Full Text for God's Ministers, Their Calls, and Their Relationship To Each Other (Text)

i V i CONCORDIA I THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Announcement: T'hird ,4nnual Symposium ............................................ on the Lutheran Confessions 27 1 Rabbinical Lt'r-itlngs of the Earl) Christian Centuries and ....... Sew Testament interpretation Raymond F. Surburg 273 I God's Ministers. Their Callh. and Their ................ Relationship to Each Other Vernon H. Hark!. 286 ! ... I The Case of the Lost Luther Reference B-jar-ne W-Teigen 295 i The State of E~angeIisnl in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod ............ Eru in J . Kolb 3 10 ! An Application of Case Grammar to Tv.0 I ..................... Ne~b Testament Passages Theodore Mueller 320 .............................. A Reformation Hymn. Douglas .Judisch 326 ? ........... Opinion of the Llepartment of Systematic Theolog~r 2 7 Homiletical Studies .............................................................. 338 ...................................................................... Book Reviews .3?3 God's Ministers, Their Calls, and Their Relationship To Each Other Vernon H. Harley The Lutheran Confessions identify the ministry of the Word with the Office of the Keys and call it "a power given by Christ to the Church for binding and loosing sin."' They also remind us that this office was not given to Peter alone, nor the apostles as apostles, not to them as holders of a special ministerial class, but to the Church, to Christians who as believers have received the Holy Ghost.* It is of this ministry of the Word given to all i - believers that the Apology says: "Of all acts of worship that is the greatest, most holy, most necessary, and highest, which God has required as the highest in the First and Second Commandment, , namely, to preach the Word of God. For the ministry is the ' highest office in the Church. Now if this worship is omitted, how 1,' I i can there be knowledge of God, the doctrine of Christ, o r the GospelT93 In speaking of the highest office in the Church, the L, i Apology is not distinguishing between the ministry as carried out by the priesthood of all believers and by publicly called servants; rather, it is contrasting the ministry ofthe Word with other forms of worship, particularly with such offices and orders of worship set up by men but which are only indirectly connected with preaching the Gospel. These latter ministries are called "church polity and grades," "ecclesiastical orders," and "human traditions," while the "ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments" is termed "the highest ~ f f i c e . " ~ Our Confessions speak in this way because the Scriptures do. The apostles, for example, distinguish between "the ministry of the Word" (Acts 6:4) and serving tables and definitely consider the ministry of the Word the highest office. Ephesians4: 1 I f. and I Corinthians 12:28f. list various other ministries, not of the Word itself but auxiliary to it (e.g., caring for bodily wants), all gifts t o the Church. The Public Ministry In this treatise we are concerned primarily with thepublic exer- cise of these offices, namely, how they are carried out by called servants in behalf of others (von Gemeinschaftswegen). Here it is 1 essential to understand that the public ministry of the Word is : never optional. It is a divine institution. This--is not so with the pu63iGiercise of other ministries which we call auxiliary offices. God's Ministers 28 7 The public ministry of the Word embraces various forms or branches, such as apostles, preachers, evangelists, pastors, and professors. The original apostolic office embraced all of these; however, to none of the other branches has been given the exer- cise of the entire ministry of the Word or the Office of the Keys. 1 Each person's function is determined by his specific calling (Eph. 4: 10-1 3 and 1 Cor. 12:28f). Associated with the various divisions within the public ministry of the Word are usually other forms of ministry which may appear to be part and parcel of the "highest office," but which in reality are merely auxiliary offices (Hilfsaemter). In his Kirche und Amt Dr. C. F. W. __--_ Walther makes these points among others: The holy ministry (or pastoral office as he calls it) is ---- distinct from the priestly office of all believers; it is not humanly or arbitrarily, but divinely commanded and established; it is not set up above Christians, but is an office of service; its authority is spiritual and limited to preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments; it is conferred by God through the congregation as holder of ecclesiastical power by means of the call; it is a public office through which common rights of thespiritual priesthood are administered in behalf of all; this ministry is the highest office in the Church from which, as its stem, all other offices in the Church arise.5 Some misunderstanding, however, seems to