Why yes, yes it can. In addition to all the things I mentioned in the last installment (Milwaukee itself, the unseasonably pleasant weather, the blessing of receiving Christ’s Word in daily worship, the blessing of meeting up with old friends and making new friends, etc.), I should have also mentioned the lovely evening hosted by Concordia University, Wisconsin, on their beautiful campus. See the Part I of this installment here
But again, from the perspective of the mission of the ACELC (simply put: eventually to go away because our voice is no longer needed), there were some positive things which happened in Milwaukee this summer. One such positive thing involved the Synod’s affirmation that the use of laymen in ongoing Word and Sacrament ministry is contrary to Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.
In Milwaukee, by a margin of 809 to 277 the Synod, in Convention, passed Resolution 13-02A
, “To Regularize Status of Licensed Lay Deacons Involved in Word and Sacrament Ministry.” The resolution is long, detailed, complicated, and sometimes, perhaps, confusing. And, as the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.” It remains to be seen just how this resolution will be implemented. But to this author at least, it seems that this resolution is a significant step in the right direction.
The resolution included the following “whereases” and “resolved” (among many, many others):
he Scriptures and Confessions also teach that Christ established an office that is distinct from the priesthood of believers (the Office of the Public Ministry) for teaching and nurturing His royal priests by means of preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments (I Cor. 12:29; Rom. 10:15; James 3:1; AC XIV; see also Walther’s Church and Ministry/Office
The royal priesthood and the Office of the Public Ministry are to have a complementary and not a competitive or conflicted relationship; and
, In its history, the Lutheran Church has always maintained the divine requirement (de jure divino
) of the Office of the Public Ministry, while it has in many and various ways prepared men for the Office of the Public Ministry, since the manner of preparation for the office is by human arrangement (de jure humano
The Lutheran Church has always ensured, on the basis of Scripture: (1) that men who are to serve in the Office of Public Ministry are examined as to their doctrine and life; (2) that the congregations they serve willingly call them into service; and (3) that the wider church (other churches in fellowship with the congregation) also affirms them as fellow ministers of the Word and Sacraments (see Acts 1:15-26; Acts 14:23; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5; see also Tr 24, 26, 67-70); and
The rite of ordination, although not a divine institution (Church and Ministry,
Ministry Thesis VI), is the apostolic custom by which Lutherans have designated and publicly acknowledged a man as a minister of Word and Sacrament, that is, as one who is in the Office of the Public Ministry and recognized by the wider fellowship as a fellow minister (Ap XIII 11–13); and…
That the LCMS, while mindful of the need for continued conversation within the church, affirm the theological framework of the “2013 Resolution 4-06A Task Force Report, ”namely, that a right calling to the Office of Public Ministry requires that a man be properly prepared and examined regarding doctrine and life, be called by the congregation (or ministry) where he is to serve, and publicly appointed in a way so that the entire church fellowship recognizes the validity of his service (Acts 13:1-3; 14:21-23; II Tim. 2:24-26; Titus 1:5)...
While there will be plenty of room for discussion (and probably disagreement) on the details of how Resolution 13-02A
will (or should) be implemented, what the resolution does is clearly
state that it is not in keeping with Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions for us to authorize lay persons to continue in regular, ongoing Word and Sacrament ministry – laymen acting as pastors without the benefit of the pastoral office.
This resolution reaffirms what we have believed, taught, and confessed in Augsburg Confession Article XIV and also puts helpful flesh on the bones of the often-controverted confessional phrase: “regularly called” (ordentlichen Beruf; rite vocatus).
Yes, good things came from Milwaukee this past summer. I am thankful for Resolution 13-02A – that it reestablishes the theological foundation for our practice of the public teaching/preaching and administration of the Sacraments among us. From that foundation, we should be able to formulate and establish practices which are faithful to Scripture and the Confessions and which take into account the varied and often challenging situations in which some of our congregations find themselves.
Rev. Daniel L. Freeman
Pastor, Peace Evangelical Lutheran, UAC, Chehalis, WA
for the upcoming ACELC Free Conference "Christ For Us: The Order of Creation" which will be held on August 29-30, 2017, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lincoln Nebraska; the business meeting will be on August 31.
If you are on board with what we are doing as the ACELC we encourage you to join as a Congregational Member
, or if your congregation is not yet ready for that step you may join as an Associate Member