|Michelle Mouse Club|
To that end, the “Joint Statement,” drafted in 1990 and revised in 2015 by representatives of the CLC (sic), ELS, and WELS, is offered as a scripturally sound presentation on the matters of church fellowship that have separated us for many years. Agreement on this doctrine would be a necessary first step toward the restoration of God-pleasing fellowship relations.
It is understood that this “Joint Statement,” if and when it is adopted by the three synods, will supersede all previous statements or interpretations of previous statements that are in conflict with it. All conflicting or possibly conflicting statements from any of the three synods are herewith rejected.
|Anything goes - once the New NIV is official,|
and WELS has blessed it over and over.
JOINT STATEMENT Regarding the Termination of Fellowship
I. On the basis of Holy Scripture and in a spirit of Christian unity and love we believe and affirm that it is God’s gracious will and purpose:
A. That His church on earth be one flock under one Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’ sheep listen to His voice (Jn. 10:16, 27). They gladly hear His Word and follow Him because He is “the way and the truth and the life.” No one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn. 14:6). The words that Jesus speaks are precious to His followers because they “are spirit and they are life” (Jn. 6:63). Jesus alone has the words of eternal life because He is the Holy One of God (Jn. 6:68, 69). His church lives by His Word and gladly shares it with others.
B. That all who believe in Jesus as their Savior and Lord agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among them and they may be perfectly united in mind and thought (1 Cor. 1:10). He urges them “to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Dissensions and divisions arise when Jesus’ disciples do not carefully listen to His voice as He speaks to them in the Holy Scriptures, God’s inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word. Jesus assures them that if they remain in His Word and hold firmly to it, they are really His disciples. He promises, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:31, 32). For this reason Scripture admonishes us to watch our life and doctrine closely and to persevere in them so as to save both ourselves and our hearers (1 Tm. 4:16), to keep as the pattern of sound teaching
what we have heard from God’s spokesmen (2 Tm. 1:13), and to do our best to be workers who do not need to be ashamed and who correctly handle the word of truth (2 Tm. 2:15).
C. That Christians as individuals and as church bodies be on constant guard against falsehood and error. False doctrines and unscriptural teachings are sown by Satan, “the father of lies.” “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth” (Jn. 8:44). His aim is to separate Jesus’ sheep from their Good Shepherd and to take them with him to eternal destruction. With fatherly love God therefore warns us to beware of false prophets (Mt. 7:15), to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in our way by going contrary to the teaching we have learned and to “keep away from them” (Ro. 16:17). Out of loving concern He commands us not to “be yoked together with unbelievers,” but rather to “come out from them and be separate” (2 Cor. 6:14, 17). Earnestly He admonishes us not to assist or encourage those who do not continue in Christ’s teaching (2 Jn. 10, 11).
D. That Christian brothers, motivated by Christian love and concern, exercise their fellowship by admonishing one another whenever it is called for, and particularly also when they notice that their brothers have strayed into error (Eze. 33:1-9; Ro. 15:1-14; Ga. 6:1-5; Eph. 4:1-6; Col. 3:12-17; 2 Tm. 4:2). Failure to admonish would be disobedience to God and evidence of an unloving heart. Those giving the admonition will not do this in a self-righteous, haughty spirit or in a loveless, mechanical way, but humbly and patiently, in the spirit of Christ, the Good Shepherd, who lovingly seeks every lost and straying sheep and strives to rescue it (Lk. 15:3-7). The response to such fraternal admonition given to an erring individual or group within the fellowship will help to determine whether the error is a matter of weakness or whether the erring individual or group is causing divisions and offenses by teaching contrary to God’s Word (Ro. 14:1; 16:17). If the erring individual or group is willing to be instructed from the Word of God while also refraining from promoting the error and at the same time making efforts to address it, the error will be treated as a matter of weakness. If, however, the erring individual or group rejects the admonition from Scripture and holds to the error, they are causing divisions and offenses, and our Lord instructs us to avoid them (Ro. 16:17).
[Note: Those who adhere to false teaching in spite of admonition are regularly referred to as “persistent errorists” in the ELS and WELS, while in the CLC (sic) they are referred to simply as “errorists.” This document uses the phrase “those who adhere to error” because it communicates the truth adequately and it has been used in the same manner in all three synods (see III, G, H).]
II. With respect to Romans 16:17, 18, on the basis of Holy Scripture and in a spirit of Christian unity and love, we believe and affirm:
A. The present active infinitive skopein, meaning “to keep on watching out for,” refers to Christians’ ongoing activity of being constantly alert and on the lookout for those who are causing divisions and offenses by teaching contrary to God’s Word (see III, A, B).
