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.