Great Stuff Found on the Web — A Response to the President’s Koinonia Project

Given some of the previous discussions on BJS regarding the Koinonia Project, thanks to a reader for pointing out this article written by Pastor Petersen over on Gottesdienst Online talking about the project.


 

President Matthew Harrison and First-Vice President Herbert Mueller have issued a report of their Koinonia Project to address the disunity and schisms in the LC-MS. On the surface this plan is nearly indistinguishable from every other plan to unite the synod of the past 10 years. It proposes the creation of discussion groups and urges everyone to be nice. Below the surface, there is something distinguishable: the tone. Mueller’s report oozes piety and sincerity. He knows there are problems. I suspect, though he leave it unstated, that he knows this process, if seriously engaged, will cause departures from the synod. But he isn’t instituting a purge, nor is he engaging in a bureaucratic cover up for false doctrine. He wants to win the brother and he is willing to look at the log in his own eye first. Gottesdienst serves the synod as a kind of think tank. And while I don’t speak for all the editors or readers, I think theGottesdienst crowd needs to follow Mueller’s example. In short, everybody needs to calm down.

Those who are tired of the fighting and wish we would all just get along need to calm down. We live in the Church Militant. The Church has always fought within itself. Iron sharpens iron. It is good to care about eternal things. It is good to care about the details, about the lost, and about how we interact with each other and the world. Our fighting is caused by sin but refraining from fighting does not remove the sin. It only hides it. Our Lord does not call us to ignore the speck in our brother’s eye but to love him enough to take some risks and to try and help.

Next, if we are going to do this, we need some nomenclature. We have to drop “liberal” and “conservative.” They are not only pejorative, they are inaccurate. I like the label “confessional.” This doesn’t mean that I think I am the only one confessing. It simply means that this is my focus and identity. I suspect that this self-chosen description rightly fits and is comfortable on about 51% of the synod. The other side, the roughly 46% who supported the reelection of President Kieschnick, seem to have chosen the term “missional” for themselves. Just as I don’t think that I am excluding others from confessing by calling myself a confessional, I do not think that the missionals are accusing me of being disinterested in missions, lazy, or complacent. They simply understand this as their particular focus and identity. If indeed this is the adjective they wish, I promise to use it respectfully. If this is the wrong term, or not accepted by all, I am sorry. For the time being at least, it seems to me to be what they have chosen – and it also seems accurate. When I am corrected and given a better self-description, I promise to use it. But we can’t impugn one another with conservative and liberal.

For years I have heard complaints from Jesus First and other proponents of the missional camp that there is a terrible danger and mis-emphasis among the confessionals on doctrinal purity. I think, in part, they are right. This charge has been too easily dismissed, as though being accused of being obsessed with doctrinal purity were akin to being accused of loving too much, having too much money, or being too good looking. We have been called to doctrinal purity. This is what God desires and demands. But it is not true to think that doctrinal purity trumps all else. Doctrine was made for man, not man for doctrine. David ate the showbread. The Lord’s disciples plucked grain and Jesus healed on the Sabbath. St. Paul allows the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. Love is the ultimate principle behind the Law. So also, love is the ultimate principle, both in content and application, of doctrine. If doctrine does not serve love, or if it serves pride, it is false.

Some might rejoin that these are Law examples not Gospel examples. These are, however, ultimately arguments about the Law. The Law commands we evangelize. To fail to confess and witness is a sin. The Law also commands that we teach pure doctrine. False doctrine is a sin. It is possible to love a system of doctrine for its own beauty and reasonableness apart from its actual content. That was the sin of the Pharisees. The missionals do well to warn us of this danger.

We, the confessionals, need to calm down. We should not be issuing ultimatums. We should not be setting ourselves up as the judges of Israel. We should not be operating out of fear as though it is our duty to cleanse and purify the Church. And we should be careful in our language and criticisms so as not to hurt the feelings of our brothers.

