“The Law of God is Good and Wise.” When men try to work outside of the Divine Law, it is neither good nor wise. It causes problems. The solution, of course, would be to return to the Divine Law. But the human response is almost always to try and solve it with our own Genius, our own rules that are more wise (according to the world) than the simple and foolish Law of God. Examples are myriad, but specifically in this case I refer to the SET form.
As anyone who has met me can tell you, I am fastidious about following rules – to the letter. It’s a way to encourage rule-setters to abandon their godlessness. And, unlike many pastors in the synod, I actually update my SET regularly. Not because I seek a call. I am quite happy with the best three congregations in the synod. I enjoy my ministry to them and appreciate the constant love they show to me. But, it bothers me that the SET form might not accurately reflect who I am as a pastor and Christian should a congregation accidentally end up with my paperwork.
You would think it would be an easy matter to express myself clearly. After all, I am in the teaching and preaching business. If I can’t do that, I really need to find a new means to support my family. But it is hard. I am trained to speak according to the Word of God, and to communicate that word clearly to the flock entrusted to me. They are trained to hear and learn the Word of God, and will hear no other voice. Together, by the grace of God, we improve each year in our respective tasks, and we get ever more narrow in our focus on them.
So, when a document comes along that asks me to explain myself in ways contrary to that word, I feel like I am speaking a foreign language. Oh, the questions have the appearance of righteousness. But there is a godlessness to the SET form that causes nothing but trouble in the church. Faithful congregations are suddenly given poison, and asked to drink it before the new pastor arrives. I’m not being unnecessarily harsh. It is simply the truth. Pastors are asked their preference about matters clearly taught in the Word of God. We don’t get to prefer other things to God’s Word. And I’m no good at describing myself in those terms. Ask me how I instruct and build up my congregation in faithful reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood, and I can tell you. Ask me my preference regarding the clear word of 1 Cor 11:27-30, and what I think of it in light of convention resolutions that have weakened it’s practice, and I will struggle. I want to communicate clearly that the question is godless and invites the judgment of the Lord against the LCMS and her officers, but I don’t want to come across as some consuming fire, because I’m not. I’m actually quite patient and reasonable about such matters in my parish. It’s a fine line, and I try to tweak and adjust my answers every so often.
But they changed the system on me. It used to be I would fill out the file, and forward it to the district office. Now, we must do it online. It’s still godless, but it’s now also a hassle. We need a password. You know the password rules: Nothing you’ve used elsewhere, don’t write it down so someone can see it, and it needs to be long and complex. Well, I don’t access this site often. I forgot my password. So, like a dutiful little serf, I asked the district for a reset from the man who runs the system. (I am told he used to be a District President of some note, but I have never met him.)
I received a response from the District, noting that the password was reset, and then this message, from the man who runs the system for corporate:
Please let him know that he is the only pastor out of 9,622 LCMS pastors, who has needed to have his password reset TWICE. So, he should record the new password he creates this time, unless, of course, he is intending to set another record!!
I didn’t know I was even in the running for a record. Of course, while I appreciate his advice, I can not possibly follow it. Writing down passwords is a way for them to be stolen. But it’s nice to know that our officials have created a system that, while godless, is also exceedingly unwieldy. It would be a shame if many pastors tried to update their SET and had to request password resets. Given the response I received, I almost think it might bring the whole system to it’s knees. And, given how godless it is, and how filthy we all feel even using it, that would be a real shame.
So, my advice is DON’T contact your district asking for a password reset. Especially if you are doing it with no intention of updating your SET, but merely to stress the godless system that the LCMS uses for this. That would be my advice if anyone asked. And, in another few months when I decide to tweak my answers again, I may have an update about my record….