A Possible 2007 Memorial from Some ELS Congregation

Pastors can’t send memorials to the synod any more; they must come from congregations now. I was a cosigner on a memorial in the last year or two, containing a simplified listing of points on the ministry. (I haven’t heard yet from the standing Doctrine Committee what they thought of those points.) But now, the word is that only congregations can send a memorial.

A memorial is a proposed resolution for the synod, containing two kinds of clauses or paragraphs. The “whereas” clauses state the reasoning or motivations behind the resolutions, and the “be it resolved” clauses state the actions that the synod would resolve to do. The memorial is written as one, giant, run-on sentence.

Most people in congregations are unfamiliar with this kind of thing, and it looks kind of like another language when they see it. Below is a sample memorial that could be sent in by any of the (remaining) ELS congregations for the 2007 convention, or by several congregations at once. I assure you that it’s English, but you might have to read it a couple times to understand what it’s saying.

Memorials have to be sent to the synod office at 6 Browns Court in Mankato, Minnesota, and there’s a deadline every year too, in order to get the memorials printed in the Book of Reports and Memorials. For example, I think the deadline this year is April 1.

WHEREAS, the scriptural doctrine of Church Fellowship, as expressed in “We Believe, Teach, and Confess” requires that this fellowship be recognized where there is agreement on the teachings of holy scripture, and,

WHEREAS, there is substantial disagreement within the Evangelical Lutheran Synod about the meaning of the 2005 doctrinal statement “The Public Ministry of the Word,” and,

WHEREAS, some pastors and churches in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod have rejected the authority of “The Public Ministry of the Word” because in their view, it teaches things unsupported by holy scripture, and subsequently some of these pastors and churches have been removed from membership in the synod by action of the synod president, and,

WHEREAS, in every other respect, the pastors and churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod are united in the same confession they held before the 2005 adoption of “The Public Ministry of the Word,” including those who have been removed since that time, and,

WHEREAS, serious misgivings about “The Public Ministry of the Word,” unanswered from before its adoption, have sometimes been met with a severance of fellowship based upon the document itself, instead of holy scripture, thereby placing “The Public Ministry of the Word” and the 2005 synod convention above holy scripture, and,

WHEREAS, these circumstances have demonstrated that the adoption of “The Public Ministry of the Word” has brought confusion and a self-contradictory fellowship practice, inconsistent with the biblical doctrine of fellowship as expressed in “We Believe, Teach, and Confess,” therefore,

A. BE IT RESOLVED, that the Evangelical Lutheran Synod affirm its doctrinal position on the office of the ministry as that expressed in the Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, the Catechisms of Dr. Martin Luther, and the Formula of Concord, and,

B. BE IT RESOLVED, that the Evangelical Lutheran Synod acknowledge that it still holds to the doctrinal position on the office of the holy ministry which was held by the Norwegian Synod and expressed in its official publications, which is in complete agreement with the position expressed by C.F.W. Walther in his book “Kirche und Amt,” and,

C. BE IT RESOLVED, that the Evangelical Lutheran Synod express its sorrow and repentance over the many sins that have arisen in its midst from the circumstances created by the premature adoption of “The Public Ministry of the Word,” and,

D. BE IT RESOLVED, that the Evangelical Lutheran Synod withdraw the doctrinal statement “The Public Ministry of the Word” from the status of an adopted statement, giving it the status of a study document, to provide opportunity for a complete public review of the same, opportunity for a serious consideration of the criticisms that have been brought against it, as well as a clarification of the ways in which this doctrine should be reflected in practice, and,

E. BE IT RESOLVED, that the pastors and congregations which have been removed from the membership of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod for disagreement with the doctrine of “The Public Ministry of the Word” or its related practice, and which have not given any other reason for severance of fellowship, be reinstated as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in good standing and invited to participate in the study, review and clarification process with the goal of producing an expression of the scriptural doctrine which is understood in only one way, is acceptable to all, and does not lead to confusion or contradiction in the practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

3 thoughts on “A Possible 2007 Memorial from Some ELS Congregation

  1. Dear Pastor Jacobsen,

    Thank you for this post; I forwarded a link to my pastor as well.

