Character and Ethics are a lighthouse shining in the storm

Character and Ethics Needed in Our Next President

“Faithful churches cultivate character.”  Thus writes Concordia Seminary Professor Joel Biermann in his book, A CASE FOR CHARACTER: Towards a Lutheran Virtue Ethics. 1 Rev. Dr. Biermann recounts how Lutherans are unfairly portrayed as soteriological reductionists pitting law and gospel against one another.  Some critics say Lutheran theology and ethical teaching simply don’t fit together.  Biermann admits some Lutheran preachers have indeed spent too little pulpit time on clear Scriptures regarding how we Christians ought to live. Dr. Biermann’s prescriptions for re-emphasizing our Lutheran Confessions’ solid commitment to character and virtue ethics are valuable.  His book’s message is also timely as we witness widely-known men losing leadership positions due to their wrongful actions toward women as revealed via the #metoo movement. Joel reminds fellow pastors, “Christian people need to be trained in virtue.  A noble character does not simply happen.” He also believes community can still shape and sustain a

Who Serves Who in Synod? Congregation Self-Governance Versus Hierarchialism

Congregational Self-Governance Versus Hierarchialism

 The History, Theology and Practice of Congregational Self-Governance in the LCMS In terms of governance and order, the Missouri Synod has throughout its history balanced power between the baptized and the ordained.  We have made our decisions at conventions through votes mediated by an equal representation of clergy and laity.  These votes were not to be viewed as mandates, but as carefully crafted and thoroughly dialogued advice. In a fun, tongue-in-cheek essay, the Editorial Staff of Congregations Matter has provided another brief history of the LCMS on one issue:  Congregational Self-Governance as opposed to the current Synod trend towards hierarchialism.  The essay reviews our history, theology, and the unfortunate, current tendency of our Synod to move from prizing the Priesthood of All Believers and Congregational Polity toward a foreign, non-Lutheran emphasis on maintaining and growing the structure itself and fulfilling its needs at the expense of the our “first love”:

LCMS Churches Close as Membership Plummets under Harrison's Leadership

LCMS Membership Plummets Under Harrison

At the 2017 Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) Fall Leadership Conference, President Matthew C. Harrison cast a dark vision for future membership numbers in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. During a conference where attendees hope to hear positive motivation from our Synod President, instead Harrison spent his time attempting to convince attendees that numerical decline is inevitable.  His answer to LCMS decline is to focus ministry efforts on areas where Northern Europeans are in the majority in America. Harrison spoke of the prediction that our beloved LCMS will decline over the next 10-15 years by over 500,000 members!  A decline of 500,000 members would be a 25% drop in LCMS membership rolls. MEMBERS HAVE FLED IN DROVES SINCE HARRISON BECAME PRESIDENT Harrison delivered the grim prediction after admitting he has presided over the steepest five year membership decline in Synod history. LCMS membership has declined 2% per year during Harrison’s

Walther and Grabau: Hierarchy Matters or Congregations Matter?

LCMS Historical Bastion for Congregational Autonomy

Missouri Synod history is replete with instances when those who espoused hierarchical control were in conflict with “Missouri’s” understanding of Scripture on the issue of congregational autonomy.  We are sad to see the growing attack on the Scripture in our Synod on this principal upon which the Synod was founded! The following article by Pastor Mike Ramey is a comprehensive historical overview of a grave time in our Synod when first and founding President C.F.W. Walther had to fend off attempts by Grabau and Loehe to exert a hierarchical approach to governance at the expense of the local congregation in his day. History Repeats Itself We need to be aware that a full fledged attack on the rights of the local congregation is in full swing in our day.  President Walther would have been gravely saddened and moved to pick up the fight should he have lived to see the darkness that is descending upon our beloved Synod in our