The Call is from God, not the People

Today the LCMS commemorates a local Saint – but one who had a tremendous effect on Christians throughout the world. It’s CFW Walther day. It’s not an overstatement to say that, without him, Confessional Lutheranism might not have survived past about 1900. And even our separated brethren in heterodox and heretic churches would have noticed the difference, I assure you.

And as I’m pondering his influence, and as my district meets in convention and elects officials, I ponder these wise words of his. I wish we would take them more seriously, and do more than merely pay lip service to them.

Especially here in America, many congregations follow the practice of calling preachers only temporarily – that is, either with the reservation that they can be dismissed at will, or only for a certain period of time (perhaps for one or several years)… even if all of this is done with the possibility of being elected again for another specified period of time. However, a congregation does not have the right to extend such a call, nor is a preacher authorized to accept it. Such a call is neither valid nor legitimate before God…

The preacher, however, who gives a congregation the right to call him in this way and to remove him arbitrarily makes himself a hireling, a servant of people. Such a call is absolutely not what God ordained with respect to the holy preaching office but an entirely different matter that has nothing to do with it. It is precisely not a mediate call of God through the Church, but rather a human contract; it is not a lifelong calling, but a temporary function outside of the divine order, an ecclesiastical – and thus human – ordinance made contrary to the order of God, or, rather, a dreadful disorder. As such, it is therefore without any validity, null and nothing, ,and one called this way should not be regarded as a minister of Christ and the Church…

Finally, no proof is required that, if that kind of call is practiced, the church can never again be properly cared for, governed, proper discipline can not be exercised in it, it cannot be established properly in faith and blessed ways, and it cannot be propagated. Such a call opens door and gate to every disorder, confusion, and disaster by antagonists and by people-pleasing and people-fearing belly-servers. 

Today is a good day to pray that the church would take these words to heart, especially for my own beloved district, as she gathers in convention to elect office holders according to our humanly devised bylaws. I pray godly men are elected, and that they only serve faithfully in offices which are faithfully given.

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5 Responses to The Call is from God, not the People

  1. Is this from Church and Ministry? I would like to read further to better understand the bounds of what is a valid mediate call of God through the Church, particularly in terms of how that call is made, conditions on the call, and removal after accepting the call. Thanks!

  2. Dennis G Parham says:

    Country Preacher, I agree with the idea of a divine call for the office of a pastor. However, I’m also well aware of pastors abusing their position. Yes, I’ve spoken to the pastor personally and yes, we’ve had people from the district come in.

  3. Dennis G Parham says:

    Interesting concept. I’ve been told by my pastor that our synod sometimes places pastors in for certain purposes, He called them “intentional placements”. He reported that this was because the synod felt that the church needed to be changed in some way. I thought if sounded as though the local congregation was being manipulated. I’d be happy to discuss this.

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