Criticism of Theological Critique, by Rev. Martin Noland

In the last couple of weeks, various members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod have criticized the theological critique being published at Brothers of John the Steadfast (BJS). I am not going to defend everything that is published at BJS, because most of the word count is in blog comment and that is a “free for all” by definition. Anyone who condemns blog comment per se will have to condemn blogging completely. That is like when my classmate’s parents condemned rock music in the mid 1960s and threw away all of his vinyl LP records when Billy Graham came through town. Yes, the agents of the devil and hellfire were identified as Elvis, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees (the Monkees??)

Lutherans do not engage in “blanket condemnations” like American Evangelicals. We use our God-given brains, find out what is right and wrong, and issue theological critiques so people can use the things of this world in good conscience—or not, as the case may be. So we drink beer, but not in excess. So we use the “pill,” but not to completely eliminate children from families or to sanction fornication.

I think most reasonable people will not condemn blogging completely. Most reasonable people will ask participants in a blog to restrain themselves, to focus on issues not personalities, and to remember the Golden Rule. These are the same types of things you would counsel someone in a group dinner conversation or at a live, in-person public forum. And this request for restraint is not uniquely Christian, much less Lutheran.

In my observation of the BJS blog, since its inception in 2008, the editors have constantly reminded the commenters to restrain themselves. Not all comments have been posted, some have been deleted, and in many cases, the other bloggers tell the offending blogger to quit the offensive remarks or leave. Pastor Tim Rossow has done a better job of monitoring the BJS blog than any other blog editor I have seen. It is a Herculean job. So, thanks, Rev. Rossow, for hosting our conversations! And thanks to Norm Fisher for all the tech work behind the scenes, and the interesting posts too!

What makes BJS blogs unique is that they often engage in Lutheran “theological critique.” Many people may not know about the history of the “criticism of theological critique.” It goes back to the 1950s, when the complaints were beginning to come out about the false teaching going on at the Saint Lous seminary. The defense of the professors and their allies was “you are breaking the 8th commandment,” “you are violating Matthew 18,” and “classrooms are private.” So persons who “finked on their teacher” were disciplined or expelled. Persons who published what was going on there became persona non grata in the synod.

Finally, the synod as a whole, i.e., all the congregations and pastors, realized that a seminary classroom teaches public theology in a public setting, and then opened up those classrooms to public inspection with the “Fact Finding Committee” appointed by President J.A.O. Preus. What the synod found there was horrifying, at least to those who believe in Jesus and His Word. On the basis of the result of the Fact Finding Committee, the synod authorized Preus to discipline the seminary professors who were not Lutheran in their view of Scriptures and the Confessions. This resulted in the walk-out, the formation of Seminex, the establishment of the AELC, and eventually their merger into the ELCA in 1988.

There is still a lot of “unfinished business” in the synod from those days. One of those items is the “criticism of theological critique.” Many persons criticizing the BJS blog are, perhaps unknowingly, using the same arguments used by the Seminex professors to defend their bad theology. That makes me suspicious about what the “critics of theological critique” are trying to hide. There certainly has to be a better way than this!

Recently, in May 2006, the leaders of the synod attempted to address the unfinished business of the “criticism of theological critique.” This was published as the CTCR document “Public Rebuke of Public Sin: Considerations in Light of the Large Catechism Explanation of the Eighth Commandment.” This is available here.

I can’t say that I agree with everything in that document, but it is a major stop forward in addressing this “unfinished business.”

In particular, this document does not help us deal with political parties in the church that publish their statements and vigorously promote their candidates and their platforms. I think the document completely avoids that issue, which means the work is only half-baked. But it is better than nothing!

My belief is that in an ideal world, political parties would not arise in the church. But they are here, so what are we going to do about it? Should the one party in power get rid of the other party? That would just lead to schism, ad infinitum. Just think about it.

Okay, so we have political parties, elections, and resolutions. How is the reasonable delegate going to make informed decisions? Oh, I see what a few BJS critics are saying now! Shut down all sources of information, except for one, which is controlled by the president of the synod (aka, the Reporter). . . . No wonder Presbyterians think Lutherans are bunch of idiots! At least Presbyterians remember that the Reformation happened because the pope didn’t control all sources of information (but he really, really tried!). . . . (Ahem! Excuse my rhetoric!)

