Full Text for Dogmatics 4- Volume 59 - What constitutes an emergency as it relates to the ministry? (Video)

No. 59. >> I have noticed on a number of occasions when we speak about ministry that the case of emergency is raised. Describe for me, please, such a situation. What constitutes an emergency? >>DR. KLAUS DETLEV SCHULZ: Eric, this question that you ask is an important one because it can be implemented and in some cases it has to be implemented. And the circumstances to define an emergency situation need to be clarified, also. What is it? Let me give you an example maybe. And that, perhaps, could explain it best. We were, for example, in the time after the second World War looking at a desolate situation for the churches in Russia in the Communist Era. They lost many pastors through the persecution by Stalin. In fact, all pastors of the Lutheran churches were eliminated in the Soviet Union. These Christian churches under the communist rule now had no pastors. So the question was asked: Who can continue the ministry? And they looked at men, all those that had been confirmed, and these men then had to stand up and serve as pastors. Even though they had no proper education. And even though they had not been ordained. But in such a case, there was a desperate need for the Word of God to continue. People would have been without God's Word. And it was necessary at that time to establish an emergency situation. And allowed people to change the rules that normally are. This is what I would consider a good example of what an emergency situation is. Now that the Soviet Union has stopped to rule the same way as it did before 1998 -- 1990, we now see a circumstance being put in place which allows the church to go along their regular route of actually calling pastors through the proper education. And allowing them to be ordained publicly so that they won't -- because they no longer will be persecuted. We have one emergency situation being touched on in the Book of Concord in our Lutheran Confessions. It is written by Melanchthon: The Treatise. And therein, in the Paragraph 67, we have given an example by Melanchthon on what's an emergency situation, what constitutes it. And he gives you that example of Augustine that the church great father has already used. There he says: Therefore, where the true church is, there must also be the right of choosing and ordaining pastors. Just as in an emergency, even a layperson grants absolution and becomes the minister or pastor of another. So Augustine tells the story of two Christians in a boat. One of whom baptized the other, a catechumen. And then the later having been baptized absolved the former. What does Melanchthon really say here? Well, it seems to me that in this case all of the regular circumstances fell away. There were two men on the boat. One wanted to receive absolution. So he baptized the other. And the other one then stepped forward and absolved him. Today in our church we might look at certain circumstances where such things could happen. Perhaps in Alaska there are remote places where there are Christian communities which cannot sustain the full pastoral office and afford a salary to pay for an individual to serve full time. We can say, therefore, that, perhaps, therein exists an emergency situation that needs to be addressed. Well, we need to understand that in such cases where an emergency situation starts and begins, it also needs to end at a certain point in time. It cannot last forever. Otherwise, it no longer would serve and be understood as an emergency. If a person now happens to find himself in such a position where he's been asked to serve, say now he finds himself in the worship service after the pastor has collapsed of a heart attack and has to continue the ministry of preaching and of administering the Lord's Supper to the people there, say now some -- a layperson is called to do that. In what capacity is he acting there? Walther in his pastorala has made it clear that first, if the Word is being preached and if the sacraments should be administered, be it baptism or the Lord's Supper, it should be regarded at that moment efficacious, as well. Even if administered by a layperson. That is the first point that we made. And it rests on the theology of the Word. Saying, namely -- and I've mentioned this before in one of my answers to a question -- that the Word tells us that it is efficacious because the Holy Spirit works through it. And it cannot be changed because this or that person administers it. Secondly, if somebody does the Lord's Supper or preaches on the pulpit and is not ordained, in what capacity as he doing it as a person? Well, Walther seems to make the point there in the pastorala, also, that this individual resides in the office while doing it. And he, also, then suggests that should there be a time when the pastor who was properly called in that office be absent, that such a ministry, that temporary situation that we define as an emergency, may continue. But Walther is very cautious to say that this shouldn't continue endlessly. But says as soon as the pastor recovered from his heart attack, he should then be reinstated. And that person who has served them as an emergency preacher should then be restored into the laity, into the membership of the church. I think that is a good advice to follow. We as a Missouri Synod are very fortunate that we have two seminaries and DELTO programs that now address the need for pastors in remote areas. So it is difficult to claim that we today find ourselves in an emergency situation. It is hard to understand how we with technology and the means of travel cannot provide people with the means of grace by supervised and administered by properly called and ordained servants of the Word. I did some research on this question about the emergency situation. And also found an example in the writings of Martin Luther. On one occasion some Christians who found themselves under the Zwinglian, that is the Reformed, stranglehold in the city of Augsburg in Germany, these Christians that considered themselves Lutheran wrote to Luther and said: It is not permitted for us in the context that we find ourselves in Augsburg to celebrate the Lord's Supper in the Lutheran way. And they asked Luther whether it would not be possible for someone by the name of Casper Hoover, who was a house father, to celebrate the Lord's Supper at his home together with the people gathered there. Martin Luther investigated that question and came up with this answer. He said and wrote to them in saying: We cannot consider that situation an emergency. And even if it is, I am not willing to grant you those that consider themselves here now under the stranglehold of the Reformed position to celebrate the Lord's Supper apart from the worshiping community. And he would say that the house father is in that regard a private person who is not publicly called to administer the Lord's Supper. And what Luther then said is this. He said that these Christians there in Augsburg should consider themselves being in Babylonian captivity. That means they should resort to the Word being preached and find consolation therein. Until such circumstances exist where they can actually again return to the situation of celebrating the Lord's Supper according to the Lutheran understanding. Peter ***Muntz, a famous scholar on Luther, therefore, said, that in his investigation on the theology of Luther, there never existed an emergency Lord's Supper or Holy Communion. In one of his writings, Martin Luther, however, made a very important point. And I do believe that this also pertains to the question about the emergency situation. In 1523 Martin Luther wrote a document called: The Right and Power of a Christian Congregation or Community to Call a Pastor. In this document we read that if a Christian should find himself being held in captivity by the Turkish rule or by the Turkish army as a prisoner of war and that was at this time in those years quite a reality that could come about. For we know that south of the Alps in Vienna, the Turks already kept taking the city captive. What is now the task of that Christian who finds himself as prisoner of war in the Turkish army? Well, Luther is quite clear. He must go and seize the Word, seize that opportunity and preach to them the Gospel. So Luther is clear: Where there is no preacher to be found, that someone who is a layperson may consider himself as someone who has been asked and called by that situation to actually step forward and preach the Gospel to the people. As soon, of course, as a congregation starts to emerge and be founded, these emergency situations, also for the prisoner of war, falls away. Because now as a congregation has emerged, it is now given the right to vote and elect a pastor for themselves, who will then be considered properly called and ordained for the ministry.