20 February 2009

SID Goes on Record against Synod and for AC XIV

Today the Southern Illinois District in convention approved the following resolution by a vote of 118-19. I want to publicly thank Pres. Herbert Mueller for his support in this effort. Also worthy of mention and thanks are my circuit brethren, especially Pr. William Weedon, as well as the circuit counselors of the SID and the SID general pastors' conference all of whom contributed to producing this resolution. And it would be remiss not to mention with thanksgiving the work of Prof. Joel Okamoto of CSL who wrote the article rejecting "lay ministry" which was subsequently published as the joint decision of both systematics faculties.

It's certainly not a perfect resolution - for example, the language could certainly be stronger: "the SID expresses its regret" about the breaking of the AC's 14th article in the Synod at large rather than "calling the Synod to repentance" or something like that. In addition, the "plan" that is recommended here is slow going and open to much finagling.

But those shortcomings aside, I'm very glad that a whole district, by a wide margin, is on record against "lay ministry" and taking a stand with the systematics faculties in supporting our historic confession in contradiction to the Synod's current practice.

I would encourage pastors in other districts to use the SID's example to your benefit and bring similar resolutions to your district conventions. For most, the time for handing in resolutions to committees is past. But maybe, depending on the district, this could come from the floor.

At any rate. . . here's the resolution as adopted:

SID 2009 Convention

Resolution: 2-02

Subject: Specific Ministry Pastors

Action: Adopted, 20 February 2009, 118-19

Whereas, in certain situations today, the Synod approves of preaching and administration of the sacraments by men who have not been publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry (this position is expressed, e.g., in 1989 Resolution 3-05B, “. . . when no pastor is available, and in the absence of any specific Scriptural directives to the contrary, congregations may arrange for the performance of these distinctive functions [preaching and administering the sacraments] by qualified individuals”); and

Whereas, the Augsburg Confession's fourteenth article reads, “Concerning church government it is taught that no one should publicly teach, preach, or administer the sacraments without a proper [public] call” (KW p. 46); and

Whereas, the systematic theology faculties of both seminaries, acting jointly, have published a detailed statement on “The Office of the Holy Ministry” (Concordia Journal 33.3[July 2007]: 242-255) which states in part,

“The Confessions never use the truth that the whole church possesses the power of the keys to make the office of the holy ministry unnecessary or merely useful. On the contrary, this truth serves as the basis for the church's right to call, choose, and ordain ministers. . . . [T]he Treatise [on the Power and Primacy of the Pope] does not imagine churches without ordained ministers of some kind, even in emergency situations or when no one else will call and ordain men for the office. As confessors of the same doctrine, neither should we. . .

“'[C]all and ordination' are essential for conduct of the ministry. . . .What is the sign of authority for ministers today? It is their call and ordination, which assure that they act by divine right and on the authority of Christ. This truth makes such ideas as “lay ministers” invitations for difficulties and troubles to ministers whose authority is doubtful and to laypersons whose assurance of God's grace may be questioned.” (pp. 253-254, 255);


Whereas, the Board for Pastoral Education and the two seminaries are now implementing the Specific Ministry Pastor Program mandated by the 2007 Synodical Convention; and

Whereas, the Board for Pastoral Education and the Council of Presidents are due to report to the 2010 Synodical Convention concerning “situations currently served by licensed lay deacons” (2007 Res. 5-02); THEREFORE BE IT

Resolved, that the Southern Illinois District in convention express its regret at the current situation in the Synod at large concerning men who are conducting Word and Sacrament ministry without being publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry; and be it finally

Resolved, that the Southern Illinois District in convention memorialize the Synod in convention to direct the Board for Pastoral Education and the Council of Presidents to develop a plan and lay out procedures:

A) So that all men who are currently engaged in Word and Sacrament ministry without being publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry may either be enrolled in the SMP program or cease from all forms of Word and Sacrament ministry by the end of 2016, and
B) So that all current Synod and District tracks, programs, licensing procedures etc. which train men for Word and Sacrament ministry without benefit of being publicly called to and placed in the office of the ministry can be phased out in favor of SMP by the end of 2016; and

C) So that the Board for Pastoral Education report on this plan to the 2013 Synod in Convention for approval, emendation, and adoption.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I was at the mike to add a proposal to the SMPP measure at the convention in Houston in 2007 when discussion was closed. A good resolution - I think 2013 across the board would have been better, but still, an excellent resolution.

