Angry Mob of Bitter Clingers? Not Really, by Pr. Rossow

On the national political scene the attempt as been made to denigrate conservatives as an “angry mob of bitter clingers.” Based on the early season primaries it is not working. There is a parallel going on in the LCMS.

Consider this quote from the Jesus First Delegate Newsletter #2 (pp. 2-3).

I would be remiss if I painted only a rosy picture, stating that all people are happy. There is a small group of people who do not like ANY of the changes. They are actively writing and stating that all of the proposals should be voted down. Those who write against ALL proposals call them “President Kieschnick’s proposals.” Some have even written about a conspiracy to force all of these proposals on the LCMS.

The article does not directly label conservatives as a small group of unhappy, bitter-clingers who sit around and concoct conspiracy theories about the LCMS but it might as well have. Using words like “small group” of “unhappy people” and “conspiracy” is a smear tactic. These are loaded words. No one on this site is calling for the defeat of all the proposals. As a matter of fact, on this site, the likes of Martin Noland have praised some proposals and criticized a select few. No one that I know of says there has been a conspiracy. Instead, critics, including those printed here on BJS have pointed out that the process of input was controlled and not open like it could have been.

Again,  no one on this site has called for the defeat of all the proposals but entire districts have submitted overtures to the convention to slow the train down and reconsider the approach the Task Force has taken. Rather than a small group of “bitter clingers” the critics of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure and Governance includes entire districts, and as we reported earlier this week, the entire group of Children’s Ministry Consultants in the LCMS, all twenty nine of them from twenty nine different districts from every corner of the synod. Entire districts such as the Rocky Mountain District, the North Wisconsin District, the Southern Illinois District, the Montana District and the Wyoming District have submitted resolutions to the synod convention asking that the proposals be frozen for three more years of study and in some cases asked that they be rejected entirely.

This is hardly a group of “bitter clingers” that is small, unhappy and hatchers of conspiracy theories. Instead it is a wide ranging group from various corners of the synod who have rightly discerned that the many of the proposals are ill conceived and not good for the synod and that this whole process needs to be slowed down so that more appropriate and balanced input can be included in the process.

On the national political scene impressive grass roots opposition to “hope and change” has arisen from every corner of the country and it is making impressive gains against efforts to grow government control. On the smaller scale the same thing is happening in the LCMS. Opposition to greater synodical control is arising from every corner of the synod and is having an impressive effect curtailing efforts to grow synodical control of the church.

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.


Angry Mob of Bitter Clingers? Not Really, by Pr. Rossow — 79 Comments

  1. “just look at the Task Force members”

    Could someone check how many of the BRTFSSG members are signatories of Jesus First?

    During the KFUO matter is was revealed that of the seven voting members of the communications board (mostly appointed by the board of directors) and their non-voting presidential representative FOUR are signatories of Jesus First. Do the math: 2.5 million members of synod, but — just by coincidence? — four members of this synodical board are from the few hundred signatories of Jesus First.

    So we have to wonder what percentage of the BRTFSSG were signatories of Jesus First? And how does that compare to the percentage of Jesus First signatories in the synod as a whole. If it is NOT comparable, then one has to ask whether this outside organization is in fact a “shadow synod”, and in this case a “shadow BRTFSSG”. So, depending on the percentage of Jesus First signatories on the BRTFSSG, perhaps THAT is the answer to your pronoun question, and what Rev. Charles Mueller — former president of Jesus First I believe — means when he says “OUR” recommendations, i.e. Jesus First, the “shadow BRTFSSG”.

  2. @Chuck Mueller, Jr. #48

    Pastor Mueller,

    Would you like to shoot our Blue Ribbon proposals now or wait until you get to the convention? :^)

    C’mon, Pastor M. If the BRTF proposals are so overwhelmingly supported, why do you, the weekly newsletters, and the report itself need to go on and on at length–and in bold italics–about the % of support? If “we” have that much support for “our” proposals, and President Kieschnick controls the floor committees, why even bring it up at all?

    BTW, please keep posting here at BJS.

