Monday, July 24, 2006

A Plug for Higher Things

Next year, Higher Things are having two youth conventions. I strongly encourage you to attend or get your youth excited. Check out their website at Keep up the good work.

A Right to Speak # 2

I have applied the duct tape so my head won't explode (Glen Beck reference). I am ready to speak and I will try to do so calmly. At the Ohio Convention, these comments were also made by our president; but, naturally, there was no time to respond to them. Let me start by saying this. It is absolutely ridiculous that the By-laws are being interpreted in this fashion. It mirrors how our United States Constitution and By-laws are being interpreted by those on the left. Yes, we have an obligation to Synod. Yes, we should approach our brother if he sins against us. Yes, we should go through the proper channels if we disagree. That is why our congregation submitted so many overtures to our District Convention.

But, if I disagree with the Synod, if I think that the resolutions of the Synod are wrong, I have a moral and theological obligation to speak my mind. What kind of a Synod are we in, if pastors can't even express themselves? What kind of Synod are we in if pastors are not allowed to teach their own members about false teaching that our own Synod promotes? I really do think at this point, all we need is the Word of God and our Lutheran Confessions. Until we reach unity in doctrine and practice, the Constitution and By-laws of our Synod should be cast aside. Do you hear me? Cast aside! I am sick and tired of those in leadership hiding behind the C and B. It is ridiculous. They did it after 911 and they are doing it again. Let us throw off the shackles of our Constitution and Bylaws and get back to what is important. If somehow we can reach uniformity in doctrine and practice, then maybe we can bring them back in. Just my humble opinion. The duct tape seems to be holding.

God bless and God have mercy on our Synod.

In Christ,

Pastor Jim Haugen

A Right to Speak- # 1

A copy of an email was sent to me. I quote a portion of it. "Kindly note Bylaw 1.8, below: 1.8 Dissent 1.8.1 While retaining the right of brotherly dissent, members of the Synod are expected as part of the life together within the fellowship of the Synod to honor and uphold the resolutions of the Synod. 1.8.2 Dissent from doctrinal resolutions and statements is to be expressed first within the fellowship of peers and then brought to the attention of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations before finding expression as an overture to the convention calling for revision or recision. While the conscience of the dissenter shall be respected, the consciences of others, as well as the collective will of the Synod, shall also be respected. The Synod itself, at the Milwaukee convention in 1971, has interpreted the meaning of "honor and uphold" in the above paragraphs and addressed the reasons why honoring and upholding the Synod's doctrinal resolutions and expressing one's dissent in the manner we have mutually agreed upon is so important. Salient portions of Resolution 2-21 from that convention are reproduced for you below: The Synod, therefore, holds that every member, by virtue of his agreement when he voluntarily joined the Synod and freely placed himself under the provisions of the Synod's Constitution and bylaws, is bound by the Word of God expressed in the Synod's resolutions until it can be demonstrated that a resolution is in fact "not in accordance with the Word of God" (Bylaw 1.09b), and the Synod permits no member to teach or practice in violation of a resolution simply on the grounds that he does not agree with it or that it is in conflict with his private persuasion. Formal commitment of the Synod to a confessional base is pointless unless the Synod has the right as a synod to apply its confessional base definitively to current issues and thus conserve and promote unity and resist an individualism which breeds schism. If a member cannot for conscience' sake accept a doctrinal resolution of the Synod, he has the obligation and opportunity through mutually approved procedure to challenge such a resolution with a view to effecting the changes he deems necessary. Failing in that, he is completely free by reason of his wholly voluntary association with the Synod to obey his conscience and disassociate himself from the Synod. Meanwhile every member of the Synod is held to abide by, act, and teach in accordance with the Synod's resolutions. To "honor and uphold" support, act, and teach in accordance with them... I have taken the liberty of attaching the entirety of 1971 Resolution 2-21 and a related resolution (5-24) from the same convention for your edification and convenience. To sum it up (and this summation should also not be taken out of context): * The Holy Scriptures are the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and practice in the church. The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church are a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God (cf. LCMS Constitution, Article II). * Membership in the synod is voluntary. * Members of synod have voluntarily committed themselves to the rules by which we govern ourselves-the Constitution, Bylaws, and resolutions of the Synod (this includes Article II of the Constitution!). * Members of the synod may dissent from the position of the Synod. The Synod recognizes that it can err! * In dissenting from the position of the Synod, members have committed themselves to the process for dissent mandated by the Handbook. * While dissenting according to mandated procedure, members of the Synod have (voluntarily) committed themselves to "honor and uphold" the doctrinal resolutions of the Synod, and not to preach or teach contrary to them.

Did you get all that? I will respond in a second blog.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Just Say No!

For quite some time, leaders of the LC-MS and the AALC have been pursuing altar and pulpit fellowship. It seems that we are getting closer, from the news that is coming from Synodical headquarters. The picture included here is of the Presiding Pastor of the AALC. From my observation, this possible fellowship would be a very bad idea. The AALC have many theological problems that should completely prevent the Missouri Synod from joining in any type of relationship with the AALC. There are serious questions about the AALC's doctrine of Holy Communion, the Charismatic Movement and the Ordination of Women, to name just a few. The fact that the leaders of our Church are pursuing this fellowship shows to me, beyond a shadow of a doubt (as if I really needed any more evidence) that we are not unified in doctrine. The issues that divide us are so much more than issues of style or practice. God have mercy on our Synod!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Purpose Driven Lutheranism

Sometimes, a quote is so good, I must share it with you. The quote is by Rev. Kurt Hering, pastor of Trinity Lutheran in Layton, Utah. He is quoting, Paul Proctor. He says, "While the adiaphora of cultural vehicles that bear the means of grace can and do change – such as language, music, instruments, artwork –Law/Gospel preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins should not, indeed cannot, ever be replaced by PowerPoint and other video presentations; the Sacraments should not, indeed cannot, be replaced by the thinly veiled, "Lutheranized" altar calls of open communion; the liturgy should not, indeed cannot, be replaced by the self-centered, attention seeking idolatry of "praise" oriented worship; confession/absolution should not, indeed cannot, be replaced by motivational appeals to good works and social action; catechesis should not, indeed cannot, be replaced by spiritual gift inventories .. .and the evangelism that is the Good News of Jesus Christ and the teaching of ALL that He has commanded for the making of disciples should not, indeed cannot, be replaced by slogans, logos, and toteboard encounters." Couldn't have said it better myself.

