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Doctrinal differences are important to the Lutherans because at the root of every false doctrine is the devil, seeking to destroy the Gospel.

Sunday, June 04, 2006 AD

Conflict of Interest...

...I'm learning more about Lutheran church polity all the time. Here's a good example.

A pastor gets paid by the local congregation he serves.

The local congregation that supports the pastor differ on theological issues (women elders, abortion, open communion, etc.).

What does the pastor do?

If he confronts the local congregation and tells them to repent of their errors and they don't, could that affect his pay? As a young pastor this is critical (he may be supporting a family). As an old pastor he may be looking at a cut at his retirement.

If he allows the errors to continue, the pastor is being unfaithful to Scripture, the Lutheran confessions and his congregation.

I really don't know the answer: how does the church take care of it's pastors if the pastor and congregation don't agree?

How has the Lutheran church cared for it's pastors in the past? How has the Lutheran church removed the conflict of interest? Has it always been this way in the LCMS? American Lutheranism? Is German Lutheranism or Swedish Lutheranism different?

UPDATE: I forgot this possibility: An errant pastor and an errant congregation. This combo may be the deadliest because they are both comfortable in their sins - feeding each other incessantly - paying the pastor to tell them what they want to hear and the pastor not wanting to have his pay cut.

Again, I have no clue and seek answers.

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5 Comments:

  • This is one difference between the WELS and LCMS. LCMS churches are independent which is good to a point. When something like this comes up however (e.g. woman elder) there is no accountablilty except to themselves. Similarly, if a pastor is preaching false doctrine, he cannot be rebuked by another pastor. In the WELS, each church and pastor has accountability to their circuit, district, and synod. This takes the heat off of the pastor being the only one to rebuke his congregation because the circuit pastor and often district president are quickly involved. I personally believe the LCMS wouldn't have all the doctrinal differences and differences in practice that they have if they were structured differently.

    By Anonymous Rachel, at 6/04/2006 7:16 PM  

  • Rachel, there is accountability in the LCMS - it's called the Office of the Keys - and it's not practiced in many Lutheran synods.

    What I'm asking could apply to any Ludderan church (LCMS, WELS, ELS, etc.) that is structured this way: pay the pastor and he will tell you what you want to hear.

    Whereas if the pastor has no financial tie to the local congregation and when an error occurs the pastor is not influenced by a possible paycut.

    By Blogger The Terrible Swede, at 6/04/2006 9:33 PM  

  • Ron - If a pastor decides his theology based upon who signs his check instead of the vow he made to uphold Holy Scripture and our confessions, then he should not be a pastor - in our church or any other church.

    Wish

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/04/2006 11:24 PM  

  • I have to agree with Wish

    By Blogger CPA, at 6/05/2006 9:42 AM  

  • "Shouldn't be a pastor" and "isn't a pastor" don't always apply to the same person. German Lutheran churches were controlled by the government, so good luck looking there for examples. However, I think it's clear we need oversight beyond the congregational level.

    By Blogger Josh S, at 6/10/2006 7:56 PM  

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