Jesus First rebranded as Congregations Matter. Really?

A new anonymous “group” has formed in the sphere of LCMS politics, it’s called Congregations Matter.  I like congregations and in God’s eyes they matter a whole bunch, because they are made of God’s people gathered around the pure Gospel and rightly administered Sacraments.  So the site seems nice, but then after reviewing some of the content, the site isn’t anonymous at all – it’s literally a rebranding and rehashing of Jesus First.
I am going to quote some things to prove it:

First I want you to read a 2003 article by Jesus First (the organization that championed revivalistic and evangelical theology, liberal politics, and power-seeking Synod restructuring).  I quote it from another source since it has been scrubbed from the internet (I wonder why… the answer is so soon to come).

Now compare that to the “new” post by the “new” organization:

Notice that they are almost word for word copies.  So the new group is not anonymous at all – in fact we know it well – it’s the group that sought to destroy our Lutheran identity through confusing male/female (where do we see that in our culture today?), opening up communion practices, importing non-Lutheran worship, and don’t forget they managed to centralize power at the Synod level through restructuring in 2010 (which they now bemoan since their guy is not running it).

Don’t believe the title of this new organization.  It’s just as real as the belief that Jesus First was really about putting Jesus first.  Instead, look at the results of the last convention, how 70-85% of delegates (clergy AND lay working together as God’s people) confessed Biblical communion practices, encouraged some level of uniformity in worship, repented to follow Augsburg XIV in a very gracious way, and confessed our Lutheran identity in every sphere of our life.  It seems that this “new” organization is not new at all, but an older and smaller minority now that is upset with something the vast majority of congregations, convention delegates (clergy AND laity), and general church members approved and widely practice in their congregations.

Let’s put aside the politics of division between the way in which God’s people serve their neighbor.  Congregations are important, so are the ways in which our congregations have set up to work together – under the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions as circuits, districts, and yes even Synod.  Let’s pray for our leaders and encourage them in their task.  Let’s let the sour grapes end with this rehash of the politics of old.


About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Jesus First rebranded as Congregations Matter. Really? — 85 Comments

  1. Maybe they will want to start a “resistance” movement. Oh, wait, that’s already taken . . . 😉

  2. Dear Pastor Scheer,

    Thanks very much for some excellent reporting on a new group of LC-MS “organized liberals.” I use “liberals” here not in a secular political sense, but in a relative sense compared to “conservatives” in the LC-MS who intend to uphold the ideas and practices of Walther and his peers. And we know that Walther and company intended to uphold the ideas and practices of 16th century Lutheranism, as defined by the 1580/84 Book of Concord.

    You are absolutely right to see sentence by sentence copying in the two documents you cite. The anonymous author of the article in “Congregations Matter” that you cite could be accused of plagiarism by the author of “Jesus First” article, unless he is the same guy. He probably had the old article on a floppy disk and just updated it by changing the names of synodical leaders.

    The argument that is found in both articles is basically one of congregational autonomy.

    LC-MS congregations and laymen do have a great deal of freedom; probably more than just about any Lutheran synod in the world. That freedom is guaranteed by Article VII of our LC-MS Constitution. But Article VII does not infringe upon, or vitiate, the other articles of the Constitution, such as Article II (doctrine and confession) and Article VI (application of doctrine to areas such as syncretism, calling ministers, hymnbooks, etc.).

    The history of the idea of “congregational autonomy” goes back to the Statement of the 44, Thesis Six: We affirm the historic Lutheran position concerning the central importance of the una sancta (“one holy” Christian church) and the local congregation. We believe that there should be a re-emphasis of the privileges and responsibilities of the local congregation also in the matter of determining questions of fellowship. We therefore deplore the new and improper emphasis on the synodical organization as basic in our consideration of the problems of the Church. We believe that no organizational loyalty can take the place of loyalty to Christ and His Church.