  3. @Chuck Mueller, Jr. #50

    Chuck Mueller, Jr. :
    I actually agree with you regarding the centralization of power — which is why I’m in favor of many of the recommendations of the Task Force. If implemented, the “power” will be more on the local level in congregations, circuits and districts.

    Pr. Mueller I’m sure you’re leaning heavily on this quote from the Final Report:

    Although accountability structures are put in place to ensure that national staff workers follow through on grassroots initiatives, this proposed structure, while focusing the program leadership of the national office under the Office of the President (centralization of coordination), in truth calls for the direction of the Synod’s mission and ministry to be driven by the congregations, circuits, and districts of the church, resulting in a decentralization of operating function (decentralization of power). And, of course, should congregations become dissatisfied with the performance of the officers of the Synod with respect to follow-through on the mission and ministry emphases they have established, they would have the right and responsibility to elect new leadership at the next convention of the Synod.

    It’s talk like this that I’m quite wary of because of the continued actions of President K. The “confidential” report found very little support for major restructuring and yet the BRTFSSG pushed on. He is reported to have asked the floor committees to ignore the overtures against moving forward with the restructuring. It is his lack of regard for the grassroots, districts, circuits, and congregations that give me little faith in the notion of accountability to the afore mentioned.

    True a bad administration can be thrown out, but the centralization of power amplifies the damage that can be done. The U.S. was setup with checks and balances for a reason. When sinful people (us) are involved we might do well to favor checks and balances over efficiency.

  4. @Chuck Mueller, Jr. #14
    Dear Rev. Mueller, Jr.,

    I am the editor of The Lutheran Clarion and it is my article in The Clarion which seeks to defeat each and every proposal of the BRTFSSG. To say that these are “our” proposals is slight of hand. The process to formulate the BRTFSSG proposals was as “transparent” as the health care bill process in Washington was transparent. It is not “bipartisan” or “transparent” to merely listen to others point of view, but incorporate virtually none of it. Something that is “ours” would have various viewpoints of our incorporated into it. As it is in Washington these days, the Kieschnick administration is governing against the will of the people and the people will vote him and his BRTFSSG out!

    Perhaps you didn’t notice the synod’s report on nominations for the top offices in the Synod. If not, permit me to refresh your memory:

    Harrison: 1,332
    Kieschnick: 755

    Mueller: 809
    Diekelman: 244

    Frankly, Chuck, this is not a “small group” and but we are angry. We are angry and fed up with the Kieschnick administration seeing the electoral processes and conventions of the Synod as things to be manipulated in order to advance a predetermined agenda of President Kieschnick to suit his “vision” of what The LCMS should be. His cult of “leadership” is coming to an end, if God is gracious, and we can once again be the Synod of our Grandfathers.

  5. In the period of a scant two days, roughly 1200 delegates are going to vote on a series of resolutions that could potentially forever change the way Synod operates. Of these 1200 delegates a substantially large percentage of them will be first-time delegates. In the meantime, the BRTFSSG has been meeting, and deciding, and sending out trial balloons, and interim reports, and a final but extremely vague report. The “gatherings” have been little more than sales pitches, with token input from the attendees.

    The proposed changes are sweeping, yet with only a few weeks to go, the actual verbiage of the resolutions is unknown. A hugely significant number of overtures have been offered in opposition to the BRTF’s work, several of which plead for a reasonable period of time for the entire synod to consider the actual resolutions. This in order that these changes be deliberately studied, discussed, questioned, and finally voted upon in a “decent and orderly” manner. Mollie has reported that these overtures may not see the light of day.

    Whether Mollie’s report is accurate or not, what’s wrong with this picture?

    Johannes (no relative of “Clinger”)

  6. Well, Clinger did live there for awhile. And I have visited his beloved Tony Packo’s (spent a week in Toledo one night). But I thought he dressed, well, rather oddly. And besides, no self-respecting Lebanese would call himself Johannes. So, as I said, we ain’t related, and “bitter clinger” hardly describes a card-carrying curmudgeon, does it?