B. While the word skopein does not in itself specifically and directly enjoin admonition, this does not deny that admonition as enjoined in other passages of Scripture will normally take place concurrently with the watchfulness of which skopein speaks whenever error appears within the circle of fellowship.
C. The primary purpose of such admonition is in love to show the erring individual or group that they have left the truth of God’s Holy Word, and then also by the power of the Holy Spirit to bring them back, if possible, to the “pure, clear fountain of Israel” (Formula of Concord, S.D., Comprehensive Summary, 3; Concordia Triglotta, 851) (see III, C).
D. Admonition continues until the erring individual or group either repents of their error and turns away from it or until they show themselves to be guilty of causing divisions and offenses by continuing in their error (see III, D).
E. Christians will rejoice when those who have misspoken or inadvertently strayed into error accept admonition and correction from God’s Word (see III, I).
F. Scripture enjoins us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 Jn. 4:1). This testing involves making a judgment based on the principles of Scripture as to whether we are dealing with weak brothers or those who adhere to error. (see III, E).
G. When “testing the spirits” in regard to a church body we need to consider not only its official statements and resolutions, but also its corporate actions or inactions. We cannot assume that every expression of individual members reflects the position of the church body, or that the correctness of its official statements and resolutions automatically guarantees that there is scriptural practice within the body.
H. The imperative ekklinate calls for a clean break of fellowship with those who adhere to error. When it has been ascertained that a person or a church body is causing divisions and offenses (tous poiountas dichostasias kai ta skandala) by teaching contrary to Holy Scripture, the directive to avoid is as binding as any word addressed to us by our Savior God in His holy Word (see II, D).
I. A break in fellowship with those who adhere to error is a forceful, loving, and ongoing admonition regarding the seriousness of their error.
J. The apostle’s urgent command ekklinate (“avoid,” “keep away from”) is the voice of the Good Shepherd Himself as He lovingly protects His sheep and lambs from the deception of error. Such a termination of fellowship serves the spiritual welfare of Christ’s flock. Continuing in fellowship with those who are causing divisions and offenses exposes Jesus’ disciples to the leaven of error, which is contrary to His saving intent (Mt. 16:5-12; Rom. 16:18).
III. With respect to Romans 16:17, 18, on the basis of Holy Scripture and in a spirit of Christian unity and love:
A. We reject the view that the verb skopein refers to labeling or branding those who have already been identified as individuals or a church body causing divisions and offenses (The KJV translation “mark” can be misunderstood.) (see II, A).
B. We reject the view that skopein does not refer to an ongoing, durative activity. (see II, A).
C. We reject the view that the primary purpose of admonition is to determine whether or not people are adhering to error (Gal. 6:1; see II, C).
D. We reject the view that the decision to avoid is to be made on the basis of a subjective judgment or conjecture about the possible outcome of the admonition (see II, D).
E. We reject the view that permits the use of subjective judgment to prolong fellowship with those who adhere to error, since such action is contrary to the principles of Scripture (see II, F).
F. We reject using expressions such as “debt of love” as a basis for delaying a break in fellowship with those who adhere to error.
G. We reject the understanding that, when a person or group has been identified as causing divisions and offenses through false teaching, persistence in the error is an additional criterion that must be met before breaking fellowship. We likewise reject the understanding that demanding recognition for error or making propaganda for error are additional criteria that must be met. Rather, these are ways that a person or group can be identified as causing divisions and offenses.
H. We reject any use of the term “persistent errorist” that would imply that there are individuals or groups who adhere to error with whom we can continue in fellowship in the hope that they may someday return to the truth.
I. We reject the view that the ekklinate injunction is to be applied to those within the circle of fellowship who have misspoken or inadvertently erred, or to those who are weak brothers. Christian love will lead us rather to “correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” those who have erred in this way (2 Tim. 4:2; see II, E).
J. We reject the view that a break in fellowship with those who adhere to error is per se the equivalent of excommunication. A termination of fellowship is a judgment on doctrine, not on personal faith.
Revised Pewaukee, Wisconsin November 13, 2015
Church of the Lutheran Confession (sic): Michael M. Eichstadt Bruce J. Naumann Paul D. Nolting
Little Sect on the Prairie: John A. Moldstad, Jr. Gaylin R. Schmeling Erling T. Teigen
Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod: John M. Brenner Thomas P. (NNIV) Nass Mark G. Schroeder
|Brug, Bivens, and Wendland|
wonder why their students are so dumb.
|Pope John the Malefactor blesses this|
opportunity to keep the Little Sect on the Prairie from disappearing.
