Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CP Visitation – Doctrine & Practice

Dear Readers,

A few months ago we talked about the importance of a confessional Lutheran church body making solid efforts to maintain orthodox doctrine and practice among its Pastors, and the critical role the Circuit Pastor plays in this effort in our Wisconsin Synod. At the time I shared with you two questionnaires that I use in my CP Visitations. These revolved, for the most part, around the Pastor's role in the church-at-large, his work habits and routines, and the important needs of and unique pressures on his wife and family. At the time I promised to put together and then share with you another questionnaire focusing on the correct teachings of the historic, evangelical, orthodox, and confessional Lutheran church. That questionnaire is reproduced below. I am currently working through these questions with the Pastors of my circuit, and have shared them with my District President.

I believe that it is essential in the WELS today for every Pastor to continually review confessional Lutheran teachings. In addition, it is just as necessary that those charged with maintaining correct doctrine and practice in our synod, constantly and consistently encourage such a review, and check to see that the teachings and practices of their brother Pastors are squarely in line with their ordination and installation vows.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome!

Pastor Spencer


CP Visitation – Interview #2: Doctrine & Practice


I. The Public Ministry
1. What is the purpose of the public ministry?
2. What makes a Call into the public ministry legitimate, and why is it necessary that public ministers have a legitimate Call?
3. Who alone has the right to call people into the public ministry and how is this now done?
4. For what reasons and in what manner may a public minister be removed from office?
5. What must be the sole basis for all preaching and teachings in a confessional Lutheran church?
6. What is required of public ministers in order to be faithful to their Call?

II. The Bible, God, Law, and Sin
7. What are the "canonical Scriptures" and why are they so called?
8. What is the proper confessional Lutheran method for interpreting the Bible?
9. How is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity shown in the Scriptures?
10. What is the "Moral Law?"
11. What are acceptable ceremonies for the New Testament church?
12. Is the concept of "separation of Church & State" Scriptural; why or why not?
13. What is the proper use of the Ten Commandments for New Testament believers?
14. What is original sin, and in what two ways is it transmitted to all people?
15. Why is it important to distinguish between the essential nature of humanity and it's depraved nature; in other words, is original sin "essence" or "accident" and why?

III. Repentance, Conversion, Justification, Gospel, Faith & Good Works
16. What is contrition or repentance, is it necessary for salvation; why, and how is it produced?
17. Do people have free will, and if so to what extent?
18. What role do human emotions play in conversion?
19. Of what does justification consist according to the Gospel?
20. Does justification exist apart from faith? If so, how?
21. What is justifying faith?
22. Through what means does God work faith?
23. Are good works necessary for the believer; why or why not?
24. What are the differences between the confessional Lutheran teaching and that of the Calvinists, Arminians, and Romanists on sin, free will, justification, faith, and good works?
25. What is the doctrine of Predestination and how is it to be used?
26. What is the "sin against the Holy Spirit?"

IV. Baptism, Lord's Supper, & Absolution
27. What makes an act a "sacrament," and for what reason did Christ institute sacraments for His Church?
28. What does Holy Baptism accomplish in those to whom it is applied?
29. How can the true and real Body and Blood of Christ be present and received by us in our Lord's Supper and at the same time also truly and really present in countless other places where the Supper is celebrated?
30. In what way is the Lord's Supper a "sacrifice?"
31. What is the "spiritual eating and drinking" of the Lord's Supper?
32. What does it mean that the Lord's Supper is to be celebrated whenever the church gathers to commemorate the death of the Lord Jesus?
33. What does it mean to eat and drink "unworthily" of the Lord's Supper, and does this negate the Real Presence?
34. How should believers prepare themselves to receive the Lord's Supper?
35. What two types of absolution are there and when and how should they be used in the church?

V. Prayer, Pastoral Acts, & Worship
36. Why should believers pray and how?
37. Can a person pray to be converted; why or why not?
38. At whose wedding will a confessional Lutheran Pastor permit himself to officiate; why, and under what circumstances?
39. At whose funeral will a confessional Lutheran Pastor permit himself to officiate; why, and under what circumstances?
40. Can a confessional Lutheran Pastor lead prayers in a public setting such as a City Council or School Board meeting? If so, under what circumstances?
41. What are the Scriptural reason for using an established "order of service," or liturgy, in Christian worship?
42. What are the spiritual and doctrinal benefits of the historic "Western Rite?"
43. What worship practices, currently popular in many so-called "evangelical" churches, are clearly sectarian and should be avoided by confessional Pastors and congregations, and why?
44. Is it wrong for a woman to lead the worship service? Why or why not?

