Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wish Dreams and Lutheranism: Part V

This post will conclude the Wish Dream series. Feel free to comment all you wish on the series.

Option #3: Splitsville

Quit your church and announce you are starting the True Lutheran Orthodox Church of Pine Valley--either independent or seeking affiliation with ELDoNA or whomever.

The advantage to this is you get the clean break blank slate, and no worries about Synod hijinks and meddling as a mission congregation.

The cons, though, are pretty rough.

First, it is schismatic. The world does not need your new church body. Though Scripture teaches us to flee temptation, to avoid fools and sinners, to shun those who teach contrary to the truth, Scripture likewise tells us that we are to avoid schism, to attain unity in the faith and so forth.

Second, it is completely divisive. You will cause untold grief in your former congregation. You will injure people and families. You will cause confusion.

Third, it is expensive. It may take years and years to build the congregation up enough for full-time ministry. That could be slowed or hampered by having a full-to-part-time job to make ends meet--you only have so much energy in a day, and building a mission congregation is a full-time job, in theory.

Fourth, it is really un-Lutheran, if you think about it. The Lutherans teach that the ministry is not self-appointed. It is a call issued by the Church (whatever that meant and whatever it means now). You can call it a Lutheran church--a pure Lutheran church--but how pure can it be if by setting it up yourself you violate AC XIV? Sure, as soon as you get a few folks they can "call you," but for some reason, I don't think this is what the Reformers had in mind.

I began this series gently criticizing the notion of desiring a mission congregation in order to do things right. I criticized it because dreams and what-ifs are fantasies. If ifs and ands were pots and pans there'd be no work for tinkers.It does us no good physically and spiritually to dream about ideal conditions. We should stop dreaming, or start working, in other words. I preach this to myself daily.

And so the options. I can imagine no others within the context of our Missouri reading of the Lutheran Confessions.

Can you?


  1. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    My dad considered starting a congregation down in Deming was he was unjustly run off. . . but he passed for the very reasons you give up there. I really think the thrust of AC XIV is that we are called into the Ministry - not that we take it up ourselves.

    On the other hand, I have a classmate who is in Eldona now because he was run off in an illegal act (backed by his district) and the congregation split, called him, and then were later on brought into Eldona. . . an organic, unplanned movement.

    Still, sometimes people can plot and plan entirely too much. I wonder if anyone has wrote of pastors making an idol out of the Office, and even wrongly striving after it even after it has been removed from them.

    Oh, and does this mean it would be okay if we formed the Jewish-Oklahoman-Evangelical Church (or J-OK-E Church) as long as we did it together?

  2. William Weedon said...

    Is your counsel then, Fr. Hall, to despair of Lutheranism at the last? I think the father of despair is the devil! The hope of the totally screwed (and screwed up) church is always repentance. And that door stands open for us as long as it is still the day of grace. It stands open to us as pastors and as people and as parishes. The first step of repentance is to accuse ourselves and not to judge our brother (as our Eastern brothers and sisters are getting ready to pray daily in St. Ephrem's great prayer).

  3. Christopher D. Hall said...

    I counsel nothing, Fr. Weedon. As I pointed out, taking your idea and running with it, for me, yielded these three options, each with some serious pros and cons.

    Nothing is impossible with God.