Found on the Web — DEJA VU…SORT OF…

jonathanrodebaugh-e1398712460990Found over on Jonathan Rodebaugh’s blog, In, With and Under:

 

This upcoming Sunday, October 5th, will mark the end of my first year in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. It was, and has continued to be a breath of fresh air. It’s not that my previous 16 years in the Christian & Missionary Alliance were terrible. I had sound pastors that cared for me and always pointed me to God’s word, and although we now disagree on several key doctrines, I am still thankful for the care and instruction they gave me.

Nonetheless, my last year and a half in the C&MA, although educational, was extremely taxing. Our long term pastor was elected to the District Superintendent seat. The ensuing pastoral search process really opened my eyes to short comings in the C&MA doctrinal confessions. The C&MA doesn’t really have a large or detailed confession. It is primarily a conservative non-sacramental denomination that pitches its tent on “The Fourfold Gospel” as laid out by founder A.B. Simpson along with a subscription to premillenial eschatology and a focus on missions. It’s simply a conservative evangelical denomination. The glaring weakness, which some promote positively as inclusive, is that there are no confessional stances on justification, soteriology, free will, election, etc. So in a sense, each congregation within the denomination can be theologically autonomous (within reason) as the pastor is the rudder that steers doctrine within the individual churches. This make things rather complex when trying to replace a pastor. When the theological framework is shaped by the pastor instead of the institution, finding a replacement can be rather difficult. Add in the fact that since many congregants never attempt to figure out or settle on the vast nuances of the faith, incoming pastoral candidates are judged more on their charisma than their beliefs. Of all the candidates that I saw before I left, one thing was clear, both my fellow congregants and the pastoral candidates were infatuated with being “missional” and “wanting application.” I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. It is the current fad within Evangelicalism. Christian Publishers are pumping out missional materials as fast as pastors can write them. Look at the success of the David Platt’s and the Kyle Idelman’s of the world. Missional radicalism is all around and I’m convinced it’s the new legalism…but I digress.

Having methodically researched my own beliefs over 5 years, I knew that I would be making a change no matter whether the new pastor was solid, squishy or somewhere in between. As an adult Sunday school teacher and worship leader I was in a no-win situation. My views on baptism and the Lord’s supper had drastically changed and I knew that if I taught what I now believed, I would stir division in an already temperamental environment. On the contrary, if I remained silent and taught against my believes, I’d be lying. Realizing that it was I who had changed, not the C&MA, I withdrew my membership and began looking for a denomination with a strong confession that taught what I believe the bible teaches. I found this in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Having just gone through a tough, stressful and incomplete pastoral search while dealing with week after week of fill in pastors who waded no deeper than a theological mud puddle , I was ecstatic to see the Lutheran confessions clearly and succinctly laid out in the Book of Concord.  As I studied, I discovered that the LCMS church lined up quite well with the list of theological superlatives that I had created over my 5 years of in depth study.

The search was over and I was finally home.

Fast forward to last week. It was then that I was first introduced to the FiveTwo network which is a spawn of CrossPoint Church (LCMS) and its pastor, Bill Woolsey. I was aghast at what I saw. The same missional jargon that was festering in the C&MA and other Evangelical Churches was now repackaged ever-so-neatly in confessional Lutheran wrapping paper. The video’s I watched spoke of the necessity for each of us to be “Sacramental Entrepreneurs” which is post modern speak for a strange and innovative “pay it forward” view of the sacraments. Not only is the language confusing and misconstrued, it is in no way confessionally Lutheran. We are not sacraments, nor will we ever be. We can only be receivers of the sacraments and receiving them does not transform us into sacraments. Even though sacraments do effect us as they either gift or strengthen our faith, we never, at any point, become the sacraments. This is clearly stated in Article V of the Augsburg Confession. As I sat at my computer, mouth agape, I could not believe that this garbage was infiltrating the LCMS, the very place that I sought refuge from this brand of false teaching. As I continued to research FiveTwo and Pastor Woolsey, I came across Wiki14 which is a conference hosted by the FiveTwo Network. My Twitter feed was inundated with #wiki14. Some of my twitter peers were present and gobbling it up while tweeting snippets for us watching at home. I soon learned that even some district presidents were present (it’s my sincere prayer that they attended for evidence, not for corporate indoctrination). Soon, videos of the conference began to surface. What I saw angered me to the core. Pastor Woolsey clearly rejects Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession. Here is the video.