Here is a rule of thumb I propose, that you can’t find in the CTCR “Public Rebuke” document: If you make proposals for change in the Lutheran church, i.e., something we were not doing or teaching in the Missouri Synod in the 19th century, then get ready for some theological critique of your ideas. If it passes the critique, then okay, let’s do it! If not, don’t complain about the theological critique that will come your way.

For this reason, I believe the criticism of the Jesus First organization is valid. It has defined itself in the beginning as the “party of change,” without using those words. Its leaders have defended old errors and invented some new ones in their eleven year history (“errors” here defined as contrary to LCMS Constitution, Articles II, VI, or VII). And now, “Jesus First” has proposed that large congregations get more votes (Recommendation #6), all congregations must absolutely obey synodical resolutions (Recommendation #1; proposed Article VII.B.2), and that the president controls the hiring and firing of nearly everyone in national offices, seminaries, and missions (Recommendation #18). These Recommendations will make Jesus First’s errors practically immune to theological criticism. Is that their intent? You judge for yourself.

Here is another rule of thumb that you can’t find in the CTCR “Public Rebuke” document: If you let your name stand for office in the synod, then get ready for people to look at your track record, all of your writings, and the practices currently happening at the place where you serve. If you don’t want that attention, then don’t let your name stand.

For this reason, although I was not party to it, I think the criticism of Carmel Lutheran Church, Carmel, Indiana was valid. The senior pastor there has let his name stand for a Vice-President of synod. We need to know his actual working doctrine, policies, and practices, not just what he hands in on a single sheet. His practice at his congregation is no longer a matter of concern just for that congregation. It is a concern for all of us.

Having said that, all critique must be TFV (Truthful, Fair, and able to be Verified in some way), which makes it Christian, not uniquely Lutheran. Other criteria can be found in the CTCR “Public Rebuke” document.

In conclusion, consider this statement in the CTCR document:

“The second error, however, is that of refusing on principle to consider or sanction public rebuke of public sin in any case. While this position may cite the procedure outlined in Matthew 18 as its justification, such a view owes far more to modern America’s therapeutic culture in which there is no sin, only personal conflict. To treat every instance of disagreement among members of the Synod as a clash of personalities is, ultimately, to downplay what the Scriptures teach concerning Law and Gospel and unity in doctrine that has been the foundation of the LCMS. Properly understood, public rebuke of public sin must have a place in a church that values the clear teaching of Scripture.” (my emphasis; p. 26)

So, bloggers, let’s be careful out there!

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Criticism of Theological Critique, by Rev. Martin Noland — 27 Comments

  1. Once again, brother Noland, you have given us great insight as to “where we are” and how we got here. I would also like for there to be more staying on topic in blogs and other critiques. The verbalized stream of consciousness we sometimes see (err… read) takes on a life of its own and in the process takes us far away from the topic at hand. Not that this is always bad, but it can get annoying at times.

  2. Pastor Nolan,
    What a beautiful piece, as always. Lovingly stated and written. You are quite a shepherd Pastor and I thank you.
    Blessings,
    Dutch

  3. Well written Pr. Noland!

    I love this website and all of the hard work that goes into it. With God’s grace, may it continue for many years. How important it is for confessional Lutherans to be able discuss our Luthrean theology.

  4. Dear Anonymous (comment #4),

    I apologize for my passing reference to the “pill.” If and when the “pill” is used as an abortifacient, then it is obviously wrong in those cases, based on the LCMS position on abortion. I could just as easily mentioned any form of contraception, but that came to mind because of its 50th anniversary.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  5. And besides…everybody with an ounce of sense KNOWS that The Monkees were propagating Darwinian evolution (albeit with the heretofore unheard-of backwards messaging method) within the confines of their musical stylings…isn’t it obvious?!?!? LOL 😀

  6. The rules of the debate:

    Participant A presents his argument publicly, utilizing any and all official publications he deems necessary.
    Participant B may present a rebuttal, but only by whispering in the ear of Participant A.
    Following the rebuttal, Participant A may amend his argument publicly if he chooses, but he is under no obligation to do so.
    At the conclusion of this process, the audience will determine which argument wins the debate.

