October Letters

Discernment takes time

My letter concerns the encouragement mentioned in last month’s story on the Model Theological Conference in Scottsdale that laypeople be adept at judging doctrine.

A layperson does not come up out of the baptismal water judging doctrine any more than a baby comes out of the womb feeding itself.  Just as a baby needs capable parents to nourish and teach it how to eat healthily, so we pray God that faithful pastors and teachers will be given to the baptized priests of God so that they need not be spoon-fed their whole lives long.  Rather, they ought to grow and mature through Lutheran catechesis, liturgy, and hymnody into their full and rightful place in the church as discriminating listeners and judges.

This judging most often will take the form of critiquing the false doctrine and practice in other church bodies.  But sometimes it will take on the more difficult task of confronting false doctrine and practice and refusing its entrance into the Lutheran congregation and Synod — or expelling it should it gain a toehold.

This task requires the united efforts of faithful pastors and faithful laypeople, sometimes even in opposition to unfaithful pastors and unfaithful laypeople.  I hope the Model Theological Conference had plenty of copies of CPH’s new and inexpensive Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions — A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord available because, whether you are a pastor or a layperson, in order to judge doctrine you need to know doctrine.

Rev. Matthew P. Johnson
Maple Grove, Minn.

The Synod at its best

For years I was blessed to serve a congregation in Mississippi where the nearest other LCMS congregation was almost 100 miles away.  Our “isolation” allowed me to focus on ministering to the congregation and community to which I was called, without getting caught up in synodical politics and disputes.  I thanked God for that.

Now I serve a congregation in Covington, La., just north of New Orleans on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  After Katrina hit us, for the first time in my experience I saw our Synod being what our Synod should be: brothers and sisters walking together for the benefit of the people of God, bringing the Light of Christ to people in darkness and despair.

It is an awesome miracle of God to see LCMS World Relief, Lutheran Disaster Response, Orphan Grain Train, the Commission on Ministerial Growth and Support, Concordia Plan Services, districts, colleges, numerous congregations, along with many other entities and agencies bringing a whole host of LCMS resources and lay and clergy volunteers together to deliver relief, support, and the initiation of restoration to us in a myriad of ways.  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

God works His new creation through destruction and new Life through death.  May He use Katrina’s devastation for great benefit and blessing to our Synod, its congregations, and His people.

Rev. Philip C. Wottrich, Pastor
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Covington, La.

A troubling trend?

I am noting a disturbing trend in a local church school: the replacing of educators trained in LCMS colleges and universities with teachers trained in secular universities.

My wife, a graduate of what was then Concordia College, River Forest, recently was recognized for 35 years of service in LCMS school ministry.  After serving three additional years as a school administrator, she was replaced with an administrator trained in a secular university.  Since then, other LCMS-trained teachers at this school have been replaced with teachers trained in public schools.

This local Lutheran school appears to be changing direction from what I have remembered of our Lutheran schools over the past many years.  If this trend continues throughout the Synod, we eventually will find no need for LCMS colleges and universities to train our teachers.  This would be a sad situation.  In the long run, we will get from our Lutheran schools what we put into them.  The way things are going, what we may be getting are questionable graduates. 

Marion B. Stults
Tucson, Ariz.

Engage the issues

It is a pity that the three July respondents to my June letter decided not to engage the issues I had raised.  In answer to these evasions: (1) Our Lord’s sole right to bind — and thereby liberate — our consciences by His Word is the underlying issue.  (2) The doctrinal confusion in our Synod requires energetic public discussion, not secret diplomacy and confidentiality.  And, (3) apart from the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture, I never have suggested anyone’s personal infallibility, least of all my own!

Rev. Kurt Marquart
Concordia Theological Seminary
Fort Wayne, Ind.

Posted Sept. 29, 2005

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