We are condemned to repeat it…

I can’t believe I didn’t take official notice of this before today.

I just received a copy of “This We believe : Selected Topics of Faith and Practice in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.”  A promising title.  But don’t get your hopes up.  It only rehashes synod resolutions and Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei (CTCR ) statements.  Which brings me to something that, I suppose I have known for a long time, but never realized before today :

The synod has total doctrinal amnesia of everything that happened before the creation of the CTCR.  Even when the synod has spoken by official convention resolution, if the statement was made before the formation of the CTCR, and the CTCR has subsequently issued a statement which contradicts it, the CTCR statement has pre-eminence.

For example, regarding intinction, which was officially rejected by convention resolution in 1944, the CTCR has said it might be acceptable in certain circumstances.  So, the “This we believe” position is : what the CTCR said.  No notice is given to official convention resolution which rejects it, because it predates the CTCR.

Historical Critical Methodology, however, was officially rejected in 1974.  Therefore, the convention resolution can be used, because this was after the creation of the CTCR.

Despite it’s being included as an Appendix, the “Brief Statement” isn’t actually used to support any of the positions in the earlier portion of the book.  (Again, it predates the CTCR, and so has no real voice.  It included to show it honor, but not to show any real effect it may have.  Sort of like having a retired Hall of Famer throw out the first pitch during the World Series.  He is being honored; he is not being brought back to play on the team.)

Now, of course, sometimes the Synod has adopted statements written before the creation of the CTCR.  So, for example, Walther’s Church and Ministry was re-adopted in 2001.  It is referenced, and the theses printed.  Including the one that says we give a Layman vote on church courts – which thing we no longer do.

But if you take a close look at how the official synod understands itself, it only understands itself in reference to statements it (either in convention or by the authority of the CTCR) has adopted.  Any other official understanding simply does not exist.  We have theological amnesia.

The other problem with the book is that it sets out what the convention and the CTCR have said, but has very little about Holy Scripture or the Lutheran Confessions.  But then, we only believe them insofar as they have been adopted by synod resolution, or explained by the CTCR.

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One Response to “We are condemned to repeat it…”

  1. OUCH!

    Just a reminder, here, that the confessions state that church councils are fallible.

    Also, the same Confessions [Book of Concord (1580)] are the correct exposition of the Word of God, NOT resolutions, CTCR documents, Brief Statements or things written by Walter. These things are important, but they are not the same as the Confessions.

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