    Johannes (currently parenthetically challenged)

  7. Other, elder (no offense!) Pastor Mueller: What you say about the streamlining and the difficulties and frustrations, etc., etc., etc. of the Purple Palace, I don’t disagree with. I don’t disagree with the idea, in principle, that we need to do some cleaning up of structure and how we do things. I don’t think there would be hardly ANY in synod who would disagree with that, actually.

    The problem isn’t accepting the NEED for structural changes, the problem is getting the cart before the horse, AND the particular structural changes that have been proposed. We can “streamline” all we want, we can increase the “efficiency” of our “mission” all we want, and if we haven’t done the first job–gotten back onto a unified, Scriptural, doctrinal (and that includes practice) course, it’s entirely meaningless. I can’t imagine you’d disagree with that, would you?

    Secondly, its far from clear to me that the proposals really do put “power” or “impetus” back in the local congregation. At our regional caucus of delegates in Detroit last Dec., in the “break-out” discussion done district by district, VP Buegler was the synod rep in our room (IN district), and our DP, Dan May, MCeed/moderated. There was a lot of discussion about how these proposals are supposed to be “congregationally-centered”, and on the other hand, how they seem to actually do the opposite. Pres. May at one point asked for a straw poll–raise your hand if you view the proposals more as “bottom-up” (that is, grassroots, congregationally-centered, as the TF says they are); raise your hand if they seem more top-down (that is, centralizing power for setting the direction of the synod, taking away the voice and authority of the local congregation. The response was OVERWHELMING–we had close to 30 delegates present, and 2 or 3 raised their hand for bottom-up; 2 or 3 for “just can’t tell, yet”, and the rest for top-down. Indiana has a reputation for being a “conservative” district, but I saw some people I know with whom I don’t necessarily agree on things like Church Growth and worship issues who had their hands up for “top-down”.

    To help me figure out how to vote on these proposals, I put this into the context of my own two congregations. If the proposals pass, will my people be and feel MORE connected to and involved in the life of the Luth. Ch–MO Synod, or LESS, and simply go their own way ignoring synod? And unescapably, my answer is, LESS. That, to me, is a sad acceleration of the atomizing and disconnecting of our own church body, a trend which is not at all unique to us.

  8. I really get discouraged when I read Pr C Mueller’s posts – they remind me SO much of a modern politician, dancing all around and never answering the questions that are presented, but taking the discussion in the direction that he wants to take it. Giving words new meanings and then “apologizing” when called on it. More and more reminding me of a seminary educated Eddie Haskell. It’s exactly as it happens in the hallways and offices in DC. I’m afraid of being subjected to broadsides like this in Houston in a couple months.

    Then I read posts from Johannes, Pr DR Mueller, Pr Bolland, Jim Pierce, Scott Diekmann, Pr Henrickson, the Pastors Preus, Pr Noland, MZ Hemingway, Pr Wilken, Pr Sterle, Pr Messer, PPPadre and others, and my hope is renewed that maybe there is a chance of turning this ship around. (A not so subtle “It’s Time” reference – read/listen to it if you haven’t yet. It may be our last best hope).

  9. @jim_claybourn #62

    I agree, Jim. Being that C. Mueller is the administrative contact for JF, at least for the domain name, he is trying to defend his organization. It is interesting to compare and contrast the two different sites, JF and Its Time. I think it would be a worthwhile undertaking for a separate thread.


  10. To say that the recommendations for restructuring our polity are not about consolodating power is absurd on the face of it. You cannot turn an elected office into an appointment and then maintain that the person making the appointment has not been given greater authority. Yet that is what we’re being asked to believe. We’re being sold the bill of goods that giving more decison making power over budgets and offices to fewer people the Synod does not equal increased political power and authority. Streamlining decision making usually means putting more authority in fewer hands.

    Let me put it this way; most of us have a lot of remote controls in our houses. I have dozens, Tvs in the living room, basement and guest room, DVD players and DVRS, even one for our fireplace. If I took all of those remotes and put their fuctions on one remote and then threw the rest away, that would be simplifying the process, no more searching for the right remote. But… if there’s only one remote control- and it controls everthing, whoever has it has control. Everyone else in the house has to come to me if they want the volume up, or the channel changed. Having dozens of remotes all over the house is confusing, but having one means whoever has it calls the shots.

