Blogs and Allegiances

The Church is not a business, though some aspects of business experience are helpful when managing earthly aspects of the Church.

Because of that, a Christian congregation is also not a business. Likewise, a synod or larger church body is not a business.

The business world is a bit like the military world. Decisions are made by a few, and everyone else has to follow them. Dissent is not tolerated. The leader(s) determine the principles of the organization, and anyone who contradicts them is terminated or disciplined.

This has been extended to publications. If an employee writes a book or blog that somehow comes against the principles or interests of his company, then he is in trouble. His allegiance, even in his privately published writings, is to his company. Personally, I think some companies have taken this way too far, but it’s a free country. They have the right to be wrong, just like the rest of us.

In the Church, our primary allegiance is not to our own congregation, nor to our synod, per se. That would be a kind of idolatry. It would be denominationalism, like backing the Red Sox only because you live near Boston, rather than because they have any particular virtue or skill. Applied to baseball, that approach is fine. Applied to churches, it’s wrong. Some churches and synods are more virtuous than others, because they hold to the Word of God in doctrine and practice better than others.

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A Better Way to Discuss the PMW

I’ve been trying to keep before us the possibility that the PMW can be improved over time by suggesting specific improvements to its parts. It cannot be denied that some had sincere and weighty objections to the PCM document before it was adopted, and became known as the PMW. It also cannot be denied that these objections were not all answered before the adoption took place, and that the circumstances of adoption reflected a serious opposition to the document.

Though the point is arguable, I believe that these circumstances were the primary cause of the ensuing controversy that resulted in at least five pastors and more churches being separated from the synod. The objections and opposition to the PCM document that existed before its adoption continued afterward. Though this should not be surprising, it was regarded differently after the adoption than it was before the adoption. After the adoption, opposition to the document (now called the PMW) is regarded as a rejection of the synod’s doctrine, which must place the opposition outside the synod’s doctrinal fellowship. While in some cases this opposition has been treated with a measure of patience, that patience did not extend to those who expressed their conscientious objection to the PMW in the form of a statement, rather than in the form of questions and requests for clarification. Others (myself included) stated that the PMW would only be acceptable on the condition of a particular understanding of its meaning. Thankfully, that position has also been tolerated.

It has been my hope that those with reservations or objections about the PMW would be able to continue discussing it, and finally make changes that would be acceptable to all. This could potentially restore the parts of the synod that have been severed, though the animus that was begotten in the PMW’s adoption has produced other sins on all sides that may render complete healing impossible for some time.

At this point, I will discontinue the thread I’ve been following, in which I have been suggesting for consideration certain changes to the PMW’s wording. For those who have been reading that thread, it has already served its purpose. It should be apparent that further changes are at least possible, and may actually be desirable in some places.

I suggest a different approach. Pastor Jay Webber, who is now on the synod’s Doctrine Committee, has restated the PMW with the intention of changing its format, but not its doctrine. The new format is “thetical.” That is, it is stated as relatively short, numbered statements that carry the thought sequentially from start to finish. This is the same format used by Martin Luther in several works, including the 95 Theses and the Heidelberg Disputation. It has also been used by the ELS in earlier doctrinal statements.

Pastor Webber’s thetical arrangement has some advantages. First, it isolates each point so that further discussion may focus on specific parts of the PMW’s text unambiguously. Second, Pastor Webber has prefaced most of the theses with a statement of the particular context of each one, derived from the heading under which the statement is found in the original formatting of the PMW, and the heading’s explanation in the text of the PMW. This explicit statement of context is invaluable in reading the statements, and may prevent some of the problems of interpretation that arose with the original formatting. Third, the thetical form of the PMW is technically not the PMW itself, so that strong criticism of it need not be regarded as a rejection of the synod’s doctrine.

I suggest that further discussion of the PMW focus upon the thetical form that Pastor Webber has provided. It may be compared and contrasted with the original form, and the theses themselves may be criticized and specified by number.

Please allow me to note several things from my first reading of the thetical format of the PMW. Feel free to comment on these points as you like. My observations are not all of grave importance, but they are nevertheless food for thought. I’m surprised that there are so few. It speaks to the advantages of this thetical format of the PMW.

  1. Theses 6 and 11 use the term “Universal Priesthood of All Believers.” this term is a redundancy. It would be better to use the language of 1 Peter 2:9: “royal priesthood” of all believers, or simply “priesthood” of all believers.

