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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Yet more on syncretism, specifically on the Lutheran affair - Canadians and Benke 

Yes, I know that I posted a lot on syncretism yesterday (1 2 3 4 5), and that the first and third posts in particular discussed the David Benke situation. However, more recently, the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) handling of the situation has brought it into conflict with a conservative Canadian Lutheran church:

Canadian Lutherans pointed out at their convention last month that they are in church fellowship with the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. As such, since President Kieschnick and the Committee on Constitutional Matters approved worshiping with those who deny Christ, that makes the Canadian Lutheran Church partners in the sin....

Being a church body with committees and junk, the Lutheran Church in Canada considered two resolutions:


To Offer Fraternal Admonishment to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

WHEREAS it is the nature of church fellowship that those who are part of that fellowship are co-responsible for
all public doctrine and practice of the member church bodies; and

WHEREAS altar and pulpit Fellowship is currently enjoyed by Lutheran Church–Canada and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod; and

WHEREAS this fellowship is based on a complete agreement in doctrine, including matters dealing with unionism and syncretism; and

WHEREAS according to the constitutions of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and Lutheran Church–Canada, conditions for acquiring and holding membership in the Synod, include the renunciation of unionism and syncretism of every description (Article IV:2); and

WHEREAS The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has approved the participation of the president of the Atlantic District of the LCMS in a unionistic worship service that included not only representatives of heterodox church bodies but also Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Jews; and

WHEREAS the LCMS Commission on Constitutional Matters has made an official binding decision declaring that since the president of that district acted on the advice of his ecclesiastical supervisor he cannot be charged with violating God’s Sacred Word thereby placing the opinion of the ecclesiastical supervisor above the opinions of the Word of God; and

WHEREAS to remain silent and to fail to warn our sister church body about the nature of its sin is not only unloving but also makes Lutheran Church–Canada a participant of that sin (Ezekiel 33:8-9); and

WHEREAS if this matter is not resolved it might jeopardize the fellowship that Lutheran Church–Canada enjoys with The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod which has been blessed in so many ways; therefore be it

RESOLVED that Lutheran Church–Canada meeting in convention fraternally admonish our sister church body, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod to adhere to the confessional standards of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and renounce all forms of syncretism and unionism; and be it further

RESOLVED that the members of Lutheran Church–Canada offer prayers to God that the unity of the holy catholic church would be manifested by the church on earth as it renounces all sin and error and subscribes unconditionally to Holy Word of God and the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

First Lutheran Church, Palmer Rapids ON
Dennis Maschke, chair
Frida Mantifel, secretary
Rev. Tom Korcok, interim pastor
Also: Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pembroke ON
Chris Knight, chair
Maryanne Mask, secretary
Rev. Tom Korcok, pastor


To Express Fraternal Concern for the LCMS

WHEREAS Holy Scripture tells us to admonish the erring brother for the sake of his salvation (Jam 5:19-20); and

WHEREAS the participation of Rev. David Benke at the Prayer for America, an inter-faith worship service, which followed the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, violates the teaching of Holy Scripture (Ex 23; 1 Cor 8:4; Is 42:8), and the Synodical Handbook; and

WHEREAS this violation of Holy Scripture was not publicly condemned by the most recent convention of the LCMS; and

WHEREAS failure to clearly confess the truth of Holy Scripture on this issue creates confusion in our own church body (1 Cor 14:8-9); therefore be it

RESOLVED that Lutheran Church–Canada in Convention express her fraternal concern of this violation of Holy Scripture to the LCMS; and be it finally

RESOLVED that we keep our sister Synod, the LCMS, in our prayers.

Hanover Circuit, East District
Kim Kuhl, chair
Rev. David Saar, Hanover Circuit Counsellor

At least one LCMS member (Bob) praised the content of Overture 1.08:

Which is, in the opinion of this humble blogger, the most salutary thing to come from north of the border since hockey.

It turns out that, according again to Bob, neither 1.08 or 1.09 were considered (note the reference to a "Baal Game" at Yankee Stadium):

It seems- unfortunately- that this report of the passage of a resolution by the Lutheran Church-Canada admonishing the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for its endorsement of Atlantic District President David Benke's participation in the syncretistic Yankee Stadium "Baal Game" worship service in the aftermath of 9/11 was in error.

The overture quoted- actually a proposal for a resolution, and never voted upon as such - was part of the basis for resolution of admonition which was, in fact, defeated.