The ELS is gigantic compared to the CLC (sic),
but both produce about one pastor a year.
ClergyTalk is a private forum for seminary-trained
pastors and teachers of the CLC (sic). Messages
posted here should be considered confidential
unless the author says otherwise.
|The WELS-ELS-CLC (sic) expert on salvation without faith,|
Jay Webber, earned an online STM from an ELCA school
that trains women for ordination. Here is one preaching
to the Institute of Lutheran Theology.
GJ - Nothing tickles my funnybone more than these solemn declarations when everyone is winking at everyone else. All three sects are circling the drain, but they have to conduct themselves with dignity and not show the panic that fills their flinty bosoms.
Name one liberal, apostate fad that has not been promoted by these yahoos:
- Paraphrases for anti-sacrament dummies marketed as Bible translations?
- Women teaching men and usurping authority over men?
- Prosperity fake Gospel, Church Growth, Emergent Church, Beer Bible study?
- Universalism from ELCA, aka Objective Justification?
- Tearing out the pipe organ to install pathetic little rock bands and raucous music?
|Coordinates worship in WELS?|
In spite of the Wisconsin Synod's reputation for "conservative" rigor, WELS has a rather "liberal" view when it comes to women officiating at the Eucharist.
According to this Q&A from the WELS's own website, there have been at least two instances where laywomen in the WELS have said the Lord' Words of Institution over bread and wine and served it, claiming that it was the body and blood of the Lord. The practice was in no way condemned by the WELS hierarchy, but rather, the practice is current under a "moratorium" in order to "keep from offending our brothers."
This error has come about by the intersection of an error on the doctrine of the ministry combined with a legalistic view of the role of women.
First, WELS does not believe the pastoral office has been divinely established, and further teaches that "The Bible establishes all of public gospel ministry but does not establish a pastoral office as such or vest certain duties exclusive to that office" (Emphasis added).
From this starting point, WELS adds the next premise that the differences between male and female are limited to a legalistic "thou shalt not," as the article puts it:
"Since the Bible does not assign specific duties to the pastor, WELS approaches the matter of women communing women from Scripture's man and women role relationship principle. WELS doctrinal statements on the role of man and woman say that a woman may have any part in public ministry that does not assume teaching authority over a man. That, of course, would include women communing women" (emphasis added).And this has moved beyond the theoretical into the practical:
"WELS has had only two instances of women communing women, and our Conference of Presidents has since issued an indefinite moratorium on such practice to keep from offending our brothers until the matter is mutually resolved" (emphasis added).The "it's only happened twice" defense reminds me of the Monty Python sketch claiming that the British Navy now has cannibalism "relatively under control."
In other words, the theology of male and female boils down to an oversimplified and law-based overarching principle that women are free to do anything and everything in the Lord's economy so long as she does not exercise authority over a man in doing so - when in fact, the role of women is much richer than the "anything other than..." approach of the WELS. Accepting these two premises and following them to their logical end yields the result of women saying the Words of Institution over bread and wine, and distributing the elements to each other as if they were the true body and blood.
This is roughly the equivalent of my asserting that since I'm an American citizen, I can sign my name on a bill and make it a law, or that I can authorize people to go up into the Statue of Liberty's crown, or may indeed put stars on my lapels and order military personnel about. I can do no such thing. It is a matter of authority. Pastors are ambassadors of Christ, and speak by His authority, standing in His stead and by His command. The American ambassador to Canada speaks with the authority of the government of the United States. Of course, I am free to visit the Parliament in Ottawa, but unlike the word of the ambassador, my word bears no authority. Any statements I make have no force behind them, as I have not been placed into any such office by those who have such authority to delegate.
This is quite different than the Roman Catholic assertion that at a man's ordination, a metaphysical change in his person has happened. But this is also quite different than the Protestant assertion that ordination is nothing more than a quaint ceremony. Sometimes the president of the United States is called "the most powerful man in the world." Not so. I'd be willing to wager than any middle linebacker in the NFL could take out President Obama in any kind of a strength competition or fight. What the president has is not personal "power," but rather delegated personal "authority" that he exercises "by virtue of his office." Not even someone more "powerful" than the president can make laws and issue commands to the military. If someone were to attempt to do so lacking authority, it would be a mutiny and a rebellion.