  2. In Thesis 7, the words “when they forgive the sins of those who sin against them” diverge from the definition of the Office of the Keys given in Thesis 1, where it is defined as an authority from Christ. Since it is an authority from Christ, the Office of the Keys applies to sins insofar as they are offenses against God, not insofar as they are offenses against anyone else. Hence, the words “when they forgive the sins of those who sin against them” are ambiguous. They may refer to the Gospel spoken to others, or they may refer to the personal forgiveness between us, which, though based upon the forgiveness of God, is not exactly the same thing. In fact, since this phrase follows a phrase that fully describes the way Christians may confer God’s forgiveness, it would be redundant to say the same thing again. Hence, it probably describes the personal forgiveness between us, and does not really describe the Office of the Keys.

  3. In Thesis 12, the words “they are to beware of false prophets” does not describe the Office of the Keys. It should be dropped. Furthermore, the statement that Christians use the Keys to judge the teaching of their pastors and teachers only applies to circumstances where false teachers are personally confronted with the sin of teaching falsely. This does not necessarily occur when Christians judge the teachings of their pastors and teachers. The statement should be clarified.

  4. In Thesis 15, the words “throughout the New Testament” imply that the divine ordering, establishment, and institution does not occur also in the Old Testament. It does, though not every aspect of the ordering in the Old Testament applies since the death and resurrection of Christ.

  5. In Thesis 19, the words “includes both a narrower sense and a wider sense” imply that both senses are instituted by God in the Public Ministry of the Word. Though I realize that “senses” are simply shades of meaning that are attributed to a term by human beings, and are not required by God, the way this thesis is worded still has the implication I mentioned, mainly because the words “divinely instituted” are joined with the word “includes.”

  6. I noticed that there is some repetition. Theses 27 and 37 are the same, and Theses 22 and 53 also say the same thing. These general statements seem to apply in more than one place.

  7. Thesis 40 has caused a lot of confusion, and serves little purpose in the PMW. Its intent is to define how a person may be said to be “in” the Public Ministry of the Word, but it ends up saying that one may be “in” the Public Ministry of the Word in various degrees. That does not really make any sense. The thesis should be dropped, or possibly replaced with one saying “Only those are in the Public Ministry of the Word who are authorized by the call of the Church to exercise the keys publicly.”

  8. In Thesis 49, the words “but is in accordance” imply that Romans 10:14-17 and AC XIV apply directly to the circumstance of school teachers. While I do not condemn someone who thinks so, this cannot be proven. What we can say is that the spirit of these passages would require that anyone who publicly teaches the Word of God be authorized to do so, and that a rightly-ordered call is the model used by the Church for that authorization.

  9. Thesis 58 only lists Acts 1:15-26 as an example of a mediate call. Other examples could be mentioned, in which pastors receive their specific vocations through the mediation of apostles.

When a Synod Errs…

Can an orthodox congregation remain part of that synod? Can an orthodox pastor?

Speaking to that matter is Thesis II of the document “Communion Fellowship” in volume 1 of Essays for the Church by C.F.W. Walther.

A fellowship in which the Word of God is fundamentally falsified, or in which a fundamental falsification of it is tolerated, is not a true orthodox church, but a false, heterodox church or sect.

I’ve read this before, and intend to read the section again when time permits. It serves as an excellent basis for discussion of several different circumstances in present-day Lutheranism.

Which ministry did Christ institute?

There is a perception that this point has been hashed through thoroughly by this time, but that perception is mistaken. While statements have been made on the subject from time to time, they have not been directly answered. The closest to an answer that we have seen was in a paper delivered to the official General Pastoral Conference in 2006, entitled “An Exercise in Parsing.”

I understand the knee-jerk reflex that some will have when this topic is touched upon: “Quick! Quote the relevant part of the adopted statement, and wash our hands of the matter!” However, that reaction doesn’t qualify as doctrinal discussion. Whether we like it or not, genuine discussion includes the possibility that either side might be won over, however strongly-worded their arguments may be. Quoting “the adopted doctrinal statement” is an attempt to end discussion, equivalent in effect to pulling rank. The only way to “win” in a theological discussion is to agree with clear scripture. Hopefully, both sides “win” in the end.

