Letters to the Editor (November)

Funding the Mission

It was with much thanksgiving to God that I read the report of the blue-ribbon task force on the funding for our beloved church body.

I have concerns about the funding directions of the various schools and missions of our Synod over the past 30 years.  The sacrificial gifts of restricted giving for specific causes were commendable, but had unfortunate drawbacks.

The tragic truth is that restricted giving came about in part because of conflict in the Synod.  Well-meaning members of the church began channeling their gifts toward those groups and institutions they trusted most.

The most serious drawback of such giving is that it adds to the divisiveness in our beloved Synod.  Such restricted giving encourages our colleges and universities to falsely believe that the Synod is minimally supporting them.  The many millions of dollars they receive, though not through the budgets of Synod congregations, come from members of Synod congregations.

The task force was wise in admitting that divisiveness in our church body is doing a great disservice to the joyful giving of unrestricted gifts through congregations, districts, and the Synod.  It is high time that we, through the power of the glorious Gospel of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, promise to one another that we are willing to listen to one another, and to be corrected by one another on the basis of the Word of God.

I would be delighted to be involved in supporting the “aggressive communication” plans that the blue-ribbon committee recommends.  Because our Synod has such a vital mission to offer to the whole world, we are under serious attack from Satan.  Together, let us urge one another to “put on the whole armor of God.”

Rev. Carl Pullmann
North Platte, Neb.

During a church council meeting, we were struggling with what to do to meet the church’s budget.  One member suggested that we step up our evangelism efforts to bring in more money.  As pastor, I replied that stepping up our evangelism efforts is a great idea, but not to raise money.  We evangelize for no other purpose than to share the Good News of Christ Jesus with those who need to hear it.

I found it interesting that among the first two recommendations of the Synod’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission was a “reorganized strategy to increase membership.”  That sounds a lot like the idea of the well-meaning congregation member to step up evangelism efforts in order to increase membership and help fund the mission.

As that member’s pastor, it was my responsibility to speak up at that church council meeting, reminding the church members that evangelism is not about raising money, but about sharing God’s love in Christ.  Is there someone in the Synod who bears that responsibility for the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission?

Rev. Paul Warneke
Curtis, Neb.

More on heeding the call

As a layman, I want to comment on Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto’s commentary in the September Reporter.

I have no problem with Dr. Siemon-Netto’s right to express his views in the public media or even in a letter to the editor of Reporter.  I do, however, question the wisdom of Reporter printing his views as a guest commentator.  Because of his closeness with the Synod, I feel most people would assume that his views would be the Synod’s position.

In a cruel and unjust world, Christians struggle with Matt. 26:51-53 [where Jesus at His arrest tells a companion to put away his sword, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword”].  Some may find Jesus’ words foolish.  Many of us look to the sword to protect us, instead of to Jesus.

Rom. 13:1-6 requires us to submit to authority.  But I see no place in the Bible where we are required to justify the mistaken and ill-conceived decisions of elected officials, especially when those actions are contrary to the command of Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself.

Because of faith in Christ and our Baptism, God’s grace covers a multitude of sins.  I believe that the Gospel is the only answer to the problems of the world and the only reason God allows the world to exist.

Lowell Schachtsiek
Palmyra, Mo.

I don’t understand why Reporter included Uwe Siemon-Netto’s commentary on the war in Iraq. Is it to open a discussion on the issues noted?  If so, I welcome the input and look forward to reading the alternative viewpoints in Reporter.

I question whether the writer has made a clear and cogent case for his position.  He jumps to conclusions and assumes more than the facts support.  He never defines a Lutheran understanding of “calling,” but only alludes to it.  He refers to the “sin” in the “left-hand kingdom,” but calls for no word of repentance.

Yes, he is right that the Christian’s term “neighbor” applies to anybody, including Iraqis, even the many who have died in this mess.  But there is no reference in the commentary to offer this complex situation to God in prayer.  Prayer “without ceasing” is a “calling.”

There is no reference to being “peacekeepers,” which is another aspect of our “calling.”  The only “calling” the writer refers to is to “stay the course.”

I look forward to Reporter’s discussion of other viewpoints.

Dr. Peter Steinke
Bee Cave, Texas

As I read the commentary by Dr. Siemon-Netto, I thought I was reading political propaganda rather than the official paper of my church.

Although the writer is entitled to his personal views, I felt that many dedicated civic-minded Christians who strongly differ with his viewpoints were unnecessarily smeared by his rhetoric.

Rev. William J. Meyer
Bethel, Conn.

Posted Oct. 27, 2006

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