The examples in Scripture of those who assumed and usurped authority not given by the Lord do not end well. Korah's rebellion comes to mind.
And lest we become too smug in the LCMS, I think we should be on guard. We do have deaconesses who are described as "ministers," some even serving in institutional chaplaincies, providing spiritual care to both men and women. I have even seen this work described as being "pastoral" - though there is great care not to turn this adjective into a noun. At some point, the earlier understanding that deaconesses would only teach women and children has been superseded in the LCMS, as deaconesses are now permitted to teach men as well as women and children. What authority they have and do not have seems to be on a sliding scale of gray, and varies with whomever is asked.
But the problem goes well beyond the malleable role of the deaconess. I recently heard firsthand of a "laying on of hands" in the LCMS that involved not only clergy, but the congregational elders (after all, see 1 Tim 4:4...) and the female congregational president as well. I know that sometimes clergy wives are even involved in these ceremonials.
We also have an oxymoronic "office" in the LCMS called "lay minister." Male "lay ministers" have been given "license" for "Word and Sacrament ministry" by district presidents. Female "lay ministers" take the same classes and hold the same synodical designation, yet (to my knowledge) there have not been instances of female "lay ministers" either preaching or presiding over an alleged Sacrament of the Altar. But I do think this toe-to-the-line of the Wisconsonian view of the office of the ministry and the roles of the sexes leaves the possibility open.
One of the most foolish things anyone can ever say is: "It can't happen here."
We in the LCMS have a similar rather limited theology of the sexes as the WELS. We tend to focus on the narrow and myopic legalistic issue of "what women are allowed, and are not allowed, to do" (functionalism) rather than the deeper and eternal issue of what men and women were created to do (ontology). Function ought to flow from ontology rather than trying to reverse-engineer the situation in the opposite direction.
I suspect there are some in our midst who indeed would make the argument that women have the divine authority to bless bread and wine (even as they have the power to physically say the words), that they can indeed also have the churchly permission ("call") to do so as long as no men take the "sacrament" from her hand, and so long as she does not lay claim to the title of "pastor." And there are some that will, no doubt, make a couple arguments in favor of women consecrating based on:
1) The charge of "Donatism." This is the ancient heresy that the validity of the sacrament is based on the moral standing of the officiant. However, sex has nothing to do with moral fitness. It is rather an ontological distinction. For example, men are not denied the privilege of carrying a child in the womb based on a moral reason, it's rather a question of reality and vocation. Just as a good and righteous American citizen can write his name at the end of a bill passed by Congress, the fact is that his righteous signature is not effective whereas that of even a wicked president is - by virtue of authority. A person's sex has nothing at all to do with Donatism.
In fact, the Donatism charge can even go the other way. For example, a very pious and morally upright lay woman can say all the right words over bread and wine without having any authority from God, neither from Scripture nor from the Church, and yet a wicked ordained male pastor with a valid call can do the same thing - and there is no doubt whatsoever of the validity of the sacraments he officiates over.
This is because the issue is authority, not moral fitness.
In fact, there was an interesting conversation between some LCMS seminary professors over this very issue. You can read the initial article about the "validity of churchly acts of ordained [sic] women" here and the rebuttal against the charge of "Neo-Donatism" here.
2) Emergency baptism. The argument goes that if women can "confect the sacrament," so to speak, regarding an emergency baptism, then it follows that she can similarly officiate over celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. But this is a leap of logic that presumes that all sacraments are equal and that we are not bound to any authority in these matters apart from our own modern whims. The crux of the matter is that emergency baptism is just that - a life and death situation. The Church has long established this form of Holy Baptism, and has never denied the fairer sex the extraordinary authority to administer the Holy Sacrament in matters of extremity. However, the same cannot be said for other sacramental and churchly acts. For there are no emergency marriages or confirmations or communions.Our confessions cite the scenario attributed to St. Augustine in which one dying man baptizes the other, and the newly-baptized administers the Sacrament of Holy Absolution to his fellow. There is no mention of any other sacrament or church rite. Most certainly there is no precedent for emergency lay Communion.
Just as female ordination inevitably leads to the blessing of same-sex marriages, I also believe that a functional view of the ministry inexorably leads to women functioning (if not outright claiming to be) pastors. Until we in the LCMS come to grips with the idea of ontology (both of ministers and of the sexes), we will continue to follow in the train of our conservative brethren, even though the tracks have taken a radical turn to the left.
Show me in the Bible where women are commanded not to minister to each other in any way.