Full Text for Dogmatics 4- Volume 57 - Why then do we have in our church licensed deacons and calls extended to individuals who preach but are not ordained? What about alternate programs like DELTO and SMP? (Video)

No. 57. >> If what you say is true, why then do we have in our church licensed deacons and calls extended to individuals who preach but are not ordained? I've also noticed that the education at seminaries is not the same for every person who enters the ministry. For instance, there's this DELTO program offered to people like me. There seem to be a number of variables for someone to enter the office. Could you please explain what this is all about? >>DR. KLAUS DETLEV SCHULZ: David, in my previous question and answer to that question, I have indicated that someone who wants to enter the ministry needs to go through a process. And part of that process is also the education. We have to say that a minister must be apt to teach. I think that is very clear. Because that's what we read in the letter to Timothy. And so the aptness to teach requires somebody to be educated in what Scripture teaches in theology. And our Lutheran theology is very complex. It requires us to understand and to explain it. And it is, therefore, very important that that education process is put in place before somebody enters the ministry. I strongly believe that the education cannot be seen as something that follows ordination. For a person who is apt to teach will have to -- will have to have undergone some kind of education. That does not mean that a person who is ordained should not continue his studies. Certainly it would be very important that you always remain in the study of God's Word. However, the requirement I believe for entering the ministry and being ordained would be a qualified and agreed upon by the Synod education program. Now, generally that is understood as being that provided by the two seminaries, both at Ft. Wayne and St. Louis. And mind you, there are two. We have some routes that are not all the same. Alternate route, for example, takes on students and gives them an education for two years before it releases them to the vicarage and finally to the congregation to serve as pastors. That is a short program of only two years. I am surprised that nobody picks that up as a wonderful means of putting in licensed deacons into the ministry. We have also then the master of divinity for those who have come from colleges and universities. Also those colleges that belong to our Synod. And then enter it and learn Greek and Hebrew and also are then given a chance after three years to go to vicarage. And then to return for a four year. This is a longer program. And it is also one way of putting individuals into the ministry. And as you have indicated now, we also have the DELTO program. The distance learning that then leads to ordination. We hope that all those that serve congregations are enrolled in DELTO programs will also be given an opportunity to come to the seminary. And I believe that opportunity is given. This DELTO leading to ordination, this program, is one by extension. And in many ways, we as professors appreciate usually that we are able to see a student and be directly involved with them in person so that we know who we teach. And the student himself also has this wonderful experience of sharing his learning together with the person, his professor. However, distance education is one that understands that we are living today in the 21st Century. Technology allows us to follow that route. And also we are aware, that was especially at the convention of 1989 at Wichita, that it was passed that we may license individuals for ministry in the church. In other words, those that may then preach in the church, who are not ordained but licensed usually by the District president. We realize that this is an important step in the church that was taken. And it's a step in the direction that many lament as one that should not have been taken, especially in view of the fact that the founding fathers of the Missouri Synod, C.F.W. Walther, especially were not in favor of licensing individuals into the ministry. They considered licensing a form of a temporary call that is extended to somebody and then removed. So after 1989, after Wichita, the convention there, when the licensing of deacons was passed and accepted in the resolution, we are now trying to correct that -- that resolution by saying that: Let's pick up these licensed deacons and give them a good education that they then are then qualified enough for ordination. So what we are trying to say is that it is important to continue education for such individuals as those who are licensed so that they may enter the ministry and be given a proper ordination. That is a process that is being put in place. And it is hopefully one that will address the situation that is prevalent in the Missouri Synod. We are aware of the shortages of pastors somewhere, in some places. We are also aware, however, that many congregations prefer to have licensed deacons in their midst rather than somebody who is a fully professional ordained pastor. It is far more expensive, perhaps, to have them than a bivocational minister who is still serving the congregation as somebody who is in a vocation other than that of Word and sacrament ministry. So our church needs to discuss this. And needs to see, however, that education is not written in the Bible. The steps are not there and clearly given. However, we would like to say that while it is a negotiable, we, however, need to negotiate in such a way that it will give satisfaction to all and especially to the ministry of Word and sacrament that as I've explained before is the one to which the Lord has called us and to which we will have to be always accountable to. I have spoken previously, also, namely, about the very fact that congregations join the Synod precisely for the fact that they would like education taking place centrally. That is, sanctioned by the congregations and also passed officially by the Synod itself. In other words, what we do not approve of I believe as a Synod is that congregations stand up on their own individually in a radical form of congregationalism to elect its own individual leaders and have those perform Word and sacrament ministry without the approval of the District president. And without the approval of the Synod. Our seminaries have been put in place precisely for the purpose of agreeing with the general consensus that we need to educate pastors who are then put in the congregations who are trained in such a way that we all can agree upon on the quality of their education. And also that they all may find that such individuals are those that have been given an equal opportunity to study God's Word at a place provided for them such as seminaries. There is an opportunity for education in our church. And we all would like to give everyone the best education possible. Surely nobody would like to be given only something that is minimal and inferior to others. That has huge psychological implications, as well. Some might eventually land up unhappy for only having been receiving that education at a minimum level. And therefore, I personally would always like to encourage those in the DELTO program to continue their education. And to bring that to a completion. So that when they stand in front of the congregation and express the forgiveness of sins in the common absolution and confession where they say: I, as an ordained servant, that they may speak that with a conviction that they themselves have been taken up into that stage of ordination. An important point that is also related to the issue of licensed deacons is that the Church Missouri Synod especially has always said that temporary calls are one that cannot be put in place in the congregation. In other words, the congregation at its own whim cannot call somebody and then dispose of them after a certain period of time. Afterall, we need to know that the Lord Jesus Christ calls somebody to the ministry and the church serves as the vehicle to put somebody into that office. So there must be clearly stated reasons for a call to be terminated. And there must be also a good calling procedure put in place that enables the pastor to take on a call to another congregation if he wishes to do so. But temporary calls are those calls that fly against those that understand ministry to be those services in the church for all times. As long as the church exists, the church needs to accept the fact that there are individuals called to the ministry. Temporary calls, therefore, are important acts in the church that have been practiced in the past and also have been associated with licensing. And Walther in his pastoral ministry has always enunciated and clearly expressed his opinion on this. And we as a church try to take those words seriously that he says. Namely, that we should put in place a ministry that lasts longer and always sees the pastors are in a position of authority over a longer period of time than just as the congregation itself wishes them to be in that authority.