    If restructuring were not about power politics we would be having the elections first on the agenda as usual and not after we vote on restructuring.

  11. I’m really not good at math, but I can count to 100! This is what I found from the link provided by Rev. Mueller in comment 19:

    38/70 over 66% for “agree” or “strongly agree” (not including the “not sure” category).

    0/70 over 66%, even when combining “not sure” with the “disagree” and “strongly disagree”.

    I think I’m right on these numbers but will accept correction if/when proven wrong. Please respond to the 0/70 observation if you are interested, but I ask that you do this in light of my questions below:

    In reference to “Joe” in comment 18:

    Did these numbers really come about as a result of those participating in the survey being barred from responding anonymously? Can anyone back this up or clarify? As it stands, the argument doesn’t quite make sense to me.

    Were they all truly afraid of being listed as “the opposition” that they put their heads down out of fear for voicing differing views, even though they may have been in the majority? Do so many in our synod anonymously believe these proposals are awful? Did a great majority at the regional gatherings really not like the proposals or want anything to do with them, but went along with them only because their names were being recorded?

    Why didn’t everyone who was strongly against the proposals join together, assume a majority, and vote “strongly disagree” in unison on the proposals that they didn’t agree with? This could/should have happened naturally or by accident! There would be no need to organize, because in reading the proposals as individuals, people could see how flawed/dangerous they are and not fear being alone in this feeling, right?

    Many readers here are denying any claim that the recommendations are not about consolidating power, so clearly this is a strong belief held by some/many in our Synod. Of course not everyone agrees with the proposals, but “Joe,” your explanation is lacking, at least for me. I’m not convinced, and I’d like to understand that viewpoint more.

    However, I do appreciate Kiley’s view and explanation (comment 24) of why he personally voted all of the proposals down. Clearly put and easily understood. Thanks Kiley!

    With respect to those who objected to participating in the regional gatherings due to the money spent (as referenced by Pastor Rossow in comment 35), does anyone here know of a cheaper way to gather people together? If so, pass that information along! If not, let’s just deal with it, as hard as it may be. I’m all for saving money—believe me(!)—but as much as I hate it, working together sometimes brings added cost. This is especially true when there is so much disagreement floating around, as is often implied here!

    And by the way jim_claybourn (comment 62), some of what Rev. Mueller has said has been ignored here as well. Chief example: the assumption put forth by Bill Kope in comment 8 and its response in comment 31. I haven’t seen anyone respond to those points yet, specifically about larger congregations consistently supporting the Synod financially, regardless of which “political” side is in “power”. Ignoring these comments comes with the territory of this and likely any blog. It seems to me that almost everybody does it. I surmise that it’s because we are all subject to the reality of time, interest, and political dispositions dictating to what and how we respond. Please don’t try to make it look like only one person is doing it here. I appreciate Rev. Harrison’s “It’s Time” work and I am very interested in his proposed Koinonia Project. I think that in practice, it will look almost nothing like what goes on, for example, here at the BJS blog.

  12. From the same Reporter article:
    Its second resolution comes in response to numerous overtures that request the overruling of certain opinions by the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM). The CCM opinions deal with the ecclesiastical supervision and expulsion of a member, who, when performing his or her official duties, follows the advice and counsel of the designated supervisor.

    Noting that it honors “the genuine concern expressed by individuals, congregations, circuits, and districts of the Synod regarding CCM opinions in question and desire(s) to resolve this manner in a responsible and God-pleasing fashion,” the floor committee’s resolution affirms the Synod’s responsibility to:

    provide each of its members with appropriate ecclesiastical supervision and counsel;

    supervise and hold accountable ecclesiastical supervisors that it puts in place for the protection of its members and the Synod itself; and

    affirm that CCM Opinion 02-2309 and related opinions should not be misunderstood “to grant immunity to any member of the Synod, or to allow such member to act with impunity, or to give permission to act contrary to the Holy Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions, the Constitution or Bylaws of our beloved Synod.”

