Hijacked Church Saga Part II – “I am a rational and propositionally based old school Lutheran”, by Carol Wysocki

I am a rational and propositionally based Old School Lutheran and  I plan to stay that way

(Editor’s Note by Pastor Rossow: For Part I of this post click here. Carol Wysocki is a lay-woman from the Chicago area. After enduring the saga detailed below she began doing countless hours of research into the loss of the traditional Lutheran church. She has as business background and has noticed that a lot of warmed-over corporate trends are being followed in the church. We are hoping that she will be able to take the time and expand on each of the significant points below so that we and others can benefit from her study on how LCMS leaders, pastors and layman are hi-jacking the historically strong Biblical and confessional church and turning it into a feminized, trendy community determined by market forces and cultural preference.)

The associate pastor is a high energy, pacing, verbally gifted speaker.   His messages have an clear emphasis on good works. He has redefined the word ‘serve’ to mean that one is involved in church activities, particularly community outreach for the “unchurched”.   I have reservations about the new interfaith project for interim overnight housing of the homeless.   The laity is enthused and I hear the statement, “Isn’t it great?   Lutherans and Catholics together!”   Yes, things have changed.

The pastors are both graduates of Stephen Ministry leadership training in St. Louis.   I believe it is the source of the small group program that was started in this congregation prior to my arrival. Both pastors are admirers of prominent evangelical hucksters like Charles Colson, Beth Moore, George Barna and Max Lucado. Because they esteem these individuals I suspect that the doctrine in this church is “file cabinet doctrine”.   Biblical Lutheran doctrine was learned at the seminary but is now filed away. The historical denominational principles are for show; but it is not as if the congregants and the pastors actually believe them or act on them  in their own lives.

Over the summer I attend a Saturday evening contemporary service.   It is poorly attended and there are no young people among the roughly 25 worshipers.   The music reminds me of new age performance art and was presented from the front of the sanctuary.   It was a perfect accompaniment to the Robert Schuller- like sermon, and is memorable only because of the stultification factor.

I attend a second Bible study after services over the summer.   The class was discussing a recent George Barna book “Grow your Church from the Outside In”. I join them for one session and I have not returned.   It is of no consequence to me how the “unchurched” view the “churched”.  

August 2, 2009 is a memorable day because the associate pastor announced prior to the service that he is glad to be back from New Orleans. He stated he had an enjoyable time attending the ELCA Youth Convention the prior week.   I discover that Jay Bakker was one of three keynote speakers at the event. Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Fay) is a self proclaimed “Outlaw Preacher” and Gay Affirming Emergent Church enthusiast. I did speak to our associate pastor the following week and he assured me he was only there to observe and no youth from our church were present.  I mentioned this matter to the senior pastor a couple weeks later after Bible study class. He claims to have no knowledge of it.  

 The regular Bible study class I attend is not remarkable except for the pastor’s near obsession about “gossip”.   He mentions this quite often and at length.

 In late August, I discovered that the local LCMS church that participates with my church in the previously mentioned interfaith project is on the Willow Creek Associates list.   About the same time I receive a postcard notice from my church Board President and the associate pastor that a new program is set to launch a six week class titled “What If Our Small Group Made a Difference” on October 4, 2009.

 On September 19, I submitted to my pastor my objections to the small group program about to start.   I did not ask for an opinion on that matter until he had time to review it.   I did ask for him to preach the whole unvarnished gospel of Jesus Christ.   I wanted to hear about sin, repentance, and judgment.   He refused me and stated it was “Rude” to do that.

 On September 24, the pastor and I ‘dialogued’ about small groups again.   I was not satisfied.

 On October 4, I presented myself to the Board of Elders. I came prepared with a grievance statement and supporting materials to again object to the small groups program.   I made the statement that I believed this to be a church growth operation in play, by proxy through the sister LCMS church.  

 Two weeks later I attempted a follow-up call to the head elder, and the newest elder on the board returned my call.   My grievance still stands.

In my concern over this matter I took the time to learn a lot about group dynamics and social psychology. I studied Peter F. Drucker (the business guru who is one of Rick Warren’s mentors), and also Dr. Kurt Lewin who developed the techniques used on American POW’s in Korea.   I spoke to Martin Bobgan (University of Minnesota, B.A., B.S., M.A; University of Colorado, Doctorate in Educational Psychology) from Psycho-Heresy Awareness Ministries in California, and corresponded with psychologist Dr. Tana Dineen, PhD from Toronto, who authored “Manufacturing Victims“.   The dialectical praxis used in small groups is a vehicle to corrupt Lutheran minds to accept a defective theological worldview best defined as the relational Stewardship Ethic.  

