Countdown to the Eighth Annual ACELC Free Conference, Kearney, Missouri – "Christ For Us: Unionism & Syncretism"
August 28, 2018, 9:00 AM
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Verse of the Day

2017 Free Conference Resources

Evangelical Lutheran Communion Theses

The Spirit of Missouri – Is It Restorable?

Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored;
Renew our days as of old (Lamentations 5:21).

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass,
you who are spiritual restore such a one
in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself
lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

In my last email blast, I praised the words of R.C.H. Lenski who said (in part) of the LCMS on our 75th anniversary as a Synod: “It is a mark of the pastors and leaders of the Missouri Synod that they never, aye, never, tire of discussing doctrine on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions. That is one trait that may be called the spirit of Missouri.. … God will bless all who value His Word so highly. … May God keep Missouri and us and all Lutheran Christians faithful in the doctrine and confession of His Word and grant us His blessing for our external growth and prosperity” (emphasis added).

In Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah acknowledges it is the Lord who must turn His people, the Church, in the direction of restoration. In Paul's letter to the Galatians fellow Christians (the Church) are called upon to restore one to the Church who has been overcome by a trespass, be it against either the first or second table of the Ten Commandments. Since the New Testament Church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20), the Church has received from the Triune God all the means it needs – the Word of God in its written form and the pastoral office – to be continually renewing and restoring itself to God's unerring Word, which is His perfect standard! That is a most comforting thought, for it means the Church is not left to the whims of man's fallen nature, but instead has God's own infallible Word on the matter! And it is love for the full truth and application of God's infallible Word which served as the hallmark of Missouri's pastors and leaders in Lenski's day who “never, aye, never, tire of discussing doctrine on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions.”

But, alas, over the past seven decades members of Synod (especially the pastors and leaders) have lost that love for the full truth and application of God's Word. The fire in our ancestors' bellies “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) has greatly subsided and we have increasingly turned to man made bylaws, CTCR opinions, CCM judgments, and COP policy manuals to take the place of God's Word! Thus I pose the question in this follow-up blast: Is “the spirit of Missouri” restorable to the level Lenski confesses it once was?

Admittedly, there may be some who delude themselves into believing Missouri has never lost this spirit of “never tir[ing] of discussing doctrine on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions,” but the testimony of 70+ years of parish life, with the last 25 years as a pastor, tells me quite the opposite, and that is precisely what the ACELC's Evidence of Errors documents reveal. The LCMS is a divided synod, and it is precisely because we no longer have this trademark, this badge of zealous fidelity to Scripture and the Confessions! Thus Jesus warns: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls” (Luke 11:17).

Then, of course, there are those who are sustaining an illusion that somehow getting the right person(s) elected to synodical or district offices will resolve this deterioration of doctrine and practice in Synod. This hardly seems the answer, for that is placing our “trust in princes … in whom there is no help” (Psalm 146:3). No, it is far more advantageous to turn to the Lord, who says: “It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm 118:8f)..

Because I am a 2nd career pastor who entered Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1989 with the hope of helping to plug the weakening dike of doctrinal integrity in Synod until a new crop of young confessional pastors would come into the harvest, my time in the fight to restore Missouri's confessional spirit is fast coming to a close. The fight to restore that spirit is far from over, however, and in 25 years of personally confessing with the zeal Lenski saw in the leaders and pastors of Missouri in his day, I am not convinced that all that much progress has been made to restore the Synod to its former confessional integrity. It is not for the lack of heart and investment of time, treasure, and talents on my part through the years to do such. And, I openly confess that previous efforts in which I have been involved have done a decent job of uncovering the troubling issues in Synod. The problem has never been discovery, however, it is that these efforts have produced little to no lasting fruit in restoring Synod's doctrinal integrity or confessional spirit.

Since 2010, God's gifts of time, treasure, and talents on my part have gone primarily into the ACELC's push to restore doctrinal integrity and Biblical practices to the Synod through conferences, papers, formal dissents, email blasts, and other means of keeping the issues actively in the forefront of people's minds. I invite and challenge my fellow pastors – especially those with whom I share a common seminary experience where Rev. Dr. Robert Preus was wrongly deposed as President – and interested laity to take a serious look at joining the ACELC, or at least taking advantage of some of the ACELC's resources (right here on our website) for teaching and alerting the members of Synod to ongoing errors. After doing so, I trust you will conclude that this is the best option available to effect a real change of heart and mind among the pastors and leaders of Synod. A good place to begin is to get an overview and short course of the matters that concern the LCMS, and that can be found in video form at this link.

Please feel free to contact me, or any Board member, if you would like to know more.

Pastor Bruce G. Ley
Documents Chairman, ACELC



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