We, the confessionals, need historic perspective on doctrinal purity. We sometimes speak and act as though there was a golden age in the Church to which we must return. There was no golden age. The history of the Church is a history of disunity, confusion, heresy, abuse, and schism. The history of the liturgy is equally messy. St. Gregory did much to foster unity but even then there were local customs and variances in almost every locality. Those who waited for and expected the Messiah at the time of Christ were divided between the Pharisees, the priests, the Essenes, the zealots, Gentile proselytes, and the quiet in the land. The Lord has provided amazingly clear and articulate voices from time to time. Athanasius was such a voice at the Council of Nicea. So also were Luther and then the Lutheran fathers in 1580. But they are few and far between. They are the exception. There does not look to be a great, charismatic, theological mind and voice in our age.

We are insignificant men in an insignificant synod in an insignificant time. The history of the Missouri Synod is not the history of great preachers, scholars, or obedient Germans. We are not a sleeping giant. We are a raging, self-important mouse. Our history is the history of fools plodding along without really knowing what they were doing. Pastors taught false doctrine from their ignorance. They got caught up in politics and culture. Missionaries instituted crazy practices. The synod grew by immigration and inertia. Members insisted on acting and looking like their neighbors. They stuck to the truth out of nostalgia as often as conviction. Yet the Lord provided. Babies were baptized. The Word of God was read. The Absolution and Body and Blood of Jesus were bestowed, and the half-hearted, confused prayers were heard by a gracious God. Sometimes the best thing we ever did was stick the name “Lutheran” on the sign. If nothing else, it forced us to use the Small Catechism and keep a copy of the American Edition of Luther’s Works and the Book of Concord on the pastor’s shelf. Then sometimes, somebody, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, no doubt, read them. The Lord doesn’t need us to purify or unite or fix or do anything to the Church. It is His Church. We confessionals need to calm down and stop acting as though every time a pastor does something stupidly or chooses a weak practice or even commits an unintentional heresy the walls are going to come crashing down. So what if they do? Calm down.

Read the rest of the article here

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

Great Stuff Found on the Web — A Response to the President’s Koinonia Project — 32 Comments

  1. But it is not true to think that doctrinal purity trumps all else. Doctrine was made for man, not man for doctrine. David ate the showbread. The Lord’s disciples plucked grain and Jesus healed on the Sabbath. St. Paul allows the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. Love is the ultimate principle behind the Law. So also, love is the ultimate principle, both in content and application, of doctrine. If doctrine does not serve love, or if it serves pride, it is false.

    Not brilliant; beautiful.

  2. ” He wants to win the brother and he is willing to look at the log in his own eye first. ”

    Which “brother” is he speaking of ? The other members of The Holy Ministry who have spent an inordinate amount of time studying the scriptures our confessions and theology that they took an oath to uphold? WE who have had enough are tired of leadership trying to “win their brothers”. Their “brothers” have had ample time to consider their positions and behavior and they don’t give a darn. They are not poor ignorant babes in the faith. That is a hard pill to swallow but we are not talking about child like laymen who are still growing we are talking about well informed and learned men who know EXACTLY what they are doing. If they have changed their beliefs then have the guts to say so. This “save the brothers” is a naive concept. These “brothers” are either in alignment or they are not. If they are not they should have the courage of their convictions and leave if not we can walk them out the door. This approach is the same approach taken by the ELCA, the Episcopal church and a variety of others. Again it is painfully naive and has no chance of working. Matt 18 needs to be applied to its bitter conclusion if necessary. Anything else is divisive, malignant and anti Biblical. Many of we well informed laymen are trying hard not to see this as anything but a “pastoral brotherhood” protecting their own. Jumping to that conclusion is a sinful act of judgement of motives but in many cases logic based on their behavior makes one wonder.

  3. I think Pastor Peterson’s article is brilliant if for no other reason other than that it throws into sharp relief those who, well, not to put it too softly, simply want to lob grenades.

    Wow! Maybe there really is a “Holiness movement” problem amongst us!

    It is *not* the same approach taken in the ELCA, etc. There, the Word of God hasn’t *any* seat at the table. Here, it will be the *foundation* for the efforts to bring us back into a Godly harmony. How long did our Lord suffer the apostasizing of Israel and then Israel and Judah? Hmm. 800 years or so, I think it was.