  13. Rev. Gilbert (#65). I (and others) explained why the positive response on both the district convention surveys and the regional caucus surveys. It’s because we were not surveyed on teh actual wording of the proposals themselves but on statements that were somehow supposed to get our true feelings on the *issues* the proposals are supposed to address. *Many* of the statements on the surveys were written in such a way that even if a particular “surveyee” was opposed to a particular proposal of the task force, they might well mark “agree” or even “strongly agree” for the particular *survey* statement that was supposed to be connected with that proposal point. Once again, the survey statements were clearly designed to elicit positive responses. If you’ve ever studied how surveys are made, you’ll realize this. These were *not* “blind” “scientifically-designed” surveys.

    As far as “what goes on, for example, here at the BJS blog,” goes–actually, in one *key* way I suspect it will be very much like this. *You* have posted criticism of this blog, *on* this blog. Good! Rev. C. Mueller has posted “counterpoints” here, also. Good! Is all the dialogue here totally without sinful assumptions, conclusion-jumping, etc. on the part of every post-er? Of course not. I get a little frustrated with what I perceive as the “tone” from some post-ers, from time to time. But all in all, I think the level of dialogue here has been pretty respectful, good give and take.

  14. @Rev. David Mueller #68

    Rev. David Mueller,

    Thank you for assuring me that what “Joe” supposed in comment 18 does not appear to be the general consensus. I really didn’t think most readers thought this way, but because everyone else seemed to let his words stand, I sought clarification. Your explanations in comments 46 and 68 are very helpful. Because you did not address the “anonymous theory” in 46, I thought maybe you agreed with it. Perhaps you still do, but you don’t seem to use it as the major argument for why the proposals passed in the ways they did. I haven’t studied how surveys are made, but I think I understand your point. Thanks for the help.

    My words regarding the practices here at the BJS blog when compared to how I think Rev. Harrison wants to put on the Koinonia discussions has nothing to do with sinful assumptions, conclusion-jumping, etc. Rather, it is in reference to, as I thought was clear, the practices of this website.

    Many have described this blog as something to “raise awareness” or “begin discussions” but I don’t think it is seen by many as the healing agent our “sick” Synod needs. I have asked Pastor Rossow about this once or twice, but I never received an answer. Perhaps he will provide one now. While much can be and has been taught here, I find that a number of its practices are hindering it from being more than a sound board or mouthpiece. That’s just fine, but it doesn’t really solve the problems in most cases. Discussion here is helpful, but in a limited sense. Oftentimes, an article will be written against a person or an organization in the LCMS, and it is clear that external contact has not been made, which encourages readers to stay here and discuss/complain about the matter, without going out and trying to resolve the issue, but rather criticize it from afar.

    The Koinonia Project seems like a proposal for open discussions on serious matters. Something everyone can walk into with their eyes open. This website, while it does discuss serious matters, oftentimes does it in ways that likely resolve nothing. The welcoming of anonymous comments speaks volumes. The fact that many writers admit to not contacting their subjects before (or even after) the articles are published speaks volumes. The fact at least one recent article criticizing some LCMS pastors was abruptly taken down without apology or retraction speaks volumes. The fact that some articles are written with false assumptions or later-proven mistakes, and corrections are not made speaks volumes. The use of satire/mockery here against, for example, President Kieschnick, often points to no true desire to bring about true repentance. At the same time, it’s great that opposing views can be aired here, but in my mind, some other practices limit the discussion terribly.

    Yes, our Synod is host to some major disagreements. No, this website doesn’t seem to be the solution. And, please know, that I don’t think this website claims to be the solution. I accept correction on this if I am wrong.

    For the reasons listed above, I predict that many here (myself included) are looking to the Koinonia Project with anticipation, and wondering what can be done! Sure, the dialogue here is often respectful, but I think diaologue in something like what Rev. Harrison proposes in the Koinonia Project will be stronger, and hopefully lack some of these troublesome practices.

