“Jesus First” just can’t Bring Themselves to Say “Brothers of John the Steadfast,” by Pr. Rossow

Jesus First is a political group that formed, according to their own description,  to change the direction of the synod in the late 1990’s.  This  is the “politically correct” and spin-doctored way of saying that they wanted to change the trajectory intitiated by  Dr. Barry and the conservatives. (We shall further note below  the tendency of Jesus First to use political speak instead of theological and churchly-speak.) This rationale for their genesis is stated in  the first of the ten letters that they are sending out to delegates for this summer’s LCMS convention. Not surprisingly they have started attacking those who discern that Matt Harrison will better lead the LCMS as a genuinely Lutheran denomination. (See Charlie Henrickson’s post yesterday for details.)

So far they have neglected to provide links to the “opponents websites.” They refer to Charlie’s posts here on this site and elsewhere but do not give credit or links to the actual articles. I wonder why that is? Ever since we started talking about LCMS politics here on this blog we have been open and transparent. We have directed people to the Jesus First website numerous times. Why? Because we are not afraid of people being exposed to two sides of an issue.

The Brothers of John the Steadfast, like our namesake, are fearless because the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ compels us and has taken over our lives. We have been transformed by the Gospel. We have the one thing needful and so we do not fear anything else, including our reputations. We are committed to the truth of Christ’s  word. We seek to speak that truth with love, but we are not afraid to be bold and also to let people hear and read contrary opinions. We are a little rough around the edges sometimes. We hope that helps you to see that we  are open,  genuine and honest. Jesus First  on the other hand, is very slick and highly polished. They present a front of love and tolerance, but do not hesitate to attack Charlie Henrickson all the while that they claim he is abusing the fourth commandment by not showing respect to others.

Jesus First  was formed for political reasons. BJS is not a political organization. We were not formed for political reasons. We were formed for theological reasons. We were formed in order to teach men (and now women – the Sisters of Katie Luther) to know and promote the Lutheran Confessions. We have gotten involved in the synodical election because we believe that for the last nine years the synod has drifted away from genuine Lutheranism into a “Methobapticostal” sort of thing (i.e. American Evangelical Protestantism). We also believe, based on a thorough study of the matter, that Rev. Matt Harrison will lead the LCMS in a genuinely Lutheran (and thus Scriptural) direction. We are not supporters of Harrison. We are supporters of Scripture and Lutheran doctrine but we believe that Matt Harrison will lead the LCMS in that direction. Matt Harrison does not get a free pass on doctrine and practice on this website. If Matt Harrison is elected, we will use what little influence we may have to hold him accountable to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. This is   not about politics or candidates. This is about the truth of God’s Word.

This is a good opportunity to contrast what you will hear from Jesus First and from BJS. The Brothers of John the Steadfast have and will employ a  blunt and straight forward approach, much like our Lord Jesus and his apostles Paul and Peter did. We are earthy and full of life. Jesus First on the other hand, has a more polished and corporate style. Both groups will assert that they are confessional. But there is a huge difference on this score. The Brothers of John the Steadfast allow the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions to dictate not only what we confess but what we do, i.e. doctrine and practice are one. Jesus First  on the other hand, along with the candidate they support, Gerald Kieschnick, makes “mission-mindedness” the controlling factor in their practice. By their approach everything is considered up for grabs in the church, including the 2,000 year old liturgy that has conserved the Gospel and all its articles for us during those two millinia. For Jesus First  everything must be submitted to the test of how it will strike the unbeliever and so they endorse changes to the liturgy, the administration of the Lord’s Supper, church structure and most everything else in the church. Search the Scriptures and you will not find this principle anywhere. According to the teahings of Christ and His apostles, the church is not folded into the individuals culture. Instead, the individual is folded into the church. Because Jesus First and their candidate submit all things to the “god of outreach” and because the Methodists, Baptists, and Pentecostals do a much better job of using psychology and sociology to control people’s minds and emotions, they have put these unLutheran principles into practice and our church has drifted away from genuine Lutheranism and into these less than Scriptural forms.

The Brothers of John the Steadfast are not about evangelical style. We are about Lutheran substance and Lutheran style. The folks at Jesus First are good people. They have the best interest in mind for the LCMS but the bottom line is that their over-emphasis on outreach has fueled the slow slip of the LCMS ship away from its solid Lutheran moorings. We are not afraid to direct you to their site. See what they have to say. Compare it to our theological approach. So now for the sixth time in this post I will direct you to the Jesus First  site. We hope you will notice the difference between our approach and theirs and pray that you will join us in 0ur work to restore substantial Lutheranism to the LCMS.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

“Jesus First” just can’t Bring Themselves to Say “Brothers of John the Steadfast,” by Pr. Rossow — 142 Comments

  1. @Rev. Jack Gilbert #95

    Dear Pastor Gilbert: Just for your information, I’ve tried to post a response to this article twice since May 3rd (at about comment #60) and sent the text to Pastor Rossow at his personal mailbox this morning. I hope BJS will decide to post the comment.

    Peace! Chuck Mueller

    (( moderator: Your comment was caught by the spam filter; I have passed it. Email me if you have problems commenting on this site. ))

  2. Charles Jr.,

    Thanks for taking the time to post on our site. I am sure that Jesus First was not just singly-founded and so we apprecaite your explanation. However, my post directly quotes your E-mail #1 to delegates and it is simply states that Jesus First is about electing people. Here is the quote:

    “Jesus First was formed after the
    1998 LCMS convention by a small
    group of people who were
    concerned about the direction of
    our church body. At the 2001
    convention, Jesus First endorsed two
    candidates to lead the LCMS as
    president and one of them, Rev.
    Gerald Kieschnick, was elected as
    president of the LCMS. Since then,
    Jesus First has worked to identify
    and support the election of many
    men and women who have
    supported the vision and leadership
    of President Kieschnick.”

    These are the groups own words and there is not much room for debate about what they say. I stand by my post.

    TR

  3. @Charles S. Mueller, Jr. #101

    It is interesting to note, Pr. Mueller, Jr, that you mention the grandma wanting to get back to the LCMS roots, yet JF supports a candidate, Dr. K who wants to change the LCMS, not change back to, but change the Synod stating that this is no longer our grandfather’s church.

    These statements do not jive. You are either for getting back to the roots of LCMS, or want to change along with Dr. K. Following Dr. K’s vision will lead us to look more like the non-denom, post-modern evangelicals than the tried and true Church.

    Kiley

  4. @Charles S. Mueller, Jr. #99
    Pastor Mueller:

    On the basis of JesusFirst’s “historic stance as a confessional church, faithful to the Scriptures,” would you explain what these Jesus First affirmations mean in regards to

    a:) Women serving in the office of public ministry?

    We [JesusFirst] affirm that the full range of God’s gifts for ministry includes the pastoral office and the priesthood of all believers – 1 Cor 12:12-31
    We [JesusFirst] reject insistence on human traditions or regulations which unnecessarily limit any legitimate use of God’s gifts for ministry among pastors and lay people, both men and women.

    b:) the practice of Closed Communion?

    We [JesusFirst] affirm the need to love and respect the whole Christian church on earth – John 17 We [JesusFirst] reject practices that unnecessarily raise and maintain walls of separation within the body of Christ.

