Monday, November 13, 2006
Let us imagine for a moment a pastor from a sectarian congregation: decision theology, believer's-only baptism, dispensational, and works-oriented. Let us imagine that his studies have left him in a position where he no longer appears to believe in the doctrines in which his "home congregation" believes. He has not only been reading Luther, but rigorously studying the Lutheran Confessions and Lutheran theology under the guidance of trained Lutheran Professors and Pastors. He is 99.44% sure that he will eventually leave his current position.

What is he to do?

Let us further imagine this: a long-time visitor expresses a desire to join the Church. The Official Church Position is that one must be Baptized to join the congregation. This aspiring congregant was baptized as an infant, a baptism which the church does not recognize. What ought this pastor do? He is far along enough in his studies to know what the Biblical teachings on baptism are. The aspirant was baptized in the Trinitarian manner, with water, in a church of which Lutherans have always recognized proper Christian Baptism (let's say Presbyterians, for argument's sake).

What is he to do?
posted by Kepler at 16:15 |


At 11/13/2006 04:58:00 PM, Blogger solarblogger

I first decided this issue from the "turned tables" perspective. I was reading Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail, and in Michael Anderson's chapter, he recounts a woman in his congregational meeting saying to him, after he had made a number of changes in their Baptist order of service, "I'm a Baptist. If I wanted to sit in silence before the service, chant the Psalms, and sing hymns in a minor key, I guess I'd become Episcopalian or something." As Anderson says, "I remember nodding to myself: Yes, I suppose that's what a person might have to do." He did. Rather quickly. He said he remained friends with the woman. (See Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail, p. 97)

Another friend and I have talked about how denominations ought to run exchange programs so that pastors can be helped to go where they fit better. Make the transition smoother, because it is in the best interests of all parties.


At 11/14/2006 11:38:00 AM, Blogger Kepler

I don't disagree in substance, but it sort of begs the question: when?

Does he leave as soon as he begins to question his denominations beliefs?

If he chooses to remain until such a time as he is comfortable leaving and/or is 100% sure, should Missouri continue to shepherd him?


At 11/14/2006 01:41:00 PM, Blogger solarblogger

I think that for any of these changes, there is a point when someone realizes he is not on the page of his current church and is on the page of the other. Perhaps not perfectly on the page. But substantially. As to timing, though, I think how dire it is depends on how radical the shift is. Is this one step over from where he was? Or two steps? Or further? Is his current ministry in large part destructive in the eyes of his new beliefs?

To use the shepherd analogy, does he have to take his sheep on unnecessary trips through wolf valley to keep his job? His question has got to be, "How long can I do this and still be a good shepherd?"


At 12/07/2006 04:11:00 PM, Blogger The Orthodox Lutheran

Being a former Presbyterian and converting to Lutheranism, I can sympathize with Pastor Fenton. Changing views is not an overnight thing. For me it was actually a process that took six years. The more I was learning, the more I was leaning towards Lutheranism, especially with the sacraments and liturgical worship. Yet, these things came in little by little as I was trying to fully grasp them, in order that I knew for sure. I became fully convinced a year before leaving. But there was much involved, I was an adult Sunday School teacher, and an ordained elder. I had many friends there and a very large Sunday School class. I was very influential with the other elders and many came to me for doctrinal help. But during that year it came to this, I was only giving lip service to Presbyterianism, and in my heart I was yearning so badly to become part of the LCMS. That is when I knew it was time to leave. Hard to explain to others who have not gone through this.


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