You Are a Light Unto the World, the Five14 Way?

Associated with the Lutheran Hour Ministries is a self-described “totally unique” youth community “…where teens (and recent survivors of teenhood) get together online and in person to make a life-changing impact on their generation with the love of Jesus Christ” (on-line source). This community is called Five14.

Five14 was brought to my attention by a pastor who received the Lutheran Hour Ministries newspaper, “The Lutheran Layman.” What caught this pastor’s eye was Five14’s advertisement for an August 11th “Christian concert” to be held in Chesterfield, Missouri. This same event is also being advertised at the Five14 website found at http://www.lhm.org/ located under the “Our Ministries” pull down menu at the top of the page. The advertisement reads in part, “Make sure to save Saturday, August 11 so you can be in St. Louis for the first-ever five14 Revolution a huge back-to-school Christian concert sponsored by Lutheran Hour Ministries’ five14 witnessing training program for teens! Featuring the music and message of Mynista, this show will bring the truth home that lives can be changed when people meet the Savior who lived and died and rose again to make all lives new.” Five14 advertises itself as a “witnessing training program for teens” sponsored by Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM). Five14 is listed at the LHM website under “Outreach Training programs and you can visit Five14’s “About Us” page linked here .

Before I get any further along I want to comment that the web site for Five14 is well done and clearly presents what this “community” is about. I also like that Five14 wants to motivate and teach Lutheran youth how to confess their faith to their friends and loved ones who are unbelievers. We certainly need more training in this area for our youth. Indeed, our youth are barraged by many false messages in this world and they need good, solidly Lutheran, tools to use in responding to those messages.

However, after browsing Five14’s webpages many red flags went up. In particular, I have to question if Five14 is the model of “outreach training” that Confessional Lutherans want to use? What do some of you think? My answer is “no!” and I would like to touch upon why that is the case.

Digging into this a little deeper I see in the above quotation from the Five14 advertisement that this “witness training program” is featuring both “the music and the message” of a music group called Mynista. You can visit Mynista’s website linked here  to catch a glimpse of the leader of this group and the rapper who goes by the pseudonym “Docta Wuzdead.” Please keep in mind that the website is most certainly not meant to be an exhaustive description of Mr. Wuzdead or of what he believes, teaches, and confesses; but I think there is enough information at his website for us to sound the alarm, so-to-speak.

In reading Docta Wuzdead’s “witness” it becomes clear that this rapper certainly has much for which to be thankful. He is no longer “gang banging” and he now confesses his love for Jesus Christ. I think it is awesome that this young man is not hooked on drugs and alcohol anymore, and he is not in a deadly gang harming others around him. I don’t doubt that he likely has a powerful story to tell that may be helpful to some of the gang bangers he left behind. But is there anything he is saying that we should be leery of as Lutheran Christians?

Part of Docta Wuzhead’s conversion story (On-line source) resembles some of  the stories of early blues guitarists who claimed to have sold their souls to the devil in exchange for musical talent. Apparently, Mr. Wuzhead didn’t complete the dastardly exchange of soul for fame. According to his story even though he was “approached by demonic spirits asking him to sell his soul in exchange for fortune and fame” (ibid.), the impact of these demons speaking to him drove him into despair and he sought to remedy this new problem by taking his own life. As these fiendish events unravel he winds up at his mother’s house and instead of shooting himself in the head with his own sawed-off shotgun, he “got on his knees and asked Jesus to become his Lord and Savior” (ibid.). According to Docta Wuzhead’s short biography, “Within seven days, he was baptized in the Holy Spirit and completely free! The demonic voices that were tormenting him left, he flushed all of his weed down the toilet, threw away his gun, and was completely delivered from alcoholism” (ibid.) His is certainly an interesting story to say the least, but I think it abundantly clear that Docta Wuzhead is a Pentecostal or Charismatic and his beliefs come through clear not only at his website, but more importantly through his music and story.