    Kurt Marquart in Anatomy of an Explosion (Ft Wayne: CTS Press, 1977; especially pp. 54-57) explains how this idea of congregational autonomy arose and worked out in the history of the synod, leading eventually to the theology of Seminex.

    As to “Jesus First,” for folks who are new to these matters, I recommend the article I wrote 16 years ago on the subject: “What is ‘Jesus First’?Affirm 25 no. 2 (May 2001): 6-9. I don’t think it is on the internet. Knowledge of the former organization, “Jesus First,” may help with understanding the new organization, i.e., “Congregations Matter,” though I suspect that there has been some change of leadership, emphasis, etc.

    I would draw the readers’ attention to the fact that this new group “Congregations Matter” intends to promote resolutions at district and synod conventions (see ) and candidates at the synod level(see ). So they are definitely a political faction. Be ready for a barrage of mail and email, delegates!

    One confusing statement is made on the just-cited “candidates” page. The author states “more and more power and decision-making responsibility is in the hands of fewer and fewer — and there is less and less opportunity for other voices to be heard.”

    This phenomenon is true, but who caused it? President Ralph Bohlmann (who later supported Jesus First) and his political allies eliminated the old adjudication and appeals boards in 1992, centralizing the adjudicatory powers in the hands of the District Presidents. Even more adjudicatory powers were given to the DPs in 2004 during the Kieschnick Administration. (see my articles on DPs and their powers at: starting with the May 2017 issue). So the people who centralized the adjudication system were Jesus First people or their allies.

    Then in 2010, Jesus First and the Kieschnick Administration really pressured the delegates for a major restructuring of the executive branch of synod, i.e., various national offices. When Harrison was elected that year, he told the synod that he had not been in favor of the centralization, which would be accomplished by eliminating the old program boards, but he would follow the will of the synod–and he did.

    So who is to blame for the centralization of the synod, from an organizational standpoint, since 1992? The “moderate” factions allied with President Bohlmann and the Jesus First organization. So now in “Congregations Matter,” the “Jesus First” people are blaming Harrison and his administration for something that they planned and successfully executed.

    Thanks again for this revealing article, Pastor Scheer!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  3. It is what it is, Good Brother.

    The “sour grapes” will not end – the “re-branding” is a clear indication of that fact. To those of us who came through the late ’70’s and 80’s – and witnessed the various metamorphases into the 90’s and beyond of the AELC/Church Growth/anti-Missouri bunch, this comes as no surprise.

    My only caution is this – they are a remarkably resilient bunch, and wish to be held accountable to no one but themselves. Given my present, and precarious situation, I take a risk even saying that much. But I have never given a care before, and I am too old to begin now.

    Synod has been at as much peace as I have seen since the ’70’s. Matt and those he has surrounded himself with, are capable theologians. We have witnessed an increased Liturgical and Communal appreciation of our tasks as the Church. True, there are loose cannons out there in Districts and flocks, but satan is never going to give us a break from that.

    We are not called as a people to be faithful to programmatic studies or approaches; or to be accepting of new definitions of who we are. No – we are called to fidelity to the Word and the Confessions. The “nibbling around the edges” that has gone on since the Statement of the 44 is becoming commonplace – explained by Pastor Noland here at BJS’s site on 8/3/12:

    “We also have a right to be suspicious of anything on this topic in Toward Lutheran Union, since its author Theodore Graebner was the most prominent signer of “A Statement” of September 7, 1945. E.J. Friedrich was also a signer. The real purpose of this document, known as the “Statement of the 44,” was to overturn the LCMS doctrine and practice in matters of “syncretism.” Bode resolves the apparent contradiction in Walther by concluding that if an LCMS pastor does preach to a heterodox congregation, “over time the reproval of error must follow and with it must come the true teaching of God’s Word.” I resolve the apparent contradiction by concluding that Graebner’s anecdotal evidence is in error.”

    Mention to most the concern with “syncretism” and be prepared to receive that “deer in the headlight” look. Yet, there is nothing new under the sun.” Syncretism is a sly dog, and creeps around the campfire as though belonging, but would betray its masters in a heartbeat

    Our task to be watchmen will not end on this side of glory. “Discerning the spirits” is no easy task, and frankly, without Christ, impossible!

