Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Observations on the Task Force Proposals, Part 1: "Exclusive"

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG, or TF) has released its final recommendations for changes to the LC-MS in the summer of 2010.

As many of us pore over the 148 page document, I expect much discussion. I'll post some of my observations here.

One of the first things I noticed was a proposed change in what is required of membership:
Old Wording:
"Conditions of Membership"
4. Exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda, hymnbooks and catechisms in church and school.

New (proposed) Wording:
"Requirements of Membership"
B.2. Use of worship and catechetical resources that are in harmony with the confessional basis of the Synod.

NOTICE WHAT'S MISSING? "Exclusive". No longer will we require, on paper anyway, that all our resources be doctrinally sound. Instead, we must use doctrinally sound resources, but not exclusively.

The new language permits what is, admittedly, already widespread: the use of unsound, impure, and doctrinally lacking resources for church and school: Baptist church-transformational programs. Non-denominational VBS curriculum. And of course, all manner of "contemporary" music from whatever hymnal or resource is popular and "reaches people".

This is one of the major divides in the LCMS today - between those who like to "borrow and baptize" and those who prefer to simply use the excellent resources we already have. I used to be the former, and have become a strong advocate of the latter. There are tremendous advantages to using sound, throughly and carefully reviewed LUTHERAN materials.

There are serious dangers to using resources that come from other denominations and traditions - whose contents and perspectives are unknown to us and different from us, both in what they teach and fail to teach.

So no thanks, Task Force. Let's keep the old wording on this one. Put me down as an excluder.


Brian Yamabe said...

My favorite:
Old Wording:
"Article III - Objectives"
7. Encourage congregations to strive for uniformity in church practice, but also to develop an appreciation of a variety of responsible practices and customs which are in harmony with our common profession of faith;

New (proposed) Wording:
"Article III - Mission and Purpose"
B.8. Encouraging a common understanding and appreciation of a variety of responsible practices and customs which are in harmony with our common confession of faith.

Does this mean we no longer recognize any benefit to uniformity in church practice? Also, I don't know if there is any meaning of the change from profession to confession?

Scott Diekmann said...

Not only is the word "exclusive" missing, the word "doctrinally" is also missing, which I consider to be equally significant. We wouldn't want to emphasize doctrine at the expense of pragmatics.

Michael Paul 白霈德牧師 said...

I know I need to read the thing myself, but thank you for pointing out this blatant ridiculing of God's Word.