The Northern Illinois District Convention Part II – The Opening Devotion Includes Foul Language References, Another Example of How this is not Your Grandfather’s Church, by Pr. Rossow

(The other posts in this series can be viewed by clicking the Editor’s Blog in the Brother’s Cafe.)

The opening devotion of the Northern Illinois District (NID) convention included a couple of off-color references. When he was called on it, the presenter confessed the error before the whole convention and was given forgiveness by the District President. The whole thing was really weird. In the end, I think it illustrates all too poignantly how the new way of doing church promoted by President Kieschnick and many other leaders of the synod, has brought the world into the church.

 

My introduction to the convention was rather unusual. I forgot to bring my badge so I had to stand in the line where they printed new ones. The guests were also in that line. It turns out that I was standing next to President Kieschnick who was getting his guest badge printed. We exchanged pleasantries and I reminded him that I was one of the four NICL pastors who spent time in his office last spring hearing his confession for calling us schismatic and disruptive. I did not need to remind him. He remembered who I was.

 

The unusual beginning to the convention continued as I heard praise songs emanating from the convention hall. I chose to wait outside until this silly portion of the “show” was over. I was not alone. There were a dozen or so of my confessional cohorts also out in the hall waiting out the silliness as if they were waiting out some sort of “latter day shower of acid rain” before entering the convention hall. The NID has had contemporary worship for the convention services in the past but this was a new low, contemporary music played in the background to warm us up for each session of the convention.

 

The unusual nature of my introduction to the convention reached a peak with the opening devotion. One of the leading pastors of the church growth movement in our district (his name is not important because my point here is not personal but paradigmatic) proceeded to open the convention with a devotion on the importance of change in the church. There was no scripture read or preached. There was no proper distinction of law and gospel and there was no reference of Christ in the devotion. There was however, a 10 minute secular video on the rapid nature of change in our culture today. When a confessional Lutheran views such a video about the rapid change in culture it just screams out the truth that we for the church to remain steadfast but of course the pastor’s point was the exact opposite – the church must change right along with culture or die.

 

As if that was not a bad enough representation on how far the church has sunk, there was a demonically ironic use of language in the video that furthered the thesis that the NID and the entire LCMS for that matter, is losing its nature as the church and caving in to the culture.

 

We have long lamented the loss of reverence in the church via the bringing of coffee cups into the sanctuary, for that matter even the turning of sanctuaries into coffee houses, the loss of churchly music as the new church embraces the commercial sound of praise ditties and so forth and so on. But this devotion brought us a new low in forsaking our grandfather’s church. One of the opening lines of the “devotional” video, written in large white letters on a dark background was taken right out of the Viagra generation – “sometimes, size does matter.” How disgusting. The opening devotion for the convention of the Northern Illinois District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in the year of our Lord 2009 with President Kieschnick on the convention floor, encourages change in the church via a reference to the male sex organ. What is worse is that no one did anything about it. Four hundred of the finest leaders the LCMS can raise up in Northern Illinois along with their bishop and the president of the synod, said nothing about this. We have left our grandfather’s church and grown numb to the intrusion of the culture into the church.

But that was not the end of it. The last five minutes of the video featured repeatedly the phrase “shift happens.” (For those of you purer in mind than me, this is a reference to the culture’s popular phrase “shi_ happens”). Once the video was over the pastor leading the devotion repeated the phrase “shift happens” at least three more times.

 

I will be the first to admit that using these phrases in ordinary conversation is not the worst thing in the world. However, when these sorts of references are allowed into the church, in its public discourse, as the fundamental message of the opening devotion of one of the largest districts in our synod, then it has become sadly true that this is no longer our grandfather’s church. The new measures being undertaken in the LCMS by its leadership to change the way we do church (contemporary music, emphasis on practice over doctrine, leadership training, Blue Ribbon proposals, etc.) are resulting in a church that is indeed changing by losing its scriptural and moral moorings. It’s time for a change of a different sort. It’s time for a change back to the solid, confessional, and indeed creative, but not immoral and trendy church of our grandfather.

