In response to a layman’s question, Pat Ferry offered a response that can guide all of us as we talk about the chaos and controversy in the LCMS regarding Luther’s Large Catechism with Annotations and Contemporary Applications.
Ferry’s level-headed, reasoned approach expressed his concerns, acknowledged disagreements, and avoided pouring more fuel on the fire. There’s enough of that going around with Twitter, Facebook, and web postings, don’t you think?
You can download a pdf of his response here or read it below. Pat Ferry gave permission to share his response to Our Congregations — Our Synod.
Readers will particularly appreciate Ferry’s gentle handling of a controversial subject. First, he supports those harmed by this controversy. Then, he directs all of us to act justly in this matter. And finally, Ferry calls for unity in the LCMS around our Gospel proclamation of Jesus’ love:
“… I would continue to appeal to us all avoid tribalism, strive to walk closer together in unity and trust, and more intentionally to avoid those whose objective not only engenders chaos and confusion, but also deviates from the Church’s Gospel proclamation.”
It sounds a lot like the Prophet Micah’s words:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8, ESV)
Let’s all take a breath, follow the good leadership example of Pat Ferry, and ask ourselves what the Lord requires of each of us in a moment like this.
You can read more about Dr. Ferry’s leadership agenda for positive change in the LCMS by signing up for his newsletter or reading his blog posts. An example of his leadership practice of listening to experienced partners and lifting up their vision is in his February 9th post: “Missions and Alternate Realities.”
Practicing “partnership in the Gospel” (Philippians 1:5) is a powerful thing in the hands of an experienced pastor and leader in the LCMS.
Amid the current chaos in the LCMS and our struggle against secular society, don’t you think we need this kind of leadership? Ferry’s transparent leadership style holds people accountable, calls for a unified witness to the world, listens to all sides of an issue…
…AND has a strategic plan to lead us forward on Christ’s mission!
That’s what Our Congregations and Our Synod need — and are waiting for.
Dear [Name Deleted by Request],
There has been plenty of very animated discussion among us about the controversy over the CPH publication of the Large Catechism with Annotations and Contemporary Applications. No one would have expected such a stir given the scholarly credentials of editors and contributors, the thorough theological review process, and the strong endorsement of our church’s leadership.
Unfortunately, this series of events underscores and exacerbates tensions and divisions that exist among us. To be sure, a lot of damage has been done—to the reputation of scholars, authors, editors—theological leaders in our church. Damage has also been done to our confidence in following well-established processes for addressing grievances and complaints.
I would prefer not to weigh in on the Large Catechism publication crisis, and I am not interested in piling on President Harrison for his handling of the matter.
In the end, I believe he did the right thing by withdrawing the halt to publication and acknowledging that he had overstepped his authority in his original action. I am also glad that he addressed the overreach of those who attacked the scholarly integrity and personal character of contributors and editors.
There are enough substantive areas of differentiation for us to consider without casting a spotlight on this regrettable situation.
At the same time, I would continue to appeal to us all avoid tribalism, strive to walk closer together in unity and trust, and more intentionally to avoid those whose objective not only engenders chaos and confusion, but also deviates from the Church’s Gospel proclamation.
While this response may not align with your own perspective on the matter, I am grateful for your question and your willingness to reach out to me.
Yours in Christ,