I Retract my “Clarifying the Issues” Paper?
will not retract my paper unless I am shown that I have written what is
untrue or contrary to God’s word. If I am not shown this I cannot
in conscience retract because it would be to submit to an extra-biblical
authority on a matter where the Scriptures alone must judge. Those
who argue a retraction for the sake of peace are arguing against FC SD
Rule and Norm, paragraph 3: “We pledge ourselves to the prophetic and
apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the pure and clear
fountain of Israel, which is the
only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be
judged and evaluated.” The
synod and its president are under the word of God.
Our teachers and teaching must all submit to the judgment of the
long as President Moldstad refuses even to attempt to show that I have
said anything that is untrue or contrary to God’s word in my
“Clarifying the Issues” paper I am bound by my ordination vow to
refuse to retract, recant, or withdraw this paper or any portion of it.
When President Moldstad demands that I retract my paper as a
condition for membership in the ELS without showing me where in my paper I
have spoken falsely or taught anything against God’s word he sets
himself up above the word of God and demands obedience that belongs to God
alone. Our unconditional
subscription to the Lutheran Confessions requires that we use the Holy
Scriptures as the Confessions say the Scriptures must be used.
When we teach that the Bible “is the only true norm according to
which all teachers and teachings are to be judged and evaluated,” we are
thereby pledging ourselves to use the Holy Scriptures in the task of
judging all teachers and teachings. The
fact that the synod has adopted a doctrinal statement that it claims is in
agreement with the Scriptures does not acquit the synod of its
responsibility to appeal to the Scriptures when judging the teaching of
pastors who belong to the synod. Even
when synodically adopted doctrinal statements are entirely in agreement
with the Holy Scriptures, the Scriptures remain the norm of all doctrine,
not just in theory, but in actual practice.
my “Clarifying the Issues” paper I explained where and how the
synodically adopted doctrinal statement, “The Public Ministry of the
Word” (PCM document), presented theological opinions as divine doctrine
without demonstrating that these opinions were based on the clear
Scriptures. Where does the
Bible teach that whenever one Christian teaches
God’s word on behalf of other Christians this is divinely instituted?
Where does the Bible teach that one is “in” the divinely
instituted ministry of the word to this or that extent?
Where does the Bible teach that there is a “manifestation” of
the pastoral office that requires no preaching, no teaching, no forgiving
or retaining of sins, and no administration of the sacraments?
Where does the Bible teach anything about an office, bestowed by
God through the church, in which the teacher is forbidden to preside over
the assembly, preach to the entire congregation, and administer the
sacraments? I have challenged
President Moldstad and other supporters of the PCM document to show from
the Scriptures that these opinions are scriptural.
They have been unable to do so.
Yet, when I call these opinions unscriptural on account of the fact
that I cannot find them anywhere in the Bible, I am excluded from the
fellowship. When, after
fruitless efforts to persuade the President of the Synod to show me that
these and other theologoumena contained in the PCM document are biblical,
I say that I cannot acknowledge the adopted document as having any
authority over me, I am excluded from the fellowship for sowing seeds of
discord among brethren. But
this is a false charge. To
insist that all of our doctrinal assertions are grounded solidly in the
written word of God is not sowing seeds of discord.
It is to build up the brotherhood by driving us all to the pure and
clear fountain of Israel.
Moldstad has suspended me for sowing seeds of discord.
I reject this charge. I
have not sown seeds of discord. I
have appealed to the word of God. As
long as President Moldstad insists on my expulsion from the ELS without
showing me from the word of God where I have taught falsely, he sets
himself up above God’s word. It has become painfully obvious that President Moldstad
cannot answer my criticisms of the PCM document by an appeal to the
Scriptures. He can appeal
only to a synodically adopted document and argue that the synod has
spoken. By his actions,
President Moldstad has rejected the normative authority of the Holy
Scriptures. He has led many
“little ones” into sin. Meanwhile,
he and his supporters are blaming me for bringing division to the ELS and
to my former congregation by my stubborn refusal to retract my paper.
I believe that my refusal to retract or withdraw my paper unless
shown from God’s word where it is false is required of me by my
ordination vow. Before they
rescinded my call, I told my former congregation that if I were to retract
a doctrinal statement without being shown from God’s word where it was
in error I would thereby forfeit my right to preach God’s word to them
or to anyone else. Six months
later I am of the same opinion.
August 14, 2006