In addition, here is a video of FiveTwo’s Vice President of the Board of Directors Mark Junkans talking about communion. This is in opposition to 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 as well as the Lutheran teaching on the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is a corporate act done in church unless the communicant is physically unable to attend (such as eldery shut-ins, the disabled or those on death’s door). A small group of people passing a “good” bottle of wine around the table at home may be an enjoyable intimate gathering, but it is not the Sacrament of the Altar.

 

 

There are so many questions running around my head. I can understand this sort of false teaching infiltrating a denomination with a weak confession, but the LCMS has a lengthy detailed confession that each pastor must profess to uphold. When there is blatant rejection then, reprimand, repentance and removal should take place. On the flip side, I sincerely wonder why on earth would Pastor Woolsey desires to stay in the LCMS? What is in it for him? Why would he want to cause division?

Then there was this…

wiki14
 

I am increasingly thankful for my congregation at Trinity Lutheran in Toledo, Ohio and appreciate the leadership’s desire to stay true to our confession of faith. Even so, I am deeply concerned for the synod as a whole. I am not sure how deep the FiveTwo roots are, but the synod should be proactively fighting to secure its confessional future. I do not want or desire a church split but I am in favor or removing cancer before it metastasizes to a terminal stage. False teaching is cancerous and the stuff that FiveTwo is pedaling will be the downfall and eventual death of the LCMS if action is not soon taken. What we need now is strong leadership. We need our leaders protecting us and carrying the torch of our confessions against the winds of change. I left the Christian and Missionary Alliance because I had changed and could not serve faithfully within the context of their beliefs and teaching. I wish Pastor Woolsey and his network would take a similar path.

About Jonathan Rodebaugh

I’m rather new to the Lutheran church. After 34 years in various brands of American Evangelicalism and 5 years of serious personal study, I made the jump to confessional Lutheranism as found in the LCMS and currently serve as an elder at Trinity Lutheran Church in Toledo, Ohio. Aside from my love of theology, I enjoy writing music, playing tennis, being outdoors and spending time with my family.

Comments

Found on the Web — DEJA VU…SORT OF… — 17 Comments

  1. I would encourage everyone to visit Jon’s original posting of this piece, as there is an excellent response from Carolyn Smith in which she shares her own similar experience and concern for our synod.

  2. I too appreciate Nathan’s attempt to dialogue. Dialogue is a great thing if it happens and I fully support it. As for taking them out of context, I’d have to disagree. Having watched more than a few videos and reading several blog posts on FiveTwo’s website (http://www.fivetwo.com/) we’d have to start playing some serious word games to square their teachings with anything close to proper confessional teaching. The bottom line is that our ecclesiology reveals our true soteriology. This is ground zero as their whole premise is built on a false paradigm that the unbeliever can be manipulated into a position where God can then monergistically act. I’d be happy to hear some dialogue and hope that Nathan makes some headway there, but until they come out an reject the ridiculous language and errors they are carelessly propagating, I’ll be doing all that I can to expose them as a means to cling the our confessional heritage which is rooted in the purest biblical exegesis.

  3. @John Rixe #3

    CrossPoint is actually a part of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).

    [emphasis added]

    Even they are surprised to call themselves part of the LCMS. The loose language of their confession is evidence that they do not believe, teach, and confess what Lutherans do, as rightly exposited in the Lutheran Confessions.

  4. @Jonathan Rodebaugh #4
    Thank you Jonathan for sharing this. I come from several generations of LCMS membership and I am truly shocked by this Five-Two group and what they are teaching. These pastors need to go back to seminary to learn the Lutheran confessions, or else they need to leave the Missouri Synod. They may be well-intentioned (who knows?), but they are wrong and are harming people .

  5. @Randy #7

    Well now….is the intention of the video to be a fine tuned, apologetic law-gospel proclamation?  I think the intention is just to tell an interesting story about the early days of the congregation.  I’ve heard dozens of similar stories at other churches.

