LCMS-NALC Dialogue Produces new book on Law and Gospel

USA – When representatives of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), and Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) started meeting together more than five years ago, it was decided that the group would sponsor a book of essays on the proper distinction of God’s Law from His Gospel. That book will be available from Concordia Publishing House in August 2017.

Edited by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver III (LCMS), Rev. Dr. James Arne Nestingen (NALC), and Prof. John T. Pless (LCMS), The Necessary Distinction: A Continuing Conversation on Law & Gospel contains thirteen essays on the relationship of the law/gospel distinction to preaching, pastoral care, missions, ethics, and the Christian life. Essayists include Mark Seifrid, William Cwirla, Peter Brock, Larry Vogel, Mark C. Mattes, Naomichi Masaki, James Arne Nestingen, Stephen Hultgren, John T. Pless, Steven Paulson, Albert Collver III, and Roland F. Ziegler.

“I’m pleased that we have brought together a variety of confessional Lutheran scholars from North America and Australia to provide our churches with vigorous and fresh discussion of a theme at the heart of Lutheran theology,” said the work’s editor John T. Pless. “It is our hope that this book will be used in pastoral gatherings throughout the NALC, LCC, and LCMS to challenge and better equip pastors to engage the fine art of distinguishing Law and Gospel in all that they do.”

The book’s forthcoming publication has garnered praise from a number of theologians and church leaders. “These authors take Christ, the Scriptures, and our confessions seriously,” President Robert Bugbee of Lutheran Church–Canada noted. “They are not carbon copies of each other. They put you through your paces, even if you wrestle with certain details of their views. Pastors as well as informed lay theologians will profit from them. What a welcome contribution to the 500th Reformation anniversary year!” In addition to serving the Canadian church, President Bugbee also serves as Vice Chairman of the International Lutheran Council.

“When participants of the LCMS, LCC, NALC consultation first discussed the need for a book on the distinction between Law and Gospel, we couldn’t have conceived this collection of essays would be so practical, direct, helpful and accessible!” explained Rev. Dr. David M. Wendel, NALC’s Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism. “In our day, when many Lutherans seem to have lost their way biblically, this book is much needed. It is for those who preach the Word and those who hear the Word, for pastors and laity, for the theologically trained and those who aren’t. It is a gift to our churches and to all who are committed to the ‘necessary distinction.’”

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and Lutheran Church–Canada are both members of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies.

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LCMS and NALC representatives meet in St. Louis

(Back Row Left to Right): Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (LCMS), Bishop John Bradosky (NALC), Rev. Larry Vogel (LCMS). (Front Row Left to Right): Rev. John Pless (LCMS), Dr. Albert Collver (LCMS), Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC), Rev. Paull Spring (NALC), Rev. David Wendel (NALC)
(Back Row Left to Right): Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (LCMS), Bishop John Bradosky (NALC), Rev. Larry Vogel (LCMS). (Front Row Left to Right): Rev. John Pless (LCMS), Dr. Albert Collver (LCMS), Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC), Rev. Paull Spring (NALC), Rev. David Wendel (NALC)

USA – Representatives of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the North American Lutheran Church met September 9-10, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri to continue their bi-annual consultations. The series of meetings began December 2011, at the invitation of President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS as the church bodies seek greater understanding of the other church, ways that there may be cooperation in externals, and be mutually supportive, in spite of differences that exist. A representative of Lutheran Church–Canada normally participates in the meetings as well.

This consultation was the second meeting focusing on Holy Scripture. Four questions were presented and discussed: How did the Bible get here? What kind of book is the Bible? Which method is most suitable for interpreting the Bible? What is the proper use of the Bible?

In addition to presentation of church body reports, other areas of common concern were discussed, including the recent Supreme Court Obergefell decision in the United States, the challenge to marriage in North America, and the response to the persecution of Christians today.

The representatives will meet again in March 2016.

Representing the LCMS were the Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations-Assistant to the President; the Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Executive Director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations; the Rev. John Pless, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne; the Rev. Larry Vogel, Associate Director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations.

Representing the NALC were the Rev. John Bradosky, Bishop; the Rev. Paull Spring, Bishop Emeritus; the Rev. Mark Chavez, General Secretary; the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.

