(RNS) A Lutheran pastor in Newtown, Conn., has apologized after being reprimanded for participating in an interfaith vigil following the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The Rev. Rob Morris, pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church, prayed at the vigil the Sunday following the Dec. 14 shootings alongside other Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Baha’i clergy.

Morris’ church is a member of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and the denomination’s constitution prohibits ministers from participating in services with members of different faiths.

barack obama

President Barack Obama attends a Sandy Hook interfaith vigil at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. RNS photo by Pete Souza/The White House.


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It’s not the first time a Missouri Synod pastor has been reprimanded for joining an interfaith prayer service; a New York pastor also was suspended for participating in an interfaith service after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

LCMS president Matthew Harrison wrote in a letter to the Synod that “the presence of prayers and religious readings” made the Newtown vigil joint worship, and therefore off-limits to Missouri Synod ministers. Harrison said Morris’ participation also offended members of the denomination.

“After consultation with my supervisors and others, I made my own decision,” Morris wrote in his apology letter. “I believed my participation to be, not an act of joint worship, but an act of community chaplaincy.”

The Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association hosted the Dec. 16 vigil, which was attended by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and President Obama.

In his opening statements at the vigil, the Rev. Matt Crebbin of the Newtown Congregational Church made clear that the participating religious leaders were not endorsing one another.

“We are not here to ignore our differences or to diminish the core beliefs which define our many different faith traditions,” Crebbin said, according to a CNN transcript of the event.

Following the 9/11 attacks, Missouri Synod pastor David Benke participated in the Prayer for America interfaith service at Yankee Stadium. Although had the approval of then-LCMS president Gerald Kieshnick, the Synod’s Dispute Resolution Panel suspended Benke.

He was reinstated in 2003 by Kieshnick and returned to his post as president of the denomination’s Atlantic District.

Harrison wrote in his letter that despite his reprimand of Morris, the Missouri Synod does not unanimously agree on what joint worship is. The denomination is still attempting to define it.

“I am looking forward to working together with (Morris) and others in the Synod to strive for greater unity and consensus among us,” Harrison wrote.

The St. Louis-based Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod is the smaller of the two largest branches of Lutheranism in the U.S., with almost 2.3 million members. The more liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has 4 million members.

Harrison was unavailable for comment, and Morris declined to comment.

207 Comments

    • The intolerance and pharasaic self-righteousness of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod–the denomination in which I was raised–is truly offensive. I left over 40 years ago. When I was but a child, they did teach me about the justice and mercy of God. I’m sure that God is pleased with the just actions of Rev. Morris. I think Rev. Harrison will have to rely on God’s mercy.

      • Paul, that seems to be a rather intolerant and self-righteous view to take. But I guess you do have a divine mandate to sit as judge over a church body you deemed not worthy of your continued membership.

        • I admit that it is presumptious of me try to say what God should do. I ask for God’s forgiveness. But it is not at all presumptious to label the LCMS leadership pharasaic when they display such contempt for other while building up their own importance.

          • Where is the contempt that you refer to? This is a theological issue that has been debated in the LCMS for a very long time. We love all people, we simply believe there is only one true God, and that worshiping with nonbelievers suggests to the world that there are many paths to salvation, when in fact we believe there is only one; through Jesus Christ. LCMS congregations across the country have been praying for the victims and families of the victims at Sandy Hook since this terrible tragedy occurred. We have also been working with other faiths to ease the suffering of this community in forms where shared worship is not taking place. I urge you to understand why we take this position, and not jump to conclusions about our motives or beliefs.

        • Good reply Matt! I know of someone that I knew as a youngster who left the LC-MS as an adult. I happened to run across the individual a few years ago by chance. The person told me that they had left the LC-MS for the ELCA at some point in time. The rationale they gave was, “I don’t have to put up with a lot of rules that I don’t like.” Those ‘rules’ were most of the doctrines based upon Scripture alone, God’s Word and not how we might prefer it. Liberal secularization of Christianity (I’ll do it my way because Jesus is a friend of mine) based upon human faulty rationalization is on the up turn so hang in there.

          • Old Trooper, I think it is presumptuous of you to act as if so-called liberal Christianity makes doctrinal decisions on the basis of “I’ll do it my way because Jesus is a friend of mine”. There are many of us who do indeed take scripture seriously and make our decisions based upon it. One way we take it seriously is by not only cherry-picking the parts that support what we believe, but by looking at those sections in a larger context. For instance, I can respect a Hasidic Jew who follows ALL of the rules set down in Leviticus — he or she has a right to say they are against homosexual acts; at least their beliefs are consistent, even though I disagree. However, I don’t know of any large Christian denomination that charges its members to follow all of the laws in Leviticus, yet many want to use the verses about homosexual acts to argue against same-gender unions. To act as if it’s all so simple and obvious when the Bible is a very complex gathering of writings produced over a very long time period is to diminish such a sacred work.

          • Marcotafia, do you fail to distinguish between types of law? Such as ones given to a particular theocracy and say moral laws?

    • Ahh, religion. Here’s another example of why I’ve left the church. To condemn others because they do not believe like you is to completely miss the point of what Jesus was saying. I’ve felt that condemnation b4 and am disgusted with religion in general. Don’t fear though, Jesus was just as offended by Christians like the LMS in this article. I’m not judging them it is just what is the case here and to not join together with your community in a time of crisis is just wrong. Why? Jesus told us to show his love to the poor, sick and unelightened. If you hide the light that u believe to be the gospel how is anyone supposed to see that light?

  1. Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry

    It is high time the LCMS joined not only the 21st century but the Christian community! This is an embarrassment to all decent people especially followers of Christ and should be to the Missouri Synod!

    • Which Christian Community is that Andrew? The one that believes life is unimportant and provides chaplains for Planned Parenthood’s abortion centers? Or, the one that finds Scripture archaic and out of touch and follows whatever secular faddish morality of the month? It must be nice Andrew to have a faith that bends and twists to whatever makes you feel good about yourself and not worry about being offensive and out of step with those who reject Christ.

      • Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry

        Oh please, putting up extreme cases is the oldest bait and switch technique in the world. If you want extremes here is one for you. Did you know that the reason gay people are called faggots is becuase the “church” used them as kindling when burning “heretics” or how abut Martin Luther’s condemnation of the Jewish people which the Nazis found very helpful and used extensively in their attempts at extermination of not only Jews but anyone else they found unacceptable. Or yet another how about when Protestant slaughtered Catholics and Catholics slaughtered Protestants in the Name of Christ for about 400 years! Talk about bending and twisting how about the Baptist church that celebrates the death of American service personnel. I reject bigotry and hate and racism and sexism and homophobia and nationalism in the Name of him who is Lord , Jesus Christ Our Savior!

        • Mr. Gentry is surely not Catholic in any sense except for by strict definition of the word only – universal. He is not a part of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church with allegaince to the Holy See of Rome. Many times he posts very random, off the wall, offensive and Protestant ideologies. He certainly has the right to be Protestant but how dare you pretend to be Catholic in any sense. Bishop??? – please tell us who were your Consecrators to the Episcopacy – I suspect you are not in Apostolic Succession. Blessings! + Bishop David S. Moody (Chancellor – Diocesan Bishop – Rector)

        • Another lie by Mr. Gentry. His history lesson on the term ‘faggot” referring to homosexuals is incorrect. It took Americans to apply the term to male homosexuals. First some history.

          The term faggot or fagot, meaning bundle of sticks, shows up around 1300 in English. It almost certainly came from Old French, possibly going back to Greek phakelos. Since those bundles of sticks were mainly used for fires, it’s not surprising that the term came to mean burning sticks. Then there was that nasty business in medieval times where heretics were burned at the stake. Some later cites indicate heretics who repented and were spared a fiery death had to wear a picture of a faggot on their sleeve to show what might have been their fate. But no print evidence exists that homosexuals were referred to as faggots before the twentieth century, with the origin definitely in the U.S., not Britain.

          Mr. Gentry – please decide which “war” you’re fighting – as your random. ramblings about every subject seem to be everywhere and you attempt to do it in the “name of the Church or Jesus” to attempt to give validation or show authority. Who Consecrated you “bishop”?

          + Most Rev. David S. Moody, CSP, D.D., Th.D.

    • All of you gentlemen are having a hayday pointing your finger at others. First I was angry, but that turned to sadness when I started reading all these comments. Satan has you right where he wants you.

    • Mr. Gentry is surely not Catholic in any sense except for by strict definition of the word only – universal. He is not a part of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church with allegaince to the Holy See of Rome. Many times he posts very random, off the wall, offensive and Protestant ideologies. He certainly has the right to be Protestant but how dare you pretend to be Catholic in any sense. Bishop??? – please tell us who were your Consecrators to the Episcopacy – I suspect you are not in Apostolic Succession. Blessings! + Bishop David S. Moody (Chancellor – Diocesan Bishop – Rector)

      • Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry

        Well Mr Moody I am certainly not a bishop in your “old catholic” community which is not in union with the Vatican nor recognized by it or the Union of Utrecht nor the Orthodox Churches.
        Your theology of ordination is very Council of Trent but hardly New Testament. Pedigree my dear sir does not a bishop make.
        I was ordained in the Eastern Church as priest and deacon and later I accepted the position of bishop in an Intentional Eucharistic Community which has several thousand communities in the US and across the world. It was born of Vatican II and precisely because of the kind of polemics that you engage in it has developed very nicely. I was ordained according to Reformed Tradition. In that Tradition what the pope says really is of no matter to us canonically as you would say. I would suggest Mr Moody that you take care of your own house! Oh by the by your history is inaccurate.

        • Mr. Gentry – how sad to see yet another disgruntled non- CATHOLIC (as opposed to one in communion with the true Holy Catholic Church as I and we are with the CCC) not even capable of satisfying even the dictionary definition of “catholic” meaning universal. The reformed “catholics” don’t satisfy the dictionary definition of catholic either and only use that name for their notoriety. We on the other hand are 100% in allegiance with the Holy See of Rome in all matters of faith, doctrine and morals – so you are wrong again as usual. I see why you advertising yourself as “the gay priest” causes you so much hatred toward me and the Roman catholic Church, as we do not Ordain openly gay people nor do we perform gay marriages or unions – it is clearly against scripture and tradition of the Church. It would be immoral and against the natural law do do such things! Lastly, my history is not incorrect on the term “faggot” – just google it and you’ll see I’m being historically acurate – while you whine and moan because you believe we are “gay bashing” which is another of your lies as we are NOT “gay bashing” – God loves the sinner – just not the sin!

          I pray for you and that you will be saved before it’s too late – stop being so angry and fighting with everyone you poor soul.

          + Most Rev. David S. Moody, CSP, D.D., Th.D.

          • Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry

            No you are not in Communion with Rome Mr Moody and you know it. Just ask the USCCB if you doubt that but it really does not matter anyway. Your bigotry is not even thinly veiled and is as obvious as your medieval “theology” and as limited as your knowledge of history. You are a bigot and a Pharisee.
            Following the advice and wisdom of an old Yiddish proverb that instructs us thus “IF you are argue with a moron and a stranger passes by they will not know which one is the moron” so I bid you adieu and pray that someday you will be able to face your fears and come out of your closet and stop leading people away from Jesus! I have blocked you.

