Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why I Plan to Vote for Rev. Matthew Harrison for Synod President and Herb Mueller for First Vice President

As I see it there are two big problems that are crippling the LCMS right now:

The first has to do with pastors and a lot of lay people who are so eager to fill chairs on Sunday morning that they claim it is the will of God to water down His word in order to keep them coming. The root of all heresy is not the preaching or teaching of false doctrine. The root of all heresy is the failure to preach and teach the full counsel of God's word. Honestly, brothers, if Paul or Peter or John walked into many of our churches today and began to preach, would your people be able to enjoy it, would they even tolerate it? You say you are being relevant to reach the people. I'll agree you are reaching down to them. But are you lifting anyone up? A lady moved into our area who had served on what she described as a leadership board in her former LCMS congregation. But she truly believed that abortion was an acceptable practice in order to get rid of unwanted children. She was flabbergasted when I refused to allow her to transfer. I'm sure this lady had never heard a pro-life sermon in that LCMS church.

The second group includes those pastors and a very few laymen who think that the ministry is limited to study, leading worship, watching TV and spending a lot of time on the internet. Some of these men will wreck years of faithful labor given by their predecessors and run for cover under the Theology of the Cross. I knew of one pastor of this kind whose people complained that he used words in his sermons that they didn't understand. The next Sunday he brought a dictionary to the pulpit and read the definitions to them. I'm not making this up. He proudly told us this is what he did! Poor, poor sheep. This man really does need the Book of Concord... Wacked upside his head. These men love doctrine for doctrine's sake, but they just don't love people. They are an embarrassment to confessional Lutheranism.

I personally know President Kieschnick, and he has always treated me in the most friendly way. I believe he is a good man, and I know he works very hard to lead this Synod. I don't have any inside knowledge of his leadership style. But from a distance I see some things that just make me shake my head. The Yankee Stadium decision and the weak followup was the first.* The Issues, Etc. decision was the second. Last of all is proposal 18 of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. (Please don't tell me this isn't centralization of power. That disappoints me even more.) I don't know the motives for these decisions. All I can say is that I don't like them. He has also had nine years to lead the Synod. He came into office complaining vigorously about the lower numbers of baptisms, worship attendance, etc. He gave us dire predictions of what would happen if things didn't change. Those numbers are still going south. So, with respect, I think it is time to take a little different approach.

I don't know Matt Harrison that well, but I've enjoyed reading many things he has written. I especially appreciated a little talk he gave at one of our pastoral conferences in which he apologized for once thinking he had all the answers to the church's problems. I do know Herb Mueller quite well. I know that his firm but irenic confessional leadership works. From my limited human point of view I think Matt and Herb are the best choices for leaders at this time. But I know that God will make the final decision through us. May God give us wise leaders and help us be the church we have been called to be.

* I was president of our city ministerial association that year, and I participated in a "kind" of serial prayer. But it was very different from the Yankee Stadium event, and no one would have been left with the impression that Jesus is just one way among many. The failure to thoroughly expound this during the event and after the event disappointed me greatly.

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