Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Complexities of Dissension

Although the CTCR came out with their booklet in December of 2006 on their response to "Expressions of Dissent," I only got around to addressing it with my winkel this month. Aside from the issues themselves (which would be several additional posts alone), my question involves how to interpret what the Synod expects regarding assent to official resolutions of the Synod. In other words, it seems as if it's not enough simply to not agree. You actually have to teach and speak in support of the resolutions even if you don't agree with them. Otherwise, find a new church.

Synod bylaws indicate that synodical resolutions "are to be honored and upheld until such a time as the Synod amends or repeals them." Then they quote the 1971 Resolution 2-21 which says that "the Synod expects every member congregation to respect its resolutions and to consider them of binding force (Bylaw 1.09 b)...." Furthermore, it states that "If a member cannot for conscience' sake accept a doctrinal resolution of the Synod, he has the obligations and opportunity through mutually approved procedure to challenge such a resolution with a view to effecting the changes he deems necessary. Failing in that, he is completely free by reason of his wholly voluntary association with the Synod to obey his conscience and disassociate himself from the the Synod. Meanwhile every member of the Synod is held to abide by, act, and teach in accordance with the Synod's resolutions." (36) And finally, they say that "To 'honor and uphold' means not merely to examine and study them, but to support, act, and teach in accordance with them until they have been shown to be contrary to God's Word..."

Now my specific issue at present has to do with the resolution from the '04 convention that permitted women to hold all offices in the church, save the pastorate. My congregation's constitution does not allow women to be the president or an elder. And I'm sure that when this constitution was put together it was understood that the contents were supported by Holy Scripture. Yet, the synod in convention said that the scriptures now allow this. How can I say no and they yes and not be in dissension? Yet, when I queried the CCM about this dilemma, they seemed to solve it with a "do as you wish." After bringing this up at winkel (pastor's circuit meeting), I'm not sure we came to any satisfying solutions either. Synod has for a long time been a "live and let live" institution. As long as one does not rock the boat and interfere with another church or pastor and simply minds his own business, then all is OK.

So, what "honor and uphold" actually means, if I grasp the point, is just don't voice your opinion so loudly that someone else can hear. As long as I don't know that you disagree, it's as if you agree. But is this honest? Does it even make sense? Or should I even care?


Rev. Shane R. Cota said...

It is not honest at all, but who cares? As long as your congregation doesn't want to boot you out, you can do whatever you want to in the Missouri Synod. You're right, it truly is "live and let live." So, are the "ecclesiastical supervisors" doing their job? If their job is to get re-elected, then yes.

D. Engebretson said...

I suspect that it does come down to this. Accepted ambiguity and laissez faire approach to behavior, no matter how egregious or inconsistent it may prove to be with the established doctrine. I suppose I knew this all along, but when I saw the glaring inconsistency in the CTCR response I just couldn't resist asking why.


Robert said...

It is best to just follow what the Bible reveals to be the truth on every matter, regradless of the dictates of men. We as Christians have allowed the opinions of men to establish spiritual dictates for far too long.
Jesus Christ is real. We all will actually face Him. So , it is best to do what He says even if it means ignoring "superiors".
Dissension can be done in love without compromise.