From the time Satan first uttered the words “Did God really say?” Christ’s doctrine has been bent and warped to suit mankind’s own sinful desires. A few examples of those who disrespect doctrine include:
-Robert Schuller: “Protestants quote their Bible, Fundamentalists declare their orthodox theological dogmas, and we are all expected to renounce private reflection and peacefully acquiesce to these pronouncements. And the result is that the dignity of the person is violated by such oppressive, intelligence-smothering forms of communication.”1
-Rick Warren: “The first Reformation was about doctrine; the second one needs to be about behavior…. We need a reformation not of creeds but deeds.”2
-Steve Jobs: “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”3
Ironically, (and arguably), it’s the secular quote from Jobs that comes closest to the truth of today’s practice. Follow your heart, not revealed truth. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s hottest examples of doctrinal abandonment come from the recent FiveTwo WikiConference 2014. FiveTwo founder and President Rev. Bill Woolsey opined that “Institutions tend to move to a self-fulfilling remnant. Have you heard that lately? It’s like a self-fulfilling remnant. We’re proud to be the few, the chosen. Closed set mentality, with legalistic checklists for pure doctrine, pure worship, and pure pastors.”4 His attack on doctrine in general was followed up by, among other things, continuing the unchecked, blatant march of various pastors, congregations, RSOs, and Districts to ignore Augsburg Confession Article XIV. It reads “Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call.” Note that AC XIV does not end with an asterisk. The Article applies regardless of the geographic size of your district, or whether or not there is an ample supply of pastors or parishioners willing to support them – pragmatic arguments to the contrary are rejected. It’s a horrible and embarrassing day when pastors can stand up and publically advocate laymen doing Word and Sacrament ministry in the face of our Confession, even if the laymen are supervised. Is our Confession, or is it not, a faithful explication of God’s Word? If it is, then stop.
I’d love to continue the conversation on this and other FiveTwo doctrinal aberrations, but the editors have limited me to 17,000 words, so I’ll close instead with two quotes. The first quote comes from C.F.W. Walther:
Nevertheless we consider it our duty to criticize, refute, oppose, contend against, and reprove whatever error becomes manifest in the teaching of those who wish to be our brethren, whether this error pertains to a fundamental or a non-fundamental teaching of the Word of God.5
The second quote comes from a sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, here discussing Matthew 7:15:
Christ intends to say here, “you will have enemies of another kind. They are not the ones who are on the outside and who deny the doctrine. They are the ones who grow up in your own midst, who bear your name and boast of it. They are the ones who do the greatest harm.”
…Those who are called our brethren and who lay claim to Christian teaching rise up against us. Under the cover of the same name, they abolish the true teaching and introduce a different one, as St. Paul predicts in his warning to his Ephesians (Acts 20:30): “From among your own selves will arise men teaching and preaching perverse things.” It is, I say, particularly deplorable that those who do it should be from and in our own group, people whom we consider to be upright and against whom we cannot defend ourselves until they have started to do their damage.
…The warning is that we should expect this with certainty and that we should carefully watch and protect ourselves so that these sects do not deceive us. We have to arm ourselves against them and learn to know them. When He says, “Beware,” He wants to teach us not to be patient with such people, but to be open-eyed, watchful, careful, and wise. All we need in opposition to those outward enemies is patience, to endure what they lay upon us and to stand firm. But here suffering or yielding to them is not in order. I must be watchful and careful. I must not even confide a word to my brother privately but only look at the Word with sharp and alert eyes, trusting no man who is on my side now; for today he can preach with me, but perhaps tomorrow against me. No one should think that he is secure and not in need of this admonition. This temptation is so dangerous and sly that even the most spiritual have their hands full to avoid being deceived by it.
…He says that they come in sheep’s clothing, that they are irreproachable and outwardly indistinguishable from genuine preachers. These are the two things that do the damage: They have the valid office, and in addition they give such a beautiful impression and appearance that no one can say anything except that they are true, pious preachers, interested in everyone’s salvation. Such is their own precious claim, to which they can even swear, that they use nothing but the name and the Word of God. This makes such a powerful impression that the people are swept away like a flood, and no one can stop it. Who is there among the common people that can oppose these men or dare to denounce them? Who even knows how to protect himself against them, since they claim to come with the name and the Word of God?
Here Christ is warning us about both characteristics of these false prophets. We should not be swayed by the fact that they occupy the office of the ministry, though this is necessary and proper for a preacher.6
Let’s continue to work for a Synod that stands on our Confession, and refuse to tolerate false doctrine in our midst.
1. Robert Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (Waco, TX; Word Books, 1982) 153. Quoted from Kjos Ministries: http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/Church/compromise/self-esteem-schuller.htm
2. Quoted from Modern Reformation: http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=artread&var2=26&var3=main
3. Quoted from Stanford News: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html
4. Quoted from the video of the Day 1, Session 1 presentation: http://new.livestream.com/fivetwo/wiki14/videos/62942517
5. Quoted from C.F.W. Walther’s paper “The False Arguments for the Modern Theory of Open Questions,” available here: http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/WaltherFalseArgumentsOpenQuestions2.pdf
6. Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, American Edition, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan. vol. 21, The Sermon on the Mount (Sermons) and the Magnificat (Saint Louis: CPH, 1956) 248-51.