As in previous LCMS convention years, Reporter asked the five nominees for Synod president this year to answer in writing questions related to issues in the Synod — some of which will no doubt be considered during the Synod convention July 14-19 in Houston. Here are those questions and the answers from nominees, in alphabetical order.
Question 1: What, in your opinion, is the most pressing issue facing The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod today? And how would you, as president, address it?
Dr. William R. Diekelman, 60, is first vice president of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
Many voices in today’s world claim to know the way to eternal salvation. We know the only way to eternal life is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The LCMS mission statement says that our mission is “vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and the world.” With one voice we must move forward in our one mission as the people of God.
As Synod president, I would give passionate leadership to helping congregations strengthen and nurture one another with the Word of God that they may actively reach out to those who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. At the same time, I would diligently strive to expand the work of Gospel proclamation we do around the world through our own efforts and those of our partner churches.
Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, 64, is president of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
Our most pressing issue is renewed and intentional focus on accomplishing God’s mission to reach lost people for eternity through the proclamation of the central article of our faith — justification by grace through faith in Christ alone. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved…” (Acts 4:12).
As LCMS president the past six years, I have encouraged a vision for our Synod commended by the 2004 convention:
- One Mission — to reach lost people for Christ!
- One Message — Christ alone is the Savior of the world!
- One People — called to unity in Christ through the Gospel and Sacraments!
As re-elected LCMS president, I would continue to lead and encourage Synod officers, district presidents, seminaries, colleges, universities, organizations, boards, commissions, executives, recognized service organizations, auxiliaries, pastors, commissioned ministers, and other leaders to work together to make this vision a reality.
The apostles said, “… we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). We are a confessional church. Our confession must be heard as we share Christ’s love — faithfully, sensitively, and unapologetically, providing confessional Lutheran leadership in the Body of Christ. Our Synod’s Mission Statement says it well: “In grateful response to God’s grace and empowered by the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacraments, the mission of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod is vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and the world!”
Rev. Daniel Preus, 58, is director of the Luther Academy, St. Louis.
The most pressing challenge facing the LCMS over the next 10 years is to retain our identity as Lutherans.
More and more, as pastors and congregations assert their independence, we are drifting apart as a synod. We simply are not walking together as we once did. We seem to be more divided in our doctrine and practice than we have been since the 1970s. The Synod president needs to place less emphasis on synodical bylaws and rulings of the Commission on Constitutional Matters and set an example for our pastors and congregations in refocusing the attention of our Synod on the Scriptural witness laid out so clearly in our Lutheran Confessions.
By God’s grace, our Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod will then not become simply another “conservative” American evangelical denomination, but will continue to confess and offer to our congregations and those around us that understanding of the Gospel and the Sacraments that has been the heritage of the Lutheran Church since the time of the Reformation.
Dr. Wallace R. Schulz, 62, of Augusta, Mo., is evangelist with the Lutheran Heritage Foundation.
Christ’s church has always struggled to remove discord and division. In 1525 Luther wrote to a church in the Baltics that requested his help. Referring to God’s Word in 1 Corinthians, Job, and 1 Peter, and observing how church councils over the centuries had tried in vain to correct and renew Christ’s church through many rules, Luther advises: “In the end these rulings and canons became great snares for the soul and pitfalls for the faith. We need good spiritual teachers who will know how to lead the people with wisdom and discretion.”
The future of the LCMS lies not in man-made rules, but in pastors and teachers who teach the living Word of Jesus (John 6:63). God’s living Word is not only information and light for the road ahead (Psalm 119:105), but It does something we can never do for ourselves. This Word miraculously cleanses our sinful hearts and heals divisions Satan has created among us. “Come let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us and He will bandage us” (Hosea 6:1).
Dr. John C. Wohlrabe, 53, is an LCMS military chaplain in the United States Navy, based at Virginia Beach, Va.
Our Synod is divided over doctrine and practice. The most pressing issue we face is fulfilling the primary objective of the Synod: to “conserve and promote the unity of the true faith.” As our once immigrant church body assimilated over the past century, we have not always maintained confessional Lutheran integrity, leaning at times toward liberal Protestantism or Evangelical Fundamentalism.
As President, I would promote Scriptural and Confessional theology by providing materials for our pastors to use in educating members about what it means to be truly Gospel-centered, to include our teaching on the means of grace, church fellowship, missions, worship, and other areas where we are divided. I would encourage synodical conventions to approve resolutions supporting unity of doctrine and practice. I would also encourage district leadership to assist in conserving and promoting unity.
(Click here to read responses to Question 2: What other issues do you think need to be addressed in the Synod over the next three years?)
(Click here to read responses to Question 3: The Synod’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission has submitted its report, which offers 11 recommendations to the 2007 LCMS convention. Please share your thoughts about the task force report.)
(Click here to read responses to Question 4: What’s your opinion of Ablaze!, the three-year-old Synodwide initiative to share the Gospel with 100 million “unreached or uncommitted” people worldwide by 2017?)
Posted June 4, 2007