There are a number of things that made the June 6-8 meeting of the LMS-USA
a very special gathering. The presentations by Professor Marquart on the
office of the Ministry were most informative and helpful as we, as a church
body, seek to formulate a doctrine of Ministry that is true to Scripture
and the Confessions. Such a doctrine must deal with not only the office of
the pastoral ministry, but also with how one understands the office of overseer
of the clergy, and then too, the role of women in the overall ministry of
Rev. Michael Zamzow shared a thoughtful presentation, Being Lutheran Was Never Easy or Dealing with Deceit Disguised as 'Niceness'. This was a timely presentation in that we must always be on guard in this age of ecumenism and "church growth" at any cost, for false teachings that soon can compromise the very thing the church has been called to do, i.e., to make disciples by baptizing and teaching.
Rev. John Erickson addressed the matter of the place of the Confessions in that which is to be authoritative in the Church. Some would advocate "The Bible is enough." However. Erickson argued, as Confessional Lutherans have always argued, that the Confessions are not only helpful, they are necessary.
The convention unanimously approved what has come to be called the Deerfield Statement. This statement, now a Subscriptional Statement, makes clear that the pastors and congregations of the LMS-USA believe, teach and confess that the Lutheran confessions as contained in the Book of Concord are to be accepted because they are the presentation and explanation of the pure doctrine of the Word of God and a valid summary of the faith of the Lutheran Church. Thus they are to be recognized as normative for the theology of the Church.
The most exciting thing to come out of the Convention was the unanimous decision to move ahead with the formation of a Seminary for the training, including advanced theological training, of Pastors and theologians. A committee was named to work on this which is to have a proposal ready for review by the Ministerial in their fall meeting.
Several men were received into the Clergy Roster: Rev. David Deutsche (Subscriptional); Rev. Robert Haltner, Sr. (Associate), Rev. Michael Zamzow (Associate). In addition, two men who came to observe the Conference / Convention were approved for Associate status upon successful completion of their application essay, and an additional man upon completion of an interview and a later poling by the convention voting delegates.
Rev. John Erickson, Chetek, WI, was reelected Synod Chairman, Dianne Boekankamp, Indianapolis, IN, was reelected Synod Secretary, and Jan Jerabek, Chetek, WI, was elected Treasurer. The Ministerium met briefly to take care of the elections which should have taken place at the Ministerium meeting at Trinity Seminary, Deerfield, IL, in April. Rev. Ralph Spears was reelected LMS- USAÊ President, Rev. Mark Dankof, Pittsburgh, PA, was reelected Ministerium Vice Chairman, and Rev. Jeffrey Iverson, Brooklyn Center, MN, was reelected Ministerium Secretary.
The LMS-USA Constitution was 'cleaned up' in a number of areas.
While tempting to get into social / political matters, the Convention acted to steer clear of such things by not formulating a statement on the sanctity of human life. We stand on the Word, and it was felt that we could make no more clear and/or strong statement than we find in the Word of God. Thus we avoid 'getting on the band wagon' any time a new issue comes to the fore.
A full report to the congregations will be forthcoming. Congregations have, at that time, 60 days from the mailing of that report, to voice objection to any matter of business passed by Convention. If there is objection by ten percent of the congregations, that matter will return to the Convention for consideration next year.
Note: The presentations are available on tape - contact Pastor Spears, St. Matthew Lutheran, Indianapolis. Some will also be available in printed form or look for them soon on our web site.
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Why do we believe that the Lutheran Church has the truth? In popular conversation
this question is asked in this way: "How do we know that we are right? Others
think they are right too!" This is more than an academic question; it is
personal. Its answer is connected with a personal faith.
CAN WE BE SURE THAT THE LUTHERAN CHURCH HAS THE TRUTH?
by Casper B. Nervig
from his volume,
CHRISTIAN TRUTH AND RELIGIOUS DELUSIONS
Basis for the Answer - Background for Tackling The Question.
There are some Lutherans who do not have the background necessary to approach this question. Because they do not study their Bible they do not know the doctrines of their own church. Without such basic knowledge the answer that will be given in this chapter will not be satisfying.
