Comments

Sneak peak at Kieschnick’s new book cover! — 95 Comments

  1. Randy,

    I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at.

    That’s merely how WordPress (our blogging software) descries photo uploads. It just means I uploaded it to our site.

    I take responsibility for doing that, but I didn’t want people to think I was so witty as to come up with this myself.

    Best,

    Mollie

  2. Mollie,
    So, why not give due credit to the source of this comment-worthy art, as an affirmation of journalistic ethics?

    Best,
    Randy

  3. It’s OK, you can tell us – its from the East Anglica University CRU Climategate e-mails, isn’t it?

  4. As much as I enjoy (boy do I), delving into British History & how preciously close England came to becoming Lutheran (don’t I wish) I can’t go so far as to say or tie, the Pope granting the Fidei Defensor on Henry, in the same breath as President Kieschnick. Henry ruled a nation, PK rules only in his own mind. Henry was born to the throne, PK was elected (2007 debates notwithstanding). Fair bit different, but megalomanics have to begin somewhere I guess.

    Sychophants abounded for Henry, PK is on his own, but I wouldn’t compare anyone in St Louis to Cramner or Cromwell, not yet anyway. Although, I will say this, if you hang around & listen to the likes of Lenny Sweet (& his cronies, McLaren, Warren & Bell) you may find yourself too big for your britches. I highly doubt, there is a faction or individual who would bestow a Fidei Defensor on PK, considering the title of his book, I think he rather “gifted” himself, in his part in “rebirthing” this denomination.
    One thing is for sure though, Henry prided himself as being a theologian, President Kieschnick seems to pride himself on NOT being one.

  5. I see that I am not as convinced as you are with respect to the “public sin” you see committed by President Kieschnick in specific correlation to his authoring the book in question coupled with his time as the president of our Synod.

    President Kieschnick’s support of unionism and syncretism at Yankee Stadium and elsewhere is related to his general pragmatic and atheological outlook; the terms in which his title speaks of his presidency speak to the same things…unless, of course, his book has nothing to do with his time in office whatsoever.

    EJG

  6. @Rev. Eric J. Stefanski #58

    To be perfectly honest, I had almost no opinion of President Kieschnick before reading this post. I am heavily opposed to bureaucracy, specifically when it results in the waste of offering monies. I understand why some pastors or congregations do not give a percentage of their offerings to the Synod. Aside from this aversion, I know that President Kieschnick is my brother in Christ. After seeing the artwork above, I was very saddened by it and even further saddened by reading some of the responses from pastors and laypeople alike. I now have a higher opinion of our President because of my newfound understanding of the opposition he faces behind his back. I have explained multiple times the basis for why I disagree with the decision to post this artwork. It hurts to read much of what has been written here about our brother in Christ.

    Rev. Stefanski, considering the words you have written here, would you refuse to commune President Kieschnick if he chose to worship at your church?

    Also, Mollie, I assume that you are joking about your “source” wishing to remain anonymous a la the Judith Miller/Matthew Cooper controversy? What possible good is gained by anonymity within the body of Christ? What would the motivations be in the case of this artwork? How could anyone see this as anywhere close to well-intentioned if it was done only under the pretenses of remaining anonymous? I really hope that was a joke and I was unable to pick up on the sarcasm due to it being found in written word…?

    To clarify on why I use my first name only: I first posted comments on this blog while I was still at the seminary. I read one of Mollie’s articles on student debt at our seminaries and offered some of my experiences. I received e-mails trying to figure out who I was and to establish that I was a real person. That’s all fine and good, and I haven’t updated my name to include the title “Rev.” yet. Also, I am still hoping for the extended article on seminarian debt once hinted at in my preliminary e-mails with Norm Fisher, which go back 7 or so months ago.

    Rev. Jack Gilbert

  7. Rev. Gilbert,

    Now I’m not sure if you’re joking! Sources are journalists’ bread and butter so we work pretty hard to protect them.

  8. If President Kieschnick received the Sacrament at Rev. Stefanski’s church, I think it would qualify as unionism, seeing how that congregation is no longer a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and is not in pulpit or altar fellowship with the LCMS. It would be rather odd, to say the least, if President Kieschnick were to show up there on a Sunday morning to attend worship.

  9. Rev. Jack Gilbert: “To be perfectly honest, I had almost no opinion of President Kieschnick before reading this post.”

    That explains a lot… especially after having spent the last four years (minus vicarage) at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

  10. Mollie,

    No, sorry, I’m not joking. What good fruit does anonymity bear in the body of Christ? I am seriously asking here, so please explain how you believe hiding one’s identity while producing this type of art, or speaking out against someone’s faulty decisions or even guilt of sin could ever be appropriate? Are the world’s journalistic approaches a correct fit for Christian reporting? I’m really not sure, and I’ve never thought about this subject. This anonymity is now another, and perhaps the greatest reason I find nothing constructive in the artwork above. A writer’s true intentions in written word can be confusing at times, so please know that I’m really trying to understand the appropriateness of employing anonymity within the Body of Christ.

    Anonymous,

    Thank you for clarifying my error. Sorry for jumping to the assumption that Rev. Stefanski is a member of the clergy within the LCMS. To me, he talks like an LCMSer, he comments frequently on an LCMS blog, he bears the title Rev., and all of this led to my incorrect assumption. It was my mistake, and I apologize.

