The One Positive Difference Between the Health Care Summit and the Blue Ribbon Process, and Some Troubling Similarities, by Pr. Rossow

(Given the historic vote in the U. S. House of Representatives this evening it is fitting to rerun this post from February. Polls show that a majority of Americans oppose the health care motion that was just passed in the House. The only poll that gave both sides of the Blue Ribbon proposals – see the Four Interested Laymen Survey cited below – shows that a majority of those who took it are opposed to the Blue Ribbon proposals. Supporters of the Blue Ribbon task force like to brag that thousands of LCMSers had input into the proposals. They did not have input. They were part of a process that was highly controlled and manipulated by President Kieschnick’s Blue Ribbon Task Force. We encourage the LCMS to reject the Blue Ribbon proposals, that like health care reform, will transfer ridiculous amounts of power to the bureaucracy.)

As the synod undergoes President Kieschnick’s attempted blue ribbon overhaul, it has been interesting to compare the process to President Obama’s unending, aborted attempts to overhaul the American health care system. There are several similarities that ought to alarm the members of LCMS churches and delegates to the convention but there is at least one major, positive difference. The LCMS task force has actually made some changes after getting feedback.

We do not know the exact form these changes will take but as they make the regional presentations the Task Force is hinting that certain proposals just are not going to fly and so they will be taken off the table. In a certain skewed way, they have been listening and are planning on adapting their proposals to what they are hearing.

It is a good thing that they are listening but we call it a “skewed listening” because the way in which they are listening and the rationale for making changes leaves much to be desired.  There will be changes because they are getting feedback that they will not fly at the convention. This is not the way we do things in the LCMS. We do not make decisions based on what works or what passes popular opinion. That is called pragmatism. It is a very American thing. Divorce “works” in many cases. Open communion brings the sacrament to more people. That works, on a certain level. Preaching “practical life” sermons keeps parishioners happier than preaching Christ crucified (I Corinthians 1:23). But LCMS Lutherans do not do these things that work. Instead, we do things based on principles of truth revealed in Scripture. We do not do things because they work. We do things because they are right. The Task Force has set up a process by which they control the “listening” and are making changes based upon what is working or not working.

The one proposal you can bet will not be changed substantially is #18 which gets to the heart of the structure changes.(See page 48 of the linked document.) It is the proposal that most clearly violates a scriptural approach to making sure that authority in the synod is based on scripture and not on personal power. It is President Kieschnick’s bold step to have all of the “ministry work” of the synod run through his office and to get all staff members reporting to him. This makes our synod president a CEO and not a shepherd. This makes the church a business and not a family. One of the reasons the LCMS has flourished for 150 years is because its polity has always been slow, encumbered, and bogged down in processes that allow even the humblest of members of an LCMS parish to use God’s word against the synod when necessary. That is all gone with one fell swoop of proposal #18 which gives the president supreme power rather than the boards elected by the delegates.

This is one of the troubling similarities between the Obama plan and the Kieschnick plan. They both put authority over sacred trusts into the hands of an over-arching bureaucracy

Other troubling similarities include the Alinsky-like way[1]in which both Obama and the Blue Ribbon Task Force reply to disagreement. It has been clearly  proven on this website and elsewhere that the Blue Ribbon proposals rob congregations of their authority. The intellectually blind and those who do not want to know the truth simply ignore this fact and follow the piper’s song of the Task Force. They have stated early (already in the study document that preceded the proposals) and often (dozens of times in the final report) that the proposals are based on the congregation principle. This is just not true. Alinsky teaches his community organizing protege’s to address disagreement with non-stop repetition of your assertion. He tells them that if you just keep repeating something people will begin to believe it. This is what the Task Force has done with the congregational principle. We implore you, especially delegates, to read the final report and judge for yourself if the proposals strengthen congregations or if they take authority away from congregations and give it to the hierarchy.

Another haunting similarity between Kieschnick and Obama is the way in which the deck is stacked. Obama and his party have a majority in each legislative body. The deck is stacked and he knows it. However, popular opinion is against him and that is making a difference. We need public opinion to continue to grow against President Kieschnick’s blue ribbon proposals. He stacked the deck. When you review the list of participants on the Task Force it is easy to see that they are, almost to a person, those who are in President Kieschnick’s “progressive party of church growth.” There are some neutral characters on the Task Force but they are there because of their administrative offices (for example the LCMS treasurer and secretary) and have proven that they are not going to rock any boats outside of their office.

This stacked deck should be an alarm bell for all LCMS members. Like Obama, President Kieschnick has made it appear as though this is a bi-partisan shift. The Task Force members appeared at District Conventions and did their due diligence in listening but they never made a single substantive change to the proposals based on anything said by the members of the other LCMS party – “the conservative party of the traditional, 2,000 year old church.” There were countless objections raised by confessional Lutherans on the various Task Force “listening tours.” The Four Interested Laymen put up a very insightful website and survey that was sent to the Task Force and yet not a single suggestion by these individuals has been incorporated into the proposals. For sure, now that the Task force has completed its second round of “listening” in the Regional Gatherings, there are proposals that will be dropped, but not due to principle but because they just won’t fly.