have arisen among ~ i s s o u ~ - ~ ~ n o ; d ~ u t h ~ a n s to the effect that the parish pastorate has been identified with the total ministry -- ------ of --- the Wor-d;a position -Y - - which is alleged to be ~al ther 's . Some therefore have concluded A that thepastoi's office within a congregation is the only divinely appointed o=ee&d that the pastor, so understood; alone has supefiiion-by divine right over all other offices in the Church. According to this view, all authority of the ministry stems from the local congrCglion, which is held to be the only divinely hsti- tuted-enfi@-in-&eeChurch. - AITw~&ersc~leddbY synodi, districts, and boards have their o x ~ c e only by delegation of authority from the local congregations.6 Some even hold that such workers, including professors of theology, unless called by a specific con- gregation, have no divine calls. This position is usually supported with passages like Acts 2 0 : 2 $ ~ 7 : 5 , and Matthew 18:17. But when we look at these passages, it is quite obvious that the conclusions drawn q e faulty. -- We note that in the two first passages, as also in Phi l ippzsT3, --, the terms "elders" (presbyterom) and "overseers" ---- (episcopous) , are plural while "church''js singular. No one individual is over- -__ -- --- seer alone, or over other co-worker~, but together they oversee and feed the flock of God. The same is true in the Titus passage. 288 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY None of these passages insists that one pastor must oversee the whole congregation. There may have been one congregation at each place with various elders, or various congregations with one or more elders. The point being made is that the whole flock should be properly cared for, not that one man must be overseer. The various terms - minister, elder, shepherd, overseer - are used interchangeably in the New Testament for those who feed God's flock and labor in word and doctrine. It is noteworthy also that in Ephesians 4: 1 1 pastors and teachers are grouped together in fourth place after apostles, prophets and evangelists. Also in passages like 2 Timothy 1: 1 1, Matthew 28: 19, 2 Timothy 2:24, I Timothy 3:2, teaching is considered part of the ministry of the Word. Some of the misunderstanding may come from Dr. Walther's use of the terms Predigtamt and Pfarramt in a wider sense for the total ministry of the Word, when we usually understand them to apply to the more narrowly defined pastoral office; misunder- standing may also be due to the fact that Gemeinde can be rendered either Church or Congregation in English. But Dr. Wajtbr should -- - not be interpreted against himself. Under Thesis - - VIII he writes: ; Since incumbents of the public ministry have in their public office, for the sake of the common interests of their congre- gations, John 20:21-23, the administration of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, which the Church possesses originally and immediately, Matt. 16: 19, 18: 18, their office must neces- sarily be the highest office in the Church, and from it, as from the stem, all other offices must issue, inasmuch as the keys ; - embrace the entire authority of the Church.' In this same section Walther later distinguishes between those whom Scriptures call elders, bishops, rulers, stewards, and those who "do not labor in the Word and doctrine" and he identifies some of these latter as rulers, deacons, and administrators.8 He also mentions teachers, almoners, percentors, and calls them "aids to the ministry of preaching." Since teachers in our parochial schools do labor part of the time in Word and doctrine, it is only fair to understand Walt her as thinking of that part of the teacher's office which has to do with teaching so-called secular subjects as "auxiliary." In The Ministry of the Lutheran Teacher Dr. Arnold C. I Mueller shows quite conclusively that the position mXny atri- 1 *L . buETo- Walther and have called the Missouri position is not ac- - 3 \ tually Walther's. This writer believes Mueller is correct and that -. - .. I Walther would agree essentiallywith Mueller as%e presents a " diagr$m of the ministry - - . in -- the ---.. form -- . of - a tree. The roots make up God's Ministers 289 the priesthood of all believers from which the whole ministry grows. The trunk divides into three large branches designated Parish, Synod and District, and Other Individual and Coopera- tive Ventures, each with its own ramification of called and con- tracted workers.9 Mueller's illustration, however, lacks Walt her's distinction between the actual ministry of the Word and auxiliary offices supportive of, but not essentially part of, the ministry of the Word. Walther seems to hold that auxiliary offices are part of Christian ministry only in as much as they are supportive of and connected with the Word. Otherwise they are purely secular and belong in the area of civil righteousness which even an unbeliever can perform. However, when done among Christians, motivated