President Kieschnick Releases Statement on the Trademark Issue; He Pleads Innocent to a Charge No One has Made (by Pastor Rossow)

Here is a memo issued moments ago from President Kieschnick. Take a moment and read through it and I will provide a few comments below.

To:                                  LCMS Council of Presidents
From:                          Gerald B. Kieschnick
Subject:                    Issues, Etc.
Date:                            February 26, 2009

Dear Brothers in Christ:
Grace and peace be with you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
In order to assist you in responding to inquiries and/or rumors about my involvement in an alleged lawsuit involving “Issues, Etc.,” I am providing this memo, which you may share as you deem appropriate.
As indicated during our Council of Presidents discussion of that topic earlier this week, contrary to allegations and rumors you and I have recently received, I have not filed, initiated, supported, or encouraged any lawsuit against Rev. Todd Wilken or Mr. Jeff Schwarz, nor have I ever had a desire to do so. Any allegations or rumors to the contrary are simply untrue. As an individual Christian, as a Lutheran pastor, and as President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, I take seriously the Holy Spirit-inspired words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 regarding such matters.
Furthermore, the LCMS Board of Directors has not filed a lawsuit against these brothers in Christ and in fact has taken action that effectively ends any and all legal considerations regarding this matter and is designed to restore relationships with them through fraternal conversation, mutual respect, and genuine humility. A communication from the Board with additional information about this matter will be forthcoming.
It is my prayer that this memo will be helpful to you in responding to anyone in your district who has expressed concern regarding this issue. I know you join me in prayer that it will be resolved under the leading, guiding, and directing of God’s Holy Spirit.
The peace of the Lord be with you all!  
Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick,  President
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

“Transforming lives through Christ’s love …  in time … for eternity …” John 3:16-17

C: LCMS Board of Directors

Someone told me earlier this week that  what President Kieschnick would do is plead innocent to something that no one has charged him with. That is exactly what he has done.

He is using word games to try and excuse himself. No one ever accused President Kieschnick of filing a lawsuit against anyone. We and others have said that the attorneys that work for the Board of Directors (President Kieschnick is a member of this board) have sent a letter to Todd and Jeff’s attorney’s informing them that if Todd and Jeff do not come to the table to work out a compromise they will be forced to take further action. WE EVEN PUBLISHED THE LETTER FOR ALL TO SEE SO THAT OUR CLAIMS COULD BE JUDGED BY ALL THE WORLD. The Board of Directors (President Kieschnick is on this board) on the other hand, released nothing. It looks as though they are going to back down from the threats their attorneys made but this only after we all screamed and hollered on the internet, through e-mails to them, via the petition, phone calls to them, etc.

I do not like having a synodical president who plays word games! Say what you will about President Kieschnick’s church growth theology (we have said a lot about it here and will say much more about it in months to come), but that pales in comparison to this Clintonesque use of language.

This memo sadly squares with what President Kieschnick did at the Southern Illinois convention. He took a screened question (more on that below) about the trademark issue and then spoke dramatically about a scenario that was make believe. “There is no lawsuit, never was a lawsuit, there never will be a lawsuit, I wouldn’t wish a lawsuit on anybody” he exclaimed.  No one ever claimed there was a lawsuit. What was claimed is what is described above:  a threat to take further action by lawyers (we call that “legal action” in our common parlance). President Kieschnick is twisting language for his advantage.

Does it bother anyone else that President Kieschnick will not take questions from the floor of the conventions? President Barry did. He screened nothing. President Kieschnick will not face the members of synod squarely with their questions. He will only answer questions that have been handed in hours before the question and answer period and then he picks the questions that he will address.  This is called spin-doctoring and it is based on fear of hard questions or  fear of the inability to think on ones feet.  This has been his practice for as long as I can remember. It is in keeping with  the word games that he is playing with this memo. It is not rooted in trust nor in straightforward communication.

By the way, he also falsely claims in this memo that Christians cannot sue each other. He has to claim that because he decried lawsuits among Christians when he was sued for “stuffing the ballot box” (approving too many exceptional circuits) at the last convention. I know a lot of you have complained about Christians suing other Christians  but we have a lot to learn on this matter. Stay tuned for a series by Klemet Preus on how and why it is OK for Christians to sue each other. The threatened legal action in the trademark case was wrong because it was unfounded but there is a time and a place for Christians to sue each other. (We hope to have the first post in that series up later today.)

Speaking of the misuse of language by the president, I asserted above that President Kieschnick’s theology is a church growth theology. Since we  have reproduced one of his memos for this post it is a good opportunity to examine  his personally chosen theme:

“Transforming lives through Christ’s love …  in time … for eternity …” John 3:16-17

With this theme he is taking  a justification passage and turning  it into a sanctification passage. John 3:16-17 is not about transforming lives. It is about salvation by grace through faith. This is more twisting of words by our president. Sanctification is certainly important and is even too often overlooked in the LCMS, but it is not the crux of the Bible and it is not the point of this passage. The justification of the sinner is the heart of the Biblical message and that is the clear message of John 3:16-17, the Gospel in a nutshell. The Bible is Christ-centered and cross focused. It is about forgiven lives and not about changed lives.

To summarize, this memo is much ado about nothing. It knocks down a straw man. Real men, in the flesh, with real vocations and real families to support, Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, have been tormented by the synod under President Kieshcnick for nearly a year now. We wish he would stop fighting the wind and join us here at the Brothers of John the Steadfast and start living, breathing and speaking the Lutheran Confessions as is done daily and faithfully on a great radio program, Issues, Etc.

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