  5. @Charles S. Mueller, Jr. #99

    “…and see if you don’t find in his writing a compelling argument for mission being “Job #1” in the LCMS.”

    Rev. Mueller, Jr.,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to the original posting. I read the article you link and found it disconcerting rather than convincing. The largest issue I have with the points it raises is that it pits mission against doctrine. I quote,

    “The LCMS is struggling with a lot of issues. To mention a few: liturgy, communion practice, the role of women, authority of clergy, legalism, autonomy of the congregation, top-down control, priesthood of believers, fellowship. All of these, and any other issue that may be added, must be secondary to the #1 issue: The primacy and urgency of tending to the Father’s business and seeking and saving the lost! “

    Just 4 short years ago I was an atheist of 18 years. I am a baptized child of God today because of God’s grace and mercy that He showed to me in giving me faith through hearing his word. The person I remember sharing the gospel with me was a Lutheran who didn’t pit mission against doctrine. Indeed, getting doctrine right and speaking the truth in love was her concern. My observation is that this Lutheran who shared the gospel with me didn’t do so because her primary consideration was church growth, or increasing numbers, or even “saving the lost”. No, what I know of this Lutheran was she was content to speak the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work through the word.

    I have found that her attitude, if I can call it that, was one much like we read in Acts 2:42-47 where the primary focus was devotion to the Apostle’s teaching and fellowship. It is interesting to me that out of that devotion to true doctrine, out of the fellowship surrounding sound teaching, that the Gospel was spread and the Lord added to the Church daily. The article you list suggests that such a focus on doctrine is merely being a “maintenance church”. Where as, I believe that Acts 2 is suggestive that congregations which are devoted to Word and Sacrament ministry will contain people who will speak the Gospel in their day to day lives much like they breath air. One thing about being the “salt of the earth” is that we don’t choose to be “salt”, but Christ chose us to be “salt”. We sort of have no choice at all but to season the pot, so to speak. Sharing the Gospel happens.

    To the point of this discussion, the difference between BJS and the article you direct us to posted on the JF site is that BJS believes that educating the laity in the Apostle’s doctrine as expressed in the scriptures and in its exposition in our Lutheran Confession equips both laity and clergy alike to talk about our Lord Jesus with others who need Him. BJS doesn’t pit mission against doctrine or pit practice against theology. Instead, it is affirmed that practice and theology can’t be separated. Indeed, we can’t rightly speak of mission as “Job #1” and at the same time minimize the importance of the Apostle’s teachings as #2 on a list. It is wrong headed to do so and that is what is wrong with the synod right now under the leadership of Gerald Kieschnick. I truly thank God that the Lutheran woman who shared the Gospel with me understood the importance of the Apostle’s doctrine and getting it right so that she was equipped to share the truth of the scriptures when the opportunity availed itself. God’s Word will not return void.

  6. I do appreciate that Pastor Mueller has the courage to state his position, much as I disagree.

    If “fear and false characterizations” means that I would like to see the LCMS return to her confessional and liturgical roots of historic Lutheranism, then I’m guilty as part of the “far-right of the LCMS.”

    Is going to the Ablaze site and bragging about how many people I told about Jesus today putting “Jesus first,” or is it putting myself first? Whether Jesus First directly engineered Ablaze or not, I don’t know; but the “mission-oriented”structure certainly appears to coincide with their theology. A “commitment” is Arminian/Anabaptist “decision theology” repackaged to look a little more Lutheran. Baptismal Regeneration and passive salvation seem to not matter much anymore. Theology aside, has Ablaze been a success? It certainly is not from a lack of funding.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am all for missions. The “mission” of the historic Lutheran Church is WORD and SACRAMENT; conversely, Word and Sacrament IS our “mission.” This is what our Triune God has done through the Lutheran Church for 500 years. If the LCMS does not grow in numbers by remaining true to Scripture and her confessions, then the Holy Spirit has not granted it (John 3:5-8). We should give praise for what he has granted in souls, even if the Methodist/Nazarene/(Ana)baptist/mega-church parish down the road grows in “numbers” and can afford that new addition.

    Perhaps it is time to realize that there is less room for people like myself in the LCMS. If things don’t go well in July, then a switch to WELS or CLC is likely for this “right-winger.”

  7. Chuck Said “I’m not sure, but I think over the past decade we’ve received a total of two $25,000 gifts, one $10,000 gift and one $5,000 gift.”

    … “and ask yourself, if Jesus First is supported by millionaires and has all this money, where is our Form 990? Did you know that organizations with under $25,000 in gifts aren’t required to file one?”

    Chuck if you have receive at least two gifts of $25,000 and organizations with over $25,000 are required to file form 990, where is your form 990????

  8. Jesus First will continue to stand against the small group of ultra-conservatives that organize the response of a minority of our denomination using fear and false-characterizations. . . .that supports our historic stance as a confessional church, faithful to the Scriptures, warning of those issues and leaders that attempt to make our unity into a legalistic uniformity that is foreign to Scripture, the Confessions and our LCMS history, and looking forward to the blessings God has in store for us next. We will stand in support of Jerry Kieschnick, not because we’re Jerry fans, but because he is a proven Gospel-centered, mission-driven, future-oriented leader who has successfully brought the LCMS forward despite the unwarranted attacks on his leadership by the far right of the LCMS.

    Bravo Pastor Mueller.

  9. Jim Pierce Wrote:

    Just 4 short years ago I was an atheist of 18 years. I am a baptized child of God today because of God’s grace and mercy that He showed to me in giving me faith through hearing his word. The person I remember sharing the gospel with me was a Lutheran who didn’t pit mission against doctrine. Indeed, getting doctrine right and speaking the truth in love was her concern. My observation is that this Lutheran who shared the gospel with me didn’t do so because her primary consideration was church growth, or increasing numbers, or even “saving the lost”. No, what I know of this Lutheran was she was content to speak the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work through the word.

    That is a very powerful and inspiring testimony Mr. Pierce.

  10. @Pastor Tim Rossow #102
    Pastor Rossow, taking snippets of a newsletter does not make your point. Again, I am not a spokesman for Jesus First — Jesus First’s spokespeople can do that well enough for themselves. I can speak for me and my involvement in the movement. Jesus First’s writers and speakers have been very open for years about the heart of the movement. We have been and will always primarily be about the doctrinal issue that the LCMS faced a decade and more ago: that the message and freedom we all have in the Gospel was being bound by legalism and institutionalism. Go back to the Jesus First Affirmations and you will see the issues that formed the movement.

    Certainly there is a political side to our organization just as there is a political side to BJS. There is a vote coming up by delegates to a national convention — a series of votes just as there has been in the past decade. We in the LCMS use a political process of voting (just like at Trinity’s or Bethany’s Voter’s Assembly) to debate, persuade and give direction to our denomination’s efforts, as well as to determine who and what is within the will of God (just like the early Church did it in Acts 15), and celebrate the will and wisdom of God working within and through His people as we go and serve Him — and are served by Him in Word and Sacrament.

    An example? Some people were concerned at what occurred at Yankee Stadium and sought to remove President Kieschnick because of it. The LCMS together in convention thought, spoke and prayed about it — and then elected him President again. Another? Some people are concerned about the use of contemporary worship in congregations in our denomination. The LCMS together in convention thought, spoke and prayed about it — and then determined we needed to encourage and protect diversity in worship (in fact, many contemporary worship songs have now passed doctrinal review by the Commission on Worship).