So read this thoughtful explanation of the term “representative ministry” from a certain controversial figure in recent ELS history:

[There is an opinion] that the public or official ministry of the church exists by means of a delegation of the private authority of every individual Christian to preach the gospel, administer the sacraments, and forgive and retain sins. We may call this the “representative ministry” definition, because it claims that whenever one Christian uses God’s word or sacraments “on behalf of” other Christians this is the divinely instituted public ministry of the word. According to this opinion, every time one person exercises the keys (or uses the means of grace, or teaches the word — the language varies) on behalf of believers, this is the divinely instituted public ministry of the word, whether it is a “full use” of the keys or a “limited use” of the keys. In either case it is representative ministry and that is what is divinely instituted, according to this opinion.

That quote came from a certain controversial writing, but has been mostly ignored because of the inordinate amount of attention lavished upon another paragraph (to the detriment and sorrow of all).

Another writing from a month prior says this, explaining the problem the author had with the concept of a divinely-instituted “limited public use of the keys.”

These texts allegedly address the matter of the church calling someone to exercise a limited part of the public ministry of the Word but none of them does. Nowhere does the New Testament speak of the church assigning the responsibility of teaching God’s word to someone who is forbidden to preside over the congregation, preach publicly, and administer the sacraments. What the specific duties of the deacons were is uncertain, but the Scriptures nowhere say that anyone taught God’s word but was not permitted to teach the entire congregation. Simply put, the very concept of a limited public use of the keys as this is set forth in the PCM document is foreign to the Scriptures. Nevertheless, these texts are cited as biblical proof that “the extent to which one is authorized by the call of the church to exercise the keys publicly is the extent to which one is in the Public Ministry of the Word.” Being “in” the Public Ministry of the Word to this or that “extent” is quite impossible if this office is the concrete office of preaching of the gospel and administering the sacraments.

Whereas the texts cited to prove a limited public use of the keys in the Bible don’t teach this, these texts do show that the Holy Spirit moves freely in giving His gifts to men. The Wauwatosa Gospel teaches that it is the evangelical activity of the Holy Spirit here and now in the hearts of Christians that constitutes the divine institution of the office in whatever form it may take. Here we see the Wauwatosa influence on the PCM document. John Schaller put it this way: “For whatever the Christian congregation decides upon to further the preaching of the gospel it does at the instigation and under the guidance of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”[29] The PCM document puts it this way: “But it is by divine right that one exercises that work on behalf of the Christians through whom the call has come.”

What is divinely instituted is representative ministry in whatever form it may take. When I argued at the microphone during the convention against applying Romans 10:15 (“how shall they preach unless they are sent?”) to the calling of a parochial school teacher I said that nowhere in the New Testament is a woman told to preach. The President of the Synod took issue with me and cited Mark 16:15, words that were spoken to the “eleven.” But the exegetical tradition to which we have become bound insists that this text teaches the giving of the means of grace to all Christians. The fact that nowhere in the New Testament is a woman told to preach must yield before this tradition. The fact that AC XIV refers to the call of men who are ordained and hold the concrete office of preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments must be reinterpreted to accommodate the new definition of the office. [emphasis added]

It should be noted that the author has focused in these quotations on part II.B of the PMW and any statements elsewhere that support it.

This is how the concerns were addressed in the 2006 GPC paper:

God permits, approves, blesses, and works through those external vocational arrangements that are made in an orderly way for the purpose of carrying out public activities that he wants to be carried out. But this does not mean that God has directly instituted all such external vocational arrangements. In fact, he has not. The PMW document acknowledges this when it says that those offices which have only “a limited public use of the keys” exist as distinct positions of responsibility — if and when they do exist — because of the church’s sanctified judgment, and not because of a divine command. If God has directly instituted something for the church, this would mean that the church cannot ordinarily do without it, and that the church would in fact be sinning against God’s will if it declined to have that divinely instituted thing. According to God’s will and institution, the church cannot do without the public use of the keys. More specifically, the church cannot do without the full public use of the keys. But the church often can do without specific external offices of one kind or another that are set up for the purpose of carrying out only a limited public use of the keys, or only a limited part of the Public Ministry of the Word. Such positions of responsibility are not commanded for the church of all times and places, and they are therefore not indispensable for the church of all times and places. [emphasis original]

And again:

