10 minutes with … Matthew Harrison

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(RNS) The Rev. Matthew Harrison defeated a three-term incumbent to become president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod on July 13, fueled by the support of his denomination’s more conservative wing. Harrison, 48, will lead a 2.4-million member denomination with a drastically reduced structure, which he opposed. After almost 10 years as the denomination’s director of […]

  • LCMS Member

    Dear Pastor Matt – Please don’t talk to us like this when we ask you a simple question.

    “Q: Do you plan to take the church in a more conservative direction?
    “A: I am at once a rock-ribbed traditional Lutheran and at the same time believe fully that that very confession, that very conviction, drives us into the maelstrom of today’s post-modern life and particularly toward our neighbor.”

  • Another LCMS Member

    Dear LCMS Member. While I am disappointed that President Kieschnick will no longer be president, I, am also thankful that President-elect Harrison understands that not everything can be answered in yes or no terms. I believe we will be blessed by a president who is well-read and mission-focused and can give us a nuanced answer to a question that can’t (and probably shouldn’t) be answered simply. I get the impression (please let me know if I am wrong) that you weren’t pleased by his election, but I hope you will pray for him and support the mission he how leads of sharing the gospel with all people. May God richly bless you!

  • Anonymous

    Here’s the problem: the word “conservative” can mean many different things, even inside LCMS circles. And there are even more meanings when the question is asked by someone outside of LCMS circles, especially in the secular public square.

    It would literally take ten minutes for the reporter and Pastor Harrison to understand each other on how the word “conservative” was to be understood because the word by itself is too vague.

    In short, it was not a simple question. Whether the interviewer meant it or not, it was a loaded question.

    Now that isn’t necessarily the interviewer’s fault. But Harrison was right to answer the way he did, because saying yes or no would add confusion, not clarity in the minds of the readers, because each reader will use his own definition of “conservative” whether appropriate or not. If he said yes, that could mean to a reader that Harrison thinks all women should be barefoot and pregnant and that’s it. Or to another reader, it means we can only use the King James Version of the Bible. To yet another it could mean that all TVs at LCMS Headquarters will be tuned to the Fox News Channel. Et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum.

    He did not field this question the way he did to dodge the question or to insult anyone’s intelligence. He was rightly avoiding the confusion caused by an ambiguous term.

    Instead, what he did was answer a “Christ and culture” question: some say that you have to change your practice to reach people today, and others say that changing practice always leads to a change in doctrine. Some say that if you don’t change practice then you don’t care about your neighbor. Harrison says that maintaining our Biblical and Confessional stance compels us to serve our neighbors. There’s nothing inherently un-Lutheran about serving others, and that we can do it without making unnecessary concessions to culture.

    It’s like the people who say that if you care about “conservative” doctrine, then you just want the church to be a museum and the pastor is the museum’s curator. It’s an accusation made by those who say that “conservative” theologians are anti-evangelism and anti-missions. It’s simply not true.

  • Randy Hahn

    I see by your message/vision on this site that God is alive and well and working through you. You were placed in the position of LCMS President by the Holy Spirit through your peers so you can lead us back to Christ… and to stay focused on Christ. Thank you!