    Carl,

    Believe it or not, in my experience, our St. Louis seminary did not focus much on current events in the LCMS, especially within the classroom. As a result, the students are unable to learn proper approaches to some of the heated issues discussed on this blog, such as small group ministry and contemporary worship, which is one reason I appreciate reading many of the articles here. However, I have a hard time believing everything I hear about our church leaders whom I barely know, which resulted in my not forming much of an opinion on Gerald Kieschnick, our current president and brother in Christ. I am just trying to understand him in a fair light, of course that appears to be a Sisyphustic endeavor with all the politics involved. I assure you, in my time at CSL his name was neither praised nor vilified, let alone spoken most days.

  11. Jack :
    @Rev. Eric J. Stefanski #58
    I now have a higher opinion of our President because of my newfound understanding of the opposition he faces behind his back.

    Nothing is “behind his back”; this is not a private meeting, but a public forum.

    Rev. Stefanski, considering the words you have written here, would you refuse to commune President Kieschnick if he chose to worship at your church?

    As Anonymous told you, I am no longer in the LCMS. When demands were made on me to “be reconciled” with the false teachers of my former circuit, I came to the realization that (beyond violating a principle I had asserted throughout the process–that people operating merely on the basis of gossip were not to be heard) if I were “reconciled” to stay in the LCMS it would mean that I would declaring the pastors of my circuit, the district president, and others who promote false doctrine to be proper communicants at an orthodox Lutheran congregation. (Your question is more apt than you know: membership in the LCMS without being in a public state of confession means that, yes, you will commune Jerry Kieschnick, Dave Benke, Matt Becker, and the like, yet many pastors in the LCMS won’t admit it.) That was something I could not accept, so I resigned from the roster of the LCMS in order to keep serving the saints to whom I was Called. (Part of the conditions of my being “reconciled” would be the resignation of my Call, since the mission congregation I was serving had seen and heard enough from the district that they unanimously declared that they would not seek rostering in the LCMS if it had to be within that district.)

    #63
    To me, he talks like an LCMSer

    Ouch! 😉

    EJG (former semi-insider, now complete outsider, but still with “care and concern” for those within the LCMS, in spite of the direct orders of the Central Illinois District that I should no longer have such care and concern)

  12. Rev. Jack Gilbert: “Believe it or not, in my experience, our St. Louis seminary did not focus much on current events in the LCMS, especially within the classroom.”

    That explains a lot!

  13. Pastor Stefanski,

    Your words of warning to we still in the LCMS are welcome on this site. They are certainly annoying but they also ring true. I admire those who for the sake of a clear conscience have left the LCMS. Who knows how much longer the rest of us can stay? Your words are a constant reminder that we ought not to be in fellowship with those who compromise the Gospel.

    TR

  14. Pastor Rossow, thanks for post #66, it will give comfort to those simple members who have departed for that reason, and I can’t imagine the grief & sorrow a Pastor endures doing the same.
    Pastor Stefanski, you & I don’t always see eye to eye, but I admire & respected you before and so much the more now!!! Integrity is a virtue for good reason, and virtues now a days, are neither requested, required or admired by most, but some still do…this one does!
    In Christ Always,
    Heidi (but you can still call me Dutch)

  15. Rev. Stefanski,

    I am saddened to hear about your experiences. Divisions in the Body of Christ are always difficult to learn of and much harder to endure. Thank you for the clarification of my erroneous assumption, for which I again apologize.

    As far as the “behind his back” terminology, I feel that a post like this one reflects the old stereotype of preaching to the choir. It seems unlikely that our brother President Kieschnick saw the artwork, though he is obviously not barred from such action. It reminds me of my own actions surrounding the cartoons I created at the seminary, which I brought up earlier. Rather than discussing the issues with the administration, I showed the drawings to people I was confident would appreciate them, which solved nothing and promulgated discord and negativity.

  16. Pastor Gilbert,
    What reccomendations, or “loving counsel based- under shepherd/ing”, would you give, to those here, (like Pastor Stefanski, or we, amoebic creatures such as I, a mere member) who have been forced to choose betwixt Biblical Truth & relevantic tolerance? Did I say cloaked in or as “mission/missional”? Many, simple yet driven (not as Warren, Sweet or Bell defines, I assume, you may have knowledge of their speaking engagements w/in our U system or Synod) members, have had this visited UPON them, by their congregations & those who hold the Divine Office, what say YOU to US? Did we choose….poorly…by departing? Did others, in times long past….choose poorly, (who left kith & kin to come here, & found a Lutheran ‘state free’ church)? Do bear in mind, my sister attended, obtained a lay ministry degree & departed the LCMS over a decade ago-less than a year after graduation), for what we now discuss here at BJS. Some here, now, more than you may give or grant credit for. Living a certain thing, tends to do that to one.

    What comfort or counsel do you give to us? What counsel do you give to “a brother” your ELDER, one who has served longer than yourself? Discernment has, it’s compliment here, it is called experience based COMMON DISCERNMENT/SENSE.

    When one reads, the CRCT reports, from 1987 on, & thus comissioned, written & adopted, what advice do you have for us, those you or like you shepherd? Do we choose
    Divine Office & “the will of the synod”, or choose His, as in Christ & the Trinity, Their Truth, Sola Scriptura, Sola Gracia, Sola Fide, blest/gifted by Sola Christos? Pastor Stefanski, did what he was called to do, per the knowledge he had, & has, and make no mistake, many a mere member has done the same. I see no reference, to those, who like me, departed for more, “firmer & more confessional pastures”. I am not counted, in the recent numbers, as
    …I now…matter not, why, I am already Found, & thus no worth to this current trend! Sheep depart…, when the under shepherd sleeps, and many are Rip Van Winkle in this, my dear friend. We know His voice & His field, & this does not smack of His.