    Does that about sum it up?

  7. More context… the only two anti-abortion songs I’ve ever heard are “Silent Scream” by death metal pioneer band Slayer, and “Abortion” by proto gangster rapper Slick Rick.
    Both songs were well outside the accepted norms for music at the time, and neither pulls any punches.

    So maybe the “devil music” I listened to in my adolescence affected me, and actually caused me to listen to what people are saying, as opposed to how they are saying it.

    Seems to me like society would be better as a whole if we expected that as a common courtesy.

  8. Dear Pastor Hojnacki (comment #8),

    You present another version of a “controlled debate” that is really not a debate. So you do get the idea!

    It is very interesting to trace the rise of Western culture and science by looking at the history of debate. The Greeks called it “dialectic” (not to be confused with 20th century “dialectical theology” or Marxist “dialectic”). It is the methodological foundation of Western science, scholarship, and scholarly history. The Jews had their own process, which was refined by the rabbinic schools.

    The Christians took advantage of both Greek-Roman and Jewish respect for free debate, to proclaim the Gospel and refute the errors of other religions. You can see this clearly in Saint Pauls’ “missionary work,” which was really just a traveling debate team that worked in both synagogue and agora! In the second century, this was taken up by what church historians call the “Greek Apologists.” This is not to be confused with modern “apologetics,” which is a more specialized task. In any event, Christian theology has had this kind of critiquing and debating aspect in most of its history, but not all.

    After the Gregorian “reform” of the late 11th century, the popes and their court were challenged by the Franciscan critique of clergy and episcopal wealth. In order to protect their monetary and property interests, the papal court and cardinals set up an alternative order to the Franciscans, known as the Dominicans. Their real purposes was to outdo the Franciscans in public piety, and to prosecute the people whom the papal court identified as threats to their power, thus as “heretics.”

    Also in order to combat the Franciscans, the papal court took over control of the councils, turning them into “rubber stamp” conventions to approve of the errors of the popes. The papal court considered it a great victory when they were able to control the Council of Constance to convict Jan Hus, and then have him burned at the stake there. “Look,” the popes said, “the whole church in its ecumenical council has condemned Hus. He must be of the devil!”

    The Reformers by the time of Luther were much wiser about the church councils, and Imperial Diets, and remembered the broken promises of the Emperor for safe conduct of Hus, and of the murderous intent of the papal court. Although the Protestants called for a council, they refused to recognize a council under the control of the pope where free debate could not take place. The negotiations between Protestants and Catholics for a free council, and their arguments about the rules of debate, is a significant part of Reformation history. Finally, the Protestants gave up the hope of a free council with free debate, and the popes had their own council at Trent, whose whole purpose was to condemn Protestants and justify their execution and religious wars against them.

    So “free debate” is part of Protestant history. It would be foolish for us Lutherans to forget that!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  9. Martin Noland wrote “Christian theology has had this kind of critiquing and debating aspect in most of its history, but not all.” And I would add certainly not now in our synod. Attempts to engage in the same (critique/debate) are oftentimes viewed as being unloving or causing an unnecssary stir because there are those who are not willing to move forward with blinders on and without proper consideration of Holy Scripture and our Confessions.

  10. #6

    I apologize for my passing reference to the “pill.” If and when the “pill” is used as an abortifacient, then it is obviously wrong in those cases, based on the LCMS position on abortion. I could just as easily mentioned any form of contraception, but that came to mind because of its 50th anniversary.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

    Dr Noland, my understanding is that contraception of any kind was proscribed by the whole church until 1932, when the Episcopal Church of the United States began to permit it in a narrow set of cases.
    How and when this came into the LCMS would be an interesting story with, I would suppose, plenty of documentation to back it up.

    Kyrie eleaison
    Nik

  11. Brother Martin said concerning the seminex crisis: “What the synod found there was horrifying, at least to those who believe in Jesus and His Word. On the basis of the result of the Fact Finding Committee, the synod authorized Preus to discipline the seminary professors who were not Lutheran in their view of Scriptures and the Confessions.”

