Years ago, after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) solemnly declared SUVs to be irresponsible, if not sinful, I quipped to the ELCA’s presiding bishop, “The ELCA says something about everything. The LCMS says nothing about anything.” That’s not entirely true, but we have been rather quietistic in the LCMS.
The LCMS once had an office in the District of Columbia. Our plans for a new office have been much more intentional. We’ve done a great deal of work in preparation. The entity will be largely independent but constituted to serve LCMS interests (and those of other conservative Lutheran friends). It will not tell people how to vote. It will provide an LCMS voice at the table with other Christians and citizens of good will. We will focus laser-like on just three issues: (1) life, (2) marriage and especially (3) religious freedom.
Above all, this office will provide an aggressive defense against the current cultural and legal pressure to push traditionally minded Christians out of the public square, as well as a defense against discriminatory practices against the church by the government. And these are mounting.
The Apology of the Augsburg Confession praises legal action, when necessary: “Public remedy, made through the office of the public official, is not condemned, but is commanded and is God’s work, according to Paul (Romans 13). Now the different kinds of public remedy are legal decisions, capital punishment, wars, and military service” (Ap XVI 59). Where the government impedes our freedom to believe and act according to our biblical confession, we will fight for our freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. And we also will fight shoulder-to-shoulder with citizens of good will — be they Lutheran, Christian or not — for the religious freedoms of all. For the conscience is bound only to God, not to men. Consider how St. Paul made use of his rights as a Roman citizen. “I appeal to Caesar,” he said in Acts 25:11.
We have a gem to share — that is, the Lutheran/New Testament teaching on the two kingdoms. Government is established by God (Romans 13). The Church is established by God (Matthew 16; 28). Government is ruled by reason (Rom. 2:12ff). The Church is ruled by revelation (i.e., the Bible, as John 8:31 says). “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). Unlike many Protestants, we Lutherans have no interest in “Christianizing the government.” The government should operate according to sound reason. Good laws are reasonable and do not contradict the Ten Commandments. Bad laws are unreasonable. It is unreasonable to legalize the killing of the unborn. It is unreasonable to penalize a private school because it believes in traditional marriage. One does not have to be a Christian to see that. Of course, the Bible clearly rejects abortion too. Yet, Christians oppose it on the grounds of both the Bible and reason.
As part of our office in D.C., we envision internship opportunities for youth, educational connections with our Concordia University System, and state-by-state coalitions of LCMS lawyers and others to monitor religious freedom issues across the country. Our D.C. office will produce significant briefs on vital topics, such as the two kingdoms teaching. It will provide contact with LCMS elected officials, as well as encouragement and training for LCMS members (and other Lutherans) interested in running for office or serving in government. It will be a locus for the many young LCMS staffers who serve in D.C. and who are marvelous and active Christians.
There is much work to do. We are nearing our trigger point of $2 million. The entity will do its own funding work once launched and will not be a burden to the Synod’s budget. There is a great deal of interest and excitement about this. It’s time to act. Many others have been carrying our water for years. It’s time to show up and support them. “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
In His name,
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Hallelujah! And in due season! It is for such a time as this that these actions have come to pass; that men and women of conscience and faith may find the Church a banner round which they may rally for the restoration of all which is near and dear to them. Thanks for bringing this to fruition. You may count on me and mine to come when you call.
Most excellent and this should provide more fantastic content for kfuo.org!
As a former Hill staffer, this is excellent and welcome news!
Lobbying Lutherans? This sounds odd to a Canadian. Especially one who has left his government to its own devices and settled somewhere close to the rabbi’s blessing.
“God bless and keep the czar. Far away from us.”
If more Christians would stand up this evil world would be a better place in thoughts,words and deeds. The evils that our government is imposing is against GOD’S will!!!
I’m not overly optomistic. Nor do I feel it is entirely necessary. I have yet to see anything getting involved with Washington politics that doesn’t end up tainted by it. I feel our efforts are better spent in the much larger area that surrounds the 60-some square miles of DC. We are poor politicians and much better one-on-one. God’s will be done!
It is time for a Transformation to show the True meaning of Serving GOD!
We are the Children of GOD that “NO MAN” has the right to enslave Gods Children to a
Society of Godless people!
The fight is real and the outcome is for the Glory and Honor of GOD, Father, Son, and
the Holy Spirit!
It sounds like you are calling for a Theocracy.
