End of discussion
Reading the letters by Drs. Weinrich, Voelz, Berger, Nafzger, and Marquart in recent issues of Reporter reveals a disturbing trend that has been growing in our Synod for several decades: We are interpreting the Bible apart from Christ Jesus. That is, we are reading it as though the Bible can be a thing in itself apart from Christ. This reduces our Savior to one of many teachings in the Bible.
Long ago Drs. Scharlemann, Klotz, and others at the seminary taught us that we believe in the Bible because we believe in Jesus, rather than believing in Jesus because we believe in the Bible. The distinction is essential. The former way is Gospel-centered; the latter reduces the Bible to a set of rules and correct teachings. It is the worst kind of fundamentalism, devoid of life, opening us up to majoring in the minors of Scripture and forgetting the confessional insistence on the chief importance of pure doctrine: comforting terrified consciences.
We must always interpret Scripture in order to see Jesus, who said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have the words of eternal life — they talk about me!” (John 5:39). For the love of Jesus, let’s acknowledge that He comes before the Bible. He Himself is the final and true interpreter of the Bible. We must teach our theology so that people clearly see Jesus. After all, the Bible is His Book, and we are His people.
Rev. James E. Metcalf
St. John Lutheran Church
It seems to me that certain “fathers” in our Synod (seminary and synodical leaders) are using Reporter’s “Letters to the Editor” to defend themselves and try to defeat one another. Perhaps they should consider actually speaking with one another.
Although I am breaking my own principle in writing this letter, I am convinced that we would do better to spend our energy focusing less on “saving the Synod” and more on relating in truth and love with those God places in our lives.
If the intent of the “fathers” is to teach the rest of us, is a letter-to-the-editor the best way of accomplishing this? I for one am interested in reading theology, but I find myself growing weary of being made a part of a conversation better kept private.
Rev. David Wiist
A stated protest
It was amusing to read the letter by Professor Marquart (June ’05) commenting on, among other things, the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations’ “guide to district presidents dealing with ‘state of confession’ protests” (May ’05).
Professor Marquart has the audacity to accuse others of “papal infallibility” while pontificating his views as the only truth, thereby denigrating views reached by brothers in Christ. He also uses fear to bolster his argument. His tone does nothing to assist in our mutual conversation around the Word but rather further separates us into camps. Those of us working with congregations have had personal experience with the results of his kind of thinking.
In developing the guide to district presidents dealing with “state of confession protests,” the CTCR, far from substituting human reason for God’s Word, was placing Jesus’ “guidelines” in Matthew 18 before us and asking us to follow our Lord’s instruction faithfully.
Rev. Dr. Paul Meyer
Walnut Creek, Calif.
A fireman’s salute
I would like to commend all the organizers, participants, and supporters of the first LCMS prison-ministry conference held in April. I myself, being a former chaplain in the Kansas Department of Corrections’ state-prison system, would have loved the opportunity to gather with fellow LCMS chaplains and those in prison ministry to share ideas on how to minister to the incarcerated. This is a great idea that I hope continues to grow.
While I’m at it, let me also commend our LCMS military chaplains (as I’m sure everyone does) now serving at home and abroad. Several of these men were classmates of mine.
Further, I commend LCMS pastors who serve as police- or fire-department chaplains in their communities. I don’t know of any organization within the LCMS where these chaplains can go for mutual support and networking. Although there are national organizations of mixed denominations for these people, I don’t know of any specific to the LCMS.
As one currently serving as a fire-department chaplain, I would like to know who among LCMS clergy are fire-department chaplains or volunteer firefighters. I’d be happy to compile a list and try to get some communication going among us (you can use my e-mail address below).
See you at the big one! God bless!
Rev. Jack Karch
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Cave Spring [Ga.] Fire Department
Posted July 8, 2005