 

There is more to the story but that will have to wait until the next post. I did eventually confront   Bishop Gilbert, President Kieschnick and the entire convention floor.  There was confession, absolution and even President Kieschnick making a bee-line to my chair on the floor to have a little conversation with me. I’ll share that little episode with you next time.

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.

Comments

The Northern Illinois District Convention Part II – The Opening Devotion Includes Foul Language References, Another Example of How this is not Your Grandfather’s Church, by Pr. Rossow — 88 Comments

  1. Todd and Scott, you are deceiving yourselves. This is an already-settled question in the LCMS, as the CCM (who does reign supreme over Scripture and Confessions in the LCMS) has made it clear that you may not impose a standard beyond the confessional subscription of a rostered member in good standing. As long as you remain in the LCMS, you either accept that or you are living in and contributing to the general lawlessness of the synod.

    Recently, I wrote:

    The Missouri Synod has a stated self-understanding that is perfectly in accord with common sense and the application of Scripture by the early Church fathers (as well as with the LWF): all Missouri pastors and parishes are in altar and pulpit fellowship with one another. On 23 June 2003, the LCMS’s Commission on Constitutional Matters, via its Opinion 03-2352, concerning “Confessional Statements,” reaffirmed its Opinion 03-2328 of 29 April 2003, in which it stated the self-understanding of the LCMS with regard to synodical membership—this is what the LCMS’s official understanding of synodical membership is, no matter how many misinformed or self-deluded pastors may claim otherwise:

    Subscribing to or requiring a “confessional statement” in place of or in addition to the confessional position of the Synod as set forth in Article II of its Constitution as a condition for fellowship with one another in the Synod is a violation of the covenant relationship in the Synod (Article VI 1; Bylaw 1.03).

    Now, what does this mean, or what is the presupposition contained within these words directed against the signers of the Keller Resolution? It is simply that there is no other condition for fellowship to be imposed upon an LCMS member by another LCMS member apart from LCMS membership. That is, all LCMS members are in fellowship with all other LCMS members (congregations and pastors) simply by virtue of said membership in the synod…and any standard beyond such membership “is a violation of the covenant relationship in the Synod.” To refuse to practice pulpit and altar fellowship with a member pastor or parish of the LCMS requires removal of said member on the basis of Article II of the Synod’s Constitution. (Of course, considering that they couldn’t remove an errant pastor for gross syncretism and that it seems to be that all ‘practices’ are open questions—since ‘open Communion’ versus ‘closed Communion’ is not considered a doctrinal problem, but only a practical situation that calls for tolerance—I’d have to say that such a removal is ‘somewhat unlikely’ to occur, as Mary Todd would say, “in God’s lifetime.”)

    Now, if you can’t disprove the above, I have to take it that your position is that it is okay that you are “in fellowship with” those whom you, nonetheless, “can’t commune”–that is, that you are in continuing fellowship with the impenitent and those who sin by supporting and fostering their impenitence…i.e., that you are, again, in fellowship with abject lawlessness. I’ve never actually taken the time to evaluate such a thing in light of God’s Word, but I have a ‘feeling’ that it wouldn’t fare too well.

    EJG

  2. Pastor Rossow,
    Thank you for the disturbing report.

    Pastor Wilken,
    What are these accusations that you allude to in #3? In what context are they made?

    I suppose that I am surprised that POS and his crew even recognize the existence of and conversation within the BJS.

    Kevin in Indiana

  3. Dear Pastor Stefanski,

    Would you just write a book? I always appreciate what you have to say, but it’s scattered over so many parts of the internet I can’t consolidate all of it. We are likely all in agreement here that the LCMS is in sorry shape in many ways. I admire you for leaving the LCMS, and for your strong convictions. I’d have to say that when you make statements like “Now, if you can’t disprove the above, I have to take it that your position is that it is okay…” is putting words into people’s mouths, and makes you appear to be a tyrant. It sounds like something I’d expect to read on Lutherquest. I’ve read a lot of what you have to say, and agree with the majority of it. I do, however, think you overstep your bounds when you give the impression that you have all the answers, and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong.