This doesn’t sound like a good idea. $2 million is nothing in Washington and could be better spent within the church and reaching out to the public locally. The church should not get involved in politics and the related deal making that has to be done to get anything done. That only drags down the church in the mud of Foggy Bottom. $2 million is better spent elsewhere in the church.
Deanne, I agree totally. Look at how negatively the Evangelical churches have muddied the waters since the 1970’s when they first started getting involved in politics. When ever I share my faith in Christ with some unbeliever, the reply I get EVERY time is, I could never be a Christian, because I’m not a Republican. How sad that our secular society equates following Jesus as being something only a Republican would do. Just for the record, I’m a registered Independent, neither party is honorable, honest, or trying to serve God, so I’d rather not be affiliated with either.
I am a recovering Evangelical, to use the term used on Lutheran Public Radio’s Issues Etc. I’ve been a LCMS Lutheran for over 2 years, so I’ve been there done that. The LCMS not being involved with the government was one of the things that drew me to it. Our job as followers of Christ is to make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our job, as a church, is NOT to make “Christian” legislation.
That 2 million dollars would be better spent planting new LCMS churches around the nation. THAT is something we should be doing, not playing patty cake with the “brain trust” in DC.
As a D.C. resident, the problem is not policy makers but the culture of the country that no longer sees a need for Jesus. Use the $2M to plant churches in the D.C. area and make a difference helping others build relationships with Christ. Policymaking isn’t going to grow the church- intentional missions will.
Often people read the same article and get different impressions. I read that this is to support those who have the same beliefs that also have business in D.C. And to have an outreach to explain the LCMS point of view.
If we do not speak out for our beliefs, then our fate will be decided by those most opposed to those beliefs!
This is EXCELLENT news! I hope this Action will facilitate a strong media presence, as well, which will serve to enlighten the populace and shine favorably upon Christianity. May the Lord open every door necessary to quickly bring this to fruition!
I hope office space is available near the headquarters of the Republican National Committee. Close proximity to campaign headquarters could prove advantageous if the LCMS is reach its unstated goal of joining American Evangelicalism in becoming a religious auxilliary of the Republican party, I might also suggest that perhaps it’s time to retire Lutheran Witness magazine and instead replace it with a useful periodical like National Review,which is already dear to LCMS leaders.
Good luck on the move. I will save my suggestion that Rush Limbaugh be given serious consideration to host of The Lutheran Hour for a future date after the LCMS has had time to settle at its new digs in DC.
Thanks so much for this comment. You have stated the issue clearly: Lutheran Republicans are trying to take over the LCMS. I would care, but I have left the LCMS.
Amen. Spread the Gospel, feed the hungry, don’t get identified with the extremes which seem to dominate US political parties. $2M could be used in much better ways.
I’m quite confused by the criticism here. Any one familiar with Hosana-Tabor or who watched President Harrison’s testimony before the House of Representatives regarding the contraception issue should understand the importance of this office. As the head of an RSO that advocates for and shelters poor women facing crisis pregnancy and because of BIBLE based beliefs and the DOCTRINE of the LCMS (NOT a political agenda) is prolife and pro-family, I am GRATEFUL for this voice from my own denomination trying to protect our ministries freedom to continue to serve in a God pleasing manner.
This is a bad idea. Lobbying is not what the church should be about. Realistically too small a presence to be heard anyway.
Before committing resources to this, I would like to get the opinion of the members of Congress, like Cory Gardner of Colorado who is a LCMS member, as to the effectiveness of this plan. There are surely lobbyists that are also in line with our synodical views that can represent our interests also. Once an office is opened, we will be committed to at least a period of time of supporting staff and facilities. This is not criticism, just a request that we observe good stewardship at the appropriate time and place to the glory of Jesus.
Both those for and those against this move have valid concerns. I imagine that many of these were hashed out by Synodical officials prior to the decision being made. My first reaction was excitement. My frustration at the misrepresentation of Christians and conservatives has been high. The skeptics are right, though, that we will have to be ever vigilant that we are true to our mission and avoid the siren song of politics. We will be there, I hope, to witness when falsehoods and misunderstandings are tossed about. We will surely speak out for the helpless unborn and elderly. And we must always be an example of the Christian functioning in in the secular world with love and humility while standing without hesitation for the truths of our faith.
I am so pleased and will watch the development of this office with keen interest. That includes the state coalitions and other resources, also an excellent idea. Praying that plans will proceed and that God will bless these efforts with staff uniquely gifted for the tasks ahead.
