Jesus First, aka JerryPAC: “Reporting for duty!” (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

Jesus First–aka JerryPAC, Geezers First, Jesus’ Fist, and ***us First–is back and gearing up the machinery for another campaign. Like John Kerry standing on the stage and saluting, the political-action committee that helped elect Jerry Kieschnick sent out two e-mails this month that say, in effect, “Reporting for duty!”

Jesus First, for those who may not know, is the coalition of liberals and church growthers that is dedicated to advancing their common cause of not being shackled by Lutheran doctrine and practice. They were successful in getting Kieschnick narrowly elected in ’01, ’04, and ’07, and in pretty much running the table for boards and commissions in ’07. Now they’re gearing up for a) the remaining 33 district conventions this April-July, b) getting their delegates for the 2010 convention elected at the circuit forums this August-October, c) generating nominations for Kieschnick and their other candidates, d) submitting overtures, and e) promoting the Blue Ribbon Restructuring Proposals. By the way, these are the very things we conservatives/confessionals need to be gearing up for also, just in the opposite direction!

So this month I received two e-mails from these folks. The first came on February 17, under the subject line, “Jesus First Email,” and was sent by longtime Kieschnick ally, Don Bokenkamp. Basically it’s a brief commercial for the Restructuring Proposals, saying that they will help us to “Walk Together.” Of course the serious problems and centralizing of power that the proposals would create are not mentioned. But you can see that the Jesus Firsters may be concerned they’re losing the information war, because Bokenkamp concludes: “You cannot ‘Become Informed’ simply by hearing how a friend feels about these subjects, as you may only receive the opinion on the subjects your friends are interested in.”

The other e-mail came yesterday, under the subject line, “Jesus First Email Update for February,” and was sent out by Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Leawood, Kansas. It’s a short summary of the articles in the February 2009 Jesus First newsletter. The articles (and authors) include: “All Districts to Meet in Convention” (Vern Gundermann); “The LCMS Is Ahead of the Curve for Funding Ministries” (David Luecke); “Jesus First Joins the Communication Revolution” (Jim Rogers); and “Jesus First On Duty for Another Season” (Charlie Mueller, Sr.).

That last article is typical Charlie Mueller, Sr., who at least is an entertaining writer. Let’s look at a few excerpts, in italics, followed by the commentary of another Charlie, i.e., Henrickson, in the [brackets]:

Jesus First has decided to remain on duty for another season.

[Reporting for duty!]

It does so in support of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s historic stance on Scripture and the Confessions.

[Standard perfunctory lip-service, designed to sound conservative.]

It does so with commitment to an ever expanding, Gospel-centered, mission-driven, future-oriented approach to ministry.

[The hyphenated-sloganeering-Jesus-First-bumper-sticker buzzwords.]

The developing generation of younger clergy and lay leaders has a right to an unembroidered reprise of our synod’s 172 year trek. Our history is not like the fabled wax nose that could be twisted out of shape by adding this or omitting that.

[I have a feeling Jesus First will be twisting Walther’s nose so hard it may fall off!]

The price of liberty is still eternal vigilance – no matter your age. Hang in there, you are needed.

[The Seminex-era sexagenarians and septuagenarians still form the backbone of Geezers First.]

Change is not an enemy. An automatic knee-jerk negative response to anything that’s new is. Together we must differentiate between change-that-blesses and change-that-blights.

[The hierarchical Task Farce changes are Blight From Above.]

Members of the LCMS are not clones. We have always distributed ourselves across the Bell Curve, the vast majority clustered around a given issue’s Golden Mean.

[Moving the “center” to the left–the goal of Jesus First.]

Attacking that truth are our home grown noisy little bands of extremists who fire away at anyone who has a different take on things than theirs.

[We who uphold historic Lutheran doctrine and practice now are “noisy little bands of extremists.” Nice! Guilty as charged.]

What ought we do with them? Start with identifying the issue and then set about loving them back to sensibility.

[Love them by calling them noisy little bands of senseless extremists!]

One daunting difference between thousands of first-rate LCMS churches is size. Some are very small; some quite large.

[The Charlie Muellers, Sr. and Jr., have been pushing for more power for the megachurches for some time now, and, sure enough, that’s included in the Restructuring Proposals.]

We all need more help with conflict management to match a lowered tolerance of conflict.

[We all need help understanding that sentence. “To match a lowered tolerance of conflict”??]

Future issues of JESUS FIRST will expand on each of these bullets. . . .

[Putting the “bull” in “bullets”!]

mindful of the opinion of Dr. CFW Walther, our founding president. In his 1847 presidential inaugural address he wondered aloud . . .

[“Why are you Jesus First guys twisting my nose?! Ouch!”]

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