    Thank you to Pastor Scheer, for a timely warning at a time in which flocks are easily swayed and confused. It should not be so among us, yet it is, and our prayers for the ongoing task are critically necessary! Pax!

  4. Thank you for this information, I found the link to their website a week ago and was wondering. I find it interesting that the same people who voted in Houston 2010 to “give the chancellor (Kieschnick) emergency powers” are the same people who are pushing this agenda. Sorry for the Star Wars quote but it appeared apt at the time.

    I was a delegate to that convention and the steamrolling (my impression at that time) of the BRTFSSG agenda was wholly intended to rip control from the local congregation and concentrate it in the President of Synod. Now that they don’t control that office, they are upset that all the power resides in said office.

    I am grateful that we have a president that (IMO) has restrained himself from abuse of that power AND has judiciously appealed to the CCM and the CTCR for guidance on how to proceed in circumstances forced upon him by outside agencies/organizations.

  5. The thing I find rather humorous about Congregations Matter is how an anonymous website has “guest essays” written by anonymous authors. They really “stand firm.”

  6. @Scott Diekmann #8

    The website is not just anonymous, it is “cloaked”. It is registered through a private registration service, “Domains by Proxy”; whose motto is “Your identity is nobody’s business but ours”.

  7. According to the linked article, “We need to focus on winning souls for Jesus, not living in fear of what this (or the next) Synodical President will determine what is and what is not to be allowed in the local congregation.” I thought that the Holy Spirit converted unbelievers to the one true faith. That quote makes it look like we are the ones who cause conversion in the unbeliever. Hmmm… They don’t sound terribly Lutheran to me.

  8. I’m guessing that this group doesn’t really mean that all congregations matter…just the really big ones.

  9. Wow, is it that time again already, for the pre-convention politics to begin?

    It is absolutely ludicrous and totally without foundation to cast the current Synodical leadership as somehow anti-congregational, imposing dictates upon congregations, etc. The current President has been in office for nearly seven years, and as a parish pastor during that time I can assuredly state that the reach of the Synod into the affairs of its congregations has dramatically decreased, not increased.

  10. @Dan Grams #12

    @Rev. Robert Fischer #10

    I myself believe that anonymous “activism” is ineffective. And a form of self marginalization that will lessen their voice – whatever that voice is. Also it is essential to present evidence for the claim that congregations have become less autonomous and additionally that DP’s have decisions made for them by the president of synod. So far I do not see this evidence forthcoming. There are anecdotal examples given by some that claim this; however this is merely a platitude, if not supported by evidence.

    It would take considerable research to determine if there is any credence at all to their claims.

    Kind Regards,

    Michael Baun

  11. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Pastor Scheer. I will mark and avoid “Congregations First” and teach others to do the same.

  12. This resurgence of Jesus First under a new name points out my contention that we (as a Synod) have been lulled into a false sense of security that since we have a more Confessional POTS, that we can relax. Here’s the issue: Until and unless those within our Synod either repent of their false teachings (like all the errors associated with the theology of glory “missional” way of doing things, or open communion, etc.) or leave the Synod either by removing themselves or having them removed, then we will continually have to deal with the division that they insist on bringing to the Synod. There are still a multitude of LCMS congregations and pastors who do not walk in accord with pure doctrine and biblical practice of that doctrine. Both Pieper and Sasse would have us understand that it is the continued toleration of these errors that makes us a heterodox Synod and turns the LCMS into just another Christian sect rather than a manifestation of Christ’s Church on earth.

  13. @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #16
    Disagreement and discussion is not the same as division. Is there no place to nail the “95 Thesis” in the LCMS! Having read almost everything Luther ever wrote it appears Luther himself would be far more tolerant than this. How “Diet of Worms” some Lutherans have become in handeling disagreement.