    There are many fine Confessional pastors in the LCMS, who can make a strong argument for why they remain in the LCMS. I’m not sure there’s a right or a wrong answer, but I am sure that you appear to be vilifying those who chose to remain and fight. Someone of your stature doesn’t need to be phrasing things in such a manner. You’ve got good points. Make them without it sounding personal. Your comments in #46 up above reflect this sort of personal attack that weaken your argument and alienate the very people it is you are trying to reach: “b) seems completely unable to be spoken of by most LCMS members without some gross distortion or another being made, and c) less appealing to those who think that it’s good to be in a body where you fight against and decry those with whom you are in fellowship.”

    To reiterate, I’m glad you share your opinions. They are always insightful and make me think. It would be better if you would share them with gentleness and respect. It’s not so cut-and-dried as you make it appear.

    Your fellow Lutheran brother and friend,

    Scott Diekmann

  4. To be fair to Pastor Stefanski, he did just come off a difficult session at The Augustana Ministerium meeting where all of us, independents, LCMS, & ELDoNA, struggled over these very questions. There were some hurt feelings on all sides & although there were apologies offered & accepted, there’s still probably some tenseness there. And sadly probably will be.

  5. Meaning to say, there will probably be some tenseness there for a long time, as we live under the cross. I think the thing to remember is that those who are united around confessional Lutheranism & the great Good News of Christ crucified & risen for sinners have far more in common, even when we’re not in official fellowship, than those who have distorted the Christian faith & who are doing their best to abandon the Lutheran Confession of that faith.

  6. Eric,

    I think I’ve made my position very clear.

    You may want to read a letter I put on file with my district president in February 2000: https://steadfastlutherans.org/blog/?p=748

    I reserve the right to refuse any unrepentant person fellowship at the altar.

    As for the opinions of the CCM, they are just that.

    TW

  7. Eric,

    Also, you wrote: “To refuse to practice pulpit and altar fellowship with a member pastor or parish of the LCMS requires removal of said member on the basis of Article II of the Synod’s Constitution.”

    Again, I reserve the right to refuse any unrepentant person fellowship at the altar.

    And, I do fully expect to be removed from the LCMS for doing so.

    TW

  8. I knew the opening devotion was going south when the powerpoint slide read, “Insert U-Tube Video Here.” My biggest concern was the lack of a clear proclamation of the Gospel in the opening devotion. There could have been some redeeming value to the devotion if the Gospel had been proclaimed in a clear, resounding voice. Instead, we were left with unsubstantiated statistical data and inappropriate slang. In contrast, Saturday Morning’s devotion opened with the Apostle’s Creed, closed with the Lord’s Prayer, and had a lot of good stuff in between!

  9. Todd,

    I think I’ve made my position very clear.

    You may want to read a letter I put on file with my district president in February 2000: https://steadfastlutherans.org/blog/?p=748

    I reserve the right to refuse any unrepentant person fellowship at the altar.

    As for the opinions of the CCM, they are just that.

    You may want to re-read your post yourself…including comments 17, 18, 20, and 28 that you never answered. I.e., no, your position is not “clear” in the sense of consistent and defended and actually having any teeth.

    CCM ‘opinions’ are binding on anyone who continues membership on the LCMS roster. If you don’t accept that, you should be removed on the basis of the bylaws of the synod as they now exist…but your DP is no more likely to remove you than he Gray or Cameron. In short, the SID is a truly lawless place, in which all sorts of doctrine and practice are acceptable to your wimpy DP.

    Expecting to be removed, as you say in a subsequent note, is a far cry from actually holding your ‘ecclesiastical supervisor’s’ feet to the fire wrt your fellowship in protest. See, again, the last sentence of the last paragraph.

    [Scott, I’ll try to get back to your note when I get back home. George, the events of TAM’s conference have nothing to do with my reply; other than the good laugh I was given by one charge, I simply find the squabbles and caricatures developed by the Missouri guys to be sad. Thus, I speak to them the words of the religiously delusional band A7X, that now I understand that “it’s sorrow that feeds your lies.” Indeed, the charge that it is improper to distinguish worship from theological discussion and dialogue puts the questioner into a fellowship position more rigid and untenable than the weirdest construct of WELS ‘unit concept’, or even the OLCC.]

