The Spam Folder tested the spirits – so should you.

Yep.  Feathers and All.

Yep. Feathers and All.

I received a mass email from an LCMS pastor, Rev. Chris Dodge earlier this week.  Today, I found it in the spam folder.  Turns out the spam filter is smarter than I thought – for the email gave two links to videos that are departures from the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions.  These two videos speak of a God who is still speaking (through audible words) and of visions received by Pr. Dodge.  Pr. Dodge hears the voice of God apparently.  He was a leader in the church growth movement back in Michigan as well.  Apparently he is also a fan of charismaticism.  The first video is a general plea.  The second video is the charismatic treasure trove.

Here is the body of the email:

Dear Brother,

It happened exactly one year ago today. God intervened to give both the freedom and the time to concentrate on one thing He had laid on my heart.

As a fellow LCMS pastor, I would imagine that the same concern is probably on your heart as well. It has to do with the spiritual condition of my country and the future of my children and grandchildren.

This 5-minute video gives an overview of where He has led. Watch video

I would love to know where He has led in your life and if your sense is similar to mine.

Here is more of the story in the video, “Tell Them”. Watch video

Blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ!

Pastor Chris Dodge (SL ’79)
Bloomington, Minnesota

 

Charismatics listen to whatever spirit will speak to them or make them feel that feeling one more time (for a great summary of what is going on here, check out the chapters on mysticism in the book “Broken” by Pr. Jonathan Fisk).  They disregard the Word of God.  In the end, the spirit that leads them is not the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 7:21-23 has a unique warning from Jesus concerning the charismatics:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Dr. Luther also had some words in the Smalcald Articles (which men like Pr. Dodge have pledged fidelity to) about such visionaries which pertain to not only charismatics, but to anyone (especially teachers) who claim special revelation contrary to God’s Word and try to lead by their own imagination (most often referred to as “vision” or “leadership”):

3] And in those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one, except through or with the preceding outward Word, in order that we may [thus] be protected against the enthusiasts, i.e., spirits who boast that they have the Spirit without and before the Word, and accordingly judge Scripture or the spoken Word, and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, as Muenzer did, and many still do at the present day, who wish to be acute judges between the Spirit and the letter, and yet know not what they say or declare. 4] For [indeed] the Papacy also is nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts that all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he decides and commands with [in] his church is spirit and right, even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the spoken Word.

5] All this is the old devil and old serpent, who also converted Adam and Eve into enthusiasts, and led them from the outward Word of God to spiritualizing and self-conceit, and nevertheless he accomplished this through other outward words. 6] Just as also our enthusiasts [at the present day] condemn the outward Word, and nevertheless they themselves are not silent, but they fill the world with their pratings and writings, as though, indeed, the Spirit could not come through the writings and spoken word of the apostles, but [first] through their writings and words he must come. Why [then] do not they also omit their own sermons and writings, until the Spirit Himself come to men, without their writings and before them, as they boast that He has come into them without the preaching of the Scriptures? But of these matters there is not time now to dispute at greater length; we have elsewhere sufficiently urged this subject.

 

So, test the spirit and take a hint from the Spam filter.  Take note of Pr. Dodge and Awake US Now.

Pastor Dodge is no longer the pastor at the parish he served (St. Michaels) and is on candidate status according to this Minnesota South District Newsletter.  The LCMS worker locator lists “no current assignment” for him.

 

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

The Spam Folder tested the spirits – so should you. — 94 Comments

  1. Pastor Rossow,

    Thank you. My answer more specifically about what I disagree with you and Pastor Cwirla with will be forthcoming. I am fine not using the word “plan” in this conversation. We’ll stick with “will”.

    One quick point (and my longer answer will be forthcoming, not sure just when, but I imagine within 48 hours : )):

    “You are right, the Christian life leads to prayer. I do not know of any Scriptures that direct us to pray for specific things. What I do know is that if you conflate what Jesus said in the Gospels about asking the Father for something, you are led to the conclusion that the only specific thing he talks about is asking for the Holy Spirit and you have the promise from Jesus that if you ask for the Holy Spirit you will be given Him in abundance.”

    I think the point is this. We do not need to be asked to pray for specific things because asking for specific things is what children do with their parents. Jesus certainly confirms this when he says stuff like this: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” ….and yes, He does go on to talk more specifically asking for the Holy Spirit in Luke…. but in Matthew also talks about “good gifts”. (7:11) Perhaps some people focus on specifics because there are specific things they know they *need* – and that God will answer their prayers according to His good will – sometimes giving them something better than what they asked for.

    +Nathan

  2. Miguel,

    As usual, I agree with everything you say (Pastor Rossow – have you offered Miguel the chance to post here – I humbly request you do if you have not). That said, I do believe there are times when God may choose to do things that are more miraculous – particularly where his word is being established in an area it has not been sown. Still, I do not think it is bad to be skeptical, particularly for the reasons you mention.

    +Nathan

  3. Its about the Spirit Nathan. Look at the pattern in the prayer our Lord taught us. We pray for daily bread, i.e. just keep me alive and breathing God so that I can rejoice in your Gospel.