  14. @Alden Erdman #11

    What is “terribly Lutheran?” In some ways, one could say that they are “terribly Lutheran,” based on their terrible theology and (let’s not forget)their terrible practice. In other ways, it is true that they are at best “barely Lutheran,” and so are not terribly Lutheran. I think “LINO” would best describe them, which, when you think of it, is kind of (you guessed it!) terrible.

  15. Hi Michael,

    In all seriousness, I sincerely doubt that either Luther or Walther would have been comfortable joining the LCMS of today. They both lived and breathed a faith that was reflected in the Preface of the Augsburg Confession:

    After the removal and correction of things that either side has understood differently, these matters may be settled and brought back to one simple truth and Christian concord. Then we may embrace and maintain a future of one pure and true religion under one Christ, doing battle under Him [Psalm 24:8], living in unity and concord in the one Christian Church.”
    (AC, Preface, 3, Dau/Bente)

  16. @Rev. Kevin Vogts #13

    It is absolutely ludicrous and totally without foundation to cast the current Synodical leadership as somehow anti-congregational, imposing dictates upon congregations, etc. The current President has been in office for nearly seven years, and as a parish pastor during that time I can assuredly state that the reach of the Synod into the affairs of its congregations has dramatically decreased, not increased.

    What are the DP’s worried about? They continue to do as they please, and so do liberal [LINO] congregations.

  17. @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #19
    It is an interesting question. I get the impression that Luther would feel uncomfortable with any group that wanted him to speak “ex cathedra”. Who knows maybe he would even accept delivering a sermon in a Catholic Church – if invited.

  18. As an LCMS member that has had to move frequently in the last decade, I have seen quite a variety in local congregations. In our current state, I realized, too late, that the congregation we currently attend is LINO (but even that is being generous because the new sign out front makes no mention of the church being Lutheran). Nearly every bible study and program touted comes from Lifeway, the children are taught dispensationalism through Awana clubs, and the majority of the monthly charities sponsored are not RCOs. I mentioned my concerns to the pastor once, and he told me that the DP is fine with all of it. What recourse does a mere congregation member like myself have? Who do I talk to about my concerns for the church and false teaching? Sadly, this congregation seems fine with it, and all are perfectly comfortable in what is essentially a Baptist style non-denomination CoWo church. Unfortunately, the other two congregations nearby are not much different. Sometime in the past year, I had to wonder ” Is it just me?” That’s when I found this website and others like it who are like minded. We are moving to another state, and are hoping to find a confessional liturgical Lutheran congregation. After a decade in CoWo, I have seen the light. Thank you, BJS!

  19. @Michael Baun #21

    You always seem so… off.

    Correct in that Luther would hate the idea of him being “ex cathedra”, a ‘domination’ named after him, and such. That he wrote so much that we follow is because he was gifted by God, and no one else was doing squat, which was part of what he was complaining about.

    However, later Luther realized that the Roman Church was proving unwilling to accept reforms, and then they doubled down at the Council of Trent. Maybe the afterwards Roman Catholic Church has softened on certain areas, but their interpretation of saved by grace seems still lacking. So for liberals to say it is not the 1500’s anymore, they are correct. Because RCC has also added to its errors papal infallibility and Mariology (Immaculate Conception, Assuming, Co-redemptrix). And recently the RCC has reintroduce indulgences. So there are still lots of ongoing and NEW problems for Lutherans to submit to the Pope.

    Therefore, after his break, Martin Luther would never, then or now, preach a sermon in a Catholic parish. The situation and conditions and even understanding would be misaligned so that odds of such an occurrence happening are none.

  20. Maryrose’s experience is hardly unusual and makes the point that “Walking Together” should mean more than a common interest in the Concordia Plans. Discussion is fine to a point, but endless discussion over unresolved issues is an exercise in futility and an accommodation of error. As the citation from the preface points out above, the way to fellowship is the resolution of error and its removal. Thus far, the LCMS is simply unwilling to do this. At some point we need to love the maintenance of pure doctrine more than we love the maintenance of “peace” in the Synod as an institution.