Before we can know that what our church believes is the truth we must know what our church teaches and believes. That should be obvious. Otherwise we start at the wrong end-like a carpenter trying to build the house roof before the walls are up. If our confirmation was a graduation from religious study instead of a confirmation in the faith, we may have forgotten what our church believes. Perhaps we were careless in our studying then; perhaps we only memorized some words without getting the meaning; perhaps we have forgotten most of what we learned; even if we were star students then and were very much in earnest on confirmation day, it would still be too much to expect that we then had a full understanding of Christian faith, the deepest subject in the world. There is nothing in the world of knowledge more profound than what we studied under the third article of Faith. If we have not thought or studied much about it since confirmation the chances are that it may be difficult to come to assurance of the truth. So it is well to know the fundamentals of Christianity before we tackle the harder questions. Unless we are interested enough to devote ourselves to study and to prayer it is better that we do not trouble ourselves with this question. Until then it would be better simply to take the word of those who have done so. When we hear some people raise this question and argue about how we know that we are right, it makes us think of someone who has finished freshman algebra - perhaps just barely so as to get the credit-then has proceeded to forget all about mathematics. A few years later he suddenly starts talking wise about, or asking an explanation of, Einstein's theory.
We are not suggesting that it requires a great deal of education to understand this; but it does take some honest study of God's Word and sincere prayer for the Holy Spirit's enlightenment.
We should not be too ready to assume that we have this basic qualification for tackling the question of assurance regarding the truth. Even Lutheran Sunday school teachers have given some very strange answers to such a simple question as "How can I be saved?" There are many notions in circulation about what the Lutheran Church teaches that are just that-notions. Such notions circulate freely and are easily picked up by the non-church goers and the non-Bible readers who are ready to accept them instead of finding the real truth.
Our proper approach to this question is then first to ask ourselves, "Do I really know what my church teaches, or do I have only a vague idea confused by a few of these notions, with a number of additions that are merely my personal opinions?" When we have taken care of this we are ready for the question of assurance regarding the truth.
Occasion /or the Question - Why Do You Ask?
It is well to clear the way for the approach to the question by determining why the question is raised. Is it just a casual curiosity because some Mormons have recently called at the door or because we have a Christian Scientist or Pentecostal friend with whom we discuss religion once in a while? Undoubtedly it is a little embarrassing if we find that they know more about their religion than we do about ours. If our interest in this question is only for convenience in discussion, or only a casual curiosity to be quickly laid aside for something more vital to us, then we are not likely to reach a satisfactory conclusion. But if these or other circumstances have made assurance a vital issue in our lives so that our faith is going through a refiner's fire, then a study of the Word of God under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit will give us a certain and convincing answer. Only then can the answer in this chapter mean anything to us.
Why Are You What You Are? Why Do You Believe? What You Believe?
It is good for the Christian to grapple with this question. When he has come to an assurance in this matter, he will know that his faith rests upon the solid rock of God's Word. Until then his reason for being a Lutheran will continue to be chiefly a matter of inheritance. To start with, most of us were Lutherans because we were brought up that way, because our parents were Lutherans before us and our grandparents before them. We shall not dismiss this reason as worthless; it still has and will always have a value. All honor to those Christian parents who from generation to generation have left a permanent impression of their faith upon their children, so that those children in turn have kept the faith and handed on the torch of the Gospel light to their children. "One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts" (Ps. 145: 4). The special blessing of the Fourth Commandment rests upon every generation of children who so honor their father and their mother that they remember and continue in the faith of their parents and grandparents. On the other hand, if that remembrance is merely a sweet sentimental recollection of a pious parent without that same faith being vital in us, then have we indeed squandered our spiritual inheritance. We cannot live in the afterglow of the faith of our fathers if that faith in us has smoldered and died. A torch gone out is no torch at all. Only a living and burning faith can we pass on to the next generation. There are those who call themselves Lutheran whose inherited torch is out; that is not Lutheranism. There are those who call themselves Lutheran and whose inherited torch is flaming; they are really Lutheran Christians.