    If BJS is really apolitical, why the cartoons? why besmirch the character of Jerry Kieschnick? why post Matt Harrison’s speeches and writings? why try to influence Blue Ribbon Task Force resolutions? why have anything to say about the KFUO sale at all? Why not just concentrate on teaching doctrine? Your articles, your comments and cartoons betray the motives behind BJS.

    I think the heart of BJS came through when you were described and quoted in the Townsend article: “Its website — steadfastlutherans.org — is one of the voices in the conservative wing of the synod that have it in for Kieschnick. Its leaders also pushed congregations toward nominating Harrison. “The nomination numbers were encouraging,” said the Rev. Timothy Rossow, pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, Ill., who heads the Brothers of John the Steadfast.”

    LCMS delegates will determine the direction of our denomination’s direction and its leadership in the next 75 days. I pray that we continue to move forward with the goal that was removed from the LCMS mission statement in 1998: “winning souls for Christ and His Kingdom.” I personally believe that Jerry Kieschnick and Bill Diekelman are the best leaders for this moment in our history and will be sure, tested hands that will be able to guide the LCMS through the coming, necessary structural changes. I believe they are doctrinally sound leaders. Matt Harrison seems to be a fine man and is a good writer, a fine speaker and a man that seems to take a lot of trips for mercy’s sake. But unless I’m missing something, he has never been elected by his peers to a leadership position, has never had ecclesiastical supervision over any church workers outside of his limited parish experience, and has never steered a district or a denomination through changing days. I just don’t think he’s ready as a leader any more than I think any of the other area executives in the IC would be ready.

    Now by speaking about the “politics” of the LCMS is not to say we needn’t be concerned with doctrine. Describing Jesus First as being concerned for outreach without a concern for doctrine characterizes us with a false dichotomy — one can never truly be concerned about outreach without being concerned about true doctrine. The opposite is just as true. Pastor Rossow, describing Jesus First in the way you have is just inaccurate.

    Peace! Chuck

  11. Chuck,

    I just called your home and left a message. I thought it might be good to chat, not necessarily about this stuff but to renew acquaitances. I am still grateful for how gracious you and former brother-in-law were to me when I was new to the district and you took me out golfing. I think it is good for the folks on sites like this to know that many of us (you and me for sure) do not let these arguments become personal.

    OK – enough love and kisses.

    I have to question your use of semantics here. You call that a snippet? That is hardly the case. I have to say I have logic, context, and semantics on my side on this one. Rather than a mere snippet, my quote was taken from the first Jesus First newsletter to the 2010 delegates and was in the lead story and it said that JF was formed in reaction to a convention and resulted in promoting candidates. That is logic, context and semantics on my side.

    Remember, I was responding to our Bishop’s son who took a shot in the dark and accused BJS of being formed for political reasons. As I explained in detail above, we were not. JF on the other hand, not in a snippet but in a document that introduces the group to the delegates for the first time, right out of the gate, describes a political organization.

    Talk to you soon…

    TR

  12. @Chuck Mueller #111

    Chuck,

    Do doctrine and practice go together, or can they be separated?

    I ask, because I have heard several Jesus Firsters make the claim that we Lutherans can maintain our doctrine while following the practices of those whose doctrine conflicts with ours. Is this, in your estimation, as a self-professed Jesus First supporter (but not a spokesman), possible?

    Example: I had a DP who made it clear that he was a strong supporter of Jesus First, even though he wouldn’t actually sign his name to it, ask me: “Thomas, do you believe doctrine and practice must go hand in hand?” Thinking it a strange question at the time, I answered, “Absolutely,” to which he responded, “I believe there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” He went on to explain that Lutherans needed to get out of their shell. “After all,” he said, “why should the Pentecostals be the only ones to have fun in worship!” That was six years ago and I still remember the conversation like it was yesterday.

    So, I ask you: Is it okay with you if we use Pentecostal forms and songs in Lutheran worship? Do ceremonies teach? Does practice inform? When we worship like Pentecostals, what do our people learn?

    Which Convention resolutions determined that we need to encourage and develop diversity in worship. Actually, I know the ones to which you’re referring, but surely you’re not suggesting that they allow for the kind of “anything goes” diversity we see all around us in the synod. Are you? And, let’s not forget that the CoW is appointed by the President of the synod.

    The kind of diversity in worship about which our Confessions speak do NOT allow for the kind of diversity Jesus First (and you) endorses and supports. Not even close. When is the last time you read what our Confessions say about worship? What about “we do not abolish the Mass, but religiously keep and defend it” do you and other Jesus Firsters not understand? By the way, there’s a whole lot more about worship in there, too. You really should give that old Book of Concord a read sometime . . . might do you some good.

    And, as for Harrison, he is a confessional Lutheran pastor and an outstanding theologian. Are you suggesting that this is not enough for him to serve as our synodical president? My, how times have changed . . . not your grandfather’s synod, indeed!

  13. Chuck,

    I don’t get your reasoning about Harrison. According to your reasoning about lack of supervision then Ralph Bohlman and even C. F. W. Walther would be disqualified for not having been district presidents.

    That is also an odd thing to bring up if one is a Kieschnick supporter for he more than any synodical president I have known has done little by way of supervision of church workers. I have brought numerous cases of errant doctrine and practice to President Kieschnick and he has refused to exercise supervision. Hmmm….

    TR

  14. @Pastor Tim Rossow #112
    Tim — sorry I missed your call. I’d like to get together and renew our aquaintance. I am not at all suggesting that there is not a “political aspect” to any work that we do surrounding any convention in the LCMS. We elect delegates and alternates to represent between 1,500 and 10,000 communicant members of LCMS congregations. Any time we vote, there’s a “political” aspect to the interaction — even when we look back to Acts 15. And even tracing your founding to a desire to follow the “Knights of Columbus” as an organizational model (aren’t they a fraternal benefit society like Thrivent and not protecting doctrine at all? Check it out — Knights of Columbus insurance ) While BJS may also have a doctrinal point of view it expresses, please don’t try to hide from the obvious support that you have for Matt Harrison and the distain you have for Jerry Kieschnick. The articles featured and the comments that follow them are the clear evidence of the current function of the BJS site. I hope that you will be able to mature into the support for true confessional Lutheranism and pure biblical doctrine that you hope to be.

    Peace! Chuck

  15. My understanding that charitable organizations are required to file a 990-N if they have income less than $25,000 per year. I don’t know if the 990-N is available for anyone to see. (Christian Preus, do you know the answer?)

  16. @Rev. Thomas C. Messer #113

    Thomas — doctrine and practice do go together. But I also agree with your DP (whoever that is) — we ought to have fun in worship! For me, I chant the liturgy in the traditional worship services at Trinity and play and sing in the praise band in our contemporary worship services.

    As you suggested, I really do some reading of the Book of Concord and would encourage your study of FC X — let me cut and paste some of it below [if I did it right, emphasis mine]:

    Affirmative Theses.
    The Correct and True Doctrine and Confession concerning This Article.