  4. I have a ton of good gifts (a four bedroom home, a vacation home, a jet ski, the world’s best kitty – Happy Bob, a two story shed with cedar shake shingles that I built, a loving wife, great friends, a twenty-seven inch color TV, a laptop, a cell phone, etc.) and they just keep coming and I have never asked for a single one of them. The only things I have ever prayed for are forgiveness for my sins, faith, the wisdom to understand Law and Gospel, mercy from God on the parish I serve, and perseverance in faith for people in precarious situations who come in and out of my life.

  5. Nathan :Miguel,
    That said, I do believe there are times when God may choose to do things that are more miraculous – particularly where his word is being established in an area it has not been sown. Still, I do not think it is bad to be skeptical, particularly for the reasons you mention.
    +Nathan

    Nathan,

    My 2 cents on what you said. It’s a slippery slope when we try to identify those specific areas where God may be doing miraculous things. It becomes far too easy for us to allow the enthusiastic/charismatic gene that we all have to surface. Looking for such things denies the real means of Grace that God gives us. If you believe you see something amazing, GREAT! Thank God for it and move on. What often happens in such times is that a person feels the need to then share what they witnessed as a “personal testimony.” Again, we are back to, “Hey, Look at me.” We need to stay bungee strapped to the Word and Sacraments. That way, when we stray we are yanked back to what matters. The most miraculous thing is what Jesus did for us on the cross.

  6. More later Pastor Rossow – my thought was more about basic needs that kids have that they naturally ask their parents about – that seems to be what Jesus is talking about.

    +Nathan

  7. Randy,

    ” If you believe you see something amazing, GREAT! Thank God for it and move on.”

    Generally what I do. I don’t build a theology around my personal experiences.

    “What often happens in such times is that a person feels the need to then share what they witnessed as a “personal testimony.” Again, we are back to, “Hey, Look at me.””

    Yes, but putting the best construction on things, we may also judge it to be the case that a person is genuinely thankful, joy-filled, and motivated to share what they believe God has done in their lives, a la the woman at the well.

    None of this means believing that God has given Pastor Dodge the messages that he shares.

    +Nathan

  8. @Rev. David Mueller #41

    My point(s) exactly. We’re on the same page.

    When Del Rossin, the father of RIM (Renewal in Missouri), the LCMS charismatic faction, told me that his experience outweighed our doctrine, I knew things were headed south. When he offered classes in how to speak in tongues, I walked out.

  9. Nathan,

    The woman at the well just had Jesus tell her all her past life. That is an exception not the rule.

    Concerning #5 – right, basic needs that children look to their parents for, i.e. daily bread.

  10. @Nathan #6

    Yes, but putting the best construction on things, we may also judge it to be the case that a person is genuinely thankful, joy-filled, and motivated to share what they believe God has done in their lives, a la the woman at the well.

    My experience is that “personal testimonies” during a service are a way for CGM/CoWo clergy to manipulate the laity by using an individual’s personal experiences to create an enthusiastic fervor. The individual may be sincere, but the minister is generally using them as a prop to promote his charismatic message.

  11. @David Ernst #10

    Chris Dodge is no longer an LCMS pastor. Last fall he resigned from his former congregation, St. Michael’s Lutheran Church of Bloomington, MN, and took a number of the members to form a non-denominational church.

    This is so despicable. He uses his position as a pastor to lead astray as many as he can while collecting his salary from the faithful. After he has recruited enough misled sheep, he leaves at his own convenience to set up shop abusing as many more as he can.

  12. @Tim #34
    Tim, have you ever read Revelation? Does it say anywhere that America or the world will come back to God? Quite the contrary.

  13. Holger Sonntag :
    I guess you’re always shocked to read something like this in an official LCMS publication. But should you be surprised? The end of Renewal in MO a few years back could mean that there just aren’t any serious charismatics in our church body — or it could mean that this organization’s mission is accomplished: the “renewal” either has taken place or is now driven by official channels. My guess? I’d go for the second option.
    At last month’s MNS Convention, one of the main presentations was by Rev. Chris Dodge of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington, MN. He spoke at length about the charismatic movement that began in 1901 and considered it — along with the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli political control in 1967 — as one of the signs that God is doing amazing things that indicate the closeness of the end of the age. No distinguishing of the spirits was offered in that presentation: that movement looks impressive; so many people have put the sticker: “Really from the real God” on it; therefore, it must be the real deal (granting some minor aberrations).

  14. Pastor Tim Rossow :

    … the Scriptures that support [the] claim about a personal plan for each human being? …

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #26

    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    Best response I can come up–not much I know. (And further stipulating that “each human being” is not the “we” of the passage, and that the “good works prepared” aren’t explicitly personal, but I wonder?)

    However, I think the doctrine of vocation subsumes all this nicely.

    (and apologies if I botched the HTML formatting)

  15. GJG,

    You are right, it really isn’t much. Besides, it is totally meaningless unless God reveals the works he has planned for me and we know there are know Scriptures that say that.