Section II B of the PMW document is an elaboration on, and an explanation of, the “Public Ministry of the Word” in its wider sense. The focus and purpose of this section must be kept in mind when we consider the meaning of antitheses 8 and 9, which appear within it, and which can be a source of some confusion if they are not interpreted and applied according to their context. These antitheses state that “We reject the teaching that only those qualified to carry out a full use of the keys are in the Public Ministry,” and that “We reject the teaching that the Public Ministry is limited to any one divinely fixed form, that is, limited to the pastoral office to the exclusion of other teachers of the Word.” Understood contextually, these statements are simply reaffirming that there is indeed a legitimate “wider sense” of the phrase “Public Ministry,” which refers to the public use of the keys as carried out to any degree or level, from within any and all ecclesiastical offices. These statements should certainly not be understood as repudiations of the teaching that appears in section II A of the document: that the “Public Ministry of the Word” in its narrower sense does in fact refer exclusively to “the exercise of spiritual oversight” that is carried out (by divine design) only from within “the pastoral office”; and that the “Public Ministry of the Word” in its narrower sense does in fact require competency for a full public use of the keys. [emphasis original]

And finally:

But let’s not forget that the “divinely instituted Public Ministry of the Word” — which is synonymous with the “divinely instituted preaching and teaching office” — includes two senses or meanings. From the perspective of the narrower sense of the phrase, we can say that when Jesus trained and sent the apostles, and entrusted to them the full public ministry of Word and sacrament, he was thereby inaugurating in and for the Christian church the full public use of the keys. This continues to be a defining trait of the Public Ministry of the Word in the narrower sense. Whenever the full public use of the keys is being exercised in an orderly and proper way, this is an example of the Public Ministry of the Word in the narrower sense — and of “the pastoral office,” from which, according to God’s command, the full public use of the keys is carried out. From the perspective of the wider sense of the phrase, we can say that when Jesus trained and sent the apostles, and entrusted to them the full public ministry of Word and sacrament, he was thereby inaugurating in and for the Christian church the public use of the keys. This continues to be a defining trait of the Public Ministry of the Word in the wider sense. Whenever the public use of the keys is being exercised in an orderly and proper way — either to the full extent by pastors, or to a limited extent by other ecclesiastical office-holders — this is an example of the Public Ministry of the Word in the wider sense.

The full public use of the keys includes within it, at least potentially, any and every limited public use of the keys. There is no divine institution of a limited public use of the keys per se. There is a divine institution of the public use of the keys, as a whole and in all of its parts, from which, in the church’s freedom, limited public uses can be vocationally extracted and entrusted to qualified individuals, according to the church’s needs and circumstances. Section II B of the PMW document explains that when the church in this way calls individuals to fill positions of responsibility involving only a limited public use of the keys, it is thereby separating, “by human right,” a “limited portion of the office” to such individuals, and is authorizing them to exercise or carry out only a “specific” and “limited part of the Public Ministry of the Word.”

The answer given in this paper does not provide the scriptural basis for a divinely-instituted limited public use of the keys. It says that such a thing does not exist. Instead, there is a divinely-instituted use of the keys (not “limited public”), and the Church has freedom and authority to entrust a limited part of that use to certain individuals.

Is that “representative ministry?” Yes, in a sense. (See how nuanced this discussion can be?) It is representative ministry, with the caveat that it is not divinely instituted. In other words, we may call it ministry simply because we need a word for it, and we want to call it that. By definition, it is ministry because it is a kind of service.

I have wondered why our doctrinal statement would take such care to describe what is more a matter of our choice than a matter of doctrine. That is, why not just let II.B say that the Church has freedom to entrust certain ministerial duties to individuals alongside the “office of oversight,” and call it finished? Do we have to pollute a summary of biblical doctrine with descriptions of what the Church has elected to do in her freedom? In my mind, this is one of the most important criticisms of the PMW. In its current form, it leaves itself open to the charge of teaching human traditions as though they were the Word of God.

