LCMS Conventions Can Do Good
A while back I posted a bit of a downer quote about Synods and Conventions from St. Gregory of Nazianzus, but today’s post about conventions is much better, although at the time of those affairs it might not have have seemed so.
One of my predecessors here at Hamel is the Rev. GA Schieferdecker, seen above. He came over with the Saxons as a Candidate of Theology aboard the Copernicus and in 1854, while he was Pastor of Trinity, Altenburg, MO, he became the first President of the Missouri Synod’s Western District. However, by 1857 he became the first District President to be removed from office (along with his pastorate) for his false doctrine regarding chiliasm. Schieferdecker then joined the Iowa Synod, Trinity Congregation divided, and he founded Immanuel, Altenburg. Certainly there must have been personal sadness all around, the doctrine divided God’s people. Schieferdecker, as noted above, was part of the Saxon immigration and was a faithful evangelist and founder of congregations still in existence today.
At her Convention at Ft. Wayne, the Synod confessed the truth, (“We reject and damn all chiliasm” para. 329, 1857 Convention Proceedings), this was necessary and good. And more good came later from that confession: Pastor Schieferdecker repented, and was welcomed back to the Synod. God’s Word does work, as He promised. When the congregations- laymen and pastors of the Synod confess the truth, good things happen, although that might not be seen at the time. We are to fear, love and trust in God above all things, and we are to be found faithful. Through faithful confessing of God’s Word, even through a convention of the Synod, sinners have been brought to repentance, as one example, Pastor Schieferdecker. He died here in office in 1891 and is buried in our cemetery.
Other conventions have certainly done good. One can most famously point to 1973 when the Synod confessed the truth:
Resolved, That the Synod assert its continuing concern for "the conservation and promotion of the unity of the true faith" in accord with Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions; and be it further
Resolved, That the Synod repudiate that attitude toward Holy Scripture, particularly as regards its authority and clarity, which reduces to theological opinion or exegetical questions matters which are in fact clearly taught in Scripture (e.g., facticity of miracle accounts and their details; historicity of Adam and Eve as real persons; the fall of Adam and Eve into sin as real event, to which original sin and its imputation upon all succeeding generations of mankind must be traced; the historicity of every detail in the life of Jesus as recorded by the evangelists; predictive prophecies in the Old Testament which are in fact Messianic; the doctrine of angels; the Jonah account, etc.); and be it further
Resolved, That the Synod recognize that the matters referred to in the second resolved are in fact false doctrine running counter to the Holy Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions, and the synodical stance and for that reason "cannot be tolerated in the church of God, much less be excused and defended" (FC, SD, Preface,9) (1973, Resolution 3-09)
The result of that resolution in New Orleans is well known, and that result was certainly good. It is doubtful we will have any thing near the historic significance of the resolutions made by the Synod in 1973 or in Fort Wayne in 1857. However, delegates should take their duties with all seriousness and seek to confess God’s Word- His Truth, because good will come of it. Some we may see, some may not been seen for years to come or until our Lord comes again. But confessing the truth at a convention- that is always good. So in a couple weeks, let’s do that.