This will be my last blog post before the LCMS convention begins in Milwaukee. (What do you mean, clickbait?) One way or another, this will be known as the “Lay Ministry” convention. Either we do away with this unfaithful practice, and return to a truly Lutheran ecclesiology, or we continue further down the road of unfaithfulness, in which case it’s time to stop pretending as a church body that we are serious about our confession.
For years I have been challenging those in favor of lay-ministry to make the theological argument in favor of it. This convention has given them a chance to do just that.
The Northwest District, led by Mr. Paul Linnemann has been leading the charge. The President of the New Jersey District, Mr. Anthony Steinbronn recently entered the fray with his own opinions. (I assume they are ok with not being called Reverend, since they see no difference between clergy and laity.)
And the theological rationale is every bit as shallow as I expected. Equivocation and obfuscation are the order of the day. The faithfulness level is somewhere between “Everyone A Minister” (“0”) and Seminex (“-100”). It is plainly obvious that no one who supports LLD has ever so much as read Luther’s Infiltrating and Clandestine Preachers – the standard reference work for understanding Luther’s views of Church and Ministry. In it, he lays out the promise, necessity, and comfort of the call – not just for those who presume to preach – but for those who will hear. Compare the following two statements:
Knowing that God, through the proper call and ordination, has placed a man in your midst to be shepherd of God’s flock is a tremendous comfort. He is to stand and risk his own life to defend you against the wolf.
Knowing that an elected official, by filing the proper paperwork, has hired someone who will do the best job he can with the little training he has received to keep you safe.
Those who are in favor of continuing the Licensed Lay Deacon program are essentially recommending that we encourage the use of infiltrating and clandestine preachers. That is not the right thing to do.
I encourage the synod to vote for accountability for those who would lead congregations, for faithfulness to our confession, and more importantly for faithfulness to the word of our Lord, who gives the right of calling to his church. He does not give the right of licentiousness to the bigwigs. That’s what this program actually does. It embiggens the District Presidents with illicit powers not given by God. They decide who will serve you, and how unqualified he will be. That’s not good order. It’s not good accountability. We rage against the un-accountability in our public political arena, and then grant just that same unaccountability to our synod’s own elected leaders. Some of the District Presidents don’t want to lose their illicit powers. They like them. And they are pulling out all the stops to keep them in place.
This relates also to the sensible provision that would restore the previous accountability of District Presidents by allowing for limited review by the Presidium of certain decisions they make that impact the entire synod. Interesting that in one breath they say, “We do not need pastors.” and in the next they say, “Do not interfere with my absolute authority in my district.”
They are the modern day popes, who do not like that the seminaries and the synod have a say in who serves “their” churches. And they really do consider it “their” church, not “Christ’s Church.”
Don’t be fooled. 27 years is enough. Ending Licensed Lay Deacons is not about depriving people of the Comfort of the Gospel.It’s about restoring proper order to the church. It’s about making sure that every congregation has the proper comfort of the Gospel.