At the close of my meeting with the elders, a note was given to me. The paper it was written on contained the talking points for the next small group meeting for October 11.   It would be the confirmation of my worst fears. Four tasks were stated: “This week’s verses, Prepare and Obey, Meditate, Reflect and Share”.   The key word would be Meditate.   I do not ascribe to the pagan mystical practice of meditation.   I am a rational and propositionally based Old School Lutheran.   I plan to stay that way; my relationship with that church is done.

(Editor’s Concluding Note: So we ask, where is the ecclesiastical supervision in this congregation? The District President in Northern Illinois, who is by synod policy the “bishop” in each district (see section 4.4.5 of the Handbook), i.e. according to the definition of the Bible the supervisor of spiritual matters, is an advocate of small groups and the use of Church Growth techniques as described above. Because of the “file cabinet” approach to Lutheran doctrine the pastors are able to give the right answers when interrogated but their practice does not match up with the doctrine they have filed away upon graduation from the seminary. The LCMS will continue to drift into mainstream American Evangelicalism if this crisis of supervision is not addressed.)

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Hijacked Church Saga Part II – “I am a rational and propositionally based old school Lutheran”, by Carol Wysocki — 28 Comments

  1. “The dialectical praxis used in small groups is a vehicle to corrupt Lutheran minds to accept a defective theological worldview best defined as the relational Stewardship Ethic.”

    I would really love to hear more about your findings in this regard, especially how it relates to “Psycho-heresy,” “POW” treatment and “Manufacturing Victims” (which I have not read.) This all sounds very interesting, but I don’t know what it means. Is the author available to expand on this research she has done, or has she written about her findings elsewhere? I would very much appreciate the advantage of this background study.

    Oh…and Kudos! on having the gumption to stand steadfast for the faith.

  2. Revfisk,

    I think Carol will be able to expand on these things over time. She has done all of this within the last three months and there is a lot for her to sort through.

    As I understand it the basic diapraxis thing (BTW – do a search on it and you will find lots of stuff) in small groups is simple. It is more divide and conquer than Hegelian. If you want to enact change in a congregation, break the congregation into small groups and let the natural religion have its way. It will rule because there is no supervising clergy there to correct the faulty conclusions of the theology of glory with the difficult and subtle theology of the cross. In time, the false theology of glory of the small groups becomes the parish theology.

    Here is how they apply the Hegelian dialectic of thesis/anthithesis.synthesis to it. The thesis is the pastor’s desire to transform the Grandather Church that he has been called to. Instead of ramming this down the congregation’s throat (that would be unadluterared thesis) he sets up small groups. Now, he does not have total control over the small groups which is why they stand as the Hegelian antithesis. But he does not need to worry about that because natural theology unchecked by the bishop will win out. I think in the technical version of this the pastor/leader is actually feeding stuf to the small groups so there is some control over what comes out the other end. The other end then is the reflected idea (i.e. it went through the meat grinder of the antithesis) and so the synthesis is the happy pastor and congregation all doing the natural theology of glory.

    Here is another way to get at the same thing. The pastor/leader is the idea (thesis). The small group is the fleshing out of the idea in the real world (antithesis) and the new appraoch to church that the congregation takes with the pastor is the synthesis (the original idea with experience of the real life lay people added to it).

    Of course, there are probably few pastors and district presidents who endorse this s_it that actually understand this or articulate it but the point is that these are the roots of small group theory thunk through by elitist intellectuals like Drucker.

    That was fun. Thanks for asking. I am glad to put that masters degree in philosophy to work every once in a while. You can imagine how intrigued I was a few months ago when Carol started showing me all of this research that she had been doing and how fascinating and pagan the history of small group theory was. (This has to do with more than just small groups but is also a part of the entire transformation model.)


  3. Thanks for the response.

    I guess what piques my interest is the connection between these tactics and the tactics of brain-washing, hot-boxing, etc, and I’m curious how intention the perpetrators of the theory are in adopting these methods.