    EJG

  10. Eric,

    You said, “it’s sorrow that feeds your lies.”

    Quite possibly true. So, are we Missouri guys lying or simply delusional? What’s the best construction? And if we’re delusional, then we wouldn’t really know we’re delusional, would we?

    Here’s my question. A lot was said at TAM about respecting each other’s consciences. Does this only apply to respecting the ELDoNA guy’s consciences but not the Missouri guys?

    Here’s another question, asking your pastoral advice. The congregation I serve right now is not ready to leave the LCMS although they recognize there are problems. They desire, so far as I can tell, to remain Lutheran but they are confused by the confusion in the Synod where each one goes his own way. How to sort it all out. Now, for me as their pastor, what’s my role? Continue to preach & teach the true Gospel & to point out errors & to help them sort out this confusion? Or simply resign my call to get away from the heterodox Missouri Synod?

    If I understood the tone of those who have left, it’s that I need to leave the Missouri Synod immediately or at least immediately declare a state of confession. Again, what if the congregation isn’t ready for that?

    I’d really like to know.

    As for the quote, I don’t think it’s sorrow feeding our lies. I think it’s the burden of living under the cross & struggling to remain faithful in an unfaithful synod & struggling with our responsibilities to our congregations & to our own consciences.

  11. Kyle #27 asked:
    “I am curious. For those of you who are confessional, why do you stay in the LCMS? It seems the train has already left the station.”

    Speaking for myself, I think we “confessionals” feel that we are remining true to what the LCMS has confessed for all its years, In other words, the “train” is ours. Those on the “train” you describe are those who have abandoned the confessions to varying degrees. We just want OUR train back.

    Why can’t they get their own train, instead of taking ours?

  12. Scott,

    Would you just write a book? I always appreciate what you have to say, but it’s scattered over so many parts of the internet I can’t consolidate all of it.

    Sorry. Try

    http://HolyTrinityLC.com/Fellowship_and_Implication.pdf

    and

    http://HolyTrinityLC.com/Guilt_by_Association.pdf

    I’d have to say that when you make statements like “Now, if you can’t disprove the above, I have to take it that your position is that it is okay…” is putting words into people’s mouths, and makes you appear to be a tyrant. It sounds like something I’d expect to read on Lutherquest. I’ve read a lot of what you have to say, and agree with the majority of it. I do, however, think you overstep your bounds when you give the impression that you have all the answers, and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong.

    Interesting use of “best construction” you make here. “Now, if you can’t disprove the above, I have to take it that your position is that it is okay…” is very simple speech: it says, “I don’t know of any other way to take it”; it requires one to show that either one half is wrong or the other…and so far, no one has shown either to be. I have no trouble with being shown I’m wrong; I’ve been married for over half of my life. Tyranny, though, is in the eye of the beholder: I think it is tyrannical to insist that staying in the LCMS is ‘for the good of the sheep’ in such a way that it is not also mentioned that leaving the LCMS may (more often) be ‘for the good of the sheep and to deal flippantly with those who object to one’s contrary to reality statements. (E.g., yes, Scripture should overrule the CCM and DRPs…but in Missouri it doesn’t–not legally, anyway–so that one must admit that if he rejects binding CCM and DRP decisions he is, in fact, holding a position contrary to that of the synod…that he is ‘out of step’ with the ‘walking together’. Just because I agree with that being ‘out of step’ does not make me shy away from noting that it makes one’s membership in the LCMS a confession contrary to his overarching confession.

    I don’t think that such is objectively tyrannical and unkind, or lacking in respect, but your mileage may vary.

    There are many fine Confessional pastors in the LCMS, who can make a strong argument for why they remain in the LCMS. I’m not sure there’s a right or a wrong answer, but I am sure that you appear to be vilifying those who chose to remain and fight.

    No. At. All.

    Someone of your stature doesn’t need to be phrasing things in such a manner.