    3] 1. For settling also this controversy we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that the ceremonies or church rites which are neither commanded nor forbidden in God’s Word, but have been instituted alone for the sake of propriety and good order, are in and of themselves no divine worship, nor even a part of it. Matt. 15:9:In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

    4] 2. We believe, teach, and confess that the congregation of God of every place and every time has the power, according to its circumstances, to change such ceremonies in such manner as may be most useful and edifying to the congregation of God.

    In my congregation we have not “abolished the mass” at all. We have, however, changed such ceremonies — as is our right and responsibility as a Christian congregation to do — so that they may be most useful and edifying to the congregation of God.

    And yes, we use music from many sources in our traditional and contemporary worship — just as the LCMS has used Methodist, Unitarian, Roman Catholic and other hymns in our worship for decades (when exactly did Isaac Watts, the Wesleys become Lutheran — or what about Harry Emerson Fosdick , the modernist / Baptist / Presbyterian / Interdenominationalist who penned “God of Grace and God of Glory?” We use their hymns — words and melodies — because they are doctrinally sound hymns, despite their genesis, and we view them independently of the theology of their composers (would you refrain from having fun singing “Joy to the World” simply because Isaac Watts was a “Non-Conformist” — not even an Anglican?)

    May the Lord bless your worship of Him this weekend and bring you His grace as you preach the word to His people in your congregation! Be bold in Jesus!

    Peace! Chuck

  17. @BarbS #105
    Barb — I can’t get to every comment, but I can get to some.

    I personally believe Scripture does not support women serving as pastors. I don’t know anyone in Jesus First who does. I can tell you that I would not be a part of a church that affirms women’s ordination because it is unscriptural. The affirmations speak of the “legitimate” use of God’s gifts for ministry for both men and women. That says nothing about women’s ordination because that would be an illegitimate use of God’s gifts within the priesthood of all believers. At the same time, it is important that we use ALL of the gifts God gives to both men and women and not limit them by human traditions.

    The Jesus First Affirmations say nothing about Holy Communion or who should receive the Lord’s Supper at all — they do affirm God’s people working together as the Body of Christ because that is what we are, the Body of Christ: all believers everywhere. Isn’t that what you affirm in the Apostles’ Creed, or when you speak of the “holy Christian Church” are you only speaking of the LCMS?

    Peace! Chuck

  18. @Chuck Mueller #118

    Interestingly enough the negative statements seem to indicate that what is being discussed are rites that are not part of divine worship. “Human ordinances and institutions in the Church should be regarded as a divine worship in themselves or part of it” (FC X, 9) The affirmative is stated in 3 “…some ceremonies or Church practices are neither commanded nor forbidden in God’s word… Such rites are not in and of themselves divine worship. They are not even part of it.” So, isn’t it accurate to say that what is adiaphora in this case are rites which are not part of the divine service? After all, the article discusses church practices which are outside “divine worship” (e.g. fasting).

    And, even if we could construe FC X as referring to divine worship, we are still faced with the rest of the article which instructs us not to implement any practice which offends our weaker brothers, which would unequally yoke us with unbelievers, or practices which would compromise the gospel of Jesus Christ. Have I accurately stated what is contained in FC X?

  19. @Chuck Mueller #119
    Thank you, Pastor Mueller, for your response to my question.

    I was confused by what the affirmations/rejections meant. It is difficult to make brief statements without being vague or too generalized. Your instruction clarified your position on the two statements: that “legitimate” use of God’s gift to the ministry excldues women from ordination and that the practice of Close(d) Communion is NOT a tradition or practice that unnecessarily raises or maintains separation within the Body of Christ. Your clarifying instruction to me is clearly based on Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

    My point: the crucial role of TEACHING in our church. Teaching is the essence of the Church. This seems to me to be the oft-overlooked command of Christ in the Great Commission found in Matthew. (Well, and the Baptism part also). So, if I am to be mission-driven, I should seek to teach to others all that Christ commanded, so that the Spirit can work faith in their hearts and lead them to the holy miracle of Baptism in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    But how do I know what to teach them? I teach them from the “overflow of my heart” (Matthew 12:34). And if this overflow is evil, then it is evil I will teach. And if this overflow is good, then it is good that I will teach. So how do I get the good to overflow so that my teaching is good? By hearing, reading, and being taught the Word of God, so that the good that overflows from my heart and to my mouth is not my goodness, but Christ’s goodness.

    I’m sure you completely agree with me in all of this. And certainly on this blog I’m “preaching to the choir.”

    It just seems to me, then, that all our practices, those commanded by Scripture and those that are adiaphora, should be fully saturated by the Word of God, which speaks both Law and Gospel. For it is only the Word of God which creates, sustains, and blesses. Why? So that my heart might be overflowing only with the Word of God so that only Christ’s goodness flows from it as I seek to teach others the commands of Christ.

    Do our pastors, those called to proclaim and teach and Baptize (Matthew 28), that oversee the contemporary worship services and practices test them against the Word of God? Hopefully. Maybe. Sometimes. Unless things get a little busy. Or the Dir. of Music has it under control. Or do those pastors that practice a more “open” Holy Communion policy consider the warnings of Scripture to those who partake unworthily? Hopefully. Maybe. Unless we don’t want to offend.

    I simply can’t be mission-driven on my own. I can only be mission-driven by the Word of God. I can only receive the Word of God proclaimed to me in divine worship, taught to me in Bible study led by pastors who are trained to teach this most Holy Word, and through personal Bible-reading which trusts the Spirit to “open my eyes” (although I admit that my personal devotion sometimes is quite uninformed and I teach myself only what I want to hear). The fact that the historic liturgies of the LSB are so clearly excerpted from God’s Word provides just another avenue for the Holy Spirit to bless me with His gifts. “Filling up” on the Word of God in every possible way is what makes the heart “overflow,” not just topping it up with the Bible readings of the day, or maybe a good expository sermon on the Holy Scripture or a so-so Bible study. Further, I receive that Word that makes my cup runneth over through participation in Holy Communion and from my daily washing in my Baptismal waters.

    So, as much as I like to think that I can reach out to people because I love Jesus (if only I can make them see how much I love Jesus), I really can’t. Or convince them that going to church can be fun, I can’t. It’s not about fun (emotion). It is about teaching the Word and the benefits blessings of the Word and Sacrament. Not so that it can be fun, but so that I can survive this daily struggle, so that I can live my days with the joy and confidence of “I will see my Savior soon.”

    I can reach out to people (starting with my family, co-workers, etc.) only because the Word of God overflows in my heart through the preaching and teaching of that living Word through divine worship, the Sacraments, and Bible study. It is not I, then, but Christ in me. (Galatians 2:19-20)

    So we teach the Word of God and in that teaching of the Word we lay claim to the promise of God that His Word will not return void.

    This then, the Word of God, is the only litmus test that informs our practices. Do all of our practices, public worship, proclaim and teach the Word of God as Christ commanded? Is it that we aren’t clear on what Christ commanded? And that’s what we really “argue” about?

    And when those practices are sullied by our own human nature, and this we do daily, we, through the Holy Spirit, repent and turn away from what we know is in error, lay claim to our Baptismal promise, and seek to let the new Man within us reign.