    Having just finished the ’77 publication, Exodus from Concordia, I was not surprised to read of the emotional over-reaction of the students. I was surprised at audacity of the faculty in declaring their freedom from the auspices of the Board of Control. I was most shocked, however, at the generous and long suffering attempts by Board of Control to bring back these erring professors and students. The Board truly went the extra mile, indeed, fitting the very definition of churchmanship, in spite of vicious slander.

    The church needs to be free to theologically critique.

  12. Martin and brothers and sisters in Christ on BJS:

    In this article you seem to be suggesting that there is some form of conspiracy left over from the “Seminex” days of the LCMS trying to silence BJS bloggers – and certainly those opposed to the current leaders in Synod.

    Perhaps another scheme is at work. Perhaps we are becoming MORE Scriptural, MORE Confessional, MORE faithful to our LCMS roots and MORE nimble, adroit, and mission-focused as a denomination.

    The majority of Synod is finally being allowed to speak it’s heart and mind and is calling for a smaller, more aligned national office that puts the LCMS in a position where it helps people live confidently in Christ and for Christ, establishes a church-wide vision that recognizes our unity and diversity, connects people to trustworthy resources faithful to the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions and puts the local congregation first in all things – while still connecting all of us to global missions. And we are saying no to the divisive rhetoric on this and other websites.

    While it is skillfully done, this article is filled with unsubstantiated accusations, half-truths and misrepresentations. The skillfulness comes in the way that Pastor Noland weaves pejorative statements and our denomination’s sad Seminex days to create a reason for both fear for the future and a justification for poor behavior.

    How is this done? In this case Pastor Noland uses the “Straw Man Fallacy” (e.g. “Senator Jones says that we should not fund the attack submarine program. I disagree entirely. I can’t understand why he wants to leave us defenseless like that.”), “The Big Lie” techniques (If you tell a lie that’s big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you are saying is made up), and the confusion of Correlation and Causation (The rooster’s crowing doesn’t really make the sun rise) among others to try to make his points. Let me give you seven specific examples:

    1. Create a group that is “criticizing” your stance and make up an argument that you believe they would say about you – then top it off with a misrepresentation of control.

    “…Oh, I see what a few BJS critics are saying now! Shut down all sources of information, except for one, which is controlled by the president of the synod (aka, the Reporter) . . . No wonder Presbyterians think Lutherans are bunch of idiots! At least Presbyterians remember that the Reformation happened because the pope didn’t control all sources of information (but he really, really tried!). ….”

    I currently serve on the Board for Communication Services (responsible for the Reporter) and I can tell you its reporting is not influenced by President Kieschnick. If that were true, do you think there would be any reporting of Matt Harrison or Human Care at all? In fact, quite the contrary is true. Ask David Strand and his staff. This “conspiracy” to keep members of Synod in the dark by controlling media is simply untrue.

    2. Connect the imagined group and their imagined criticisms in some way to Seminex – and make it sound like something is “hidden” in an opponent’s agenda.

    ”…Many persons criticizing the BJS blog are, perhaps unknowingly, using the same arguments used by the Seminex professors to defend their bad theology. That makes me suspicious about what the “critics of theological critique” are trying to hide….”

    No one is saying anything about theological critique. I’m personally concerned with mischaracterizations and slander. I don’t know that any other issues have ever been brought to the attention of BJS.

    3. Diminish those who truly want to bring the conversation to substantive theological issues to a “political party platform” with an “agenda” instead of brothers and sisters in Christ with an emphasis that, while Scriptural and Confessional, is different than yours – but still “walking together.” We have nothing more than Scripture and conversation to persuade one another.

    “…In particular, this document does not help us deal with political parties in the church that publish their statements and vigorously promote their candidates and their platforms….”

    4. Place in others’ mouths words they never said and argue against them.

    “…For this reason, I believe the criticism of the Jesus First organization is valid. It has defined itself in the beginning as the “party of change,” without using those words….”

