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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Web Discussions on Witness, Mercy, Life Together

Official Graphic of Emphasis Witness, Mercy, and Life Together
Imagine my surprise today when I received an email stating that Berthold Von Schenk invented "Witness, Mercy, and Life Together!" There is quite a discussion over at the ALPB (American Lutheran Publicity Bureau) on Witness, Mercy, Life Together -- as of today 22 September, there are 261 posts. (You can read about it here.) Apart from my blog, I am not a contributor to online bulletin boards, etc. and generally do not follow them much. But in Post #250, Rev. Dr. David Benke, District President of the Atlantic District, suggests that Von Schenk was the main source for the threefold emphasis of "Witness, Mercy Life Together" in his book Lively Stone.

Not being a student of Von Schenk, I cannot claim to be familiar with his book Lively Stone. His book does not grace my bookshelf, nor have I seen it in President Harrison's library. But then we never claimed to have invented anything new. In fact, new in the realm of the church in regards to her purpose and doctrine is not a good thing. Another word for innovation in doctrine is heresy. People turning up references to a similar threefold emphasis in other places might indicate that perhaps Witness, Mercy, Life Together is fairly good at describing what the emphasis of the church is.

Pastor Bill Weedon, someone familiar with Von Schenk, searched for a quote in Lively Stone stating the threefold emphasis. He found on page 97 "where Von Schenk speaks of Missouri's so-called doctrinal purity, moralism and legalistic ritualism (which outlaws the prayer of consecration with anamnesis and epiclesis) as false marks of the Church. 'These false marks are poor substitutes for the true marks of the Church:  Leiturgia, Missio, and Diakonia ('Liturgy, Mission, Service').'"

Indeed, Von Schenk mentions a threefold marks of the church: leiturgia (liturgy), missio (sending/mission), and diakonia (service). Doesn't seem that the "Witness, Mercy, Life Together" is precisely the same focus as Von Schenk's leiturgia, missio, and diakonia, but no doubt there are some similarities. In any case, I am glad that the "evangelical" catholic group on ALPB seems to have in general positive feelings toward "Witness, Mercy, Life Together" -- and if Von Schenk is the reason for that, great!

No doubt other similarities will be found between "Witness, Mercy, Life Together" and other Christian groups and writings. For instance the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) -- The Batak Christian Protestant Church -- has three departments in their church listed in the following order -- Koinonia, Marturia, Diakonia. Considering that the church's website is in Indonesian, apart from knowing the three names of their departments, I am not sure this helps us much in further understanding Witness, Mercy, Life Together.

However, you could help us with "Witness, Mercy, Life Together." Thus far, we have focused primarily on New Testament Scripture passages. You could help us by either posting in the comments or emailing us quotations or references from the Book of Concord that further elucidate the emphasis "Witness, Mercy, Life Together." Another area of help could be in the suggestion of quotations from Luther or Walther. How about some early church father references? Any takers?


  1. What about these quotations from Martin Chemnitz on our life together?
    Chemnitz writes in Ministry, Word, and Sacraments, An Enchiridion (CPH 1981)
    The chief thing of the ministry is that God wants to be present in it with His Spirit, grace, and gifts and to work effectively through it. But Paul says, Ro 10:15: “How shall they who are not sent preach” (namely in such a way that faith is engendered by hearing)? But God wants to give increase to the planting and watering of those who have been legitimately called to the ministry and set forth doctrine without guild and faithfully administer whatever belongs to the ministry (1 Co 3:6; 15:58), that both they themselves and others might be saved. 1 Ti 4:16.
    The assurance of a divine call stirs up ministers of the Word, so that each one, in his station, in the fear of God, performs his functions with greater diligence, faith, and eagerness, without weariness. And he does not let himself be drawn or frightened away from his office by fear of any peril or of persecution, since he is sure that he is called by God and that that office has been divinely entrusted to him.
    Finally, on the basis the hearers are stirred up to true reverence and obedience toward the ministry, namely since they are taught from the Word of God that God, present through this means, wants to deal with us in the church and work effectively among us” (pp. 29-30).
    Chemnitz goes on to say,
    Besides, by that rite [the laying on of hands], as in the sight of God, the church is entrusted to the minister and, on the other hand, the minister to the church, through whose ministry, namely, God wants to teach, exhort, administer the Sacraments, and work effectively in us…

    …Therefore that minister is presented to the Lord of the harvest through laying on of hands, and the church, reminded of the institution of the ministry and of the divine promises attached to it, reminds God of His promises and asks that by their power He would graciously be with the present minister with His Spirit, grace, blessing, efficacy, working, governance and direction” (p. 37).

    Rev. Brian L. Kachelmeier
    Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church
    Los Alamos, NM

  2. Great quote! I hope we get some more.

  3. There is nothing new under the sun. Eccl.1:9

  4. I wrote this around the theme, and posted it on my blog:

    Not exactly what you asked for, but if it helps at all . . .

    Witness, Mercy, Life Together

    1. Witness, mercy, life together--
    This, the baptized life in Christ.
    Praise His holy name forever.
    Praise the Lamb, the Sacrificed,
    Bearing witness with Saint Peter:
    "You are Christ, the Father's Son,"
    Him whose death salvation won.
    Saints and angels, every creature:
    With the nations share the Word
    Until every soul has heard.

    2. As the Father first has given,
    Let us give to all in need--
    Not to earn a place in heaven
    But to plant a Gospel seed.
    Serve each neighbor with thanksgiving
    For the grace that Christ has shown.
    Share the love His death made known:
    Serving, loving and forgiving.
    Let us seek not glory's fame
    But to serve in Jesus' name.

    3. Let us dwell as holy brothers
    As with us Christ dwells to bless.
    Teach us, Lord, to love each other
    Both in peace and in distress,
    Seeking after true communion
    In baptism's holy flood,
    In Your body and Your blood,
    So that we, in holy union
    Dwell in peace and harmony
    Here and in eternity.

    (c) Alan Kornacki, Jr.

  5. I had a conversation with Bishop Stechholz about a year a go or so...and I though witness, mercy, life together were the themes he was laying before the English District. Then, I saw the Bishop preside at the installation Divine Service and figured that President Harrison had consulted with him on the theme. Would that be correct?

  6. Daniel, I am afraid there was no such coordination before the installation with bishop Stechholz regarding Witness, Mercy, Life Together -- but it is great that there is such a similar mindedness on the emphasis.

  7. So I helped my dad create a bulletin insert incorporating this logo and explaining the new focus for the church. I got to thinking about it more and then started comparing it to Ablaze. I know many were hesitant about supporting it for various reasons. This new emphasis for the church seems more like a long term lifestyle, whereas Ablaze seemed like quick blips that came and went quickly.

    I wonder if the new emphasis could be the foundation that Ablaze never seemed to have. If the life of a Christian is full of witnessing and showing mercy to others and living together as brothers and sisters in Christ then the Ablaze moments that we were so eager to count should just come naturally from this type of lifestyle.

    Anyway, those are just my random thoughts. I don't know if it will actually play out that way, but I figured I would share. Really enjoy your blog, thanks for what you do!