Comment to “Analysis of Appeals Commission Report”

This is a comment submitted by Shawn Stafford, in reply to this post. I’m including it in its own entry because the formatting available in comments is so limited that it doesn’t do the comment justice. Also, the post was so long ago, the comment could easily be overlooked. Without further ado…

Perhaps a memorial would be in order here. I was thinking along the lines of:

Whereas the 2007 ELS Convention elected an appeals commission to hear the appeal of the suspension of St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Williamsburg, Iowa, and

Whereas by doing so the synod acknowledged that a suspension had taken place and that an appeal should be heard in this case, and

Whereas, the appeals commission reported that there was no suspension in this case and therefore no grounds for an appeal, and

Whereas the 2007 ELS Convention floor committee on membership rejected a memorial by the Florida circuit winkel stating that there was no suspension in this case and therefore no grounds for an appeal,

Therefore, be it resolved that the synod in convention reject the conclusions of the appeals commission in the case of St. Timothy since it has rejected its purpose given at the 2007 convention, namely to hear the appeal of St. Timothy’s suspension, and further,

Be it resolved that another appeal commission be elected to carry out the directive of the 2007 ELS Convention in hearing the appeal of the suspension of St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Williamsburg, Iowa.

What do y’all think?


Two Books from NPH

Northwestern Publishing House recently had (is having?) a big sale, and I ordered some books both for my churches and for myself. The two I ordered for myself were The Complete Timotheus Verinus and God So Loved the World, which is a study of biblical doctrine. I’m quite pleased with both hardcover books. Though I have bookmarks in the midst of somewhere between six and a dozen other books, I’ve begun reading the former, and it’s a little hard to stop. I cracked the latter open to read some of it, and found it so clearly written that it would be an important asset to a church library. Of course, I haven’t read the whole thing yet, so there could be some surprises. But so far it looks very good, centered and focused upon Jesus Christ and the atonement He has provided for the sins of the world.

The Complete Timotheus Verinus was mentioned and quoted from by Bruce. What he wrote about it is true, especially that it has much that could and should be applied to present-day church controversies. For example, the author notes that pastors, as public teachers of God’s Word, not only have the responsibility to teach the members of their own flocks, but also to serve as general teachers of the Church and watchmen, ready to identify trouble and warn God’s people against it. This is not a self-appointed responsibility, but one that is laid upon pastors in their call and ordination. When pastors refuse to do this (and I say “when” because we are all quite fallible), we are failing a part of our holy office. So there will be times when we are compelled by our call to say or write things, when we would personally prefer to remain silent for the sake of peace. Few people really enjoy stirring up trouble and painting a target upon their own backs. However, pastors should realize that the target was already painted upon them when they were called to the office, and the “trouble” was already thoroughly stirred up by Christ himself. Turning away from it is the same as turning away from the Cross, and from the Crucified.

In the same context, The Complete Timotheus Verinus makes some practical observations about our personal dealings in the midst of controversy. There will be some who agree with one another, yet who are compelled by conscience or God’s Word to speak in different ways. It is therefore incumbent upon the teachers in the Church to exercise restraint and charity in both speaking or writing and in reading or listening to what others have to say. Yet the teachers will inevitably show varying amounts of restraint and moderation, so they must also willingly make allowances for that, and not condemn one another for their different manners of dealing with the controversy.

Already I have found a great deal that could be, and should have been, applied to the ELS ministry-and-suspension controversy. Don’t you? I look forward to reading more, and I’m glad I have plenty of bookmarks.

Sacerdotalism and the Keys

In an article printed in the latest Lutheran Synod Quarterly, one of the ELS Doctrine Committee members provides a perspective on sacerdotalism. Classically defined, sacerdotalism occurs when we teach that an individual cannot freely and directly approach God (as in prayer), but requires the intervention of a third party — a priest of some kind. It also occurs when we teach that God’s spiritual gifts must always be received through an intermediary — again, through some kind of priest.

Thus defined, sacerdotalism contradicts scripture’s teaching that every Christian is a priest in his own right (1 Peter 2:9). Scripture teaches that every Christian has full access to God in prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and may receive His spiritual gifts through Word and Sacrament with no intercessor but Christ himself.

There is, however, a useful distinction that the author may have overlooked.

Continue reading “Sacerdotalism and the Keys”

What defines? What divides?

Norman Teigen highlights an address from ELCA bishop Mark Hanson. Bishop Hansen notes that the issue of (homo)sexuality might be seen as the defining issue for the ELCA, but instead, he wants “the Gospel of Jesus Christ” to define the ELCA.

My first thought is to wonder what he means by “the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” For Hansen, does this include Christ as an historical person, as described historically throughout the second article of the Nicene Creed? Does it include His virgin birth and bodily resurrection as historical facts? I only ask because numerous teachers in the ELCA deny these things. See this book for a well-documented, 15-year old snapshot of those teachings in the ELCA. News reports since that book was published have not shown that things are any better.