          • Mr. Gentry you call everyone the same thing on most all of your posts on different websites. Your ignorance, lies, and anger is unbelievable. Stop your whining, name calling and attempting to put on others the things that you surely are! Lastly, the CCCC is definitely a Roman Rite and again, as usual you are ignorant and inaccurate in your history. Good bye!

  2. Christopher Neuendorf

    President Harrison showed great churchmanship and real Christian character in his handling of the situation, and I commend Pastor Morris for his willingness to repent. As for the Missouri Synod “entering the 21st century” by compromising our beliefs and the clear teachings of Scripturre, I’d rather stay true to my God and enter into eternal life through faith in His Son than earn the world’s adulation and perish with it in the final judgment. Participation in interfaith services is not “entering the Christian community” but departing from it, and thus departing from Christ. God keep us steadfast in His Word.

  3. As a member of the LCMS, I’m thankful for the pastoral manner in which President Harrison has handled this.

    In times of great tragedy, as in all times, there is no greater act of love than to point the eyes of the world to Jesus Christ and the salvation that He alone gives. It is impossible to clearly point to Jesus as the Lamb of God when we stand alongside those who are pointing us in countless other directions, pointing to false gods and false theologies that lead us away from our Savior’s blood.

    Muslims and Jews and Buddhists wept just as many tears for the children of Sandy Hook as Christians. But they don’t have Jesus, the answer to those tears. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers,” St. Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 6. To share a stage and a microphone and an audience without rebuking the darkness that unbelievers speak is to violate this command from God’s Word. And if we don’t believe it prudent to follow Elijah’s example and mock Baal and his prophets when they share the spotlight with us, it’s best to descend Mount Carmel and speak from a place where no word of lawlessness is mingled with our word of righteousness.

    I thank God for my brother pastors who would rather have men call them hateful than have their Lord called them unfaithful. I thank God that the LCMS is an embarrassment to the world.

    • Thank you for reminding me of why I left Lutheranism so many years ago. Your delusions of what God embodies is disgusting, and living a life based on those principles would leave anyone filled with judgemental scorn and rage. Like it has with yourself. I really just love everyone, and that is what it is all about. Don’t need a church filled with small minded paranoid delusionalists to tell me anything different. Get back to conning money out of the fearful and the gullible. If Jesus exists, and he comes back before you die, he will certainly wipe your mind blank, for it is rotted. Oh, and keep believing God loves you. Sicko.

    • Well said, Pastor Fiene!

      I agree with your assessment completely!

      In this day of “Cafeteria Plan Theology”, people begin to think that all choices are right; just different. But some choices are dead wrong.

      • Cafeteria Christianity? That’s nothing but a straw man argument and you know it.

        It is so easy to topple a position you create then assign to another denomination as if it is gospel truth. Easy, but no intellectual integrity required.

        Is it POSSIBLE that the ELCA and other Christian churches arrived at their theology by an honest engagement with God’s word. Or is the LCMS only capable of that?

        • Luther’s theology says “no.” No one’s theology is “arrived at” by “honest engagement with Scripture.” Human beings are never impartial interpreters of the Bible. Apart from grace they are always hostile to its message because it is God’s Word and it judges us and condemns us as sinners.

          So as far as Luther was concerned, every interpreter of the Bible is going to misconstrue it or twist it or, at best, outright reject it.

          Faithful theologians do not construct or arrive at theologies–again, for Luther. They simply receive the Word of God as the Word of God.

          Luther lays this out for Erasmus in his book “The Bondage of the Will.” It’s simply Lutheran theology.

          It is also biblical theology. Jesus consistently repudiates the claims of people who claim to come to him with good intentions. He tells the rich man in Mark 10:18 “No one is good except God alone.” In teaching His disciples about prayer He says, “If you, then, who are evil…” (Luke 11: 13) He does not accept the claims of religious people to know God who reject Him. He’s very judgmental about this. “It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known Him. I know Him. If I were to say I did not know Him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His Word.” (John 8:54-55)

          He also says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)

          Then the apostle Paul reiterates the teachings of Jesus repeatedly and unmistakeably throughout the New Testament, must memorably for Lutherans in the 3rd chapter of Romans, where he quotes the Old Testament: “No one is righteous, no, not one. No one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Rom. 3:10-12)

          So, no, it’s not possible that the ELCA’s theology comes from honest engagement with Scripture, because both according to Scripture and Lutheran theology, that kind of engagement with Scripture by autonomous, free-willed interpreters does not exist.

          Nor is it possible to argue that the ELCA’s syncretistic theology is one valid theology alongside of the LCMS’ intolerant and hateful theology, as your comments and others on this thread show very clearly.

          Luther’s theology insists that it is God’s Word, and that what contradicts it is not true, is blasphemous, and leads to damnation. And that is the reason why ELCA and other modern protestant theology, which tolerates everything, cannot tolerate Luther’s theology. Luther does not claim that he interacted with Scripture honestly and arrived at his theology; he claims that what he preached is the very word of God. “My conscience is captive to the word of God. Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”

    • kathleensurges@yahoo.com

      As a current member of a wonderful Church in the LCMS, I commend Rev Morris for praying with all brothers and sisters after this terrible tragedy. He does NOT owe God or anyone else an apology. Jesus Christ, out Lord & Savior Loves all People and is smiling down from Heaven. We need to learn to live together in peace and Harmony…

      • Other sheep? The context of that phrase is important…read it in context and see who Jesus is talking to and why He would say that. It’s not what you’re thinking. The phrase “no comes to the Father but by Me” is also in there…just something to consider.

        • Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry

          You limit the broadness of this statement of Jesus. We “Gentiles” were and are a varied group and if anyone knows this it is God! St John says that if we love then God is within us and the Apostle does not limit that to only orthodox believers. No one indeed comes to the Father but through the redemption of Jesus and it is Jesus who determines who that is not you or me. Besides you can have the “true faith” the “the infallible truth” and the “one true church”, which to Roman Catholics is the Roman Church, to the Orthodox the Orthodox Faith, to “evangelicals” the “Bible believing” church and if you have not love you are nothing but a pile of dung! Read the parable of the sheep and the goats!

  4. I am a member of an LCMS church and am embarrassed and very disappointed in the response of our Leadership. We are called to be the “light of the world”, how can we be the light when we are reprimanding our pastors for providing support for their community.

    President Harrison, you should step down, get out of your office, and be the light to guide people that you were called to do.

  5. Now that is TRULY pitiful that a minister would be prohibited from praying where other people of faith are trying to make out of a terrible tragedy while comforting a tormented community. I am glad to say I’m not that kind of Christian. Hooray for the pastor. Shame on the officials who give Christianity a bad name.

    • David, the key words here are “people of faith”. What faith? Faith in a untrue god? This matter was handled poorly and Pres. Harris has apoligized for this, but it seems not many of you “christians” are ready to forgive.

  6. I was raised and baptized in the LCMS, and come from a long line of Lutherans. But this is EXACTLY why I left the LCMS, and why I will never encourage my children to be a part of this church. Jesus exemplified compassion, grace and unconditional love: “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” We are called to be like Christ, and to come along all with his same attributes. Another point: Jesus, when feeding the 5000, never asked them if they believed EXACTLY what He believed, unlike the LCMS, and their justification of closed communion.

    • So true…it is really sad to me that these men (I haven’t seen any women that agree yet) are so out of touch. I’m not sure why they think the ideas are based on scripture at all. It really makes no sense to me.

    • Christi, If you would but read just a little further in John chapter 6 you will find that the 5,000 whom Jesus fed quite obviously did not believe as He taught them concerning Himself. Desiring for themselves an earthly king who would provide them with an unlimited supply of bread, they rejected Jesus, the bread of life come down from heaven, who would shed His blood and give His life on the cross so that they might have forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation. ALL OF THEM walk away from His gracious promise of resurrection life choosing instead to be offended because they find His sayings too harsh. At the end of chapter 6 it’s only the twelve disciples who are left standing with Jesus. He then says to them, “Will you walk away also?” to which Peter responds, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Before you criticize too harshly those who would cling to the words of eternal life over and against the wisdom of the world, consider very carefully that even as Jesus suffers Himself to be rejected by a world that hates Him…He is showing Himself to be quite the opposite of the picture of broad minded tolerance that people so often desire to project upon Him. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.” He does that by His own perfect life lived under the Law in the place of sinners all. And by His innocent suffering and death on the cross for the sins of the world He shows Himself to most wonderfully loving and inclusive toward all. Yet He still suffers Himself to be rejected by those who would insist to the peril of their own souls that the words of eternal life can be found in somone other than Him. And those who hope in His words of eternal life are not afraid to suffer the world’s rejection along with Him.

      • Independent Lutheran

        P.S. Hopefully, all of us who are sinners will fill our churches next Sunday and will hear about JESUS. . .
        Praise the Lord that, though a sinner, He will welcome me. . .

    • Jesus’ community was with prostitutes and the unbelieving jews. was it His mission to steer clear of those who did not follow Him? seems to me for lcms to publicly rebuke anyone non-lcms reflects poorly on all Christians. did Jesus not say For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

  7. Rev. Michael Scott Monterastelli

    The prophets warned ancient Israel of times like these. We are wise to consider them throughout our days.

    ““For from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
    Everyone is greedy for gain,
    And from the prophet even to the priest
    Everyone deals falsely.
    “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially,
    Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
    But there is no peace.”” (Jeremiah 6)

    Christians with integrity like Pr. Harrison are getting harder to find these days. It warms my heart to see there’re still some like Pr. Harrison in the LCMS despite the world’s venom.

    The Jesus whose blood whet the blade that pierced His innocent side does not share moments of comfort as just one among a pantheon. He and He alone is and always will be the Almighty Savior of the entire world. His Peace, true Peace, be upon you.

    • Are we talking about the same Jesus? The one I know ministered to non-Jews, women, lepers, tax collectors — people who were scorned as unworthy and unholy and “outside the fold.” Seems to me he would have prayed among those who did not share his beliefs.

      LCMS pastors who don’t want to trample on the grace of God…. “The Episcopal Church welcomes you.”

      • Connie, you’re right about one thing. The Jesus of the bible did minister to non-Jews, women, lepers, and tax collectors. But these people he ministered to, he taught, and those who believed his words and clung to them, he received into his kingdom and those who rejected his teachings rejected him. What was important to Jesus was not social standing but that they believed his words. That same Jesus also condemned the scribes and Pharisees constantly throughout his ministry, even pronouncing seven “woes” against them (Mt. 23) because they believed and taught differently from him. Jesus clearly cared about both belief and teaching.

        Just like Jesus, President Harrison and the faithful pastors who have posted here also think belief is important. They take a stand on these issues because correcting error is the loving thing to do. Allowing another to persist in error is to watch him bring about his own destruction. Not caring about belief, and not correcting the one in error is the unloving thing to do.

        Thank God for faithful pastors who cling to the words of Jesus and teach others to do likewise.

