Circuit Visitor, Oregon Circuit #6, Rev. Eric Lange wrote a response to Kunkel’s Category Error, Common Sense, and the Office of the Public Ministry in the LCMS, read it below.
Here is an excerpt from Lange’s response (you can find the full response in PDF form at the bottom of this post):
“In this regard, I believe we must also sufficiently consider another important truth of Holy Scripture and of history, namely, Ubique peccatum originis domi est, “original sin is at home everywhere.” It is at home among the laity and among church officials, yes, even among the clergy. But it is especially the clergy’s job to point out sin or the danger of sin. Thus, it should be noted that Saul’s men raised no discord over Saul’s actions. It was Samuel, the clergyman, who raised the discord by noting the inappropriateness of Saul’s sacrifice. And why would Saul’s men raise any objections, since Saul, their king, a church official, said it was alright. Why would anyone question it? Years later, Elijah, the clergyman, was tagged the “troubler of Israel,” while the people raised no discord over the rise of the worship of Baal, again probably partially because King Ahab, the church official, promoted it. During the Reformation, it was not chiefly the laity who had issues with Rome’s teachings or with the concept of indulgences. And those who had issues with Rome often had issues with things that were not the main point. Luther, the clergyman, created some of the greatest discord in history by insisting on the Gospel. A discord, I might add, that we will be joyfully celebrating next year!”
And another excerpt:
“The issue here is not what these dedicated and faithful men are … according to our traditional understanding, they are pastors, not lay deacons, or whatever else we may devise to call them. And our congregations have the right to know that these faithful men, whom we have unfortunately labeled “licensed lay deacons,” are their pastors. And these faithful men have the right to know that they are pastors. The title “Pastor” might not be a positive to those outside the church, as Dust suggests, but it certainly is to those within the church. Titles do mean something. Thus, it says something when a child refuses to call their step father or step mother, or adopted parents, “father” or “mother,” “mom” or “dad.” Let’s call these pastors what they are. They need it and their congregations need it.”
And another excerpt:
“According to Melanchthon, the “affliction” of his time resulted from not cherishing studies and admitting unlearned men into the ministry. I believe the Task Force’s suggestions are trying to prevent this from happening again. The Task Force’s recommendations flow from a genuine concern for the future of the church. And because “original sin is at home everywhere,” such concerns also argue for the broadest possible participation of the whole church in the placement of men into Word and Sacrament ministry. Thus, one concern is that districts are vetting the licensed lay deacons alone without the input of the church at large. The transparochial nature of the office is what is at stake here. This is exactly the point of the Task Force. A point, I might add, that Dust does not address in any meaningful way.”
And another excerpt:
“Let us not tempt God. Let us fully train those who are to labor in the Holy Ministry. Let us give our shepherds the weapons they need against the wiles and snares of the devil. But let us also trust that the Lord will provide laborers for the harvest. Jesus said, “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest.” Pray as if it is all up to God. But let us work, let us give, let us study as if it is all up to us!!!
I want to end by saying I am blessed to be part of a district that believes that “Lutheran Mission Matters.” I also, however, strongly support the suggestions of the Task Force on licensed lay deacons. My prayer is that those who support the idea of licensed lay deacons would at least realize that those of us who question the notion of licensed lay deacons are not just being jerks or that we lack concern for the lost, or that we worship the Confessions, but that perhaps on judgment day, we simply don’t want to hear, Samuel’s words to Saul, “You acted foolishly. You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you.” God grant us His grace that we might discuss these things as brothers and come to God pleasing agreement. Amen.”