  4. I have said before I agree with the majority of what I read here.

    That being said, I don’t get a couple of the objections that the writer brings up…


    The 119 Psalm (even the King James translation) talks about meditation also Joshua 1:8 (didn’t double check the translation on that one). If meditation is some sort of mantra then yes I see a problem with that. If meditation is thinking, then whats the problem? Didn’t Luther do a sermon on “How to Meditate on The Passion of the Christ” http://thepassion.cph.org/meditation.pdf

    So I guess my bigger question is, what is good meditation and what is bad meditation? Is there good meditation?

    Praise Music

    The use of ‘new age’ in describing music is more of a class of smooth jazz. Even most smooth jazz fans will tell you they dislike the ‘new age’ label. Regardless, how does instrumentation make music bad. I may not care for the ‘praise’ version of Might Fortress but I don’t see how changing the instrumentation of a hymm makes it bad.

    On the big three issues (wine, women and song as someone put it at the NID convention) I am totally with you on the first two. But why if music is doctrinally correct (yes I realize a lot of praise music isn’t) is it a problem if it wasn’t written 200 years ago originally in German (yes I am being a bit trite here).

    Can the instrumentation make a hymm bad?



    Yes I have my own strong misgivings about the church growth movement. Yes I have misgivings (to say the least) about what is being proposed by the task force.

    I guess what I don’t understand is why from at least my perspective, it seems the perspective of some is the church needs to remain absolutely static.

  5. Henry,

    Great questions. Let me use the extreme method to answer the music question. Before getting to that consider this. The issue is certainly not about when music was written. Just guessing but I would say that about 10% of the music in LSB was written by people born after 1930. Given that the church is 2000 years old that is a high percentage of “contemporary music.”

    Now to the extreme case argument. Again, it is not about when the music was written but about the style of music. Some music style’s are fit for God’s serving of his gifts to us and some are not. For instance, polka music is not a good fit, nor is grundge nor elevator music. They just do not match the m ix of reverence, seriousness, joy, etc. that the service of God’s gifts to his people calls for.

    Now, to address the actaul music that is replacing hymnal music in so many of our LCMS congregations. As you admit, much of it is bad doctrinally. It is also bad stylistically – it is made for soloists and is not folk music like most of our hymnody is. It also has overtones of McDonalds jingles or a rock concert or a piano bar. Music with those connotations does not fit the context where God is giving out his gifts of forgiveness (proceeded by confession), the preaching of his word and most significantly the giving out of his son’s very body and blood.

    I hope this helps.


  6. Carol is spot on when she says “The dialectical praxis used in small groups is a vehicle to corrupt Lutheran minds to accept a defective theological worldview best defined as the relational Stewardship Ethic.” It’s used with deadly results to preach the Law without the Gospel in all sorts of ways in the Church. It’s part of the natural theology that Pr. Rossow is getting at. It’s all about paradigm shift. If you’ve got a favorite program you want to sell, the most “effective” way to do it is through the Hegelian dialectic. Unfortunately, it is kryptonite for the Gospel – notice the root word of kryptonite is krypt. God’s truth cannot be allowed to be synthesized into a falsehood, which is the logical end result of this process.

    It sounds totally nutty to argue that any of this would go on in the LCMS, yet it happens all the time. Many facilitators are trained in the process without even knowing it. I first was alerted to all of this when Pastor Rick Warren published The Purpose-Driven Life (PDL). Warren is a master of creating paradigm shift by use of dialectic – all of which he learned from his mentor Peter Drucker.

    I carried on an email conversation with one of our LCMS pastors a few years back who was taught about the dialectic and paradigm shift while he was in the Navy. The Navy’s Total Quality Leadership / Total Quality Management (TQL/TQM) makes extensive use of these techniques, and the same techniques are taught to chaplains, and specifically how these techniques are used to promote Church Growth Movement (CGM) ideals (which is what Pastor Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life is all about). Here is a composite of some of what he had to say:

