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Posts by Herb Mueller
A STATEMENT FROM THE COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS
[Note: Meeting February 9-13, the members of the Council of Presidents (35 district presidents, 6 vice presidents and the president of Synod) adopted the following statement as a document which “speaks to the church on behalf of the COP.”]
A STATEMENT OF ASSURANCE REGARDING ECCLESIASTICAL SUPERVISION
“Sanctify them by Your truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
In response to recently expressed concerns over maintaining sound doctrine in our synod as well as our need to follow the prescribed process for ecclesiastical supervision in our synod’s bylaws, we the Council of Presidents (comprised of the synodical president, vice presidents, and 35 district presidents of the LCMS), offer the following assurances:
- We remain committed to the authority of the inspired, inerrant Scriptures as the only source and norm for our doctrine and practice and the Lutheran Confessions as a true exposition of the Scriptures. That commitment includes our solid affirmation of our Synod’s stances on such Biblical teachings as these:
- In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth by the power of his Word, in six natural days. We reject the evolutionary hypothesis, including “theistic macro-evolution.” (Genesis 1; John 1:1ff.; Matthew 19:4-6).
- Holy Scriptures elevates the dignity and equality of both men and women in the sight of God (Galatians 3:27–28; Ephesians 5:21–33). The Scriptures also teach that men and women have distinct and complementary vocations. The Scriptures limit the office of pastor to qualified men, while inviting sanctified women to serve in many capacities (1 Timothy 2; 1 Corinthians 14).
- Marriage, instituted by God, is only between a man and a woman. Homosexual behavior, like all adulterous behavior, is sin against the Sixth Commandment (Matthew 19:4–6).
- We pledge our on-going due diligence in maintaining sound doctrine and practice in our respective districts.
- We promise to abide by and uphold the Synod’s bylaws guiding ecclesiastical discipline.
- Along the way of doctrinal supervision, we will continue to seek restoration and repentance in a process which honors our synod’s constitution and bylaws.
Responding to concerns in the Synod regarding the present process of ecclesiastical supervision and discipline, we, the members of the Council of Presidents, unanimously affirm the following:
- The doctrinal integrity of our Council of Presidents as we carry out our role of ecclesiastical supervision;
- The need for our present process of discipline to follow the existing bylaws of the Synod;
- Our desire to evaluate the current procedure of discipline, leading to a more effective process.
The Council of Presidents also cautions that members of Synod be careful in their analysis of matters of ecclesiastical supervision, especially in social media and blogs, lest we sin against the Eighth Commandment, marring reputations and making public what is required to be private.
Finally, the Council of Presidents requests members of the Synod to pray for us as we carry out our role of ecclesiastical supervisors in accordance with the Scriptures, the Confessions, and our Synod’s Constitution and Bylaws.
The Emmaus Conference is now in its eighth year of bringing together Lutheran theologians, pastors and lay people to the Pacific Northwest to facilitate discussions. It has proven helpful in renewing discussions under a free conference style among representatives of the former Synodical Conference. The desire for such discussions has been on the hearts and in the prayers of many who fondly remember the Synodical Conference since its break-up in the mid 20th Century.
This year’s conference information:
- Essayist: Rev. David Jay Webber, ELS Pastor in Scottsdale, Ariz.
- Reactors: Rev. Jon Buchholz, WELS District President in California/Arizona; and Rev. Herbert Mueller, LCMS First Vice President
- Topic: Objective Justification — The direction of our discussions will focus on the pastoral dimensions of the doctrine and how the truth of this teaching gives comfort and peace to the sinner.
- Dates: Wednesday, April 22 (morning and afternoon sessions plus evening banquet) and Thursday, April 23
- Location: Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Church; 120 123rd ST S; Tacoma, WA 98444
Registration and agenda: theemmausconference.org
The other day, just for fun, I was reading in Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, some of his descriptions of King Herod’s family (the Herod who was King when Jesus was born). This man was so jealous that when he left town, he told his brother to kill his wife if he did not return, so no one else could have her.
When he thought two of his sons were plotting against him (which they probably were) Herod had them killed, and then bribed his Roman over lords to cover the crime. So, kill a few babies in Bethlehem (see Matthew 2:16-18)? Herod was quite capable of doing much more in his jealous rages.
Into that dark world hope was born.
Into the stillness of the night came the song of the angels to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14). They went to catch a glimpse of hope in the Christ-child laid in a manger.
At about the same time, Magi in the East saw a miraculous star and somehow recognized the dawn of hope. They followed that star to find in Bethlehem the Light of the world.
Mary and Joseph, too, believed the word of the angels that they were holding in their arms the Hope of the world. While carrying him in her womb, Mary had sung “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever” (Luke 1:54-55).
