More On President Kieschnick’s New Book, by Pr. Tom Messer

(Editor’s Note: Late last night we posted a comment on President Kieschnick’s new book from Pr. Tom Messer. He has read the book from cover to cover and offers the following. This post is taken from a comment that Pr. Messer left in response to a point made by Pr. Wilken which can be viewed here. It is comment #9.)

Todd,

Yes, President Kieschnick does know that there’s more to it than that. The portion of the quote I excluded with the ellipsis reads:

“. . . The pastor might or might not be robed and leads an order of worship consisting primarily of singing, Scripture reading, homily, and prayer. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is sometimes, but not always, offered. The confession and absolution, ecumenical creed, and Lord’s Prayer are often, but not always, a part of the service. Casual, even informal attire is often worn by worshipers, who include people of all ages.”

What President Kieschnick does NOT realize is that there is a different theology of worship at work among congregations that employ these Pentecostal and revivalistic worship forms. That fact is simply lost on him, which is no surprise, since he has been endorsing and promoting these sorts of congregations for years.

Interestingly, in the paragraphs immediately following the referenced quote above, President Kieschnick goes out of his way to defend the right of congregations to use non-Lutheran worship resources. After acknowledging that there is disagreement in our synod on this matter, he quotes Article VI of our Constitution (“Exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda, hymnbook, and catechisms in church and school”), but follows this with, “Strictly speaking, this condition of membership does not limit members and congregations of the Synod to use only materials published by or under the auspices of the Synod, since materials published by other sources might also very well be doctrinally pure; for example, songs or hymns consisting exclusively of direct quotations from Holy Scripture” (p. 62).

It is obvious to the reader what President Kieschnick is getting at here, namely that it is perfectly acceptable for congregations in our Synod to determine for themselves how they will worship and what resources they will use. For Kieschnick, as long as these non-Lutheran resources contain direct quotations from Scripture, they’re good enough. He is really like a fish out of water when he tries to discuss this matter and it is clear that he has no idea what our Lutheran theology of worship is.

Having read his book from start to finish, there are two ways I would describe President Kieschnick: 1) At Home in the House of McGavran; 2) At Home in the House of Our Bylaws. He is definitely NOT At Home in the House of [Our] Fathers (but, I know someone who is).

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

More On President Kieschnick’s New Book, by Pr. Tom Messer — 25 Comments

  1. The thing to which Dr. Kieschnick remains utterly oblivious is that there is no such thing as informal repentance.

    There isn’t a kind of repentance which visitors will find more comfortable and more inviting than other kinds of repentance.

    It is not easier to deny one’s self and take up the cross while wearing blue jeans or shorts than it is wearing full business attire.

    To the troubled conscience and to the heart weighed down by sin, there is no desire for forgiveness to be informal. In fact, I would maintain that sinners want their sin to be addressed formally, officially — one might even say “by an office.” And I believe that means we need to have formal worship which addresses that sin — not “worship experiences” designed to give hurting people an uplifting experience.

    Having now published his confession, Dr. Kieschnick shows that he promotes a religion that is an opiate of the people — and this is truly “snake” oil. Confessional Lutheran worship holds forth the true Balm of Gilead which does not merely soothe, but saves.

  2. Last week in another post I had listed the Duties of the President as they appear in the latest handbook. Under #3 there is “He shall conscientiously use all means at his command to promote and maintain unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of the Synod.” His apparent promotion of diverse worship practices seems to directly contradict this duty.

    While some non-CPH published materials may very well be suitable for Lutheran worship the only standard for determining such is the discretion of the pastor. While one would hope every pastor would only use doctrinally sound material such does not seem to be the case in many churches in our synod. With the influence of other theologies rampant in our synod many pastors, not surprisingly, do not see them as contrary to Lutheran teaching and so materials teaching such theologies are also acceptable in their eyes.

  3. @Alex #2
    Duties of the President as they appear in the latest handbook. Under #3 there is “He shall conscientiously use all means at his command to promote and maintain unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of the Synod.” His apparent promotion of diverse worship practices seems to directly contradict this duty. –Alex

    Possibly, you misunderstand the SP, Alex. He will indeed “use all means at his command to maintain unity of doctrine and practice…” It just won’t be LUTHERAN doctrine and practice.

