Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Do we really need this?

Well, my year of vicarage is almost over. In two weeks I will be heading back to St. Louis to begin my last year of seminary.

I have learned a lot this year. One thing I have learned is how divisions within our church body are threatening to tear it apart.

Anyone who knows me knows how very conservative and confessional I am. I am Lutheran for a reason…IT IS RIGHT! But even my firm convictions and conservative ideaology have not shielded me from the St. Louis stigma.

If you are reading this and know anything about either of the seminaries, you know what I am talking about. It is assumed that St. Louis grads are rampant liberals bent on changing the church and ripping up the Confessions, while it is also assumed that Ft. Wayne grads are intent on taking us back to the dark ages of the church and snuffing out the light of the Gospel once and for all.

This kind of prejudice may not be held by everyone, but it is certainly prevalent in subtle ways in many grads from both of our esteemed seminaries. I even had a pastor tell me that he would no longer take vicars from St. Louis because they did not know what it meant to be Lutheran. I have heard other pastors say that they would never take a Ft. Wayne vicar out of fear of being turned in to the doctrinal gestapo.

The same is true with congregations looking for a Pastor. Some refuse to take one from one seminary because of ignorant assumptions about which one is more “Lutheran.”

It saddens me to think that I would be overlooked or looked down upon because my formation as a pastor took place in the wrong geographical location.

All I ask is that anyone who reads this and is a Lutheran in the Missouri Synod would think before they say something negative about either seminary. Both of the seminaries produce excellent and faithful ministers and servants of God’s Word. Both produce liberals and poor excuses for a holder of the office of the Holy Ministry. Both are human institutions through which God works to supply His Church with men to serve Her.


kerner said...

St. James:

Well, all good things must come to an end (on earth, anyway). I hope you take to getting back to your studies well. I wouldn't; I always hated classroom instruction and much preferred hands on training.

You are right about the division among the LCMS clergy and laity. It seems a lot less pronounced here in the upper midwest. I wasn't really aware of it until I started reading Lutheran blogs a few months ago. Now I see that the division is to the point that some are talking about actually dividing. That is so utterly tragic. First because (although I usually dislike the operations of any large organization) we really need a synod for missions and the maintenance of seminaries and colleges, etc. But, it is also tragic because, whether they realize it or not, each side of this controversy needs the other to keep both from veering off too far.

I have noticed that Lutheran Bloggers are mostly Ft. Wayne guys. I think this is a reason your blog gets fewer comments than a lot of others; you're not in the club. (I DID think about whether to say this here, but I still decided to do it). That's a shame, too, because this is a good blog. Your theology is as confessional as anybody's, and your writing is really good. I particularly liked Pat Robertson and the bean and potato burrito. And anybody who has the sense of humor to appreciate despair.com will definitely be an asset to the clergy (trust me, humor is not their long suit), but I digress.

You are doing well to follow your own conscience here. Sometimes you just have to look to the Lord and take comfort from the fact that the only one there with you in that lifeboat is Him.

My best to the lovely and gracious Mrs. Hoosier.


Whey Lay said...

Your observations on the biases that exist is correct. Two years ago when my congregation was calling a vicar, our pastor (a St. Louis grad) was solidly against us accepting anyone from Ft.Wayne. (those people are too extreme, was the comment I believe). We accepted a vicar from there anyway and was blessed with a wonderful vicar for a year. Our services even became more traditional during this time. This was my first exposure to this thinking though and as laity found it odd, since I thought all the LCMS seminaries would be the same.
My point is, laity are mostly unaware of the differences. They will be looking for a pastor that preaches or fits their style or wants, whatever that may be. Only those who have been to seminary will most likely have an opinion, since they are kind of on the "inside" so to speak.
Having read your bloggs and thoughts I have no doubt that you will be a blessing wherever you go. I pray that God uses you in a way that makes best use of your faith and gives you peace.

Jim Roemke said...

Thank you both for your words of encouragement. It is for me the greatest joy and honor to serve God's Church and His people as a Vicar, and I can only imagine how much more wonderful it will be to be a called and ordained servant of the Word!

BE OFF Ye scurvy dog!! said...

Yarrrr! Agreee!!!!