A few notes about the 2006 ELS Convention

The synod convention this year was filled with controversy. It began on Monday when I presented a resolution crafted at (and adopted by) the West Coast pastoral conference of the ELS about a month earlier. The resolution was aimed at the convention session itself, that we would be as patient as possible with each other, and not say or do anything that would be irreversible later on. With extreme irony, several people spoke against this resolution as though it were divisive or a threat to the unity of the synod. It was even said that the words “refrain from finality in words and actions” would effectively rescind our synod’s adoption of the Public Ministry of the Word doctrinal statement from last year. As I told someone later that day, I used to enjoy irony, but could not enjoy this at all. It becomes very hard not to question motives.

The convention also approved a slate of nominees for the Appeals Commission that will irrevocably decide upon the Moldstad-Preus situation. Unfortunately, most of those voting to approve the slate had a misperception of what they were doing and the applicable rules. Much like the PMW document itself, this lamentable situation contributed nothing positive toward the unity of our synod. Our division of minds was well reflected in the reelection of our synod president by only two votes out of 273. Another unfortunate situation cast a pall over that vote, too. We voted on the final slate of three candidates twice, due to a reported surplus of votes the first time around. Normally, this might have passed by without comment, because we trust our Christian brothers not to manipulate the situation. However, the present controversy influences all of us significantly.

More to come later, as opportunity permits. Kyrie eleison.

In a state of confession

Here’s another quote from Waddell’s book. It begins with a quote from the Solid Declaration, article X. The translation I’ve pasted here differs from the one Waddell used.

14] For here it is no longer a question concerning external matters of indifference, which in their nature and essence are and remain of themselves free, and accordingly can admit of no command or prohibition that they be employed or omitted; but it is a question, in the first place, concerning the eminent article of our Christian faith, as the apostle testifies, that the truth of the Gospel might continue, which is obscured and perverted by such compulsion or command, because such adiaphora are then either publicly required for the sanction of false doctrine, superstition, and idolatry, and for the suppression of pure doctrine and Christian liberty, or at least are abused for this purpose by the adversaries, and are thus viewed [and are believed to be restored for this abuse and wicked end].

Note how the statement, “For in such a case it is no longer a matter of external adiaphora,” can not mean that adiaphora cease to be adiaphora in a state of confession, as Matthias Flacius had argued, because the confession explicitly maintains that adiaphora “in their nature and essence are and remain in and of themselves free.” This goes directly against Flacius’ contention that in the context of confession adiaphora cease to be adiaphora. The formulators argue here that in a state of confession the issue shifts from being about adiaphora to being about the gospel.