In listening to Docta Wuzhead’s rap music I found it filled with some of the usual messages that comes out of the Pentecostal movement, such as the “prosperity gospel.” For example in his song “Pow” the rapper sings of “abundant life in spirit, abundant life in soul, abundant life in body, Jesus Christ He makes you whole.” What the lyrics contain are the “buzz words” typically used amongst the Pentecostals and Charismatics expressing the “prosperity gospel.” For those who might not be familiar with the “prosperity gospel,” it is a false doctrine claiming that the Holy Scriptures teaches that financial and material blessing is the will of God for all Christians. Indeed, Christians are entitled to material blessings from God, so it is erroneously taught. Such teachings ignore Scriptures such as John 16:33 where Jesus plainly tells His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation.” Christ doesn’t promise us an “abundant life” in this world, as the priests of prosperity teach in their false gospel.

[Side note: In visiting the photos section of Mynista’s website there are numerous pictures such as this one showing Docta Wuzdead laying his hands on another in Pentecostal style worship. Is this the sort of Contemporary Worship craved by some Lutherans?]

Bringing the above together I have to wonder just how Mynista can be effective in Lutheran outreach, or more importantly in “outreach training?” In fact, what is being taught to Lutheran youth if we team up with Pentecostals/Charismatics such as Mynista when doing mission?

As Lutherans we have a rich heritage and a strong identity. We confess the Scriptural truth that God deals with us through His Word and Sacraments (SA III, VIII). We have a comforting message that the Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Mynista do not have and that is the promise of the Gospel, knowing that Jesus Christ connects us to the forgiveness of sins won at the cross for the world through His means of grace. Our experiences are not with some sort of fleeting, rapturous, emotion driven event. Indeed, what is important is not the experience but the action of God upon us through His Word, Baptism, and the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins. The experiences of demonic spirits demanding our souls, and of a so-called “baptism of the Holy Spirit” can’t hold up against the truth of the Word of God and the Sacraments. We have assurance through the promises of God and they aren’t contingent upon what we do or feel. As Lutherans we need not step onto the roller coaster ride of enthusiasm, seeking greater spiritual “highs” outside the objective means of grace. Yes, we don’t need to climb a ladder to the heavens to find God, since He descends to us through His Son and feeds us through His means of grace. So why should a Lutheran “outreach training” “community” put forward to the public a Pentecostal/Charismatic singing his message of enthusiasm and a false “prosperity” gospel?

I can’t say that I am surprised by Five14’s teaming up with a Pentecostal/Charismatic rapper in their quest to look cutting edge and out on the fringe. We have seen this same sort of nonsense at past LC-MS youth gatherings. LHM as an auxiliary of the LC-MS seems to be following in the footsteps of the leadership over the National Youth Gatherings of the past who have brought to our youth Methabapticostal type programming for their edification. Five14 is just following the leaders.

What I do find perplexing, though, is that Five14 is being propped up as a model for youth ministry by LHM. I don’t find anything wrong with well-done websites or with using today’s media types in communicating the Gospel. I think there is room for using today’s technology in faithful communication of what we as Lutherans believe, teach, and confess. And, there in is the problem. As Lutherans we do not believe, teach, and confess the enthusiasm of Mynista and therefore LHM and Five14 should not be promoting the “ministry” of Docta Wuzdead and propping it up as an example of “cutting edge” Lutheran missions work when that is really the furthest from the truth. What our youth need is more solid Lutheran theological training and fellowship with those who dare to be Lutheran (As Higher Things rightly puts it in their motto). What we don’t need is more Methabapticostal worship and outreach methods promoted in the name of “doing mission.” In fact, we don’t need any of that at all.


Comments

You Are a Light Unto the World, the Five14 Way? — 30 Comments

  1. Lutheran Hour Ministries has been a doubtful source for anything Lutheran since they sold Wallace Schultz for the promise of “more money” from the liberals.
    [I wonder if they got it.]

    NYG only pretends to be Lutheran; it’s the generic Protestant Trojan horse.
    One wonders what the leadership gets out of promoting that travesty.

  2. Same old, same old.
    Relevance with/to the world ~ like the Trinity need a marketing revamp~
    or
    Reverence ~a loving, submissive, obidient command from a Father to His children.

    Foxes in the chicken coop, but no one is “accountable” and no one seems to know who/whom is.

    Same old, same old. Great article Jim!

  3. This is one more sign that church leaders don’t get the youth and they are still stuck in the old paradigm. All I had to see on the band’s page was “fresh annointing” and I knew it wasn’t worth going any further.