    I wonder if we’re not piling on a little around here. 🙂

  6. I agree there’s plenty of confusing things to question regarding Crosspoint/Fivetwo e.g. goofy language, music without any Christian content, etc.

  7. The claim that we may be “piling on” is a sentiment that I see in many who have been in confessional church bodies their whole life and have thus been sheltered from this stuff. They have never seen the negative effects that this teaching does to it’s congregants and to the foundation of the church. I do not think it is any coincidence that the ones of us that are sounding the loudest alarm are those of us who have found refuge in the confessions of the Lutheran church. I have seen the effects of this teaching first hand and still see it through the lives of several friends who attend similar missional styled churches. It’s my opinion that I will have only “piled on enough” when this fad has been eradicated within our synod and we begin to prepare to fight its successor, whatever regurgitated innovation that might be.

  8. @Jonathan Rodebaugh #11

    Those who have been on the outside know the grass isn’t greener for the sheep over there. People who are most “into” novelties are all too often 3 generation LCMS!!! But not well educated enough to appreciate the treasure they have in the Confessions. Often, (as one admitted) the book is collecting dust on a high shelf.

  9. @John Rixe #9

    Both Jonathan and Helen make great points (in different ways).

    John, remember, this harmful “stuff” isn’t static and stationary. This harmful “stuff” grows and moves around. Woolsey has trained pastors who have moved on to other congregations throughout the country, including right here where I live. Movements like FiveTwo need to be squashed.

  10. @Jonathan Rodebaugh #11
    Well, said.

    If you want to know what’s being taught at Crosspoint (no “e”), listen to a few of their sermons. From what I’ve seen and heard, it’s little more than warmed-over Charles Swindoll or Rick Warren. Oh, it “sounds” Lutheran here and there, but the proclamation of the Gospel is missing, or at best, a little information you might be able to use. The emphasis is all sanctification. You can get that at your local Willow Creek Sanctanasium. I haven’t investigated 5-2, (I’m still recovering from an in-depth analysis of a Beth Moore Feelygroup study), but their preaching is all I need to know.

  11. Jonathan Rodebaugh :
    I do not think it is any coincidence that the ones of us that are sounding the loudest alarm are those of us who have found refuge in the confessions of the Lutheran church. I have seen the effects of this teaching first hand and still see it through the lives of several friends who attend similar missional styled churches. It’s my opinion that I will have only “piled on enough” when this fad has been eradicated within our synod and we begin to prepare to fight its predecessor, whatever regurgitated innovation that might be.

    I couldn’t agree with this more. Many of us who have found the LC-MS and have been (and are being) deprogrammed by faithful, confessional teachers, reading the Bible with new eyes, and reading the Book of Concord, can smell the garbage we came out of a mile away. We lived it. We also lived the emotional appeals, accusations, shunning and crafty arguments designed to soften us to new ideas and new ways (none of them actually new) that did nothing less than lead us away from Christ.

    Many of us have no choice but to speak against the errors that are being taught and promoted in the synod. We’re compelled because we’ve seen brothers and sisters in Christ being devoured by false teaching in our former congregations and were nearly devoured ourselves.

  12. For the record, in my above comment I meant to say “successor” instead of “predecessor.”

    It should have read…
    “I have seen the effects of this teaching first hand and still see it through the lives of several friends who attend similar missional styled churches. It’s my opinion that I will have only “piled on enough” when this fad has been eradicated within our synod and we begin to prepare to fight its successor, whatever regurgitated innovation that might be.

  13. The solution is discipline And laymen need to remove the poison starting at the top. Clergy you are either with us or against us. Get out if you cannot conform, for Gods sake have a little back bone. Goys like him are analogous to the Rinos in the GOP. This church body is lousy with apostates and heterodoxy dressed in “well intentioned” missionary horse crap. God save us from the clergy. Who pedal women elders serving the supper, mantra repetitive contemporary music, hip pastors, cell pushers, dumbed down litergy, worship rather than Divine service, open communion……….. A split is coming but let’s make them leave on confessional grounds and not force us to conform. Confront them, most of them can’t handle it. The manly pastor of the past is now the whimp wants us to experience rather than focus on Christ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.