  15. I don’t think it is seen by many as the healing agent our “sick” Synod needs.

    I think BJS is seen by many as a vaccine to help raise the immunization of pastoral and congregation members against the disease and sickness of effete liberalism and to help combat the heterodoxy within our Synod.

  16. @Carl Vehse #70


    That is a wonderful description and explanation, and one I can agree with. However, I do think that the practices listed above should be considered, and possibly done away with.

    Do you agree with me that this website could better serve as an “immunization” were this to take place?

    If not, do you defend the practices above (aside from likely agreeing with the welcoming of anonymous/pseudonymous commenters)?

  17. I like the practices on the BJS website the way they are now, including the opportunity for some to whine about the practices on the BJS website the way they are now.

  18. Dear Rev Gilbert,
    I’ve never done it, but they tell me blogs are very easy to create.

    Since you’re an expert in the way they should be run, as we have now read repeatedly, why don’t you set one up?
    You could use your own suggestions and maybe provide PoliticsFirst their own public forum.
    Would they allow guests of opposing views, do you think, given what happened to convention resolutions? 🙁

    You might ask them. 🙂

  19. @Rev. Jack Gilbert #69

    Rev. Gilbert,

    I can guess the reason why Pr. Rossow isn’t responding to you is not that he is ignoring you, but he is terribly busy and may feel that many of the regulars here at BJS have done a good job responding to your points.

    As for the nonsense you keep raising about contacting people before an article is published about them, it has been explained to you several times that when someone (or an organization) publicly makes statements, then there is no need to contact them before publicly criticizing their remarks or practices. For example, when your congregation, Carmel Lutheran Church in Carmel Indiana, publicly advertised on their website Beth Moore studies as a resource and a Beth Moore simulcast event, there was no need to contact the senior pastor about running an article on BJS raising awareness that some Lutheran congregations are involved in flagrant unionism through their overt support of heterodox teachers. Since the time attention was drawn to Carmel Lutheran, they have taken down the references to Beth Moore. I hope they have also removed her “studies” from the church library and have publicly repudiated their wrong practice. But, apparently the attention given to the issue by BJS has affected some change.

    Please, let’s stop with this nonsense that a person or organization who is displaying their errors to the public must be contacted privately before warning others publicly regarding their errors.

  20. @Jim Pierce #74


    Usually when a Bible study has completed, churches don’t continue to advertise them for the members. Surely you’re familiar with this practice. Now, with these words I’m not saying that no change has been affected by BJS. I know that I have learned a great many things since I began reading here.

    And to clarify: I’m not saying anyone HAS to do any of this. I am saying it MAY raise this blog’s external credibility, and open the discussion to more two-sided debate, among other things.

    I’ve never said any contact MUST be made in this context. I have in fact said the opposite! I ask that you read my words and stop misrepresenting me. I have said that such contact MIGHT actually bring about helpful discussion and change. Yes, there is no NEED to do it. Yes, if there is genuine concern for the spiritual well-being of a fellow brother or sister in Christ, such contact will be made.

    Because you didn’t respond to it, I suppose you defend the recent decision to abruptly take down an article that recieved multiple e-mail complaints without any apology to the pastors who were misrepresented and without a retraction for the readers to understand what took place. Also, I suppose you defend that some articles are so poorly researched that false assumptions and errors are included in them, and when offered corrections, nothing is done. I do not defend these practices, and instead strongly disagree with them. I find them to damage the external credibility of this website and deter two-sided discussions here. Sadly, this two-sided discussion is something that is championed here by readers and writers alike! As a result, I don’t really buy into it when readers/writers criticize other sites (i.e. JesusFirst) for not welcoming discussions. Besides, I have talked with one writer here and he agreed that primary contact would have been more helpful with at least one article he wrote. Apparently I’m not completely alone in the “nonsense” I keep raising.

  21. Rev. Gilbert,

    You should know assuming from silence a person’s support on an issue, one way or the other, is simply wrong since it is dishonest.