    God Bless you and your ministry.

  2. Dear Pastor;

    I am a first-time visitor to your website and appreciate the opportunity to see the dialog on a number of the topics including the PMW.

    As a humble ELS layman, I’m struggling to separate and understand the doctrinal and non-doctrinal issues surrounding this on-going debate. From a distance, I look at how the discussion is being carried out. Some participants in this discussion have made some shocking accusations.

    *[J.J.: Yes! It goes quite a way back, too.
    It sometimes takes real work to verify the accusations and separate the propaganda from the genuine problems. We’ll have to take that work seriously if we want to resolve the differences we’re seeing.]*

    I find the way in which the dialog is occuring to be very troubling. These are Christians involved in a theological bar room brawl. I guess I am expecting an exchange of views, a patient use of the rod as a means to stay on the path Christ has laid down for us instead of the immediate use of the sword (so long as there remains considerable confusion on the issue).

    What can we do as a synod to remove the contentious environment so that proper focus can be put on the doctrinal issues?

    I am concerned that the contentious conduct and the flying accusations are interfering with the work associated with the Great Commission. I don’t think Christians should acting that way over a doctrinal issues which appear unclear or still unresolved (arguably). The sword must be weilded when God’s Word is clear.

    I was not at the synod convention when the statement was passed. What was the relative margin of the votes? *[J.J.: It was 62% in favor]* Was it lopsided? Is this a small minority that is rejecting the PWM statement? Is the disagreement more wide-spread? *[J.J.: At the adoption of the statement, not everyone who voted against it was really rejecting it, and likewise, not everyone who voted for it was really content with it. At this point, all I know for certain is that those who are not satisfied are a significant number.]*

    If there is still significant confusion over this statement, I would support your idea of re-examining the PMW statement. I’m cautious about reducing it from a doctrinal statement to a study document so that we don’t appear to be so doctrinally fickle.

    *[J.J.: That’s appropriate caution, but I don’t think we can critically re-examine it while it has official status for the ELS. That’s what Pastor Preus was really trying to do. An attempt at the 2006 convention to leave it in place but “unenforced” for a while sounded great, but it would have separated our official doctrine from our practice, which is not advisable either.]*

    The disagreement must be solved through a patient exchange of views and scriptural support for a time. Then, if no consensus can be reached, there must be a parting of the ways.

    In the meantime, there are souls in peril in need of the Gospel. I pray we are not too distracted from tending to the sheep.

    *[J.J.: I, too, perceive that the doctrine of the ministry is not central to our preaching, as Justification, Law and Gospel are. However, it’s always important to say no more or less than what the Bible says. Our Confessions take the time to teach the Ministry too. So it will be well worth the investment of effort if we can come together to get it right.]*

    God Bless,

    *[J.J.: Thanks for your thoughtful comment.]*

  3. I too am encouraged by this memorial sent to the next convention, and am hopeful that the issues raised by it will be prayerfully and thoughtfully considered by the synod convention.
    It is worth noting that I was a lay member of the 2005 floor committee on doctrine. As we wrestled with some of the issues that came to light then, President Moldstad was invited to visit with us to answer any questions we might have. At that time I asked him publicly if, the PMW being adopted, it could be amended at a later time should enough concern be voiced that it was incomplete, unclear, or even inaccurate. He did at that time admit that, while he would not be enthusiastic about opening the door for amending the document, that it was certainly within the synod’s right and power to do so. (Note that I am paraphrasing his words.) I think the time has come for this to happen. This document binds the consciences of many of us who do not agree with it, or who think it is inadequate in some way or another.
    I am hopeful that this crucial problem is clearly communicated and that the voters will understand the very negative impact that the premature adoption of this statement has had on the synod.

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