Excerpt from "The Fire and the Staff"

I wanted to give you a section of "The Fire and the Staff" to encourage you to read it. This book has needed to be written for a long time. On page 55, Preus writes, "Doctrine is important because of the central doctrine of the Bible- the doctrine of Christ. Christian doctrine teaches Jesus... Every so often I will hear someone say, 'You believe in doctrine. I believe in Jesus.' Such an expression may sound very pious, but the devil is behind it. We cannot believe in Jesus unless we are taught the doctrine of Jesus. You cannot separate Christ from the doctrine of Christ. Christ without doctrine is some vague, wordless, fleshless, and incomprehensible blur, unknowable, and unworthy of knowing. If you can't teach it, you can't believe it."

Good stuff! More to come.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Just Believe!

In the face of such tragedy, Jairus’ grieving heart may have questioned the words of the book of Lamentations in the Old Testament, “The Lord is good to those who hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; there may yet be hope.” Did Jairus wonder about the goodness of the Lord? Did he question what kind of hope there could be now that his daughter was dead? Although we cannot say what was in the mind of this grieving father, Jesus could. And the Lord of life ignored the men and their message of mortality. Turning to Jairus, the Savior simply says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Jairus, let your belief push aside the fear. Let your belief settle your nerves. “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
You know the rest of the story. Jesus and Jairus went to the house. You know how they shouldered their way past those who were mourning with their weeping and wailing. You know how they endured laughter and terrible taunts. You know how Jesus took the girl’s lifeless hand and summoned her soul back from the grave. Just believe. Believe that in his wisdom, God knows how much joy and sorrow, how much pleasure and pain, how much prosperity and poverty is proper for each of us. Jairus was to believe as one pastor has said, “that God knows the correct balance of sunshine and storm, the precise mixture of darkness and light we need.” Just believe.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Recommended Reading!

I want to recommend for your reading enjoyment the book, "The Fire and the Staff," written by Klemet Preus. It examines the relationship between Lutheran doctrine and practice. This issue has been one that I have wanted to read about for years. There are many who say today that doctrine and practice can be kept separate; but, not according to the author. I have not finished with the book yet; but, so far it is excellent. I hope to comment further in future blogs. I plan to use it as a study with the elders of St. John. May God use this book to help our Synod understand how intricately our doctrine and practice are related. Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Support the Mother Church in Cleveland

I want to inform you that Zion Lutheran Church (the first LC-MS church in Cleveland) is offering a 200 page history. It is excerpted from a paper read before the Cleveland Chapter of Concordia Historical Institute on May 28, 1970, by Rev. Clarence T. Schuknecht. It is being sold by Zion as a fund-raiser for needed repairs. Rev. Schuknecht served as Zion's pastor from 1929 to 1988. This book contains:

> a written history of Zion from April 14, 1843, through May 28, 1976;
> pictures of the early church and school, their officers, teachers and other groups;
> elementary school pictures; confirmation pictures and names dating back to 1921;
> pictures and names of those who served in WWII;
> the "Story of the First Christmas Tree";
> Zion's picture Directory dated 1988; and much more.

This book weaves a tapestry of Zion's history and Lutheranism in the Cleveland area from well before the Civil War, as German Lutherans immigrated to this country.

Please contact 1-216-861-2179 or mail $30.00 for color, $20.00 for black and white and $2.15 each for shipping and handling to Zion Lutheran Church- Attn: Carol Corpus 2062 E. 30th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44115. Checks can be made out to Zion Lutheran Church.

Reflections on the Ohio District Convention#1

Blessings in Jesus Christ,

From June 8th through the 10th, I attended the Ohio District Convention in Dublin, Ohio. My congregation, St. John, Strongsville, submitted 9 overtures, non of which passed at the Convention (The overtures were suggested by Consensus). My goal was to bring up for discussion on the floor of the Convention significant issues that still plague our District and our Synod. I was told right after the Convention that District Conventions are not the place for these type of overtures. I must respectfully disagree. I think District Conventions are the perfect place to discuss our issues of disagreement. One of the overtures that we submitted dealt with Closed Communion and the need for us to continue to practice it. This resolution overwhelmingly failed. I am curious how a resolution about Closed Communion can fail at a District Convention, seeing that it has always been Lutheran practice. Nevertheless, we will continue to press on.

Generally, I was encouraged by the Convention. I got the opportunity to meet other pastors committed to Confessional Lutheranism. It is my hope- and the plans are already in the works- to have more congregations submit overtures in 2009. If you or your congregation would like to assist St. John, please contact me.

After the Convention, I am committed more than ever to Confessional Lutheranism in Cleveland and throughout Ohio. I also have hope, after the Convention, that our District will return to a more confessional position in the future. We have a lot of work to do. May God bless us now and always.

In Christ's service,

Pastor Jim Haugen