  8. I have seldom seem such self-righteous and self-congratulatory words than from many of these commenters here. Barking about how judgmental and pharisaical the LCMS is while judging like a Pharisee: “I thank you Lord, that I am not like these bigoted Missouri Synod types– I’m enlightened and I know just what You would say and do at all times. I don’t ever go to worship to receive your Word and Sacraments, but that just proves how much more authentic I am compared to those phony religious types. I believe whatever trendy thing comes down the pike and I lash out at anyone who isn’t lock-step with me, all while braying about my tolerance of others.”

    • “Like” I grew up LCMS but switched to ELCA as an adult because of the greater “tolerance” I found there. I wanted to fit in with my liberal unbelieving college social group. In their disparaging of Christians I was a “good Christian” for at least having done this. In 2001 I couldn’t understand and was taken aback by the disciplinary action against the pastor that participated in the 9/11 service. But over the years I have come back to LCMS because church is the one place where our convictions should not bow to social pressure. All of the great horrors of modern history are the result of social pressure being the strongest force influencing human nature. The comments here certainly validate that. In the book “Drawings from the Gulag” Baldaev reports on a Lutheran Pastor who spat in the face of the commissar of Vladikavkaz who gave him the choice of denying his faith or being executed. The pastor accepted death calmly and with dignity. The LCMS understands “a thousand compromises don’t add up to a win.” I am weak. I’m glad my church is strong.

    • Well, I do receive the Sacraments, worship daily, and so on, and I do not embrace every trendy thing that comes along– all by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. And I do not know the Jesus who would condemn a follower for praying among unbelievers.

      I do not condemn anyone. It’s not my job. But the theological basis for the LCMS’ actions escapes me.

      • Connie, I’d just point you to the letter Pastor Harrison wrote (apparently the basis for this article) and see if he condemns Pastor Morris: http://wmltblog.org/2013/02/letter-from-president-harrison-on-newtown-ct/

    • Well, just as others have said, on this particular issue it seems quite obvious what Jesus would have done since he did it all of the time, according to scripture. He preached and taught ALL kinds of people, and the religious people of his day were scandalized by him because of those with whom he chose to associate with and minister to. If that’s not exactly what’s happening here, please enlighten me. I really don’t understand what scripture these men are claiming to support their actions….

      • Rev. Stuart Burt

        @Marcotafia, Sir, you are correct, Jesus went to everyone, He preached to all who would listen, He healed many, some believers and some not, BUT no where did He have a joint “worship” service. Jesus ALWAYS was the leader. I do not know of any LCMS pastor or Christian pastor/priest who would not allow a pagan, atheist, or someone else to come to a “worship” service led by that pastor.
        I know there have been pagans at churches that I have preached at. Also, in my other vocation as an RN, I have taken care of numerous people, Christians, Moslems, Jews, atheist, agnostic, etc. In the Gulf War in 1991, I rendered care to Iraqi prisoners and Allied soldiers and treated them the same. However, there is a difference between helping others and sharing the pulpit with others, one is what we do in our vocation and the other is under the command of God.

        • Rev. Burt– I was going to reply to Marco, but you’ve said pretty much everything. Most of the commenters seem to be fighting a straw man of their own creation– they say it’s terrible/hateful/pharisaical that the LCMS refuses to pray for the Sandy Hooks victims, or refuses to speak to those who who don’t agree with them or condemns everyone who isn’t LCMS, etc. when in fact none of these are what happened and the only real question is whether the service in which Rev. Morris participated in could rightly be called a worship service or not.

          Given those facts, this article really doesn’t address the issue and seems designed simply to offer an opportunity for those holding a contrary viewpoint to congratulate themselves on how wise, loving and enlightened they are. I’m amazed (I guess I really shouldn’t be) by the declarations made with such certainty here that simply do not square with the facts of the matter, but I suppose folks would rather believe something salacious and assume the worst rather than try to understand another’s position. It kind of reminds me of the South Park episode “Death Camp of Tolerance”– the Tolerance Camp Kommandant tells the kids “Here, intolerance vill NOT BE TOLERATED!”

  9. It’s a shame that no one here is able to do what the author of the article also failed to accomplish, which would be to simply try and understand why the Missouri Synod might have a policy against joint worship services with non-Christians. Gathering your facts before taking your swings is perhaps a sign of ‘tolerance’ and ‘love.’

    The situation was a challenging one – no doubt. But is it really that outlandish or backwater to say that prayers to Allah and Jesus are incompatible with each other? If you take this stuff seriously, you might still disagree, but you ought to at least be able to grasp the concept…

  10. It’s strange that there are so many negative comments on a website that is supposed to be “Religion News.” Surely readers are aware that religions have their own particular doctrines and practices that aren’t subject to the way people feel about it. Not everyone is outraged when churches wish to follow the Bible with regard to altar and pulpit fellowship.

  11. The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church is in even more need of catching up with the Gospels, Jesus, and the times than the officialdom of the Catholic Church. How can that synod justify its cruel attitude toward such slaughters as Newtown represented by its refusal to pray for the victims, both dead and living, and call themselves religious? How can that synod justify its religious isolationism and still claim they have any relationship with Jesus? We only have to study the history of religion, including Christianity, to recognize the the synod is practicing just one more unchristian cruelty. The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church is guilty of religious atrocities similar to those its founder Martin Luther recognized in the Catholic Church of his day, irreligious attitudes that caused the Reformation.

    • I can personally attest to plenty of prayers said for the victims of the Newtown shootings in my church and nearby LCMS churches. We do not pray for the dead because they are already in God’s hands or not. We pray that the Holy Spirit the Comforter would be with the families who have lost their dearest little ones, the community as it tries to get through this tragedy, and that our Lord would use even this horrible situation to strengthen the faith of His people and bring His light to those who do not know Him.

    • “The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church is in even more need of catching up with the Gospels, Jesus, and the times than the officialdom of the Catholic Church.”

      That, in its own way, is high praise. Thank you and God bless you.

      “Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.” John 16:2-3

      • rev dr cj miller

        If anyone is still visiting this page, I request your help.

        Some in my congregation want to discuss this issue of the LCMS and why or why not it would be a problem for Pastor Morris to participate in the community vigil for the victims of Sandy Hook. I genuinely do not want to turn this into a bash another church. Rather I prefer to discuss the core of our faith and how we respond to those who have faced unspeakable tragedy? Also how should we approach people of other faiths? Is it an endorsement of another’s religion to be on the same dais with them?
        Why does the LCMS hold this point of view?
        Anything else I should consider?

  12. Pastor Scott Alan Johnson

    What a regrettable course of action. So terrible that hubris and intolerance continue to hold us captive even in the midst of grief.

    American Lutheranism has many strains and differing expressions. In my denomination, the ELCA, I would likely have been censured if I had NOT joined a community prayer service in the wake of such a tragedy. I respect my sisters and brothers in the LCMS, but I could not disagree with them more on these issues. God is bigger than our self-imposed silos of doctrinal purity: insisting otherwise is an offense against the God who called Philip to baptize the Ethiopian eunuch, Peter to the house of Cornelius and Paul to a long life of evangelism among the Gentiles.

    I pray for Pastor Morris and his ministry colleagues in Newtown. They did the right thing and he is now discovering that no good deed goes unpunished. God have mercy on us all.

    • I too know many fine Christians in the ELCA, despite current issues in that body. However, you criticize the LCMS for it’s “self-imposed silos of doctrinal purity,” using the spread of the Gospel in the early church as an example. I’d certainly agree that the Gospel should be brought to all– but that is the crux (no pun intended) of the matter. Phillip, Peter and Paul brought the Gospel to those who did not know it– and the Gospel is Jesus crucified for the sin of the world and raised for our justification. To use Paul in another location, when he went to the Areopagus, Paul didn’t place Jesus alongside the Greek pantheon, he came to show them that their “unknown god” needed to be replaced with the one true God. I am not unsympathetic to Pr. Morris– he was in a very challenging situation– but the concern is that when LCMS pastors participate in community religious services, they’re giving the impression that it’s “Eh, Jesus, Buddha, whatever– they’re all the same.” Well, no, they’re not, and neither a Christian or Buddhist could honestly say that they are.

      • “Well, no, they’re not (all the same), and neither a Christian or Buddhist could honestly say that they are.”
        – – – – –
        I hear ya: they’re all wrong, all of them, except YOURS. And every other group claims the same about THEIR chosen God.

        Well, they’re all the same, i.e. non-existent, to non believers. They reject all those you reject, plus just one more. It’s sad how the various factions of self proclaimed Christ followers stumble all over each other to confirm their own superiority.

        Why not concentrate on the victims, and display some respect and understanding for their ordeal? Or is that secondary to claiming your own deity as king cobra? Thankfully I know first-hand that not all Christians (or other believers) ar as deeply steeped in their own mythology as to forget the real world of flesh and bullets and victims.

        • Oh, kinda like this? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/comfort-dogs-newtown-welcome-students-back-to-school_n_2411197.html
          Oh, wait, that’s an LCMS group, so clearly they’re hateful…

          Many people seem to insist that there’s one of two ways that faith/religion can be approached: 1) all religions are equally true (or false); all that matters is sincerity or 2) What?! You disagree with me? Die, infidel! I submit that is a false dichotomy. I have friends and family members who are atheist, Jewish, Muslim, and all variety of Christian; we disagree on a great many things and we do not pretend that “all roads lead to Rome,” but neither do we hate and ostracize one another

        • “Why not concentrate on the victims, and display some respect and understanding for their ordeal?”
          ——
          Isn’t that what this pastor has been asked to do? To concentrate on the efforts his congregation has been involved with in bringing bodily comfort to victims rather than participating in generating hollow platitudes of “pick whichever one of these equally in/valid truth claims you find comfortable?” How does placing a wide variety of conflicting truth claims together on a stage “concentrate on the victims” or “respect” them? (I personally find such false displays of pseudo-quasi-unity patronizing and patently DISrespectful to the beliefs of the very people you rightly point out we ought to be respecting and helping.)

          Because of her underlying faith, the LCMS tries to help victims in a wide variety of tangible ways. As we feed you, we will share with you why we are feeding you (our love for you because of Christ’s love for you (and us)) if you are ready/willing to listen. If you are not, we will still feed you and pray for you – whether you are Lutheran or Roman Catholic or Methodist or Episcopalian or Muslim or Hindu or B’Hai or … (well, you get the picture). The same for rebuilding your house, or sitting with you beside the grave of your child. And we are in it for the long haul. (We are still helping the rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Where are FEMA, or the Red Cross?)