    It is not the bull in the china shop principle, you’re young, many of us here, sadly are not( oh, don’t I wish).
    Your words would be what exactly, when a church/congregation in part or parcle departs from Christ, do I defend a “synod” or do I defend “Christ’s Church on earth, & my Spiritual health, welfare, wellbeing, & instruction & that of my gifts from Above, i.e. my children”? Bear in mind, some may be or already have, and thus the issue is much complicated. Your word of Sola based loving counsel is…..?

  17. @Dutch #69

    Dutch,

    I appreciate your request for my opinion, although with no experience in a situation like this, I don’t think it’s worth very much. In knowing very little and only one side of the matter, it’s hard to speak to. From what I can gather, it appears you continue to hear God’s Word proclaimed and receive our Lord’s Sacraments through Rev. Stefanski. Praise God for that, because you and your fellow parishioners have all that you need! I suppose there is no official connection with the LCMS, although Rev. Stefanski was trained in LCMS doctrine and certified to serve as an LCMS pastor. Seeing as how I agree with said doctrine, that sounds like a secondary bonus.

    Other than that, I can only further express my sadness that anything could lead to someone seeing the best option being to withdraw from the LCMS, although I know he is not alone with respect to this matter. I hope you can forage through my words and find some value in them.

    With your question, I was reminded of a fleeting moment while I was in class at CSL when a student asked about Trinity in New Haven, MO. I recall gleaning very little useful information during that discussion. This was something that was also very infrequently discussed, and it usually came up only after students inquired about it.

  18. President Kieschnick is a self-proclaimed “church growth enthusiast.”

    According to the “Church Growth Movement,” preaching is nothing more or less than motivational speaking.

    Tony Robbins is a famous motivational speaker.

    Whence the scandal here?

  19. @Carl Vehse #29

    Carl Vehse: “One can hardly wait for the first reviews of Waking the Sleeping Giant, if only to compare them to reviews of The Sleeping Giant: Arousing church power in America, Awaken the Giant Within, Waking Up the Sleeping Giant, Wake the Sleeping Giant, Wake Up, Sleeping Giant, Awakening the Sleeping Giant, Re-Awakening a Sleeping Giant, Arousing the Sleeping Giant, The Sleeping Giant Stirs, Sleeping Giant Wakens, The Sleeping Giant Has Awoken, When Will the Sleeping Giant Awaken?, The Sleeping Giant Story, The Sleeping Giant and Other Stories, Fund Raising – the Sleeping Giant, Awakening the sleeping giant : the church and the road to revival, Inspire the Sleeping Giant Within, and Legend of the Sleeping Giant.”

    Carl, you forgot “The Purpose-Driven Giant Awakens”, …or is that “The Purpose-Driven President Awakens”??? “A Giant Desire For Centralized Power Awakens.” Might it be “Putting to Sleep the Waking Giant: The Birth, Growth, Decline, and Take-over of an American Church!” Should PJK change his book title, he’s welcome to use any of these gratis!

  20. Rev. Jack Gilbert :
    @Dutch #69
    Dutch,
    From what I can gather, it appears you continue to hear God’s Word proclaimed and receive our Lord’s Sacraments through Rev. Stefanski.
    …Other than that, I can only further express my sadness that anything could lead to someone seeing the best option being to withdraw from the LCMS, although I know he is not alone with respect to this matter.
    …I was reminded of a fleeting moment while I was in class at CSL when a student asked about Trinity in New Haven, MO. I recall gleaning very little useful information during that discussion.

    Pr. Gilbert, I think you’re too easily assuming things. Dutch is not a member of our parish and, as far as I know, we have never met.

    Wrt leaving the LCMS, if you’ll read my letter of resignation, you’ll see that it wasn’t so much a matter of “best option,” but “the right thing to do…many years later than I should have done it.” Having been ordained in the early Spring of 1989, July of 1989 was a deal breaker; the synod’s stated doctrine from that point forward was contrary to what it was when I was in school and when I was admitted to the roster. We worked for change, but it just got worse. Twenty years later, the seminaries are complicit in the error.

    As to Trinity, New Haven, all that can be said is that the St. Louis sem and LCMS, Inc. should be very happy that Pr. Otten is not a litigious sort of guy. If he were, he’d likely own a great deal of what Inc. now owns. There are a lot of things that he’s published that I wish he wouldn’t (the rantings of Jack Cascione, for instance, and anything else that has created the disunity that allows the errorist in chief to be reelected), but the fact of his case is that when the board ruled with an evenly-split decision, the rules of that board meant that those making the case against Otten did not prevail, and that his rostering should have taken place. (What’s really stupid on their part: they could have rostered him and immediately brought charges against him and, likely, prevailed.)

    EJG

  21. Pastor Stefanski,
    I was wondering if you were going to be commenting & correcting on the errors in post #69. Ya can say, write it, but that don’t mean they do, does it?
    Isn’t it grand to know, that honor, integrity, bravery & courage, don’t begin w/us, nor is it something we alone can muster?! I am daily thankful it begins & is gifted to us from Above, all we have to do…is just stand, stand fast, but just stand. I do hope someday (as we will someday, here or in His House) meet. Well said, well pointed, and your letter was amazing! Well done!