  4. I am kind of uncomfortable with the constant emphasis on training youth to witness etc. What emphasis is there in teaching youth about marriage and Christian parenthood? That is their next step in life even if they are not so extroverted as to be engaging their friends in discussions of theology etc. How many of them can actually answer any pointed questions? They need apologetics before they can engage in such discussions anyway. It seems a bit foolish to exhort young people to such work which is more appropriate to more mature Christians. Perhaps I misunderstand.

  5. Mrs. Hume,
    When I hear “fresh anointing” I think automatically of the charsimatics. They are forever talking about being anointed with the Holy Spirit. Of course when they talk about being anointed with the Holy Spirit it has nothing to do with what the Bible talks about.

  6. Mrs. Hume :What does “fresh anointing” connote? denote?
    @Mrs. Hume #4

    I think it’s a “second work of grace.” Your baptism isn’t enough–you need a “fresh annointing” of the Holy Spirit–kind of an upper story (or level) of Christianity (per Francis Schaeffer). As one purveyor of this stuff taught, “We get the Holy Spirit when we’re baptized, but we leak.”
    I heard it with my own ears. Honest. Really. No kidding!

    From what I have observed, you’ll know it when you get it, but it often means speaking in tongues, being “slain in the spirit,” acquiring a “prayer language,” (with no small amount of “God told me”) and/or other such nonsense. As usual with these well-intentioned folks, they are more interested in the wrapping paper than the original gift. Those of us who have not had a fresh annointing seem to be viewed as somewhat incomplete, almost second-class believers.

    This is closely related to the “experience trumps doctrine” in another thread here on BJS.

  7. @Mrs. Hume #5
    I agree. Kids need to be grounded in the faith. They don’t need a bunch of seminars or training sessions on how to witness. They need to be taught the Catechism, they need to go to the Divine Service, and they need to have parents that pray for them and with them in the home. They certainly don’t need to a concert where the performer is teaching a false gospel.

    From the Mynista website:

    When Jesus died on the cross, He did not only take our sins. He took our sicknesses and diseases too. We don’t have to bare what He already bore for us! Believe on Him as Savior. Believe on Him as Healer.

  8. @Mrs. Hume #4

    Mrs. Hume,

    Gaius and Win are correct. I will just add that for Pentecostals and Charismatics a “fresh anointing” means that we need a “renewal” of the “filling of the Holy Spirit.” They usually don’t mean that the Holy Spirit has left anyone, just that the “spirit filled” person needs to be revived in the Spirit. In fact, this is what makes “revival services” so important to these people and why they want to have revivals daily in their lives. Hence the ups and downs, because when they don’t feel it they talk about being “in the valley” or going through a “dry time in the spirit.” Rather than return to their baptisms for blessed assurance as we do (or find comfort in the Lord’s Supper), they seek a revival, a “fresh anointing,” so that they can have their mountain top experience again. You can imagine how problematic this revivalism is and what a wreck it makes of people who, rather than looking to Christ and His means of grace for comfort, are putting faith into their own experiences. Ultimately these practices can lead to deep despair.

  9. I think we all need training in speaking the Gospel to those outside of the church. The problem with things like 514 is that they are training people who really don’t have a foundation for the training to rest on because for the last 40 plus years we gave up teaching doctrine to the youth. Instead, we contented ourselves with teaching them moralism.

  10. (Did LHM ever apologize for what they did to Pastor Wallace Schulz?)

    Thank you, Jim, for mentioning Higher Things, the great alternative to this dangerous substitute for daring to be Lutheran. I just returned from chaperoning my youth at HT’s fantastic conference in North Carolina. My kids pester me now to chant more and to let them sing in divine service those “hard to sing” hymns from the 16th and 17th century.

    http://higherthings.org/about/about-dvd

  11. for Pentecostals and Charismatics a “fresh anointing” means that we need a “renewal” of the “filling of the Holy Spirit.” They usually don’t mean that the Holy Spirit has left anyone, just that the “spirit filled” person needs to be revived in the Spirit. In fact, this is what makes “revival services” so important to these people and why they want to have revivals daily in their lives.

    Couldn’t they get that from confession, absolution and a proper understanding of the sacraments, especially communion? It seems that since what they need is taken away, they are seeking it and even trying to invent rather than discover what is actually taught in the Bible.

