The Koinonia project is the flagship project of the new LCMS president Matthew Harrison. It is the outgrowth of the It Is Time document, the Task Force For Synodical Harmony, etc. It is published under the Office of the President on the official LCMS website http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=1041.
The current draft of the Koinonia concept document ( version 9.0 ) contains the quoted paragraph below in its opening sections. This is a repeat of what this blog believes the sentiment of the It Is Time document was. Particularly it is a shot across the bow of the conservative wing who took control of the synod in the 1970’s and has kept it on a conservative track ever since. This has been achieved through discipline and enforcing the decisions made at the national level.
For years we have sought to solve theological problems by political means (voting), but this has only perpetuated the polarization to the point that, in the eyes of some, we are a Synod not in fellowship with itself. Others see our Synod as a collection of “aggrieved minorities,” each looking to grab what it can, whenever it can. And the relative anonymity of the internet makes it easy to write in the blogosphere things about people we would probably never say in person. We also observe: the habits we learn in controversy (e.g. the 1960s and 1970s) may continue long after a particular issue has been resolved.
By contrast the Koinonia Project is a move to the opposite. No longer is it going to be acceptible to vote and enforce the decisions. That is now called politics. In the following thought theology is portrayed as somehow distinct and is not subject to firm definition and enforcement but rather is something where there is freedom to disagree.
… the “Koinonia Project” cannot become a political process, that is, something determined by close convention votes with winners and losers, but must remain a spiritual and theological effort. …
The document then lists a series of recommended actions. Among these are the following :
1 ) Synod-wide studies of the Scriptures and the Confessions, including studies by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, covering specific topics such as; the 8th Commandment, a theology of diversity, Christian virtues and civility, the political culture of the church, accountability and harmony.
8 ) The dialog must include all positions, at every level of the church; within our congregations, circuits, auxiliaries, Synod-wide theological convocations and smaller focus groups as well.
The phrase “theology of diversity” should set off alarm bells if one has been paying attention to the theological drift of modern “mainstream” protestantism. Suggesting that this theology needs to become part of the LCMS should be met openly and forcefully and it needs to be halted in its tracks.
Regarding the dialouge now having to include all positions. That means that everything that has ever been silenced by convention vote, defining what the LCMS believes and what it doesn’t is now reopened again. Now all discussion must include the condemened views and the endorsed views. The discipline has been shattered.
The 8th commandment is “Thou shalt not bear false witness”. The reason this is listed above is important. While the authors of this document may have other opinions about its purpose this will become a tool for one party to insist that “no no we are not really saying that or trying to do that” when in fact they are. It becomes a tool to silence anyone who is trying to expose the true agendas of the wolves who have crept in silently among us.
The document repeats again and itself marks the text below in bold face that we cannot enforce things anymore.
We cannot work by coercion in this project, but always by invitation, fraternal persuasion, and attraction, centered always in the Word of God and our confession, for the sake of the mission.
There is a highlight of Article VII of the Synod’s constitution followed by a comment about why this has been included. The bold font in this quote are added by this website and is not in the original text.
Article VII of the Synod’s Constitution reads, simply:
In its relation to its members the Synod is not an ecclesiastical government exercising legislative or coercive powers, and with respect to the individual congregation’s right of self-government it is but an advisory body. Accordingly, no resolution of the Synod imposing anything upon the individual congregation is of binding force if it is not in accordance with the Word of God or if it appears to be inexpedient as far as the condition of a congregation is concerned. (2007 Handbook, p. 13f)
Because the Word of God rules over us in the Synod, we do not have a hierarchy, nor do we operate by coercion. Instead we operate by fraternal persuasion under the Word of God. Matters of doctrine are decided by the Word of God. In all other things, we seek to work together in love. In its most basic form, the members of Synod in each local area seek to advise one another in brotherly fashion to help one another hear God’s Word clearly, confess Christ boldly and live together in holy love. No one has any power over the other except the power of the Word of God and the power to advise and persuade one another. This writer believes one of our maladies is that we have forgotten how to do this (which is why the 2010 Convention mandated study of Articles VI and VII should probably be part of the Koinonia Project).
The above is key to what the future holds if this path is followed. Individual congregations are formally free to disagree with the national organizations decisions whenever they feel they have a local condition that makes compliance seem “inexpedient”. Further the use of coercion in rectifying such variation is now said to be the incorrect approach.
The enforcement of the 70’s and onward is now not only not traditional Lutheranism from the times of Chemnitz (1500’s) but not even true LCMS Lutheranism. The enforcement is now classed as a harmful abberation which must be changed.
This will not go well for the good ship Missouri.