  22. @Rev. Jack Gilbert #68

    …Rather than discussing the issues with the administration, I showed the drawings to people I was confident would appreciate them…

    It would appear we have a reformed rabblerouser here!
    Out to reform the rest of us, too. 🙂

    But do not fear for “ignorance” in the Violet Vatican of what goes on here. One of the “Anon’s” will have taken care of the matter. Or if someone of cyberacumen has enlisted, there will be automatic notice taken.

    People who are afraid of being read by all run passworded lists.

  23. @Dutch #75

    Dutch,

    Sorry for the confusion. When I read your words…

    “What reccomendations, or ‘loving counsel based- under shepherd/ing’, would you give, to those here, (like Pastor Stefanski, or we, amoebic creatures such as I, a mere member) who have been forced to choose betwixt Biblical Truth & relevantic tolerance? ”

    …it sounded like you were a member of Rev. Stefanski’s church.

    Still waiting for Mollie’s response on good coming out of the use of anonymity within the Body of Christ, specifically in dealing with the artwork posted here, and how anyone could believe that this was created with good intentions if the creator wished to remain anonymous.

  24. Rev. Gilbert,

    I’m sorry to have not responded yet. I am very behind in many things and hope to return to this soon. Still, in a discussion on good intentions, I think you may have misspoke in thinking one can’t believe that this humorous piece was created with good intentions. The product is fair game but the intentions of the artist can’t be judged, can they?

  25. Mollie :
    Still, in a discussion on good intentions, I think you may have misspoke in thinking one can’t believe that this humorous piece was created with good intentions. The product is fair game but the intentions of the artist can’t be judged, can they?

    Indeed. A personal example, if I may (and this is pertinent to the ‘behind the back’ stuff, too):

    On 30 October 2002, the Rev. Pres. in Suspension David Benke wrote to the Acting Rev. Pres. of the Atlantic District, Charles Froelich, asking him to get the Council of Presidents to take action against those involved in the “extremely divisive activity” of allowing people rightly to condemn his actions at Yankee Stadium and subsequent defense of the same (the defense of which was, indeed, even more destructive than the action).

    My District President at the time, the Rev. David Callies, did “take action” by investigating my administration of the lists at Confess and Teach for Unity, having subscribed to our Table Talk and MOSynod-Talk email lists nearly two years earlier because of complaints from the Rev. Waldo Werning. President Callies met with me (and my wife, for awhile, as he expressed a proper pastoral attitude of care for my family; regardless of any disagreement in doctrine or practice between us, David Callies, to me, best exemplified what how the care for pastors by a district president should look) and then met with the parish I was serving (as his intended regular triennial visit). His conclusion: I had expressed myself with regard to doctrine and practice and had allowed others to do the same, but–he was very careful to observe–I had never made any negative judgment about Pres. Benke’s motive or intent.

    That remains so to this day: I think that Benke was doing what he thought/thinks was right, and I think Kieschnick is doing the same. I don’t think that they want to destroy the synod or violate God’s Word; it’s just that what they think is right happens to be wrong. It’s no different from my Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Romanist, Buddhist, or Episcopal friends; the right assumption is that they are sincere, even if sincerely wrong.

    Wrt Mollie’s protecting her source, cf. my #22: she posted it, which means that she takes responsibility for it. Her disowning credit for producing it in #21 was shown in #23 not to be a dodging of this journalistic responsibility, but the proper admission that she was not the creator of the work. Mollie bears the brunt of the criticism so that the one creating it is able to continue to create; in this, Mollie’s function is much like that of a ballot box–preventing reprisal that can sometimes come for a non-sinful activity.

    As Pr. Meissner’s #71 shows, there is nothing scandalous in the photo; it merely shows Pres. Kieschnick as he has presented himself. If that ‘stings’ him in any way, maybe that is a clue to him that he’s ought to repent and be the sort of president about whom such things are not able to be written…but, alas, then he would be ripped to pieces by his current friends, just like Al Barry was (especially by a friend like Ralph Bohlmann, whose defining acts as a ‘churchman’ are his refusal to teach at the St. Louis sem after the walkout, his ‘sour grapes’ letter to pastors upon Barry’s replacing him at the 1992 convention, and his ‘God took him out’ reference to Al Barry at the 2001 convention).

    The question from all of this is whether caricature artists at a fair have bad intentions when they exaggerate features and put people in silly positions that they were not actually in when they posed. In Mollies post, the artist has taken liberties to bring out the way the synodical president has packaged and presented himself and shown, by comparison with Tony Robbins, just how silly he looks and why so many in the LCMS can’t take his programs, etc., seriously.

    But, I think that’s enough.

    Everyone in the LCMS Annual was invited to this site months ago, and the origin of the site was in the unjust treatment of Wilken and Schwarz, so it is by no means unknown to the folks at 1333 S. Kirkwood. If they’re not monitoring it, they’re just plain stupid.

    EJG

  26. Rev. Jack Gilbert :
    @Dutch #75
    Dutch,
    Sorry for the confusion. When I read your words…
    “What reccomendations, or ‘loving counsel based- under shepherd/ing’, would you give, to those here, (like Pastor Stefanski, or we, amoebic creatures such as I, a mere member) who have been forced to choose betwixt Biblical Truth & relevantic tolerance? ”
    …it sounded like you were a member of Rev. Stefanski’s church.