    Sorry if I have rambled on. It just seems to me that many of these “controversies,” “disputes,” and “disunity” boils down to the Word of God. If the Word of God is not being TAUGHT in its fullness, in its purity, then we are filling our hearts with evil, and out evil will then come. And then what does that make of our evangelism, outreach, mission?

    Humbly,
    Barb

  20. @Chuck Mueller #118

    Chuck,

    Fun in worship? Who has bewitched you to believe such a thing? Can you find one – even just ONE – example of “fun worship” in Holy Scripture? Where?

    As for your use of FC X, I would expect nothing less from someone who supports Jesus First (but is not a spokesman). It is (and has been for some time) a common ploy among Jesus Firsters (and other “Lutherans” who try to defend the use of “methobapticostal” worship) to pluck a few snippets from our Confessions and employ them out of context in the attempt to convince the masses that it’s okey-dokey to worship like those whom our very Confessions condemn. It’s as bad as the Baptist practice of proof-texting, by which they pluck a Scripture verse (or passage) from hither and yon, ignoring the context, and build a false doctrine upon it. Actually, it’s worse than that, since Lutherans should know better.

    Try as you might, you simply cannot use our Confessions to defend your use of ceremonies which contradict the doctrine confessed therein. The freedom we have in ceremonies is not limitless, and the differences in ceremonies about which our Confessions speak assume that the Mass (Divine Service) is being observed reverently. Of course, you’d have to actually read ALL that our Confessions have to say about worship, and not just pluck a few passages out at your convenience. You are not free to do whatever you please in worship. Neither am I. Not if we’re going to be called Lutheran. We have vowed to perform all our duties in accord with our Confessions (and not just a few passages from our Confessions, but the whole kit and kaboodle). We may employ different ceremonies, but we are bound to the same theology of worship. Any employment of ceremonies which violates that theology is out of bounds for Lutherans. And, surely, most definitely, absolutely, our Lutheran forebears would not even dream of employing ceremonies which would result in the Mass (Divine Service) looking no different from the Zwinglians and the “radical reformers,” whose theology they were at pains always, and very adamantly, to condemn. After all, they make it vividly clear that ceremonies teach, and they wouldn’t employ ceremonies which teach people to believe differently from what we Lutherans confess.

    For anyone out there reading this and wondering if Pr. Mueller Jr. has a point with the passages he cited from FC X (epitome), here is the very next statement, which he neglected to include:

    [5] 3. Nevertheless, all frivolity and offense should be avoided in this matter. Special care should be taken to exercise patience toward the weak in faith (1 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 14:13).

    What everyone needs to remember is that pastors like Pr. Mueller Jr. took it upon themselves to follow the principles of the “church growth movement” and to begin employing frivolous and offensive ceremonies without ever considering the impact it would have on the greater fellowship to which they belong. I’ve written about this at length in many places, since I was there and watched first-hand how an LCMS pastor who went and got himself a degree in “church growth” from Fuller led our congregation away from Lutheranism and into “methobapticostal” territory. Soon, there was nothing left in that congregation that resembled Lutheranism (well, except that they continued to use wine in the Lord’s Supper). This was all done “off the radar,” so to speak, since that pastor knew full well that what he was doing was NOT in agreement with what we Lutherans believe, teach, and confess. We were told to keep things hush-hush.

    That was over twenty years ago. Now that this pastor (and all like him) have their buddies in power, they have come out of the closet and are trying to sell the idea that their “church growth” stuff is all perfectly Lutheran. And the way that they do so is to point people to the fact that they’re already doing this stuff, and have been for some time, so it must be okey-dokey. That’s why you’ll hear pastors like Pr. Mueller Jr. point to recent convention resolutions about “diversity in worship” and to the fact that the current CoP has produced a list of “worship songs” that are permitted for use in LCMS congregations.

    But, what you will not hear him (and others) tell you is that we, as a synod, have NEVER – that’s right, never – actually condoned the use of “methobapticostal” worship. We have never even had a conversation about it. Not officially.

    Our guilt resides in the fact that we didn’t work to stop this “church growth” stuff from growing way back when it started. We let it grow and fester until it has reached the point now where it has become somewhat of a norm.

    The shame of it all is that the pastors who deliberately worked to introduce the “church growth” principles into our synod did so hiddenly for some time, knowing that they were going beyond what our Lutheran Confessions allow. They were flat out dishonest in their approach, which was to just do their own thing and convince others to follow suit in the hope that eventually it would catch on. They were convinced that Lutheranism needed to change and to adopt these principles if it was to survive. They didn’t care much about maintaining the integrity of our Lutheran Confession, since their concern was on packing the pews and they were committed to doing so, no matter what it took. They were bewitched into believing that the end justifies the means, that if they could “grow” their congregations using these principles, they would be able to convince everyone that these principles were worth employing.

    But, make no mistake: They were more than willing to sacrifice Lutheranism for their perceived “growth.” I was there. I heard these pastors just come right out and say that the Lutheranism confessed in our Confessions had to go. Their new “fathers” were McGavran and company. Luther and the boys just didn’t cut it anymore. Everything’s changing, after all, and the church had better change too!

    Pr. Mueller Jr. knows all of this. He won’t admit it, but he knows. So do the rest. They know. But, hey, when you follow the principle that the end justifies the means, that knowing is forsaken. We got us lots of lost souls out there that need saving, after all, and Lutheranism just ain’t getting the job done!

    Of course, even a cursory glance at the numbers over the past few decades is enough to conclude that abandoning Lutheranism in favor of “methobapticostalism” ain’t getting it done either. However, true Lutherans believe, teach, and confess that getting it done is God’s job, not ours. Ours is to be faithful in preaching the pure Gospel and administering the Sacraments according to Christ’s institution. God takes it from there (something Jesus Firsters can’t seem to wrap their minds around).

  21. Two comments against pr. mueller jr’s statement of making worship fun:

    By the very statement, Pr. Mueller has completely forgotten what we go to worship for, it is NOT for us to serve Christ, but to get served by Christ. Making worship fun is implying that the HS is not doing His job in strengthening our faith through the Word and Sacraments and so we invent ways we think it needs to be done. Do sheep need to have fun, or hear the faith creating, faith strengthening Word?

    Second, making worship fun is NOT the theology of the Cross, but of Glory. Do you tell a grieving widow smile and be happy, or do you constantly remind them that because of that faith created and sustained in their sainted spouse because of Christ’s work, they are reclining in the bosom of the Lord.

    There is nothing wrong with having fun bible studies or activities at the church for fellowship and as a part of the Community, but it needs to stay out of the way of the Word in the worship service.

    Kiley

  22. C’mons guys, be open-minded. Our confessions do not expressly forbid a praise band, so bring it on (complete with plexiglass-enclosed drum set).

    Adiaphora has been abused to become the “catch-all.” Using a few passages of our confessions to justify CW/CG is akin to using Gal 3:28 alone to justify female ordination.

    @Rev. Thomas C. Messer #122

    I always get a kick out of Fuller Sem. I remember “Testing the Claims of Church Growth” referring to Fuller as our “third seminary.” If you have never read this book, it is a must-read.

  23. @boogie #124

    > plexiglass-enclosed drum set

    What is it for? To protect the drummer from thrown beer bottles?

    Within the last couple of weeks I had occasion to be in such a place during the week when its large auditorium was not in use. I peeked in and saw exactly what you describe on the altar (stage?). There was also indeed a very large cross on the wall behind the stage.