Well said, Charlotte. We must tread lightly into the civil realm, lest we lose sight of the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN; yet, always “speaking the truth in love.”
However, the assumption that all Lutherans are conservatives is flawed. There are many long-time LCMS members who see that charity, mercy, and justice for the elderly and poor is stifled by the conservative agenda. While I agree with the pro-life stance conservatives take, my vote reflects those who wish to serve the neglected best.
“There is a vast difference between the kingdom of Christ and the secular government, the domain of princes and lords. And let the preacher keep his hands off the secular government, lest he create disorder and confusion! It is our duty to direct the church with the Word, the oral sword. The secular government, on the other hand, wields a different sword, a fisted sword, and a rod of wood to inflict physical punishment. The preacher’s rod smites only the consciences, which feel the impact of the Word. Therefore these two rods and swords must be kept apart and separate, so that the one does not infringe on the province of the other.”
Martin Luther (LW 22:225)
Better to focus on in house problems than dabble in the chaos that is Washington D.C.
Very well said, John Snow. As a lifelong LCMS Lutheran, I have been quite concerned during the past two decades, about the laser focus of the LCMS on conservative, right-wing policies in politics; while ignoring progressive policies that are ALSO in line with the teachings of Christ. As always, this venture into civil government can be treacherous; particularly if we veer off course to the point that our main focus is not to spread the gospel of Christ and “serve the least of these, my brothers”, as He did….always emphasizing the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!
This is excellent news! The LCMS represents 2+ million people while many lobbyist groups represent only a handful.
I agree the BOC totally supports this action. I would assert that Luther himself lobbied the German Princes who then lobbied Emporer Charles V.
We have every right to insist the government leave us alone so we can preach the Scriptures and our Synodical conscience.
Each District should follow this lead and lobby the State Houses.
True, we cannot tell anyone how to vote but we can urge everyone to protect our freedom from governmental interference.
Please make reports to the Districts about the responses of all Senators and Representatives so we can all follow up with letters to our various leaders.
Please create online petitions to give our lobbyists something in hand.
Please flood the media with knowledge of our intentional presence with press releases we can download and send to every small newspaper in our areas.
And, finally, let us all know how to donate via PayPal or otherwise – lobbying dinners are not cheap.
Congratulations President Harrison!
Charlotte. Hope you’re well! We need to have our iron in the fire to testify to the truth. We neglect at our own peril. Luther cites “good government” as a blessing in the 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. If we wish to remain free we must contribute to the dialogue, participate and speak out! Thanks to President Harrison for his carefully worded, clear vision. He has cogently and sufficiently answered his critics. “I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be ashamed.” Ps 119:46
In the last chapter of his 2012 book, Two Wars We Must Not Lose (CTS Press), Mr. Bill Hecht, former pastor, now president of Hecht, Spencer & Associates, reviews Missouri Synod involvement in some political, legal, and moral issues and culminates in a build-up to a proposal, prepared by a former Deputy Director in the Bush White House, Tim Goeglein, for establishing a “Lutheran Institute for Cultural Affairs” in Washington, D.C., which, in part, would replace the Synod’s former Office of Government Information. After giving the proposal to President Harrison, during a visit to Hecht’s office. Hecht quotes President Harrison responding, “Let’s do it.”
It is, indeed comforting, that President Harrison has assured us that this entity will “not tell us how to vote.” If that were the case, I would have to reconsider my lifelong membership in the LCMS; and, it would appear, that the LCMS would have to reconsider whether they want to focus ministry in the spiritual or civil realm.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.That’s the job of all Christians. If our church leaders are not able to lobby and argue our Christian rights and values then these rights will be taken from us. We need people to fight for our rights. Once they are taken our values disappear also.
11-3-2011 “Now is the time for the LCMS to formally re-engage on Capitol Hill,” Day said. “The LCMS needs to find a way to keep current on legislation and have a voice to clearly articulate our position in a government that is becoming less friendly to religious freedoms. So what has happened since then?
If there are staff vacancies available, I would be honored to serve the LCMS in Washington, D.C.
My experience there began while serving in the military. Beginning in 1970 I was a commissioned member of the U.S. Secret Service, U.D. assigned to the White House Protective Division. Approximately five years later, I was transferred to the Foreign Dignitary Protective Division. Since 1997 I have been a parish Pastor who would enjoy engaging people in the proclamation of the Holy Gospel.
If it’s our Lord’s will, I ask to be considered for a pastoral position in Washington, D.C.
Rev. Robert Lydick, Em.