    I don’t know of what stature you speak. Is it a mark of importance, now, to be treated as a non-entity by the ‘great heroes’ of contemporary confessional Lutheranism? Whatever ‘name’ I might have has come from saying what I’m saying, just as I’m saying it now…and that you wish me to stop doing. I say nothing different now from what I said when I was in the LCMS–other than where I have, e.g., confessed my sin of not seeking the discipline of Sen. Simon’s pastor, etc., or simply been able to speak from experience of how calming it is to be out of Missouri, so that one is simply able to serve those to whom he has been Called. (I will likely add to that how much better it is to be in the ELDoNA than to be ‘independent’.)

    Your comments in #46 up above reflect this sort of personal attack that weaken your argument and alienate the very people it is you are trying to reach:

    Ah, here is what Pr. Naylor was getting at: yes, this does contain a little bit of reaction to what I’ve seen for the past three years that was brought home even more clearly last week–and you should have included my part ‘a’ in your quote. I have heard almost nothing out of LCMS ‘confessional bigshots’ than how small the ELDoNA is and how it will no doubt wander off into this, that, or the other heresy within 150 years, while they keep justifying their remaining in Missouri ‘forever’. Personally, I find it sickening and I don’t really have any hope of reaching such people, so their alienation doesn’t really concern me all that much.

    It’s not so cut-and-dried as you make it appear.

    The facts are cut-and-dried, but the course of action is not. I have always made that distinction and, thus, I do not dictate actions for those who will actually admit the facts. The problem here is that I see a lack of such admission.

    EJG

  13. George,

    You said, “it’s sorrow that feeds your lies.”

    Quite possibly true. So, are we Missouri guys lying or simply delusional? What’s the best construction? And if we’re delusional, then we wouldn’t really know we’re delusional, would we?

    You’re trying to interpret the wrong part of the line: I simply find you as sorrowful. That sorrow makes a lot of things come out that are untrue (witness the caricatures made last Wednesday, especially). I do not think that those who speak such things are desiring to speak anything but the truth, but the sorrow of remaining in Missouri leaves them grasping for anything to say by which to justify whichever position they think is being attacked.

    BTW, PLEASE NOTE: NO PORTION OF MY PRESENTATION WAS ABOUT LEAVING MISSOURI.

    I was speaking in response to an ACLC paper that actually contradicts Missouri’s official stance wrt pulpit and altar fellowship (what has been its stance since Walther’s day), and some of the Missouri guys rejected Missouri’s position.

    Here’s my question. A lot was said at TAM about respecting each other’s consciences. Does this only apply to respecting the ELDoNA guy’s consciences but not the Missouri guys?

    Am I trying to force or coerce you into doing something? Am I condemning you for serving faithfully in your Call? Did I not say at the TAM conference that I understand such burdens that men are working under, specifically relating it to one pastor who has been at his current parish barely two years, as well as others (such as the pastor of longer tenure who mentioned what he was pointing out to the members of his circuit)?

    Here’s another question, asking your pastoral advice. The congregation I serve right now is not ready to leave the LCMS although they recognize there are problems. They desire, so far as I can tell, to remain Lutheran but they are confused by the confusion in the Synod where each one goes his own way. How to sort it all out. Now, for me as their pastor, what’s my role? Continue to preach & teach the true Gospel & to point out errors & to help them sort out this confusion? Or simply resign my call to get away from the heterodox Missouri Synod?

    If I understood the tone of those who have left, it’s that I need to leave the Missouri Synod immediately or at least immediately declare a state of confession. Again, what if the congregation isn’t ready for that?

    As I said when I resigned from the LCMS roster, as I have repeated time and time again ever since, and as I said at the conference last week, your job is to continue to preach and teach and confess. When they are ready for you to do more, you will. You don’t trouble me. The guys that trouble me are those who grandstand and do nothing meaningful, those who SEEM to be making some great public confession and want ‘us’ to follow them, but never follow through, never take the next logical step.

    Again, as I said to Mr. Diekmann, I’m not saying anything now that I didn’t say five or ten years ago (except the things noted in that post).

    As for the quote, I don’t think it’s sorrow feeding our lies. I think it’s the burden of living under the cross & struggling to remain faithful in an unfaithful synod & struggling with our responsibilities to our congregations & to our own consciences.