    Only because you don’t know me. If she were from this parish, I would have scolded her for referring to herself as “a mere member.” A son of God through faith in Christ Jesus is never “mere” according to the new man.

    EJG

  27. I have not yet been convinced that anonymity is something that can and should be used within the Body of Christ. We are brothers and sisters, and if one member feels another should be called to repentance, why would this be done in anonymity?

    I did not misspeak when I questioned the motives behind the creation of this artwork. I ask again:

    How can we believe that the artwork in question was created with the intent to speak well of President Kieschnick or show him in a good light if the artist does not want it to bear his or her name? Unless for reasons of humility, I feel that nothing good can come from using anonymity in this context. When I consider the message of this artwork, I feel that humility is an unlikely reason for hiding the name of its creator. It serves as an affront to our brother, creates disharmony, and further damages the view many people hold of him.

    Within the Body of Christ, we need not be afraid of our words or actions with respect to fellow members, because everything we say or do should be done to defend them, speak well of them, and explain all of their actions in the kindest of ways. If we find ourselves needing to point to a brother or sister’s sin, we follow Scripture by going to him or her directly, rather than by cowering in the shadows of anonymity.

  28. “How can we believe that the artwork in question was created with the intent to speak well of President Kieschnick or show him in a good light if the artist does not want it to bear his or her name?”

    The artwork speaks for itself. It has no hidden meanings; the satire is based on known public activities of the SP, which have been criticized publicly in the past by others. There are no unsubstantiated or private accusations or insinuations that require a viewer to believe, trust, or rely on the knowledge or intent of the unknown artist.

    Therefore, the rhetorical question of how can we believe the intent of the artwork is a red herring, which is irrelevant to the book cover satire itself or its discussion. Worse than that, Rev. Gilbert’s rhetorical question itself has the taint of hypocrisy because the question implies, with innuendos rather than substantiation, that the artwork may be based on evil intent and stained with the sin against the eighth commandment, and the artwork should not be shown until the artist is identified and properly interrogated as to his or her possible motives and intent.

    “Unless for reasons of humility, I feel that nothing good can come from using anonymity in this context.”

    While one is certainly free to have such a feeling, there is nothing rational in applying this emotional concept of anonymity to the particular context of the satirical bookcover.,

    “When I consider the message of this artwork, I feel that humility is an unlikely reason for hiding the name of its creator.”

    Since the identity of the artist is unknown, this statement presumes something for which no evidence, only an emotional personal feeling, has been presented. Again, such idle speculation is another attempt to divert attention from the point of the satire itself.

    “It serves as an affront to our brother, creates disharmony, and further damages the view many people hold of him.”

    This claim is misdirected. The affront lies in the objectionable actions of President Kieschnick, not in the satire of them. These actions have created disharmony and damage to the synod office he holds.

  29. Note: Please scroll down to the bottom if you’re sick of reading my words and wish to clear up what you believe to be my false understanding of the use of anonymity within the Body of Christ. For anyone new to this post, please know that I do not feel anonymity should be used among Christians, especially when dealing with each other.

    Carl,

    I agree with you whole-heartedly when you say that the artwork has no hidden meanings. I see it as an attempt at humor that does not speak well of President Kieschnick and his practices. I believe humor was the goal, and my interpretation of the message was not, and yet it remains, and judging by a few earlier comments I am not alone.

    I apologize for what you saw in my words as “hypocrisy,” “innuendo,” and “idle speculation,” through which it appears I have offended you and possibly others. Please know that this was not my intent, and I am sorry. Also, I want to assure you that I have no interest of interrogating the artist or forcing his or her identity to light. I simply wish to know how one can feel comfortable posting or defending the artwork, while knowing that the artist wished to remain anonymous. This is something I would not do personally, so I would like to understand the reasoning behind such behavior. All of this leads back to my original question regarding anonymity.

    The reason I felt it necessary to expound on my question of the employment of anonymity (which led to your reply) within the Body of Christ was a direct result of its consistently remaining answered here. I wanted people to understand my position on the message of the artwork, the decision to post it on this site when considering its anonymous origins, and its reception by pastors and laypeople alike and the negative impact it has on many of their views of their brother in Christ. I am amazed at how many people have jumped to defend this artwork and the right to produce it, and yet at the same time have continually ignored the question I have posed several times. It’s possible that this is an issue everyone here is familiar with and no one feels is a problem. If that is the case, I would like to understand the collective view of how we as Christians are to use anonymity.

    What good use does anonymity have within the Body of Christ? In my opinion and experiences, it solves nothing and usually worsens conflict. I am very open to hearing and understanding why someone would disagree with me on this, and how one can defend using this type of artwork in anonymity. If I am wrong, I seek, welcome, and hope for correction. I simply want to hear opinions on how we are to use anonymity as members of the Body of Christ, especially in dealing with each other. As I have previously mentioned, this is a subject I have given very little thought to in the past, and my initial reaction is that we as Christians do not need to use anonymity within the Body of Christ.

