Monthly Archives: April 2009

Minnesota North District Convention, Day 2

The resolution to abolish all term limits passed after much discussion. The most compelling point for me was over “spiritualizing” what is really adiaphora, and trying to find Biblical support or precedent for not having term limits because many people in the Bible held their “offices” for life. But what does prophet, priest, or king have to do with District Presidents, let alone District Treasurer or Secretary? Further, many of the debaters seemed to enjoy reveling in the “hidden God,” that is, what God has not revealed or told to us. For example, some people suggested that any term limits actually limited God and told Him what He should do. They argued that no term limits meant God could keep on doing His Work and He would not be artificially limited. But then how could a District Convention ever vote out an incumbent? Unless someone had a direct revelation from the throne of God, how would anyone know for sure what God would want done? I don’t have any idea WJWD with regard to elections where there is voting! If we wanted to follow a Biblical precedent, we would not vote at all; rather, we would simply draw straws or roll dice or some other (to our eyes) random procedure. Term limits do not limit God, they only limit office-holders. Furthermore, currently, officers can be elected again after the limit of their term, it just cannot be consecutively.

Dr. Lehenbauer gave his devotion on the word “power” from Acts 1:8, and how power in the Scriptures is never how we normally conceive of power, but much more along the lines of the Lord’s answer to St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 that His power is made perfect in weakness; that when we are weak, then we are strong.  At the center of that understanding is Jesus’ weakness on the cross being the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16).

Rev. Harrison gave an excellent presentation focusing on the Church as a “mercy house,” and he traced through the Book of Acts the idea of mercy as an organic extension of the koinonia (fellowship) of the Church.  Compassion always issues in action and fellowship is lived out by hands in mercy.

We also heard the presentation from the Blue Ribbon Task Force, which is much too extensive to summarize, but if you have read the proposals (as of now) and would like to take the survey, you can go here.  I think that every person who has an interest in the future of the Missouri Synod should take the survey and let the Task Force know your feelings on what they have proposed.

President Kieschnick finished his address to the Convention, but, unfortunately, did not have time to answer the individual questions which delegates had submitted.  (My question?  Along with all the discussion of restructuring, do you think that it can be said that we are actually “synod” [walking together] anymore?  Or that was the thought behind it; I had to turn in my actual question).

He did address three questions that he said he was asked at every District Convention, which were on the funding of the national Synod; same-sex “marriage”; and the Study on Sexuality in the ELCA, with whom Pres. Kieschnick has been in dialogue.

Also today, Pres. Fondow was installed, and gave a short (good) sermon on repentance.

Pr. Winterstein

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Minnesota North District Convention, Day 1

The MNN District Convention began today.  Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, the Executive Director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) is the Bible study leader and Rev. Matthew Harrison is the convention essayist.  Both were very good today.  They both talked about the book of Acts (Acts 1:8 is the Convention theme verse), as Dr. Lehenbauer talked about Jesus’ ascension and what that means for His Church, and Rev. Harrison talking about the Church as a “mouth-house” (e.g., as her members bear witness and pray).

Pres. Donald Fondow was re-elected by a wide margin, and the other three incumbent vice-presidents were also re-elected (Rev. Dan Abrahams, Rev. Kirk Lee, and Rev. Paul Cloeter).  Nothing very controversial came up in floor committees, except for the issue of term limits for district officials and staff.  The original resolution was to eliminate all term limits, but a substitute resolution was introduced to level term limits across all offices to 12 years.  The debate centers around whether those who seem to be especially suited to their offices or especially popular should be able to be elected over and over again; or, whether a fresh perspective should be mandated after a certain amount of time.   Some suggest that term limits exhibit a lack of trust and an essentially negative perspective.  On the other hand, perhaps there are those who should leave office, but no one wants to cause hurt feelings.  That will come up for a vote first thing in the morning.

The Floor Committees with the most resolutions are Floor Committee 3 (Board of Directors/Administration) and Committee 1 (Mission/Evangelism/Stewardship).  Most of the resolutions seem to be rather innocuous and automatic ‘yes’ votes.

But it is unfortunate that some of the resolutions from Floor Committee 1 quote Matthew 28:19a without the rest of 19 and 20.  The so-called “Great Commission” is not “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  That’s not even the whole thought.  The best translation would be something like, “Going [or, “after going”], therefore, disciple all nations [by] baptizing them into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep all things which I commanded you.  And, see, I am with you all the days until the completion of the age.”  The main verb is “disciple” or “make disciples.”  The going, the baptizing, and the teaching are all participles that modify the main verb.  But we have the habit of making the “go” into the main verb, and everything then modifies that “go.”  (That is, if we even remember that there is anything about baptizing and teaching in this passage.)

The point is that the Church makes disciples by baptizing and teaching, and those disciples are made wherever the Church goes (insofar as she is Christ’s Church).  The Great Commission is to make disciples, not to go; and disciples are only made by baptizing and teaching.  If we don’t talk about baptism and teaching, then we’re not saying everything Jesus says–which means we’re lying about what Jesus says.

Happily, the Floor Committee decided to add the rest of verse 19 and the 20a to the first resolution.  Hopefully that will happen with the other resolution that cites Matthew 28.

Things will likely become a little more contentious tomorrow, with the debate about term limits, as well as the resolutions on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (see here if you want more info. on that).

Pr. Winterstein


The Third Sunday of Easter

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The Second Sunday of Easter

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The Resurrection of Our Lord

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The Vigil of Easter

[St. Gregory of Nazianzus, “On the Pasch,” abridged: original here]

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Good Friday-Redeem

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