Friday, March 6, 2009

Calling Lutheran Laity to Action

Recently I was asked to lead an online forum in the study of the Lutheran Confessions by a couple of Lutherans whose pastors are not inclined to do these kind of things in their home congregation. While it was appealing to me on a number of levels, after much soul searching, I had to respectfully decline.

As a pastor, I would love to do such a thing. But here is why I think it best not to do so in this situation. If you are a lay person who is sticking around as the only one, or one of an overruled but tolerated minority in a congregation where the Liturgy and Confessions have been tossed aside in favor of the pop Christianity fad of the day, you are not going to like this, but you need to hear it.

If your pastor is too busy teaching and promoting non-Lutheran studies and/or planning his next creative praise service or chancel melodrama to teach and practice the Confessions and good Lutheran theology, then you need to go find a pastor who is Lutheran. Continuing to support a man who is derelict in his duty is not beneficial to anyone--yourself included. This is especially true for someone who would have no problem finding such a pastor within reasonable travel time and distance. (Is an hour too long to travel for the Bread of Life? Two hours?) To support such pastors while solid, faithful men are being starved and thrown out and their congregations closed or overwhelmed is not healthy for the church or for you.

It is true that the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ's church and He will always raise up pastors to care for her. However, it is also true that Christ first disciplines the church, then moves the church on from where her people no longer discern, prefer, and insist on only that which is meet, right, and salutary.

As laymen, you are not called to lead your congregation in the right proclamation and practice of the Gospel. You are called to hear it and hold your servant of the Word accountable to his call. If and when he is not and shows no intention of changing, even if he includes something Lutheran here and there amongst the offal, you are called to move on to where there is such a man.

The Lord says to flee from false teachers/teaching and tells us through His apostle, Paul, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." 1 Timothy 5:17-18

If I were to honor such a request of those who continue to support the false teaching of the heterodox, I would actually be supporting a false teacher and they would be muzzling an ox while affording honor to a false teacher. To illustrate, is it right to expect to get the solid food you crave from faithful pastors who are not being paid a living wage, or who are without a call because their congregations have closed because of the rejection of pure teaching and right practice—all this while you continue to support such a man as will not even teach you the Confessions or lead you in right worship?

I beg and exhort you who are in such situations to go afford double honor to a faithful pastor by hearing him and contributing to his salary rather than continuing to pay a man to poison you and others. I'd be happy to help you and anybody else find such a faithful Lutheran pastor if you need help. They are out there.

And I urge you to pass this along to others that you know are in similar situations

If all of the lay people who knew better actually did this, we would not be in the situation we are today in the LCMS.

And yes, I realize this also has ramifications for faithful pastors and congregations sticking around as one of an overruled but tolerated minority in a denomination where the Liturgy and Confessions have largely been tossed aside in favor of the pop Christianity fad of the day. Perhaps we can better address that if and when we can get the faithful laity shepherded together. It is way too easy for them to pick us off and shove us aside the way it is now.

Rev. Kurt Hering, Pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
Layton, Utah


Christian Soul said...

Amen, Pastor.

I. M. Abaldy II said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I. M. Abaldy II said...

Dear Christian,

I pray you have found a faithful proclamation of the Word and pastoral care.

If so, please do share where that is for the benefit of others.

If not, let me know where you are located and I will be glad to help you find it.