    Mollie has explained that she is busy and I understand that. I look forward to hearing from her on this subject when time permits. If you have an opinion on the matter, I would appreciate hearing it. I found much use in Rev. Stefanski’s post (#79) as he analyzed the artwork and discussed the subject of intentions. Through his words, I can better understand why many are not offended by it. I still feel that it only furthers many negative views of our brother in Christ (while at the same time is very clearly “preaching to the choir”), and that if one feels he is guilty of any sin, it would be far more appropriate to go to him first, rather than produce this piece of art and especially to do so in anonymity.

    Please feel free to ignore everything else in this comment except this question: What are everyone’s opinions or defenses of using anonymity within the Body of Christ?

  30. Rev. Gilbert,

    People’s careers have been ruined for speaking out against LCMS leadership. Does that help you to understand why some are gunshy about using their names?

    TR

  31. Rev. Gilbert, you raise again the issue of feelings related to anonymity.

    I see no difference in the effect of the artwork’s anonymity on my feelings about the artwork than how my feelings are affected by the anonymity, intent, or motives of the designers and builders of the computer screens on which I have viewed the satirical artwork. Even Mollie’s motives (which I do not know) for posting the artwork do not affect my feelings toward it.

    “What good use does anonymity have within the Body of Christ?”

    The same use that anonymity can have in other activities in which Christians may be involved. (This is not to say that anonymity is always right, or that it is never misused or abused.)

    For example, the pastor is not required or expected to report to the voters’ assembly the identity of the people meeting with him for private absolution or counseling.

    There is anonymity of the individual ballots at a synodical or district convention, or at a congregational meeting to call a pastor or elect church officers. Some of the writers, composers, translators, and arrangers of hymns sung at Lutheran worship services are anonymous (unknown).

    For many church members, there is anonymity (or secrecy) in the passwords, access codes, and phone codes used in our church buildings. My wife, who is involved in our church music program, has access to codes and information I don’t. I do not expect her to provide me with such information even if I felt the desire to know them.

    Though one could probably check with the church office, most laypeople do not know the identity (or motives) of the manufacturer or wholesaler of the wine and wafers used in the Lord’s Supper.

    And my appreciation of the artistic qualities and beauty of a church organ are not affected by not knowing the various artisans who designed and built the church organ, or their intent or motives in building and installing the organ, or whether they were Lutheran, or even Missouri Synod Lutheran.

    While you may object to the artwork because you don’t agree with what it says or whether it should have been posted on BJS, the claim that anonymity itself is inherently wrong, even within the church, has not been convincingly demonstrated.

  32. @Pastor Tim Rossow #84

    Pastor Rossow,

    I am not so naive on this subject that I am unable to infer why some refrain from revealing their names on this site. I am rather asking what benefit there is in doing so to rebuke sin, specifically in the case of the creation and posting of this artwork and its relation to the Body of Christ. (It has been argued that President Kieschnick is to be called to repentance, and the use of satire in this artwork is therefore appropriate, and the artist’s request for anonymity should be defended. I do not wish to call for the artist’s name to be given, rather to see how it is appropriate to use anonymity to call for repentance. I remain unconvinced that this artwork is constructive in any way.)

    Christ our Savior beckons us when calling for repentance to go to our brother first in order to gain him. Never are we encouraged as His servants to use anonymity to rebuke sin or make the claim that if we weren’t careful about what we say or how we say it, we may lose our careers. In fact, Christ calls us to follow Him no matter what the situation calls for, or what may be on the line.

    One can see easiliy that you are not gun-shy in using your name. Could you explain why not for those who are?

    @Carl Vehse #85

    Carl,

    Thank you for providing some examples of the proper use of anonymity within the Body of Christ. I agree with each of them and easily acknowledge the importance of maintaining confidentiality with confessed sins. Sadly, each of your examples looks past the heart of my question, and I apologize for my unintended lack of clarity. I now hope to remedy this:

    Am I mistaken in believing that anonymity is not a proper fit in the Body of Christ when attempting to rebuke sin?

    In my understanding, a petition signed over and over by John and Jane Doe would go nowhere in our society. There comes a time when even this sinful world calls for people to stand behind their words or actions when change is sought.

    Not only do we see the fruitlessness of anonymity to solve problems within some contexts of our own sinful culture, but Scripture sheds light on the subject as well. Should we not turn to the example of the prophet Nathan calling the Lord’s annointed King of Israel to repentance for his sin with Bathsheba? I suppose it to be very possible that Nathan could have been in danger of losing his life, and yet he went, sent by the Lord, and rebuked King David, rather than writing an anonymous letter and waiting for someone else to deliver it.

    There are comments here that seem to imply President Kieschnick is guilty of sin, which apparently in some minds justifies the creation and promulgation of the artwork found above. I want to understand why anonymity is being used and defended when sin is on the line. If it doesn’t fit this context, then I ask, is there ever a time when anonymity can be used for the benefit of others within the Body of Christ when confronting sin? This subject has caught and retained my interest from the time I first saw this post, and I am really hoping for an answer.

    And yes, I do believe this pertains to the 8th Commandment because of what we are called to do by our Lord through that Commandment. When sin is present, as Rev. Stefanski discussed, we must call for repentance. If one believes there is a sin President Kieschnick must confess, what actual good is brought about by anonymously creating this type of satirical artwork? Furthermore, what good is done by posting it here? If no sin is present, then how does this artwork defend or speak well of our brother? In either case, how does this artwork not further divisions among fellow believers? I really want to understand this, so please don’t feel like I’m asking rhetorical questions. If you feel that I am, please ask me to rephrase, because I truly seek understanding here.