But Hansen raises two important questions about fellowship. What does define a body like the ELCA? What does divide it?

In the ELS, we hold that the unity of a church body is (ideally) defined by its unity in doctrine. God-pleasing unity occurs when different people believe, teach, and confess what the Bible says. It’s up to us to figure out who they are by comparing their teaching and their practice to the teaching of the Bible. For us, the teaching of the Bible is critically important, since we apply Proverbs 4:13 in all seriousness: “Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life.” For us, doctrine is life. (I make bold to speak for the entire ELS. If its members disagree, they may do so publicly.)

However, a church body like the ELS and the ELCA is really established by articles of incorporation, not found in holy scripture. That means that the body can exist without regard for God-pleasing unity. (In the case of the ELCA, I see many points where its members disagree about fundamental points of Christian doctrine — like the historic points listed in the Nicene Creed.)

So neither the ELCA nor the ELS is really defined by biblical doctrine. They are both church bodies that exist by the will of mortal man. The difference is that the formation of the ELS has (theoretically) bound the synod to observe the biblical principles of church fellowship by requiring that its members and those formally “in fellowship” hold strictly to the biblical teachings. This is accomplished by means of the Lutheran Confessions, which agree completely with holy scripture. The Confessions serve as a means of comparing doctrine to discover whether God-pleasing unity exists.

What defines a synod or “church” like the ELS or ELCA? The answer can be anything, because they are organizations of human origin. Officially, they are defined by their incorporation. In my mind, the ELCA is defined by its sad history of mergers and compromises of biblical teaching. To Bishop Hansen, the ELCA is defined by “the Gospel of Jesus Christ” — whatever he means by that. To others, it is defined by its stance on homosexuality.

Despite the disagreement between these points of view, the ELCA and the ELS are both really defined to the world in general by the aggregate of their words and deeds. They are equally fallible and open to criticism for their faults. The responsibility remains with individuals like you and me to examine their words and deeds in the light of holy scripture. (1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”) That is how God-pleasing unity is discovered.

Bishop Hansen is concerned that if homosexuality defines the ELCA, there will be corporate division. Yet outward division can occur for a multitude of reasons, both good and bad. If some wish to depart from the ELCA about the issue of homosexuality, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Hansen’s “Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Lutherans in the ELS accept the Bible’s perspective on homosexuality: that such practices are sinful, so that homosexuality challenges and ultimately can destroy faith in Christ. For anyone who agrees with the ELS, it would make perfect sense to separate from the ELCA, which has contradicted what the Bible says about homosexuality. It would uphold the Gospel.

Love and the Fulfilling of the Law: Toward Unity and Peace

The adversaries, in the Confutation, have also quoted Colossians 3:14 against us, “love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” From this they conclude that love justifies because it makes people perfect … This is far from Paul’s meaning, who never allows Christ to be excluded from the Atonement. Therefore, he speaks not about personal perfection, but about the integrity common to the Church. For this reason, he says that love is a bond or connection to show that he speaks about the binding and joining together of the many members of the Church. In all families and in all states unity should be nourished by mutual offices, and peace cannot be maintained unless people overlook and forgive certain mistakes among themselves. In a similar way, Paul commands that there should be love in the Church in order that it may preserve unity, bear with the harsher manners of brethren as there is need, and overlook certain less serious mistakes. This must happen or else the Church will fly apart into various schisms, and hostilities and factions and heresies will arise from the schisms.

…. On the other hand, perfection (i.e., the Church’s integrity) is preserved when the strong bear with the weak, when the people put up with some faults in the conduct of their teachers, and when the bishops make some allowances for the people’s weakness. … Furthermore, it is disgraceful for the adversaries to preach so much about love while they don’t show it anywhere. What are they doing now? They are tearing apart churches. They are writing laws in blood and asking the most merciful prince, the emperor, to enforce them. They are killing priests and other good men if any one of them has slightly indicated that he does not entirely approve of their clear abuses. What they are doing is not consistent with their claims of love, which if the adversaries would follow, the churches would be peaceful and the state would have peace. This turmoil would be lessened if the adversaries would stop being so bitter about certain traditions. … The adversaries easily forgive themselves, but do not likewise forgive others according to the passage in the poet, “‘I forgive myself,’ Maevius said.”

Concordia, p. 116-117