Full Text for Dogmatics 4- Volume 60 - What role do local congregations have in the calling procedure? (Video)

No. 60. >> What role do local congregations have in the calling procedure? And how does that relate to the church at large, that is the Synod? >>DR. KLAUS DETLEV SCHULZ: Nick, I want to begin by answering your question from a quotation that is taken from Walther's theses. And that is Thesis No. 6. And therein I think is the answer to that question that was just asked. The ministry of the Word, Walther says, is conferred by God through the congregation as the possessor of all ecclesiastical power. Or the power of the keys by means of its call which God himself has prescribed. Walther here tries to make the point, and I think it does in a good way, indicate that a congregation has the right to call a pastor. The ecclesiastical power is what he calls it. How do we come to that conclusion or how does he come to that conclusion? I think he looks at the congregation as a body of believers who, like the church at large, are given the authority by the Lord and are given the possession of the keys, which they, in turn, hand over to some individual who will then administer it to them as a community. That power exists in the congregation as I believe, also, it exists in the broader churches when they come together. We cannot deny that right of the congregation. And if we look at one certain document that is written in the Book of Concord in the Lutheran Confessions, the Treatise, I've just quoted it in view of the emergency situation in the previous question, here, again, we want to say a statement that Melanchthon has made that is frequently quoted in this context. For it is written in Paragraph 24 of the Treatise on the power and primacy of the Pope this statement. Melanchthon says: For having spoken of the keys in Matthew 18, Christ goes on to say wherever two or three agree on earth -- and he continues then -- thus, he grants the power of the keys principally and without mediation to the church. The power of the keys, it says here, are principally, ***principatus mediata, that is mediated from the church to the individual. Why does Melanchthon say this? In the context of what he writes here, namely, against the primacy of the Pope, Melanchthon wants to make the point that the church rather than the Pope as an individual or the bishops may consider themselves in possession of the keys. He does not want to say that everyone may now at random use them whenever they like. Anyone in the worship service stands up and says: Now I have the keys to administer. Remove the pastor. No. That's not what he says here. He just tries to indicate that there is a certain level at which we need to place the ministry. And the Office of the Keys. We cannot associate it merely with the authority of the Pope or the bishops. But we need to place it in the midst of the church. And there, also, where a congregation can be found. The church that is defined here rests on Matthew 18. We can say that in Matthew 18 there's described a situation in a congregation. So Matthew 18, perhaps, does indicate not just a church at large. But also, a congregation itself. There are further quotes that have helped us to understand that the church itself has been given the keys. When we go to the Treatise in Paragraph 66-67, we can see there that there's a statement being made that the church itself takes on the power to ordain, if bishops fail to do so. The churches retain their right to do so Melanchthon says clearly. Which churches does he mean? Well, we could say the Missouri Synod retains the right to do so. And it delegates and that right is also handed over to district presidents as a form of polity. And pastors may also ordain at the level of the congregations. So we understand here a combination of things. The keys given to the church. But as they are being handed over to an individual, a district president resides over their procedure by allowing the congregation to call an individual. But then he himself officiating at that ordination or asking somebody to stand in his stead to do so. In Paragraph 72 of the Treatise Melanchthon makes this statement: All this evidence makes clear that the church retains the right to choose an ordained minister -- ministers. Consequently, when bishops either become erratical or unwilling to ordain, the churches are compelled by divine right to ordain pastors and ministers for themselves. I think that statement, again, can be interpreted in two ways. The church at large. The Synod. Sometimes the Synod would send out missionaries to the foreign mission field. And claim the right for itself at a convention to send out and commission an individual. On other occasions, and generally this is the rule, that the congregation itself calls somebody and ordains them through an officiating district president or a pastor called in his name. Namely, then to have him ordained. And to serve in their midst. I want to make one additional point to this arrangement that we have in the Missouri Synod. When we looked at Acts 14 Verse 21 to 23, we saw that a congregation existed by which -- at which Paul and Barnabas installed elders. It seems that the congregation can assume that right to ordain individuals with the help of people such as pastors being present in their midst. And usually when we look upon the procedure, we will usually see pastors gathered around an individual laying hands on him. I hope to speak on that point a little later. But we need to also affirm that this is an arrangement of policy when we ask somebody such as the district president together with the congregation to arrange the calling procedure. In Europe and other Lutheran churches there, it is more customary to rely on the bishop to install an individual to say to a congregation: We have somebody here for you. Why don't you take him? And the congregation will affirm that suggestion. In other words, its autonomy is not as great as it is expressed here in the United States in the Missouri Synod. Such autonomy is one of arrangement I believe where the Synod comes together with the congregation and the districts. And in view of finding the best polity available try to serve a congregation as best as it can. At the same time do justice to the broader assembly of congregations, which is called the Missouri Synod.