Skip to comments.(LCMS President) Harrison Speaks Before House Committee
Posted on 02/16/2012 12:25:31 PM PST by Charles Henrickson
Missouri Synod President tells House Committee: LCMS religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs
ST. LOUISFebruary 16, 2012The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the St. Louis-based Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod, was one of several witnesses to give testimony today during the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reforms hearing, Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience? Following are Harrisons comments to the committee:
Mr. Chairman, its a pleasure to be here. The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod is a body of some 6,200 congregations and 2.3 million members across the U.S. We dont distribute voters lists. We dont have a Washington office. We are studiously non-partisan, so much so that were often criticized for being quietistic.
Id rather not be here, frankly. Our task is to proclaim, in the words of the blessed apostle St. John, the blood of Jesus Christ, Gods Son, cleanses us from all our sin. And we care for the needy. We havent the slightest intent to Christianize the government. Martin Luther famously quipped one time, Id rather have a smart Turk than a stupid Christian governing me.
We confess that there are two realms, the church and the state. They shouldnt be mixed the church is governed by the Word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution. We have 1,000 grade schools and high schools, 1,300 early childhood centers, 10 colleges and universities. We are a machine which produces good citizens for this country, and at tremendous personal cost.
We have the nations only historic black Lutheran college in Concordia, Selma. Many of our people [who are alive today] walked with Dr. King 50 years ago on the march from Selma to Montgomery. We put up the first million dollars and have continued to provide finance for the Nehemiah Project in New York as it has continued over the years, to provide home ownership for thousands of families, many of them headed by single women. Our agency in New Orleans, Camp Restore, rebuilt over 4,000 homes after Katrina, through the blood, sweat and tears of our volunteers. Our Lutheran Malaria Initiative, barely begun, has touched the lives of 1.6 million people in East Africa, especially those affected by disease, women and children. And this is just the tip, the very tip, of the charitable iceberg.
Im here to express our deepest distress over the HHS provisions. We are religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs. That is, in part, why we maintain our own health plan. While we are grandfathered under the very narrow provisions of the HHS policy, we are deeply concerned that our consciences may soon be martyred by a few strokes on the keyboard as this administration moves us all into a single-payer system. Our direct experience in the Hosanna-Tabor case with one of our congregations gives us no comfort that this administration will be concerned to guard our free-exercise rights.
We self-insure 50,000 people. We do it well. Our workers make an average of $43,000 a year, 17,000 teachers make much less, on average. Our health plan was preparing to take significant cost-saving measures, to be passed on to our workers, just as this health-care legislation was passed. We elected not to make those changes, incur great cost, lest we fall out of the narrow provisions required under the grandfather clause. While we are opposed in principle, not to all forms of birth control, but only abortion-causing drugs, we stand with our friends in the Catholic Church and all others, Christians and non-Christians, under the free exercise and conscience provisions of the U.S. Constitution.
Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. The conscience is a sacred thing. Our church exists because overzealous governments in northern Europe made decisions which trampled the religious convictions of our forebearers. I have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War. I have ancestors who were on the Lewis and Clark expedition. I have ancestors who served in the War of 1812, who fought for the North in the Civil War my 88-year-old father-in-law has recounted to me, in tears many times, the horrors of the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, Bud Day, the most highly decorated veteran alive, is a member of The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod.
We fought for a free conscience in this country, and we wont give it up without a fight. To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government. The bed is too narrow, the blanket is too short. We must obey God rather than men, and we will. Please get the federal government, Mr. Chairman, out of our consciences. Thank you.
Harrisons full transcript and video from todays hearing, as well as a video message and previous statements to the church, can be found at www.lcms.org/hhsmandate.
Christ is in our midst!
There are, and many are somewhere along the line in the process of leaving. The departures are being tracked very accurately by Pr. David Barnhard at http://davidbarnhart.blogspot.com
About 300 congregations and clery have departed for the one-year old North American Lutheran Church www.thenalc.org.
A slightly larger number have departed for the ten year old Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ www.lcmc.net.
I am only aware of one ELCA to LCMS move, a congregation in the NYC suburbs served by a Pastor who had been Seminex/AELC.
Two issues: Women Pastors and Open Communion. The Missouri Synod does not approve of either. Most of those leaving the ELCA who found the homosexuality thing too liberal are themselves still liberal on the ordination of women and on Communion fellowship.
He nailed it!
It is probably wise to offer a precise definition of “Open Communion” since that term can mean the extreme of offering our Lord’s Body and Blood to any and all who present themselves—even pagans and other non-Christians (as is practiced in some Episcopal congregations)—or the more restictive practice of most ELCA congregations of inviting “all Baptized persons who believe in the Real Presence of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins...”
It is argueable that the ELCA has departed from the Galesburg Rule by opening Lutheran Altars to non-Lutheran communicants. It is equally argueable that the LCMS has departed from the Galesburg Rule by not opening their Lutheran Altars to all Lutherans communicants. The practice is more restrictive than Rome (which communes all who are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, regardless of Rite) and Orthodoxy (which communes all who are Chrismated, regardless of ethnicity).
In the LCMS's view, the Bible does not contain errors. The creation story is told as fact, rather than as an analogy. If we start with the Bible as inerrant, then what else can we believe than that God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th?
The LCMS accepts the possibility that the world may have been created mature. I believe the term "Young Earth" is a misnomer. A better term would be "Recent Creation".