In the same way Zechariah, with tongue loosed by the Spirit, praised God: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people…to show mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his Holy covenant” (Luke 1:68,72). Old Simeon also, with eyes illuminated by the light of God, when Mary placed in his hands the child who is the Hope of the world, proclaimed: “my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples” (Luke 2:30-31).
That’s what they believed, yes, but the 21st century world is different, is it not? No, not really. Human nature and sinful activity are the same, no matter what the century. What you see on TMZ (a contemporary gossip TV show) about today’s celebrities is no better or worse than King Herod and his family. The first century Roman world was full of conflicting religious claims, violence, sexual abuse and grinding poverty next to unimaginable riches. Our 21st century is full of the same foolish and sinful violence, producing in many the same sense of hopelessness.
Into our dark world, we believe, real hope was born in Bethlehem’s stable, as we sing: “The hopes and fears of all the years, are met in thee tonight” (O Little Town of Bethlehem-LSB 361). The Scripture says: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:22-24). Jesus Christ is that one sure hope of the world.
Here is why we who believe in Jesus are people of authentic hope. We have seen in our own lives the meaning of what the Scripture says:
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4). God’s word of hope has lifted our eyes to see in Jesus the assurance, absolute and certain, that God is for us, that He is the God of life, not death, and that God’s promises overcome aimlessness and despair.
The world has many counterfeit hopes, but we celebrate Christmas and Epiphany exactly because Jesus has made us people of hope, people who look to the future, people who know how history will turn out. Again, Scripture says: “…to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:9-10).
So do you ever feel hopeless? Do you ever feel as though life is dead end? With no purpose or meaning? Jesus was born for you! Christmas is your holiday. Every Christmas display you have seen this season has been a sign that God has not abandoned you, that your life has meaning in Christ, that you are valuable to God, and that in Jesus, born for us, crucified and raised from the dead, you have “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Every Christmas service we attended sent us back into the same world, but filled with hope in Jesus, to be agents of His lasting hope. We now enter the Epiphany season “in our hearts regarding Christ as holy” but also always “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). We are people of hope in Jesus.
A very blessed and hope filled New Year and Epiphany to all!
+ Herbert Mueller
First Vice President – LCMS
The Gospel for New Year’s Day, the “Name of Jesus,” is very simple: “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21).
That’s all. Eight days after his birth (which we celebrated December 25th), he was circumcised and given the name Jesus.
Yeshua = “the Lord saves” – “for he will save his people from their sins,” the angel had told Joseph in dream (Matthew 1:21).
So we begin the new year 2015 in the name of Jesus, as the church observes on January 1.
Whatever the new year brings, Jesus has it covered. Whatever happens to us, we bear the name of Jesus. Whatever we go through, Jesus has been there before us.
Eight days old and he already sheds his blood for us. Eight days old and the name he is given is for our redemption. Eight days old and he is already being prepared for his saving work for us. It is as the church sings:
Jesus! Name of mercy mild, Given to the holy Child
When the cup of human woe First He tasted here below.
Jesus! Only name that’s giv’n Under all the mighty heav’n
Whereby those to sin enslaved Burst their fetters and are saved.
Jesus! Name of wondrous love, Human name of God above;
Pleading only this, we flee Helpless, O our God, to Thee.
(Lutheran Service Book, #900, st. 4-6)
Happy New Year, then, in the name of Jesus. “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).
A blessed New Year to one and all!
+ Herbert Mueller
First Vice President – LCMS
President Matthew Harrison and I have been engaged in recent months in a program of visitation of the districts of the Synod. We are a little more than half way through this visitation of the 35 districts mandated by the 2013 Synod Convention. Resolution 7-01A in 2013 called for a renewal and strengthening of visitation among us, beginning with the President and Vice Presidents visiting district presidents and district boards of directors.
What does such a visit look like? Spread over 2-3 days, we spend time individually with the district president and corporately with the district board of directors. Often we are able to visit with the district praesidium and district staff as well. In many cases we have included meeting with most or all of the district’s circuit visitors. In some cases, open forum meetings have been scheduled so that people are able to hear us and ask questions.
What is the purpose of such a visit? We are coming to listen and to encourage, taking our cue from the apostle Paul, who wrote to the Romans in preparation for his visit with them,
“without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – that is, that we may be encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Romans 1:9-12).
In every district I have visited, the district president and the district board of directors have good working relationships, addressing issues, even difficult ones, in a spirit of confidence and trust in Christ, and in collaboration with one another. Our conversations have been honest, fruitful and blessed by God. We hear and encourage the good God is doing by His Word in each district and we bring explanations of our shared work as a Synod. The visits deepen our understanding of the blessings, opportunities and challenges facing each district. They also help district boards see the broader picture of what God is doing on behalf of all 6100 plus congregations of the Synod through the national office.
A much more complete report will be given to the district conventions next year and to the national Synod in 2016.
Herbert C. Mueller
1st Vice President