Friday, June 15, 2012

Church and Continuity Conference Review: Do We Want to Be Dresden Lutherans? – by Rev. Paul Rydecki

I closed out the Saturday presentations with a paper entitled, “Do We Want to Be Dresden Lutherans?”*, a reference to the Book of Concord, which was first printed in Dresden, Germany, in 1580. The paper highlighted the problem that develops when Lutherans become tied to the human institution of a synod rather than to the confession of Concord. I asserted that we should be loyal to a synod through the Book of Concord, rather than being loyal to the Book of Concord through a synod. The Bible is the True North. The Lutheran Confessions are our compass that responds to the North— our response to the truth revealed in the Scriptures. A synod is a voluntary arrangement of people walking in an agreed-upon direction. I rather directly suggested in my paper that, while all of us in the WELS claim to be walking fully in the direction of the Book of Concord, our actual confessional subscription is broader than that, ranging from those who consider the Confessions to be totally irrelevant, to those who subscribe to them insofar as they believe them to be relevant, to those who subscribe to them unconditionally and insist that all who claim to walk together in a synod do the same. Finally, I offer several suggestions outlining what our doctrine and practice would look like “if we want to be Dresden Lutherans,” because that’s what I intend to be. Who’s with me? And who isn’t? Let’s walk together honestly, or not at all.

* Current online version contains a revision on page 10.

Conference of Intrepid Lutherans: Church and Continuity ~ June 1-2, 2012
Bethlehem Lutheran Church ~ Oshkosh, WI
Do We Want to Be Dresden Lutherans?
by Rev. Paul Rydecki


Anonymous said...

This paper needed to be presented/written. I support the boldness of it as well. It is an honest question no matter what your Synod affiliation is -- do you want to be a Dresden you want to be Lutheran? If not, then seriously reconsider your affiliation and title, at least for unity's sake.

Christian Schulz

Anonymous said...

“Do We Want to Be Dresden Lutheran?”

I would have to ask myself:
...Is the Bible inspired
...Is the Book of Concord inspired
...Are both inspired

[a]Am I a Lutheran first based on the Bible and the Book of Concord


[b]Am I a Christian first, based on the Bible

[3] As a layman, is it my place to be a fly on the wall in the pastors office as to his sermon prep information sources (otherwise how would I know without trust)

[4] As far as St. Paul is concerned
[a] We know about his sources of his sermon Acts 17:23.....
What would his subsequent sermon be considered as?

How is Acts 17:23 different than "not seek figs
from thorn bushes"

[b] Do we know that Paul (in other gentile congregations stickly followed the guideline of sermon sources by not using sectarian
teachings as an example of false teaching?

[5] As far as the Dresden Lutherans of 1580
[a] do we know without a doubt they were without fault \ no stone left unturned in accordance with 1 Corinthians 14:40 ?

[b] As far as a Dresden Lutheran of 1580
Did they communicate that they were the pinnacle of 1 Corinthians 10:23 and subsequent generations should consider themself the platau to Christian freedom

[6] Most importantly to this writer.....
Do we know if any disciples considered their call a "sacrament" ?

[a] Do we have any other source beside scripture that indicates that early church fathers believed that Paul's instructions to Timothy conveyed that all overseers and deacons must be considered on par as a "sacrament"

[b] Could you please reference to me what Lutherans hold as to how many "sacraments" was established by Jesus (either historically or from Dresden, Germany in 1580)

[c] if the Lutheran Dresdens, Germany, in 1580 is to be the standard...... do you intend to go all the way and not use the 1611 KJV

Jon Rehborg

Daniel Baker said...

Wow, did you actually read the paper? Because it seems to me that the paper takes great care to deal with all of your "concerns." This really makes it hard to believe that you're here for honest discussion.

Anonymous said...

Mr Baker,
Yes, I read it at least three times. The questions were a result of reading the "If we want to be Dresden Lutherans, then..... ". Part of the paper seemed to be directed to ministers and some not.

Maybe what I did was to read the paper in depth without being biased in favor to it or against it, then ponder the points per the paper on it's own merit.

Your response to me would indicate that you're not interested in any substantive dialog that isn't a rubber stamp approval of the application the resolutions being suggested.