    “I have some writings I have researched and put together on Church Growth Movement and its dangers, that also directly relate to PDL. What Warren is doing in his books I was taught as a Navy Chaplain. I know the theology inside and out; I could probably teach it! I know the danger intimately! If you understand what W. Edwards Deming meant by a “paradigm shift,” then you understand the fundamental danger of PDL; and you further understand that using PDL with Lutheran presuppositions, as was suggested in a letter to The Lutheran Witness in April 2004, is by definition [of CGM and PDL paradigm] impossible!
    … I was taught CGM by instructors from Fuller at Navy Professional Development Training Courses, one by Win Arn; I was also taught this extensively at the Naval Chaplain’s Advanced Chaplain’s Course; and CGM is reinforced at every level of the Command Religious Program. All of CGM is in conjunction with the Navy’s paradigm shift to a TQL/TQM approach. … The Navy’s Senior Leader’s Course reinforced TQL/TQM at the senior officer level and was required of every senior officer. CGM is the religious counterpart to TQL/TQM. So I understand this quite well, both from the W. Edwards Deming approach and from CGM proponents.
    … Thomas Kuhn in his book, The Structure of Change, stated, “Think of a paradigm shift as a change from one way of thinking to another. It’s a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It does not just happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change.” (Such agents Rev. Warren says are pastors.) Remember:
    -Paradigm shift is leader and purpose driven.
    -Paradigm shifts are mutually exclusive by definition!
    -By definition, different paradigms cannot be related to each other.
    This means that CGM with Lutheran pre-suppositions, or re-framing by suggesting that Warren is “just using different terms to describe the same thing” is naive at best, ignorant, balderdash, smoke and mirrors, or just plain flat out intentional fabrication!”

    Pastor Rossow mentions “the pastor/leader is actually feeding stuf to the small groups.” I’ll use the 40 Days of Purpose as an example, which was the small group campaign that went along with The Purpose-Driven Life, and which was done in many Lutheran churches. There was a facilitator, that was a parishioner who had gone through the initial PDL training. This facilitator, who likely didn’t know any more theology than any of the other group participants who had been goaded into attending, was essentially the one guiding the group towards Rick Warren’s pre-ordained, synthesized, conclusions – that what matters is what you DO with your life. A Law conclusion completely devoid of the Gospel and the water of life. Thesis – Anti-thesis – Synthesis. The PDL small groups are an example of the dangers inherent in small groups, which, by default, aren’t led by a pastor.

    The Hegelian dialectic is used constantly in the business world, in government, and, unfortunately, in the Lord’s Church. You can see the dialectic process going on in programs in the LCMS as well, such as the Pastoral Leadership Institute (http://stand-firm.blogspot.com/2008/05/third-seminary-in-lcms.html) and the Transforming Churches Network. In both these programs, there is always a strong sense of “accountability,” and it is “groupthink” that you’re being held accountable to. You’re being monitored to make sure you stick with the pre-ordained Hegelian conclusions. Often, it’s the members of the group that monitor each other. I lived in Salt Lake City, and the joke went something like this: “Q: Why do you always bring two Mormons with you when you go fishing? A: So they won’t drink your beer.” Get people together, and peer pressure keeps them in line with the proper expectations, even though they may not agree with what’s being taught. It’s all part of the paradigm shift. Beware!

  7. Sorry if I provided you with articles that provide answers to questions you already knew the answers to Pastor Fisk. I’m interested in the answer to your specific questions too.

    I’ve got a book called “Combatting Cult Mind Control” by Steven Hassan that discusses some of what I think Carol is referring to. The reference to POW’s is what’s been dubbed “brain washing,” which is a coercive psychological technique used to effect compliance with demands. Mind control, on the other hand, is less coercive and a more subtle way to change a person’s way of thinking through group dynamic and suggestion (hypnosis). These techniques, though not specifically part of the dialectic process, at least in a definitional sense, can be incorporated into a program aimed at paradigm shift. Certainly the “groupthink” aspect of this is one dimension of mind control.

  8. Carol,
    You have just described TO A T, what occurred in our last LCMS church. Right down to the small groups, Jungian psych, & contemplative prayer. However, you faired far better, in front of your Board of Elders, than my husband did. Can we say left foot of fellowship?!
    Ab fab article, all together too sadly true, of far too many LCMS churches.

  9. For a good read on CGM, its origins, and how it works in opposition to confessional Lutheranism – and the good news of the Gospel, I’d recommend “Law and Gospel: Foundation of Lutheran Ministry (with special reference to the CGM) by Robert J. Koester. It’s a bit dated, being published in 1993, but still very relevant. In fact, anyone who had read Koester’s book when it was first published would not have been surprised in the least by the later publication of the Purpose Driven Life. It’s still available from Northwestern Publishing House.