    Thank you, Pr. Peterson, for reminding us that when our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said, “Repent” He willed that the entire life of the Christian be one of repentance. Including *me* and *mine*. Not just “them” and “theirs”.

  4. Pr. Petersen has written a good and thought provoking article. As I was reading it I decided to take a look at the concept paper for the Koinonia Project, which can be found here. In that short paper we find the following:

    “In light of these definitions, the goal of this project is to seek, by God’s grace and Spirit in His Word, a greater sense of unity and concord in our Synod under the Word of God for the sake of our witness before the world. We pray that this will also help us toward a greater sense of harmony. There is no denying that we have several areas of disagreement and unresolved problems that plague our life together: questions of worship forms, communion practice, fellowship, mission strategies, church and ministry issues, to name the most obvious. Some would say the differences are usually only matters of practice, yet theology and practice cannot be separated. A pastor’s teaching will be reflected in his practice and a pastor’s practice is his theology in action (though because of human weakness, a man’s practice may not always fully match what he professes to believe). Here we also recognize there are varieties of practice that can carry the true doctrine. There are also other practices that will negate the true teaching. Because of this, we need to discuss and clarify how faithful teaching (doctrine) and faithful doing (practice) are intimately connected and ought be congruent. Just as at the time of the Formula of Concord, a healthy agreement on adiaphora will be essential to harmony.”

    I think it is good to keep in the back of our minds the principles laid out in the concept paper I linked, since I think that will help some of us to “calm down,” as Pr. Petersen has asked. The foundation of the Koinonia project is repentance around the Word of God and concord founded upon our Lutheran Confessions. I think Pr. Petersen is reminding all of us, no matter what party stripe we see ourselves under, that repentance is a graciously given to us by God as a gift. It isn’t something the “Confessionals” or the “Missionals” (as he uses those terms) are going to invoke in each other through our works. In that sense we can truly belly up to the table and confess the Scriptures and our Lutheran confessions being fully calm (I prefer “peace of the Lord” over “calm” though, since I am rarely calm, but do have the Lord’s peace which only He can give!); knowing that the Holy Spirit will be working through His Holy Word to bring us to repentance.

  5. These errant brothers give little concern for scripture or our confessions in spite of their going through the motions. And yes early on the ELCA tried this similar approach and ended up in apostasy. As to taking 800 years we are given that information so that we do not fall into the same error NOT so we can give ourselves more time or feel superior in comparison.

    .@Rev. David Mueller #4

  6. Many of us will not “calm down” we will continue to be as faithful as possible unlike many of these errand “brothers”. It is always the tactic of the weak to confront the confronters for being unloving or not following Matt 18 and needing to “calm down”. Many of us started down the road of Matt 18 and the DRP only to discover that much of it is so much empty banter for the masses who have no idea how split we really are. We have done things decently and in order but to no avail. The last step after having taken these issues to the church is to remove these “brothers” from our fellowship and continue to deliver them Law and Gospel (treat them like pagans). That is the Biblical process but we keep avoiding that last step and it its bearing some seriously rotten fruit.
    #comment-143959″>@Jim Pierce #5

  7. @mames #7

    If “calm down” means not confessing the truth, or not being “as faithful as possible,” then I don’t think Pr. Petersen would want any of us to “calm down.” I suspect he means something more like “don’t get ahead of ourselves.” Like I stated above, I prefer “peace of the Lord” over “calm down,” since I can’t really “calm down” and I don’t think anyone can if the truth of the Scriptures are being compromised. But, if Pr. Petersen is telling us not to get ahead of ourselves, then I think that is appropriate. It took how many years for the LCMS to get into this deep mess? The authors of the Koinonia project see it as a decade long process… I think that is being optimistic!

  8. It is simply foolish not to recognize a grave split within LCMS. Confessionals are rightly alarmed by the missionals willingness to use any sort of attractive theology and practice, no matter how foreign to historical Lutheran doctrine (something made for man to teach the truth) and liturgy. Missionals seem to be able to criticize only by calling confessionals unloving or legalistic.

