I just received this emailed memo from LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick via my Missouri District President, the Rev. Ray Mirly, who was given permission to share it as he deemed appropriate. The memo speaks to the matter of Issues, Etc.:
To: LCMS Council of Presidents
From: Gerald B. Kieschnick
Subject: Issues, Etc.
Date: February 26, 2009
Dear Brothers in Christ:
Grace and peace be with you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
In order to assist you in responding to inquiries and/or rumors about my involvement in an alleged lawsuit involving “Issues, Etc.,” I am providing this memo, which you may share as you deem appropriate.
As indicated during our Council of Presidents discussion of that topic earlier this week, contrary to allegations and rumors you and I have recently received, I have not filed, initiated, supported, or encouraged any lawsuit against Rev. Todd Wilken or Mr. Jeff Schwarz, nor have I ever had a desire to do so. Any allegations or rumors to the contrary are simply untrue. As an individual Christian, as a Lutheran pastor, and as President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, I take seriously the Holy Spirit-inspired words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 regarding such matters.
Furthermore, the LCMS Board of Directors has not filed a lawsuit against these brothers in Christ and in fact has taken action that effectively ends any and all legal considerations regarding this matter and is designed to restore relationships with them through fraternal conversation, mutual respect, and genuine humility. A communication from the Board with additional information about this matter will be forthcoming.
It is my prayer that this memo will be helpful to you in responding to anyone in your district who has expressed concern regarding this issue. I know you join me in prayer that it will be resolved under the leading, guiding, and directing of God’s Holy Spirit.
The peace of the Lord be with you all!
Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
"Transforming lives through Christ's love ... in time ... for eternity ..." John 3:16-17
C: LCMS Board of Directors
President Kieschnick, I thank you for the clarification that you yourself "have not filed, initiated, supported, or encouraged any lawsuit against Rev. Todd Wilken or Mr. Jeff Schwarz, nor have [you] ever had a desire to do so." Also, thank you for clarifying that "the LCMS Board of Directors has not filed a lawsuit against these brothers in Christ and in fact has taken action that effectively ends any and all legal considerations regarding this matter and is designed to restore relationships with them through fraternal conversation, mutual respect, and genuine humility."
But you see, Mr. President, and with all due respect, that’s not the real issue.
I certainly understand how the rumors got rolling about a lawsuit against Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz personally. Evidently, on December 16, 2008 a letter from LCMS legal counsel was received by legal counsel representing Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz. In that letter LCMS legal counsel says to the attorney representing Wilken and Schwarz:
"Unless your client is willing to negotiate in good faith to finalize a mutually acceptable agreement in the near future, along the lines that were discussed last summer, we will be left with no alternative but to recommend that The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod prosecute the opposition against Madsen's application and take action against your clients to enforce its rights to the trademark." (emphasis added)
Your point is quite clear, President Kieschnick: neither you personally nor the LCMS Board of Directors has taken legal action against, nor do you intend to take legal action against Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz personally. Great! Good news! But that's not the real issue.
What about the above quoted threat of a lawsuit against Wilken and Schwarz? Fair enough, you personally did not file, initiate, support, or encourage any lawsuit. Fair enough, “the LCMS Board of Directors has not filed a lawsuit against these brothers in Christ.” I assume these statements are true enough on their own specific merits.
So what about that threat of a lawsuit made by LCMS legal counsel? From where did that come: merely the self-starting initiative of attorneys representing the LCMS or from some other source(s), or at the very least with the knowledge of some other source(s)? Perhaps we’ll never know, but I’m sure the Lord God knows.
It's great news to hear that the LCMS Board of Directors has decided to withdraw its opposition to the Madsen application for the trademark "Issues, Etc." It's also great to hear of a planned meeting of members of the LCMS Board of Directors with Wilken and Schwarz with the purpose of resolving the dispute between LCMS, Inc. and Issues, Etc. once and for all. This news first aired on Feb. 23 and can be heard on the Issues, Etc. website.
Again, though, questions still remain and deserve to be answered, especially in the interest of laying this matter aside and fostering peace, unity, and reconciliation in the synod. Here are some questions I can think of:
- Why did this whole odd, messy affair of opposing Mr. Madsen's application for the trademark even come up in the first place?
- How much money has been spent on this petty endeavor, money which could have been better spent on more edifying tasks of proclaiming the Gospel and building up the Body of Christ?
- Who was pushing the opposition and why?
- And will the party/parties pushing this opposition give a public statement of apology - that is, will this sad affair be dealt with by means of godly repentance - so that Absolution may be given and steps toward reconciliation may be begun?
I truly hope that the communication forthcoming from the LCMS Board of Directors will not only announce that the opposition to the trademark application has been dropped, but also that it will help us put this matter to rest in a godly way and not merely sweep it under the rug.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Ps. 51:17).