    So this is simply saying that God has a law that he gave Moses and even before that which he wrote in everyone’s heart and it is only in the new birth of Christ that we are able to to do the good works of the law.

    Nothing magical here. Move along… 🙂

  16. Randy,

    “My experience is that “personal testimonies” during a service are a way for CGM/CoWo clergy to manipulate the laity by using an individual’s personal experiences to create an enthusiastic fervor.”

    Agree.

    +Nathan

  17. Pastor Rossow,

    First of all, on second thought, I probably should not have conceded the bit about the word “plan”. it kind of depends what you mean by plan. What do we mean by “plan” — what does the bible mean by “plan” if that is an adequate translation of Greek boulee and Hebrew machashava? For example, Just on a vocabulary level, when you scan through the ESV, “plan” occurs quite frequently in conjunction with God’s relation to his people or Christ. All the while there is James writing against thinking that we control the future with our plans, while only God has the future in his hand in this way: “if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15).

    I talked with a theological friend and he said this:

    “On a level other than vocabulary, wouldn’t we say that the Ten Commandments are God’s “plan” for us, his “intention” for how we should live our lives? In a sense, also the gospel could be said to be God’s “plan” even though it’s often misunderstood in a legalistic sense: “here’s what God wants you to do to save yourself with you free will…” but certainly when we look at the texts from Eph. and Acts above, there was some “planing” on God’s part when it came to Christ’s securing our salvation. Everything went according to plan, so to speak.”

    Now he hasn’t told us which car to buy specifically or which spouse to marry specifically. But he certainly has told us something about a. whether we should marry or not (see 1 Cor. 7) and b. what a godly spouse should be like, hasn’t he? And also that we should respect our parents’ input of sanctified wisdom in the matter. Should that not be his “plan” for us, now in a more general way, as to whether, and which spouse, to wed? The Ten Commandments tells me to listen to my parents and other authorities in my life. That already answers a number of questions one might have about what to do because they’ll tell you what to do – as those put in God’s place! It seems we have a problem with that, though.

    Further: consider that in I Cor. 7 Paul says that if persons have the choice to be married or not, he thinks that if they choose not to marry they make a better choice (for those who are able to make this choice – perhaps they have the gift of celibacy). Are we to imagine that Paul’s view of the matter is definitely not connected with the Lord’s views at all? To me, that does not seem to be a responsible way of approaching the text (for those who think I necessarily veer towards RC thinking here, please take a look at this post: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/christs-glory-in-the-ordinary-marriage-children-and-the-quiet-life/)

    More on this in my third post below.

    +Nathan

  18. Pastor Rossow,

    Second post….

    RE: your use of the term “sin boldly”….

    Here’s the 1521 quote from Luther (AE 48:281):

    “If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness, but, as Peter says, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner.”

    So I talked with that same friend I mentioned above and he basically pointed out that Luther is not really about choosing one path over another and, if it doesn’t work out, just say: that’s ok! Rather, what Luther is talking about is that just as our faith “makes” God the God He really is for us (not as He exists by nature apart from us), the same is true of our sin…. realize and believe and confess that your sin is real, that you are, as he says at the end, also a mighty sinner. Otherwise, grace is not true but fictitious. For grace and Christ is greater than your sin.

    So, then, “be a sinner and sin boldly” doesn’t mean that we should not do some serious theological reflection – considering our actions in light of God’s word – and even pray before we act… Luther is not saying that we just jump in knowing all will be well anyway because God forgives. Rather he seems to be emphasizing this: believe that your sins, no matter how insignificant they may seem, are real, bold sins in themselves, but pray boldly because you believe boldly that Christ is greater than all sin, death, and the world.

    Also, you said,

    “Luther says, “Ha, sin boldly! Pick one of the paths and go down it and go down it knowing that you are safe with God because of Christ’s blood.” The sin is to think that one or the other path is contrary to God’s will, i.e. sinful. Oh and by the way, if the path you choose turns out badly, back up and try the other path. Nothing spiritual here other than God’s abiding forgiveness in the blood of Christ.”

    ….”turns out badly.” Pastor Rossow, what does that mean for Christians? What if, by our choices, we suffer misfortune, poverty, and death? “Success” isn’t really a valid criterion for “right plan” or “wrong plan”. It’s a bit more complicated than this, right?

    +Nathan

  19. Pastor Rossow,

    So with the matters above addressed, why do I disagree?

    To say “God has no plan for your life” is simply not a responsible way for pastors to talk to their sheep. We’ve already defended the use of the word “plan” above, but let me now move forward not even using that kind of language at all, and getting to the heart of what you and Pastor Cwirla are claiming.

    It seems to me that you are saying, among other things, this: “apart from God’s revealed will to all men he never personally gives you (or your family, church, etc), guidance about your particular circumstances – nor does He ever prefer that you choose one good thing over another good thing”.

    I am very saddened by Pastor Dodge’s video. He is letting his experiences run the show, and there are very good reasons to think – to assert even – that Satan has moved him away from the pure proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. No need to detail that. But we must not fall off the other side of the horse.