  10. Reading this great article and these fine comments has brought back some memories of sitting in many philosophy classes in college. 🙂 I can’t recall where I read it, but if I recall correctly, Friedrich Nietzsche used dialectic to “free” human will from its constraints (didactic) in order to pursue creativity, or the “will to power”. This basic idea also had a profound impact upon men like Paul Tillich, Karl Yung, and Sigmund Freud; Freud would use dialectic to kill the “father figure” standing in the way of a person’s psychological “health”. I have read and heard so many times the words, “think outside the box” coming from proponents of church growth who want to “kill the father figure” in order to set themselves “free” to realize a new experience… to be more creative in how they do “mission”. This puts a new perspective on the SPs declaration that this isn’t our grandfather’s church anymore.

  11. Anyone who wishes to read up on Church Growth ought to check out the following:

    Pr. Rodney Zwonitzer “Testing the Claims of Church Growth” CPH

    Kurt Marquart, “”Church Growth’ as Mission Paradigm. Luther Academy, “Church and Ministry: Three Confessional Essays

    Klemet Preus “Pietism in Missouri’s Mission: From Mission Affirmations to Ablaze!”

    Klemet Preus “The Theology of the Church Growth Movement: An Evaluation of Kent Hunter’s ‘Confessions'”, LOGIA Epiphany 2001, vol X, no. 1, also available on Confessional Lutheran’s website. http://www.confessionallutherans.org

    For an excellent treatment of Missions, I can recommend Detlev Schulz’s recently-published “Mission From the Cross: The Lutheran Theology of Missions,” CPH, 2008. An excellent read.

  12. Jim, Having majored in Philosophy with a concentration on Nietzche, you remember correctly. Man & Superman etc., etc.

  13. Thanks for the info on Church Growth and dialectic in general. (And the dialectic stuff is not stuff I’ve studied much of before.) But Scott, you really heard my cry. What I’m really concerned about is learning about the intentionality of mind control in the process, and seeing if these pioneer thinkers (such as Drucker) have intended to deceive, or if this is all happenstance. I’m not even sure where one would find such research.

    While we’re listing CG stuff, one of the best reports Ive ever seen was the Synod’s special Task Force to study CGM under Dr. Barry. The report was published only shortly before Pastor Kieschnick came to power, where, interestingly, it was fully ignored. You can read it here:


    Interestingly, the CTCR felt the need to respond to it in defense of its previous report on the CGM.

  14. OOPS! Forgot “For the Sake of Christ’s Commission” a response to a 1995 Convention Resolution. I don’t think it’s available anymore, however the CTCR’s evaluation of this document, ordered by Pres. K., is still on the LCMS website. Search for the above doc., and you’ll only get the CTCR’s criticism. Go figger.

  15. Pastor Fisk, I haven’t specifically researched the relationship between the use of dialectic, as preached by Drucker for instance, and mind control. It seems to me that it’s all on the same spectrum, and dependent on how unethical you want to be will determine how far you drift to the mind control techniques in concert with the dialectic. There are plenty of cults out there that are experts on it.

    Johannes, the For the Sake of Christ’s Commission document, that mysteriously disappeared from the LCMS website since it didn’t paint a glowing portrait of CGM in the LCMS, was resurrected by me a while back. Funny how these things happen. Pastor Fisk notes the address above: http://www.soundwitness.org/evangel/for_the_sake.htm. I hope everyone will read it. It’s got a lot to say.

    The SoundWitness.org website is my website, in conjunction with my apologetics “partner” Greta Olsoe, and an occasional hand from some other people.

    Pastor Zwonitzer’s book, Testing the Claims of Church Growth, is out of print. I did a thorough review of it a while back on Stand Firm, which has many quotes from the book. You can find the review here: http://stand-firm.blogspot.com/2008/04/book-review-of-testing-claims-of-church.html

  16. @Scott Diekmann #16
    Scott—as usual, you’re right on. Too bad about Zwonitzer’s book–I refer to it with regularity. I’m sure that Amazon has used copies available, no doubt quite inexpensive. I have a few copies of “For the Sake,” and would gladly share them with anyone who wants one. I’ll let the webmaster determine how that happens. In Klemet Preus review of Hunter’s “Confessions” he lists several synod higher-ups who wrote glowing comments about “Confessions.” Included in that list is a man who was President of the Texas District and also chairman of the CTCR. He currently holds a rather high office in the synod.