by and in support of the Word, they become auxiliary offices even though they are not essentially an exercise of the Office of the Keys. We believe this distinction is essential since teaching of the Word on behalf of the Church is divinely instituted. There is, - - - * - -. however, no divine mandate t o carry out any auxiliary functions as __ a _ _ public-*ministry. - Any such auxiliary minist'ry - is - a . - - matter of Christian, __ - -- privilege and be16ngsmamong the "ordinances of men" which have ri'd -specific divine precept, but which, nevertheless, have divine approval when established and agreed upon among Christians (1 Pet. 2: 13; Matt. 18: 19-20). Unless this distinction is made, every individual responsibility would immediately become joint responsibility o f t he Church to be exercised in some form of .public ministry. Thus, we must differ from Dr. Mueller's idea that . ---*; the teaching of secular subjects by the parochial school teacher is , conducted on the same basis a s his teaching o f t he Word of God. '0 We d o not question, of course, thedivine right ofthose appointed t o these auxiliary offices to fulfil their duties any more than we would the divine right of government officials to rule once they have been elected. With Walt her we would hold that those offices filled by Christians in support of the Word are Christian vocations. This truth does not mean that Lutherans should abolish all dis- tinctions between the sacred and the secular, northat their public ministers should speak out o n every secular issue, as writers like Harvey Cox advocate. Ordinarily public servants of the Church have no authorization or call to speak and act in behalf of the church in civil affairs. The Augsburg Confession gives the Luth- eran position: "Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should teach publicly or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called."12 While this statement refers specifically to the ministry of the Word, it also indicates that a public servant of the Church should act in behalf of the church only when authorized 290 CONCORDIA TH EOLOGlCAL QUARTERLY to do so. Do public servants of the Church, then, ever have a call to function as ministers in social and political affairs? To answer this question Lutherans would have to distinguish with the Augustana between the "power of the Church and the power of the sword," both being of divine right, but not to be confused with each other, each to remain in its own realm. l 3 Therefore the only ,.authority which the Church as Church can confer upon'its ministers is the Office of the Keys. Any other power or authority is nbt really ecclesiastical power, but is derived from other sources and follows other lines of authority. Auxiliary Offices and Calls We should recognize the fact, however, that seldom is anyone called exclusively to the ministry of the Word. Calls, even to be pastor, usually include obligations of the nature of those which Dr. Walther calls Hilfsaemter, that is, auxiliary functions (see Acts 6: If. & Rom. 12: 6f.). These, too, are the business of the church in as much as they are necessary for the orderly conduct of worship and extension of the Kingdom. But when Christians decide to confer administrative, musical, or other auxiliary responsibilities upon their pastors and other servants of the Word, they do so not by divine command but by privilege with the assurance of God's blessing. Some assume that the terms "overseer," "bishop," and "elder" apply only to the parish pastor and that he therefore has the responsibility to oversee all other offices in the church. -_ This _ _ _ _ +-- simply is not -- -.. so. Those terms describe the relationship of the , miniSter%'of the Word to the flock, not to each other. Rank among workers can quickly become a problem if this is not understood and if responsibilities are not clearly defined when the workers are called. Problems of this nature sometimes arise when congrega- tions begin to work together, forming synods, calling professors, missionaries, editors, and officers. How do these relate to each lother? Do they have divine calls? Or can all such offices in the khurch be dispensed with as long as the "past orate" is mainf ained ijn the local congregation? - ...., . . The New ~estament certainly leaves no doubt about this matter. It presents our Lord training apostles, and giving prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, to the church (Eph. 4: 1 lf). It allows for new offices to be established as needs arise (Acts 6) and has the Lord providing gifts to the church for the benefit of all (1 Cor. 12), but expecting these gifts to be used for the edification of all in decency and order (1 Cor. 14). When new offices are established in the church, obviously the needs, the gifts supplied by the Lord, and the welfare of the "whole flock" are to be taken into consideration. All that is "wanting" is to be God's Ministers 29 1 supplied; but the church is & liberty