Inherited Lutheranism has lost most of its value when it has been reduced to a mere family tradition. That is not a Lutheran faith which is merely a religious designation for the census taker. That is not a Lutheran faith in which the Bible is used merely as a place for recording the family tree with births and deaths. That is not a Lutheran faith which makes Baptism merely a custom, for which sponsors are selected only because of the kinship regardless of their faith, and for which a traditional wash basin or salad bowl, in which so and so many brothers and cousins have been baptized, is of more interest and concern than the new spiritual life which the Holy Spirit has planted in the child. That is not a Lutheran faith in which the Lord's Supper is merely a custom to be used at the time of confirmation.
True Lutheran faith does not rest upon tradition or prejudice but on inner conviction. Therefore, while we thank God because He used our parents to train us in the faith which we have, we address ourselves to the vital issue now and ask,"Why do I believe what I believe?"
PROOF OF THE TRUTH
A question such as this seeks a reasonable answer; it looks for proof. But real assurance is more than proof; it rests on a spiritual foundation which is stronger than reason. On the other hand, there are many such reasonable proofs that will go a long way toward convincing those who are uncertain. They help prepare the mind for a more spiritual assurance.
It is true that other denominations and sects make the claim that they are right. We shall, therefore, give the reasons why the Lutheran Church has a better claim.
Look for part 2 of this article in the November issue of Table Talk.
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Minneapolis, MN. Effective Sunday, September 20, 1998, Word of God Lutheran
Church (Twin Cities Mission of the LMS-USA) will be holding worship services
Sundays at 12 Noon at the site of the Anglican Church of St. Dunstan, 4241
Brookside Avenue S., St. Louis Park, MN.
We give thanks and praise to God for the generosity of St. Dunstan's and for the Spirit's bringing us together. We also thank everyone for their prayers and ask that they continue as we begin public worship in Christ's service.
For further information contact:
Rev. Jeffrey A. Iverson
Word of God Lutheran Church
6124 69th Avenue North
Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
Chetek, WI. Following an unanimous vote at the congregational annual meeting in January, Christ Lutheran Church of Chetek, WI - one of the founding congregations of the LMS-USA - has been busy with the design and raising of funds for a classroom addition to their church facility. Two thirds of the funds have been already raised, and construction began the end of July.
Christ Lutheran organized in 1987 and built their present worship facility in 1991. The addition (circled portion) will add four classrooms and a large meeting room.
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LMS-USA Synod and Ministerial Officers for 1998
Rev. Ralph Spears
Rev. Mark Dankof
Rev. Jeffrey Iverson
Rev. John Erickson
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by Rev. Ralph Spears
With many of the contacts that come to us at LMS there is often a sense of isolation, even despair about the times that we face. The Church that always provided a sense of stability and rock solid strength with the sureness of Scripture and the dependability of the Confessions ITSELF has been compromised leaving an especially empty feeling. And that, for many who call, is the worst part of it.
When we look around for those who provided an assurance of that sense of stability within the Church, they are - for the most part - gone, pillars for an age of the Church - now past.
Perhaps, that has caused many to rethink some of the elements of the church growth movement, at least there may be a sense of strength in numbers and some signs of growth whether they are authentic or not. After all, what DO you do in the age of a church in decline? It was years ago now, that one Christian writer was talking about the "Post Christian Era" already as many of those things now rampant, had begun to find their way into the church, and that was at a time when the numbers were there. Now it seems that we are a remnant of what once was, left-overs from a time when the Church - our Church was acknowledged and accepted by more than not.
So, if you feel like running away in the face of today's problems, both outside and within the Church, remember, you may have a lot more in common with real live people from Scripture, than not.
Jonah decided to take a holiday cruise rather than to report to the new mission field at Ninevah. On a near fatal storm at sea brought him around to what turned out to be a very successful evangelizing venture.
Moses had an excellent reason for NOT revisiting Egypt on what he knew to be a risky sojourn with that famous message,"Let my people go!" He apparently had a speech impediment, but that provided no excuse.
Zachariah did not and could not believe Gabriel himself, at first; and even the fruit of that message from the angel, John, after spending nearly thirty years preparing for his mission, began to doubt the whole venture after a few days in Herod's prison. Is this why Jesus said of him that "even the least in the kingdom (was) greater than he (John)?