    For the Koinonia Project to succeed, it is going to have to restore a unity of confession and practice, based on the historical theological documents of the Lutheran church, with Holy Scripture in the place of honor. If the missional brothers who wish to direct LCMS into some other theological channel cannot be lovingly brought to admit their error, then we must take cognizance of Our Savior’s warning that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

    If this seems harsh, it is merely an acknowledgment of the chaos within LCMS that is of long standing. It will take time to restore TRUE unity. And, lest we forget, LCMS, like every other church body is a creation of men. But these men were seeking to preserve the truth and purity of our confessions based on Holy Scripture. Lutheran history is messy and at times confused. But thanks be to God that we have faithful Lutherans who will not supinely accept the dissolution of the very body of doctrine and practice that we have inherited and for which we should thank God.

    There will be anguish and soul searching along the way. Some will fall away from LCMS. But we have a duty to be faithful and not to compromise on any point of Scripture based doctrine and practice.

  9. @George Adams #9 Well said. I suppose those errant “brothers” who are publicly advocating the “normalness” of homosexuality, ordination of women, encouraging open communion, using gospel reductionism as a method of growth– these require now ANOTHER application of ANOTHER process? Nonsense, just pull the trigger. Not doing so is not only unloving it violates Matt 18. Our reluctance to enforce our confessional stance has brought its own punishment. If we truly believe God does not ask from us what is only good for us then why do we ignore Him allowing the blantantly heterodox to remain on our rosters?

  10. What kinds of pastors are now graduating from the seminaries? As a layman I should not care about the internal squabbling within the LCMS. If the pastors want to argue amongst themselves, then be my guest. I care only because I see my offering plate money being wasted on a lumbering bureaucracy and on ineffective Church Growth programs.

    1546: Luther’s death

    1546-1576: Disarray within the Lutheran church

    1576: August of Saxony calls a conference to work out differences

    1580: Formula of Concord was published in 1580

    Source: The Lutheran Difference, by various authors, page xxi, 2010, CPH

    After 30 years of chaos, it took 4 years to iron out differences.

    How long will it take in the 21st century for the LCMS to achieve Harmony?

  11. Just out of historical curiosity, what kind of koinonia dialoguing plan did J.A.O. Preus II employ when, as synod president, he worked to straighten out the Missouri Synod away from those who had crossed over into heterodoxy?

  12. @Carl Vehse #12

    Yeah… If I remember correctly, that all lead to a schism that resulted in the ever prominent ELCA. Fancy that, how our desire to be faithful lead to the creation of one of the largest heterodox church bodies in the United States. Let’s go ahead and “pull the trigger” on that again, see how much more sin and despair we can wreak upon a dying world.

  13. “Our desire to be faithful lead to the creation of one of the largest heterodox church bodies in the United States… [and] sin and despair we… wreak[ed] upon a dying world”?!?

    That’s as irrational as claiming the desire of depositors to keep their money safe in a bank led to the creation of bankrobbers and wreaked sin and despair upon the community.

  14. @Matthew Pancake #13

    Cynical much? The Seminex professors wre itching for a massive change. The LC-MS at large said no. The profs left in a huff. The ALC and especially the LCA were trending towards a heterdox postion already. With all the publicity surrounding the Walkout, they had to know exactly what they were getting, and still invited them into their ranks. Due to its size the AELC had to fight very hard for the merger, that or disappear. ALC and LCA did not need them, but took their yeast anyway. To a good point, they did this to themselves. And to a certain segment in the LC-MS, we fell relieved they are not our problem anymore, although we still have not cleaned up all the mess left behind.

    I may sound a bit cynical, but I am trying to work on the plank in our own eye of the LC-MS. So I am limited in how I complain about ELCA’s or other Christians’ specks, insofar as other denominations desire to deviate from historic and orthodox Christianity. I prefer to work on improving our lampstand so it can be a bright light to the world.