to organize and distribute responsibilities, services, and manpower as God opens doors and provides the gifts to fill the needs. All, of course, is to be done by common agreement (Matt. 18: 18-20,l Tim. 5: 16). Essentially, the call is an authorization by the Church, through common agree- ment, to have a certain individual function in a specified capacity ' on its behalf. The Form of the Church But what about ministries established by church groups other than local congregations? Some appeal to Matthew 18:17 to . prove that the local congregation is the only divinely ordained j form of the church with the right to exercise the Office of the Keys I anbhence-to call servants of the Word. Matthew 18, however, says nothing about the form in which believers must organize to do their work. It does make plain that where even two or three believers are gathered together in Christ's Name, He is among them. Their authority to function as Chruch does not rest upon some form of orgunization but in the Word itself. Even what we ordinarily call excommunication is here made the responsibility of the individual Christian ("Let him beunto thee. . ."). Nofunc- tioning form - and that includes the congexation - is here given the right to become~aut6nomo1& with no obligations other than to establish the ministry among and for itself. Matthew 18 \, , / gives Christians the right to agree upon what basis they can best \ orgGize as long as ~hrist 's will as expressed-in Hi6 %reaT-Com- e- mission is kept in mind. We are to remember that the "Lordadded dairy t& the church such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). The ~ i b l e does not say: The Lord added to a specific functioning form such as should be saved. The right and duty to function beyond the limits of the local congregation are inherent in the priest hood of all believers. God's 7 : believers are His Church functioning, n-g~~merel~when they do so on a congregational level, but also when they function in the n a e - of the Lord to d o ~ i s work-er _-_ --- _ level, . a ~ i n ~ n % & r o u r Confessions are in agreement with this p o s i t i o m a l c a l d Articles clea-fly recognize that "the decisions of Synoa<% the d-=e---- pecrsions of the Church"14 and that the "ChTr?Si~to retain the 1 . ' . ,ow ' -a - - - -. h u t hardy to c@l; eject,- and ordain ministers. 30 human_ power t 1 canasrest this right from the ~hurch.1; That -- truth+w..uld apply also-to any-loca1-congrEj@iifhat began to assume dictatorial I ; . authority to its-panicinar organizational form; for the Office of i , 4 the Keys does not belong to any form of the functioning Church as such, but to the priesthood of all believers. The Altenberg 1 , Debate in which Dr. Walther was involved with Dr. Marbach 292 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY clearly shows this to be Walther's position. He did not argue that only a local congregation has the right to exercise the Office of the Keys, but that even this body of Christians separated from the Established Church of Germany also had this right.16 Conclusions A number of conclusions need to and can be drawn from the above observation: 1) The divinity of the call is not determined by a particular form of the funitioniiig church, but by the proper agreement between the calling group and the ones2called. Where such-.agreement exists between God's people, a call, whether from a local congre- gation, a synod, a board, o r even a conference for the duration of the conference, has the ingredients of a divine call. 2) Each particular functioning form of the church ought to respect agreemeiits'-madievwifh-other functioning forms and not interfere-with. m a ~ e ~ s o f the other. Synod does not call pastors for the respective congregations; neither does any one congregation call professors, executives, or district presidents for the whole church body. Each form exists to carry out responsibilities which 12 the priesthood of believers has agreed to perform on that level, never to usurp authority over believers as a power unto itself. When St. Paul writes, "All things are yours" (1 Cor. 3:22), this implies that Christians have also the right to establish those forms that best suit them for carrying out Christ's Great Commission as long as this is done with proper regard t o previous agreements with other Christians and in accord with Scriptural injunctions such as 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. 3) Ministers of Christ ought to know by what authority they function.-The only authority a minister of the Word - whether p"astor, theological professor, or president of a synod - has per se is that of the Word (Heb. 13: 17; 1 Thess. 