July 22, 2007

Analyze This

With the exception of the presidential election, I had very little time last week to follow the convention. I have begun to read some of the analysis of those who were in attendance, and I draw your attention to Dr. Stuckwisch's thoughts on the growing consolidation of power and push to adopt a bureaucratic hierarchy in our beloved Synod.

Again, there appears to be a concerted push toward a far more hierarchical structure and a centralization of power. Which is my number one reason for opposing the Resolution 8-07A, now pending (because the day mercifully came to an end in the midst of discussion), which calls for a special Convention of the Synod in 2009. The express purpose of that special Convention is a complete restructuring of the Synod's entire polity and governance. Not simply amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws, but a completely new structure altogether, built from the ground up. When someone proposed an amendment to this motion, which would have prohibited any changes in the doctrinal standard of the Synod, the spokesman of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synodical Structure and Governance, hemmed and hawed about how they didn't want to change the content of the doctrinal standard, but they did want the freedom to "tweak" and refocus that article of the Constitution, and in the process to establish some new emphases. That was a chilling remark, in my opinion, and one that ought to put everyone on guard.

Judging from the policy-based governance that has come to dominate the boards, commissions, and districts of the Synod over the past decade, it is my estimination that the Blue Ribbon Task Force is hoping to use that same model for the governance of the entire Synod. What that would amount to, in short, is that the executive officers of the Synod would be free and clear to do whatever they were not explicitly forbidden from doing. That's bad business, in my opinion, but it is a far worse way of going about things as a fellowship of Christ's holy Church on earth. Whether there is a special Convention or not, I hope and pray most earnestly that it will not come to that.
You can read his entire post here.


Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Your various comments are very kind, Brother Esget, and much appreciated.

On this whole matter of the special convention and the contemplated restructuring, my very real concerns about the form this will ultimately take remain. I believe it will be crucial that the members of the Synod participate fully in the process, as it develops, and take seriously their responsibility to govern themselves in the fear of the Lord and the wisdom of His Word.

I do want to say that the spokesman for the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synodical Structure and Governance, who also co-chaired Floor Committee 8, did come back on Wednesday morning with an apology for some of the impressions that had been given on Tuesday, and asked forgiveness for his part in those questionable and regretable impressions. I take the man at his word, and appreciate that he made these remarks. I was also very glad for the provision that was included in the substitute resolution, which specifices that nothing will be done to conflict with Articles II and VI of the current LCMS Constitution. I would rather see those articles simply left alone altogether, but there was at least this response made to the concerns that had been raised.

Finally, I hope it will be noted that I was angry and frustrated on Tuesday evening of the Convention, which colored my assessment of that particular day. Doesn't change what happened, but I would not want my comments of that day to be understood as my "last word" on the Convention as a whole. My frustration with Floor Committee 8 was not satisfied, because the dispute resolution process remains largely unchanged. I'm very glad of the correction and clarification concerning St. Matthew 18, which was in many ways the single greatest offense, but the many other flaws and weaknesses remain.

Still, we found that it is possible to accomplish something good and worthwhile. And that is what all of us should work toward, in Christian faith and love, with the planned restructuring of synodical polity.

Rev. Christopher S. Esget said...

These clarifications are indeed helpful. From the rest of your posts, it is evident that your mood and assessment varied from day to day; I remarked yesterday at church to a military chaplain who attended the convention that (in all seriousness) I consider attending our district convention a grave threat to my spiritual well-being; I can only imagine how that is true at a synodical convention.

You have done us a true service in not only providing an assessment of what happened, but a flavor of the event itself. I hope you will continue to share your reflections when the special convention draws nigh.

The peace of Christ to you, my friend.