Like opponents to the health care proposals, opponents to the Blue Ribbon proposals have desired a fair and balanced debate on the issues but all they got was a tightly controlled “listening” tour that in the end was geared to the success of the proposals and not oriented around principle based change.

What is the next step for Obama and his crew? It looks like it will be the questionable ploy of reconciliation. What is the next step for President Kieschnick? The similarities continue. His form of reconciliation is to appoint more of his party members to the floor committee that will fine-tune and massage the Blue Ribbon proposals. Again, there is no bi-partisanship.

We are glad to get the impression that the Blue Ribbon Task Force will be dropping some proposals but we are disappointed that overall their process has been more similar than dissimilar to the endless managed and controlled attempts by the Obama administration to overhaul the sacred trust of our health care. We are similarly disappointed in the way the overhaul of the sacred trust of LCMS governance is being done. Can we benefit from some changes in the LCMS system of governance? Certainly. The way in which it is being managed by President Kieshcnick’s Task Force is however, very disappointing.

[1]Saul Alinsky is the community organizer who wrote “Rules for Radicals” which is the Bible for bringing about radical change. He is the avowed mentor of folks like Hilary Clinton, Bill Ayers, and Barack Obama.

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.


The One Positive Difference Between the Health Care Summit and the Blue Ribbon Process, and Some Troubling Similarities, by Pr. Rossow — 11 Comments

  1. Other similarities:

    (1) The European-wannabes, rather then going to Europe to live out their socialist utopian dreams, stay here and tear this country down. On the other hand, the Baptomethocostal-wannabes, instead of going to the ELCA church down the road that would welcome them, try to change the LCMS.

    (2) If you oppose either agenda, you are an extremist and “don’t care about the downtrodden/unsaved.” (Tea Party guy=old, cranky Lutheran)

    (3) This is speculation, but if health care is signed into law, it will never be repealed. Same deal with BRTF.

    (4) Although the “public option” is not on this legislation, we will incrementally get there in a few years (esp. after the private health ins. companies are forced out of business). If one or two items of BRTF get through, the whole package will likely be implemented in the next conventions (esp. if our leadership does not change in July).

    (5) If a system is not perfect, let’s totally destroy the present system rather than rationally discussing improving the faults of the current system while keeping its good points.

    (6) We gotta do it NOW.

    One difference, though. We can leave and form a confessional Lutheran Church body whose practice and doctrine coincide with the historic Lutheran Church. As far as our earthly home, where are we going to go?

    May Word and Sacrament sustain us…

  2. deja vu: I’ve head this before…in the ELCA:

    a. “…the deck is stacked.” Every synodical assembly was staged so that the results would be blessing of same sex ‘unions’. ELCA assembly delegates are told that they do NOT represent their congregation but themselves, thus insuring the ecclesiacrats can “get their minds right”.

    b. “… if you just keep repeating something people will begin to believe it.” It took the ELCA THREE sexuality studies to get the revisionist agenda across (plus scores of articles in ‘The Lutheran”) but they did it (just like they did in the denial of Augsbug 7 in the ‘apostolic succession’ agreement with the Episcopal church). Cf: “How to Boil a Frog”

    c. the hierarchy of the ELCA, or Higgins Road, has been staffed and stacked with the revisionist partisans probably from beginning and even before the merger in ’88.

    d. Was the majority of the rank and file of the ELCA for the further denial of Scripture? No, probably not…just like the Nation is not for health care takeover.

    The only comment I would add is this: another Alinsky tactic is to disorganize in order to organize. “We don’t want to waste a good crisis.”–Rahm Emmanuel. And if there is no crisis, we’ll invent one or exarcebate one in order to raise fears, such as, “our church will die if we don’t do something NOW”. This is a significant way to get the laity on board: survival.

    And for myself and my family we are leaving the ELCA for the LCMS. I’m not one prone to see the “cup half full” but the LCMS still does have a confessional backbone, as I have seen and read at, e.g. CTS/Ft. Wayne,and have heard in the sermons of younger pastors and the only Lutheran theology currently worth reading is from the LCMS.

    It seems that the zeitgeist has been working overtime, prowling around, seeking someone to devour (and the false spirit is terribly ecumenical): resist him, firm in your faith.

  3. From post #1: “…(5) If a system is not perfect, let’s totally destroy the present system rather than rationally discussing improving the faults of the current system while keeping its good points…”

    Is this indeed not exactly the same thing that happened during the 16th Century when the “radical reformers” decided that anything and everything that had been done by the Church over the preceding centuries had to be wrong because of the corruption in Rome? So, rather than repair the damage – do away with the bad policies and keep, reinforce, and reinstate the beneficial ones as did Luther and his followers – they did away with all of it and started from scratch with their own vision of how the Church should operate. And did they not, in the process, initiate a system of works-based synergism that ironically paralleled much of what Rome taught in the first place? And did they not also implement yet another system of controls and policies of their own, not clearly supported in scripture (though they argue otherwise), such as credobaptism as the only valid form and the refusal to see it as sacramental blessing, but a mere ordinance to be obeyed? And, as appended by many of their successors, even that act as valid only if performed by immersion?