    In short, this thing that Pastor Cwirla and now you say is something that we have absolutely no business asserting. First of all, we do not know how our will and God’s will… and how our free will and God’s will work together in the grand scheme of things – even as we uphold Walther’s main insights about God’s final predestination of the elect. No doubt, we should be confident that God can use our screw-ups to his glory, as Pastor Cwirla puts it. Still – that does not necessarily mean that that we, by the decisions that we make, may not in fact make decisions that are as intelligent or as wise as they could have been. We may rightly have regrets even over choosing a course that was not necessarily sinful in any way whatsoever – *chalking it up to immaturity on our part*. Quite honestly, that does not mean that more prayer would have necessarily been what we needed, but perhaps more sanctified common sense, formed by the Scriptures. Really, how do I know that God was not giving me a few options (like what Paul talks about in I Cor. 7!) and – and least from time to time – it would be better for me to choose one rather than the other? Why should I not assume that this may be in fact be the case and seek wisdom from others – and pray – accordingly?

    This said, of course it does us no good to lose sleep over decisions that were not the most wise – rather it should drive me back to Christ and the Scriptures that going forward I might be ready – formed more closely to Christ’s mind – to choose more wisely.

    So, as far as I am concerned, even before talking about God guiding us towards this or that path through prayer or otherwise, for example, I think we need to talk about this…

  20. …Let me try to illustrate what I am saying with an example – in a way that even the most thoroughly secular person should be able to grasp. First this point though: Christians believe – among other things – that they can, by the grace of God, make the world a better place (at least here or there, as God gives them opportunities). It is good, true and beautiful to be not only a virtuous but an educated human being, and this should not be disputed among Christians. First and foremost attaining wisdom from the Scriptures and the Church, and second, also taking what is “good, true and beautiful” from those not in the church, but recognized nonetheless as being people possessing both intelligence and wisdom.

    Now, we are ready for my illustration, a made up story: a family moves to the United States from South America. They have somehow been given this opportunity to move from their small farming village to an urban area. The family has young children. As they move in, the neighbors are, “fortuitiously”, friendly, eager to offer their help. But tragedy strikes. In the first week, one of the new family’s children – a four year old – chases a ball out into the street and is killed by an oncoming vehicle. Who is to blame, one might ask? The child? No one told him about these things. The parents? No one told them either that such a thing might occur. The neighbors? They were eager to help, but none thought to talk about this.

    Should “what ifs” arise? Or should we simply conclude that this was God’s will and move on? It seems to me, considering such a hypothetical example from a Christian perspective, that we should not conclude thusly. Further, we should not try to assign blame to any one person but acknowledge that situations like these will inevitably happen in a fallen world. That said, this still does not mean that we cannot say that education could not have helped… that more intelligence and wisdom could not have made a difference. Of course they could have. The well-meaning neighbor – with more knowledge of the world God made – could very well have seen the potential for these events to unfold, and suggested not allowing the kids to play in a certain area, adult supervision, fences, talking to the children, etc… Or perhaps the family itself could have learned more themselves… somehow.

    Maturity – and wisdom – could have made the difference. Let’s not run away from this fact – this is precisely why we seek out persons older and more experienced than us – like the historic Christian church, for example – for guidance.

    *This is all from a secular perspective alone.* For the pure secularist – excluding notions of God altogether, education will – must – be that which saves the world. But they become technocrats – and most but not all of them become blind to the wisdom about matters like the natural family, trust and love, for example. The Christian has the ancient wisdom in the Scriptures to facilitate seeing – and experiencing – these things that others miss…

    …So I have not even talked about prayer yet – just the addressing matters of how we view God’s will at work in the world and our ability as persons to affect the world differently. Now consider this: the Lord of the Rings was created by a great Christian mind – and yet we notice with passing interest that though Aragorn, for example, possesses much intelligence and even wisdom (and yes, prowess and skill) *he does not pray*.

    For Providence in those books is mysterious, distant, even uncertain. But not to us. He has come near in the flesh. And He makes all things new – yes, through His creatures. He works with us in the world.

    So – practical application: when an evangelical says “it’s a God thing”, do we need to insist this is necessarily them putting the focus on themselves – or are we willing to consider that it may be a general child-like confidence in God’s providence and that he answers prayers?

    Of course, this idea is abused by many. And I suppose it is rejected, or at least fought, by those who have had experiences in their lives which they cannot understand…

    “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7)

    Again, there is no reason that we should assert that Jesus is only talking about the Holy Spirit here.

    What lies at the root of our disagreement? I am not sure. All I know is that in writing this, I was reminded of my reaction to Pastor Fisk’s interviews on Issues ETC about his book Broken here: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/reflection-on-pastor-jonathan-fisks-broken-interviews/

    This will be all from me today (more than enough I know). I will check back on Monday. Need a break (as you may feel you need from me, but I hope not).

    +Nathan

  21. @Nathan #20

    You just wrote 2,378 words! Let me catch you up on a few things that happened since you started this series of posts. Denver won the Super Bowl, Ole Miss won the new NCAA National Championship, and the LCMS joined with the ELCA……………………..