    I think Jesus First has always stated that it encourages a return the LCMS to its roots in Scripture, congregational freedom from the chains of legalism, leadership that leads the great and diverse people Christ has given His Church, and the necessity of love, truth and integrity in all of our relationships. If that’s what Pastor Noland is suggesting is “change” for the LCMS, I am all for it. However, it seems he is suggesting that the grassroots movement called Jesus First is suggesting change from faithfulness to Christ instead of change towards greater faithfulness to our Lord.

    5. Suggest an agenda is against the LCMS Constitution without evidence to further diminish one’s supposed opponent and suggest the LCMS is being controlled by them – and is seeking more control.

    ”…Its leaders have defended old errors and invented some new ones in their eleven year history (“errors” here defined as contrary to LCMS Constitution, Articles II, VI, or VII)….”

    Who in Jesus First leadership is not committed to the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and of practice; and all the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God (Article II)? Name three – and if you are being truthful about them, why are they still members in good standing in the LCMS?

    Who stands against the Conditions of Membership (Article VI)? After all, hasn’t the LCMS in convention by it voting record affirmed just the opposite? Name three – and if you being are truthful about them, why are they still members in good standing in the LCMS?

    Who does not affirm that Synod is not an ecclesiastical government exercising legislative or coercive powers, the advisory nature of Synod, and a congregation’s right of self-government? Who suggests that Synod has equity in the property of a congregation (Article VII)? Name three – and if you are being truthful about them, why are they still members in good standing in the LCMS?

    6. Suggest that there is a hand of control over independent boards and committees with ill will toward small congregations, seeking control of the LCMS.

    Pastor Noland reports that recommendations which have been made by leadership in Synod in consultation with literally hundreds of members of Synod, reported to the LCMS in written reports, district conventions, and in delegate gatherings for the past year are somehow connected with a “political group” in our Synod that has an agenda to eliminate the small congregation’s voice in our church body.

    “….And now, “Jesus First” has proposed that large congregations get more votes (Recommendation #6), ….”

    This is just incorrect reporting. The Task Force recommendation actually suggests that both the largest and the smallest congregations get more votes at District Conventions (not national conventions) in order to bring greater equity to all of us. Jesus First has always affirmed the blessings and gifts of God that smaller congregations are in our Synod and seeks only the best for them. At the same time we believe we need to recognize other truths, too: that 300 congregations in the LCMS (5%) have 25% of the members, do 49% of adult confirmations, have 29% of the worship attendance and give one-third of all financial support to District and Synod. Larger churches are not the enemy of the LCMS.

    In the past Jesus First recommended that larger CIRCUITS, not congregations, receive more votes than smaller ones simply because they represent more communicant members. Do you honestly believe our system is equitable when two circuits (4 and 9) in the NID (which together are larger than Wyoming or Montana or SELC or New England Districts in communicant membership) are represented by half or less of the delegate votes at Synod in convention? Honestly?

    This “Big Lie” seems to be an attempt to divide God’s people into small and large congregations – against the other – when just the opposite is true of the intentions Jesus First and those leaders we support. Pastor Noland, is there another reason for stating this?

    ”….all congregations must absolutely obey Synodical resolutions (Recommendation #1; proposed Article VII.B.2),….”

    In the report I’ve read from the Blue Ribbon Task Force, there is nothing to suggest “obedience” to synodical resolutions. In fact, let me quote the recommendation and you decide if that is what it says:

    Article VII.A (Relation of the Synod to Its Members) 1. In its relation to its members the Synod is not an ecclesiastical government exercising legislative or coercive powers, and with respect to the individual congregation’s right of self-government, it is but an advisory body. Accordingly, no resolution of the Synod imposing anything upon the individual congregation is of binding force if it is not in accordance with the Word of God or if it appears to be unsuitable as far as the condition of a congregation is concerned.

    Article VII.B (Relation of the Members to the Synod) [All members of the Synod] 2. Agree to abide by, honor, and uphold the collective will of the Synod as expressed in its Constitution, Bylaws, and convention resolutions;

    It sounds to me like the recommended change reminds us that Synod is and advisory body, but that when we agree to something in our Constitution, Bylaws and convention resolutions, all of us are expected to uphold the decisions we make together except “if it appears to be unsuitable as far as the condition of a congregation is concerned.” That doesn’t seem like a change to me at all – and isn’t that what one would expect out of pastors and churches who voluntarily join Synod?

