“Pastor, that’s your book! That’s the book you promised to teach and practice among us as our pastor. Why haven’t you read it lately?”
…(your pastor) should be studying (the Confessions) because…he loves his people.
Pastor Todd Wilken’s Reformation Presentation
Presentation by Pastor Todd Wilken (1 h 4 m 14 s). Pr. Wilken hosts Issues, Etc.: Christ-centered cross-focused talk radio program.
"Why should it (the Lutheran Confessions) be your pastor's companion — in his daily toolkit?
Two (or three) good reasons:
(1.) If he really wants to be Lutheran, your Lutheran pastor, then those Confessions are the things that make him Lutheran.
He's not Lutheran because he graduated from a Lutheran seminary. He's not Lutheran because he was raised Lutheran in a family of Lutherans or came from a family of Lutheran pastors. He's not Lutheran because has a call to a Lutheran congregation that has Lutheran in its name. None of those things make your pastor Lutheran.
The only thing(s) that make your pastor Lutheran (is) are the Lutheran Confessions.
It's not even the Bible. The Bible makes a person a Christian but Christians believe all kinds of things are in the Bible that aren't there. And Christians err in how they read and interpret the Bible.
But what makes your pastor Lutheran in his theology and in his practice is that book. It is not on par with the Bible. But it is the clearest, most dependable, reliable expression of what the Scriptures say on the subject it addresses as has ever existed.
So, if your pastor wants to be Lutheran, then that book has to be a part of his life. Not just a part, but a big part of his life. Your pastor should be given time, not as much as he asks for, but give him enough time, to study the Lutheran Confessions on a weekly basis, just as he studies the Scriptures; those two should go hand-in-hand.
(2.) But there's another reason and that's because your pastor promised that the Lutheran Confessions would guide both his teaching and his practice when he came to your church. Whether he was ordained there (with) the laying on of hands that ratifies the pastor's place called by that congregation or whether he came from someplace else ... and was installed here, the promise was the same.
He made a promise, well, let's just read it. He's asked first whether or not he believes and confesses the creeds (all those parts that I mentioned), the three ecumenical creeds. And then he's asked, "Do you confess the unaltered Augsburg Confession? Do you confess the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord as these are contained in the Book of Concord? Do you confess them to be in agreement with the one Scriptural faith?"
And if he's serving now as your pastor there, he said, "Yes." Otherwise, if he said, "No," you'd have to start the whole process all over again and find another pastor.
And then he made one more promise to you and to God: "Do you promise that you will perform the duties of your office in accordance with these Confessions and that all your preaching and teaching and your administration of the Sacraments will be in conformity with the Holy Scriptures and with these Confessions?" That's the promise your pastor made.
So, you ought to find on his desk open, or at least well dog-earred if he likes to close it up at night, both Holy Scripture and the Book of Concord. Now, if you happen to walk into your pastor's office and you can't find it there or in his library, you might ask him where it is. And he might say, "Well, it's in my car." That's a good answer.
Or, if it's up there and it's smashed in there with all the other reference books and it is real obvious from the dust that's accumulated along the top of the bindings of those books that he has not pulled that thing down since he put it up 25 years ago, that's a serious problem!
You need to speak gently and carefully to your pastor and say, "Pastor, that's your book! That's the book you promised to teach and practice among us as our pastor. Why haven't you read it lately?"
I have grown completely convinced that whatever ills we suffer here in our little Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in doctrine or practice have one cause. And that one cause is our pastors and, therefore, then also our people, are either ignorant of or outright ignoring what it is Lutherans believe, teach and confess in the Book of Concord. I think it accounts for every single problem. ... I'm talking about the real problems that beset the church: problems of theology and practice. And that means they've got one cure, doesn't it?
It means that if our pastors were to open, read, study and take to heart what it is they promised to conform all their teaching and practice to, well, not all our problems would go away. We're still sinners. But, our pastors would be more Lutheran. Our congregations would be more Lutheran. And our confession to the world would be much more clear. And it would also, I think, be far more confident. There's a certain measure of confidence that a pastor gets knowing that what he confesses and teaches on Sunday morning is not only being confessed by his fellow pastors, his brothers, all around the church and their congregations, but also has been confessed by faithful pastors all the way back to the apostles. That gives you courage. It stiffens a pastor's spine. It makes him confident and it makes him also hopeful.
(3.) It's really a question, as this promise pastors make at their ordination or installation, of caring for the souls entrusted to them. Maybe that's a third reason why that ought to be one of the most used books in your pastor's library. Because he ought to love you, as your shepherd, you his sheep, so much that he does this. If he doesn't study the Confessions because he wants to, if he doesn't study the Confessions because he thinks he needs to, he should be studying them because, at least he says, he loves his people.