  12. LHM is only going to get better if we get involved and make it better. Refusing to be a part of it wastes what great resources it has. I’m not advocating send youth to see Wuzdead, but if we refuse to be part of LHM it’s not going to get any better.

  13. Speaking to what Phillip has said, and agreeing with his sentiment, LHM does enlist Confessional presenters. In fact, I was one of them for the Regional Outreach Conferences. I had to miss the last one in Orlando, though–long story. But it looks like I may be brought back for next year’s round. So we’re there with thoroughly Lutheran sectionals.

  14. @Pastor Joshua Gale #14
    “Speaking to what Phillip has said, and agreeing with his sentiment, LHM does enlist Confessional presenters.”

    That is good news, but the credibility of LHM would improve exponentially if they publicly apologized for the public sin they committed against Pastor Schulz. This call for repentance is not “living in the past,” since LHM to this day has not publicly repented of this very public sin and thereby they still publicly applaud their neighbor’s worship of pagan gods who cannot save them. (This is the public sin Pastor Schulz condemned at the televised joint worship service led by Oprah at Yankee Stadium in 2001.) The repentance should be as public as the sin was public. Private repentance for public sin is no repentance at all.

    For all the talk about Matthew 18 and the 8th Commandment, it amazes me that so many “teachers of Israel” seem totally ignorant about this part of our Confessions: “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.” (http://www.bookofconcord.org/lc-3-tencommandments.php, Large Catechism, 8th Commandment, paragraph 284)

    Similarly, public reproof of those who evicted ULC is not just to be tolerated, but it is *required.* The sinners who evicted ULC need to *publicly* repent, for the sake of the little ones who may think what they did was a good thing.

    ”For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.”

  15. Joshua,

    Was there any other confessional Lutherans presenting besides you? One such speaker is not enough for me to promote getting involved in that organization. One will not change the overall direction or earned reputation.

    This program for youth is not Lutheran. I can not and will not confuse any of my member’s/colleagues or such by condoning it nor being part of it.

    And to the people above, until there is repentance for the sinful act against Rev Schulz, we have no business being part of LHM.

  16. @Nathan Raddatz #16

    I think that good pastors should try to get involved and participate as presenters, or get involved in the organization as planners and directors. I think that is what Pastor Gale was doing. If no good pastors want to work in an organization that already gets funding, less qualified people will still be willing to work there. So, LHM really needs lots of great pastors to keep seeking opportunities there to be the presenters and design programs etc.

    Now that is different from directing young people or your congregation towards the organization. If you feel that you can’t unconditionally recommend those resources, then you shouldn’t do it. We have seen LHM change direction before, and it will happen again, but who will direct and what will be the direction? That depends on who steps up.

  17. That is good news, but the credibility of LHM would improve exponentially if they publicly apologized for the public sin they committed against Pastor Schulz.

    Brother Ted, perhaps it would behoove you to write LHM and ask them if they have considered a public apology, especially now that some time has passed and new leadership is in place. Perhaps it would behoove a great number of us to do so in a spirit of concern and charity.

  18. @Nathan Raddatz #16

    Ok, we have seen the band. That was very entertaining. Now that the band has played, when does the actual teaching of Lutheran theology begin.

    Why should confessional Lutherans always be expected to give up their unique theology in order to groove to the theology of glory messages in rap/classic rock/country Christian radio songs?

    It does disturb me that the featured bands of the month on the Five14 website do not modify (at least some of) their messages for a Lutheran audience. I wonder if Mynista would be interested in rapping content from the Book of Concord or the LSB.

    If enough confessional LCMS pastors flood into the LHM, perhaps the LHM could invite Higher Things to turn Five14 into a 21st century Walther League.

  19. @Mrs. Hume #17
    The million dollar question: Would the solidly Confessional pastors even be allowed to work for the LHM administration. Until the issue regarding Pastor Schulz is finally put to rest, I will continue to ignore LHM in favor of Pirate Christian Radio. After all these years, we still remember…….

  20. @Lumpenkönig #20
    “After all these years, we still remember…”

    Yes, and this is not us being unforgiving about something that happened a decade ago. This is them still to this day refusing to repent and still leading the lost away from the cross of Christ. That the original culprits at LHM have moved on and successors taken their place of leadership is a moot point. Those in charge of LHM today still represent what LHM is and does — and did to Pastor Schulz.