Furthermore, Adam's sin not only changed man, but all of creation. The rules after sin entered the picture may not be consistent with the rules before sin entered the world.
I am a Creationiist and a Biblical fundamentalist; but that requires me to consider Genesis 1:1 - 2:2 through the lens of Psalm 90:4 “A thousand ages in your sight are like a single night when it is past” (as well as its citation in James).
What is the length of one “age”? I have no problem reconciling the records of fossil and rocks with the record of scripture so long as we do not insist upon 7 x 24 hour days according to our methods of measurement.
If the first 'argueable' is true, then how, in your opinion, should the LCMS respond? By continuing altar fellowship?
all Baptized persons who believe in the Real Presence of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins...
Many baptized believers in the Real Presence overlook a wide gulf in other doctrinal areas with LCMS. Where then is the spiritual unity? Where is that common confession of faith?
I'm posting a second ping, because new, related material has just come out, i.e., the article below:
Harrison defends freedoms before House committee
By Adriane Dorr
LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison spoke in defense of religion and conscience before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in a Capitol Hill hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Feb. 16.
Expressing concern over the Jan. 20 U.S. Health and Human Services ruling regarding health-insurance plans and the recently required coverage of contraceptives, Harrison said, "We confess there are two realms: the church and state. They shouldn't be mixed. The church is governed by the Word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution."
Harrison was accompanied to the nation's Capitol by the Rev. John T. Pless, who teaches theological ethics and is an assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., as well as Ann Stillman, vice-president and general counsel for Concordia Plan Services (the Synod's health plan for church workers).
On Friday, Feb. 10, the Obama administration revised the initial health-care ruling, allowing exemptions for non-profit religious organizations. Still, Harrison said, "Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. "Along with other religious leaders -- the Most Reverend William E. Lori of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dr. C. Ben Mitchell of Union University, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Yeshiva University and Dr. Craig Mitchell of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary -- Harrison denounced the violations of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience caused by the ruling.
"While we are opposed in principle -- not to all forms of birth control, but only abortion-causing drugs," Harrison said, "we stand with our friends in the Catholic Church and all others, Christians and non-Christians, under the free exercise and conscience provisions of the U.S. Constitution."
"The conscience is a sacred thing," he said. "To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government."
Harrison also outlined America's historic tradition of uplifting and maintaining religious freedom. "I've traveled all over the world, to 40 or 50 countries or more," he said. "Every time I return home, I want to kiss the ground because of the blessings we enjoy in this country. I will stand personally for ... the rights of every single person. I will give my sons ... up to fight for this country and sacrifice everything I have for the sake of guaranteeing the rights of every single citizen in this country."
Congressman Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) thanked Harrison for his passion on the topic, noting, "Martin Luther would appreciate your intensity."
Harrison also fielded questions from the committee. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.) asked for clarification regarding the church's participation in the government's health-care mandate. "The government spends your tax dollars involuntarily," he said, "but you recognize that's separate from telling you, you must take part in it directly."
"It's been said that Caesar must be given no less than what is Caesar's, but no more, either," Harrison responded. "We participate by paying our taxes, in every aspect of society. We participate communally, etc. But this provision is draconian in that it invades the realm of our conscience."
After noting the church's concerns regarding the recent health-care mandate and its violation of conscience, Harrison also urged prayers on behalf of President Obama, concluding, "I stand at an altar regularly to administer the Sacrament. In the prayers of the church, I pray regularly for the president and the well-being of the nation. ... Luther bids us in the Catechism to defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way."
To read Harrison's statement and watch videos of the LCMS president speaking before the House committee, click here.
Also available are related Reporter stories, "Harrison to speak before House committee" and "Harrison opposes HHS ruling in Feb. 3 statement."
Great article Pastor Charles. I’ll be emailing this to our Pastor.
Which is precisely the position of Roman with regard to offering the Sacrament to those not in communion with the Bishop of Rome and the teachings of that church.
Is that where a church of the Reformation should stand?
Took me several tries to view it though, looks as though LCMS.org has been hacked.
As it stands we must temporarily endure a stupid Turk.
I refer you to an article you posted, did you agree with it or not?
Does Being and Remaining Lutheran Still Matter?
American Lutheran Publicity Bureau ^ | 25 June AD 2010 | Rev. Paul T. McCain
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2010 1:23:56 PM by lightman
As for ELCA, I would think that you would agree that they have slipped the leash, no longer christian or lutheran.
This is most certainly true.
Which is why I am within a fortnight of my one year anniversary of departing the ELCA for the LCMC.
My brothers ELCA congregation went to the lcmc last year. They did not go LCMS due to old bitterness over seminex. I hope those old wounds can be healed at some point.
Another reason congregations are not going LCMS is the presence of female clergy. I hope the LCMS does not give in on that one. I don’t think they will.
Despite the bad feelings it caused, I could not bring myself to commune at my brothers ELCA church. Now that they have left the synod, no problem. It is bot the open altar with the episcopalians that bother me. It is rather the departure from biblical orthodoxy that I no longer felt comfortable in approaching their altar
If one is a Confessional Lutheran: absolutely.
The website was down yesterday, but the link below while lengthy reflects this. Read the 'Concluding Summary' of why this is so from the Formula of Concord. As to other 'Churches of the Reformation' standing I can't say, but for Lutherans, this is the correct stance.
I would have preferred him leaving out the account of charitable works.