A Discussion of Stahlke’s 95 Thesis – Part 4 / Conclusion

This article continues the discussion of Dr Stahlke’s 95 Thesis. An introduction and overview of the series is here.

The overall division of these posts are:

  1. The Establishment of Authority (Part 2)
  2. LCC and its Operation (Part 2)
  3. A Sudden Change in Course (Part 3)
  4. The Working Group Proposal vs the Articles and Bylaws (Part 3)
  5. Questions, Questions, and more Questions (Part 4)
  6. Closing Thoughts (Part 4)

Terms –

  • SIC: Synod in Convention
  • CCMS:  Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure
  • WG: Joint BOD / CCMS Working Group established to create a new structure.

Questions, Questions, and more Questions:

  1. Why are these major changes being made at such a late date with no time for the delegates to reasonably consider and discuss the WG proposal?
  2. Why was an outside group allowed to hijack the restructuring process w/out their names and complaints being disclosed and so held to account?
  3. Why didn’t the outside group act in a transparent manner by bringing their concerns to the CCMS during the consultation process?
  4. Why did the outside group wait to talk to the BOD until July 2017 making it impossible to collaborate with the rest of the membership on any proposed changes?
  5. Why did Synod’s legal counsel tell the BOD they could not sign off on the Articles and Bylaws without telling the CCMS about their concerns, particularly since they had a copy of the first draft in Feb 2017 and the complete draft in April 2017?
  6. Why did the BOD reject the Act and Bylaws and appoint a WG without first meeting with the CCMS to convey any concerns it had?
  7. Why is the BOD making it difficult for the lay delegates to get in contact with each other so they could discuss the changes?
  8. Why did the BOD state the convention would not accept the Act and Bylaws without commenting on the major changes in the WG proposal and declined to produce a document detailing their differences?
  9. Why was almost all mention of accountability removed from the WG proposal?
  10. Why was the biblical imperative for a neutral and mutual accountability removed thus leaving Synod as vulnerable to loss and liability  as it was before the restructuring process began?

ANO:

Q 1-4,6,8: What follows is speculation based on the information I related in Part 3 – namely that if the East District BOD was the party that convinced the Synod BOD to kibosh the Act and Bylaws, the possible reason this action happened as late as it did is that the East District pastors felt that concerns they’d expressed during the consultation period had not been addressed and when the Act and Bylaws was published as the proposal for SIC they decided they had no choice but to make their abject opposition to the structure crystal clear and in no uncertain terms. Given this level of opposition, the perceived likelihood of success with the Consultant continuing in this process could have been perceived as minimal at best resulting in his exclusion from the WG and ultimately the termination of the contract for his services.

Q 5: This action is odd because it seems to be in conflict with the nature of an attorney-client relationship. Attorneys are in effect consultants to their clients – their job is to listen to their client’s goals, advise them how to proceed with options and implications, and then execute the client’s direction. If counsel does not agree with the direction they can make their disagreement clear in specific legal terms and/or resign. In no case does an attorney have the power to sign-off on a client document unless they’re working for someone else as their representative. That no specifics have been related for this purported inability to sign-off on the Act and Bylaws is also concerning. Either way, this raises questions that need answers.

Q 7,9,10: These are also good questions that SIC needs answers to.


Closing Thoughts:

  1. Conflict cannot be wished away by compromising on principals,
  2. Membership must use both theological and governance best practices in governance, leadership, management (and faith ANO) to determine the best structure for LCC going forward,
  3. While this debate may be challenging, Luther’s final two thesis urges us to be faithful through challenging times,
  4. Christians should be diligent in following Christ through penalties, death, and hell and be confident of entering eternity through many tribulations as opposed to the false security of peace.

ANO:

All of this reminds me of struggles the LCMS endured shortly after 9/11 when Dr David Benke, then president of LCMS Atlantic District, offered a prayer at the inter-faith prayer service “Prayer for America.” The fallout from this exposed deep divisions within the LCMS about the appropriate way for LCMS pastoral membership to respond to public and visible catastrophes, and if pastors can or should participate in interfaith events like this in the public square. The parallels between this and the current LCC situation is that the aftermath of Dr Benke’s prayer exposed how far each ‘side’ would go to to ‘win’ – the amount of politicking, lobbying, appeals to the LCMS Constitution, use of the LCMS CCMS to override BOD decisions, an LCMS CCMS decision that a person could not be charged with an offence if they had received permission from their ecclesiastical supervisor, etc. caused an incredible amount of turmoil within the LCMS.

Contrast this with a later event held after a black individual lost their life and the death resulted in increased racial tensions within the local community. An interfaith prayer event was hosted as an effort to bring healing and Pastor Walter Snyder was invited to pray at this event. While he declined to publicly pray with others that didn’t share his faith he did attend the event as a spectator. As the event progressed a couple of children he knew came to be held. Someone from the media saw this, took the following picture –

jasper – and the image related a stronger message of healing and harmony than the prayers offered on the platform, and the gospel message wasn’t confused with the message of others.

“ANO, that’s a great story and all that, but how does that tie into this whole restructuring thing?”

My point is this – while there is a natural human tendency to try and use human techniques and tactics in an effort to do God’s work using human strength and techniques, what we should keep front and center is that we are first and foremost called to be faithful and obedient to the Lord and trust Him to work out His will in His way. God works in many and mysterious ways, and often as not works to accomplish His will in ways that could only be done by Him – similar to Pastor Snyder’s experience as well as that of Gideon when God used him and a mere 300 men to defeat the Midianites. The concern I have with the things I’ve seen is that it gives the impression our collective trust is more in political action and backroom dealing than in the kind of openness, transparency, and forthright, honest respect one would expect followers of Christ to give to one another.

Whatever we do, it should be a reflection of that trust in Him and accountability to each other to ensure our respective paths are faithful to our Lord. And when we see a sibling straying from the path it is our collective, loving duty to call them to account and so restore them to a faithful walk with the Lord:

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20

 

 

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