    Just read the . Affirmation 5 states exactly the opposite of what Pastor Noland suggests is true.

    “….and that the president controls the hiring and firing of nearly everyone in national offices, seminaries, and missions (Recommendation #18)….”

    Think about it. How could the president have that kind of power with the two program boards (24 pastors and laymen elected at Convention, 4 seminary professors, 2 University professors, 2 Board of Directors and 2 District Presidents), individual Boards of Regents (elected at Convention), the whole Board of Directors (again, elected at Convention), the Council of Presidents (elected at District conventions) all needing to conspire together to agree with the Synodical President to give him that kind of power?

    Again, just look at the Task Force members: our current Secretary and Treasurer of Synod (both elected in convention), a retired former president of Lutheran Social Services of the South, the current First and Fifth Vice Presidents (both elected in convention), a Nebraska and an Arizona pastor, one of whom serves on the Board of Directors (elected in convention), two retired Synodical Presidents (Ralph Bohlmann and Bob Kuhn) and our current Director of Church Relations and head of the CTCR for decades, a Thrivent representative, a past president of the LWML, the former president of the Wyoming District and long-time member of the Commission on Constitutional Matters, the current Director of Communications for Lutheran Senior Services of Missouri, a current District President from the Pacific Southwest District, the Senior Assistant to the Synodical President and the Chief Administrative Officer of the LCMS would conspire together with people in Jesus First and take orders from them with regard to recommendations for our church’s reorganization? Does that make sense?

    7. Suggest that BJS is the last bastion of truth – that hidden and open forces have malicious intent toward those who disagree with them.
    “….These Recommendations will make Jesus First’s errors practically immune to theological criticism. Is that their intent? You judge for yourself….”
    If one is not in favor of resolutions or recommendations, it is incumbent on brothers and sisters in Christ to make a reasoned argument from Scripture, the Confessions or simple logic. Attempting to vilify those who one sees as “the opposition” is never helpful or salutary. That’s not “theological criticism.” It’s just wrong and divisive.
    Portraying President Kieschnick as a “money pope,” a “used car salesman”, or a “power hungry administrator” is wrong and divisive. Suggesting Jesus First is unscriptural, unconfessional, and ungodly, and has taken over Synod administration, that the Blue Ribbon Task Force members are political pawns of Jesus First, and that anyone who suggests BJS is breaking the 8th Commandment in their writing is a part of a great conspiracy to silence opposition is wrong and divisive.
    I think we ARE at a better place than a decade ago. We ARE becoming MORE Scriptural, MORE Confessional, MORE faithful to our LCMS roots and MORE nimble, adroit, and mission-focused as a denomination.

    The majority of Synod IS finally being allowed to speak it’s heart and mind and is calling for a smaller, more aligned national office that puts the LCMS in a position where it helps people live confidently in Christ and for Christ, establishes a church-wide vision that recognizes our unity and diversity, connects people to trustworthy resources faithful to the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions and puts the local congregation first in all things – while still connecting all of us to global missions. The LCMS as a church body has spoken against false accusations and unsubstantiated charges being brought against pastors faithful to God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions (aren’t there fewer charges being brought in Synod these days?). We are done with spurious lawsuits like the Anderson suit of four years ago (whose instigators include at least one BJS author) that cost the LCMS $500,000 to defend. I think we are done with the character assassinations, half-truths and false statements, and conspiracy theories. They just aren’t true – they don’t hold water.

