Re: The State of the Missouri Synod; Wrongful Excommunication; Marxist Subversion
To: Rev. Matthew C. Harrison; Rev. Peter K. Lange; Rev. Dr. John C. Wohlrabe, Jr.; Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray; Rev. Nabil S. Nour; Rev. Christopher Esget; Rev. Benjamin T. Ball; Rev. Dr. Roger Paavola; Rev. David Graves; Rev. Edward Maanum
Cc: Rev. Dr. John W. Sias, LCMS Secretary; Mr. Frank Simek, Chief Administrative Officer; Mr. Christian Preus; Rev. Gerhard H Bode; Rev. George J. Gude; Rev. Larry A. Peters; Mr. Thomas Deadrick; Mr. Scott Killian
To my brothers-in-Christ and all readers,
I write this letter to address grave matters within the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (LCMS). Some of these matters affect me personally and some of them affect the Synod more generally. I have already written about these matters elsewhere1, but much has been heretofore withheld both for reasons of prudence and for reasons of propriety. However, the time for disclosing further details has come and the time for disclosing virtually all details quickly approaches.
Over the past half-year or so, matters in the LCMS have come to a head. False teaching and other corruption and subversion have crept into our beloved Church and now threaten to destroy her. Let us not be so foolhardy as to believe that ELCA was exceptional or singular — such is the way of all church bodies that forget their foundation and neglect their duties. In truth, the rot within the LCMS has been, to any careful observer, apparent for some time, but that which could not be proven before a court should seldom be aired publicly. The publication of the so-called “annotated” Large Catechism (LCACA) made public and provable what was theretofore largely private and unprovable (at least to the appropriate standard). In short, the LCACA contains both Marxist language and Marxist teachings, it is in conformity with the world, and it is a subversion of our Confessions and an undermining of our Church. As Christians, we may not permit such a vile collection to become our confession — and that is precisely the goal of Rev. Harrison and the CTCR.
In response to critiques levelled against the LCACA, Synod embarked upon a campaign of defamation, harassment, and personal destruction — aimed largely at laymen, but which would undoubtedly also target pastors (if any were inclined to stand up and defend the truth). Thus far, the outcome of this campaign has been my supposed excommunication2, the removal from office of at least two elders, the doxxing of two laymen (myself and Ryan Dumperth, a friend), the imposition of the minor ban in at least two cases, and the driving out of the church of a number of men — the full extent of the harm will remain incalculable. All of this has been orchestrated, organized, and pushed by Synod. I would remind the reader that the Circuit Visitor is — officially — an agent of the District President, who is — officially — an agent of Synod. In my case, my own pastor, Rev. Maanum, did not even oversee the vote for ‘excommunication’ (as he was gravely ill at the time), but rather it was Rev. Graves who oversaw this vote — Rev. Graves is a Circuit Visitor for Mid-South, which is to say that an agent of Synod personally oversaw the proceedings. Further, the entirety of the matter was conducted in high-handed violation of the Constitution and Bylaws of First Lutheran (a copy of which can be obtained by visiting the link in the first footnote). Per the Constitution and Bylaws, excommunication can be imposed only by a unanimous vote undertaken with the accused present. For those who have not been following matters: I was barred from the property of First Lutheran, not informed of the meeting, and (rather obviously) not permitted to be present. To call what has thus far transpired ‘irregular’ would be to abuse the term.
Here is the relevant passage from the Bylaws:
“e. at a subsequent Voters' Assembly, the person, being present, continuing in the offense with no apparent or professed penitence or change, yet claiming continued membership, the congregation shall vote on said excommunication, which shall be in effect upon unanimous vote. The person under discipline shall have no vote on the subject”
Although Rev. Harrison declined to name anyone in his public condemnation3, the coördination of the LCMS with the Media is all too apparent given the timing and the content of the various articles that have been published across a number of outlets — and the Media were much less shy in using my name. I trust that I will not have to highlight for the attorneys who are copied on this letter that some of the accusations levelled by Rev. Harrison in his piece (and elsewhere) are not only defamatory, but are defamatory per se. The issue of the civil laws aside, the manner in which Rev. Harrison and others have thus far conducted themselves simply falls below anything that could ever reasonably be construed as Christian. Further and in addition to Rev. Harrison’s libel, many pastors and other LCMS personnel have been engaged in a campaign of defamation across social media and other outlets for a number of months, and this is to say nothing of the slander that is taking place in person and via various communications media. I am not making wild or insupportable accusations — I have personally seen or been credibly informed (in some cases with hard proof) of everything I have alleged.
