About The Admonition Letter

Please leave any comments, questions or suggestions you might have about the Admonition letter itself. Also, be sure to leave your e-mail address if you would like us to contact you directly. Otherwise look for a response to your question here on this page.



Comments

07-07-2012
Rev. Drew Newman
Reno . . . There are many folks involved in this effort. Rarely are the documents we post written entirely by just one person.
06-24-2012
Reno
I'm impressed by your wrtinig. Are you a professional or just very knowledgeable?
03-26-2012
Rev. Drew Newman
Hilal . . . I'm struggling to figure out just what area of the Admonition you are addressing in your comment. Could you be more specific so that I can try to respond responsibly? Thanks!
03-23-2012
Hilal
WHAT people are chguat in the middle?One of the arguments against firing those in KFUO management positions while I was on the BCS was that it might bring down the station.My response was that if we don't change the management NOW, the station is going down anyway.Some people imagine that KFUO is going to be saved and that people are "chguat in the middle." No. The people at KFUO are about to get steamrolled by the Kieschnick machine. The fact that people send in $0 pledge forms isn't going to change that.Let's have compassion on the people who work there, yes. But who is it who wants to say that their days aren't numbered?The synod is in desperate need of cash -- and the synod has borrowed to the hilt. KFUO is one fairly easy place they can get money.This may be a bit of hyperbole but I think the case could be made that the only thing that protests against KFUO is going to do is drive the price down for buyers sitting on the sidelines licking their chops to get a bargain basement price from a synod that has to unload a major capital asset in order to raise some money for big debts.Any donations given to KFUO now are likely to be compared to donations given a week before Issues, Etc. was canceled. Don't you think this is true? Donations to KFUO will end up helping to pay off synod's debt. Why not just send your money to the synod instead?
08-05-2010
Drew Newman
Andy Wrote: Thank you for your response. I would like to thoughtfully respond to all your ponts but I would be most grateful if you could give me specific references from the Lutheran Confessions and the Synodical Constitution so that I can quickly find the sources you have pulled from and address each issue accordingly.

I think it would be more productive if you would simply wait until the appropriate Documentation of Errors document is posted and then if you disagree with what has been written about that point we can go from there. We are already putting extensive time in writing about specific points in that document which may well contain the pertinent quotes from the Scriptures, the Confessions, perhaps the Constitution, and in some cases our Lutheran forefathers.
08-05-2010
Andy
Drew,

Thank you for your response. I would like to thoughtfully respond to all your ponts but I would be most grateful if you could give me specific references from the Lutheran Confessions and the Synodical Constitution so that I can quickly find the sources you have pulled from and address each issue accordingly.

As for the issues that seem purely about personality such as worship style. I found the FAQ document severely lacking. The scripture used in this document only talked about why it can be allowed for Christian brothers and sisters to rebuke each other. My question remains, what scripture is used to justify many of the points in the letter of Admonition. However lacking one section in this document did stand out:
"Thus, the actions proposed by the ACELC are only seeking unity, not division. We are complying with the clear biblical injunction that we speak the truth in love and defend against false teaching – none of which divides the Church or is schismatic."
If this is true where does worship come into play. If the teaching is not false just done in a different style there should be no issue. If the message is spoken in truth and Christ is praised, then there should be no issue. You wrote. "If we all do what is right in our own eyes we are not treating one another with the kind of love that is befitting those who claim to be in fellowship." Is that not what you yourself are doing with condemning styles of worship that are different from your own? Why should one style of worship be left alone and another be thrown out all together. There is no specific style of worship required in the Holy Scriptures. While there are attributes of worship that are to be included the specific manner in which they are to be carried out is left up to the people. Can we not show sufficient love to our Lutheran brothers and sisters when we have different styles of worship?

This proposed change to all LCMS churches moving back to the "traditional" liturgical style of worship, seems to give off the air that showing love to the fellow Lutheran is MORE important than showing love to the non-believer who may want to hear the word but are not able to because they do not understand the context in which it is presented. Now I am not saying that worship should be geared towards the seeker but I do believe that when worship is used in conjunction with the culture it is more effective and the Gospel is more easily heard.