  4. As noted above, President Kieschnick writes:

    The confession and absolution, ecumenical creed, and Lord’s Prayer are often, but not always, a part of the service.

    What he does NOT write, but about which he is most definitely fully aware, is:

    The confession and absolution, ecumenical creed, and Lord’s Prayer are often, but not always, REPLACED with something original written by the pastor (or someone else on the “worship team”), or with a contemporary “praise song” that has little, if anything, to do with the liturgical element it is replacing. In other words, it is not just that those leading these “informal orders of worship” often omit these liturgical elements, but that they just as often replace them with something else, thus REDEFINING them.

  5. I don’t know who designed the front cover (CPH, Jerry, or paid outside consultants), but listing the author at the top as, “Rev. Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick,” seems to be… well, a little over the top.

    First, according to various style guides on forms of address, the formal title, “Rev.” should be written “The Rev.” Second, the title, “Dr.”, is not normally used when the person’s only doctorate is an honorary degree and not an academically earned degree.

    Third, CPH shows a number of books by other Lutheran authors, with only the authors’ names listed on the front cover without all their ordained and earned titles. Some examples include:

    1. David L. Adams, ordained and a professor with a PhD.
    2. Ken Schurb, ordained and with a PhD
    3. John W. Kleinig, ordained and with a PhD and DD
    4. Paul L. Maier, ordained and a professor with a PhD
    5. Andrew E. Steinmann, ordained and professor with a PhD
    6. Kenneth T. Kosche, professor with a D.M.A.

    Or there is John Warwick Montogomery’s name on the cover of his book, Tractatus Logico-Theologicus, where one would need to go to page 2 to see that he has three earned doctorates and an honorary doctorate (all from different countries!), or page 3 for the copyright notice of “2005 by Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. John Warwick Montgomery”.

  6. The on line CPH had these other offerings to recommend on the same page as “sleeping giant” on Thursday:

    On Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 7:11 AM, wrote:

    I don’t know if the “people also buy” is static but I loved it this morning.
    The illustrated small catechism.
    Evening and morning. (music for the TDP)
    Spirituality of the cross. (new edition) Gene Edward Vieth
    and last but definitely first:
    The church and her fellowship, ministry, and governance. Kurt Marquart

    That’s a commentary, all by itself.

    Today (Saturday) I went back for another look.
    Marquart’s book had been replaced by a “No Image” with “Donate” under it.
    “Donate” when I clicked on it, was a dead end as far as I could tell.

    But there was another panel: “we also recommend” which showed:
    Grace upon grace. John Kleinig
    Why I am a Lutheran. Daniel Preus

    Just the facts as I saw them (which I’d saved the first page!)
    No telling what will show up tomorrow…. Matt Harrison? 😉

  7. GK’s book is definitely NOT going on my shelves. He proves his statement of years ago that he’s no theologian….(and how a church body DOESN’T elect a theologican as its president is incomprehensible.)

  8. Will Kieschnick’s book be offered on Amazon where the general public can post evaluations of the book?

    BTW, there is an “interesting” retelling of the Benke matter in Richard Cimino’s book: Lutherans Today: American Lutheran Identity in the Twenty-First Century. Use Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature and search the book for “Kieschnick.” The account is rather different from what I recall as one who participated in the matter.

  9. Even if I knew nothing else about President Kieschnick, the appalling use of an unearned doctorate as a title would compel me to support another candidate.

    Dr. Bethany Kilcrease, earned Ph.D.

  10. It appears as though steadfastlutherans.org is the only website on the entire internet that is discussing this book. Best to do what everyone else is doing – ignore it.

  11. STEVEN BOBB :
    I would more likely see Jesus First buying up cases for give away to convention delegates. That would be a true campaign move. Watch your mail folks.

    I would like to review the book, just as we reviewed Lutheran in Substance, Evangelical in Style while I was at the Seminary. But since I figure someone will decide to send this book to all of us delegates, I am not going to spend the money to get it.

    I already have my copy of At Home in the House of My Fathers. Looking forward to digesting that tome in the near future.

