Fourth Commandment (As Lutherans number them): Honor Your Father and Mother
In recent letters from LCMS President Kieschnick and the Council of Presidents (COP) we warned to make sure we fulfill our Fourth Commandment obligations to our elected district and Synodical officals. They invoke the Fourth Commandment saying that the rank and file pastors and lay people have a duty to obey them. This is not so. In fact the obligation under the Fourth Commandment, in our political structure runs exactly the other direction. The elected officials of district and Synod are set aside to be servants of the whole. Of course when they speak correctly from the Word of God, as Dr. Walther teaches us in his book Church and Ministry, we must obey. After all, if we were to oppose them at such a time, we would be speaking against God Himself. Nevertheless, the authority in our political structure is placed with our congregations and expressed through our district and Synodical conventions. Far from the rank and file pastors and lay people having to obey our elected officials, our officials must obey us when we speak through our conventions. Again there are limits. They can never be bound to act contrary to the Word of God. But in other matters, our conventions are the final authority in the Missouri Synod.
Now if we are not allowed to speak of the matters at dispute within the synod, how can our congregations make a wise choice in selecting delegates? How can our congregations instruct our delegates? How can the delegates, who collectively hold Fourth Commandment authority over the synod, make informed and wise decisions? Dr. Walther, the first president of Synod, understanding this, insisted that anyone who has a concern and has access to a printing press was free to circulate his concerns as he thought best.