Although I can assume you would disagree with this stance from the letter of Admonition because in there you infer that evangelism is worthless when you say, "Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions insist that God knows His elect, and that not one of these will be lost. Today some in the LCMS teach that it is indeed possible to increase the population of heaven, and therefore decrease the population of hell, if we are doing our evangelistic task properly. We reject the toleration of this error." (p. 8) If this is truly the case then who cares about showing love to anybody, nothing we do will change the outcome of who is in Heaven and who is not. It is all written in stone already.

However does this not go against the great commission where we are told to "go out and make disciples of all nations." (Matt 28:16-20) If everything were already set in stone would it not make sense for Jesus to tell the disciples to simply study his words and He would do the rest. The fact of the matter is Jesus leaves the 11 disciples with a task, one that is not complete and one that cannot be completed through constant disagreements of how we do what we do. IF this letter of admonition had any validity the Holy scripture and not only the Lutheran Confessions would rebuke those who are in the wrong.

Should this not be our goal, to teach the true word of God, and make Christ known to the world in the most effective and loving way we know how. Bickering about worship style and arguing about whether or not it is right to worship with believers from other denominations does nothing good for the world and for those who need to hear the Gospel. Again I must refer you back to (1 Corinthians 9:22) Paul used the most effective means he could to share the Gospel message, why is this something that we must ignore to preach to those who already know the Gospel.

In Christ,
Andy
08-04-2010
Drew Newman
Andy, thank you so much for taking the time to write to us about your concerns. If you had left me your e-mail address I could have written back to you directly, so I hope you see my reply.

You wrote: “…it is good to ask questions about why these things are happening but it is dangerous to try and remove the speck from your brother's eye before you remove the plank from yours. As this letter seems to be doing. It seems less of a fact finding mission and more of a conviction of those who do not hold the same values as those writing the letter.”

If you read the Admonition again with a keen eye I think you will see that we were very careful to stipulate that we do not consider ourselves to be the experts, but are simply trying to hold forth the Biblical, Confessional standard to which all members, that is, pastors and congregations, pledge to be faithful. This is not about personalities, but about theology. Please believe me when I say that we desire nothing more than to keep this about issues, not people.

You wrote: “I am not condemning either traditional or contemporary worship only saying that each has its place.”

I suspect that here we would have a different opinion. We do not expect everyone to do everything exactly the same way in lock step, but we do expect everyone, for the sake of love, to walk together in the way we “practice” our theology. What we would understand that to mean is that the pastors and congregations of the Synod use only Synodically agreed upon worship materials, hymnals, etc. If we all do what is right in our own eyes we are not treating one another with the kind of love that is befitting those who claim to be in fellowship. I think you’ll find a much more detailed analysis of this issue on our website under the “teaching materials” tab, or in the FAQ document.

You wrote: “Next I am concerned about the concerns raised in issue to the giving of the Eucharist to non-Lutherans. First I understand that if a person does not recognize the body when they eat and drink, eats and drinks judgment on themselves. (1 Corinthians 11:29) However who are we to judge people's hearts. The most we can do is to inform a non-Lutheran of our beliefs and ask that they not take it if they do not agree with the these teachings. Nowhere does the bible say that a person must be in good standing with the LCMS to partake in the body and blood of Christ Jesus.”

Actually, dear brother, the Church catholic, apparently from the very beginning, practiced closed Communion, meaning that only those who had been Baptized and taught the faith were allowed to Commune. According to the teaching of Holy Scripture, pastors do indeed have the responsibility to properly steward the mysteries of the faith, and that means not allowing visitors who are not in Altar and pulpit fellowship with us to Commune and so bring judgment upon themselves. The notion that this is the responsibility of the Communicant alone (and not the pastor or the congregation) is actually a fairly recent novelty, and we do not believe it is the least bit loving to set someone up to sin by allowing them to Commune when they don’t know what they are doing or what they are receiving – or yes, when they are not in doctrinal agreement with us concerning what Holy Scripture teaches – that is, not in fellowship with us. That is precisely why, out of love for them, that we do not Commune them. We realize this is an uncomfortable situation for many, but that is what we believe concerning the Supper and the pastor’s responsibility toward those who come forward to receive it.

