SocraticGadfly: Lawless Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod leadership

May 30, 2020

Lawless Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod leadership

I find it "interesting" to see the number of Protestant churches, largely non-denominational, independent churches in a generally Baptist, or more broadly, Anabaptist conservative evangelical background, rebelling against the government on coronavirus issues, and not listening to the clear words of Paul of Tarsus, as painted at left by Rembrandt.

I'm not talking about general minimalizing of the severity of the virus or anything like that.

Rather, I'm talking about the ministers of such churches continuing to hold services, and in many cases, without multiple smaller-size services, in direct defiance of government proclamations.

(I have further explicated what I see as the likely main motives of these ministers in this new post.)

The big civil-government question? Could the government force churches to close "for the duration" if deemed necessary.

Short answer?

Hellz yes.

And, folks, that link goes to a story in the Deseret News, officially owned by The Morons, I mean the LSD Church, I mean the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (Yes, wingnuts, I laugh at them, but it's a church denomination that tilts VERY conservative among political preference of its members; that's why I jumped on this.)

Here's the nut grafs:
Legal experts said the answer is almost certainly yes, as long as regulations are reasonable and applied equally across all religious groups and other types of organizations. 
Policies don’t violate religious freedom laws if they’re created in order to save people’s lives, said Michael Moreland, director of the Ellen H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy at Villanova University. 
“So long as those restrictions are neutral and applicable to everybody, religious institutions have to abide by them,” he said.
There you go. I encourage reading that whole linked story in the first paragraph of the pull quote.

But these independent Protestants, whether truly wingnut rebels, or people who started independent churches because they thought either some worshipers, or their own wallets, couldn't survive without exactly their church? Don't want to accept that.

It's halfway tempting to compare many of them to Paul's man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians:
2 Thessalonians 2:3-10 (selected) New International Version (NIV) 
3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
...  9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Actually, "Paul" should probably be in scare quotes; the majority of modern scholarship considers this pseudepigraphal, albeit with lack of consensus on when it actually was written.

Note that I said "halfway" tempting. I don't think this idea is all wet.

Certainly, the actual Paul, in one of his legitimate letters, would be highly concerned.

I am thinking of his famous "submit to the governing authorities in Romans 13.
13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 
That nails it.

That said, that passage has been ignored by U.S. Protestants since 1775 or before.

Ordained Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and those a minister in a state of grievous sin. Boston's Old North Church, driven by hotheads such as Sam Adams, was a ground zero of rebelliousness.

And, Romans 13 is crystal clear. No exceptions.

Not even for Missouri-Synod Lutherans of my childhood (or Catholics) in Minnesota.

These nutters, whether independent Protestants, conservative-to-fundamentalist wings of mainline Protestants, or Catholics, are also ignorant of church history. (Of course.) In medieval Europe, since the village church or town cathedral WAS the agora or forum, it worked to prevent the spread from one village or region to another. The churches themselves? Some were open, but in many cases, priests ran away. And, with daily masses, peasants could probably practice a crude form of social distancing.

Also, shock me, per my "gun nutz for Luther" piece, that the LCMS would have a regional leader, Minnesota South District President Lucas Woodford, officially sign off on being a sinful rebel.

As for bitching that Minnesota Gov. Walz is putting the Mall of America ahead of churches? Churches are one of the worst, or "best," places to catch COVID.

On the other hand, Gov. Walz's restrictions, originally to no more than 10 people, even at outdoor services, were overkill.

That said, the law's the law. Period. Anybody who understands an iota of the Roman Empire within which Paul wrote Romans 13 knows, or should know, that. Fortunately, in a challenge to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Chief Justice John Roberts showed he knows the First Amendment better than four wingnuts, voting with  the majority to uphold Newsom. (Newsom's restrictions of 25 percent of capacity up to 100 is more sensical.)

Update: To square the circle, I webmailed the LCMS at its comments page, asking if Synodical President Daniel Harrison had any discipline proposed for Woodford.

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