      • Thomas - the Lesser

        An interesting discussion here.
        I was born into the LCMS (not a willful act), my family goes back to the dawn of the German Reformation; I left years later (a very willful act of self-survival), and at about the time I was in Southeast Asia, when LCMS Air Force chaplains tried to tell me that it was God’s will that we were sending 27 B-52s per day into Vietnam to teach those infidels. There was among these chaplain corps members no message (language, cognition, or affect), or effort to comprehend or consider the struggles of conscience, the notion of moral wounds related to that this terrible duty; only “get over it, it is outside of your pay grade…God is in control here.” LCMS is expert at puzzle-palace belief formulations, leaving the “sinner” with little resolved, only a life of twisted thinking and spiritual torment. One can only wonder about the self-interests of some in the this church body’s leadership, appearing to be more concerned with a shrinking market share, and just being “right” (and safe) with the vengful God of their limited imagination; and playing on the fears of an aging membership who fill the collection plates. LCMS has constructed a theology that ignores and robs the soul, steals the potential for loving faith, neglects the critical elements of ‘love one another,’ the potential for empathy for the pain of others, compassion, and willfully fosters a caustic, paranoid, and highly political leadership system that is corrosive of any real effort to find “good news,” the creation of sollace, a healthy community, a a path for personal redemption, or hope.
        LCMS has effectively recreated and revivified the Old Testment struggles embodied in the obsessions of the pharisees, missing the whole message of a spiritual life. Good luck to them! They have obviously not changed one bit!

        • You nailed it.

          We are trained and inculcated with the ability to spot an un-dotted “i” or an un-crossed “t” in theology from a hundred miles away — but we are NOT taught the true power and FREEDOM that the Gospel of GRACE affords the believer — or the changed life filled with Christ’s LOVE that follows.

          We strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel.

          • Well, I came to the LCMS because the Gospel and the freedom it gives us was far clearer here than in the mainline Protestant church in which I was raised or in the neo-evangelical churches of my college and young adult years. The supposed narrow-mindedness that many have decried has been in my experience a narrow-minded focus on the Gospel; I have seen and experienced fist-hand spiritual damage that happens when a “gospel-lite” agenda is pursued.

            I’m sorry, “An LCMS Pastor,” that you don’t think you were trained to proclaim the Gospel– perhaps you weren’t, or perhaps you forgot it. Sadly, all the folks I have met in the LCMS who decry the supposed Pharaseeism of it doctrine have been, too a man (or woman), what Dr. John Warwick Montgomery termed “Gospel reductionists;” I trust that you are an exception to that.

            Regardless, if you find that everything in the LCMS to legalistic, I suggest you spend some time with some of the more recent works put out by the LCMS; President Harrison’s “Little Book on Joy” or “Christ Have Mercy: How to Put Your Faith into Action” or Rev. Jon Fisk’s “Broken: 7 Christian Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible” would be an excellent start.

          • @ Ken… please read my post more closely. I am, and was fully trained and equipped to proclaim the Gospel, and I do it by grace and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit every day.

          • Thomas the Lesser

            To: An LCMS pastor

            Thank you for your response. I am not really as angry as I might sound – the psychological conflict inflicted by the LCMS actually made me better then I might have been otherwise; kind of a Post Lutheran Trauma Growth Reaction. Aside from suffering the loss over the church of my generations of relatives whose strong will and beliefs brought them to the US shores, I am OK with this. It does trouble me that this church has now come to be managed by nincompoops.

            You are a breath of fresh air; Thank you for that! I have a close relative who is a member of the clergy (retired). As a result of your message, I now know there are still some threads of hope for the LCMS – in the heart that you show; perhaps you and others will out last the mirco managers, and strainers of the knats; those satisfied with crossed t’s and dotted i’s. Best wishes to you!

  13. Steven Anderson

    Quite a few of these comments go a long way in truly showing forth the so-called “love” of the secularists of this world. They “love” everybody, as long as everybody agrees exactly with them on every point. If you stray from their “orthodoxy,” your very existence cannot be tolerated, you are hated and reviled, and they spit their venom at you. Sic transit gloria mundi.

  14. I’m comfortable in my conviction that most Christians would respect the victims and their families at such a difficult time, rather than bicker over the other guy’s version of belief or how closely they follow the dictates of their chosen worship group.

    I read a number of the responses here, and find that most people seem to have forgotten the tragedy itself. This religious skilduggery is surely embarrassing to countless believers of all faith. As one with no religious baggage, all I can do is shake my head in disbelief (pun intended).

  15. This is EXACTLY why so many people are turned off by religion. Jesus loved hanging out with people different than he was….sinners, tax collectors, lepers…Yet this man is chastised for being with devout people of other faiths? Crazy. Just crazy.

    • Jesus didn’t “hang out” with people different than He was, He went among them to cure/heal/convert them.

      Officials did not engage this pastor in conversation (he was NOT chastised, despite the misrepresentation of the article) because he was with devout people of other faiths. The conversation took place because he was not clear enough that his action of “being among” was for the purpose of curing/healing/converting and could be mistaken for simply “being with,” as you have apparently taken it to be.

      • Wow! What Bible have you been reading lately? Last I checked he “hung out” with a tax collector who would’ve been reviled in his day and most certainly sinning according to Jewish law — what else do you call it when Jesus chooses to go to his house for dinner??? Also, chatting with women at a well certainly seems like “hanging out” to me…one of those women was certainly a sinner according to the law, and he singled her out for a special conversation, no less.

        • Again, another straw man: did PPPadre say that Jesus wasn’t with those who were reviled by the Pharisees? No, he did not– his point was that Jesus didn’t just hang out with those whom the religious liberals of His day deemed undesirable and leave them in the sickness and sin, He brought them life and salvation. If you think Jesus came just to hang out and chill and not harsh everyone’s mellow, you’re confusing Jesus with The Dude

  16. So much misunderstanding and misinformation. I hardly know where to begin.

    Firstly, I am distressed by all of the comments that claim that because the LCMS feels it wrong to offer joint public prayer and worship that somehow they are not doing anything helpful for the community reeling from this tragedy or are somehow “prohibited from showing love and compassion.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The congregation has conducted funeral services for her members killed in this tragedy, services that were open for all to attend. The congregation has also engaged in individual counseling and other acts of mercy (mercy shown to all regardless of their belief) where the rubber hits the road. The comfort dogs used to help the school children begin to open up and receive counseling were offered to all, no matter what your religious affiliation. How the LCMS chooses to handle a media-photo op held jointly with other organizations is not an indicator of the care and mercy they are showing at an individual level. That the good work they are actually doing on the ground is being so eclipsed or totally ignored by whether or not they offered a good showing at a joint media event is truly a sad indictment of what our society views as substantive.

    Secondly, to characterize the dialogue between this pastor and the president of the denomination as “reprimand” or “censure” is to put a horridly negative construction the entire situation. Let me illustrate by way of analogy. A man smiles at a woman coworker and holds pleasant semi-personal conversation with her while at work. His wife is uncomfortable with the situation and asks him to maintain appropriate professionalism with clear delineation of boundaries. The husband responds that he is not having an affair and was clear with the woman at the beginning that this was not to be an inappropriate personal relationship violating his marriage vows. The wife further stresses that this is uncomfortable for her and disconcerting. Out of love for his wife and care for their relationship, the husband apologizes to his wife and promises to maintain appropriate professionalism while at work. Did the wife “reprimand” or “censure” the husband, or did she express loving concern about their relationship with each other and with the co-worker?

    Thirdly, it is sad that people professing to be Christian and making comments on this article to not acknowledge that there is some degree of difficulty and consternation here. When others yoke together the showing of compassion with conflicting confessions of faith, how do you take seriously both God’s command to be compassionate and yet His warning against yoking together belief and unbelief, truth and falsehood (or half-truth)? Why do the detractors place no responsibility upon the organizers for not taking seriously the question of the Lord (“What accord has Christ with Belial?” (2 Corinthians 6:15 ESV)) by combining expressions of faith that are completely incongruous with each other? Yes, you might come to a different conclusion than others once you have wrestled with the question of what Christianity and B’Hai or Islam have to do with each other, but to refuse to acknowledge that this is a question to be wrestled with and to mock and denigrate those who disagree with you does not demonstrate the enlightened attitude of love claimed by many who are throwing those stones. Can we not agree that we disagree?

    Well, I’ve already spent way more time on this I’ve wanted to. TTFN

  17. For all who are claiming the LCMS is heartless, I would like to point out that the comfort dogs that were in all the news reports are part of an LCMS ministry. Yeah, we are so heartless we were on the ground soon after the tragedy offering comfort and counsel to the hurting families of the community. There is a difference between being reprimanded for participating in a service that compromises the Gospel and being heartless. The pastor in question would not have been reprimanded if he and his congregation were out helping as they could, praying for the hurting people, and doing other acts of mercy. So please get off your pathetic high horse indignation and learn the facts before spouting off at the keyboard.

    • Sorry, but it’s not very rare at all. Do you know who said: “A person who is guided by God will never be misguided by anyone, and a person who is not guided by God can never be guided by anyone.”? Osama Bin Laden. Like it or not, he certainly stood up for what he believed was true. Every person of a different faith than your own at the Newton prayer service was standing up because they believed their own faith is true. One of the most difficult statements of Jesus for his followers to grasp or understand is “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.”

      • Equally difficult for us to understand is Jesus’ statement that “no one comes to the Father except through Me.” Both are statements that Jesus wants us to understand and not just pick one or the other. Our understanding must encompass both.

        You also stated, “Every person of a different faith than your own at the Newton (sic) prayer service was standing up because they believed their own faith is true.” But is that valid? Was everyone standing up there because they believed that their faith is true, or were some up there because they believed that their faith was a part of the truth? There is a difference.

  18. Has anyone actually read Harrison’s letter? http://wmltblog.org/2013/02/letter-from-president-harrison-on-newtown-ct/

    Judging from many of these comments, I’d guess not– possibly even the author of the article

  19. How embarrassing.

    Please know that not all LCMS pastors or people think as narrowly as the current leadership of our Synod. I commend Pastor Morris, and believe that no one in St. Louis has even the smallest shred of a clue as to what it was like in Newtown after it happened. It was NOT a “worship service” and, yes, Jesus Himself was there. Is President Harrison going to censure Jesus next? These were hurting, shocked people who needed the faith leaders of the community (some orthodox, some heterodox, some diametrically opposed to one another) present in the room to offer whatever consolation they could. It was clearly stated that there was no implicit acceptance of each others positions. This was simply an act of love. To those in the LCMS who think otherwise, I say two things: 1) Where is the love of Christ in your life? and 2) please just grow up.

    • How is love (and I will pull it back to love in general, not merely “love of Christ” – although that is included) – how is love served by putting hurting, shocked people in a room where they will hear a confusing cacophony of messages of consolation that are (in your words) “diametrically opposed to one another?” Would not love be better served by putting hurting, shocked people in a room with a faith leader speaking clearly and unambiguously THE message of comfort in the Cross of Christ?

      • Well, that is your view. I presume if people had wanted only that, they could have gone only to their own church and received it — I don’t think anyone was forced to attend.

        • Marcotafia – The article takes a critical tone in describing a pastor being advised that a past decision was incorrect. The comment to which I was replying stated that those who gave such advice to this pastor were devoid of the love of Christ. You are conceding that our view is that love is better served by speaking a clear message of comfort, not subjecting a room full of hurting and shocked people to a cacophony of contradictory messages. So I am left to infer that you agree with the decision of this pastor to apologize for his actions. If I am incorrect in what you meant to say, please correct me.