And, now, I wish to be clear about the specific intent of this letter, and it is threefold:
- I intend to call to repentance the men named in the “to” line.
- I intend to begin the formal process of appealing the manifestly wrongful ‘excommunication’ overseen by Rev. Graves and confirmed by Rev. Maanum.
- I intend to call all faithful men left in this Synod to see that the hour is late and to fight for our forefathers’ church.
To the first point, I could most certainly have added many more names to the “to” line (e.g., Rev. Harrison released his statement in the name of every Vice President, District President, and congregation of the LCMS), but I have limited it to those who are in the highest positions as overseers or were directly and personally involved in these matters. If you find your name in this line and you do not agree with all that Rev. Harrison has said in your name, then it is incumbent on you to publicly dissent from his words. Thus far, I have been made aware of no such public dissent.
To ensure that the point is abundantly clear, I believe a short timeline is in order:
- 2023-01-20: I, and others, obtained copies of the LCACA; I (obliquely) tweeted about it.
- 2023-01-21: Initial thread on the (errors of the) LCACA.
- 2023-01-23: YouTube stream4 covering many of the problems in the LCACA; all the men on this stream have since been targeted by Harrison’s campaign of personal destruction.
- 2023-01-25: We publish “Here We Stand” episode of Stone Choir.5
- 2023-02-01: We publish “The Enemy’s Playbook” episode of Stone Choir.6
- 2023-02-02: Harrison resumes distribution of LCACA, which he had initially halted in light of the serious issues raised (and not only by us).
- 2023-02-10: ‘Machaira Action’ (an Antifa blog) doxxes me and another congregant at First Lutheran (a friend of mine). [Do not visit this site directly.]
- 2023-02-12: Maanum informs me of meeting (with no specifics); I provide materials to him.
- 2023-02-13: Aforementioned ‘meeting’ takes place — I am given no chance to answer, there is no discussion, I am told in no uncertain terms to leave the property immediately.
- 2023-02-14: Aforementioned friend is interrogated for more than three hours and placed under the minor ban without reason given.
- 2023-02-14: Maanum asked me (via email) not to attend the midweek service.
- 2023-02-17: Maanum asked me (via email) not to attend the Divine Service.
- 2023-02-19: Maanum (and elders) called law enforcement on me to bar me from the property (see video).
- 2023-02-21: Harrison publishes his “President Harrison denounces disturbing ideologies” article (which he has just recently directly contradicted in the Convention materials).
- 2023-02-22: Ash Wednesday.
- 2023-02-23: I publish my article “The Apostasy of Missouri” (linked supra).
The full timeline is significantly more damning, and we have covered it at some length (although with some portions omitted) in the Stone Choir episode “The Timeline of Recriminations”.7 It is both clear and, perhaps more salient, legally demonstrable that Rev. Harrison not only called for the actions that have taken place in the wake of the LCACA controversy, but also directed those actions through his subordinate officers. In fact, a Synod officer personally oversaw my ‘excommunication’ — as, again, my pastor was not even present —, and recorded that fact.
To the second point, I have copied Dr. Sias on this letter as I have been informed that he is the correct man to contact to begin the appeal process. To my mind, such an appeal will be a simple matter, as the Constitution and Bylaws of First Lutheran were so blatantly and carelessly violated that no reasonable man could possibly conclude the ‘excommunication’ was anything but wrongful.
I now include (some of) the relevant passages of the Constitution and Bylaws of the LCMS which make abundantly clear that this is not a matter that is left to Synodical discretion — I am legally entitled to the appeal demanded:
According to § 12.9.A. of the Constitution, District Presidents are officers of Synod:
“[D]istrict presidents shall… [s]ee to it that all resolutions of the Synod which concern the districts are made known to the districts and are carried out by them[.]”
And according to the Circuit Visitor Handbook, CVs are agents of the DPs.
