations.

That's catholicity for you.

Augustinian Successor said...

This is why we can confess I BELIEVE in a holy catholic Church. The catholicity and unity of the Church is a matter of faith, not sight. No synod can establish that. The Church is revealed precisely in the proclamation of the Gospel in Word and Sacraments. Any other form is human exigency.

This is one of the reasons why Mr. Hollywood and his ilk are dead wrong. They want to make church unity a matter of SIGHT. Well, then you are no Lutheran, Mister. You are an imposter and a charlatan. The honest thing to do is to repent and return to the Church of the Lutheran Confessions.

L P Cruz said...


IIRC, Fr. Bollywood's refusal to admit the ordinary meaning of Protestant, invites himself to be misunderstood. It makes cliques -- of a different kind.

When non-essentials are made essential, you can see that the main focus is no longer agreement in the Gospel or in abbreviation JBFA.

Catholicity in terms of variety is taught in the NT - there is no more Jew nor Greek, slave or free, all one in Christ Jesus. There is no difference between the circumcised to the uncircumcised, God unites us through our common saviour, but we keep on making mud puddles.

WELS indeed is indeed wrong in breaking fellowship with LCMS.

At any rate, WELS/LCMS I come now to see as an expression of American Confessional Lutheranism. We must not forget that it is possible that the European Confessional Lutherans may not be in agreement with that expression.

In this regard it really is a misnomer the claim that one's synod is orthodox.


L P Cruz said...

Additionally I happen to keep my posts and I recall the disagreements I had with the very reverend Fr. Bollywood.

He uses the term Catholic for the Lutheran church. Note the big C.

Now this made me now recall CFW Walther's article in which he did not even want to use 'catholic' to describe Lutherans because of that big C or small c confusion. The man was wise in this respect. But with the Society of Saint Polycrap's take, they do not mind calling themselves Catholic (big C).So there you go, the slide to sophistry is well on the way.

Heck, if they are willing to be Catholic, they might as well be genuine and kiss the Pope's ring. No wonder Schuetzie calls them to follow the courage of their conviction. Be Roman.


Past Elder said...

If I will not allow the world to tell me what catholic means in its religious usage, then predictably I don't suppose I will be much impressed when an Anglican tells me what Lutheran means.

It seems to me obvious beyond any possible need for discussion that to maintain Christ established a call which is the same when issued by any body of Christians be they a synod or a school or a parish or whatever and the positions to which the call calls one therefore are the same call with different particulars established by Man is a position, whether right or wrong, that does not admit of fellowship with those who maintain this is quite false and Christ did no such thing.

However, the answer to my own question becomes clearer as this thread proceeds -- I think what the deal is in having to find "diversity" essential in catholicity is not fully disengaging catholic from Roman, ie that which one must not be, even if it means losing what is catholic over what is Catholic.

L P Cruz said...


I do agree with regards to WELS, I am sad that such a thing became the basis of division and parting of the ways.

Well if only Lutherans are allowed to define who they are (and I agree), then only Catholics should be allowed to define what catholicism/Catholicism is. It is a double edged sword.

My approach is shared ontology or we might say consensus of historical scholarship. This way we somehow avoid post-modernization.


Past Elder said...

Catholics may define what Catholic is; they do not define what catholic is.

Yes the divisions among Lutherans, and among Christians generally, are sad, however, that's the way it is -- if I maintain something is of the institution of Christ and you say it is human, or if say you maintain something is of Christ and I say it's human, we are simply not in fellowship and one of us is wrong, falsifying Christ however unintentionally. While I, and LCMS, would say this does not necessarity prevent co-operating on things where we agree, it does mean, for example, that we do not commune, since we are not in communion.

We do not decide we are one, then decide what one is. We are one as a result of agreement on what one is.

That is one way of expressing why the Joint Declaration is so meaningless -- it presents itself as the latter when it is the former.

L P Cruz said...


Catholics may define what Catholic is; they do not define what catholic is

That would be special pleading wouldn't it following the reasoning that we were just discussing.

It is interesting that in CFW Walther's article he did not even want to get hooked on the word 'catholic'.

Let me give an example, when our Evangelical bros/sis re-baptize, they are being uncatholic - in short being sectarian in that they do not recognize other Christian's baptism. The anti-thesis of being catholic is being sectarian. Which is what sometimes synods get hang up.

It is being similar to Evangelicalism/Fundamentalism when people would divide on one's eschatology.

Which is why I say some synods exhibit a kind of 'fundamentalism', this time it is a Lutheran one.


Past Elder said...

Our Evangelical (in the modern sense, it used to be us!) brethren are doing no such thing.