          I wish An LCMS Pastor (to whom I posed this question originally) would respond, since he keeps implying that those who hold a different opinion than he does lack the love of Christ.

    • My question to you: Why not join the ELCA? I left the ELCA in 2009 in order to join you “narrow minded,” folks of the LCMS. Theirs plenty of room for syncretistic pastors in the ELCA! I’ll even hook you up with my old advisor at Southern Seminary.

      • You will not ever find me in the ELCA. They have abandoned God’s Word. I am not unionistic, syncretistic, or the like. I love my church body. You do not know me, so how can you say I am anything? I am a conservative LCMS pastor who just happens to think it’s OK to love people in Jesus – wherever they are. Isn’t that the example of Christ?

        • How is love (and I will pull it back to love in general, not merely “love of Christ” – although that is included) – how is love served by putting hurting, shocked people in a room where they will hear a confusing cacophony of messages of consolation that are (in your words) “diametrically opposed to one another?” Would not love be better served by putting hurting, shocked people in a room with a faith leader speaking clearly and unambiguously THE message of comfort in the Cross of Christ?

        • “Please know that not all LCMS pastors or people think as narrowly as the current leadership of our Synod.”

          “faith leaders of the community (some orthodox, some heterodox, some diametrically opposed to one another) present in the room to offer whatever consolation they could.”

          An LCMS Pastor, please, I’m serious. I’ll even pay the application fee. Just let me know when your ready to jump ship.

        • And yet you know those “round-collar boys” and can make vile statements about them like this “I know the “round collar boys” would disagree with me, but then, I don’t see much love in their lives either”?

          You are also in the habit of uncoupling love from Jesus. Attending or not attending this worship service has nothing to do with loving the victims of this tragedy. Clearly proclaiming Christ who alone can give hope in such darkness is love. There is no love or Christ in falsehood or confusion.

    • So its not a worship service. I’ve been to an LCMS church that has a “deaconess” read a “devotion” from the pulpit on Sunday morning instead of a pastor delivering a sermon, but of course, she did not give a sermon. At least there is consistency in your church body along some lines of thinking.

  20. So…our kids can’t pray in schools because its intolerant, but if our pastors decide not to pray at civic events, then that’s intolerant too?

    Can’t have it both ways America. Well, you can. Just start killing the people who point out contradictions.

  21. I’m a member of the LCMS. I’m proud of Pr. Harrison for standing up for Biblical Doctrine. To all you people on here with your postmodern internet assembled philosophies that God is a big fuzzy teddybear, start reading some SERIOUS theology. No one is making you join the LCMS, if you can’t take a real-man’s church go back to your kiddy church with their feel good theologies and were everyone is holding hands under the rainbow. And all you posters claiming that you don’t even attend a church, why are you guys even reading this? Get back to your Sunday morning cartoons and opium of mass entertainment. TO THE LCMS PASTOR JUST POSTED: Get thee out of the LCMS and join the ELCA!

  22. I believe that Pastor Morris intended well. God does forgive even our best attempts to serve each other. The LCMS is right, however, to be concerned about the public perception one of it pastors portrays. Christians who believe that Jesus is God and died in their place for their sins cannot also worship or pray along with others who reject that. And by the same token, why would those of other faiths want to compromise their beliefs by giving equal credence to Christianity? It doesn’t mean we can’t strive to live and work and play nicely together. We just can’t worship together. It’s o.k. to make that distinction and to encourage that within the ranks.

    We hypocrites within the Christian community stumble about to serve each other and remain true to Christian doctrine. And we find God’s mercy and forgiveness in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. To the hypocrites on the outside taking potshots at our feeble attempts, come and join us to find the same love and forgiveness we have found.

      • So what was it?

        Songs, readings from sacred texts, expositions on those texts, prayers and blessings sounds an awful lot like the classic sense of worship in most faith traditions that I know of.

        • PPPadre… From your definition my son’s Boy Scouts weekly meetings are also “Worship Services.” So are football games. Baseball games (National anthem; 7th inning stretch songs; Commentators, et. al.)

          • An LCMS Pastor – I think you are confusing ritual with worship. As much as I love baseball and can quote both the Official Rules of Baseball (~Torah) and the unwritten rules (~Mishnah) for you, baseball is not religion and her texts are not “sacred.” There are lots of situations in life that are full of ritual but are not worship.

            You made an assertion of certainty (what took place was not worship) where our Synodical President stated there was ambiguity and disagreement. I am merely asking for you to make an argument rather than an assertion. I made an argument for my position – an argument you found overly broad, but an argument nonetheless. I am simply asking for the courtesy of an argument in return. Why wasn’t this Vigil Service a worship service? What makes worship worship and why wasn’t this it?

  23. Many of you are confusing non-Christians, with Anti-Christians. Muslims not only oppose it, they advocate against it and kill their own citizenry for just trying to convert. The root of Bahai is Islam, but they have become the cafeteria of religious society. They see Christ as one of many options, but Jesus said “I AM the Way, the Truth,…” No room for negotiation.

  24. Rev. Stuart V. Burt

    There is one thing I dislike about comment sections on the Web, people can be anonymous. That is wrong. If you are a Christian, be open and honest. To LCMS pastor, if you disagree with unionism and syncretism, leave the LCMS and go to another church body that you can agree with, but you won’t because it is all about YOUR retirement and MONEY. You knew exactly or should have known when you took your ordination vows, if not, maybe you should go back and read them.

    Pastor Morris and his congregation could have had a Service at their congregation and invited the community to the church. But that did not happen that I know of, so he was won back through Law and Gospel presented to him by Pastor Harrison and he and his congregation will be the better for it.

    There will be many who will disagree with me, which is okay. However, to my brothers and sisters of the ELCA, the Anglican Communion, and any other Christian denomination, where were you when President Harrison was marching for LIFE, the life of murdered babies these past forty years. For the 50,000,000 Americans who have been murdered in man’s quest for godhood?

    For those who are not Christian, you may not like our understanding on unionism/syncretism, but it is what has been handed down to us and it is a theological issue that has been thoroughly discussed and is a settled fact. I am NOT sorry that you are offended by truth, for there is only one truth and that comes from Jesus Christ. Not the god of the Jews, not the god of the Moslems, not the gods of the Hindus, not the god of the atheists (that is themselves), but the True and Very God of the Bible, the Father, the Son ✠, and the Holy Spirit. and for others:
    Im Namen des Vaters und des Sohnes ✠ und des Heiligen Geistes. Amen
    In nomine Patris, et Filii, ✠ et Spiritus Sancti. Amen
    På vegne af Faderens og Sønnens ✠ og Helligåndens. Amen

    Rev. Stuart V. Burt
    Tacoma, Washington
    This is for those who do not let people know who they are.

  25. Unfortunately,this reminds me of David Benke, the Lutheran pastor who participated in a 9/11 memorial service that had interfaith representatives and who was charged as a heretic and eventually restated: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/13/nyregion/lutheran-panel-reinstates-pastor-after-post-9-11-interfaith-service.html. We have our work cut out for us in interfaith and religious diplomacy among Evangelicals and mainline Protestants.

  26. Another LCMS Pastor

    Hey LCMS… the Westboro Baptist Church called. They said to tell you that next week’s “interfaith and religious diplomacy among Evangelicals and mainline Protestants’ class will be held on Thursday instead of Tuesday.

    • Rev. Stuart Burt

      @Another LCMS Pastor, BTW, Westboro Baptist does not like the LCMS, because they think we are Catholic. But, we do not obfuscate the gospel behind works, so they are incorrect. Your try at sarcasm is quite poor, might I suggest you study some Luther, Chemnitz, and Gerhard.

      • Another LCMS Pastor

        @Rev Stuart Burt
        “Your try at sarcasm is quite poor, might I suggest you study some Luther, Chemnitz, and Gerhard.”

        Oh yes, the true masters of sarcasm. Thanks for the recommendation.

        • Rev. Stuart Burt

          I am sorry I did not clarify my response to you. You are correct, not for sarcasm, but theology. You sir should read them for their understanding of theology, Monsieur no name pastor.

  27. Our church body believes it gives a public false witness when and if a representative of the Christian faith shares the platform and stage where representatives of other religions are given “equal time” and in which all religions are treated as equally valid expressions of truth. This has been the historic understanding and practice of the Christian religion for millennia and it would only come as a “shock” to a person who has become tolerant of the view that “every path leads to heaven.” I applaud our Synod’s president, Rev. Matthew Harrison, for discharging faithfully the duties of his office and working in a very pastoral manner with Pastor Morris. I also thank Pr. Morris for his keen sensitivity to the offense that his actions causes within our church body. If people are interested in reading the actual letter Pastors Harrison and Morris wrote they can follow this link:

    http://wmltblog.org/2013/02/letter-from-president-harrison-on-newt own-ct/

    • Concur, PTM. We can only speak truth (Sola Scriptura) despite the emotional diatribes that will find every possible pseudo-scriptural reason to criticize those truths here (blog). Someone spoke about AF chaplains (I mostly dealt with Army chaplains). As a matter of fact, it was because of one such who marched, “Left, Left, Left” that compelled me to question what I had learned previously. I had to return to my Small Catechism as well as all that is found in the Book of Concord, etc. I found that I was in the ‘correct pew’ in Scriptural and Doctrinal terms (the latter based on Scripture) and that the chaplain had gone elsewhere (as he violated his ordination vows) and was ‘flying false colors.’ We do not hate others because of our beliefs, but we must stand by them so as not to send wrong messages (‘fly false colors’) which are not sent in truth or love. We would be culpable in bearing false witness doing otherwise.

    • Rev. Stuart Burt

      Yes that is another perspective, but similar to “Another perspective on Paul”, it is an incorrect statement by the former synodical president, who like President Obama, is a very divisive person. I in no way want to cast dispersions or use any ad hominems on anyone, but former synod president Kieschnick or President Obama, it is just that their policies are divisive.
      In Pres. Kieschnick’s case, he is a poor theologian.