  21. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Norm has been very helpful here, by adding a link to my article titled “What is Jesus First?” that I mentioned in comment #2 above. That link is:

    If the copied link doesn’t work here, go to comment #2 above, 7th paragraph, and click on the blue-highlighted link “What is Jesus First?” That should open or download the article, which has direct relevance to the current discussion.

    Thanks again to Norm, Pastor Scheer, and the editors at BJS for all their hard work at keeping us informed about synod stuff.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  22. @Jason #23
    Frankly I doubt that Luther would be invited. After all he just might give a sermon on Romans – or gasp – Galatians. I would love to see that. I don’t believe any Luthern pastor should restrain himself from proclaiming the gospel. He would not restrain himself from accepting – because I feel he would proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever he was allowed to.

    As for seeming off – I don’t really care much about that. After all I’ve read most of Kant’s works and other philosophical works extensively – that can mess with your head. My favorite theological writing is Augustine’s “De Trinitate” but the numerology taints it for me a tad – so I just ignore that part of it. And also a tad stranger is that I consider “Summa Theologica” to give insight to what sort of questions were important in his day. And of course degreed Physics majors are just plain weird to begin with! Guilty as charged.

    Still, however, I believe Luther would proclaim the gospel anywhere he had the opportunity to do so – even in a Roman Catholic Church or for that matter a Jewish temple – without concern for violating current ideas about “Unionism” divorced from thier historical roots.

    Frankly I myself need to be more like Luther in this regard.

    Kind Regards,

    Michael Baun

  23. @Michael Baun #21

    Dear Mr. Baun,

    You have some interesting ideas, but they don’t seem to be grounded in any real personal experience in ecumenical settings or any real knowledge of Luther. I highly doubt you have read much of Luther, beyond his most famous writings in collections such as the Fortress, Anchor, or Vintage editions.

    Luther’s polemical, even scatological, writings are well known, even to English readers. Luther viewed his hardened opponents, i.e., those whom he tried to win over but was unsuccessful, as tools of the devil. This made very clear in a brilliant and highly-respected book: Heiko O. Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

    I am not recommending that anyone follow Luther’s polemical approach to their opponents and I never have–it never wins friends or converts among those opposed or those watching on the sidelines. But we should not be foolish about WWLD (“What Would Luther Do?”). He might accept an invitation to preach, but I am sure that they would not invite him back after his first try.

    As to ecumenical settings today, I have had numerous experiences. I was a doctoral student on a Fellowship, and in residence, at Union Theological Seminary, New York for four years. The faculty were always more tolerant toward me, for which I am grateful, but almost all the students, who would soon become Protestant clergy (with some Catholics in the mix) were not.

    My approach has always been to be personally gracious to people when there is a need to point out their error, and to give substantive reasons why. But people for whom religion is their vocation rarely take such criticism kindly. They often don’t even want to hear about contradicting evidence.

    More recently, I was asked to represent the Lutherans at a “round table” here in Evansville. There was no worship services, just a series of lectures with Q & A. I believe that ten or twelve sessions were planned, but only one was held.

    At the beginning of my talk, I explained that, based on the Preface to the Book of Concord, my brand of Lutherans believed that all who were baptized and believe in the Trinity are properly Christians, and those who believe in Christ and his Word will be saved, no matter which denomination they belong to. I think this opening statement was greatly appreciated.

    Then, in response to various questions, I answered what we Lutherans believe–and why. Because of my extensive studies in doctrine and church history, I could do this “on my feet,” i.e., by memory, with citation of books, sometimes even chapter or article.

    They did not invite me back, and did not hold the eleven or so other planned sessions. I think the pastors involved in planning the event were worried that I was catechizing their members in the Lutheran faith, which of course, was exactly what I was doing.

