Is Promoting Bands with Heterodox Music Doctrine or Practice? By Pr. Rossow

The LCMS national youth gathering organizers have scheduled bands to play at the gathering that are heterodox in theology (i.e. they mix false theology with Biblical theology).

President Kieschnick is stating at every chance he gets that the LCMS is unified in doctrine but divided in practice. He further goes on to claim that while the latter is a challenge it is not a crucial problem.

I think that the organizers of the gathering and President Kieschnick would see the selection of bands for the national youth gathering as a matter of practice and not doctrine. That is why we have the ludicrous and illogical situation in our synod which has the promoters of the gathering putting a disclaimer on the gathering website stating that they are not able to entirely endorse the theology and music of the bands they have scheduled for the gathering. Again, I submit that they see using these bands at the LCMS youth gathering as a matter of practice and not doctrine and that is how they justify risking the corrupting of our young people’s minds with false teaching.

To the organizers this is a practical choice. They are not using these bands for the teaching segments of the gathering, just the musical parts. Music is an adiaphoron to them just as the choice of worship “style” is an adiaphoron. This makes one wonder what the council of district presidents thinks about having heterodox music and musicians at the gathering since they have recently taken up the matter of worship in the synod.

I also believe that this is the music the organizers prefer personally and listen to in thier cars and on thier I-pods, which is the real motivation for choosing these heterodox bands. Personal taste and preference in the post flower-child, narcissistic era trumps doctrinal purity.

Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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.


Is Promoting Bands with Heterodox Music Doctrine or Practice? By Pr. Rossow — 58 Comments

  1. @Miles Whitener #47
    Thanks for your input on this matter, and I am certainly guilty of carelessly confusing “orthodox” vs. “orthodoxy.” We all agree here on BJS (I hope) that Holy Scripture is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. We also all agree that our Lutheran Confessions are the proper exposition of Scripture.

    The point I was trying to make, however poorly (as I concede), was that the avenue of loving church discipline and correction has to be provided for. The historic Lutheran Church is the “orthodox” church in belief, and proper belief only comes from our Triune God. “Orthodoxy” in practice is another matter, since we are all sinful, prideful, and prone to error. Errors will creep into the Church from time to time (Satan already has the heterodox church bodies, so he will go after us), and our prayer is that God will correct us. We are not like Rome and Constantinople, saying that anything coming from our leadership is inspired and inerrant without first confirming it with Scripture and our confessions.

    The only analogy I can come up with at this time is Luther’s concept of “just and sinner.” Although God judges us as perfect because we are in Christ, we are still sinful beings. So as the Church may be proper in doctrine, it may be far from it in practice.

    The history of the Lutheran Church is replete with the correction of errors. From unionism, pietism, and rationalism in Europe to the desire to “blend in” with Reformed Christendom here in the States, we are struggling as the “Church Militant.” Any teaching that promotes salvation from anything less than Christ’s perfectly sinless life, cross, and empty tomb is errant (1 John 4:1-3).

    My apologies for being unclear. The ultimate problem is that heterodox practice uncorrected will eventually drag down the doctrine.

  2. Boogie:

    WELS/ELS is able to discipline heterodox churches, because once the channels have been exhausted that I mention in my blog #45, question #4, the synod (SP & DP’s), because they are also ministry have the authority to terminate the call of the congregation of the church that persist’s in not being in compliance with our Lutheran confessions.

    And again, I am formerely an LCMS member as well. But it seems that once an LCMS church refuses to be confessional, it get’s bogged down at the congregational level, because the SP and DP’s (because of the by-laws in the LCMS) are unable to do anything about it.

    Another question you have is about the size of synod’s being smaller might make it easier to control false doctrine. I personally have had a couple of our pastor’s tell me that they don’t want the synod to get much larger because it is harder to control false doctrine. I know, there has been talk of our SP wanting smaller district’s in order to be able to control false doctrine more easily.

    But, it should be noted just becuase synod’s are small, doesn’t mean that they will remain confessional–unless you have the right system in place regarding church and ministry.

    What I would like to see, is for the LCMS conservatives to split off into maybe three or four more confessional synod’s, let’s say in size of each having about 1200 congregations. Then you would have WELS/ELS and these three or four other synods being confessional and thus each synod holding each other accountable in matter’s of doctrine and practice.

    Let’s say you have five or six strong Lutheran synod’s in the U.S., and if one or two go bad, you would still have the other strong confessional synod’s remaining.

    Now, I am getting way ahead of myself here hypothetically, but lets say that you have the three new confessional synod’s made up of former LCMS conservates. If they are now in fellowship with WELS/ELS, and the Concordia Seminary has become so liberal, that instead of training new pastor’s in confessional Lutheran theology, they are destroying them with false teaching, perhaps an agreement could be reached for the new synod’s to do their ministry training at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.

    What about book stores? The conservatives at Concordia book store can create a confessional Lutheran bookstore, and these new synod’s can get their book’s from Northwestern Publishing and the new confessional Concordia bookstore.

    These are probably far fetched idea’s, and great confessional pastor’s in the WELS/ELS and the LCMS might be laughing at this, but maybe some of it might make sense!

  3. Thanks to all for the input and thoughtful answers. This is much “food for thought.”

  4. @Lloyd I. Cadle #53
    What I would like to see, is for the LCMS conservatives to split off into maybe three or four more confessional synod’s, let’s say in size of each having about 1200 congregations.

    It would take three or four: e.g. one with women in Voters’; one without (the ones without would probably not allow altar & pulpit fellowship with the ones “with”) 🙁
    One allied with Jack’s supreme voters’ assembly; one taking the Office of the Holy Ministry seriously as the called representation of Christ to the flock.

    [PoliticsFirst have a point…this is all easier if you don’t care about “doctrine”!]

  5. Our youth are yearning for structure and permanence and we give them pop music and relativism. I am so glad we kept our son from these gatherings and so sad that we had to.


    The LCMS has a duty to sponsor activities,beyond reproach
    The LCMS also has a duty to manage and support its extended budget,and one way to do both is to support chorus , band and music at places like Seward ,St Olaf,Valparaiso,Concordia by having them perform appropriate music at national events.
    As youths,my friends and I couldnt afford to go to summer camp,much less national gatherings We formed our secular interests listening to the radio,and our spiritual interests
    listening and learning in Church.They are still distinct in my mind.
    Now we see congregations trying to blend both,with the result that some drift so far from the Liturgy/Hymnal as to question if they are Lutheran,much less LCMS Lutherans.
    Why is it that we need a blog to catch these many deviations ?
    Could it be that locales drive to music that furthers their economic or cultural interests?
    Could it be that the youth are taught to be entertained instead of going to worship ?
    Could it be District Presidents don’t review Service content ,or are rebuffed if they do?
    Could it be the Synod is powerless to stop the rampant individualism occuring in America?
    Do we need a benevolent dictator to run the LCMS? We could call him/her Pope. Whoops,thats already copy righted or prior art.
    How about just using the hymnal and patrotic music at a national religoius event ?
    If you want and can afford entertainment,hire Vince Gill
    Better yet ,simply ask the kids you are trying to reach what they want to hear
    They are only a twitter away,their answers(if left unbaised by their parents) would tell us a lot of what The Synod needs to do to capture future growth while staying true to LCMS beliefs!It would be far less money and much better spent than the Bue Ribbon Task Force

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