  24. @Jim Pierce #120

    > instructs us not to implement any practice which offends our weaker brothers

    My impression of the CG contingent is that they think the historical liturgy offends some believers.

  25. @Rev. Thomas C. Messer #122
    Thomas — Try Psalm 122 — or Psalm 100 — or Psalm 28 — or Psalm 150. Do a word study on Biblegateway.com in your choice of translation: look up glad, happy, joy, praise — tell me one place in Holy Scripture that states we are to stop having joy and fun and happiness and laughter and praise when we enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise! Our whole life — in worship and out — is to be one of joy and thanksgiving to Him! I am sorry for you if you miss out on that on this side of heaven — and hope when the angels and the archangels and all of the company of heaven start up their “Holy, Holy, Holy” you won’t be too disappointed if they do it with a beat!

    You see, Thomas, what makes music useful for Lutheran worship isn’t style (Western European Liturgical or American Contemporary): it’s content must mirror and be entirely consistent with Scripture. That’s what makes it doctrinally pure, isn’t it? And, while not “everything goes,” doesn’t FC X specifically mention rites and ceremonies that are “neither commanded nor forbidden” in God’s Holy Word? Can you show me one place where God’s Word suggests that the western liturgical mass is commanded — or forbidden? If you find that it is true in God’s Holy Word that a liturgical worship form is commanded, then shouldn’t the whole world use it exclusively or be considered heterodox? Shouldn’t a requirement for our mission work in all foreign countries be that we exclusively use page 5, 15, 32, 151 or any of the other liturgical forms of worship because other forms are forbidden? And which of the versions is the best, the preferred? TLH? LW? LSB? Doesn’t this sound silly to you?

    Thomas, you are only 5 hours away from Roselle in Alma. You should come for a weekend and see what fun worship is like — both liturgical and contemporary. This is a place where the “weak in faith” are strengthened as God feeds them with His Word and Sacraments. This is a place where the freedom of the congregation is exercised (as in FC X.2) in worship: we freely celebrate in response to God’s goodness with great traditional, liturgical worship; we freely celebrate in response to God’s goodness with great non-liturgical worship. We also refuse (as we are called to do so in FC X.Negativa.1-4) to allow human ordinances or institutions to be regarded in themselves a divine worship or part of it, we refuse to allow ceremonies, ordinances and institutions to be forced upon our congregation as necessary or abrogated as though our congregation were not free to employ one or more in Christian liberty. And to be “free” in worship is not a “theology of glory” rather than a “theology of the cross.” Our freedom in worship is style is a part of the freedom we have as children of the heavenly Father.

    Peace! Chuck

  26. @Kiley Campbell #123

    Kiley — I think you missed the point. Fun, joy, laughter, happiness in worship is not what makes worship “good” and we don’t create fun in order to please people — but it is a natural and normal and real response to the work of the Holy Spirit through His Means of Grace. It is how people who have been forgiven in the Lord Jesus Christ respond and react to that reality. Their sins are washed away! Yippee! Don’t we sing it that way? “O bless the Lord, my soul! His grace to thee proclaim! And all that is within me join To bless His holy Name!”

    It is not the “theology of glory” but a redeemed child of God’s normal reaction to the “theology of the cross.” At the same time I would not tell a grieving widow to “be happy” out of character with the moment, I would not tell a new bride not to crack a smile during her worship lest people think she is following a “theology of glory.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Shouldn’t we appropriately be encouraging both?

    For instance, we gave joyful “God applause” in our worship service when a former Muslim was baptized, when 34 adults were confirmed or re-affirmed their faith in Christ Jesus, when 55 children made their confirmation vows last weekend. You may have a different response. I just can’t hold my joy in when I see the hand of God working among His people as His Word and Sacraments bear fruit! “Praise God from whom all blessing flow!”

    Maybe you guys should stop talking among yourselves and coming up with strange motives for things you don’t like or personally wouldn’t do and start talking to people like me who are just as committed to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions as you are but have a different way of expressing God’s amazing grace in their lives. I do not suggest that the way you do it is wrong. It is just wrong for me. Just as we have a natural and normal diversity of gifts within the Christian Church (Ephesians 4, Romans 12, etc.) — we have different ways of “being” for the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:12).

    Isn’t that also a part of what we agreed to when we became a part of the LCMS? Read the Preamble and Article III of the Constitution of the LCMS. Doesn’t it include these words: “Encourage congregations to strive for uniformity in church practice, but also to develop an appreciation of a variety of responsible practices and customs which are in harmony with our common profession of faith”?

    When you try to limit “responsible practices and customs which are in harmony with our common profession of faith” in my congregation and other congregations by suggesting that worshiping God as described throughout Scripture and not condemned by the same is doctrinally wrong, who has moved away from our “common confession of faith”?

    Peace! Chuck

  27. @Chuck Mueller, Jr. #128

    Dear Pastor Mueller,

    Thank you for joining in on this blog discussion.

    I have a couple of questions and comments.

    > we gave joyful “God applause” in our worship service when a former Muslim was baptized, when 34 adults were confirmed or re-affirmed their faith in Christ Jesus, when 55 children made their confirmation vows last weekend.

    Our liturgy-only church does this too. I’m not making a point one way or the other by saying that. Just expressing some commonality, I guess.

    > Maybe you guys should stop talking among yourselves and coming up with strange motives for things you don’t like or personally wouldn’t do and start talking to people like me who are just as committed to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions as you are but have a different way of expressing God’s amazing grace in their lives. I do not suggest that the way you do it is wrong. It is just wrong for me.

    Pastor, what way are you talking about? Liturgical vs. non-liturgical?

    > When you try to limit “responsible practices and customs which are in harmony with our common profession of faith” in my congregation and other congregations by suggesting that worshiping God as described throughout Scripture and not condemned by the same is doctrinally wrong, who has moved away from our “common confession of faith”?

    I think it is a scandal, one way or another, that these words have to be posted. Is there any hope of brotherly trust when there is this kind of challenge and tension in the situation?

    Also. Aren’t we more or less focusing on some of the easiest issues here? I remember President Barry struggling to address open communion. Has this gone away? We all hear of people who espouse putting women in spiritual authority over men. Has this gone away? There are perennial sneak/shock attacks on basic doctrines: Scriptural inerrancy, divinity of Christ, modal heresies w/r/t the Trinity, preaching devoid of Law, preaching devoid of Gospel, withholding baptism from infants, evolution creeping into our school curricula … are you completely united with us hyper-conservatives on those? Is the use of old versus newer music the entire thing?

  28. @Chuck Mueller, Jr. #127

    Thomas — Try Psalm 122 — or Psalm 100 — or Psalm 28 — or Psalm 150. Do a word study on Biblegateway.com in your choice of translation: look up glad, happy, joy, praise — tell me one place in Holy Scripture that states we are to stop having joy and fun and happiness and laughter and praise when we enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise! Our whole life — in worship and out — is to be one of joy and thanksgiving to Him! I am sorry for you if you miss out on that on this side of heaven — and hope when the angels and the archangels and all of the company of heaven start up their “Holy, Holy, Holy” you won’t be too disappointed if they do it with a beat!

