President Kieschnick’s Real Plan

(from Pr. Preus) I believe that I have studied more theology and learned more during the last seven years than at any other time in my life except while at the seminary. And I am better for it. Let me count the ways.

In the early autumn of 2001 the worship service at Yankee stadium took place. President Kieschnick gave his permission for David Benke to participate in this service with non-Christians – each cleric taking a turn at prayer. At first I was a bit miffed because I had to spend so much time learning what had happened and attempting to evaluate it. But in retrospect I have to confess I learned a lot. I had to think through questions about who God is and what prayers He hears. I was forced to reread the Large Catechism. It was great.  


Then when Rev. Wallace Schulz got fired without cause or due process I was angry at first because I had always admired his efforts for the Lutheran Hour and it seemed unfair that he should be fired for doing his duty. But later when I saw how much I learned I was grateful. I was forced to ask. Does a man who is said to have divine call really have one if he does not serve from an altar or pulpit? When can you fire a called servant? Unfortunately I didn’t study these lessons hard enough and they all came back when the synod fired Todd Wilken. So now I have studied a lot and learned a lot about the call. And I’ve grown in the process.


When, for the first time in the history of the synod, we OKed women presidents of congregations and women elders back in 2004 I was initially irked especially since the whole issue was brought forward without a lot of discussion before hand. But after the fact I did take the time to learn since I had been forced to restudy the whole question of the role of women in the church. I learned a lot about the synod’s rapidly changing doctrine on this matter.    


When the synod in 2004 approved a reconciliation process in which only district presidents could actually charge someone with false doctrine in the synod that forced me to restudy everything I had assumed about laymen judging doctrine. I had to restudy both the Lutheran understanding of the royal priesthood and our understanding of the role of parish pastors in overseeing doctrine of their peers. Do district presidents have a divine call? If not then how can they be ecclesiastical supervisors of men who do? If so then how can they be terminated in an instant with the simple words “Ready? Vote now!” Can a man be removed from the office of pastor for the cause of false doctrine, immoral life or refusal to do his ministry? Can the congregation remove him from office but not from the synod even though he must hold office to be a member of the synod? These issues made me study very hard and I learned a great deal.


Then there is Ablaze. How much study time have we all spent learning because of Ablaze? A myriad of questions had to be addressed most after the endeavor had been approved. Is a “one on one” confession of the faith more critical and eventful than baptism? How about the Lord’s Supper? So many questions come to mind that they all make me want to write a separate piece about them. Through it all I was forced to think through our theology of evangelism and the role of baptizing and teaching in the work of the great commission.      


Then there was the decision by the CCM that it was not grounds for dismissal from the synod if you did something wrong as long as you could claim you were told to do it. That made me spend a lot of time studying moral culpability, as well as the whole question of ecclesiastical authority and accountability. I learned a lot.  


Then there was the lawsuit and the subsequent agreement which was broken and then there were more negotiations with the assurance of no recriminations only to discover that recriminations occurred during the convention itself with the man who promised no recrimination chairing the assembly. The whole thing made me crazy until I realized how much I have learned over the last years about I Corinthians 6 and the eighth Commandment. I’m grateful for the lessons.


I could go on but you get the point. I have been frustrated and intermittently dismayed during the last seven years because it seems that every time I turn around there is one more divisive decision made by the current administration and recent conventions. But as I think about it maybe the current administration was doing all these divisive things just so that I, and the church with me, would be forced to study theology. After all, everyone knows how divided we are theologically. And we all know that our deep theological divisions will not be resolved without study and discussion. Yup, the more I think about it the more convinced I am that President Kieschnick’s leadership style has been incredibly helpful in getting us to study and learn. Why else would all these discussions have been provoked among us? And I feel good about that.

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.


President Kieschnick’s Real Plan — 10 Comments

  1. OK, Preus, point taken. However, let us also be careful, as we recognize how someone else meant something for evil but God brought good out of it (ala Joseph) NOT to give the impression that this, therefore, makes it good. The false practice and the accompanying false doctrine (they always walk hand in hand) were not, are not, and never will be God’s will. Thankfully, as you point out, He can bring good from it — but let that never become the license which tolerates or even accepts it. I know what you said and why you said it, but I hope you don’t mind what I have added here. The sad truth is that, while this has been in some measure good for you (and me and others), there have also been a goodly number of immortal souls who have been bitterly wounded (destroyed? only God knows for sure, of course) because of these tragic goings on. Kyrie, eleison!

  2. How often has it happened that when things are really bad, we’re able to find good coming out of the most unlikely places. Amazing, isn’t it? The good of it all for all of us is that God works good through the bad of it all.

