Wisconsin and Missouri: Overcoming Our Differences

The Rev. Rolf Preus had an excellent article entitled "Wisconsin and Missouri: Overcoming Our Differences" in the Spring 2023 edition of Christian Culture Magazine. A brief excerpt:

"The WELS is right. God’s Word cannot be bound. The ministry of the Word is given to all Christians, male and female, young and old. The gospel and sacraments are efficacious because of their inherent power, not because of who administers them. The ministry doesn’t empower the means of grace; the means of grace empower the ministry. Wisconsin is right when she says that Christ gave the office to the whole Church and to every individual member of the Church. Wisconsin is right when she says that the efficacy of the Word is not dependent on who preaches it, but on the Word itself. Wisconsin is right, and Missouri should say so.

Missouri is right. Missouri is right when she says that Jesus personally instituted the pastoral office. It was Jesus who established this office when he put the first Christian pastors into it. This is the clear meaning of the words of Matthew 28, Mark 16, and John 20. These words teach the dominical institution of the pastoral office. Jesus did not establish this office in and for His Church to put the means of grace into a straitjacket. He did so in order that His sheep would be fed with the wholesome spiritual food they need. The gospel may not be truncated. We Lutherans teach a full gospel, and the full gospel is the gospel and the sacraments. It is written. It is read. It is preached. It makes the water a washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit. It makes bread and wine the very body and blood of Jesus. We Christians need the full gospel. This is why our Lord Jesus instituted the full office. This fully formed office does not come to us as a legal requirement. It is given to us as an evangelical gift."
Rolf raises a valid point - there are legitimate concerns in both synods' emphases on ministry. The problem is where the rubber meets the road. To put it pithily: while the WELS looks down on the LCMS for women voting on the color of the carpet, the LCMS looks down on the WELS for extending divine call to female fifth grade math teachers. 

Or to put it differently, our synods are both willing to be more liberal than our forefathers, we simply disagree on the means-by-which.