Here's the resolution that reportedly did pass:

Resolution 05.1.08
To Respond to Concerns Regarding Unionism and Syncretism
Ref. Overtures 1.08, 1.09, 1.14, 1.16, Report of the Synodical President in the 2002 Synodical Workbook

Whereas Lutheran Church-Canada in its current constitution states:

Article VI Conditions of Membership

Conditions for acquiring and holding membership in Lutheran Church-Canada are:

2. renunciation of unionism and syncretism of every description, such as:
a. serving congregations of mixed confession, as such, by pastors;
b. taking part in the services and sacramental rites of heterodox congregations or of congregations of mixed confession; participating in heterodox tract and missionary activities; and

Whereas (here the corresponding section of the LCMS constitution, which is virtually identical in wording, is quoted) and

Whereas the public confession of both LCC and LCMS has not changed; and

Whereas the "Yankee Stadium event" has caused concern for many within Lutheran Church-Canada; and

Whereas the Synodical President according to the responsibilities entrusted to him has expressed these concerns to President Kieschnick (see Report of the Synodical President in the 2002 Convention Workbook); therefore be it

Resolved that Lutheran Church-Canada, together with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, continue to encourage one another, through the office of our respective Synodical Presidents, to remain faithful to Scripture and the Confessions, particularly in these matters.

From the St. Peter's (Brooklyn) website, here are some comments from Pastor Benke himself, from approximately 2004. First, an introduction:

This paper was presented by Pastor Benke at a conference of the Daystar organization in early January in St. Louis. When we read the "version" of the paper that was transmitted through a publication called "Christian News" that is sent without subscription to our church every week, we decided to print the entire paper on our website so that readers might see the paper in its totality.

The publication Christian News has been seeking to have Pastor Benke removed from the clergy roster of the Missouri Synod for a long time. It is not interested in the truth, but as far as we can tell either in power or vengeance. Therefore, whatever Pastor Benke says is distorted. The version of his paper in "Christian News" is chopped up, diced and sliced. Pastor Benke's paper as you read it in its full version will tell you a whole different story:

Pastor Benke is not and never has been a "universalist," even though Christian News commits slander and libel by calling him one.

Pastor Benke is strongly pro-life and has performed that ministry in Brooklyn and New York City for a long time

Pastor Benke believes in mission to any and everyone at every opportunity, because that is the Will of God

Pastor Benke practices what he preaches and is prepared to back up his actions with the full authority of the Bible and the Lutheran writings

And, here's my quote (chopped up, diced, and sliced) from the paper:

A few LCMS clergy have compared Yankee Stadium, for instance, to the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Had they been there, they would have thundered down polemic against the unbelievers assembled on the podium. They wanted me to do the same. The Apostle Paul and the great majority of the early church witness in the pre-modern, pre-Christian world they lived in then chose instead to engage the world with the Gospel of hope. They did so through witness and attachment to the issue of the belief in God from nature and conscience that exists in every human heart (Acts 14 and Acts 17, among others, and Justin Martyr, among others). Tossing verbal grenades at the families of those buried under rubble would be from my personal perspective both inhumane and unbiblical....

That's the meaning of my life right now – to encourage dialog WHEREVER it can be found. I've sat in a yurt in a backyard in Louisville with a rabbi and an imam and listened as the rabbi grabbed me and said, "You know what I like about you? You stand up for your particularity! Somebody asks you to pray, you give your prayer in Jesus' Name and you refuse to back down when they say you shouldn't have been there and prayed that. We need more Jews like that!" Oddly enough, a Jewish woman out on Long Island called her Lutheran friend the day after Yankee Stadium and said, "Did you see that thing on TV yesterday – wow, was it long! But way at the end a guy got up and gave a prayer, nice and loud and ended in Jesus' Name. Right from the heart. That's what I needed to hear." And her flabbergasted friend said, "That was OUR guy." And brought the message of salvation to her Jewish friend....

In other words, even there in the civic arenas of the world, be they Areopogas or Temple of Diana or Yankee Stadium where the representatives of all religions gather, or even there in the bodega on the corner where the hang-out syncretist with a beer in a bag tells you, "Padre, we all believe in the same God," we must engage the world with the Gospel of hope! And say, "I agree with you, compadre. There is only one God. What do you know about God, hermano?" And grab a beer and let the dialog and the dialectic begin.

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