According to § 18.104.22.168 of the Bylaws, it is the duty of all agencies of Synod, save executive sessions, to maintain and make available their minutes:
“All agencies of Synod shall develop policies and procedures for making available official minutes of their meetings. … Any member of Synod may request a copy of any official minutes of mission boards or commissions[.]”
Within Synod, it is § 1.10 that controls Dispute Resolution. After a number of preamble rules — which notably reiterate the Christian standard for approaching such matters, that is mirrored in the First Lutheran Constitution and Bylaws, but was ignored in this case —, we come to § 1.10.2, which states in relevant part:
“This procedure is established to resolve, in a God-pleasing manner, disputes that involve … persons involved in excommunication[.]”
In § 1.10.4, various terms are defined. I invite any interested parties to read the section; here, I will note only that resolution must be undertaken face to face (“[e]mail, regular mail, fax, [and] telephone” are explicitly excluded) and that including a statement with regard to requested relief is optional.
In § 1.10.6, the formal “reconciliation” process is detailed. Under § 1.10.6, I, as a party in this matter, am entitled to “submit a request to … the secretary of the Synod or district … that a reconciler be appointed to assist in seeking reconciliation”, which is one of the clearly enumerated things that I am explicitly doing with this letter.
Throughout this part of the Bylaws, there are references and procedural suggestions regarding ‘informal reconciliation’; however, I believe that such can be foregone in this case, as all efforts at informal reconciliation have been rebuffed or made virtually impossible by the adverse parties. As I have been literally, legally banned from the property of First Lutheran and would be arrested were I to set foot on the property again, I suspect that it is clear to all men of good faith that the adverse parties have made clear their intention to make no efforts toward reconciliation. I now take this opportunity to note that no one from First Lutheran has contacted me in any way since the events of the 19th of February. Formal reconciliation is, to my mind, the only way forward that does not involve the civil courts.
Naturally, I must also request that any of the adverse parties, to include those named in the “to” line, unless they repudiate their inclusion in Rev. Harrison’s defamatory statements, et cetera, be excluded from any panel constituted for the purpose of hearing this dispute or any future appeals. This is in keeping with the requirements of § 1.10.16:
“The standard for disqualification of a reconciler or panel member or hearing facilitator shall be actual partiality or the appearance thereof.” (emphasis added)
Lastly, I wish to highlight the required standard by which these matters are to be judged, from § 1.10.18:
“Reconcilers, Dispute Resolution Panels, Appeal Panels, and Review Panels shall be governed in all their actions by Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod.”
I would note especially that this list does not include CTCR documents, executive (re)interpretations of the Confessions, or any other such writings. As Christians, we are bound by God’s Word; as Lutherans, we are bound by the Confessions; as parties to this dispute, we are bound by the LCMS Constitution and Bylaws. Everything else holds no evidentiary weight, and must be treated accordingly.
To the third point, I do not yet believe that the LCMS is lost. I believe that what our forefathers built is fundamentally sound, if imperfect, and that she is a church for which men should be willing to fight and suffer. For my part, I have no intention of going anywhere else and I re-affirm my Confirmation Oath. In my mind, when I pledged to suffer all, even death, before falling away from the Confession, that “C” was neither lowercase nor only incidentally uppercase — I was consciously and deliberately pledging fealty and swearing that I would die before abandoning the Augsburg Confession8.
I was originally of a mind to include in this letter a list of demands; now, however, I think it best to leave such things for a future date. I reserve — unequivocally and absolutely — the right to publish this and any future letter — redacted or in its entirety. In fact, I fully intend to publish this letter on 25 July 2023, unless matters are sufficiently addressed without that step being necessary. My goal is the defense of Christ’s Church, and I have no interest in the laws or bylaws9 of men when and where they conflict with that duty. I adjure all of you by God to pray, to consult the Scriptures, to implore God for wisdom in these matters, and to take your conscience captive to God and then resolutely refuse to violate it.
May God see us through this time of trial.
Corey J. Mahler
8th Friday after Pentecost, AD 2023
[21 July 2023]
We would all do well to remember that excommunication is a public declaration that at least *one* of the parties involved is no longer Christian, but it is God Who gets to decide which party that is. ↩︎
Matthew Harrison, President of the LCMS: "President Harrison denounces disturbing ideologies" ↩︎
And, yes, the rest of the Book of Concord, as well.↩︎
By some of which I am not in the least bound.↩︎