Rev. Rydecki concluded "Who’s with me? And who isn’t? Let’s walk together honestly,....." and that is exactly what I did.

AS it was said to me once, When there is opposing views (as the paper is based on), there is always an element of truth to each pov.
You would be pleased to know that more than Intrepid Lutherans who haven't signed on all so have some (and iemphasizedemphasised "some")of the concerns that Rev Rydecki has expressed (which is another topic).

And yet ... there are others (beside this writer) who are concerned from a Christian brotherly view about other issues \ statements \ now resolutions that is being suggested.

Fact is most layman do not know what has happened behind closed doors in meetings.. let alone when it come to private conversations between pastors in an administrative arena among pastors.

All I know is that Rev Rydecki is presenting facts as he sees them, while other pastors presenting their (possibly in defense of theirs which is contrary to Rev Rydecki).

As I read this paper, I see "A" being referenced and "C" being the historical reference and "E" being the resolution.

The questions that I asked was my way of exploring "B", "D" and do I want the ramifications "E" ......... that is "F" really the atmosphere one is willing operate under.

Jon Rehborg

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll bite.

Question 6: a,b:

From our Confession of faith found in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession:

"However, for teaching purposes, different people do count differently, provided they still rightly keep the matters handed down in Scripture. The ancients also did not count in the same way. If we call Sacraments 'rites that have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added,' it is easy to decide what are true Sacraments...Therefore, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution (C.S. - public or private) are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God's command and the promise of grace,...When we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us for Christ's sake....But if ordination is understood as carrying out the ministry of the Word, we are willing to call ordination a Sacrament. For the ministry of the Word has God's command and has glorious promises, 'The the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes' (Romans 1:16). Likewise, 'So shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose' (Isaiah 55:11)." (Ap XIII, 2-4, 11)

Philip Melanchthon in his Loci Communes, page 140-141, after setting forth that Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution are Sacraments says this: "In my opinion there is considerable merit in adding also ordination, that is, the call into the ministry of the Gospel and the public approval of this call, because all these things are enjoined as injunctions of the Gospel, e.g., Tutus 1:5, 'Appoint elders, as I have commanded,' and there is added the promise which is the greatest of all and most worthy of recognition, which testifies that God is truly efficacious through the ministry of those who have been chosen by the voice of the church, as the universal statement testifies of the apostles and all who proclaim the Word which has been given through the apostles: 'The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes' [Rom. 1:16]. And Christ says in John 17:20, 'I do not pray for these only, but for all who will believe through their word.' Note also John 20:23; Eph. 4:8 ff.; Luke 10:16; John 15:1 ff.; 2 Cor. 5:19-20, 3:6. These and many other passages like them clearly testify that God is efficacious through this very ministry of those who teach the Gospel, which he wills to preserve in the church by the constant calling [of ministers]. For Paul is expressly speaking about the external Word or of the ministry that proclaims the Word of the Gospel when he says, 'The Word is near you, in your mouth' [Rom. 10:8], and again, 'He has committed to us the Word of reconciliation; therefore we are ambassadors for Christ,' 2 Cor. 5:19-20. And the command has been given to the church that such ministers or ambassadors be chosen, as is expressly written to Titus....Therefore, when you consider that this rite was used by the earliest fathers and the apostles, not by accident or in a meaningless way, the mind should be stirred up to recognize the efficacy of this function so as to honor it and to seek signs which remind is of Christ our High Priest and of the work of this function....God wills that there be the public ministry, and He wonderfully preserves and continually cleanses it so that we may know that the church is bound to this Gospel which is proclaimed. Paul says this in Eph. 4:14 when he says that the ministry of the Gospel was established in order that the Gospel might be preserved, lest the ministry be 'tossed about by every wind of doctrine.'"


Anonymous said...


Martin Chemnitz says this in his Loci Theologici p. 1361: "But because it (C.S. - Absolution, the Office of the holy Ministry) has this in common with the sacraments that through it the general promise of the Gospel is proclaimed, applied, and sealed to individual believers, the Apology, holds that in this respect it could in its own way be listed with the sacraments in order that its worth and benefit to the church might be more strongly commended."