      • Wow, Stu… just wow. And, naturally, there is NOTHING AT ALL wrong with your theology, right? Who made you the judge of Dr. Kieschnick’s theology? Arrogant much? Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

        Or perhaps more applicable would be Matthew 15:3-9 “Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ 6 he is not to ‘honor his father ‘with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
        8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
        9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'””

        • Rev. Stuart Burt

          Okay Monsieur, from the ordination rite:

          I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim. 4:1–5)

          Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

          But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:14–17)

          Do you acknowledge that the Lord has called you through His Church into the ministry of Word and Sacrament?
          I do.
          Do you believe and confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
          Yes, I believe and confess the canonical Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
          Do you believe and confess the three Ecumenical Creeds, namely the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds, as faithful testimonies to the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and do you reject all the errors which they condemn?
          Yes, I believe and confess the three Creeds because they are in accord with the Word of God. I also reject all the errors they condemn.
          Do you confess the Unaltered Augsburg Confession to be a true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church? And do you confess that the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Authority and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord—as these are contained in the 1580 Book of Concord—are also in agreement with this one scriptural faith?
          Yes, I make these Confessions my own because they are in accord with the Word of God.
          Do you promise that you will perform the duties of your office in accordance with these Confessions, and that all your preaching and teaching and your administration of the Sacraments will be in conformity with Holy Scripture and with these Confessions?
          Yes, I promise with the help of God.
          Will you faithfully instruct both young and old in the chief articles of Christian doctrine, will you forgive the sins of those who repent, and will you promise never to divulge the sins confessed to you? Will you minister faithfully to the sick and dying, will you demonstrate to the Church a constant and ready ministry centered in the Gospel? Will you admonish and encourage the people to a lively confidence in Christ and in holy living?
          Yes, I will with the help of God.
          Finally, will you honor and adorn the office of the holy ministry with a holy life? Will you be diligent in study of Holy Scripture and the Confessions? And will you be constant in prayer for those under your pastoral care?
          I will, the Lord helping me through the power and grace of His Holy Spirit.
          [Jesus said:] “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
          The presiding minister clearly, slowly, and distinctly says:
          Stuart Victor Burt, I ordain and consecrate you to the office of the holy ministry of the Word and Sacraments in the one, holy, Christian, and apostolic Church, in the name of the Father and of the  Son and of the Holy Spirit.
          Amen.

          In Addition:
          17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles xcontrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; yavoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but ztheir own appetites,6 and aby smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For byour obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you cto be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 dThe God of peace ewill soon crush Satan under your feet. fThe grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

          The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ro 16:17–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

          5 The aim of our charge is love lthat issues from a pure heart and ma good conscience and na sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by oswerving from these, have wandered away into pvain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, qwithout understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
          8 Now we know that rthe law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the slaw is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers,2 liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to tsound3 doctrine, 11 in accordance with uthe gospel of the glory of vthe blessed God wwith which I have been entrusted.
          The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (1 Ti 1:5–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
          For this reason no Christian congregation has the right to tolerate false doctrines in its own midst, or to connive at erroneous teachings in others. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15); (Tit. 3:10; Rev. 2:15). To whichever church-body Christians may belong, they must insist that nothing but the unadulterated truth of God’s Word is taught in their churches. “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). If the unadulterated truth of God’s Word is not taught, it is the duty of these people to withdraw from such churches and organizations, because they uphold and defend false doctrines. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). “Impious teachers are to be deserted (are not to be received and heard)” (Apol., Art. VII, VIII, 48, Triglot, p. 243).—While avoiding false teachers, we are to join a church in which the doctrines of the Gospel are taught in their truth and purity and the Sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution. For according to Acts 2:42 we are to maintain church-fellowship with those who continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, the early Church being to us an example. If from the very beginning the Christians had tried the spirits (prophets) (1 John 4:1), whether their teachings were of God, and had withdrawn from false teachers, we should today not have the diversity of denominations that confuses the simple.
          Koehler, E. W. A. (1999). A summary of Christian doctrine: A popular presentation of the teachings of the Bible (electronic ed.) (249–250). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

          B. Every believer for the sake of his salvation must flee all false teachers and avoid all heterodox congregations or sects.

          1. Scripture Proof

          Many, on hearing that the church exists wherever the Word and the sacraments are still found essentially, infer from this fact that it is a matter of indifference whether they belong to an orthodox [rechtgläubige] or to an unorthodox [falschgläubige] church, since after all they are in the church and so can be saved. But they are mistaken. True, it is not necessary to leave a heterodox communion in order to be in the church, and many indeed are saved who, for lack of knowledge, outwardly belong to sects and nevertheless continue in the [true] faith. But what does it profit anyone to be in the church if he is not of the church and [so] does not belong to it? Whoever has learned to know the false doctrine of the sects and their teachers and despite this fact continues to belong to them is indeed still in the church but not of the [true] church. Such a person does not belong to the divine seed that is hidden in the sects. His communion with the sects is not a sin of weakness, with which the state of grace can exist, for such a person acts willfully and contrary to the will of God, who in His holy Word commands us to flee and avoid false teachers and their false worship.
          As little, therefore, as the doctrine that true [begnadigte] Christians still commit sins of weakness justifies those who think that for that reason they knowingly and willfully may continue in sin, indeed, as surely as those who thus sin against [divine] grace are children of perdition, so little also does the doctrine that in the sects there are children of God justify those who contrary to God’s Word knowingly desire to continue in them; indeed, so surely also such willful partakers of the perversion of the Word of truth are children of perdition; for thus it is written:
          Deut. 13:1–3: “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder of which he spoke to you comes to pass, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
          Matt. 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
          Matt. 24:23–24: “If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
          Acts 20:30–31: “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
          Rom. 16:17–18: “I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.”
          1 Cor. 10:18, 21: “Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? … You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.”
          1 Cor. 11:19: “There must also be factions [Luther: Rotten] among you, that they which are approved may be recognized among you.”
          2 Cor. 6:14–18: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean. And I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’ ”
          Gal. 5:9: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
          Titus 3:10–11: “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.”
          2 John 10–11: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”
          Rev. 18:4: “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”

          Walther, C. F. W. (1987). Church and ministry: Witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the question of the church and the ministry (electronic ed.) (113–115). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

          • I can quote all that too… what’s your point, MONSIEUR?

            Ich merke das du vielleicht auch ein bisschen Deutsch sprechen kannst. Und was sagt Luther dazu? Und Melanchton? Lebt eigentlich die Gande unseren Herrn in dir? Alles was du gesagt hast sind Regeln. Wo ist die Liebe? Wo ist die Liebe! Schafft Gott eigentlich eine neue Schöpfung in die Seele der Mensch, oder nicht? Wie wissen wir das wir neue Schöpfungen in Christus sind? LIEBE!

            Ich sehe das in dich nicht.

          • Christopher Neuendorf

            Where’s the love? The love is in ministering to all of the needs of those affected by the Newtown tragedy (which Pastor Morris, his congregation, and many others in the LCMS—including President Harrison—have done). The love is in giving them the true hope that comes through faith in Jesus Christ (which Pastor Morris has done especially after repenting for his participation in the interfaith service where Jesus Christ was presented as one among many). I think the grace of our Lord does indeed dwell in the Rev. Stuart Burt, as it does in President Harrison. Many of the things they say are rules, but rules continue to have a place in Christ’s Church, if those rules truly embody what God teaches in His Law, a Law that has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ and only condemns where it finds unbelief. Pointing to love is itself a matter of “rules,” since love is the fulfillment and keeping of the Law. It’s by definition a failure of love to transgress God’s Law—including the Law that says, “Thou shalt have no other gods.” I see plenty of love in the LCMS, including (and especially?) President Harrison. It’s genuine love that wants to serve the neighbor while remaining faithful to all that God teaches in Holy Scripture. It’s flawed love that stands in daily need of God’s forgiveness. And it’s love that will endure even when the world maintains its relentless onslaught on the Church of God.

          • Well, well, well… I see now… the REVEREND Stuart Burt is currently CRM! How enlightening!

            You had me worried there, Stu, that your bad manners (not to mention theology) were influencing a Christian congregation. God has taken care of that little problem, hasn’t He.

            Your “order” for me to follow my ordination vows (which I have followed and kept, by God’s grace) is quite hollow, coming from one who is not a pastor of a congregation. Fort Wayne 2006… I know full well what my Alma Mater was producing in those years. Yes… I am a Ft. Wayne Graduate. Surprised? God can and does work through all kinds of people, not because we’re so good, but because He is.

            So Stu, you can just go back to being an RN, and leave the theology to the professionals, ok?

          • Rev Stuart schooled “an LCMS pastor” and so the ELCA in sheeps clothing insults all CRM pastors! Pathetic!

        • LCMS Pastor, I won’t comment on the content of your own comments on this thread, just the tone. Frankly, you sound fourteen. Please, regardless of your opinion on the subject, act more mature. I would expect such tone and attitude from the kids I hear on xbox live, but not an LCMS Pastor.

  28. Isn’t it amazing how people have no problem parading their man-made doctrine that they “love everyone,” but then, for some strange reason “truth” is conveniently hated.

    Let’s see…Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

    Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23)

    What do you know…truth and love do go together! For those of you who believe that it is hateful to “speak the truth in love,” here is something else Jesus said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18)

  29. I belong to the LCMS and we love it. There is nothing hateful or intolerant about it. Whenever an issue like this one has come up, we are more than welcome to discuss it with our pastor for clarification. To date, there has always been good reason behind what they do, but few bother to find out what the reasoning is.
    For those of you going on some kind of LCMS bash session, I suggest you contact a local LCMS pastor for clarification and come to your conclusions after you have the whole picture.

  30. Dave Schumacher

    Pr. Morris has stated, very publically, that he believes all those who don’t have the Christian faith, regardless of how good of a person they are, are headed to hell – etrernally condemned. He also believes that God does not hear the prayers of non-Christians.
    Don’t believe it? – Ask him.

  31. This is a theological issue that has been discussed in the LCMS and other denominations for a very long time. We love all people, we simply believe there is only one true God, and that worshiping with nonbelievers suggests to the world that there are many paths to salvation, when in fact we believe there is only one; through Jesus Christ. LCMS congregations across the country have been praying for the victims and families of the victims at Sandy Hook since this terrible tragedy occurred. We have also been working with other faiths to ease the suffering of this community in forms where shared worship is not taking place. I urge you to understand why we take this position, and not jump to conclusions about our motives or beliefs.

  32. Another LCMS pastor

    As another LCMS pastor I wrestle with this decision. I state for the record that I believe in Christ alone, justification by faith alone, the inerrancy of Scripture, and that no ground should be given to suggest that there is any other way to God than the one Jesus spoke of when He named Himself the way, the truth, and the life. And I subscribe to the Book of Concord as a correct exposition of the Christian faith.

    That said, I believe this pastor’s words and confession eliminated any possibility of his presence indicating any endorsement for the confessions of the other religious groups present and so I find it hard to call it unionism (unlike Rev. Benke’s nebulous confession in 2001.)

    So questions for my church to ponder:
    If mere presence must necessarily equate to unionism:
    1. Why does Jesus preach in the synagogues?
    2. Why does Paul preach in the synagogues?
    3. Why does Paul preach on Mars hill?
    4. Why did Jesus teach in the temple with the teachers of the faith when he was small?
    5. Why does Paul say he tries to be all things to all people (without sacrificing his confession) that he might win some?

    I have the greatest respect for Rev. Paul McCain and he states our position correctly as we practice it (as far as I understand it). But I have to ask: where in Scripture and the Confessions does it indicate that mere presence is giving credence to false religion?

    I am rather offended that some may think that a capable LCMS pastor and theologian is unable to give a clear enough confession that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in what Christ alone has done for us through His death on the cross as proclaimed in Scripture alone. Do we really think our pastors are so weak? Do we really think our Confession so weak? Do we really think the truth of Christ is so weak that in a crowd it won’t shine forth in power and glory?