  15. @Matthew Pancake #13
    Those in the old ALC that opted out of previous mergers (before the formation of the ELCA) could also be accused of the same thing, then, I suppose.

    But, didn’t this have an upside? The ELCA is thereby forced to march under its own colors. It has less protective coloring, less camouflage. Maybe this is only a local phenomenon where I live and work, but it seems the lay people around the community do get that there has been a declension.

  16. @Matthew Pancake #13
    Fancy that, how our desire to be faithful lead to the creation of one of the largest heterodox church bodies in the United States.

    That’s nonsense! LCA was well on the way (“our’ men learned their heresies in LCA seminaries) and ELC/ALC had its own apostates also. AELC just added to the numbers a bit, in finding a congenial home. They overreach if they claim it was all their own idea. Jenson & Braaten wrote their “Dogmatics”… Norwegians, both. (Braaten seems to have decided things went too far; it’s easier to start an avalanche than to stop it.)

  17. mames :
    @George Adams #9 Well said. I suppose those errant “brothers” who are publicly advocating the “normalness” of homosexuality, ordination of women, encouraging open communion, using gospel reductionism as a method of growth– these require now ANOTHER application of ANOTHER process? Nonsense, just pull the trigger. Not doing so is not only unloving it violates Matt 18. Our reluctance to enforce our confessional stance has brought its own punishment. If we truly believe God does not ask from us what is only good for us then why do we ignore Him allowing the blantantly heterodox to remain on our rosters?

    Think of our children. Why do they deserve to inherit this mess? How will they know what is right if we don’t show them the way? Shouldn’t we act like adults and leave things better than we found them?

  18. @helen #17 YEP again. Look, my point was that the ELCA became its heterodox self because no internal discipline was applied by the LCA and ALC and resulting ELCA. They simply discussed themselves to death. They assumed there could be a meeting of the minds, a unity in this method when in fact men’s minds cannot arrive at anything spiritual without resulting in spiritual death. There is only one source for our faith, Gods Word and all other approaches to unity only serve to dilute that Word in favor of the ideas of men. When we allow this kind of “openness” we too will drift into apostasy.

    Look at our various Lutheran histories and it is apparent. Even in the secular world, in this blessed country, where our Constitution is our secular bible ( founded on Christian principals, when those principals were intensely influential) men would rather have meetings, seminars (witness the extension of this trend with Obama) and “bi-partisan” discussion rather than abide by the Constitution, the law of the land in the left kingdom. This tendency to drift from The Truth is the result of sin and the reason God is so intolerant of heresy and will jerk the truth away from those who do not treasure it and give it to others who will. WE choose to slink away and in the LCMS case most of it is due to an attempt to be “nice”, save our blatantly renegade “brothers” and family/ friend relations among the clergy that become more important. Pull the trigger. If the errant brother can be regained after being removed, Te Deum, but not before, that is the biblical method. No more discussions, no more seminars, just do what God asks and it will be to our good.

  19. @Mrs. Hume #18 The experience of your child having to witness the demise of a congregation because of division caused by a Pastor is brutal. When you have had the blessing of Pastors who were faithful to God’s Word only to encounter a smart alek, in your face renegade and realize that something must be done is gut wrenching. Once some of you go down the path to remove him on doctrinal and behavioral grounds only to be stopped all along the way by DPs and Synodical gurus is depressing because your child then wants to know what is going on. Children know. Telling them what is going on is a delicate under taking. You are right. What will we leave them if we stand by and follow the traditional LCMS path and simply let the scoundrel go to another congregation where he can continue to do his damage?

    Here is are excellent ideas though. Congregations should not give a peaceful release to these errant pastors. WE need to alert our fellow Christians in other Congregations. Do your due diligence when calling a Pastor. Question the board and professionals at his current and previous church to see what their experience has been. Given that we are not a publicly held corporation we can dig as much as we want and should. Our spiritual health is at stake and God demands we fill and maintain the local office with faithful Pastors, not heterodox in doctrine or practice. WE can weed these folks out at the congregational level. Do your own research do not depend only on the Circuit or the District who often are the source of the very scoundrels we are trying to avoid.