    So, what’s the difference between you and me in that second sentence? “In an unfaithful synod” wouldn’t be in my self-description…and if it were, I would be sorrowful, even as I am sorrowful now that you and so many other brethren in the LCMS are suffering this extra burden in a battle that is already more than any one of us can fight, a calling that is already more than any one of us (or even all of us together) can fulfill.

    But, that’s what I get for citing bad poetry.

    EJG

  14. Todd,

    Feel free to contact my DP directly:

    And say what?

    How is it my duty to inform him that you reject the stated position of the LCMS? If enough of your brethren rejected it, it wouldn’t be the stated position (the DRP part, that is; there would still be the understanding that synodical membership in good standing means that said members are in fellowship unless charges have actually been filed, etc.; it always meant that), and I would be happy with that.

    No, it’s up to you SID pastors to do the right thing on your own.

    EJG

  15. BTW: If LCMS pastors spent as much time confronting the false teachers that run rampant in their midst as they did ‘defending themselves’ from non-LCMS guys who simply tell the truth about what the LCMS’s bylaws say, the LCMS could end up being an orthodox Lutheran church body some day.

    EJG

  16. Eric,

    Yes, I will note that you said the quote was from a “religiously delusional band.” So, I admit I missed your emphasis on “sorrows” & focused on the last part. Sorry about that.

    Thank you for your response. It is helpful. For what it’s worth, I myself don’t hold anything against guys who have left Missouri for either status as independent Lutherans, for the moment, or for ELDoNA. I can empathize with guys who have left for Rome or Constantinople but I can’t really understand it, since they leave Justification by Grace Alone behind to do so. So, if someone leaves in the attempt remain Lutheran, I have no qualms with that.

    I think the problem many of us have & the feelings we have regarding those who have left is that we feel some of them often come off as superior to those who haven’t left yet. I don’t accuse you of that nor really anyone else because it’s a personal feeling & not something that could be quantified. But it explains some of our reaction. Not excuses it, mind you.

    So, I do really thank you for your response. Right now, though, I still have to labor in Missouri. Serves me right for not taking the chance to leave while I was on CRM, eh? 🙂

  17. Please note, I’m also not one of those people who think that ELDoNA is somehow a feeder organization for Eastern Orthodoxy. How people come up with that I’ll never figure out!

  18. This would be a great time to appeal to Pastor Rossow (or Norm, the website guru) to allow graphics in these posts. I really think a nice graphic to illustrate my lawlessness would be appropriate – some sepia of an outlaw leaning up against a dilapidated wooden building, six shooter in hand with a “chip on his shoulder” sort of look on his face. The outlaw would of course have a scar on his cheek that he got in a saloon brawl, reeking of alcohol, and a handlebar mustache, with a “stare at me wrong and I’ll shoot you in the back” kind of attitude. And of course, a tatoo on one arm that says “Mom,” and on the other arm an “LCMS” tatoo. Oh yeah. A little chew spittle running down the cheek as well.

  19. Eric,

    You wrote: “How is it my duty to inform him that you reject the stated position of the LCMS?”

    I naively thought you’d want to do something about the problem.

    TW

  20. Eric,

    You also wrote: “If LCMS pastors spent as much time confronting the false teachers that run rampant in their midst as they did ‘defending themselves’ from non-LCMS guys who simply tell the truth about what the LCMS’s bylaws say, the LCMS could end up being an orthodox Lutheran church body some day.”

    Then would you pray with us?

    TW

  21. Todd,

    Eric,

    You wrote: “How is it my duty to inform him that you reject the stated position of the LCMS?”

    I naively thought you’d want to do something about the problem.

    If you seriously want me to try to have you kicked out of the LCMS, say so plainly. Indeed, here’s the quote that I need: “I desire to be kicked out of the LCMS and I authorize you to demonstrate to my DP, Jerry Kieschnick, and the rest of the world my flagrant disregard for the Bylaws of the LCMS. I still count David Benke as guilty of syncretism, and I will neither commune him nor anyone who supports or approves of him as being fit for membership on the LCMS roster, because I hold them to be impenitent, and until he/they satisfy me in this regard, I will bar them from the altar I serve.” Since I have no standing in the LCMS, and will, thus, be disregarded by Herb & Jerry & Co., the statement needs to be that blatant.

