On Synod Conventions

From the first president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod:

Here in America, we also use the arrangement of a synod [or council] to carry on the business of the Church; God forbid that we ever get to the point where we merely put on a big show and then have a convention in which we discuss all sorts of peripheral piffle about ceremonies, rules, and insignificant trifles.  Instead of that, may we always concentrate on the study of doctrine. …

To be sure, many synods have tried to imitate us in this practice….But how do they go about it?  One particular synod presented more than a hundred theses for discussion! … You see, whenever they got to the point where the synod had to make a decision, they repeatedly postponed a decision until the next year.  The only proper procedure is that you do not rest until you have achieved a clear and complete agreement.  When you then go home, you go your separate ways only in a physical sense, but spiritually you remain totally unified so that the devil cannot stir up any divisions. …

Therefore a synod’s primary purposes are 1) unity of confession and 2) integrity of practices.

Thank God, there is hardly a single primary doctrine that we have not thoroughly discussed in our Synod during the past thirty years.  And that is what we must continue to do.  That this is so important is evident from, among other things, the fact that more laypeople attend our doctrinal discussions than attend our business sessions[!].  It is our doctrine that makes our Synod so dear to their hearts. …

If the study of doctrine is not the number one priority at synodical conventions, then one of two things will happen: Either the convention will be manufacturing laws, or even worse, it will degenerate into an affair of mutual praise, love, assurance, and life insurance.

(C.F.W Walther, “Duties of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod,” At Home In The House of My Fathers, 299, 300, 301.)

May God preserve an Evangelical Lutheran Synod this week, and keep the convention from being “an affair of mutual praise, love, assurance, and life insurance”!




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