Continued loveless treatment of error ruins Witness, cheapens Mercy, and empties Life Together.

“A fellowship in which the Word of God is fundamentally falsified, or in which a fundamental falsification of it is tolerated, is not a true orthodox church, but a false, heterodox church or sect.” – C.F.W. Walther (Essays For the Church Vol I, “Communion Fellowship,” Concordia Publishing House, 1992, p.207)

WeedsI just received the latest ACELC email which included a wonderful article written by Pr. Bruce Ley.  It is about the Koinonia Project and how long to let error remain in our midst as it grows deeper roots each day.  Think of just one false teacher out there in our Synod, year after year preaching lies to his parishioners, week after week teaching false doctrine by practicing things like open communion (or any of the non-closed options, all of which are wrong), using Sunday School materials which do the same for the littlest ones, teaching Confirmation classes, or having Bible studies using materials that are not correct.  Week by week that false teaching is tearing folks away from truth.  Week by week it leads them away from Jesus.  How is that tolerable to anyone bearing the name Christian?

I am a young pastor.  I am idealistic.  I have seen only two administrations in the LCMS as a clergyman, one which chose to focus on the great many things we agree upon and downplay the differences, and one that acknowledges the problems but seems to be slow in dealing with them.  I am thankful we are at least acknowledging the problems (isn’t that one of the first steps to fixing the problems?).

Lately I have been studying a lot in 1 Corinthians, and it has been a great help in understanding things in the LCMS.  There is however, some things which have really caused me to stop and think – like 1 Corinthians 5 for instance.  This is the chapter about the incestuous relationship that is being allowed within the congregation.  This is the chapter however where Paul exhorts the church to judge within the church, not the world outside.  It seems like the LCMS as a whole could use this reminder from St. Paul.  God will judge the unbelieving world.  The Church is given to judge within itself.

We are spending a lot of time interacting with the government in light of the HHS decisions and how they may interfere with our health plans and bind consciences incorrectly.  While I understand this fight (and perhaps the need for it), it seems like we are not heeding the admonition of St. Paul about judging within the Church.  We seem to be outwardly focused to the point of inwardly being out of focus on the continued errors which are allowed inside of our Church body.  Certainly the government and the Obama administration are causing a greater stir in their efforts than any previous in America, but it almost seems like we have allowed it to become too much a priority.  We are now entering the last year of the first term of the current LCMS administration, but what has changed?  We have rearranged the deck chairs (BRTFSSG), brought in some new excellent officers, come up with a good emphasis, and even painted the good ship Missouri a new color – but the holes of false teachings on worship, communion, fellowship, ministry, and gender still are gushing water on board (and the holes are getting bigger).  We have yet to see any error corrected.  I keep hearing that there are efforts at coming to resolve on issues that divide us, but I also hear a whole lot of talk about this requiring more and more time – the same way that politicians in Washington talk about needing more and more time.  All of it smacks of just kicking the can further down the road.  But let us as a Church remember that this is no can – this is error – and it is destructive to souls – it ruins, corrupts, and kills faith in Jesus.

You see, tolerated error does more than that also for a Church.  It ruins our witness.  The community of Corinth was watching the small Christian congregation there.  They mocked it for its hypocrisy, for while they claimed to stand on a set of beliefs, they allowed those within it to continue to do things contrary to those beliefs.  The man who was to be thrown out for his sexual sins must have been important enough to make the leadership of the congregation look past his public sins which were ruining the reputation of the congregation.  Paul didn’t care how important this man was.  Salvation in Christ was more important than that worldly nonsense.  God is not a respecter of persons.  But you also see that the final goal of kicking this man out of the congregation was not so that the congregation could be “pure”, but that the man would come to repentance and faith in Christ once more.  Sure the community would also understand that the congregation’s beliefs were not hypocritical as well.

