Defining parameters

I greatly appreciate Rev. Kevin Palmer’s letter (August 2008) in which he acknowledges “the first time [he could] remember seeing a pastor prominently displayed [on the magazine cover] wearing the full Eucharistic vestments.” Rev. Palmer went on to applaud the accompanying comment of the featured pastor, Rev. Dien Ashley Taylor, “on the need for a ‘confessional revival.’” Certainly, the “historic, liturgical substance of Christian worship” (Rev. Palmer’s term) does deserve much more “air time” than it gets in some circles.

But Rev. Palmer’s concluding comment in which he refers to “our fear of ecumenical interaction” concerns me. Evidently, he feels that we in the LCMS need to increase such interaction. Where such interaction is called for, it must also be stressed that the arrangement is not to develop to the point of including those activities which must be practiced within our fellowship boundaries only. Acceptable interaction of such a nature would include provision for goods to assist the poor, advocating the sanctity of human life in the civil arena, and participation in insurance programs such as Thrivent.

The problem is, what begins with examples, such as the foregoing, is all too often taken beyond what is acceptable, proper and, more important, scriptural and confessional. Activities and endeavors with church bodies, their congregations, and personnel not in altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS, such as joint worship services (Eucharist, prayer, or other), intercommunion, and founding jointly run schools–all practices which may not in such a way be undertaken by our Synod’s personnel and entities today, and for good reason–are unfortunate examples of what is not only possible, but what actually happens when such “ecumenical interaction” is taken beyond its intended scope.

Especially in this day and age of “anything goes” ideology, even among many in the LCMS, we can’t be too careful in making sure our parameters are clearly defined.

Rev. Paul E. Gramit
Ev. Trinity Lutheran Church
Clinton, Mass.


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