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What Luther Says

'Scout's Honor' Or Honoring The Lord?

On October 7th, 2013, the LCMS released an official statement on Scouting.

This comes approximately 5 months after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) adopted a new policy that allows openly gay boys to join.

First and foremost, I commend the LCMS leadership for taking the necessary time to discuss and prayerfully consider what the appropriate response should be.

You can read the complete statement by visiting the link below, but I'd like to isolate one particular portion of it, and then offer a brief commentary.

LCMS Releases Statement On Scouting

The Lutheran Church―Missouri Synod has never “endorsed” Scouting. Past Synod conventions determined that participating in Scouting was not a matter of fellowship and did not undermine our theological convictions or violate our position on unionism and syncretism. In the end, the matter of Scouting “should be left to the individual congregation to decide,” with each congregation left to “establish its own policy as pastoral wisdom on the part of both the congregation and the ministry in its own particular situation dictates.” The “Synod thus neither encourages nor discourages Scoutism in any congregation” (1953 Convention Proceedings, pp. 555-556). This is still the case.

The attached document, “Participation in Scout-type Organizations for Boys: Considerations for LCMS Churches and Individuals,” will be helpful for congregations to consider as they move forward. The document shares information about both the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and Trail Life USA (TL), which is gaining momentum as an alternative to the BSA. As you will read, there are pros and cons to both organizations, and there are considerations that should be carefully addressed by congregations that wish to participate. It cannot be emphasized enough that congregations desiring to participate in Scouting should do so only after careful consideration and with a commitment to provide guidance and direction for the troop. Congregations that have little to no involvement with their Scouting troop should consider their reason for remaining involved.

I want to be mindful of the fact that this is a delicate issue. I really do.

At the same time, I also want to make sure we aren't too quick to demonstrate and proclaim to the world that we're more concerned with "Scout's honor" as opposed to that which would honor the Lord (James 4:4).

Galatians 1:10 (ESV) For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Paul repeatedly emphasized that being faithful to God must take precedence over being popular.

Now, with the new BSA pro-homosexual edict, local sponsoring congregations no longer have complete control regarding troop membership. Not good.

Let's also be clear about another thing. As another Christian put it, "The issue is not about excluding someone with strong desires toward sexual perversion in the form of homosexual acts, rather it is about approving and affirming those desires as morally upright."

Is it about "Scout's Honor" or about honoring the Lord? That's the simple question before us.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, the official statement released by the LCMS about the Boy Scouts of America seems dangerously close to being a prime example of Galatians 1:10 in action and in full public view.

Can we just remind ourselves of something Pastor Joshua Sheer pointed out a few months back?

Another thing we need to learn is that a generic confession of belief in “God” in such organizations IS NOT THE SAME GOD THAT WE WORSHIP. No matter how you cut it, the Trinity is not confessed by generic statements of belief or vows to “god” (or even “God”). It is time to get very specific about the God that we worship (remember the Second Commandment everyone?). We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost [for more of that go to church this Sunday and confess the Athanasian Creed]. To water down the confession of who God is profanes the name of God among us.

Even more that that, following the pattern of our great creeds, we worship Jesus. Although many of the current groups started by a rigorous confession of Christ, they have in the name of tolerance and all other sorts of things given that up to a more generic god, or at least a Jesus who is palatable to the world.

Now, Lutherans can learn from this and move on. First, the WELS/ELS can teach something about this and help – they have the Lutheran Pioneers. Another Lutheran scouting group which could be resurrected could be the Lutheran Rangers/Rangerettes, which only shut down its national offices a short while ago and still has troops in a couple LCMS congregations in Wisconsin. Perhaps the Office of National Mission could work with those congregations (and the WELS/ELS) to prepare and offer a genuinely Lutheran alternative to the scouting groups now following after the darkness of the world.

You will note in this article I have not suggested that we should stay with the Boy Scouts. They have chosen their god and now to remain faithful to Christ, Lutherans should flee from the organization. Yes, it is painful, yes it will take away resources and there may even be members of LCMS congregations who will side with the Boy Scouts. The plain fact of the matter is that those worldly concerns do not change the Second Commandment and what it says (not to mention the Sixth Commandment). We are Lutherans, we can do it our way for the sake of our boys and girls. Let them learn scouting, but under the one true God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

"Scout's Honor" is a honorable promise.

While saying the words "Scout's Honor," one must hold up three fingers.

I just wish the LCMS would have taken a more firm stance on this issue so that every time the Boy Scouts of America held up those three fingers in a place other than the LCMS church they used to call home, they will have been forced to think of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, or why we, as a faithful church body, refused to accept their policy changes and refused to allow them to join hands with us.

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with Lutheran doctrine -- in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word -- so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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