    You should read the book of Acts, chapter 13, to see Paul and Barnabas’ experience at Antioch in the province of Pisidia. They were catechizing the synagogue members in the facts about the Messiah who had come and whom they represented. They were reviled by the Jews in the city. It is a typical experience for those who are willing to speak the truth that is needed among their hearers.

    I hope this helps a bit.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  24. @Martin R. Noland #28

    Thank you for the kind response. I tended to overlook all the “whore of Babylon” stuff and his tract against the Jews etc. as a man extremely passionate about the truth. Certainly this is not today’s current style of “dialog”. Although it was typical not only for Luther but his contemporaries. In many ways this was normative “dialog”.Convincing heads of state to allow safe haven was pretty important stuff back than and people did not tread lightly since people’s life’s were on the line.
    And yes while reading Luther it felt like – come on are you really trying to convince them this way. But based on what was happening at the time I understand why he probably spoke this way.

    I also feel that he probably would not be invited back either. Hopefully the gospel would be heard. I think Luther had great hope for this in his time and was pretty disappointed that many times the gospel was rejected by those he preached to.

  25. @Michael Baun #27

    True, Catholics would want to impose such restrictions, and if they know any better they would not invite Luther. Because Luther would do his thing. If they tried to impose, he would say he would speak, but not under any conditions they would try. So in that mutual sense, I don’t see ti happening.

    I have not delved into Kant at your deep level. After a short while, I gave up on him. I found him getting a bit weird to the point of being less and less useful. I therefore become disappointed in hard core Kantian disciples. Kant may have been Lutheran, but I feel he was out of sync with Scriptural mores. And his writings do seem to mess with peoples heads.

    Anyway, I personally find the liberals to be more fast and loose with facts and ideas, getting more into word play and semantics. On another site it became predictable how its posters would respond to this ‘new’ entity. Since I read a handle for Lutheran blogs and google search discussion points, like a couple of others it only took a matter of minutes to see the almost plagiarism Congregations Matter pulled form previous liberal entities. And it slightly pisses me off that they pass themselves off as Waltherian congregationalists, because most of them despise Walther. I feel they may be trying to pass themselves off differently (wolf in sheep’s clothing) to grab certain conservatives (not necessarily confessionals) who will lap up the congregationalsim they tout. Although very hypocritically they want ecclesiastical power to reside in the DP’s. If they were truly congregational, they would not really have any authority beyond the parish pastor. This is the liberals trying to mount a fight. And after 7 years of Pres. Harrison, cyclically this would be the time to start outing an incumbent, with a fair chance of successfully doing so. (based on recent LCMS convention history)

  26. The Jesus First types LOVE congregational autonomy. For the most part they consider the LCMS superfluous to anything in their “real” world. At the same time they wish to create a Synod out of the LCMS in their own image. Doctrine gets lip service, practice is all over the place, and no one (above all) should pass judgment on anything an autonomous congregation does.

  27. @Jason #30

    Sorry for the edit after you posted your response. Yes Kant messed with my head. A favorite philosophical work of mine is “The Fate of Reason” by Frederick C. Beiser. I feel it is one of the more important works to be familiar with in order to have productive dialog with intellectual atheists.

    I was fortunate to be exposed to extensive theological discussion and debate while living in Anaheim. Many staff members from “The Bible Answer Man” showed up among others.

    One thing that occurred as a result of reading Luther was an exchange with a friend of mine that was attending Fuller Seminary. He informed me that Luther did not believe in inerrancy of scripture . Instead of laughing – which seriously I had to do everything in my power not to – I determined the best way to deal with thus was to read to him a dozen or so pages from Luther’s various writings translated into English the next time I saw him – without telling him who wrote it. I still remember his reaction – that whoever wrote what I just read was a narrow-minded fundamentalist – bleep. When I showed him who wrote it he was aghast.But my professor is a world renowned scholar of Luther he declared. After not talking to me for almost six months afterwards he confided in me that he didn’t trust a thing a seminary prof said after that. That Luther would be appealed to to support such nonsense I still find scandalous.

