“The maintenance and advancement of the unity of the pure confession, and common defense against separatism and sectarianism” is the reason we have a Synod. It is the reason that congregations form together and make up a Synod. It is for the development of a “culture” that stands for an exclusive Gospel proclamation of Christ that makes us united in witness.
We have an official in the Synod who wrote a report about the latest convention in which he says the following, “I believe that the two camps present in our church may be distinguished in this way: one group sees the need to place trust in a relatively few national and district leaders who will show the church the way they should go and ask for (require) the people to follow them there, and the other group sees the need to place trust in those who are doing ministry on the ground in the local setting and seek to provide them the freedom to make those choices and carry them out. My heart is with the second group. I believe the spirit behind the Synod constitution is behind the second group. This may be because I lead a district far away from the heart of the Missouri Synod in the Midwestern United States where the culture is decidedly different. ”
We have an interesting concept developing here and that is that the cultural location of ministry might take precedence over the culture that Synod as the collective church has as a culture.
We have the same kind of thinking in the secular culture and the concept of “one nation under God, indivisible”. The political fights that we get into are over the concept of the “salt-water” States and the fly over country and the differences in culture. I hate to say this but it is the difference between those who know better what we should eat and drink, what we should drive, how we should think, and those who cling to their guns and Bibles. It is the difference between the urbane and the smelly Walmart people.
There is more than a whiff of elitism in the sentence “I lead a district far away from the heart of the Missouri Synod in the Midwestern United States where the culture is decidedly different.” That fact that those far away from the heart lose elections is really the issue. The underlying complaint is that we are willing to be united if you follow those of us who live in a decidedly different culture.
So we have to go back to culture again and culture has to do with “cult” and cult has to do with what you worship. The old arguments about Christ and culture, Christ against culture, and whatever permutations we can come up with are just that – old. “The maintenance and advancement of the unity of the pure confession, and common defense against separatism and sectarianism” is the reason we have a Synod. A report that complains about voting and the amount of support for issues within the counsel of presidents again gets to the issue of politics. This Presidents report hints at the idea that “his side” would win elections and have more control in the Council of Presidents if they would weigh the population size of salt water Districts and take into account their unique cultures. This is the same thing we hear in the secular world. The electoral college should be done away with because hay seed states like North Dakota, populated by “Cletis’s with belt buckles” should not have the same amount of clout a sophisticated state like California should have. What all this has to do with a common confession is not hinted at in the report except with the rather opaque statement about five hills on which to plant flags. Here they are –
God’s Word as the foundation of our Mission and Ministry
Making Word and Sacrament ministry available under the office of the ministry in a responsible way (an irresponsible way is not identified).
Maintaining an atmosphere of dialogue and collegiality where people can be free to discuss theology – avoiding sectarianism
Encouraging congregations to be and become places where people are introduced to the love of God in Jesus Christ and supported in their becoming His disciples
Encouraging the activity of the priesthood of all believers in sharing the love of God in Jesus Christ with the people in their lives
I don’t even know what the second point is all about and maybe that is the problem. I’m not sure those in one camp or another really know what they want, they just know “who” they don’t want.
This is important stuff so more later. We still need to talk about the words – trust, and freedom.