    You can do all the words searches you desire, Chuck, but Holy Scripture knows nothing of “fun” in worship? Christian joy and gladness is not equivalent to “fun.” Good grief, man! The principle put forth that we have to make worship “fun” did not originate in Scripture or in our Lutheran Confessions. That came from those who confess contrary to what we Lutherans confess. It came from those who DO NOT BELIEVE that our Lord Jesus Christ is REALLY PRESENT with us in the Divine Service. It came from those who believe it is necessary for Christian “worship” to be entertaining, so that people will have “fun” and keep coming back for mo’ “fun.” True Lutherans know better, Chuck. We do not enter our Lord’s Holy House of Prayer to be entertained and have “fun.”

    You see, Thomas, what makes music useful for Lutheran worship isn’t style (Western European Liturgical or American Contemporary): it’s content must mirror and be entirely consistent with Scripture. That’s what makes it doctrinally pure, isn’t it? And, while not “everything goes,” doesn’t FC X specifically mention rites and ceremonies that are “neither commanded nor forbidden” in God’s Holy Word? Can you show me one place where God’s Word suggests that the western liturgical mass is commanded — or forbidden? If you find that it is true in God’s Holy Word that a liturgical worship form is commanded, then shouldn’t the whole world use it exclusively or be considered heterodox? Shouldn’t a requirement for our mission work in all foreign countries be that we exclusively use page 5, 15, 32, 151 or any of the other liturgical forms of worship because other forms are forbidden? And which of the versions is the best, the preferred? TLH? LW? LSB? Doesn’t this sound silly to you?

    Chuck, you don’t have to be a Lutheran. But, you don’t get to be a Lutheran and abandon the theology of worship believed, taught, confessed, and practiced by Lutherans. Like it or not, the Lutheran Church is a liturgical church. How we worship is not an adiaphoron for Lutherans, even though you and yours try with all your might to make it so. You cannot read through everything our Lutheran Confessions confess about worship and come away with the idea that we’re all free to do whatever we like. And, you definitely cannot come away with the idea that it is okay for Lutherans to employ the rites and ceremonies of those whom our Confessions condemn. Sorry, can’t do it. You are deceiving yourself if you think otherwise.

    You are wrong about music, too. The Church has her own sound, Chuck. Always has. That sound has changed slightly from time to time, but it has always been distinct, and it has always purposely avoided sounding like the world. You should do a little research in this area before you make condescending remarks to those of us who have.

    What is silly is that you think it silly for me to demand that Lutherans worship like Lutherans. As I’ve said before, and as all true Lutherans know, there is much freedom in Lutheran worship, but that freedom is not limitless. I don’t care what “version” (better, “setting”) of the Divine Service you use, but pick one and use it if you want to be Lutheran. Writing your own “liturgies,” having been influenced by those who are NOT Lutheran, is out of bounds. Oh, and by the way, those Christians you and yours are so wont to mimic in worship are, well, heterodox. Just sayin’.

    Thomas, you are only 5 hours away from Roselle in Alma. You should come for a weekend and see what fun worship is like — both liturgical and contemporary. This is a place where the “weak in faith” are strengthened as God feeds them with His Word and Sacraments. This is a place where the freedom of the congregation is exercised (as in FC X.2) in worship: we freely celebrate in response to God’s goodness with great traditional, liturgical worship; we freely celebrate in response to God’s goodness with great non-liturgical worship. We also refuse (as we are called to do so in FC X.Negativa.1-4) to allow human ordinances or institutions to be regarded in themselves a divine worship or part of it, we refuse to allow ceremonies, ordinances and institutions to be forced upon our congregation as necessary or abrogated as though our congregation were not free to employ one or more in Christian liberty. And to be “free” in worship is not a “theology of glory” rather than a “theology of the cross.” Our freedom in worship is style is a part of the freedom we have as children of the heavenly Father.

    No thanks, Chuck. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt – literally. This is the problem with fellas like you – you think that those of us who speak out against the “contemporary worship” going on in our synod do not know what we’re talking about, as if we are just clueless as to what it is, and how and why it is done. There are a great many of us who have experienced this first hand. Heck, some of us even bought into it for a while (guilty as charged!). But, when we came to discover what true Lutheran worship is, we saw this stuff for what it truly is – and it ain’t Lutheran!

  29. @Pastor Tim Rossow #112

    Pastor Rossow, your words:

    “… I was responding to our Bishop’s son who took a shot in the dark and accused BJS of being formed for political reasons.”

    With this in mind, it seems necessary to offer clarification.

    Can you point me to where I accused BJS of being formed for political reasons? How can you even say that when considering the fact that I linked to the page that explains the goals of BJS in my comment? Is asking a question the same as making an accusation? Is trying to understand someone by comparing him to his own standards the same as making an accusation? The closest I can see is in these words from comment 15:

    “What is the timeline regarding the establishment of this website? Who was the Synodical president at the time (June 2008, I believe)? Was BJS set up to change the trajectory initiated by that Synodical president? Is there a “spin-doctored” way of explaining this website’s purposes? If there is for JesusFirst, does that mean there is for BJS?”

    If you see an accusation in these words (or any other of my words), please explain it in detail. What I see is a question based on the political atmosphere I have seen at this website. If you maintain that the BJS blog is not political, I ask you to recall your words in comment 69:

    “What most people call politics I call informing people about a very important decision that this synod is going to make. ”

    Surely you can see the political nature of the BJS blog when looking at your own definition of “politics”?

    This looks like another example of how voices of opposition are met here at the BJS blog. Little room is given for what has been described as “two-sided” conversations. By the way, the “two-sided” conversations appear to be valuable to at least some of your readers, as indicated above.

    Pastor Rossow, please clear up this misunderstanding. I never accused BJS of being formed for political reasons, nor was it my intent for anyone to get that impression. I am simply asking for you to look at BJS with a similar filter as that which you look at JesusFirst. Surely you don’t want to mirror those with whom you harbor such fierce disagreements?

  30. @Rev. Jack Gilbert #131

    Rev. Gilbert – this blog does a lot of theology and some related politics.

    > This looks like another example of how voices of opposition are met here at the BJS blog.

    hmm. They are published. Instantaneously. As in your own post #131 and many others.

    > Surely you don’t want to mirror those with whom you harbor such fierce disagreements?

    Would you say mirroring JF would be a bad thing?

  31. @Chuck Mueller, Jr. #128

    > Fun, joy, laughter, happiness

    I love those too.

    Having come out of heterodox wandering, those are not the emotions I feel when I see people demanding ‘freedom’ from the most Scriptural teaching, preaching and liturgy I have ever heard – the cleaned up (Lutheran) historic liturgy.

    No, when I smell the influence of false doctrine in a Lutheran service, what I feel is more like fight or flight; edginess; outrage; despair. Just feelings, mind you, but – letting you know.

  32. @mbw #132

    mbw,

    Can you point me to where I took a “shot in the dark” and accused BJS of being formed for political reasons? This is notably missing in your response.

    Your words:

    “hmm. They are published. Instantaneously. As in your own post #131 and many others.”

    No one would deny that. But I ask, what good is allowing someone to post his or her thoughts and then ignore, misrepresent, or misunderstand what this person has said? (NOTE: Misunderstanding someone’s words is the author’s responsibility. I would ask that people request clarifications before jumping to negative conclusions. I have been guilty of this here as well, for which I apologize.)