    I found Benke’s participation less than optimal precisely because his confession was so weak and watered down that it was in my opinion unionistic. But I didn’t hear Morse that way. And to claim that it is impossible for a LCMS pastor to give a non-unionist confession of the Gospel in a pluralistic setting does not reflect the Gospel that I know. And I certainly don’t mean some generic Gospel that God loves everyone just as they are but I mean the full confess of Christ crucified for our sins and risen for our justification. Might such a confession be a bit offensive to some in a pluralistic setting. Perhaps. But it would none the less be true and not unionist.

    I have to ask my church the hard question: who really wants LCMS pastors to be quiet on the public stage?
    Jesus…or Satan?

  33. The article made me sad, simply because the author did not collect all of the facts that he needed to on this issue, thus giving a false portrayal of what actually happened (typical of any media source these days). The comments that ensued made me even more sad, because many of you perpetuated the issues by not collecting your facts either, lambasting fellow Christians, and simply acting downright arrogant.

    I support what Pastor Morris did in offering timely ministry to his community in this very difficult situation. I especially commend Pastor Morris for reaching out to his brother pastors and elected leadership before making his decision to attend this event. For whatever reason, following the advice that he was given, he still felt compelled to attend this event and offer a prayer. Call this bravery, inexperience, or the mevement of the Holy Spirit, but as a young pastor (only 3 months in at the time of the shooting) Pastor Morris did what he felt he needed to do at the time.

    I also commend Pastor Harrison for “correcting” Pastor Morris. Rules are meant to be followed. While many of you have criticized (quite viciously, I might add) the LCMS for being outdated and unloving because of it rules, you might remember that each of your organizations have rules that NEED to be followed to remain in good order. I realize, and it is unfortunate, that an LCMS pastor can’t pray at such an event as a public prayer service as this, but it is even more unfortunate that many in here have to make the situation worse by adding fuel to the fire.

    So here’s the deal. First, get your facts straight. Second, get over yourselves and your quest to be top dog in this argument. Third, “pull the log out of your own eye before you try to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5. I believe it was Jesus who said that. If you want to be Christian, start acting like it, because I haven’t heard much of it in here other than what Pastor Morris did in order to offer timely ministry to his community and what Pator Harrison did to offer timely correction to his brother pastor for not following the rules.

    • Deaconess Laura

      Amen. The grace and forgiveness we extend to strangers is often withheld from our nearest friends/family. We are so quick to publicly condemn that we forget the last breath should be, “Father, forgive…”
      And no. Not just forgive “him” or “them” but “me” and “us” as well.

      And we forgive.

  34. As much as I would hate for a public school to let a Mormon lead my child, the J.W. kid and the Buddhist child in prayer to a generic god, I would also hate for a pastor called to my congregation, to comfort the lost in their worship to false gods and to fool other heterodox Christians into thinking their error is unimportant It would be great for all that community to come together in a secular way, to support one another but do not belittle religion into being some subjective truth like flavors of ice cream.

  35. Dave Schumacher,
    There’s no way that Pastor Morris believes what you say he does. Did you even watch the service man? If he believes the stuff you say he does how come he gave that awesome blessing…to ALL man? And he directed everyone to the clergy of their choice. There is just no way he believes all that stuff you say. No way man! He was sharing the love man! He’s no hater!

    I gotta go – I’m late for an appointment to help serve breakfast in bed to 400,000 man. You know – sharin’ the love man.

  36. Yet Another LCMS Pastor

    Wow this thread is amazing. It’s sad it’s come to this, a pastor said a prayer and he got on trouble. Makes our synod a dangerous place to exercise any pastoral discretion.

    • How did this pastor get into trouble? Since when is repentance and forgiveness “trouble” and not good news?

      Trouble comes when you err and refuse the word of correction from your fellow Christian. It is only a craven world that refuses to graciously forgive on account of the merits of Christ that would (and has) count(ed) this as trouble.

  37. I received my elementary education at a LCMS elementary school. This tunnel-vision arrogance illustrated by the LCMS toward Reverend Morris is in evidence today as it was 50 years ago. I am a non-Lutheran Christian who worships and prays for forgiveness and partakes of the sacraments. It would do no good

  38. Rev. Stuart Burt

    @ a so called “an LCMS pastor” I was not going to post anything more after the ad homenim by “an LCMS Pastor” who does not have the balls to let people know to whom they are chatting with. However, I have one friend who is CRM d/t illness, another who asked for a peaceful release because his wife was dying of cancer, another man whose wife had an affair and he resigned.
    Fo myself, I asked for a peaceful release from the congregation, where I was the assistant pastor, so that I could move closer to my parents, they are 89 and 91. Moreover, the congregation did not need two pastors, so it was a financial burden that they did not need. Therefore, Monsieur “an LCMS Pastor” before you hurl evil statements at people, maybe you should know the whole story.

    BTW, to “an LCMS Pastor”, I forgive you, In the Name of the Father, the Son ✠, and the Holy Spirit.

  39. I think the concept of “showing love to others” and participating on a interfaith church service, is being confused here. There are plenty of other more personal ways to “show love to others” than doing the benediction at the end of an interfaith service – which, btw, the LCMS overwhelmingly does around the world.
    I can not understand why people feel the need to have interfaith service in the first place. Does a Muslim who is grieving really want to hear a Christian speak at a memorial service? God forbid one of my children should tragically die, but I would have no desire to attend such a service. I would want to hear the Words my God has to speak to me to give me comfort – not someone else’s god.

  40. Dave Schumacher

    Dear Wavy,
    You are right. There is no way that anyone would guess that Pr. Morris believes those things by watching the service. That is the point.
    Pr. Morris also believes that there is no love; without Christ. There is no comfort; without Christ. And, there is no life; without Christ. But, you are right, no one heard that in what he said, or did.

  41. An "Old Lutheran"

    This topic has gotten legs that are far out of proportion to the subject matter. It is all about unionism, syncretism , and the false impression observed when present. As in the case of when the question of eating meat offered to idols; should a Christian partake. Since Idols are of no import, the meat/grain offered would not be affected. The true problem is that it may give offense or a false impression of approval of the validity of the idols. Equally so today with false teaching. The history of the LCMS started with the forced unionization, (merger with the Calvanists, and the ensuing merger of both in the Sacrament of the Alter.), of the Prussian Union in Germany. This history makes the LCMS more accutely aware of the hazards of unionism and syncretism. I am thankfull for that. The situation at Yankee Stadium was probably more obvious than the last when Oprah got up and said that (I paraphrase), “As far as I’m concerned, everyone who died here is now an Angel.” For a pastor to place himself in a situation contextually in agreement and out of controll of what others present is not wise. It is a question of:” could you, or should you”? Yes, you could, but if there was doctrinal error, it could be very easy for anyone to assume you agree. In these days of doctrinal indifference, the hazards are more abundant and caution to avoid misunderstanding more important. Again, this blow-up today has nothing to do with real concern for the dead, survivors, or the injured. It is more about being politically correct or doctrinally correct.

  42. Independent Lutheran

    Is it possible to see the text of Pastor Morris’ prayer?
    Isn’t it wonderful to know that at least 1 prayer reached the ears and heart of our Heavenly Father on December 14?

  43. An "Old Lutheran"

    It has been said regarding the LCMS; “Not all churches are about Christian love”. To the contrary, if the church firmly believes others both within Christianity or outside of it are in error, or deny the Christian faith, it is the responsibility of that church to show where those errors exist. To remain silent would be to show approval of those errors. To do that is NOT Christian love. To remain silent is what political correctness wishes for. Political correctness is not Christian love.

    • Independent Lutheran

      Dear Christian brother (an “Old Lutheran”), “To remain silent” does not always “show approval” of errors.
      Ecclesiastes 3:1,7b tells us “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” When a person/church is silent, the Holy Spirit could be leading/directing them to be silent & instead to pray.
      Matthew 7:1a…3…5 “Do not judge others…And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? First get rid of the log in your own eye…” The Holy Spirit could be leading/directing that person/church to be silent so that they can first examine their own life.
      Matthew 13:28-30 “…’Should we pull out the weeds?’…’No…let both grow together until the harvest’…” This may be what the Holy Spirit is leading/directing the person/church to do.
      We know the Holy Spirit is leading/guiding us when we share the Good News of Jesus with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
      faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
      God bless you, dear friend, with the overwhelming & awesome love of Jesus. . .

  44. A sinner in the corner

    In reading all of this, I think pretty much everybody has missed the point the Synod was trying to make.

    Please read 1 Corinthians 8 ( this is the Internet – you can all look it up ). Remember the following:

    If you are LCMS … it’s not about *them*.
    If you are not … it’s not about *you*.

  45. An "Old Lutheran"

    Sometimes silence is appropriate, sometimes it is not. Sometimes a public display necessitates a public response. Sometimes how we act, and what we do can be louder than words. Each situation is different. It is easy to confuse all the above.——-Sometimes.

  46. It’s time to Reclaim Lutheran Sanity in the Missouri Synod!

    Are YOU TIRED of being embarrassed by your own denomination?
    Are YOU TIRED of trying to rationalize or explain to others the ridiculously stupid actions of our church’s leaders?
    Are YOU TIRED of a total lack of common sense, decency and compassion among a group of people who claim to be all about compassion?

    Look to the example of others:
    One of the greatest tragedies of our time has been the clergy abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church. While we on the protestant side have been, for the most part, graciously spared anything of this magnitude, it is important that we learn the valuable lessons of others. IF IT WERE LEFT to the leadership of the Roman Catholic church to solve this sinful problem, we all know that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING would have been done about it. The clergy and ‘old boys’ system had covered up and swept this issue under the carpet for decades. What REALLY MADE A CHANGE was when the lay people empowered themselves and took action.

    IMPORTANT LESSON: if empowered lay people can make a difference in a system as closed as the Roman Catholic Church, THERE’S HOPE for the Missouri Synod!

