David Strand must love upstaging the church year. On the Eve of the Ascension, he finally begins to publicly answer why, on Holy Tuesday, he canceled Synod's best outreach and fired a pastor along with the producer of the popular radio program Issues, Etc. Unfortunately, his answers raise this perplexing riddle: How could it take the rest of Holy Week, and almost forty days of Easter, to come up with only 8.5 pages that simply repeat the same discredited figures?
April 30, 2008
In attempting to explain the "programmatic" reasons, Strand dodges a bit, and then says in essence, "It was really about money." Yet, it appears that the figures cannot be trusted. How can we trust the argument that this was purely financial, when there are documents that suggest extreme accounting irregularities at KFUO? Where is the answer to that question?
But even if the books haven't been cooked, there are strong allegations that the motive for canceling Issues was theological. An honest Q&A would address the questions that have been raised. A truly honest dialogue would acknowledge disunity in the synod, instead of pretending it does not exist. (And, I might humbly suggest a dialogue about my idea raised by President Kieschnick's question.)
After almost eight pages of not answering the questions, he then goes on the offensive: "Sadly and unfortunately for the church, some critics of the decision attacked the public statements and used the situation to criticize the Synod more broadly." This is Petersen's "Fourth Use of the Law" executed artfully: Do what you will, then call anyone who questions you unloving. Refuse to answer their questions, and then call the response of your critics "unreasonable" and "unanticipated."
When Mr. Strand says that "controversy was not inevitable," he may be right. But when he continues to not answer the real questions, he only fans the flames of the controversy he caused. To say there was no "shroud of secrecy" because "the decision was made and publicly announced" is simply inadequate.
Mr. Strand says he hopes that his answers bring reconciliation and peace. In both my pastoral and personal experience, reconciliation and peace cannot happen until people begin to be honest about their issues. On Day 16 I was waiting, but I suspect we'll have to wait a lot longer for the truth to come out. Until then, I pray sincerely and fervently that we can someday take a real step toward reconciliation and peace.