  28. @Harry Edmon #26

    Dear Harry,

    Thanks for the links. I read them this evening. Our new Secretary has done a great job here. Your links explain why “Congregations Matter” (CM) names John Sias and intends to unelect him at 2019 convention. I think that you are right, that the problem of a District President who dismisses a case of verified false doctrine, thereby creating a safe haven for false doctrine in his district, is the main impetus here. The creators of CM knew this was coming, because the synod mandated this action. CM really wants synod to be a federation of doctrinally dissimilar districts. Walther and his peers, as well as Pieper and every leader until the Statement of the 44, would have wanted a doctrinally unified synod. Dr. Sias work with the CCM agrees with my analysis in this months article on “District Presidents and their Powers”, first part in the May 2017 issue of Lutheran Clarion (see )

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  29. Martin –

    Has this case, given potential ramifications, not proceeded to a point of names being named – beyond potential targets like Sias? I doubt one in a thousand in Synod even know what is happening, and the lawyer-ese does not help much.

    Just asking – jb

  30. @Martin R. Noland #28

    Mr, Noland,

    From what I’ve seen your experience is not uncommon. Sometimes this occurs because potshots are taken at various others denominations that a representative of another denomination disagrees with – from the pulpit . But when real informed discussion occurs these potshots appear pretty lame and backfire. And of course this leads to questions about why people do what they do and opens a real can of worms.

    Of course Lutheranism has a rich theological history and has much to offer the evangelical community. Real thought and open biblical discussion about differences has almost always been treated as subversive. Both in Luther’s day and sadly also in our own.

    I have told many of my Roman Catholic friends that the Pope made a mistake in excommunicating Luther and they should ask the Lutherans forgiveness for doing so. Some object, “But he called us the whore of Babylon”. Of course gently trying to communicate what all that really meant can get pretty interesting.

    Kind Regards,

    Michael Baun

  31. Michael,

    Good thing that Luther never took any potshots at the Pope! NOT! It is a common trap that pastors fall into that one cannot criticize the theology of other denominations…even in Adult Bible class without drawing criticism from some members. Lutheran theology is both thesis and antithesis. If we cannot point out not only what we believe, teach and confess and also what we reject and condemn, then we are leaving our people vulnerable to false teaching. Indeed, it is often what we reject and condemn that actually clarifies what we believe, teach, and confess. If we cannot publicly teach/preach what we reject and is a danger to souls, then it would not even be possible to read the Lutheran Confessions to Lutherans. To be sure, one must do this clearly indicating that we are not condemning other Christians, but we are condemning false theology.

  32. @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #36

    Well by potshots I mean statements not well thought out. Hopefully Luther didn’t do this frequently. Luther was embarrassed on occasion by this.

    I am of the belief that some who hold to the “Book of Concord” would never even tolerate questions or even open discussion about it in the same manner Luther was denied a hearing on the 95 theses. Pretty sad state of affairs. So instead of the Pope there is the “Book of Concord” vs. Sola Scriptura. Frankly, I find the position taken by authors of sites like to be absurd.

    Kind Regards,

    Michael Baun

  33. An open discussion is fine…even with rank unbelievers. The problem in Missouri is that we have “studied” our way into error precisely by continuing discussion with those who are intransigent in their errant positions. I know it sounds nice to have “brotherly” discussions and to continue “dialog”, but once someone has demonstrated that they will not change their position, then error has to be called error and the errorist must be dealt with one way or the other. In our Synod, we have totally failed to do this.

  34. @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #38

    I don’t think there has been a total failure to do so. Total failure would look like what happened to the Methodists where even pastors that rejected the Trinity or the bodily resurrection were allowed to continue “preaching”. So far, at least, Missouri doesn’t have problems – to my knowledge – looking anything like that. And hopefully in 100 years from no won’t either.