If Baptism by the institution of Christ involves full immersion after a profession of faith by one who has reached the age of accountability, then anyone baptised by infant baptism has not been baptised at all but subjected to a rite apart from Christ's institution. Therefore they must be baptised, not again but for the first time. "Catholic" cannot include both what is of Christ's institution and what violates it on the same matter.

They are being true to their understanding of the Gospel, not sectarian at all. If their understanding of the Gospel is right, their practice re other ways of baptising is right. I don't agree with their understanding of the Gospel, and at the same time respect their integrity for not accepting, say, my infant baptism: if they're right I was baptised wrong and indeed not baptised at all.

L P Cruz said...

When you divide not on the basis of the Gospel, you will be sectarian.

Evangelicals re-baptizing is dividing not on the basis of the Gospel. They re-baptize because they differ on the notion of faith - that it has to be reflexive, that is why they are looked at as heterodox i.e. defective but not neccesarily non-Christian.

It is us, and mind you us who consider them Christian -- it is them who consider us as non-Christian because we have a different understanding of being born again.

Here is my point, and if you believe they are not-being sectarian, and they have a different Gospel, then you will have to re-baptize them when they become Lutheran. This is following the logic that you espouse, bro.

But we do no such thing, we do not re-baptize a baptized Fundamentalist Baptist who becomes Lutheran, do we?

The mark of fundamentalism is separating on issues not related to the Gospel. It is making minor a major.


Past Elder said...

Baptising as Christ commanded is totally related to the Gospel, so where there are disagreements over what Christ commanded, there are disagreements over the Gospel.

Our understanding of Baptism does not invalidate a baptism done by them, but their understanding of Baptism makes our baptisms invalid, including the adult ones. It does not follow at all that we must re-baptise them if they re-baptise us -- and that precisely because we do not understand Baptism the same way, therefore we have no fellowship.

I cannot see this as a sectarian thing at all. From their point of view, we have made a major thing a minor thing. Why would they not re-baptise then? But for us, anyone may baptise so why would we re-baptise, unless there was some doubt about whether it was in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost?

It's not like a they sent me a Christmas card but I didn't send them one sort of thing!

L P Cruz said...


precisely why we honor their baptism is because we are not sectarian, but they are.

We are not making a major thing a minor thing. Rather they are making a minor thing a major thing. We are keeping with the majors faithfully that is why we accept their baptism though they deny ours.

Nicene Creed...
"we acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins".

But at least you are granting them that they are not being sectarian is commendable, although I do not believe the arguments for saying they are not.

The fact that you equate their baptism with their understanding of the Gospel and the fact that you do not consider them to rightly gotten the Gospel makes them no Christian, by your standards.

They misunderstand that baptism is part of the Gospel, they think it is part of the Law.

Let me repeat the Gospel as defined by the AP IV: 238 ...
... the Gospel which promises us reconciliation and righteousness if we believe that for the sake of Christ, the propitiator, the Father is gracious to us and that the merits of Christ are granted to us

By enlarge the Evangelicals believe this. They may believe other things that may rob them of the benefits of this, but that is another matter, one of them is their mis-understanding of baptism.

So think we have settled awhile ago that the WELS position is sectarian, did we not?


Past Elder said...

Calling something sectarian depends on agreement on what is major and what is minor. From the standpoint of someone who sees as major something we see as minor it is not sectarian at all to insist that a major remain a major.

And that is our whole issue with "evangelicals" re Baptism. It is not that they are sectarian, it is that they do not have the same understanding of what is major that we do. It would be silly of us to expect them to recognise our baptism as valid as we do theirs.

Likewise WELS and LCMS on the issues that separate them. They cannot be approached on the basis of sectarianism or lack thereof. It is again a disagreement on what is major and what is minor, and until that is resolved there will not be a common view on what is sectarian. And further, that resolution would entail a change on their part as to what is major, which would be huge.

I think it's essential to understand that what may appear sectarian to me does not appear sectarian to someone else, because what to me is a permissible diversity is to them a fundamental error. Personally, I would not go so far as to say "evangelicals" are not Christian, but consider them in rather the same place as the RCs and EOs -- that while Christians and the Christian Church may be found among them, as church bodies they teach a mixture of true Christianity and much that, as you say, robs them of the benefit.

Before I found the Lutheran faith -- better said, before the grace of God worked faith in me -- I used to put it this way, borrowing the old phrase "all dressed up and no place to go": the RC and EO have places to go but don't know how to get dressed for it, and the evangelicals know how to get dressed for it but have no place to go.

We Lutherans have both, or rather, have it all.

L P Cruz said...


I guess I am a bit more cynical and more disappointed so in my book WELS is being sectarian in this respect. The same goes for individuals who divide in the minors.