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Friday, April 13, 2012

"... we have lost our material principle – justification" (ACELC and LCMS)

In the February 27, 2012 issue of Herman Otten's Christian News, there was an article by Rev. Clint K. Poppe about the "problems as we saw them in our beloved Synod."  The "we" he is referring to is Pastor Richard Bolland and himself; the "Synod" is the LCMS.  The good pastor Poppe identifies the background for starting the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (ACELC) to combat these "problems".  But what are these problems?  Here is his explanation:
In summary, we discussed the specifics of what we saw as divisions in the church; pastors being driven out of their congregations, revivalistic worship practices, law driven mission efforts, open Communion, unionism, and a general disdain for pure doctrine... Then I made a comment that struck a cord with my new found friend.  I simply stated, "It seems to me like we have lost our material principle; justification." Dick's eyes lit up. ... A movement had begun.
Not only did Dick's eyes light up, but also mine.  Here was a sign of life in the LCMS! Yes! that is it! You have identified the problem, the heart of the Gospel has been compromised.  Get this right and you will have returned to the old (German) Missouri Synod. Unfortunately Pastor Poppe's article later showed the deep trouble he and his associates are in for they are in today's LCMS which is as stubborn as ever since the days of Theodore Graebner.  In the article above, it also states the following about their hopes for President Matthew Harrison:
...he has been consumed with administration and structure. We long for the day when his focus will be more and more doctrine and practice and less and less structure and bylaws. The problems in our beloved synod are theological and not political. 
How sad I was to read this.  If only President Harrison would take to heart what he started by bringing the "Fathers"... to the fore again.  He should read my post on what he should do starting with the doctrine that Pastor Poppe has identified as the root of the problem - Justification.  Harrison seems to have moved on from this by emphasizing Mercy, Love, and How We Should Live.  I must now present to President Harrison a quote of Luther as counsel for him:
Damned is that love at the expense of doctrine!
What doctrine?  The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification!
Note to President Matthew Harrison:  I think the German theologian that Prof. Ludwig Fuerbringer spoke about corresponding with in 1924 in his article Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian was Hermann Sasse!  Even if not, the strengths that Sasse had were from the the towering confessional Lutherans in America called "The Missouri Synod"!

Pieper always looked for signs of life (of Christianity) in his opponents in Germany, other Lutheran bodies in America, and even the Reformed. How he rejoiced when he found it! Like Pieper, I too look for signs of life... in the LCMS.  I also look for signs of life in those church bodies that were in fellowship with them and those who left them for doctrinal reasons: the WELS, ELS, CoLC, OLC/LCR, CLC, ELCR, ULMA and any Lutheran church body that claims the Brief Statement of 1932.  I read the papers presented at the Emmaus Conference sponsored by ELS pastors where there have been meetings among the former Synodical Conference members.  I hope that the ELS would take the lead by going back to its rich heritage of boldly proclaiming and defending the Doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification that its fathers so faithfully proclaimed.  Then maybe Matthew Harrison will realize what really is important for his Synod and give the ACELC some hope!

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