Perhaps that is what is missing from most “confessional” discussions about error, a hearty love for the salvation of even those who are in error.  I know many times my love has grown cold when thinking about the rampant error allowed to operate in our midst.  Perhaps others should consider their desires and correct them if #1 is not the salvation of those who are stuck in error.  After all, the holiness of the “one, holy, Christian, and apostolic Church” does not come from within us, but from Jesus.  The desire for their eternal welfare being what it is, we need to actually do something to correct them – including throwing them out if it is necessary in order that we could welcome them back in as true brothers in the faith, instead of just c0-members in an organization.

That being said, I also wish to encourage us to think of two types of people in error.  One is the poor soul who has been taught error.  These are the folks in the pews (or chairs).  They deserve patient teaching and admonition.  The other is the poor soul who has been willfully teaching error – that man needs discipline.  Nowhere in all of Scripture do we find any encouragement to be patient in dealing with false teachers and false teachings.  It is loveless both to the people they teach and also to them to allow them to carry on such a way, spreading falsehood and promoting error.  But then again, who could say we have enough love within our Synod?  We certainly do not if we allow these things to go on.  Therein we see a further error which has made great inroads – the error of a false love.  This is the love which esteems tolerance more than truth.  This is the love which cannot get past how nice a guys is, or how close a friend this person may be in order to speak a word of correction to them.  This kind of love is a respecter of persons.  This kind of love is sickened at the thought of a judgment on error now in order to gain repentance later.  This kind of love cherishes temporal peace at any cost.  In the end, this love is selfish and sinful.  In the end, this love is not love at all, but the leaven of malice and evil.  This kind of love will never understand Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

The Corinthian congregation was very immature.  The LCMS is very immature.  We have the same faults (sins) that they had, so the Word of God meant for them is also meant for us – The next time we think about boasting in the LCMS, we should be reminded of these words:

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.   1 Cor 5:6-8

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

Continued loveless treatment of error ruins Witness, cheapens Mercy, and empties Life Together. — 219 Comments

  1. @Mark Louderback #50
    It’s pointless to argue with you if you sincerely believe that the Confessions and the Scriptures support unionism. If that is your true belief, you have no business in a confessional Lutheran body. Good luck, sir.

  2. @John Rixe #27
    Maybe the voters decided to have only a Christmas Eve service as happens in many congregations.

    And in many congregations voters “decide” to do what suits the pastor (or his wife).

  3. @Mark Louderback #39
    @helen #13

    Another example of the lies that you tell Helen.

    Feel free to post any evidence of what you claim I have said.

    (sigh)… Markyboy, the last time you called me a liar in public, I was annoyed enough to oblige you by pulling up some of those archived statements. [You challenged me in the same fashion, and two different people volunteered the correct places to look.] 😉

    At least one of them is here to remember the occasion.

    The posts are still there, but I have to go to work tomorrow, so, do me a favor and look them up yourself. Your saying that I lie doesn’t make it true.

    I believe enough people here have got your number, so that I don’t have to waste sleep over whether they will believe you.

    G’nite all! 🙂

  4. @John Rixe #6
    Pr. Rossow is one of the moderators. The paragraph on comments was written by me, and it is a good reminder. There are times when a personality might need to be discussed, like when a reputation is being attacked. If you look, this thread goes personal right away, including a threat to me – which others chimed in to defend me (8th commandment keeping at BJS? – someone should tell our detractors). Now, I could have immediately deleted the comments, but I allowed them to stand – sometimes it is necessary, and since the actual substance of this article is rarely discussed throughout the 200+ comments, it shows that really no one can debate the substance of the article.

    Some sites have a very strict comment policy, that is fine. We don’t. You will need to get used to it or you may want to go to a more restrictive site.

    I will say that in this thread you have written some unbecoming comments that usually do not find their way from your keyboard to screen.

  5. I can’t help but second the posting above by Pr. Scheer. As I have often witnessed both on BJS and more so on LutherQuest, certain individuals like to hijack substantive threads with personal attacks that honestly do not address the topic at hand, i.e., the excellent article by Pr. Scheer. From past experience I have simply not responded to such posts unless they are a direct attack on my character (recall certain dialogs with Paul McCain).