    You also wrote: “If LCMS pastors spent as much time confronting the false teachers that run rampant in their midst as they did ‘defending themselves’ from non-LCMS guys who simply tell the truth about what the LCMS’s bylaws say, the LCMS could end up being an orthodox Lutheran church body some day.”

    Then would you pray with us?

    Why would we not be in fellowship if such were the case?

    EJG

  22. TW-why not have EJG as a regular guest on Issues, etc. to discuss Confessional issues? Might make for some interesting conversation. I know that we certainly enjoy your give and take here. SLB

  23. George,

    I’m afraid my answer now won’t be as good as the one I had earlier…my beta version web browser crashed and lost it all…

    I think the problem many of us have & the feelings we have regarding those who have left is that we feel some of them often come off as superior to those who haven’t left yet. I don’t accuse you of that nor really anyone else because it’s a personal feeling & not something that could be quantified. But it explains some of our reaction. Not excuses it, mind you.

    I thank you for your lack of accusation because, really, it is a matter of perception…just as it is a matter of my perception that the constant refrain of “We’ll leave when we get kicked out, just like Luther did” is a slam against those who have left somewhere before getting kicked out (like that Walther guy from Saxony, for instance), which ‘makes’ us respond with “So, when are you going to start acting like Luther did?” or the praise of those who stay as having a “shepherd’s heart,” or some such thing, which certainly seems to be saying that such is not the case in those who have left.

    As to my personal superiority, let’s remember why Dr. Hein had me speak on Church Fellowship: because I screwed up massively in this area and publicly confessed what I had done wrong. As one pastor (cited in my paper) asked, how could he charge the Jesus First guy down the street with doing anything wrong, when I had basically engaged in the same practice. (Yet, there was applause when someone in Kansas City tried to tell me that I had not sinned!) So, I come from a definitely inferior position, seeking to help you learn from my mistakes instead of from your own. I do not want you to have, for example, the guilt I carried for not having charged Sen. Simon’s pastor when I had the opportunity to do so…or any number of other pastors in any of the circuits where I served…because if I had done so, I could at least point to concrete, public things that I had done in an ‘all out effort to save Missouri’. When I say, “you guys aren’t doing half enough,” I know that it is true because, generally speaking, you’re not doing more than I did, and I didn’t do a hundredth of what I should have.

    Right now, though, I still have to labor in Missouri. Serves me right for not taking the chance to leave while I was on CRM, eh?

    Here’s the deal: I believe that if you had left, you would be in a congregation right now, and that you now find yourself in a congregation that necessitates (for a time, at least) your staying. Either way, as the Lord would have you serve, you serve…and in your service, you will have every manner of challenges to your faithfulness. As a brother in Christ, it is my duty and my privilege to pray for your faithfulness and for that of the parish you serve, even as it is my duty (though I do not here say ‘privilege’) to make sure that you give no place to synodical complacency,* but continue in such faithfulness as serves Christ’s people not only while you remain present in the body, but also when our Lord ultimately calls you from this life. Thus, you labor in ‘New Missouri’ whilst you are of ‘Old Missouri’, and I encourage you to stand fast by leading the sheep Christ has given you and by opposing the wolves that are among you; and if I emphasize the wolves, it is no less care for the sheep, but an example of care both for them and for their shepherd under Christ. If the worst harm you suffer is from my tongue or keyboard, then thanks be to God; that is why I am committed to The Augustana Ministerium, too: so that no worse harm may come upon you and your brethren.

    *A note here: it is also your duty to keep us who are outside of Missouri from such complacency– “the myth of the orthodox synod,” as Rolf Preus called it in his 2003 paper at the Walther Conference–the thought that we are orthodox, so whatever we do is orthodox. Just because one is in the ELDoNA or the ACLC does not mean that he can think himself superior and not continue to confess the faith very specifically…and, indeed, this is also a part of why we who are outside of Missouri must continue to address Missouri’s issues.

    EJG

  24. Steven,

    You will note that there generally is a gap between my postings; I’m afraid that it is no better in real life. Todd would be stuck with filling a lot of dead air while I pondered whatever he had just said (or, alternatively, cutting my mic off so he could make a scheduled program break).