    The PPPadre

  12. Rev. Brondos,

    When I go to the Amazon site to look at the Cimimo book, I get a message saying that the “Look Inside” feature is not available. What does the book say that is different from your recollection?

  13. The events surrounding Benke’s Yankee Stadium heresy are described using the usual liberal smoke and mirrors on pp. 41-44 in the chapter, “The Curious Case of the Missouri Synod,” written by Mary Todd, a well known advocate of female pastors.

  14. The book, Lutherans Today: American Lutheran Identity in the Twenty-First Century. edited by Richard Cimino (he wrote one of the chapters) was published in September, 2003.

  15. …since materials published by other sources might also very well be doctrinally pure; –GK, quoted above

    Isn’t this the same person who couldn’t be sure the CPH Concordia was “doctrinally pure” enough for our innocent eyes… and that after it had passed an lcms Lutheran “doctrinal review”?

    Pray for “Missouri” …

  16. “Strictly speaking, this condition of membership does not limit members and congregations of the Synod to use only materials published by or under the auspices of the Synod, since materials published by other sources might also very well be doctrinally pure; for example, songs or hymns consisting exclusively of direct quotations from Holy Scripture”

    I feel the need to point out that of the several copies of “A Purpose Driven Life” given to me by others, the first one came from a Lutheran staff member in a LCMS church.

    Perhaps that policy isn’t that great.

  17. Can things at synod get any more discouraging? Now I find out our “beloved” president is hiding behind an unearned doctorate? Good grief!!! A member of my family is a member of an LCMS congregation that is all but purpose driven at this point complete with praise bands, worship teams, a really cool pastor (who is very nice by the way) but they are doing a sermon series by a Presbyterian author. Have we run out of gospel to preach and need to move on to how to fix the human condition? Honestly, doesn’t CPH have any material they could use? Is it possible the Missouri Synod will just fade from the planet by eating itself from the inside out? I think so.

  18. Now I find out our “beloved” president is hiding behind an unearned doctorate? Good grief!!!

    Here are the doctoral degrees listed for the members of the LCMS Praesidium (synodical president and vice-presidents):

    SP Gerald Kieschnick: LLD, Concordia University-Austin, 1996
    1SVP William Diekelman: LLD Concordia-River Forest, 2002
    2SVP Paul Maier: PhD, University of Basel, History, 1957; LittD, Concordia Seminary, 1995, LDD; Concordia-AnnArbor, 2000; LittD, Christ College/Concordia-Irvine, 2007
    3SVP John Wohlrabe: ThD, Concordia Seminary, 1987
    4SVP Dean Nadasdy: LittD, Concordia-Seward, 1996 [Note 1]
    5SVP David Buegler: LLD, Concordia-Ann Arbor, 1994; LLD, Concordia-River Forest, 2006

    PhD = Doctor of Philosophy (earned)
    ThD = Doctor of Theology (earned)
    LLD = Doctor of Laws (honorary)
    LittD = Doctor of Letters (honorary)
    Note 1: LCMS lists Dean Nadasdy’s degree as “Doctor of Literature”, but elsewhere lists it as LittD

    Thus four of the six members of the Praesidium have only honorary doctorates. All but Dean Nadasdy, use the title of “Dr.” in their LCMS Church Worker listings.

  19. As an aside, one of my beefs is “Dr” Kieschnick’s use of the honorific “Doctor” on both the book and the LCMS website as if it were indicative of an earned degree. Perhaps unintentional, it’s academically dishonest to use “doctor” as in “Reverend Doctor X” if one has an honorary doctorate.

    According to rules of convention, it should be absolutely clear that the doctorate is not earned through the use of “h.c.” or “hon.” Therefore, he should be listed as Rev Gerald Kieschnick, LLD (Hon) or Rev Gerald Kieschnick, LLD (h.c.), or Rev Dr (Hon) Gerald Kieschnick or some variation. Academia jealously guards the use of the “Dr” and absolutely frown upon those who use an honorary degree as a mechanism for status without qualifying the degree.

  20. PHW

    As long as we are on the subject I have a disdain for the term”Dr” when refering to a PhD. In America Dr ususlly refers to a physcian. Of course when your not a real PhD and pretend that you are it speaks volumes about your wounded ego. Shame on K, again.

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