    Thank you, Carl, for not overlooking my words despite my inability to relay them clearly at times. I know that in written word, opposing views may be taken differently than in spoken conversation. Please take me at my word that I everything I have written and asked here is with a true desire to learn and understand, and better serve my Lord.

  33. Rev. Gilbert,

    Sin has nothing to do with my point nor does my own experience. People have gotten hurt criticizing church leadership. They still desire to satirize the silliness of the largest confessional Lutheran denomination on earth having a president who does not uphold confessional Lutheranism so they create satirical cartoons.

    I can testify to having rebuked the president of the LCMS face to face and having him repent and receive forgiveness. I can also testify to him using strong-armed tactics with me (bullying?) and not being sorry. And I can testify to rebuking him via correspondence for the very criticism leveled in this cartoon and having him deny that he supports church growth tactics in our synod. I guess that means we ought to tell it to the church. The church does not listen. We still love the church body and so we keep fighting.

    I encourage you to overlook your concern with anonymity and return to the battle at hand.

    TR

  34. Rev. Gilbert,

    In comment 59 you asked: What possible good is gained by anonymity within the body of Christ?

    In comment 63 you asked: What good fruit does anonymity bear in the body of Christ?

    In comment 77 you stated: Still waiting for Mollie’s response on good coming out of the use of anonymity within the Body of Christ, specifically in dealing with the artwork posted here

    In comment 81 you stated: I have not yet been convinced that anonymity is something that can and should be used within the Body of Christ.

    In comment 83 you stated: I do not feel anonymity should be used among Christians, especially when dealing with each other.

    And you asked: What good use does anonymity have within the Body of Christ?

    And then ask again: What are everyone’s opinions or defenses of using anonymity within the Body of Christ?

    But in comment 86 you ask: Am I mistaken in believing that anonymity is not a proper fit in the Body of Christ when attempting to rebuke sin?

    Given your consistent questions and assertions in the previous comments, your new question and the claim that my response to the previous questions “sadly… looks past the heart of my question,” which you then note had an “unintended lack of clarity,” is puzzling.

    Furthermore, amid your comments about the artwork itself and what it means, you continue to state or imply negative motivations and intent in the mind of the artist, whom you say you do not know, even after you apologize for similar comments which were described as “hypocrisy,” “innuendo,” and “idle speculation.”

  35. Rev. Gilbert,

    In comment 24 you ask: Finally, if the poster did not create this work, it is usually a good idea to cite the origins of material created by another party. If a name is unavailable, maybe point the readers to where it was found?

    In comment 59 you state: Also, Mollie, I assume that you are joking about your “source” wishing to remain anonymous a la the Judith Miller/Matthew Cooper controversy?… How could anyone see this as anywhere close to well-intentioned if it was done only under the pretenses of remaining anonymous? I really hope that was a joke and I was unable to pick up on the sarcasm due to it being found in written word…?

    In comment 63 you again ask Mollie: I am seriously asking here, so please explain how you believe hiding one’s identity while producing this type of art, or speaking out against someone’s faulty decisions or even guilt of sin could ever be appropriate? Are the world’s journalistic approaches a correct fit for Christian reporting?

    In comment 77, you question “how anyone could believe that this was created with good intentions if the creator wished to remain anonymous.”

    In comment 81 you state: I feel that nothing good can come from using anonymity in this context.

    In comment 83 you state: I do not feel anonymity should be used among Christians, especially when dealing with each other.

    But then in comment 86 you state: I do not wish to call for the artist’s name to be given, rather to see how it is appropriate to use anonymity to call for repentance.

    Rev. Gilbert, your statement that the artist’s continued anonymity is no longer an issue with you on this thread is a complete reversal of the position taken in your previous statements. According to your comment 83, your concern now is whether anonymity is appropriate in calling for repentance.

  36. Rev. Gilbert,

    In your comment 86, you ask: I want to understand why anonymity is being used and defended when sin is on the line. If it doesn’t fit this context, then I ask, is there ever a time when anonymity can be used for the benefit of others within the Body of Christ when confronting sin?… Please take me at my word that I everything I have written and asked here is with a true desire to learn and understand, and better serve my Lord.

    To address your question in the context of your stated sincerity to understand, I will again point out that there is anonymity present in various Christian activities within the Body of Christ, in particular where sin is confronted and forgiveness is sought.

    While not an exhaustive list, here are some examples of anonymity within the Body of Christ involved in confronting sin and urging repentance that address your question :

    1. Pastor’s sermons often include non-Biblical stories, some of which confront particular sins along with the consequences and or the need for repentance. Some of these stories involve real people (within the congregation or elsewhere) who are anonymous and not identified, or the stories may have passed from other people who also remain anonymous.

    2. The Lutheran Witness, especially earlier issues, as well as Der Lutheraner frequently contained articles or editorials that confronted sins within the church body at the time and urged repentance. While many have been identified with C.F.W. Walther or other editors of these publications, others have no identification and their authorship remains anonymous.

    3. The Missouri Synod puts out a large number of tracts and pamphlets (especially before the internet), many of which can be seen in church narthexes. Some of these pamphlets confront specific sins, such as unfaithfulness in marriage, abortion, gambling, greed, etc., and urged repentance. In most cases, the authors of such Missouri Synod leaflets are anonymous.