  20. @mames #19
    Yes, heaven forbid we actually talk. Let’s get out the beat stick and beat them into submitting to our interpretation. Let’s forget the method of the Formula of Concord and engage in the tactics of the Council of Trent. Reading your responses makes me glad you are not in charge and that the current leadership has more pastoral sense. Your rhetoric does more to damage attempts to correct the erring than it does to help. You are doing more to drive away people than actually helping to bring the erring into true confession and practice. To often people think a show of force is the only way to fix problems, it worked so well during seminex, we still have guys who won’t talk to each other and that doesn’t even touch on the lack of trust that pervades the synod. The truly erring are few.
    I suspect most are folks who are muddling through the realities of ministry who have views that need tweaking or even to be challenged to do the hard work of actually working through the process of having good doctrine and maintaining a missional focus. These people look at your rhetoric and turn a deaf ear to any who may help them because all they will hear now is you. I struggled for years with being called confessional, even as I worked to conform teaching, preaching, and practice to the Confessions, simply because I didn’t want to be associated with your brand of rhetoric.

    Please take Pastor Peterson’s advice and chill.

  21. #21: “Yes, heaven forbid we actually talk.

    Where have you been in the last twenty years? Talking is a major part of the ecclesiastical supervision process put into the Bylaws at the 1992 convention, and that includes face-to-face talking, as well as “advice, counsel, encouragement, and, when necessary, admonition regarding teaching and/or practice.”

    The alleged “show of force” is simply the Constitution and Bylaws pastors and congregations agreed to abide by when the joined the Synod (assuming their fingers weren’t crossed). And if gaps or ineffective sections appear in the Constitution or Bylaws, these can (and have) been addressed in convention from time to time. Is it now perfect? Hardly. But it’s what we have agreed to use until the Synod through the convention approves something to replace it.

    Whenever people assert that it is time for leaders to make leadership decisions that affect someone’s membership in the Synod, there are always others who complain that a little more talking, a little more dialoguing, a little more flexibility, a little less perceived tone will bring about a solution… often in the form of a compromise.

    With all the Lutheran blog discussions and the ACELC’s documents, there is hardly any secret on what major doctrinal errors are being promoted. “It is Time” (where have I heard that phrase before?) to confront such erroneous positions and the advocacy of them and confront such advocates using the ecclesiastical supervision process. Don’t worry, there will be lots of time to talk.

  22. @revaggie #21 . The blatantly errant are never going to change their minds. Their “interpretation” if contrary to our confessions is not needed here. We are not talking about those who need tweaking in the practice of ministry we are talking about those who are literally in your face defiant. Those who need and may want tweaking know they are not targets because they know and demonstrate their comittment to our confessions; those that may turn a deaf ear probably have a deeper problem. Those that are right now, openly and often in writing promoting heterodox doctrine and methodology. They are out there; the list is not as short as you or I would like.

    Regarding the Seminex problem those who are outside the biblical fold will never feel comfortable with those who are and they do not like the light of God’s Word to shine on them.

  23. @Carl Vehse #23 Right now the blatantly errant feed off delay, discussions, talking, nurturing, whatever we choose to call it. They love the long dragged out process as it tires everyone out and then they can quietly slink off to do their damage . To those who are blatant we are simply an annoyance that will go away. Those who refuse to use the “big stick” are more guilty of a lack of love than those who choose to follow the removal God demands in Matt 18 because in the end “he who does not discipline does not love” and how will we ever know if we can win our bother back until he receives the wakeup call God desires him to receive? I am hopeful that these folks do not raise their children this way.

  24. @Carl Vehse #23
    Twenty years ago, I was worried about passing my driver’s test and attending the Divine Service blissfully unaware that our synod so was so divided by polemics.

    But since that point, I have become aware that there are great wounds in our Synod that have never been addressed. You say there has been talk? There has been no talk accept talking about talking. There has been talking past each other, around each other, and at each other; however, there has been no talk with each other. There has been name calling, labeling, and accusations but no attempts at finding concord.