  22. Nathan @ #17,

    Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

    Your theological friend has guided you correctly on “plan” and has made my point.

    The Ten Commandments are God’s plan for our lives – they are a moral plan that all share together and are not a personal plan that fits me and only me.

    Overall, we are better off talking about “God’s will” rather than “God’s plan” in because the Bible uses that phrase a few times and because it is actually closer to what you were talking about originally. There are three ways that people use the phrase “God’s will” – 1) God’s moral will, 2) God’s sovereign will, 3) God’s blue print for my life.

    God’s moral will is clear. It is summarized in the 10 commandments. It is general and for all to follow and has nothing to do with a specific plan that God has for my life. It is what you are talking about in #17.

    God’s sovereign will is his almighty, inscrutable decision making that is beyond us because we are his creatures and he is the Creator. We walk by faith and do not question nor even seek to know this will. We are beggars and receivers.

    If there is a blue print for our lives, and there isn’t because the Bible does not talk that way, it would be in God’s sovereign will and would thus be out of bounds for us anyway.

    Yes, the Gospel is also a plan of God but it is a plan for the whole world and is not about my personal temporal choices.

    BTW – in saying all this in #17 you seem to think that because you have found these generic plans of law and Gospel intersecting with your personal life that you have somehow defended your position and corrected me. You are wrong. You have changed the debate in order to claim victory.

    I never said the Christian faith does not intersect in our personal lives. That would be ludicrous. What I said is that the Bible does not talk about the extra moral choices that we make, e.g. who should I marry, what job should I take, etc.

    God’s moral plan does guide us in our decision making but not in some specific way for me and my life’s extra moral decisions. God says to me and to all people, marry a believer. Which believer you marry is up to you but marry a beleiver. So this tells me nothing about who I should marry specifically. It gives me a generic moral guideline that applies equally to all.

    I am glad you have seen the light on this through your theological friend. It would be nice for you to simply say now, oh, I get your point Pastor Rossow, there is no specific will for me other than the generic moral will that he gives to all, rather than subtly changing the terms of the debate.

  23. Nathan :Pastor Rossow,
    So with the matters above addressed, why do I disagree?
    To say “God has no plan for your life” is simply not a responsible way for pastors to talk to their sheep. We’ve already defended the use of the word “plan” above, but let me now move forward not even using that kind of language at all, and getting to the heart of what you and Pastor Cwirla are claiming.
    It seems to me that you are saying, among other things, this: “apart from God’s revealed will to all men he never personally gives you (or your family, church, etc), guidance about your particular circumstances – nor does…

    I would refer you to the Smalcald Articles, basically that God only deals with us through Word and Sacrament and that if you think otherwise you are an enthusiast or the Devil is involved.

  24. @Tim Schenks #23

    I agree with Pastor Rossow & Tim completely. I had a CoWo/CGM pastor take the congregation down the “God has a plan for you” road. His next obvious move was to then encourage people to find out what that plan was. He used all kinds of gimmicks like when he took a cell phone out of his pocket and pretended to talk to God on it. See how the concept can result in catastrophic theological failure in a few minutes? Before we knew it we were knee deep into Rick Warren, Purpose Drivel, Spiritual Gift classes and inventories, etc………………

    Again, the focus is taken off of what matters and placed on that which is irrelevant to our lives on this side (as far as we can possibly know).

  25. Nathan @ #18,

    You are acting like a pietist or a sophomore or maybe both.

    You keep putting words in my mouth and changing the terms of the discussion. I never said anything about success. But, there is nothing wrong with success unless you are a pietist.

    Here is the point. Let me use a hyper example so the argument is clear. So I have a choice of going to work for a corporation or starting my own business. Both are within God’s moral plan. I choose to to start my own business. After a couple of years I am losing money and cannot feed my family. I need to back up and go back to the fork in the road and go to work for the corporation or get some source of steady income. THE POINT IS THIS. I NEVER VIOLATED ANY PLAN OR WILL OF GOD. BACKING UP TO THE FORK IN THE ROAD IS OK IN GOD’S EYES.

    Now lets use an example that includes success since you are so concerned about that.

    I go down the road starting my own business and am very “successful” but I find that I am just not fulfilled, I am up at night worrying, etc. So I decide to go back to the fork in the road and look for a corporate job or some job that will not keep me up at night. No problem here. Move on. Nothing to see here. Nothing magical in God’s plan. I simply used my mind and will to make decisions in my life, none of which were in or out of God’s plan for my life because there is no Biblical support for such a notion.

    Let me repeat, Melancthon was afraid to go down the path of the Reformation because he was afraid he might sin against the “Church.” (This is typical Melancthon. He often acted like a Calvinist pietist.) Luther’s advice to him was “sin boldly.” Do not fear the sin in this situation, imagined or real, just do it.

  26. Nathan @ #20,

    Not tired of you. Will keep going as long as you want to, However, your post #20 takes the matter even further away from the original question.