  13. Charles,

    Shall we trade the “straw man falacy” you point out for a “black and white falacy” from today’s Jesus First e-mail? Speaking about the BRTFSG proposals it is stated:

    As a delegate you have to consider this choice: either the process was an open process allowing for people to be heard and allowing for change, OR the process was forced upon you by leaders who want to harm the LCMS. Sadly, that is the choice you must make while you evaluate the final report and prepare to discuss options and vote on the best structure and governance for the future.”
    (From the second Jesus First e-mail, 2010)

    The fallacy in your Jesus First e-mail does exactly what you claim Noland is doing. Earlier in a section I did not quote you talk about the small group that is unhappy with the BRTFSG proposals and that they are trying to paint the Task Force as evil people who want to harm the synod and that delegates have to choose between that option or the option you propose that the Task Force and President Kieschnick are knights in shining white armor only intent on rescuing the synod. That is the black and white fallacy which I propose you take out of your own eye before addressing the speck in Dr. Noland’s eye.

    The black and white falacy is also called the “false alternatives” falacy. You give two false alternatives or suggest that something has to be either black or white. In this case the delegate is told that he must either accept that Jesus First tells the truth or that they are intent on harming the synod. Those are false alternatives. It is not black and white as your rag makes it sound. No one has ever said that President Kieschnick is out to harm the synod. As a matter of fact it has been stated numerous times on this website that he has good intentions. What we have said here is that the results of many of the proposals, if passed, will bring harm to the synod.

    The above quoted section of the Jesus First e-mail is sophomoric at best. If you wish to pass logical judgment upon Noland then I hope you will confess the logical falacy of your own group’s e-mail today.

    TR

  14. @Charles S. Mueller, Jr. #14

    > I currently serve on the Board for Communication Services (responsible for the Reporter) and I can tell you its reporting is not influenced by President Kieschnick. If that were true, do you think there would be any reporting of Matt Harrison or Human Care at all?

    I certainly presume that Rev. Kieschnick would act in a Christian, honest, objective and professional manner, and would encourage reporting on important and relevant topics and people (like Matthew Harrison and Human Care).

    You don’t?

  15. @Charles S. Mueller, Jr. #14

    I think we just found out who was next in line after Pastor Charles Henrickson.

    What’s the name of the fallacy where you try to smear somebody of obvioius scholarship, integrity, Christian concern, and good will?

    Shocking.

  16. @Charles S. Mueller, Jr. #14
    I currently serve on the Board for Communication Services (responsible for the Reporter) and I can tell you its reporting is not influenced by President Kieschnick. If that were true, do you think there would be any reporting of Matt Harrison or Human Care at all?

    Thanks, Rev. Mueller, JR!
    You’ve said more about President Kieschnick than I think you intended.
    It’s true, as any honest Texan knows, but I didn’t think I’d live to see PoliticsFirst admit it!

    We’re talking about the SP who didn’t officially announce Pr./Prof. Kurt Marquart’s death until the day of his funeral, when American papers would give it minimal coverage as “old news”. So we had the spectacle of an SP who couldn’t give his former opposition a minimal courtesy even at the opposition’s death!
    It’s not forgotten!

    I suspect that Matt Harrison and “Human Care” are reported on only because omission would be pretty glaring, with Haiti and other disasters inconveniently calling attention to them.
    (“Human care” is the primary source of “borrowed” [designated gifts!] money at IC, too, isn’t it? A real stink could be raised about that, but it hasn’t been.) The Rev. Dr. K. should be grateful instead of trying to organize Pastor Harrison out of his job via BRTF… [“BS.”]

    (The Rev. Rossow is not responsible for my opinions. Neither are my current Pastors; I had opinions before I met them.) 🙂

  17. For the edification of Concordia, St Louis, grads, Pr./Prof. Kurt Marquart was the Fort’s Norman Nagel, in terms of love and respect from his students.
    (At least!) The record is in the archives of Cyberstones.

  18. Charles said,

    Do you honestly believe our system is equitable?

    Yes! Yes! Yes! And the synod says it too as do the Blue Ribbon consultants in their Confidential Final Report President’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance

    Chapter 6: Analysis of Present Alternatives

    Giving Larger Congregations a Greater Voice

    This issue has surfaced frequently throughout this research. Pastors of larger congregations express concern that their needs are not effectively or properly represented in district conventions or the triennial convention of the LCMS.

    There is no issue as incendiary or potentially divisive as this. Pastors of small congregations, which constitute–by far-the majority in the LCMS, commonly express the view that the congregation is the basic working unit within the LCMS, and that a small congregation should have as much say as a large congregation in the deliberations of the Synod. To these individuals, the LCMS is fundamentally a group of congregations as opposed to a group of members of congregations.