    I have come to the conclusion that all the various CG programs have two major flaws, all their other shortcomings notwithstanding. 1. They all neglect Justification (the Gospel), while elevating the so-called Great Commission to Material Principle status. 2. To a greater or lesser degree, they distort the office of the Holy Ministry. There are many, many other flaws on the list, but these two head the list, in my opinion.


  17. Jim, Scott & Johannes,
    As usual you three are…supercaifragilisticexpialidocious!!!!!
    Unlike the word above, you three make things, sweet, simple & to the point. With little latin & little complex termage! God Bless ye three today!
    Im Jesu Alweg,

  18. That being said, I don’t get a couple of the objections that the writer brings up[…]

    The 119 Psalm (even the King James translation) talks about meditation also Joshua 1:8 (didn’t double check the translation on that one). If meditation is some sort of mantra then yes I see a problem with that. If meditation is thinking, then whats the problem?

    So I guess my bigger question is, what is good meditation and what is bad meditation? Is there good meditation?

    I had the same question.

    According to esv.org, the word “meditate” appears 18 times in the bible, and “meditation” an additional 6 times. Most of the occurrences are in the OT, especially for example Psalm 1:2 (the first example I thought of, even without looking): “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.” Also well known is Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight”.

    The biblical references mainly speak of meditating on either God’s law, or God’s works. From that, I don’t see where the suggestion to “meditate” on Bible verses (God’s Word) is an obvious cause for alarm.

    That said, I can’t help but wonder if I am missing additional context that is known to Carol. Pastor Rossow’s first comment regarding pagan practices in small groups especially lends this theory weight.

  19. Just a note that the link in #14 from RevFisk will bring you to a .pdf file of “For the Sake of the Church” Johannes has mentioned a number of times.

    I think the document is worth printing out, but you can download it for free and have it today.

  20. John, you’re right, of course. However, the offer still stands–if anyone wants a copy, the Webmaster can arrange it. I can send them to him, or whatever…Makes no difference to me.

  21. Thank you Dutch.

    Johannes, the two major flaws you list for CG programs can also be found in the BRTFSSG recommendations.

    Regarding the meditation discussion, meditation in the Bible generally refers to pondering, or thinking about God’s Word. I suspect that any mention of meditation in a negative sense in this thread and in reference to what Carol said initially refers to contemplative prayer and other related types of mystical attempts to “experience” God. If you’re interested, and have a little extra time on your hands, you’re welcome to read through Part 4 if the article I wrote a while back on the Emerging Church (which is different from the EC articles that were posted here on BJS). The article contains a thorough discussion of contemplative prayer, which is the “bad” kind of meditation. You can find it here:

  22. Regarding meditation, I have found the best work currently available is “Grace Upon Grace” by Dr. John Kleinig. Dr. Kleinig describes the three components of receptive spirituality, Oration(prayer), Meditatio(meditation) and Tentatio(temptation) taught by King David and expounded upon by Dr Luther (AE 34). The answers you seek can be found in this excellent work. (published in 2008 by Concordia Publishing House)

  23. Thanks, Dennis, for referencing Dr. Kleinig’s book. It is most excellent, in many ways.

    There is good mediation and bad meditation. The former seeks to digest God’s Word, and so fills up the self with good things: the gifts of God. The latter seeks to empty one’s self, to effect an altered consciousness, and so opens the body to the deceptions of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature.

    Also, there is good contemporary music and bad contemporary music. The percentage of music written by composers you can have lunch with us is much, much higher than 10%, Pastor Rossow. And certainly there is no exclusion of any instrument (see Psalm 150). The questions really are “which instrumentations best lead the assembly on this song in this place?” and “which sounds most appropriately magnify the Word being proclaimed in this givne music?”

    Given the decline of the organ and the decay of music education in this country, confessional Lutherans need to recover our culture of singing our hymnody together rather than “singing along” with an organ. Organs are great (often the best answer to the two questions above), but pianos and guitars and flutes and cellos are also useful. Their sounds aren’t “church growth” or “emergent” and the organ more often accompanies heterodox worship than orthodox worship.