    The original question was “Does God have some sort of personal plan for my life?” The answer is no, if by that you mean something beyond his desire that you be saved and that all men live according to his moral will.

    The answer is “No, and if you seek this (as Tim Schenks said above) you are entering into the unscriptural and dangerous arena of Enthusiams.”

    If you want to discuss if bad things happening in this world are God’s will then we can discuss that but it is a separate topic.

  27. Pastor Tim Rossow :
    The original question was “Does God have some sort of personal plan for my life?” The answer is no, if by that you mean something beyond his desire that you be saved and that all men live according to his moral will.

    Another factor that comes into play with all of the talk of “God’s personal plan for your life” is that it tends to distract Christians by turning their attention to the hidden things of God (God’s sovereign will, as Pastor Rossow said) and ignoring the revealed things of God (doctrine, law, gospel, etc).

    Pastor Rossow is right: at best, the “personal plan” of God is in His hidden, sovereign will. If you’re going to worry about anything concerning God’s will, worry about what He has plainly revealed to all men through His Word.

    *Sigh* I wish somebody would have spelled this out for me in my evangelical days…

  28. Pastor Rossow,

    OK, I admit, my curiosity got the best of me. Had to see what had been said…

    First of all – thanks to all who read. I know that was long.

    “It would be nice for you to simply say now, oh, I get your point Pastor Rossow, there is no specific will for me other than the generic moral will that he gives to all, rather than subtly changing the terms of the debate.”

    Well, no. I was not trying to do that. I was just trying to be comprehensive (trying to talk intelligently about areas where there were agreement first, and being smart about using the word “plan”), building up to my main point, which was #20.

    “I need to back up and go back to the fork in the road and go to work for the corporation or get some source of steady income. THE POINT IS THIS. I NEVER VIOLATED ANY PLAN OR WILL OF GOD. BACKING UP TO THE FORK IN THE ROAD IS OK IN GOD’S EYES.”

    And I am not necessarily saying that this hypothetical person did. Further, I apologize for using the word “success” there – you are right. This was not putting the best construction on things. But you are not putting the best construction on me either.

    I am only saying this is more complicated…. #20 lays out things pretty clearly I think.

    “Not tired of you. Will keep going as long as you want to, However, your post #20 takes the matter even further away from the original question.”

    I see #20 as being totally related to the original question.

    “The original question was “Does God have some sort of personal plan for my life?” The answer is no, if by that you mean something beyond his desire that you be saved and that all men live according to his moral will.”

    Right, in 20 I say that you have no business asserting that, and explain why. I have already established that I am not saying that there is a “blueprint” or some “map” that was preordained from the beginning of time. I am talking about day to day living and daily choices that we make – saying that God may very well want to guide us here and for us to pray about specific things (and to have confidence that we have received specific answers).

    “The answer is “No, and if you seek this (as Tim Schenks said above) you are entering into the unscriptural and dangerous arena of Enthusiams.”

    I find that an interesting gloss on Luther. Why do we assume Luther in the Smalcald articles is saying more than simply “we don’t make church doctrines out of things that are outside God’s word”? Luther is writing against people in his day who were saying that God created spiritual life and revealed doctrine to them – not via His “external word” – but via direct impressions in their heart, purportedly given to them by the “Holy Spirit (i.e. the papacy and the enthusiasts receiving new revelations so new doctrines could be made – even really smart enthusiasts like Schwenckfeld were saying this – see here: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/on-with-the-reformation-circa-1567-the-under-appreciated-matthias-flacius-illyricus-part-ii-of-iii/)

    So, is a person an enthusiast who believes that God will providentially engineer meetings between certain individuals, answer specific prayers, give us multiple options where we would not sin in any but be wiser in choosing one over the other, etc…? Again, I don’t build my theology around my experiences – and I do not put a lot of stock in these things or teach others on the basis of them (like: this is something you absolutely must know…)

    I resist charismaticism – where experience overrides doctrine… but I would also resist those who would say that these things I describe above are definitely not a part of the Christian life.

    Again – I am not making a doctrine out of any of these things. Further, they are not my primary focus. I do not depend on these things for salvation. That said, with my children we do pray for specific things and look for God to answer. And when God provides for our needs in specific ways – whether we asked for them or not – we thank him for doing that, and for being so lovingly and personally involved in our lives.

    +Nathan

  29. Here’s another thought: is the Hus prophecy enthusiasm? If it is, why did so many of the early Lutherans believe it to be true? They did not base their belief that Luther spoke God’s word on the prophecy of course – this belief depended on the Scripture. And yet, they had a robust confidence that this prophecy was true. Again, I believe this prophecy as well.

    Really this time – no more from me today…

    +Nathan

  30. I know what God’s personal plan for my life is.

    His plan for me is to call me by the Gospel, enlighten me with His gifts, sanctify and keep me in the truth faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth.

    He keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.

    It is in this Christian Church that he daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.

    On the Last Day, He will raise me and all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.

    It is an awesome personal plan for me. I can’t imagine anything better. It’s how I have my best life now and for all eternity.