It is one thing to talk or preach about the faith and quite another, to be faithful. As one pastor said, "We used to be able to turn to others we could look up to in the faith - NOW it's up to US!" And that's not always comforting.
But Elijah is perhaps the best example of a complete retreat and run in the whole Book. After soundly defeating the false prophets of Baal in a dramatic contest on Mt. Carmel, one message from a single woman, like an arrow that found the chink in his 'armor', caused Elijah total break down so that he turned tail and ran. Even God had trouble moving him from the security of the hiding place in his cave.
The rehearsed speech that he then delivered to God states the reason for his panic attack, in fact Elijah gives his speech twice: "Lord, they have killed Your prophets, torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life." Elijah indeed, thought himself alone, to be the "remnant Church" only to find that there were many more of the remnant body than he knew.
Paul picked up this account in his letter to the Romans and said: "So too at the present, there is a remnant, chosen by race." (11:5)
In every age - even the darkest of times there is a remnant preserved and called by God. All through Isaiah and Jeremiah, but continuing through several of the minor prophets, there is the trail of a 'righteous remnant' carefully preserved even through the Babylonian captivity - who carry the faith of Israel and hearken to the "Zeal of the Lord of Hosts" and get the job done!
And presently, we are much deeper into the "Babylonian Captivity of the Church" than anyone thought since this concept was first put forth by the famous theologian in the middle of our century. Indeed, they ARE killing the Church as they "break the covenants" and Confessions, "throw down the altars" of worship along with the sanctity of respect for the Triune God , and "kill the prophets" and their true prophetic message.
It seems that we are the only ones left! And we wonder how long we - or the Church - can live with things the way they are. We are threatened by the apparent lack of response to the time honored Faith delivered to us by the Saints, and wonder if there is a place to hide at least for a time. Maybe Elijah had the right idea - or Jonah, or even John the Baptist!
Indeed,"is this Christ what we have been looking for - or should we look for another, or something different?" Perhaps, a snappier Jesus, would be better, one more relevant to our times and what we believe?
The issues are remarkably the same. The Righteous Remnant shall remain! Whether it's ten righteous men who can save a whole sinful city for a time such as Sodom, or the faithfulness of one man who was therefore accounted as righteous and founded a whole people of Faith. And from this the many Scriptural references to the value of that faithful righteous remnant who impute Salvation thereby - to the world.
Luther found the authentic spark for the Reformation on that same ancient principle, "That he who through faith is ighteous, shall live!" (Romans 1:17)
To be the Church of the Righteous Remnant is a gift - it is not ours - because it is not our righteousness - it is HIS who has called us to be faithful.
As we remember this always and so live it - the gift that it gives remains. There is such a rich fellowship together because it is nothing that we bring but a Truth that we together share.
In this strangest of times, the remnant of those who are righteously (not self-righteously) - holding to the Faith - are invaluable, - those who have not 'bowed the knee' to today's Baal or even worse 'kissed him' with that seal of personal approval.
And like Elijah, who was told that 7,000 remained, we find that there are more of the righteous remnant than we thought out there. And they arise in the strangest places, in casual phone conversations and E-mail contacts and they are ready to 'come out of the cave' and 'slay the wicked' - with and for the Word in whatever way they can.
Maybe the imagery of Paul's Full Armor of God in Ephesians (6:11) will do nicely here in real application; you know, "the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit - which is the Word of God". Actually this marvelous section seems borrowed by Paul from Isaiah where this greatest of major Prophets notes (Ch. 59:16) that "Righteousness" seems to "stand afar off" and 'there (is) no justice."
Sound familiar ? Truly "there IS nothing new under the sun!" So "gird your loins" - there is work to do! Fortunate are we to answer the call - TODAY!
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Check Out The New LMS-USA Website
You can now reach the LMS-USA at http://www.lmsusa.org
Not only is our site location new, the entire site is being redesigned and updated. Hopefully our new site will be easier to navigate, and, it will include more information and helpful links.
If you are on line, bookmark this site now. Be a bit patient if all is not in place as yet. And... don't forget to share the new URL with others.
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