    This is almost starting a new thread, so I’ll take it back to the source now: Carol, there are clearly some troubling things going on in this congregation you are (were?) in. Thank you for sharing your story with us, and know that we pray you find a truly Lutheran church home. But please be careful that your frustations not cloud your perceptions. I’m not saying necessarily that you have done that. But when things are not going well, it is easy to become pessimistic and start painting with too broad a brush. Let’s stay focus on actual substance and even specific stylisitc critiques where they can be shown to be instrinsic to subsance. There is enough to be concerned about here. Dismissing a category of prayer or a genre of music just distracts from your excellent points.

  24. Dear Philip:

    Thanks for the comment. I would like to clarify 2 issues.

    Firstly, I have a good ‘ear’, I’ve been playing the piano since I was 7, I don’t play Bach fugues anymore, but I recognize a ‘knock off’ tune when I hear one. One of the songs on the occassion cited had the exact melody of the opening bars of the YMCA song. Like, “Young Man, da da da da da daaah” “Young Man, da da da da da daaah”. It was a poor selection for worship, and was not my intent to dismiss the genre. I just couldn’t participate because the music was atonal unchant like and didn’t repeat in a normal fashion. No musical notes were provided which made it all the more difficult to sing along.

    Secondly, with regard to the meditation issue. I came to expect that since Beth Moore studies are being used it would be a contemplative prayer meditation definition. She is reputed to be an enthusiast and the Pastor obviously approves of same.

    I should have been more clear, thanks all for pointing that out.

  25. Thanks, Carol,

    Yes, those jingles really do have an unchurchly sound to them, don’t they? It’s unfortunate that the pastors who defend the use of any and all musical constructs can’t get it through their heads that music has strong associative powers, and so does not come to us in an absolutely neutral sense.

    May God’s blessing be upon you as you seek a new church home. Since you are in Chicagoland, may I humbly suggest that Bethany might be worth the drive?

    Of course, there are many other options in our fair city that may be closer. Feel free to drop us a line if you need help.

  26. “Because of the ‘file cabinet’ approach to Lutheran doctrine the pastors are able to give the right answers when interrogated but their practice does not match up with the doctrine they have filed away upon graduation from the seminary. ”

    What should be done to limit this “file cabinet” approach? What can be identified as the source of this problem?

    I would point to the admission and certifcation processes as they are currently performed by our seminaries.

    In my view, because they seem to be desperate for students, our seminaries will take just about anyone who hasn’t accumulated too much debt during undergraduate studies (not exactly a trait described by Paul in his pastoral epistles). Not only this, but they seem to be in competition with each other for students, so if one turns a potential student away, the other may be likely to swoop in and accept him. As we know from I Cor 12:12-26, competition has no place in the Body of Christ.

    Additionally, the certification process as it currently exists seems very disjointed. Why do the seminaries certify their own students? Does this explain why nearly 100% of the graduates are certified? What light would one of our seminaries cast on herself if even 10% of the graduates were not certified? No one wants to sign their name on a document that basically says “Yes, I was responsible for training this man to be a pastor in the LCMS, but I didn’t do a good enough job. In my opinion, the four years he spent here weren’t enough and he should not be called to serve the church as a pastor, even though I was paid to form him into someone able to fill that role.”? Self preservation seems to play a role in the current certification process, and I see a need for an agency outside of the seminaries to take on this responsibility for the Church.

    In fact, at the St. Louis seminary, the certification interviews were not used four years ago and were then made optional three years ago. As of today, the certification interview is mandatory, although it is very rare that a student not be certified. Is anyone familiar with the decision that took away the certification interviews at St. Louis for that period of time?

    Continuing on this thought, what makes it possible for students to “file” the true doctrinal answers and then put something else into practice? Is this a result of a heavily academic approach to pastoral formation? When a student takes a test, he or she can identify the correct answer, but may not necessarily agree with it. Filling in a circle or writing an essay is an easy enough task to perform in order to as the famed saying goes, “cooperate to graduate”.

    On a closing note, the complaints filed in this two part article consist of issues almost totally ignored in my recent seminary (St. Louis) experience. Small groups and contemporary worship are topics that are very rarely discussed in the classroom, either positively or negatively. If these are such terrible practices with the proposed evil underlying motives, why don’t our seminaries warn their students, or talk about them at all? If a student serves a parish on vicarage where these practices are being used and then returns for his fourth year, what conclusions should he make if no one will talk about these issues?

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