  31. Nathan,

    You are equivocating big time on “plan.” That is why I keep clarifying the original question that I was addressing.

    Notice, that when you talk about day to day living and the decisions we must make you are entirely within the realm of the noetic. We use our reason to make these decisions. There is no plan we are trying to tap into.

    Does God guide me in my decisions? Of course! No one ever said he didn’t. The question is how does he guide me? He guides me in a perfectly rational way using my mind, spirit and will to make decisions that are in keeping with his moral will/plan for me and to keep me in his slavific plan for me. But the spiritual decision making as always and only moral and it is done rationally. There is no other way to do things.

  32. Interesting discussion. And to the surprise maybe of some I find myself in complete agreement with Pastor Rossow.

    The place I see this subject most often abused in the LCMS is with the calling of a pastor. I hear congregations talking about the Holy Spirit guiding them to call pastor so-and-so. I then hear pastor so-and-so telling that congregation and his present congregation he will pray and listen to the Holy Spirit so that same Spirit can tell him which call he is to accept. I always want to ask how he heard from the Spirit. Audible voice? Hand writing on the wall? (Hope his Hebrew is good if that is the case…)

  33. That’s probably going to send this discussion down another rabbit hole Mark but I agree completely with you. The call is not an inner voice but God having given the authority to a congregation to select a pastor.

  34. @Mark Schulz #34

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #35

    Dear Pastors,
    Interesting discussion and I’m going to take the rabbit hole bait. When I’ve been in congregational meetings to call a new pastor with a DP present there always seems to be an opening or closing prayer invoking the Holy Spirit in some way. For example, the prayer in LSB on page 306 for calling a faithful pastor states:

    O Gracious Father, You led Your holy apostles to ordain ministers for the proclamation of Your Word and the faithful administration of the Sacraments of Christ. Grant to this congregation the guidance of the Holy Spirit to choose a suitable pastor according to Your will for the blessing of Your Church in this place; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (127)

    For this discussion, I think the key phrase in the prayer is ‘the guidance of the Holy Spirit’. Wouldn’t the same phrase apply to the pastor receiving the call?

    In Christ,
    Diane

  35. Diane,

    Good question. We always submit everything to God. That is what prayer is. Also, we have to ask two questions. What is the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this case? How will the Holy Spirit give that guidance?

    The Holy Spirit’s guidance is that a confessional man be chosen. The Holy Spirit gives that guidance via the callee’s confession of faith.

    We are not praying that someone have some “spiritual” knowledge or that the Holy Spirit speak to someone.

    You could also say that the Holy Spirit guides us by the show of hands. That’s how it happened in the New Testament or if you have the guts, by the drawing of straws.

    Yes, I think this is a good prayer and would pray it in a heartbeat in a call meeting.

  36. @Pastor Tim Rossow #38

    Based on the accounts of others (leaving out my own experience), we should be very careful about how we view this call business. When a congregation is fractured and decimated by the actions of a pastor, who ultimately leaves only after strong counseling from his ecclesiastical supervisor, one has to wonder. When said pastor then leaves the LCMS for the nearest Willow Creek type church, one has to wonder. When a pastor preaches only Law unceasingly, sending the congregation into corporate depression, one has to wonder.

    I’ve always understood Eph. 2:10 as baptismal language: “God’s workmanship, created in Christ” = baptism. It is Christ’s good works that we “walk in.”

  37. Irish Lutheran, (#31)

    Amen.

    J. Dean, (#27)

    “If you’re going to worry about anything concerning God’s will, worry about what He has plainly revealed to all men through His Word.

    *Sigh* I wish somebody would have spelled this out for me in my evangelical days…”

    This was spelled out for me in *my* evangelical days. And quite clearly (persons like Os Guiness are out there). Persons I knew were open to these things, but did not run after them. That was not to be their focus.

    +Nathan

  38. Pastor Rossow,

    ““Does God have some sort of personal plan for my life?” The answer is no, if by that you mean something beyond his desire that you be saved and that all men live according to his moral will.”

    Just getting wifi access again. I don’t think I am equivocating at all, as you think. I think our conversation is forcing me to think through all of this more carefully and revealing to me how our views differ, which they certainly do (as you say: “The question is how does he guide me?”). I think the quote above from you is clearly lacking and it is also why my wife was so upset by Pastor Cwirla’s own statement of this view: “God has no plan for your life”. So thanks for your patience and helping me get to this point. I hope what follows below is a bit more clear to you, as it is to me.

    We know that in Jesus Christ and the Scriptures we have God’s final word to us about the truths we need to know for salvation and how to live a God-pleasing life. Further, we rightly speak of the perspicuity of the Scriptures. They are our source for all doctrine, and these are therefore our focus. We do not chase visions, miracles, prophecies, etc. All of this stuff is not what Christianity is about – these are not the main focus or what should consume our lives. If they become our focus, we are in danger at the heart of our Christian life, for we trust that all things come from his hand – particularly things like the Creeds – regardless of how we feel.