VI. Last Things
45. What is the state of the body and soul between the time of death and the Last Day?
46. Are there two judgments or only one? Why?
47. Why is the teaching of purgatory unscriptural?
48. What is "dispensationalism," where did it originate, and why is it unbiblical?
49. What is the "rapture," and why is it a false doctrine?
50. What are the main variations of millennialism being taught today and why are they detrimental to faith?

4 comments:

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Shades of Chemnitz's 'Enchiridion' (updated!).
I'd be happy to have you as my CP, Pr Spencer.
I couldn't agree more with you that constant review of confessional Lutheran teachings and their application to the present context of ministry is essential for the health of the church.

Pastor Spencer said...

Thank you, Mark.

I will freely admit I got the idea from the Chemnitz book. One cannot go wrong with good material!

What needs to happen in the WELS is that every CP take the time and make the effort to hold the Pastors in his Circuit accountable, and that every DP insist that the CPs under them do this.

Let's all encourage this to happen!

Pastor Spencer

Daniel Baker said...

Pr. Spencer,

I really like how you asked all the pertinent questions in such a way that they don't appear "loaded."

One question, one comment: First, how would you answer question 7? To be more specific, the Confessions only specify that the "prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament" are the rule and standard of our dogma (FC Ep. Comprehenisve Summary, 1). However, it doesn't specify which books are in these Scriptures. How would you respond to someone who, for example, gives the same preference to the Apocrypha as he gives to the books placed at the end of the New Testament?

Secondly, it seems to me that question 28 might be asked of the Holy Supper as well. I know many fellow laymen, at least, who do not comprehend exactly what benefits the Blessed Sacrament can and do provide to believers.

Pastor Spencer said...

Daniel,

Thank you for the kind words!

As to Q.7, I would hope that any and all of my brother WELS Pastors would be able to answer along these lines: (from a Bible class I put together many years ago called "How We Got Our Bible," based in large part on a book by noted Bible scholar F.F. Bruce entitled "The Canon Of Scripture")

Part VI – The Criteria For Canonicity
A. For the Old Testament
1. The early Christians did not trouble themselves for the most part about the canonicity of the Old Testament.
2. Therefore, they established no “tests” for canonicity regarding Old Testament Books of the Bible.
3. They simply accepted those Scriptures as they had received them from believers in previous ages.
4. Besides, these Books were ratified by the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ, their Messiah and Savior.
5. And nothing Jesus or His Apostles taught or did was in any way at variance with or called into question the canonicity of any of the thirty-nine Books of the Old Testament.
B. For the New Testament
1. Criteria were necessary in the New Testament age because so many people now claimed to speak in the name of the LORD.
2. Thus, certain “tests” began to be applied to any book purporting to speak for God.
a. Apostolic Authorship.
i. The author must be one of the Twelve, or an immediate associate.
ii. The author must be named directly in the Book, or else clearly indicated by inference.
b. Orthodoxy.
i. Must “bear witness of [Christ]” (John 5:39)
ii. Cannot conflict with the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith or any other clear teaching of the rest of already accepted Scripture. (First Corinthians 12:3, First John 4:2)
c. Antiquity.
i. Must be from the first one hundred years after Christ.
ii. Must be known of before A.D. 200.
NOTE: These first three tests should be able to be proven from direct internal and external
evidence.
e. Universality. Must be accepted by every part of Christianity throughout the world.
f. Tradition. Must be accepted from generation to generation.
g. Apologetic. Some portion of the Book in question was used as the “final word” in deciding some
doctrinal question.
NOTE: These three tests are formed by consensus over a long period of time.
i. Inspiration. Seen as the work of the Holy Spirit.
NOTE: This last point can only be accepted by faith!
3. Other important points to remember when considering the canonicity of the Bible.
a. It is a grave mistake to isolate the work of the Holy Spirit in the composition of the Books of the Bible from His subsequent work of preserving these works. God is certainly wise enough and powerful enough to see to it that the world will have the Words He wants it to have!
b. In final analysis the Books of the Bible became canonical because no one and nothing could stop them from doing so!

Re: Q.28, and applying it to the Holy Supper. Again, I would hope that in answering Q.31 Pastors would include the wonderful spiritual blessings of this Sacrament bestowed by Christ on believers.

Again, thanks for the comment and question.

Pastor Spencer

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