You wrote: “Now concerning holding the Lutheran Confessions at the same level as the Holy Scriptures, this scares me . . . This is an error that cannot be tolerated. Scripture is above all the divine, God-breathed word (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture alone is what we should be measuring ourselves by. Holding tradition to this level allows the Devil to seep in deeply to our foundations for any man made tradition has some sin, this is simply the state of the world in which we live. Do no mistake me for throwing out the Lutheran Confessions all together, but instead I see them as a tool in which I am better able to interpret scripture.”

We completely agree. The Confessions are not on the same level as the Scriptures. But, neither do we consider them to be "tradition." The Confessions are a correct exposition of the Scriptures, and are therefore authoritative. This is why our Lutheran forefathers, in their own doctrinal writings, were so comfortable quoting the Confessions to prove a point, such as Chemnitz did in The Formula of Concord where he quoted extensively from the Augsburg Confession and the Apology. The doctrinal standard for being a member of the Synod (that is, a pastor or a congregation) is that we hold the Holy Scriptures to be the only source and norm of the faith, and the Lutheran Confessions to be a correct exposition of them. We do not hold the Confessions to be on the same level as the Scriptures, but we do believe the Confessions are a correct exposition of the Scripture, and are therefore authoritative. All members of the Synod are supposed hold to a “quia” subscription to the Confessions, which means we hold to the Confessions because they teach only what Scripture teaches and nothing more or less. We do not hold to a “quatenus” subscription, meaning that the Confessions are authoritative only in so far as they are correct. This really isn’t even up for discussion, as this is what our Church has always believed , taught and confessed about the Confessions.

You wrote: “The final point I want to discuss in this post is the worship with those who are not in accordance with our doctrine. This is ridiculous. This makes the LCMS look like the kid standing in the corner by himself muttering that he knows better and everyone else is wrong.”

Here again we disagree. Since Holy Scripture clearly teaches, and our Confessions echo it, that unionism and syncretism is to not be tolerated, Our Synodical Constitution follows by saying that “we renounce unionism and syncretism of every description.” Then it goes on to say that this means pastors and congregations will not join in worship with those with whom we are not in doctrinal agreement, we will not participate in mission activity with such groups, and we will not use their teaching materials (and I might add that until recently that was also understood to mean we would not use hymnals and worship materials from other churches). This has been our stand from the very beginning, and until quite recently almost all the congregations of our Synod were in agreement about this.

You wrote: “I want to leave with this final thought. The LCMS needs to reexamine what is currently going on, what is working and what is not. One thing that we can hold on to is that when the Gospel is preached then God's work is being done. We must all strive to first remove the plank from our own eye before we can even begin to think about removing the speck from our brother's.”

Let me assure you again, to use your words, we see the plank as being in “our” eye, because we are all in the Synod together, and when one part of the body errs, the whole body suffers. That is precisely why we have put out this Admonition. We hope to stimulate conversation about the errors that divide us. If we are in error, we are willing to be corrected by means of the Scriptures and the Confessions and not by human opinion, for human opinion is not be trusted, certainly not ours or anyone else’s, for we are all poor, miserable sinners who daily sin much and deserve nothing but God’s wrath and anger. Thanks be to God that He has had mercy on us for the sake of His Son!

Yours in Christ’s Service,
Pastor Drew Newman
Member, ACELC Steering Committee
08-03-2010
Drew Newman
Andy,

Please bear with me for a short time while I put together a reply to your query. I don't want to be hasty in my writing or shoot from the hip.

In Christ,
Pastor Newman
08-03-2010
Andy
There are days where I weep for the LCMS and today is one of them. Having just read the admonition letter I noticed a few things.

The first thing that I want to say is that there is a problem with the LCMS today, unity is dwindling and membership is dropping. The LCMS IS dying.... quite literally our members are getting older and there are fewer and fewer new families joining. About this there is no doubt. So it is good to ask questions about why these things are happening but it is dangerous to try and remove the speck from your brother's eye before you remove the plank from yours. (Matt 7:5) As this letter seems to be doing. It seems less of a fact finding mission and more of a conviction of those who do not hold the same values as those writing the letter.