  35. I presume that the idea for the name of the group Congregations Matter came from the name of the movement Black Lives Matter. This is a more befitting name or concept for a political movement than it is for the body of Christ. Christians, by the power of the Holy Spirit, know that Christ and Christ’s life alone is the only one that really matters. Jesus life is the only life that gives meaning or value to those for whom He died so we are better served by calling ourselves by His name than by copying the names and ideas of the culture around us.

  36. I commented on one of their posts. Here is their reply:

    Dear David,

    Thank you for your comment.

    “Scripture matters. What is the remedy if a pastor advocates for the ordination of women and the District President doesn’t properly supervise the doctrine and practice of the congregation?”

    This is a moderated site. Your comment will not be published because it is inaccurate. Your questions is not a hypothetical. You are referring to Pastor Matt Becker.

    His District President, Rev. Paul A. Linnemann, addressed this issue in front of the Milwaukee Convention and stated that he did supervise Pastor Becker and how he did it according to the Word of God, the Lutheran Confessions, and the Bylaws of the LCMS.

    Perhaps you should contact him or President May in the Indiana District if you are concerned that the doctrine and practice of the LCMS is not being properly supervised. District Presidents are the supervisors of doctrine and practice in the LCMS.

    Thank you, again, for your comment.

    The Congregations Matter Team

  37. @David C Busby #41

    That is really interesting. While it is true that DPs are supervisors of doctrine and practice in the LCMS, so is the Synod President. Here is the Constitution of the Synod Article XI B. Duties of the President
    1. The President has the supervision regarding the doctrine and the administration of
    a. All officers of the Synod;
    b. All such as are employed by the Synod;
    c. The individual districts of the Synod;
    d. All district presidents.
    2. It is the President’s duty to see to it that all the aforementioned act in accordance with the Synod’s Constitution, to admonish all who in any way depart from it, and, if such admonition is not heeded, to report such cases to the Synod.
    3. The President has and always shall have the power to advise, admonish, and reprove. He shall conscientiously use all means at his command to promote and maintain unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of the Synod.

    So the constitution is clear that the Synod President has oversight of the DPs and it is his duty to admonish the DPs so they do their duty.

  38. John Sias faithfully served three congregations in our circuit for several years before being elected Secretary of the LCMS at the last convention. He is an intelligent, thoughtful, orthodox, and kind man whose wife exemplifies what a pastor’s wife should be. A nicer couple could not be found. He didn’t campaign for his new position. He was identified as particularly competent and trustworthy and was promoted to the position of LCMS Secretary because he was well qualified for it. The men who call themselves “Congregations Matter” now presume to issue personal attacks on him because they disagree with what he has done in good faith. This reflects on their character (or lack of it); not on the character of John Sias, who is an evangelical and orthodox Lutheran and an honorable man.

  39. Not entirely anonymous.
    WhoIs data for congregationsmatter says “Jason Frey”
    Whois data for webtosuit is Jason Frey

    Could be a coincidence but Jason Frey is an elder at
    Pastor’d by: Charles S. Mueller Jr

    Another interesting parallel the site admin username: congregationsfirst-admin

  40. @mac #45

    I followed that first link and there was nothing on there about a “Jason Frey”. It took me to a “Page not found” on the congregations matter website.

    I have to admit I really don’t know much about WhoIs data or anything like that. Could you give a little more info?


  41. @The Rev. BT Ball #46
    Sorry about that. He’s listed under the ELDERS section.

    Dude owns a web design/dev business with multiple domains one of them is which is the root domain for where resides you can see this by going to note the URL / folder / directory structure.

    and if you look at the web archive for webtosuit here:

    You’ll see the phone number to his current business and the copyright info:
    Design To-Suit® is a Division of Frey Design Group, Inc.

    His current web operation:

    And WhoIs info:

    Like I said, could just be a coincidence that he owns the domain that hosts in a sub-directory of one of his domains and that there’s a dude that goes to a congregation in the same geographic region that happens to be an elder.

  42. No, Northern Illinois District. Not coincidentally, the very same district from which Congregations Matter originates, apparently. Isn’t this the same district of Pastor Rossow?

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