    These views are expressed with a great deal of adamancy, sometimes with theological justification, but also reflect a personal sense that ministry in a small congregation is as worthy a calling as ministry in a large congregation. Pastors of small congregations are highly sensitive to any symbol that might convey a position of lesser importance to their roles. Diminishing their vote in Synod deliberations is the clearest and potentially most troubling of such symbols. If ever there were what politicians call a “wedge issue” for the LCMS, this is it.

    “A wedge issue!” “No issue as incendiary or potentially divisive as this”.

    I think this says it all.

  19. @Charles S. Mueller, Jr. #14
    We are done with spurious lawsuits like the Anderson suit of four years ago …

    We are (says the rev. Mueller JR) “done with” suits by the membership to keep Missouri faithful to its doctrine.

    We are not done with suits by the administration to deprive a congregation of its property on the [elca] notion that congregational property really belongs to the District!

    Written any articles in the Reporter about that, rev Mueller?

  20. Thank you Helen. Thank you to Pastor Noland. When ever you speak the truth people who disagree with you in doctrine will set up smoke screens and accuse you of being the evil one. I remember the days of Seminex and those guys were guilty of false doctrine. They use to accues any one who disagreed with them of being “unloving” and “8 comandament” breakers. They tried to present themselves as the “good guys” and J A O Preus as the evil one.
    Look over the names of the members of “Jesus First” and you will find the names of the Seminex hold overs.

  21. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    My intent in this comment is not to get into an argument with Pastor Mueller, Jr. or his father. I don’t know either of them personally, but I have respect for the work they have done in Chicago. I have appreciated and used many of Charles Mueller, Sr. writings over the years. My post was not intended to be an attack against them, nor against Jesus First. My post was intended to reveal the methods of the “critics of theological critique.” But as District President Pittelko once said, “If the shoe fits, then wear it.”

    Here are some points of clarity, I hope:

    1) I did not say that the “critics of theological critique” held the theology of Seminex, but that they used the same method of defense. The method of defense could be used by anyone of any theological position, whether they held the true one or not.

    2) I did not list a Catalogue of Errors for Jesus First, because that was not the point of my post. Stating or holding to an “error” does not make a person a heretic or a social pariah. I suppose anyone looking over all my writings over the years could find some things for which I would be embarrassed today. I follow St. Augustine’s example in making retractions when necessary. For example, see my S.T.M. thesis, copy available at the CTS library. I am certainly not infallible. We all make mistakes; don’t we?

    3) For an example of a very serious error of Jesus First, which defined their early years, consider their defense of President Benke’s participation at Yankee Stadium. Our existing policy in the synod at the time was defined by the CTCR document “Theology of Fellowship.” At the end of that document, in a footnote, it clearly stated that joint prayer did not include praying together with non-Christians. Jesus First defended Benke’s praying with non-Christians. That was a serious error, that led to many other very serious problems, including the termination of Wallace Schulz. But this is all water under the bridge now. We can’t reverse all the damage done to individuals, but we do need to review our theology of prayer fellowship, which just seems confused and confusing to me.

    4) Regarding the largest congregations getting more votes, Jesus First was the originator and pusher of this idea all long. See my article here: //steadfastlutherans.org/?p=4141

    5) Regarding the changes to Constitution Article VII, adding the requirement to “abide by .. convention resolutions” in VII.B. 2 completely changes the purpose of VII.A, which was originally designed to prevent the convention from enforcing its will on congregations through the passing of resolutions. Mueller’s defense of VII.B.2 indicates that he, and probably the Jesus First organization, was also behind the inclusion of VII.B.2. They certainly support it now, if they did not originate it.

    6) Regarding Recommendation #18, my latest article in the “Lutheran Clarion” “Blue Ribbon Recommendation #18 and the Spoils System” (it might be online) explains the likely consequences of that proposal, even if it was well intentioned.

    In any event, I appreciate Pastor Mueller’s comments and wish him and his friends well at the convention!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

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