  4. With the passage of the Health Care Bill I become a slave of the state as only the state can and will determine what health care I can receive and how much of it.

    As well as the Euthanasia that will be enacted as a cost cutting measure or a Philosophical mind set based on the ‘ quality’ of life.

    So also Kieschnick’s BRTFCG will not only make Congregations slaves of a chosen few, but as Congregations are made up of individuals, among which are the true church, the little lambs who follow their shepherd, the true church comes under the yoke of spiritual tyrants, who rule with an iron fist, under the template of Christ’s love and servant hood.

    Paul warns the church not to become slaves to men under a false gospel, apparently the Constitution was not good enough to ensure ‘freedom’ that made this country the most powerful, with Gods forbearance, the world has ever known. But a Marxist/Communist form of Government will ensure true freedom.

    Well come to the Country and Church that was not your grandfathers.

  5. One encouraging thing I remember from the LCA Conference in Fort Wayne is that one speaker said, “God’s True Church will endure.” In the midst of discussing all of the problems of the LCMS, this was so comforting. Same deal for our country. God’s will shall be accomplished, even if we don’t understand it or like it at the time.

    I just dread the day when I have to tell one of my parents, “Mom/Dad, sorry, but some government bureaucrat has determined that you are not worth the investment for such-and-such procedure, because you are no longer a ‘productive’ member of society; and they statistically won’t get their investment back.”

    God help us…

  6. “Paul warns the church not to become slaves to men under a false gospel, apparently the Constitution was not good enough to ensure ‘freedom’ that made this country the most powerful, with Gods forbearance, the world has ever known. ”

    My, what a tremendous confusion of the two kingdoms!

    As to how we deal with what goes on in the kingdom of the left. Paul McCain’s blog has an interesting article and comment:

    “It’s not that I think Christians should be disengaged from issues of justice (God forbid!). It’s just that I wonder if we wouldn’t represent Christ and his kingdom better if we did it with a certain tranquility of Spirit, a tranquility that signals we’re not afraid of the rise and fall of temporal kingdoms and their policies.”

    Let us not forget that God rules over both kingdoms. “And trust in God’s guidance to use all things – even this healthcare reform – for the good of those who love him.”

  7. @Don Kirchner #6 Thank you for making the point. This country, as great as it is, is not the New Israel-no matter what the Evangelicals or the Mormons say. We need to concern ourselves about the kingdom of God and let those who have been given the vocation of governance be allowed to govern. As long as the preaching of God’s Word and right administration of the Sacraments are not forbidden, we should rather be concerned, especially here, with the fight FOR the Gospel and the Confessions against those who really would restrict the same via the infiltration of the congregations with CW and Church Growth theology.

  8. “Paul warns the church not to become slaves to men under a false gospel, apparently the Constitution was not good enough to ensure ‘freedom’ that made this country the most powerful, with Gods forbearance, the world has ever known. ”

    My, what a tremendous confusion of the two kingdoms!

    Ignorance as to what one says is ignorance as to what you say.

    Compare and contrasting in the same breath and sentence and post, is a trusted literary device.

    And mischaracterizing an obvious thing is beneath intelligent discourse and charity.

    Pick a nettle with someone else will you.

  9. By the way, if suffering under the cross, is nothing to be afraid of, please tell that to those who have suffered under the same political ideology in Eastern Europe and China, that has spawned Obamacare and the realities that are going to ensue in the future.

    Anyone ever read Solzhenitsyn’s ‘Gulag Archipelago ‘, or knows Mao’s Cultural Revolution as to the millions that died and were used for fertilizer.

    it is easy to say we have nothing to fear, it is alot harder to actually apply the Gospel in the face of real martyrdom.

    Now, granted, it could take awhile for these persecutions to reveal themselves in a Communist/ Socialist State as we are becoming but lesser persecutions, such as Euthanasia, Health Service Restrictions, and taxes that could undermine everyday living and retirement funds?, as well as freedoms that are not as yet very appreciated by many, as they go about everyday living.

    Jesus warns the Church not to be taken up whole heartedly with this world and become surfeited with it as the world marries and is given in marriage, builds and plants and that day come upon them unexpectedly, as happened to Noah’s generation and Sodom and Gommorrah.

    Real suffering and persecution has yet been felt on this Continent but make no mistake, if our society keeps on it’s present course, it will come.

  10. I’ve just read LCMS eNews sent to me today. Alarming. It seems as if the battle is over:

    “Convention delegates who attended the regional gatherings hosted last winter by the Office of the President generally gave a “thumbs up” to all but one of the 70 recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance.”
    I hope there is some encouragement from The Brothers of John the Steadfast to us lay people who have months before the convention…and yet it appears its already decided …very sad indeed.

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