Over thirty years ago, on July 10, 1977, as part of the ordination service I was asked: “Will you preach and teach the Word of God in accordance with the Confessions of the Church, and will you administer the Holy Sacraments after the ordinance of Christ?” My answer to that question was: Yes, by the help of God.”more
In his article entitled "Fear Takes on Flesh in the ELCIC," Solid Ground President Ed Skutshek made reference to the plight of seven members of a congregation in the BC Synod who were excluded from membership in that congregation and denied the Sacraments. Many of our subscribers have requested further information on he disciplinary process which led to the harshest discipline permitted by the governing documents of an ELCIC congregation. Mr. Everly Lutz, one of those excluded members, has prepared an account of the events which led up to this most serious discipline.
Please follow this link to Mr. Lutz's article entitled "Our Side of the Story."
December 14, 2007
Pastor Alan’s Address to the Congregational Meeting October 13, 2007
Over thirty years ago, on July 10, 1977, as part of the ordination service I was asked: “Will you preach and teach the Word of God in accordance with the Confessions of the Church, and will you administer the Holy Sacraments after the ordinance of Christ?” My answer to that question was: Yes, by the help of God.”
It causes me great anguish that the church today is putting me in a position of having to choose between being faithful to the Scriptures as I have been taught or to go with a different interpretation, explanation and application of the Scripture which I cannot understand. Years ago, when in conversation with a pastor regarding the Scriptures, I made the comment that so many parts of the Scripture were beyond understanding. The wise pastor advised me: “How are you doing with the parts you can understand?” It was and remains with awe and respect that I read the verse of Rev. 22:19 which says: “And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
Over the years, I have been called upon to take a stand upon many issues. In some cases, I have been called upon as a Christian and as a pastor to choose my battles. I have tried to limit the battles to the issues significant in terms of eternity. In keeping with the example of Martin Luther, I am convinced by the Spirit and the Word that there are some directions I cannot go. For “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) I accept the Scriptures as God’s Word which is authoritative and definitive for guiding me in the Christian life.
However, rather than asking how the Scriptures define life issues in our present day, it appears these very Scriptures are under scrutiny as some ask: “Did God really say?” or “Did God really mean?” What does it mean in our day that the Word of God is living and active? For “...the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13) Even the Scriptures describe a time when the authority of the Scriptures would be challenged. “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word: be prepared in season and out of season: correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardships, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5) I do not want to challenge the Scriptures but rather pray for a willingness to allow the Scriptures and Spirit to change me into the person God created me to be.
As God’s people, each of us is leaving a legacy, a witness to family, friends, community and the world as to where we stand. I appreciate my heritage in being part of a church which upheld the authority and uniqueness of the Scriptures as the divinely inspired and inerrant Word of God. It causes me great anguish to come to a choice where I have to choose between the church which I grew up in, a church and predecessor church where I have served for thirty years as a pastor, and the Word of God as it has been proclaimed over the centuries. However, one’s legacy and witness is not only determined on origin but also by the choices and direction which one has made. Not only will we be remembered for where we came from, but even more by who we are, the choices we made and the direction we are heading. It is the direction I am heading which is most significant in terms of eternity. I will not be judged on my origin or where I used to stand but rather on where I am in faith and obedience which determine where I will be heading at the time of my passing.
Family, friends, community and the world are watching. As spoken in 2 Corinthians 11:4, “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” I am saying “enough!” I will not put up with or be silent on where the church is heading. Being convinced, convicted and committed to Jesus Christ as foretold in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament, I say enough to the new interpretation, explanation and application of the Scripture which is prominent in the church today. I am convinced, convicted and committed to the proclamation of the good news of Christ Jesus for life and salvation. In the confusion of where the church stands and is going today, I must take a stand for I am convinced eternity is at stake. Souls may be lost for eternity because of ambiguity, confusion, conflict and compromise.
Today, I have chosen to take a stand. The boldness with which I speak might be offensive to some, but in relation to God to whom I must give account, I am convinced it is not only the right but proper thing to do. I do not want to be like Peter, who in the heat of the moment, for whatever reason wavered in the courtyard the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested. “While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. ‘You also were with that Nazarene Jesus,’ she said. But he denied it, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about,’ he said, and went out into the entryway. When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, ‘This fellow is one of them.’ Again, he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, ‘Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’ He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know this man you are talking about.’” (Mark 14:66-71) Not only the church, but also our families, friends, community and world are watching closely to see where we will stand. I know, believe and trust in the man Jesus who “...answered. ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6) While I am convinced few in the church would argue the validity of those words, I have seen a new and different interpretation, explanation and application of even this Scripture verse (John 14:6). Because of past presentations and conversations among colleagues in ministry, I cannot say with assurance that we in the church at large today are in agreement on even these few words.
I cannot and will not tell you how to vote today. However, as your pastor, I want to be clear on where I stand. I regret that I have had to speak such words but in the example of Scripture and Martin Luther, it is important for you to know where I stand. Even now, I do not know what the future will bring for this congregation or for me as a pastor but I stand in confidence on the assurance of the God who is faithful and His Scripture: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work for the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
To the question which was put to me in the presence of God and His people over thirty years ago: “Will you preach and teach the Word of God in accordance with the Confessions of the Church, and will you administer the Holy Sacraments after the ordinance of Christ?,” my answer remains, “Yes, by the help of God.”
Let us pray:
“O God of faithfulness and love, we thank you for Christ Jesus through whom we have been forgiven, reconciled and restored in a relationship with You. Guide us now in that relationship in helping us to take a stand. Show us where to stand on the Scriptures and in Christ Jesus, in His name we pray. Amen.
Pastor Alan Boerner
13 October 2007
Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Mission, BC