    So what do the Scriptures say about how God guided some of the main figures in the Bible? They say, for example, that the Lord knew Jeremiah before He was born and had specific plan for him to be the Lord’s man, so to speak (Jer. 1:5). Earlier on, we read the same of Samuel, as we are told specifically what would be his purpose after Hannah prays for a child and has her prayer answered in spades! These persons, no doubt, were set apart at some point for a special purpose – even before their births.

    I thought of this now: iIs it wrong to believe that someone like Luther was set apart for a special purpose – perhaps with an “ideal will” God meant for him to fulfill (we can think hard, for example, whether someone like Samson really fulfilled his mission in the way that God wanted him to – or if here, especially, God used evil for good)? Why should we assume that in the past, as God was leading His church, he had certain designs for certain persons, but that after we have the Holy Scriptures in their final form this no longer holds true? This does not necessarily mean that God ideally has such a purpose for each and every individual that lives on planet earth (though I am thinking hard about the man born blind now…), but I see no reason to think that God does not raise up specific men when the time is right.

    These are all things now that our conversation have forced me to think about. I guess I have always believed that God raised up Martin Luther in particular to do what he did – and gave him a supporting cast for “such a time as this”. Providence. God is guiding history and in control… If I recall, as regards the Hus prophecy, many Lutherans believed it while Luther was still alive, and Luther himself no doubt knew about it. If they had the kind of attitude towards these things that you seem to have towards more supernatural guidance given to personal individual and for personal individuals, it seems to me that they would not have even considered the prophecy and rather denounced it.

    You say: “If there is a blue print for our lives, and there isn’t because the Bible does not talk that way, it would be in God’s sovereign will and would thus be out of bounds for us anyway.”

    In short, I don’t think we can know what you assert here. I do realize here that I might believe in something like a “blue print” for certain lives – an “ideal will” for persons God sets apart, so to speak. That said, for others, I think we could say that I at least believe in an “evolving blueprint” (which I’ll explain in a second). In any case, we agree on “plan” in one sense: “keeping with his moral will/plan for me and to keep me in his salvific plan for me”. We disagree in another sense, where there can indeed be a more supernatural hand in individuals and even group’s lives. I believe, for instance, there that *at any point in time* there may be multiple plans, all morally good or acceptable: plan A, plan B, plan C, etc, with plan A being the best, for example (for a parallel with the Scriptures, we again point out how both marriage and celibacy are good, but celibacy, according to the Lord’s Apostle, is better). Further, plan A may only be able to be undertaken with prayer and fasting for example, and may require the belief that God has answered specific prayers in specific ways (again, I do think we can, but do not *need to*, pray about specific needs for ourselves or others, and have confidence that God has answered our prayers in specific ways).

    Again, just because these kinds of beliefs are abused does not mean that they are false. None of this has anything to do with receiving new revelations that are going to form and reveal and develop doctrine (enthusiasts, Rome leading the pack). Further, this is not our main focus. The fact that I’ve had such a hard time figuring out how to put this makes that clear to me at least. I am more focused on talking about Jesus and the sweet peace and certainty that He brings us in His Gospel: forgiveness, life and salvation. In my classes, for example, this is what we are always talking about in a myriad of ways. Rome and others are condemned by us because they add works, thereby rejecting these things and the certainty they bring the Christian.

    However many of God’s commandments we may have broken, however much we may have chosen paths that were not those He would have preferred, however many regrets we might have… those are to be left behind, as we go forward in both His pardon and power, which always avails for us in the blood. And let’s lift up the true body and blood of Jesus for us in the sacraments here, since that is what many of enthusiasts are keen to deny – but truly need.

    That’s it from me today. Will check back later.

    +Nathan

  39. I am a Christian woman who has heard the voice of God since my first memory. I also have seen miracles, even miracles that go against logic and science. For example one was when my husband was going infor very difficult surgery. The surgeon warned that he may die and that the outcome (even if he lived may not be accomplished as the surgery (involving bone infected around spinal cancer) was very complicated. I heard that voice in my mind that I know to be my God say “pray that the surgery will not be necessary “. So I did even though they had done all the tests and surgery was planned. About 45 minutes after the beginning of surgery I was called back for conference. The doctor paced back and forth and kept repeating, ” I can’t believe it was done”. I asked him and the surgeon kept repeating as he paced back and forth. Then I asked if the body could do that on it’s own? Oh no not at all! Well how does it look? He said Perfect! Just perfect! So then I said well praise God, he said yes it is a God thing.
    That day they just closed up my husband i was told.
    So do I not share this?
    People say….God does not do miracles like that now. Yes he does and I know we can believe for that. It is Biblical and Godly to pray for healing and share the miracles, is it not?
    A lot of bad things have happened to me in my life but Jesus is always with me and has shown that He cares. I have a testimony that is Biblical yet I hear some pastors suppress my story. I have no glory other than Christ crucified.
    I want to share my story which is full of Charismatic type things. I almost never tell that I speak in tongues in my praying at home. At my Lutheran Church can I pray with someone to receive the gift?
    I am sad that when I share this now some readers who say they love God will criticize me. I need support and leadership from the church.

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