5: 12). When other lines of authority are established in the organizational chuich, they are ( part of this wor lds order, not of the Kingdom of Grace, as Jesus \ makes plain in ark- 10: 12ff. Ministers o f t he Word are not lords over each other, nor over God's heritage (1 Peter 5: 1-4). Servants of the Word ought not appeal to this world's order (e.g., rank of office) when calling for obedience to the Word. 4) Where various ministries are involved, calls by necessity are limited; and the extent of service is determind by the call. Together the called servants are t o feed the whole flock, each respecting the other's call, not becoming a busybody in other men's affairs. I 5) Ordination could theoretically be administered t o all church- ,/ J r workers. _ . . But since-the common understanding of the term makes God's Ministers ordination the stamp of recognition which a church body places upon those certified to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments, such a practice would lead to confusion. 6) Synodical officials have their positio~s from the synod's entire constituency, not merely from c*@iigations of a pirticu- I --- lar district, even less from a single congregation. By the same token, no congregation is a completely independent unit. When an individual or congregation severs relations from a church body for reasons other than doctrinal error or ungodly practice, this is serious separatism. By becoming partakers of the Gospel we are brought into fellowship with other Christians, and it is the Chris- tian's responsibility to recognize and practice such fellowship in as far as this is feasible, except for the above-mentioned reasons. 7) The common understanding of the congregational bond is that regular preaching and teaching of the - Word . .,-. and - .- - administra- ,. ... " .c tion of the Sacraments is to take place at the congregational level. When these things take place at ad hoc gatherings , .,., - - (e.g., conven- d tions, conferences, youth gatherings, etc.), it would appear that ' they occur by common consent of those involved;bufihould - -.. not ,! - 4 be done in disregard of the primary relationships which we have in : - c- > local ---.--- ~ongregati~ns. ince dlstrict and synodical officers hold "--. their positions by the call q,consent of a larger body of Chris- tians,-it would appeafi6TZl@6ut"of ,- _.--____ _ _ _ ._ place _ _ ,, _-___-._ for _ an _ individual _.._i...l - -. con- -- gregation to issueJ~..persons,another call just in order to keep / that~iiianonihe clergy roster of Synod. The practice of referring discklina-y - ---- _matters to a congregation for disposition instead of dealing with them on the level on which they arise appears to be . not only frustrating but based upon a faultg. understanding of the nature of the Church. In conclusion, all ministers of the Word are to be reminded of the example of their Master who came not to be ministered unto, but to mhister and give His life as a ransom for many. Through their ministry He is gathering and sustaining His flock. In due time He will appear and they will receive their reward - a crown of glory that fades not away (I Peter 51-4). Footnotes I . The Smalcald Articles, VII; Concordia Triglorra (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), p. 493. Unless otherwise noted all references to the Lutheran Confessions are from this edition. 2. S.A., Of the Power and Primacy of the Pope, p. 51 1 . 3. Apology, XV, p. 327. 4. Ibid., XIII, p. 3 1 1 . 5 . William Dallman, W.H.T. Dau, and Th. Engelder, Walther andthe Church (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1938), p. 71f. 6. "Report of the Interim Committee," Concordia Theological Monthly, XXII, 2, p. If. 294 CONCORDlA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY 7. Walther and the Church, p. 78f. 8. Ibid. p. 79. 9. Arnold C. Mueller, The Ministry ofrhe Lutheran Teacher (St. Louis: Con- cordia Publishing House, 1964), pp. 78-79. 10. Ibid., pp. 10, 129-130. 1 I . Harvey Cox, The Secular City (New York: Macmillan, 1966), p. 246. 12. A.C., XIV, p.49;Ap.,XIV,p. 315. 13. A.C., XXVIII, pp. 84-85. 14. S.A. Of the Power and Primacy of the Pope, p. 521. 15. Ibid., p. 523. Note: In discussing Matthew 18, Dr. Walthersays; "No proof is needed to show that the Lord in this passage is speaking of a visibIe, parti- cular, local church. However, when immediately after these words the Lord proceeds thus: 'Verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,' v. 18, He manifestly delegates with these words also to each visible local church the keys of the kingdom of heaven, or that church power which, in Peter, He had given to His entire holy Church in Matt. 16:19" (Walther and the Church, p. 64; italics supplied). What Walther says needs no proof is precisely what many feel is not at all stated in the text. But ' even so, Walther does not deny that synods and other functioning forms of the church have the authority to calland exercise the Office of the Keys. He is arguing that the local congregation, regardless of how small, also has this -.power given to the "entire holy church." 16. Walter 0. Forster, Zion on the Mississippi (St. Louis: Concordia Publish- ing House, 1953), pp. 524-525. The author is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Fairmont, MN.