    By all means if a pastor, teacher, etc. is documented as persisting in the proclamation of false theology they should be removed from their office. However, that action still does not take care of the cause of distrust in our Synod. We have long standing wounds that date at least to Seminex, that simply have not been taken care of, at best they have been given lip service, but usually just ignored. For the vast majority of the issues having for real dialogue among the brothers will go a long way to re establishing those bonds of trust and very likely clarify/reconcile/improve practical issues.

    I for one like what I see coming out of Pres. Harrison’s office, because they appear to actually be trying to walk the walk and not just talking a good game. They appear to be willing to actually work towards true Koinonia and I for one am willing to work with them how ever hard it may be. It is time for us to actually work things out rather than fire shots at each other, because quite frankly it is what we as brothers should be doing. Rhetoric that simply calls for the expulsion of teachers of false theology closes that door, largely because it is heard as “I want everybody who doesn’t agree with me and does everything the way I want kicked out.”

    @mames #26
    “: verbal communication : discourse” – Merriam – Webster. May I suggest you follow your own suggestion?

    I have enough arrows in my back to know, that those of us who are just slogging it out and need occasional correction are taking shots from those who speak as you do. And as sympathetic and often in agreement as I am on matters of doctrine and practice, I just want to ignore you, even dismiss your position.

  25. @revaggie #27 rhet·o·ric? ?
    [ret-er-ik] Show IPA
    –noun
    1.
    (in writing or speech) the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast.

    in this context I am not just blowing wind I am deadly serious.

    I have enough arrows in my back to know, that those of us who are just slogging it out and need occasional correction are taking shots from those who speak as you do. And as sympathetic and often in agreement as I am on matters of doctrine and practice, I just want to ignore you, even dismiss your position.

    I cannot control your reception of my views. Just know I am not talking about any like you describe. I am talking about the BLATANT. They are unrepentant, in spite of much discussion and conversation, they continue in their error and bad behavior, they are often very clear about their views and have put them in writing. These are not the hard working, solidly confessional folks in our fellowship. Yes I openly confess that in the areas of doctrine and practice you are not in alignment with our confessions I want you out. That is not narrow minded it is demanding of faithfulness to your oath. Unlike the secular world we are not to be a “big tent” no, ” the way is narrow”.

  26. @mames #28
    Sigh, if you are going to ignore a cited legitimate definition of rhetoric, I can only assume you want to feel misunderstood. Please feel free to tell me how Merriam-Webster is wrong with this definition – “verbal communication : discourse”

  27. This is not really the point of this thread, but so that those who wish to may get back to the point, I’m hoping this might help. What we have here is confusion over several definitions of the word “rhetoric.” It is commonly used today in a derogatory manner to denote words lacking a substantive grounding in logical argument, as in, “That’s just a bunch of empty rhetoric,” but the classical definition of the word, going back to Aristotle, is simply the art of using language to persuade. When I used to teach college English one of the courses required during the freshman year was called principles of rhetoric. Here’s a link with a good summary of that definition: http://www.rpi.edu/dept/llc/webclass/web/project1/group4/index.html

  28. I have questions for the Koinonia Project:

    “What are LCMS churches getting from Willow Creek that they cannot get from the LCMS leadership?”

    *and*

    “Is the LCMS willing and/or able to provide similar resources.”

  29. @James #31
    “What are LCMS churches getting from Willow Creek that they cannot get from the LCMS leadership?”

    Willowcreek has nothing that they need to have a Lutheran church, James.
    LCMS has Scriptures and the Book of Concord; it has a good hymnal and a study Bible for anyone who wants to use it. (CPH has a few more texts in its “Lutheran collection.”)
    We have all we need, unless you deny, (as some do) that Word and Sacrament are enough.

    Bill Hybels of Willowcreek admits that his program has failed its ambition to produce Christians. He has produced seekers after the latest fad, who will be here today and down the street tomorrow. Unfortunately, too many leaders of lcms have “drunk his Kool aid” and aren’t as ready as he is to admit that it is a nutritional nothing. So they go on feeding the sheep with chaff.

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