(There is a thread at one of the Confessional websites, and it is about a sainted friend, Rev George Wollenburg. Someone posted a cached copy of Wollenburg’s letter and I want to preserve the letter before the Internet sends it to /dev/null. So, here is Pr George’s letter to the Reporter, dated September 2003.)
“I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21).
An article in the June Reporter quotes the Commission on Constitutional Matters: “Subscribing to, or requiring a ‘confessional statement’ in place of or in addition to the confessional position of the Synod … is a violation of the covenant relationship in the Synod (Article VI 1; Bylaw 1.03). …”
President Kieschnick is quoted as citing a document titled “That They May be One” as coming under the CCM opinion and names it divisive. He asks district presidents to exercise ecclesiastical discipline, if necessary, against the authors and signers of the document, which uses theses that begin, “We believe, teach, and confess,” and antitheses that begin, “We reject and condemn ….”
Dr. Kieschnick stated that his concern is over anyone “who does not follow the Synod’s agreed upon procedures for making doctrinal statements or expressing their disagreement with synodical doctrine and practice.”
No mention is made of a document from the Atlantic District, “That We May Be One,” which uses the same language: “We believe, teach, and confess …,” and “We reject and condemn ….” This document also was mailed out to members of the Synod. No ecclesiastical discipline is called for.
A similar appeal was made in the December issue of “Jesus First.” Eight theses were presented with the words “We affirm …,” and one antithesis with the words, “We reject ….” The theses were introduced with the statement, “We call on church members to be advocates for Jesus-First leadership and to endorse these affirmations.” No ecclesiastical discipline is called for.
In 1998, a document titled “Eucharistic Understanding and Practice, a Biblical and Confessional Study” that challenged the Synod’s practice of “close communion” was circulated in the Synod, calling for subscribers. This document also was written with the words, “We believe, teach, and confess …” and “We reject and condemn ….” Eleven former district presidents and a large number of others signed the document. No ecclesiastical discipline was called for.
I do not agree with or endorse use of language that purports to prepare a new “confession” for the Synod by using the words, “We believe, teach, and confess,” or “We affirm,” and the words “reject” and “condemn.” This language has a specific confessional meaning. I said so in 1998, and since then as well.
I am also committed to the words of the brother of our Lord: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17, 18).
Dr. George F. Wollenburg, President, Montana District, Billings, Mont.