    For the most part such attempts to hijack substantive threads attempt to draw attention away from important topics and onto the personal attacker thus giving them the attention they desire. My suggestion is that in the future (unless you need to defend yourself as I have done from time-to-time), those who attempt to misdirect the discussion should simply not be responded to because the thread should really be about the thread, not about those who persist in personal attacks. If they don’t receive the attention they seem to crave, perhaps they will just take the hint and go away.

  6. “I will say that in this thread you have written some unbecoming comments that usually do not find their way from your keyboard to screen.”

    I can’t seem to find them, but I apologize if there are any.

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #7

  7. @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #8

    “(unless you need to defend yourself as I have done from time-to-time), ”

    I agree with everything you say except that I get more angry when I see personal comments about others than myself and I feel the need to respond. I don’t know why there’s been so much of this lately.

  8. I found myself reading this fiasco right before I went to bed last night. I really shouldn’t do that. But I did and lay there dwelling on it. I said my prayers and named many of you directly, and others indirectly. Sleep came, but it only lasted till 3 am. The issues here (and my job) crept in again nagging me. Again I prayed for the Tims, Marks,Jims,Johns and all the rest of the folks here.
    I don’t know if I can keep getting up in the middle of the night praying for you knuckleheads (said in a Christian and loving manner), but if that’s what I have to do…….

    John

  9. @John Rixe #12
    Mr. Rixe, please speak for yourself. I attempted to speak in favor of pure doctrine and to call to account a pastor who shamelessly seeks to undermine it. My remarks were about substantive issues that greatly impact the manner in which God’s doctrine is confessed and taught in our Synod. You have every right to dismiss your own remarks as nothing but personal attacks, if that’s what you consider them, but I don’t think it’s proper for you to trivialize the legitimate concerns of other adults.

  10. @Pastor Ted Crandall #48

    God bless you! I am so grateful for your efforts, here and taking on the dreck at ALPB. (not all of ALPB, but they sure have enough bad theologians posting there) I am happy ot hear that ecclesiastical supervison still works. Maybe not in the best way, but so nice to hear it is not totally impotant.

    For John Rixe, Some of us bang on people not as personal as you think. We are speaking Law to persistant behavior that we find detrimental… At least Pr. Mark won’t be in violation of synod rules, his church still is not offering Christmas Day services. But the Presbyterians are… I am not sure this issue is 100% resolved. I have alluded to this in my massive post earlier.

  11. @Mark Louderback #42

    Sorry I have missed this post before.

    For pointing out adhominem attacks, I (and frankly a good number here) do not see all of the dialogus the way you do. I already know we will not agree o nthat definition. And if I try to search for all the positng i find questionable from you… My daughter is down for a nap, 2 hour sif I am lucky. I am not going to waste my time cataloguing all that.

    As for helen, I cosider her a friend. She has stcuk up for me once, encouraged me a number of times back when, and based on her posts here and at LQ, I respect her judgment, even trust it. I have seen all your posts here, and pretty much everyone at ALPB. I see a certain tonal and substance pattern. So in a he said/she said contest, I will believe her.

    So no, I do not perceive you as showing love. M yheart has become hardened after wha tI have wtinessed, how I have perceived it. Funny thing, others also say the same thing similar to what I comment.

    Finally, I normally no longer talk to you. You probably are a charming person, and I think you can generally articulate well. I do not wish to engage you (not only because I think you are wrong) because with your training and loads of preaching experience, you will be able to out-converse me. Same with theology. I may be a layman, but I did attend CSP and am a lay minister. I am not that dumb, but again your training and experience dwarfs mine. So if I think I will lose in an argument based on style, I don’t have enough substance to fight back, so I don’t see the point in engaging you. Not when you come here and mount your soapbox.