In reading this letter there can be no doubt that a return to a more traditional style of worship is the prescribed course of action (among other things). However a forced form of worship (such as traditional or contemporary) is not biblical. Paul, became all things to all people that he might win some. (1Corinthians 9:22) If you are to expand on this you could say that worship style is very much a cultural thing and to prescribe a single form of worship across the whole of the LCMS would serve more to exclude people from worship than include. Paul used the culture of the people to evangelize, should we not also use the culture of the people to worship? I am not condemning either traditional or contemporary worship only saying that each has its place.

Next I am concerned about the concerns raised in issue to the giving of the Eucharist to non-Lutherans. First I understand that if a person does not recognize the body when they eat and drink, eats and drinks judgment on themselves. (1 Corinthians 11:29) However who are we to judge people's hearts. The most we can do is to inform a non-Lutheran of our beliefs and ask that they not take it if they do not agree with the these teachings. Nowhere does the bible say that a person must be in good standing with the LCMS to partake in the body and blood of Christ Jesus.

Now concerning holding the Lutheran Confessions at the same level as the Holy Scriptures, this scares me. This letter seems to hold both equally and in doing so seems to put tradition on the same level as scripture. This is an error that cannot be tolerated. Scripture is above all the divine, God-breathed word (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture alone is what we should be measuring ourselves by. Holding tradition to this level allows the Devil to seep in deeply to our foundations for any man made tradition has some sin, this is simply the state of the world in which we live. Do no mistake me for throwing out the Lutheran Confessions all together, but instead I see them as a tool in which I am better able to interpret scripture.

The final point I want to discuss in this post is the worship with those who are not in accordance with our doctrine. This is ridiculous. This makes the LCMS look like the kid standing in the corner by himself muttering that he knows better and everyone else is wrong. First off this is not the way any Christian origination should be. All who believe that Christ is God, and died and rose for our sins are Christians. That is what matters, and that is why we can worship with those who may hold to a different doctrine. We should all be Christians first and Lutherans second. We are all fallen and in need of grace and to exclude ourselves from worshiping with other Christians is folly. (Though I will point out that I agree that worshiping with those who do not preach Christ crucified is dangerous and should be avoided).

I want to leave with this final thought. The LCMS needs to reexamine what is currently going on, what is working and what is not. One thing that we can hold on to is that when the Gospel is preached then God's work is being done. We must all strive to first remove the plank from our own eye before we can even begin to think about removing the speck from our brother's.

Always in Christ,
Andy
07-28-2010
Drew Newman
John . . . this is an answer I wrong to Toby about DELTO, which I think also will address your question. If it doesn't, please feel free to send me an e-mail at information@acelc.net so that I can write to you directly. Here's what I wrote to Toby.

Regarding Toby's post about DELTO. Let me just simply say that the program itself is what is lacking. It's a step in the wrong direction. I know at least one or two DELTO graduates who are fine pastors (and it sounds like you are, too), but they also recognize the program's shortcomings. When I attend the Seminary from 1981-84 I went in under a program called the "non-degree" program where I could enter without a bachelor's degree. What that means is that I didn't have some of the preparatory work I should have had. I was given breaks that other students were not given, and now that I've been in the Parish for 25 years I realize those places where my education was short-changed. We need to do the best we can without taking shortcuts for expediency. Thank you for your comment, I look forward to talking with you further.
07-28-2010
john hogg
Dear Sir:
I agree with many of the issues you have raised in each area of your statement, but I have a problem with one area.
It is possible that I miss understeand what you are saying in your Office of the Holy Ministry document. It seems you are saying that unless a man attends 4 years of full time study at one of the two seminaries within the LCMS there should be NO alternative to ordination. Consider the following. These courses can be taken anywhere as long as they are taught by qualified instructors. eg. yes even on line. Perhaps the ever evolving system of pastoral education as it now exists is not the right form of teaching for Pastoral education. The fact is,,, almost half the courses given today in sem. did not exist 20yrs ago and most of the men serving today from that era seem to be fine pastors. Perhaps pastoral education miight only require 2yrs of study plus field studies ( Vicarage ) ,,, i guess the point I am making is that you seem to be saying that the only way we can ordain men today is to follow only the system of seminary education as it exists right now with no view of changing ,,, reviewing or trying to correct the errors that might exist in the current system.'
looking forward to your response
John
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