    Of course, not many of us are going to thank God for Arianism which prompted the composing of the Creed, or the papal abuses which necessitated our own Confessions. But, thanks be to God for the Creeds and Confessions of the Church which addressed the divisive issues of the Arianism, papalism, and enthusiasm of the past! He’s worked His good through the bad of it all.

    Though his tongue may be firmly embedded in his cheek, Pastor Preus has tried to make a little lemonade from all the lemons handed us. Nice try, brother! Still needs a bit more sugar though!!!

  3. How wonderful it would be that if at the next Synodical Convention we might be blessed with leadership that would teach and encourage right doctrine and practice in our churches. Then pastors and people could concentrate on hearing and learning the Word of God and putting it into practice so that more disciples might be made through baptizing and teaching.

  4. Grace and Peace to you and your readers Rev. Preus,

    I was adult baptized, brought to Him by Word alone, Grace alone, and faith alone not by my own doing. The first four years at Bethany Naperville were awesome. Then this president started, your findings, which reads like, a dirty laundry list beyond the filthy rags and polluted garments mentioned in Isaiah 64. You are actually the first person, that I read, that posted something in the best light on the darkness that have fallen upon us. I know you are not offering sugar. I too have learned a lot with a the help of the Holy Spirit to be watchful of wolves like this synod presidend and certain district presidents. Talk about low approval ratings. Thanks be to God for your insights.

  5. Rev. Preus,

    I can relate to your post. Most of my life I have belonged to Lutheran churches with solid preaching and teaching. About seven years ago I moved and have belonged to a couple of different churches which are less than Lutheran and not very Christ centered. I call this my wilderness experience. This past spring I decided it was time to try harder to find a confessional Lutheran church even if I have to drive an hour to get to it. I think this ‘wilderness’ experience along with the cancellation of Issues, Etc. (which was an oasis in the midst of my wilderness), has brought about much repentance in my life. I have been reminded of the importance of studying Scripture and the confessions and finding a pastor who has been graced with the ability to rightly preach and teach the Word of Jesus.

  6. And then “on the other hand” if we consider what is happening, especially related to polity and policy with the CCM becoming the Magisterium for the Synod-we are viewing the executive/administrative branch trying to take the authority of the legislative branch, i.e. congregations/district conventions/synodical conventions and the judicial branch, i.e. Council of Presidents/Commission on Theology and Church Relations, so as to more easily control the entire Synod. Consider all of the By-Law changes and the Blue Ribbon Task Force reports. Where has the energy been placed?
    It seems the Kingdom of this World and how it should be governed has become more important than the Kingdom of the Church and how it should be increased.

  7. Like the thunderstorm that just rolled through and brought high winds – and to some just north of us tornadoes, it also brought rain, cooler temperatures, and drier air. This real life parable sounds so much like what Pastor Preus describes in his post. The angry storm is the false practice in my church, and the rain the the Holy Spirit brought by the Word, received in study. We hadn’t had rain in a few weeks, and this was needed by the crops, just as we need to hear the Word.

  8. Pr. Preus:

    Like you, I have obliquely benefited from the current administration’s foolishness. This dark period in our denomination’s history has sent many of us back to the Scripture and Confessions.

    False teaching and false practice have a way of doing that to the faithful.

    We need to remember the only power false teaching has is “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). False teaching is essentially destructive. It cannot build anything.

    While false teaching flourishes in the Church (as it does now), it divides the Church any way it can. Perversely, its proponents call this division “unity,” “walking together” and “letting charity prevail.”

    Prepare to learn even more Pastor Preus! The next fool’s errand will be the Restructuring of the LCMS. It will be more of the same.

    But false teaching doesn’t restructure, it destructures –it destroys.

    As long we elect thieves, wolves and hirelings (John 10:10-13) the flock will be scattered.

    Our only hope is the Good Shepherd. “The sheep hear his voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:3-5)


  9. “But as I think about it maybe the current administration was doing all these divisive things just so that I, and the church with me, would be forced to study theology.”

    “but test everything; hold fast what is good.” 1Th 5:21

    “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Mat 10:22

    “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 1Ti 4:10

    “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph 6:12

    God bless you Pastor Preus, and all those who test everything, and are not ashamed of the Gospel.

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Rom 1:16

  10. Pastor Preus,

    Thanks for the thoughts. Many in our congregation have had the same observations. As these controversies arise, we are driven back to Holy Scripture and the Confessions in order to learn, evaluate and ultimately to judge the doctrine involved.

    My reason for posting is that I wonder if you’ve captured the results of your studies of the various controversies you list in papers, Bible studies or another medium that you might share with those interested?

    In Christ,


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