    It is quite clear from your remarks in the postings here and here and here, just to name three posts, in which you state that those who are being criticized “should” be contacted prior to publishing an article about them or their church. I have read your words and they are available to all our readers to see. I have not misrepresented you at all, Rev. Gilbert.

  22. @Jim Pierce #76


    I apologize if you feel I’m being dishonest. I noticed that you ignored much of what I was saying in comment 69 regarding how this website is run when compared to what I believe Rev. Harrison wants to do with the proposed Koinonia Project.

    Why did you offer only silence on this subject in the first place? Would you now please speak to the practices of this website with respect to quietly taking down at least one article without apology or retraction, and the refusal to correct erroneous reporting?

    Also, I’m sorry, but if you don’t see what I believe to be the difference between “should” and “must” in this context, we are likely at an impasse. I apologize for my lack of clarity, and note that much can be lost in written word. I will try to explain:

    I don’t think it’s a sin to refuse initial contact with those being written about here. Therefore, I don’t think it MUST be done. However, I strongly believe that if there is genuine concern for a brother or sister in Christ whom we fear may be in spiritual danger, initial contact will at least be attempted. (Do you agree with this?) Therefore, it SHOULD be done, as it will demonstrate this concern.

    I easily see why my words have been confusing, and I’m sorry for being unclear. I hope you take me at my word that this is what I have been trying to say, though I have failed from time to time. Thank you for the corrections you have offered over time.

    No contact was made for the article you cited in comment 74. I have it directly from other authors that such contact is not being made for a good number of articles. I take that information, and I personally find that said articles do not seem to be written out of genuine concern for those perceived to be in spiritual danger, but rather to “raise awareness” for the “public” here. That’s fine, I guess, unless there is hope of bringing about a change, or if meaningful discussion with the parties named is desired.

  23. Rev. Gilbert,

    As a matter of principle I will keep to myself my opinions regarding your point, “quietly taking down at least one article without apology or retraction, and the refusal to correct erroneous reporting.” I am under no obligation to comment upon the practices of BJS and my lack of comment certainly shouldn’t be taken as a sign of support or as an indicator of disagreement. I simply don’t see the issue as you have raised it and I think if you want to be consistent with your own words you would continue to address your concerns to the editor of BJS.

    You need not apologize about what I may feel, Rev. Gilbert. You may apologize for your own actions and words, but not my feelings.

    I think you are making hay with the distinction between “must” and “should”. It is clear from the context of your earlier postings that you are saying one “should” in the sense that one has an obligation to do so. “Must” conveys that same meaning of “ought to do so”, Rev. Gilbert. Indeed, your latest explanation clearly shows that you think we are under an obligation—ought to—to our brother or sister to attempt an “initial contact” with them before publicly criticizing their remarks. In fact, your words “if there is a genuine concern” suggests that one who doesn’t attempt such contact doesn’t have a “genuine concern” for their brothers or sisters in Christ. If you don’t mean by your words one has an obligation (see the definition for “must” if it helps) to notify someone before publicly criticizing them, then I definitely don’t understand what could possibly be your contention.

    Notice, too, that I haven’t said anything about “sin” in this context or anything of the sort. So, I don’t see where your comment “I don’t think it’s a sin to refuse initial contact with those being written about here” applies.

    I appreciate your attempt to clarify your points, but I would like to suggest that you simply drop this nonsense over privately notifying persons that public criticism will be made of their public errors. It is nonsense precisely because a public error should be rebuked publicly and that is not necessarily for the sake of those in error, but for those who have read or heard the error.

  24. @Jim Pierce #78


    Be assured that I have been attempting to discuss this “nonsense” with the editors from the time it surfaced. I have been doing this because I find that it is not, as you call it, nonsense. I found it to apply to what was being discussed above, specifically the mention of Rev. Harrison’s “It’s Time” article.

    If you won’t agree or disagree that contacting those who are being written about would demonstrate genuine care for spirtitual well-being of a fellow brother or sister in Christ, there is clearly no point in attempting to continue the discussion. Of course you are under no obligation to discuss these matters!

    My hope is that you understand my viewpoint, regardless of whether or not you agree with it.

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