Wednesday, August 31, 2005

An open letter to President Kieschnick

President Kieschnick,

I read recently in Christian News that a class action lawsuit has been filed against you and Vice President Diekelman by certain clergy and churches “on behalf of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.” I find this action reprehensible and having a flagrant disregard for Scripture.

Though I am not yet ordained, I am serving as the sole minister over a small congregation in Michigan as a deferred vicar. As such I realize that it is deemed poor form to criticize ordained ministers who have many, many more years of experience in the ministry than I. That being said, however, I found that my heart was breaking as I read the article, the list of men whom I must assume to be Godly leaders of the church where God has placed them, and the text of the lawsuit.

What of our love for Scripture? Does not the Apostle Paul say in 1 Corinthians 6:1 “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother goes to law against another-- and this in front of unbelievers! 7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”

What of our love for one another? When our Lord Jesus Christ says in John 13:35, “35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” do we not take that to heart? I weep for the hatred, the bitterness, and the unrighteous anger that has polluted the hearts and clouded the judgment of those church leaders who have resorted to this extremely unfortunate course of action. I weep that we as a church body have for my entire lifetime been consumed by factions and lived in a disregard for the mission of God.

What of our witness to the unchurched population? If we cannot settle these differences amongst ourselves, how is it possible that we will ever be able to seek and save the lost? How will we ever be able to snatch one more soul from the jaws of Satan and an eternity in Hell?

I confess before God and man the sins of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the sins in which I share, and I implore Him to restore His church. Not for our sakes—not for the sake of our history or tradition or love for Synod—but for the sake of those condemned to an eternity in Hell: our next-door neighbors, our brothers and sisters, the waitress at the coffee shop downtown and the clerk at the supermarket. If we, who have the commission to carry the light of Jesus Christ into those darkened lives, as a church body forsake those who need our message of hope and life, then is the grace of God offered in vain? Rather, may Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 be true of us as a synod, as well: “3 We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”

President Kieschnick, I pray for your leadership during these turbulent times. I pray that you will be kept close to God as He daily creates in you a clean heart and renews a right spirit within you. I pray that you will win over your enemies through your consistent and humble witness to the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Your humble servant and co-worker in the ever-ripening fields,

Vicar Troy Neujahr

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