Questions 1 and 2 are answered in the paper. Question 3: You have every right to know what your called servant is doing. But regarding sermon prep stuff, it's okay to have a "heresy shelf". But when these heretical materials are being used in Bible study or as wonderful ways to teach the congregation in a sermon, that's when it goes sour. There's a difference between reading the material for apologetic purposes and reading it to learn from the wolves how to care for your sheep.

I'll leave the other questions up to someone else.

Christian Schulz

Anonymous said...

Christian Schulz,
If you are the one who posted the response (#5) "Okay, I'll bite. Question 6: a,b:" ... but I'm not sure it was... if so then:
I'm trying to follow the flow of pattern of reasoning before I can objectively make a yea or nay about with me or not.

You used the Apology of the Augsburg Confession to questions 6: a,b.

Am I understanding you to say that the Apology is stating that Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, that all three can only be administered by an ordained minister?

I'm having trouble distinguishing about absoultion scripturally.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Are you saying that absolution of a woman to a woman is not a preforming "sacrament" or a mother who forgives their child\spouse is not administering a "sacrament".

Are you saying that the Apology is claiming that if a woman who baptizes her infant who is near seconds from death before a minister can is not allowed too?

Don't read anything more into this than a simple spaghetti test of the Biblical application of who can or can not do something.

Jon Rehborg

Anonymous said...

if in the context of the statement by Rev Rydecki is that in the public worship service setting based on the Apology when it comes to Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution the administration of such should be by ordained ministers .. I would agree.

Apparently there must be some situations where women are doing such in a public worship setting in a WELS church.

I could see that as a possibility of an occurance in a "new praise" service format ... which btw ... the ones I've attended aren't what I would consider in keeping with 1 Corinthians 14:40 and 1 Corinthians 14:34

Jon R

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rehborg,

Yes, that was me.

Also, yes they should be administered by the one who has been Called as those are a part of His duties as being a "steward of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor. 4:1). There can be emergencies with Baptism (see below) but the Lord's Supper should never be administered by a layman -- there's no dire emergency there (as I learned from N. Hunnius, a theologian from the age of Lutheran Orthodoxy).

The Keys have been given to the whole Christian Church, this is true. But just as the Gospel has been given to the whole Church it doesn't mean all are Called into the Ministry to preach this Gospel. So also, yes, if my brother or sister in Christ comes to me and confesses a sin I have every right, rather, a duty, to pronounce absolution to them and it will still be as from God himself. But, those in the Office have been called to bind and loose sins on behalf of the Church (John 20, Matthew 16). As Christians we should "be happy to run more than a hundred miles to Confession" (Large Catechism) and receive Absolution from those Called to administer the Keys.

There can be emergencies, like you explained above, about Baptism. Baptism is a necessity and in cases of dire emergency it wouldn't be wrong to Baptize the child. But if there isn't an emergency the child should be brought to the one who has a Call to administer the Sacrament of Baptism.

I hope this answers your questions.

Christian Schulz

Anonymous said...

Christian Schulz,
Thanks, yes it does.

Jon R.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

I've had my hands full today so haven't had time to chime in. But I don't think I could say it any better than Christian has. Thanks for your answers and citations today, Christian! Well done!

As I am able, I will look over the questions again later and see if there's anything I need to add.

Anonymous said...

The devil masquerades as an angel of light. If we think we don't have to worry about this because we're safe within the fold of the WELS, we're wrong. Your article mentioned having the courage to say "I'm WELS, for now" in front of family and friends. The fear of persecution from saying this becomes a reality when one has to follow through with that statement by leaving the WELS church in his vicinity to attend the confessional LCMS one. The WELS is a community and who wants to be ostracized from their community? In the face of this, how do we help people to see that there is indeed the masquerading angel of light within our midst? People don't want to listen, or they are too busy, or they don't want to get involved, or they think we are overreacting. This is perplexing and distressing. Thank you for writing an article that reminds us of the importance of this battle we are fighting, and thank you for encouraging us to keep to the faith of the confessions.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign my name to the previous comment--Shelley Ledford.

Pastor Spencer said...


Excellent points and very good questions! It is said that blood is thicker than water. Well, in many cases synodical loyalty is thicker than blood - or theology. The cure for this is integrity and courage. Truth is the heart of integrity and faith is the heart of courage. Let us pray that more people will learn the truth and have the faith to follow it. Thank you for your courage!

Pastor Spencer

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