    Dateline: September 11, 2001–a modern date that will live in infamy, the day the Twin Towers came down. It was a blatant act of aggression carried out against the American people ON AMERICAN SOIL. There were no precedents. This was far from anything “ordinary.” Our nation, our people were HURTING. They were crying. They were reaching out for answers. They quite rightly turned to their religious leaders. Obviously, all good Lutherans know that not all religions preach the true God. Obviously all good Lutherans know that it is the duty of every Christian to seek out and unite with a true church body for regular Sunday worship. But, an inter-faith memorial service later held at Yankee Stadium was NOT REGULAR SUNDAY WORSHIP. It was a time for people of all faiths to come together to share their grief. One of our own was there, as he should have been, Reverend David Benke, the District President of the Atlantic District. He followed his heart and his conviction to his ordination oath to minister to those who were hurting.
    For background info see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Benke

    As you may recall, for his efforts Rev. Benke was mercilessly hounded by ultra right wing elements within the denomination. What an embarrassing moment for the Missouri Synod! Imagine trying to explain to your non-Christian neighbor or relative from another denomination that according to the “official rules” of our denomination IT’S WRONG to do what David Benke did! But that was 2001. Surely we’ve learned our lesson since then…

    Dateline: December 14, 2012–Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown Ct. An extremely troubled young man by the name of Adam Lanza fatally shot twenty children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Again our collective world was shattered. So many innocent dead, so much Christmas horror and pain. As a nation we were mourning. Clearly this was another unique situation, another time when an inter-faith vigil service was called for. Maybe you saw it on television. Even the President of the United States was there. Like the 911 memorial service, this was NOT A REGULAR SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE. Like the 911 memorial service, NO ONE present or viewing could possibly make the connection that “all faiths are one” or that there is “no difference between religions.” That wasn’t the point of the service. The point of the service was mutual support, grief sharing, and crying together. As it happens there is a Missouri Synod congregation in that town, and yes, a child from that congregation was murdered that fateful day. The pastor of that congregation was invited to have a part in the memorial vigil. He knew the rules of the denomination. He very likely knew our recent embarrassing history from Yankee Stadium. To be “safe,” this pastor took the benediction (the very last part of the service), read from scripture, and made it plain that there were differences between the faiths represented that day. AND STILL, the old ultra right wing element of the Missouri Synod (now in power, in the person of Synod President Matthew Harrison) took offense! RULES WERE BROKEN. Matthew Harrison exercising his immense power as president of the synod FORCED the local Missouri Synod pastor to APOLOGIZE! He forced him to apologize for doing what any kind hearted person would do. All because of Missouri Synod RULES. Rules that are held in high esteem by the old guard right wing element, and now in full force under our current synod president. President Harrison informs us of this in his own words:

    http://wmltblog.org/2013/02/letter-from-president-harrison-on-newtown-ct/

    It’s TIME… to stop the nonsense going on at the highest levels of leadership inside the Missouri Synod
    It’s TIME… to reclaim some sanity for the Missouri Synod
    It’s TIME…. to do away with out-dated and inapplicable rules
    It’s TIME….to stop waiting for our rostered clergy to take the lead
    It’s TIME…. for lay people to take their synod back

    It takes a Synod-wide convention (held once every 3 years) and a 2/3 majority of the churches to change the constitution. It’s an uphill battle, but it MUST BEGIN!
    Speak to your LAY DELEGATE to the convention. I stress the LAY DELEGATE because most of this problem is with the CLERGY! Work for repeal or substantial change to the wording of Article VI. Do this so you will no longer be EMBARRASSED by your denomination!

    And pray for God’s help!

    • Christopher Neuendorf

      So apparently, Phil Michaels, “It’s TIME” to give up being a Christian? “It’s TIME” to make our peace with the world and forsake God’s call to faithfulness? “It’s TIME” to acknowledge that all roads lead to heaven, thereby denying Christ? I expect hatred from hardened sinners outside the Church, but it truly saddens me to see someone from the LCMS expressing embarrassment at his denomination’s evangelical and fraternal attempts to be faithful to Jesus Christ, who alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I pray (literally—I’m praying this RIGHT NOW) that our upcoming convention will overwhelmingly support President Harrison, but even if it doesn’t, he still has the approval of God on this matter, which is far more valuable that the approval of the world (of which you seem to be a part) or even of an LCMS convention.

      • Maybe it’s TIME to give up the self-importance and self-righteousness.
        Maybe it’s TIME to stop pretending that you “know” who gets the approval of your god.
        Maybe it’s TIME to recognize that there are NO angels dancing on the head of a pin because there are no angels.

    • An "Old Lutheran"

      Who is Phil Michaels? I believe he would be laughed (assisted) out the front door by Laymen of the church I attend. I for one, would give him The Book of Concord in passing. “It’s time for lay people to take their synod back”. Our friend here knows nothing of what he speaks. Once he got it, would he pass it on to Oprah, or Osteen? Much of what he says here has the same ring to it that comes from progressives, agnostics, and even atheist web sites. I do wish him well though.

      • Yes, your church… the one to get laughed out of… would certainly be the one for me. What this world needs is lots more churches who laugh people out of them. Burn any Korans lately? Picket any funerals of gays lately?

        Actually, most lay people I know are primarily sick & tired of being treated like total idiots by the clergy in power. They do not *want to be all one lovey-dovey non denominational worship melting pot. They like being lutheran and they would never support mixing all churches together for regular worship for all of the obvious reasons. We are, however, FED UP with being treated by our leaders as infants who cannot tell the difference between regular sunday worship and a community wide vigil.

        • An "Old Lutheran"

          Sounds like you have some other issues apart from church matters. Doctrinal indifference would probably be part of it. Earlier it was said to the effect;, “all roads lead to heaven”. By your writing, you would seem to agree. Much like Oprah and others.By your tone, I would expect total control if you were in control. You seem to be fixated by power. That which you despise, you exhibit. Laymen too can have pastoral concern for others. A fact you seem to ignore.

          • And your solution is despotic rule by clergy. Wow, so much for the reformation.
            and by the way, you’re not exactly staying on task. I never said all roads lead to heaven and why do you keep bringing up Oprah? I really hope that there are a lot of non-missouri synod people reading this discussion so that they can see what it is that we have to deal with on the inside.

  47. rev dr cj miller

    “LayMAN” speaks volumes to one major issue that plagues LCMS. And don’t quote passages of scripture to me, I have read all of the pertinent texts and then some.

  48. Independent Lutheran

    Where do the self-righteous go?
    Where do gay people go?
    Where do addicts go?
    Where do adulterers go?
    Where do liars go?
    Where do robbers go?
    Where do the worldly go?
    Where do the jealous go?
    Where do the illiterate go?
    Where do the proud go?
    Where do the arrogant go?
    Where do robbers go?
    Where do thieves go?
    Where do murderers go?
    Where do drunkards go?
    Where do Republicans go?
    Where do Democrats go?
    Where do Independents go?
    Where do the agnostics go?
    Where do the atheists go?
    Where do sinners go?

    Hopefully, they will fill our churches next Sunday to hear about JESUS. . .\
    Will you welcome them??

  49. The concern for avoiding syncretism and unionism in the Christian faith is admirable, desirable and good even if it is quite naïve.

    Can we all agree that the Christian faith is a direct continuation (don’t crucify me for my word choices, please read the spirit of what I am writing) of the Jewish faith? Jesus born of Jewish parents, was of the line of David—the greatest Hebrew king, sent to the Jewish people to be the Jewish Messiah and to save the Jews from their estrangement from the Jewish God known also as Yahweh, (Hebrew for “I am”, or “I am who I am” (among other things)). To reject that Christianity is born of the Jewish faith is a form of the ancient heresy, Marcionism. It would be to also reject much of what Paul and our Lord Jesus taught. Clearly the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament.

    Now that we have established that Christianity and Judaism are inexorably bound together let’s look at the exile and the transition from the “Hebrew” faith and the “Jewish” faith. Pre-exilic faith is referred to as Hebrew, upon the start of the exile (587-586 BC) historians and biblical scholars call the faith born out of this experience, Judaism. Why? What happened or changed? So many things; but let me focus on just the key ones.

    First, and most importantly the Hebrew faith which had little (if any) eschatology begins to express a highly defined eschatology. How did it develop this so quickly and with sophistication? Prior to 587 when one died they simply went to sheol, the place of the dead. It was neither hell nor heaven, but simply where the dead went. Next, pre-exilic Hebrew had little reference to Satan and when it did, this entity was not evil incarnate, but simply the accuser, much like a prosecutor functions today. Angels and demons were not really a significant part of the Hebrew faith either.

    So why do things change? The exiles are exposed to the most important religion that most people have never heard of; the ancient and fiercely monotheistic religion of Zoroastrianism. While in exile and especially as they come into contact with the Persians, Judaism finds in this similar religion answers that begin to help the Jews explain and understand their experience of the exile. Thus they adopt many theological aspects of Zoroastrianism. Dualism, heaven for the righteous, hell for the unfaithful, a ‘Devil’ who is opposed to God and an eschatology of future redemption for all who persevere all the ‘slings and arrows’ of the evil one are inculcated into Jewish theology and of course Christian theology as well.

    Whether we like it or not, we cannot deny that current Jewish and Christian theology are profoundly shaped by a syncretism or union with Zoroastrian belief.

    Lest we think that all this is ancient history and we are free from such pitfalls today, if we are careful, many, even in the LCMS are guilty of syncretism. Let’s not forget that much of American conservative Christianity is highly syncretistic in its approach to the United States, blending all too readily, patriotism and faith. Here is one small test; do you have an American flag displayed in your sanctuary or anywhere on your campus? If so, that is syncretism.

  50. I respect the right of any religious group to practice their sincere beliefs as they choose, as I hope they respect my right not to join them if I disagree. But in times of national crisis, when we come together in caring fellowship, can we not offer the comfort of our loving prayers and support to our fellow citizens without infringing on doctrinal differences? Or are only the Christian scriptures to be withheld at these times?

  51. Having read this article.regarding the actions of the president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod following the tragedy in Newtown, CT, I am somewhat surprised that there have been no follow up articles, or at least none that I have noticed. As a lay member of the church, I have been embarrassed and appalled by the actions and attitudes of President Harrison. As the church prepares for its triennial convention this July, a number of congregations and members submitted overtures to the convention affirming the actions of Pastor Morris, and the need of the church to be an active witness in the public square. The governance of the church allows President Harrison to appoint floor committees to review those proposals. Those proposed overtures can be viewed by downloading the “Convention Workbook” at http://www.lcms.org/convention. On pages 185-189, you can find a series of overtures – 4-50 through 4-54 – addressing the desire of members of the church to express support for Newtown, Pastor Morris, and the responsibility of the church to be engaged in our communities. President Harrison, through his handpicked floor committees, has tried to bury EVERY such overture, and not a single resolution presented by the floor committees makes any attempt to address these grave concerns. Those resolutions are also available on the same web site, under the link “Today’s Business – First Issue.”
    I have also seen no coverage of other issues. President Harrison was elected by the last convention of the LCMS in 2010. At that time, significant changes to the governance structure were proposed, and ultimately adopted. At that time, now President Harrison vehemently objected to those changes, suggesting that those changes would place too much authority in the president. Now that he has been elected, however, he is proposing even more drastic changes to the governance, attempting to aggregate powers that even the pope does not have within the Catholic Church. Because of the 2010 changes, President Harrison has complete control of the church’s media outlets, and dissenting views are not heard at all. Without coverage outside the church, there is no chance that the members and delegates to the upcoming convention will even be aware of these actions by President Harrison. I have yet to find a single article in the non-church press regarding these issues. With a membership of 2.5 million members, I would hope there are reasons to shine some light on these issues.

  1. [...] Religion News Service: Lutheran pastor apologizes for praying at Newtown vigil A Lutheran pastor in Newtown, Conn., has apologized after being reprimanded for participating in an interfaith vigil following the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Rev. Rob Morris, pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church, prayed at the vigil the Sunday following the Dec. 14 shootings alongside other Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Baha’i clergy. Morris’ church is a member of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and the denomination’s constitution prohibits ministers from participating in services with members of different faiths. [...]

  2. [...] In the initial incident, the denomination’s president, Matthew C. Harrison, requested an apology from the Rev. Rob Morris of Newtown’s Christ the King Lutheran Church for participating in an interfaith prayer vigil that followed the Dec. 14 shootings. Morris’ role in the vigil broke denominational rules against joint worship with other religions. [...]

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