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Dialogue between LCMS, LCC, and NALC continues in Canada

Rev. Phil Gagnon (NALC Provisional Dean for Canada); Rev. Larry Vogel (Associate Executive Secretary of the LCMS' CTCR); Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC General Secretary); Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee (LCC President); Rev. Dr. David Wendel (NALC Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism); Rev. Warren Hamp (Chairman of LCC's CTCR); Rev. Thomas Prachar (LCC Central District President).
Rev. Phil Gagnon (NALC Provisional Dean for Canada); Rev. Larry Vogel (Associate Executive Secretary of the LCMS’ CTCR); Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC General Secretary); Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee (LCC President); Rev. Dr. David Wendel (NALC Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism); Rev. Warren Hamp (Chairman of LCC’s CTCR); Rev. Thomas Prachar (LCC Central District President).

WINNIPEG – Representatives of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), and Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC) met at LCC’s synodical headquarters in Winnipeg June 24-25. This is the first time the meetings have taken place in Canada.

“These consultations have happened twice each year since they began at the invitation of LCMS President Matthew Harrison in late 2011,” explained Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, LCC President and host for this round of meetings. Both days began with morning devotions in the office chapel, after which participants provided updates from their churches and discussed in detail what a distinctively Lutheran understanding of and approach to mission work should include.

A progress report was provided on a planned book of new essays on Law and Gospel, including contributors from various Lutheran church bodies. In addition, details for an upcoming second international “Confessional Lutheran Leadership Conference”—hosted by the LCMS—were shared. The event will take place in Wittenberg, Germany in May 2015.

In addition to President Bugbee, LCC was represented by Rev. Warren Hamp, Chairman of the LCC’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) and by Central District President Thomas Prachar. NALC participants included Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ecumenism and Ministry; Pastor Mark Chavez, General Secretary; and Rev. Phil Gagnon, NALC Provisional Dean for Canada. NALC Bishop John Bradosky joined the group briefly at the close of the first day. The LCMS was represented by Rev. Larry Vogel, Associate Executive Secretary of their CTCR.

“We’ll meet again toward the end of this year to evaluate where we’ve been in the initial three years of dialogue and to decide on the way forward,” commented President Bugbee. “Though the participating churches have disagreements in some significant areas, there is a high level of trust and an ability both to talk and to listen despite these challenges. I do thank God for common convictions about the Holy Scripture as the written Word of God, and the urgency in proclaiming Christ, the Saviour of sinners, as the primary mission of the church.”

The next round of dialogues will be hosted by NALC, and is set to be held December 15-16 in Sarasota, Florida.

Lutheran Church–Canada and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod are both member churches of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). President Robert Bugbee serves as Vice-Chairman of the ILC’s Executive Committee.

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Files from The Canadian Lutheran.

Discussions continue between NALC, LCMS, and LCC

NALC Executive Director Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC), Rev. Larry Vogel (LCMS), Bishop John Bradosky (NALC), Dr. David Wendel (NALC), Dr. James Nestingen (NALC), President Matthew Harrison (LCMS), First Vice-President Herbert Mueller (LCMS), Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (LCMS), Professor John Pless (LCMS), President Robert Bugbee (LCC), Dr. Robert Benne (NALC).
NALC Executive Director Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC), Rev. Larry Vogel (LCMS), Bishop John Bradosky (NALC), Dr. David Wendel (NALC), Dr. James Nestingen (NALC), President Matthew Harrison (LCMS), First Vice-President Herbert Mueller (LCMS), Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (LCMS), Professor John Pless (LCMS), President Robert Bugbee (LCC), Dr. Robert Benne (NALC).

ST. LOUIS, Missouri – From December 16-17, representatives of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), and Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) met for their latest round of semi-annual discussions. The meetings were held at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, and had as its theme “The Church in the Public Square.” Rev. Dr. Robert Benne of Roanoke College, a NALC theologian, served as guest lecturer for the event.

The participating churches reported on events since the last meeting in May 2013. “The relationships within this group are brotherly and cordial,” noted LCC President Robert Bugbee, “though we all recognize that we still have serious homework to do on matters where we are not in agreement.”

Since a number of the NALC participants had not visited Concordia Seminary before, its president, Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer, hosted a morning tour on the first day of meetings. President Bugbee served as chapel preacher for the seminary community that day, with a sermon entitled “The Coming Lord Kindles Patience” (based on James 5:7-11). Participants in the inter-Lutheran discussions also received an update during the meeting on a theological volume being prepared by LCMS and NALC theologians on Law and Gospel, a project coordinated by Rev Dr. James Nestingen (NALC) and Rev. Prof. John Pless (LCMS).

The NALC, comprised mostly of pastors and congregations who left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) over issues of human sexuality, biblical authority, and the nature of the Gospel, has now grown to some 140,000 members in 340 local congregations.

The first official discussion between LCMS and LCC—both members of the International Lutheran Council—and NALC began in December 2011. The next round of discussions is set for June 24-25, 2014 and will take place at LCC’s synodical headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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