Rev. James Leistico said...

I had to urge patience upon my lay delegates wife. She was upset about how slow going and far away the deadlines were.

Great job, HR! Well done on the verbal presentation too.


(btw, have fun catching up to my family, now that we leap-frogged you.)

WM Cwirla said...

Good job. My only criticism is that the resolution sidesteps the issue of ordination with the language "called and placed into office." I don't blame the original authors. Having served on floor committees, I know how this happens. But we still haven't come to core of the issue when we deny that ordination is an essential component of rite vocatus.

ToddPeperkorn said...

Amen. Well done, and by the grace of God, we will try to do the same at our SWD conference in June.

Jason said...

Here is a link to the article by Dr. Okamoto that you note in your post: http://www.ctsfw.edu/library/files/pb/1980

William Weedon said...

Actually, William, as Heath presented it, we did find ordination to be a key impediment to the discussion, since unfortunately the word was not used in AC 14 (and Piepkorn's research on the question introduces folks to the red herring of Piepkorn himself, unfortunately!). But the language of "publicly placed in to the office of the ministry" was language no one COULD object to on the basis of AC 14, and since ordination IS the way a man is placed publicly into the office, well, that language seemed the way to go.

I also think it helps to dispel fears of clericalism if we clearly state up front that it is BECAUSE the keys belong to ALL that no individual has the right to exercise them publicly unless he has been authorized to do so. The analogy I use is the national forests. They belong to me as a citizen as much as the next guy. But that doesn't give me the right to go into them and start cutting down trees. We have placed into an office those men who can authorize the management of that which we belongs to all. FWIW.

Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

"we did find ordination to be a key impediment to the discussion" "Key impediment"(?) - Although I am not privy to such discussion, this is amazing. Have we fallen off the horse?

AC XIV is not separate from the other articles. Even if "ordination" is not explicit there the Augsburg Confession upholds it and it is part of the whole. Ought we not uphold AC XIV together with the other articles?

Let's not base timidity about ordination on real or imagined fears but on the whole of the confession.

Noli neglegere gratiam quae in te est quae data est tibi per prophetiam cum inpositione manuum presbyterii. (1 Timothy 4:14)

It is too bad that on this topic that we have to bypass Jesus breathing His Spirit on the Apostles in favor of democratic approval. So in fearing clericalism we err in favor of anti-clericalism.

WM Cwirla said...

Ordination has gone from a "sacrament" (Ap XIII) to an impediment. Wow!

Pr. H. R. said...

A little bit more on "ordination."

The good thing about walking this resolution through all the hoops - including circuit meetings, letters to the CTCR, district pastor's conferences, etc. - was that I got a much better understand of what everyone else was thinking. Here's what we found out about the term "ordination."

For many of our Missouri Synod brothers the words of Walther and other Lutheran divines that "ordination is an adiaphoron" weighs heavily. What Walther meant, of course, was that the sign of laying on hands did not have to be present to make someone a pastor. The Apostles could have breathed on their successors (as Jesus had on them) or they could stepped on their toes or flicked their nose instead of laying hands on their head. Walther did not mean that actually identifying who was in the ministry was not necessary or dominical.

So we ran into a classic case of talking past one another. Group A were saying "Ordination is not necessary!" while Group B said "Ordination is necessary!" While Group A meant "Laying on hands is not necessary" while Group B meant "Actually handing on the mandate of the apostolic office is necessary."

So in any text we wrote, we opted for the circumlocution "called to and placed in the office of the ministry" - which phrase derives from wording that Chemnitz uses in the Enchiridion.

But we made sure to include that quotation from the seminary faculties in the Whereases that mentions the importance of "ordination" and explains the term in such a way that avoids misunderstanding.


Cecil The Sea Sick Sea Serpent said...

Page 47 of "C.F.W. Walther Pastoral Thelology" Translated by John M. Drickamer states in "Comment 2. Ordination with the laying on of hand is not a divine institution but only an apostolic, ecclesiastical institution. ... Ordination is an adiaphoron and does not make the call and the office but only confirms them:" What say thee?

Cecil The Sea Sick Sea Serpent said...

I'm "shocked, shocked" that the current issue of the Reporter did not report this.

Christopher Esget said...

I'm late to the party, per usual, but thanks for posting this.