    Even more disturbing than the public shame they wrongly imposed on that one man is the danger in which they put untold numbers of poor souls who heard LHM saying loud and clear in the firing that it is a good thing to worship pagan gods who cannot save you. LHM needs to publicly repent in order to send a message just as clear that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

    “For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.” (8th Commandment, Large Catechism)

  21. @Pastor David Juhl #18
    “Brother Ted, perhaps it would behoove you to write LHM and ask them if they have considered a public apology, especially now that some time has passed and new leadership is in place. Perhaps it would behoove a great number of us to do so in a spirit of concern and charity.”

    Been there, done that.

    But perhaps it is time again…

    Thanks, Brother David!

  22. @Lumpenkönig #20

    The million dollar question: Would the solidly Confessional pastors even be allowed to work for the LHM administration.

    I don’t follow this. If they apply, eventually some will get in. If 25 apply to work there and 20 are traditional, but the traditional practice pastors are rejected more often than not, then it starts to look pretty suspicious. If they reject good applicants, that is their doing, but if people don’t apply, you can’t blame LHM. So, more people like Pastor Gale need to apply for there to even be a chance to turn things around. Someone who has a mistaken view on the good practice won’t come around to doing better when everyone around him is cheering him on in his current path. You have to help the weaker folks see their way clear to doing better. It is easier if they are surrounded by solid clear thinking peers.

  23. Ms Hume,

    I applaud your optimism. However, at this time in our synod, we are not merely one or two people away from being faithful. We need to clean house or shut down complete groups or organizations.

    You see the dilemma. One by one at this point will not fix the problem, it will cause confusion in large ways and for those leading or doing the hard work, they will get burnt out quickly.

    Have a blessed day.

  24. Great article! Thanks for digging into this Jim and putting it out there!

    @Lumpenkönig #19
    For what it is worth, Lost and Found is a Lutheran band that has been around since the early ’90s. They are uniquely Lutheran in most of their music and even have a song about all the great Lutheran theologians (they joke that no one outside of the LCMS probably recognizes any of the names except for maybe the name “Luther”). They do tailor their music to whether they have an LCMS crowd or an ELCA crowd as well. Fun group that I always feel good about supporting over and above any other artists out there.

  25. Lost and Found has performed at our school a few times over the years.  They are better than outstanding.   They bring a joyful, upbeat message and the kids love them.

  26. @Rev. McCall #25

    Glad to see that some artists are willing to tailor the message. How hilarious would it be if Evangelicals were attracted to Theology of the Cross messages in the praise songs!

    Too bad there will be no tattoo removal booth at the event.

  27. Brothers in Christ:

    First, thanks Jim for looking into this. I had not heard of Five14, and now know to avoid it.

    Second, I agree completely about Higher Things. I also just returned from a HT conference, Maryville, MO, and saw again how real Catechesis that leads to witnessing comes about. Also, the fact that they used the same liturgies and hymns that my churches use will only support these local churches and not undermine what we are about.

    Third, I remember seeing Lost and Found when I was in college. I did appreciate their Lutheran words. But I’m skeptical about their music and how it supports their words. Yes, Lost and Found even uses hymns and modernizes the setting (often using the same chord structures). But when I heard their version of “The Church’s One Foundation”, with the same chord structures, just played like Little Richard, it sounded ridiculous to my ears. It was like they were dishonoring a hymn that had supported my faith in the past. And that angered me. Plus, the concert itself seemed rather juvenile and adolescent, and it just turned me off. From then on, I didn’t like listening to Lost and Found and avoided them as much as I could.

    (BTW, This was before I had any experience with theology, and I was just a freshman in college. Just realize that I wasn’t thinking this as a pastor, but as a 19 year old. I’m not personally against the people who make up the group Lost and Found, and actually have prayed for them recently because one of them had a serious sickness. But I offer this simply as a counterpoint to the discussion. If one attempts to “reach the youth” by modernizing music and using Lutheran teaching, this can actually backfire as it proved in my case).

  28. @Rev. Robert Mayes #28
    I agree that Lost and Found has a particular style of music and stage presence that does not agree with everyone. I personally don’t mind it. I don’t think I would be willing to listen to more appealing music if it meant I’d have to swallow a whole load of bad theology with it in the lyrics though.

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