    4. As pointed out earlier, a number of hymns have anonymous writers. Of these hymns there are ones that confront sin, urge repentance, and express reliance only on Christ’s redemptive work.

    5. Turning to Scripture, the characters in Jesus’ parables are some of the most obvious examples of anonymity. The prodigal son, his father, and his brother are not identified by name as the characters confront or confess sin. In fact some have conjectured that one parable in which Jesus identified the person’s name may not be a parable because the character, Lazarus, was not anonymous.

    6. The writer of the Book of Hebrews is anonymous, although people have speculated it may have been the Apostle Paul, Apollo, Barnabus, or some other NT writer. Yet Hebrews has been accepted as canon.

  37. Pastor Rossow, please understand this post as an attempt to explain myself in light of Carl’s accusations. Please delete it if you feel that it is not following your instruction of overlooking my concern with anonymity.

    Carl,

    Please explain to me what purpose you believe the artwork posted above serves.

    I will explain what purpose I believe it serves:

    It speaks badly of President Kieschnick, and fails to defend him, speak well of him, or explain everything he does in the kindest of ways.

    I have seen the argument that it is calling for repentance, although this repentance is not being sought in a way we are called to do so by Christ. I am not convinced that his authoring this book points to any sin he is guilty of. I have asked multiple times what good anonymity bears within the Body of Christ. You provided some examples that, while true, do not fit the context of this artwork and what I believe to be its message, based on my opinions and the defenses put forth by various readers. I am now rephrasing my question, after taking correction and direction from you. I am not “reversing” my position.

    Everyone here sees that President Kieschnick is being discussed in this artwork. Everyone knows his name, his face, and his position within the church. I am asking, when this much is known about a person, and some feel that the person is guilty of sin, how is a satirical and sarcastic piece of art appropriate?

    If you, Carl, were being accused of a supposed sin by a group of people you likely did not know very well, would you appreciate satire and sarcasm to be the medium by which they called you to repentance? Would you be happy to learn that the springboard for such criticism was being done through anonymity? Would you be happy to learn that some of the people agreeing with and defending the satirical and sarcastic artwork were doing so in anonymity?

    I would not be. That’s why I’m trying to understand why this is okay in so many peoples’ minds. I’m glad you are reading my words, but you are mistaken when you accuse me of reversing my position. There have been times when it became clear to me that those reading my questions did not understand what I was getting at. There are other times when people have guided me to phrasing my questions in ways that would be easier to understand. This is why I consistently welcome correction. It appears that you have mistakenly interpreted this as a “reversal” of sorts.

    In comment 82, you have also mistakenly painted me as someone calling for an interrogation of the author to ascertain his or her intentions when creating this artwork. I never once said that the artist’s request for anonymity was no longer an issue. It is quite the opposite! I am not ordering that his or her identity be revealed, I am simply asking why one believes anonymity has been requested. I thought these comments sections were here to inspire conversation and discussion!

    Please explain to me why you believe the artist has requested to hide behind anonymity.

    I believe it is because the artwork is not constructive in any way. I have explained many times that if this is a call for repentance, it is an inappropriate method. If it is not a call for repentance, it is in violation of the 8th Commandment.

    Again, I welcome correction, though I ask that you please not tell me I’m reversing my position when I’m not, and that you please not tell me what I’m asking for when I’m not asking for it.

  38. Rev. Gilbert,

    I will take a crack at answering you.

    The piece serves to visually connect President Kieschnick with the church growth tactics that he allows and even promotes in the synod and it does so in a clever and even humorous way.

    It is that simple. It communicates the truth and actaully not in some attacking sort of way that you imagine but in a clever and humorous way. What could be more like putting the best construction on error?

    The Brothers of John the Steadfast are committed in part to promoting and teaching the Lutheran Confessions. This satirical piece helps us do that.

    It also communicates a message to the synod. You fools (quoting St. Paul) how could you have gone and elected someone and then re-elected that same someone who has not led us in a confessional manner. The one you elected reminds us more of a Tony Robbins like promoter of the feel good culture than he does a Walther or Preus or Barry. (All of whom could have been and probably were satirized.) Oh, and you also elected and re-elected someone whose first book has a silly title. We are not a sleeping giant. We are the little flock that faithfully and humbly administers word and sacrament. We follow Christ. We do not seek the giant status that Billy Graham and the world favors. But you fools of the LCMS, you elected a guy that does not think that is enough. He wants something more. And so forth and so on…

    TR

  39. Pastor Rossow,

    Thank you for your words. I am not in full support of the use of anonymity at this website, although I can now understand it in this context, along with the use of satire here. I will not hide behind my seminary education and falsely believe I know all I can about the church and pastoral ministry, and I thank you for your helpful explanation. As johannes wrote in comment 40, this is a tough crowd at times.

    We will never be completely happy with our leadership until Christ’s return, although I’m certain we can agree that it will continually wax and wane depending on who’s in charge.

  40. CPH is putting out some information on President Kieschnick’s upcoming book, Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Birth, Growth, Decline, and Rebirth of an American Church:

    “From the preface—’The Sleeping Giant’ is a description of someone or something fully capable of accomplishing much, though not until awakening. For many reasons I believe The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, a part of the Holy Christian Church, has been for many years, even decades, a sleeping giant. I further believe that this giant is awakening, taking more time in doing so than many of us would like, but awakening nonetheless.”

    The expected release date is January 29th at $16.99.

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