    I am pointing to what seems to be a somewhat consistent practice surrounding voices of opposition here. I argue that this is because of the nature of this blog. I take Kiley’s definition of a blog (see comment 57) and note that there are a great number of “like-minded persons” here. This is fine, but it makes the conversation very one sided. This is fine too, I just hope people can see that and acknowledge it.

    In my mind, I never accused BJS of being formed for political reasons. I can assure you this was never my intent. I listed a number of questionable practices being employed at the BJS blog. I also looked at the BJS blog according to similar standards that Pastor Rossow set up for JesusFirst. As far as I can tell, my words were severely misrepresented or misunderstood. I will wait to see if I am confused on the subject, and hope for clarification soon.

    Your words:

    “Would you say mirroring JF would be a bad thing?”

    I would say mirroring anyone we think is doing things we don’t agree with would be a “bad thing”. When I read through the article above, it sure looks like Pastor Rossow does not want to mirror some practices he highlights and attributes to JesusFirst. However, I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and attack an organization I know little more about than what has been described by someone who appears to strongly disagree with them. Many readers here know more about JesusFirst than I do. I don’t know enough to blindly accept what Pastor Rossow has written.

  33. Rev. Gilbert #131,

    I will try to clarify.

    In the original post I asserted that Jesus First was formed for political reasons.

    In comment #15 you rejected my assertion that Jesus First was formed for political reasons and asked a series of rhetorical questions about the origins of BJS. I took that to mean you were saying that BJS was also formed for political reasons and so I had no room to criticize Jesus First for the same.

    That is what I meant. I think it accurately portrays what was said in the comments above. Am I wrong?

    TR

  34. @Rev. Jack Gilbert #134

    Rev. Gilbert, I responded to parts of what you wrote. In the meantime, I’d commend some advice from the noted theologian (kidding about that) Bill O’Reilly: be pithy.

    What’s the name of the fallacy where people write many words that don’t say much, and thus are unanswerable, leaving the impression on the unwary that the writer has ‘won’ the debate or stated the truth, such that he can’t be refuted.

    You not only are very wordy; you are repeating yourself.

    So, unwary readers: be wary.

  35. @Rev. Jack Gilbert #134

    >>> This looks like another example of how voices of opposition are met here at the BJS blog.

    >> “hmm. They are published. Instantaneously. As in your own post #131 and many others.”

    > No one would deny that.

    I think that summarizes it. Just trying to be pithy here.

  36. @Rev. Jack Gilbert #134

    > Many readers here know more about JesusFirst than I do. I don’t know enough to blindly accept what Pastor Rossow has written.

    Maybe then you don’t know enough to challenge him, either?

  37. @Pastor Tim Rossow #135

    Pastor Rossow,

    I don’t see a rejection of your assertion in my words, so I find that you are wrong.

    I hope you know that I do not believe in any way that there were “political” motivations behind the origins of BJS. While I did not reject your assertion, I did compare your accusations against JesusFirst (specifically with the timeline of its organization) against the origins of BJS. I noticed that you were willing to describe the “politically correct” or “spin-doctored” version of explaining what JesusFirst aims to do, coupled with their own explanations of their existence, and asked if this could also be applied to BJS. You have answered this question already, but I want to be clear on what I was asking.

    It seems as though you do not appreciate that JesusFirst was organized “…to change the direction of the synod in the late 1990’s”. My comment 15 was to get you to see that at least to me, BJS reflects a very similar goal.

    For example, when I read about our brother President Kieschnick here at the BJS blog, I see that many writers and commenters don’t agree with the trajectory they see him taking our synod. It seems to me also that many here wish to “change” that perceived trajectory. The parallel is striking. I want to assure you that I have no problem with this when done out of care for a fellow brother in Christ, but I don’t like that you appear to be criticizing an organiztion for doing things that seem very similar to what’s going on here.

    I understand the argument that BJS uses a “theological” rather than “political” approach, and that politics come through as a result. That is to be expected! I’m just asking you to see the parallels between what you do here and what you accuse JesusFirst of doing!

    Please be assured, I greatly appreciate the theological arguments presented here, and accept that politics are going to follow.

  38. @mbw #136

    mbw,

    I have read a great number of long comments here in this very thread, and not all of them were written by me. I wonder if everyone here needs to be “pithy” or if that only applies to me.

    I hope you know that I don’t write long comments in order to throw off anyone reading, but rather the opposite. Clearly I have misunderstood some words here, and I find that others here have as well. Usually, in cases such as this, further clarification is needed in order for everyone to understand a viewpoint.

    As far as the “No one would deny that” summary, I obviously disagree and thought further clarification was necessary. Read the words that followed to understand my point.

    Finally, though I admit to reading very little by JesusFirst and knowing very little about the organization, please allow me to clarify. Pastor Rossow raised accusations against an organization. The accusations pointed to practices he appears to disagree with. Some of those very same practices seem present here at the BJS blog. I see no need to know anything about JesusFirst with Pastor Rossow’s accusations spelled out plainly here. I’m not defending JesusFirst, I’m comparing the BJS blog to Pastor Rossow’s own standards.

  39. Rev. Gilbert,

    Agreed – both BJS and Jesus First were formed to change the direction of synod. Here is the difference. Jesus First is a political organization. They endorse a slate of candidates, their primary efforts are geared toward convention delegates, etc.

    BJS is an organization that is primarily geared toward orgainzing chapters of men who defend the faith, starting and promoting confessional reasding groups and producing materials that teach the Lutheran Confessions. (This was Wilken’s point right out of the blocks on this string.) We do not have a list of candidates that we endorse. We do not send out e-mails to delegates. We have addressed delegates in some of our posts but in a generic broadcast sort of way and not in the intentional and targeted way that Jesus First has.

    We do have a very succesful blog that is fast becoming the go-to place for Lutheran news and commentary that helps to promote our organization. It is open to all and we now even have Jesus First folks commenting here. (This is mbw’s point above.) We have also chosen to speak in favor of candidate Harrison and against many of the Blue Ribbon proposals because these two issues clearly illustrate our goals.

    There are certainly similarities between the two organizations but the differences are far greater and the basic purpose of each organization is radically different.

    TR

  40. @Rev. Jack Gilbert #140

    Dear Rev. Gilbert,

    > I hope you know that I don’t write long comments in order to throw off anyone reading, but rather the opposite.

    I understand. I am concerned, though, that if your thoughts can’t be put more briefly, they won’t be well read or understood.

    > Finally, though I admit to reading very little by JesusFirst and knowing very little about the organization, please allow me to clarify. Pastor Rossow raised accusations against an organization. …

    Ok, but let me suggest that your concerns are of necessity a bit ‘surface’ (‘superficial’ or ‘shallow’ would be more accurate but I would not want you to take those words as personal pejoratives or insults). What I would urge you to do is look at the concerns about doctrine and practice that are being brought by Dr. Rossow and others. This can be very hard when the initial impression is that we are too polemical, but, please, the substance of the thing is more important than the outward appearance. Look at what the most of the best confessional Lutheran theologians are saying about ‘Jesus First’.

    Thank you for writing back and continuing to discuss this.

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