    One of the reasons I have enjoyed working overseas has been the need for a translator; that little bit of lag allows my slowness not to be quite so noticeable.

    EJG

  25. Eric,

    Again, thank you for your comments. I do appreciate them. Your words about complacency are well taken, for as you note they apply to all congregations & pastors no matter where they may be. For the temptation is always for institutionalism to set in.

    In regard to Walther & those other Saxons, again your points are well taken. Although I’m sure you’d agree that we would not like a repeat of what they went through, when they ended up in great doubt & perplexity over whether they were really church and pastors or not because they had left their callings in Saxony.

    I like your idea of having translators to make us take pauses before we answer anything. Would perhaps work better than several deep breaths.

  26. As a generic comment for anybody that would like to listen, rather than “We’ll leave when we get kicked out…,” I’ve always preferred to think of it as “They’ll leave when we kick them out,” although truly walking together would be my first choice.

  27. #15 – Would you rather have people in ratty tee shirts & blue jeans or no people at all? I’d rather have them attend worship than stay home or do something else? And sit in the front.

  28. Big Dog,

    Of course we will take someone in jeans in church rather than not at all but this does not make your point as you think it does. You are committing the logical error of false alternatives. There is another question to ask. Once in church, is there some dress that is more appropriate than others? The answer is yes. It is a good and scriptural principle to give our best to God, not our worst. So, the point behind this all is that we ought not to create churches that are geared toward giving God anything but our best.

    Here is your flawed logic:

    A. It is better to have someone in church in poor clothing than not having them be in church at all.

    B. Therefore we should create churches that are dumbed down in all ways to match the informal, pop culture of the day.

    B does not follow logically from A.

    TR

  29. I think you are missing the point – I’m not saying what you imply. I said it is better to have people in church, than not at all. Ratty tee shirts & blue jeans may be the best that some people have and if they attend worship to thank God for what He has given them, then so be it. I don’t the God I worship is worried about what I wear to a church service.

  30. Big Dog,

    So what is your point? Everyone agrees that it would be better to have someone in church no matter how they are dressed than not in church at all. Why make that point? We all agree on that.

    TR

  31. #12 – Another point – Our grandfather’s services were in German. If your church’s services are not in German, then a change has taken place to accomodate the Engish speaking people. The message didn’t change – the delivery changed. So why not change the delivery for today’s people?

  32. Big Dog,

    You wrote, “The message didn’t change – the delivery changed.”

    The German to English argument is tired and fallacious.

    The message has changed under Church Growth in the LCMS. Namely, the Gospel has been replaced with cultural relevance, the latest pop-evangelical fads and self-help –and you know it.

    You guys need some new arguments, really. Better yet, just admit you’re not interested in being Lutheran anymore. It would save us all a lot of time.

    TW

  33. #15 – Would you rather have people in ratty tee shirts & blue jeans or no people at all? I’d rather have them attend worship than stay home or do something else? And sit in the front.
    Comment by big dog — May 22, 2009 @ 8:44 am

    You guys have obviously not read this year’s “fashion news” or been on a university campus!
    Deliberately torn and faded jeans are this year’s “IN” wear. They may well be the most expensive things in the wardrobe of those who follow such things. (Isn’t it neat that the guy/gal on the street can be in style now and then?)
    P.S. An understated and neat T-shirt is recommended for contrast. 🙂

    Having said all that, my upbringing does not like to see them in church. My jeans were for anything but.

  34. Pr. Stefanski,
    If the present regime succeeds in retaining power through the next convention, you may be assured that GK will find a new way to attempt to shut Pr. Wilken up/Issues down.
    GK does not like to lose.
    Wilken is a Lutheran; Issues is an effective Lutheran program. Three strikes.

    Please do not appear to aid/abet him. IMHO, we need both of you, preferably supporting each other. And may the Lord have mercy on us all!

  35. Does anyone know how I can contact the presenter of the “potty video” described as on e of leading pastors of the Church Growth Movement? I’ve been included as a member of that group & I would like to contact a leader.

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