    I am sorry, but I cannot shake on it. We are of different (enough) spirits. I will wait towards the end of Koinania, see what ground rules, boundries and expections are set, and if all will agree and abide by them. May not help the process get there, but right now it is pointless between us. I will let other far better than me lead, as they should. But for now, I don’t have much to say.

  12. @John Rixe #6
    If I misunderstood your question I am sorry. But your initial response stated that you did not believe BJS moderates this board either and gave a specific example. So I don’t see confusion there. But now you have finally said what you wanted to say, spoken plainly. Thanks

  13. @Jason #15
    As for helen, I consider her a friend.

    Thanks, Jason.
    I’m still in your “Amen corner” but you haven’t needed much from me lately. 🙂

    I hear some of you are defending Lutheranism at ALPB.
    More power to you! I hope it’s OK if I cheer from over here! 😉

    God bless!

  14. @helen #5

    Markyboy, the last time you called me a liar in public, I was annoyed enough to oblige you by pulling up some of those archived statements.

    That is not how I remember it. I’ve never remembered you to give any evidence for what you say that I said.

    So, please: where is the evidence?

    @John Hooss #11

    I appreciate the prayers.

    @Jason #15

    For pointing out adhominem attacks, I (and frankly a good number here) do not see all of the dialogus the way you do. I already know we will not agree o nthat definition. And if I try to search for all the positng i find questionable from you… My daughter is down for a nap, 2 hour sif I am lucky. I am not going to waste my time cataloguing all that.

    I’m not talking about events in the past. Helen and I can argue about. I’m saying that if in the future, you see something that seems snarky, let me know.

    So in a he said/she said contest, I will believe her.

    I can appreciate that. But from my standpoint, she is making accusations that are just not true. And anyone who knows me knows that — I don’t have any desire to kick anyone out of the Synod. I’m all for talking and coming to consensus. The difference between myself and Tim Rossow is minimal — no one would see any difference between us from 100 yards away.

    So, to think that I support some purge is just ludicrous.

    So if I think I will lose in an argument based on style, I don’t have enough substance to fight back, so I don’t see the point in engaging you.

    Well…ok. But if you don’t now the substance, how can you tell that I am wrong? I mean, I could very well be absolutely right in what I argue.

    That is what I find frustrating. Two things I find frustrating: when people say “You are snarky” and I ask “Ok, help me out: where?” and I don’t get much help. Or when they say “You are a liberal” and I say “Why?” and I get no response.

    Or when I say “Why exactly is CoWo wrong?” “What is the Scriptural definition of that?” “What is the definition of worship?” “What is the distinction between teaching about vocation and 3rd use of the law?” and I get no answers.

    That is what frustrates me about these conversations. I get a lot of accusations (You are not loving) but I don’t get a lot of example.

    I will wait towards the end of Koinania, see what ground rules, boundries and expections are set, and if all will agree and abide by them.

    I look forward to it.

  15. @Mark# 18

    Why exactly is Contemporary Worship wrong? It isn’t wrong–for non-Lutherans. That worship style is a direct reflection of their doctrine. Now the doctrine that Contemporary Worship springs from–that’s what is wrong for Lutherans. Emotionalism, belief that church is serving God instead of being served by Him…mysticism, faulty theology (or worse yet–no theology) in “praise songs” What’s wrong, pastor Louderback? Are you just not getting the liver-quiver you feel you should from liturgical worship? Or is it you are worrying that you will lose people in your congregation if you deliver the word of God in a liturgical fashion? I think you are probably right to have that concern, because you have failed as a pastor to properly correct and teach our doctrine and your congregants are likey not catechized and thus have little appreciation for the historical church and the richness of our doctrine. I am admittedly making gross assumptions here and as such, could be in error. I am not attacking you, as you probably wish I were, pastor Louderback. I AM challenging you to read bondage of the will, the proper distinction between law and gospel, on being a theologian of the cross and even “Broken” and then give an explanation of your viewpoint instead of attempting to twist things and to avoid direct issues and couch things under “pastoral freedom” and “being more loving”.

    @Mark Louderback #18

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