Five-Two, Casual Blasphemers

Luther on the Second Commandment in his Large Catechism wrote about how God’s name is misused:

54] But, the greatest abuse occurs in spiritual matters, which pertain to
the conscience, when false preachers rise up and offer their lying
vanities as God’s Word.
55] Behold, all this is decking one’s self out with God’s name, or making a
pretty show, or claiming to be right, whether it occur in gross,
worldly business or in sublime, subtile matters of faith and doctrine.
And among liars belong also blasphemers, not alone the very gross, well
known to every one, who disgrace God’s name without fear (these are not
for us, but for the hangman to discipline); but also those who publicly
traduce the truth and God’s Word and consign it to the devil. Of this
there is no need now to speak further.

Large Catechism, The Second Commandment, Paras 54-55

To claim God said something when He did not, or to deny that God said something when He did is to take the Name of God in vain. To present things as godly and beneficial for the faith which have no promise or word from God is also taking God’s name in vain. This happens when people try to demonstrate that something they think is good, so God would like it, and since God likes it it must be good for you.

All of this misuse of God’s name and reputation is what the word blasphemey refers to.

And it is frightening how casually it is done and how sincerely it is meant. The FiveTwo network has fallen into this kind of casual misuse of God’s name.

As one example among many: a recent post from the FiveTwo network made the claim

“Influence doesn’t simply come from position or title, start being in relationships with those around you.”

This was above a visual of a pier at sunset with another motivational phrase:

“Leaders, if you want influence, start with relationship.”

 

Perhaps Confessional Lutherans are not familiar with John C. Maxwell, but most of the rest of Mainline American Evangelical Christianity is. Maxwell is a widely established pop-Christian/Business author with more than 60 published books. A large portion of those books deal with leadership. He was a frequent guest preacher at the Crystal Cathedral on Schuller’s Hour of Power.

The point is that it is not hard to look him up–AND most evangelicals wouldn’t have to, they would recognize his words right away.

I did recognize Maxwell’s influence and pointed it out:

Me: That would be John C. Maxwell.

What is astounding in the above exchange is not that FiveTwo denied that there was influence by Maxwell. Whatever, maybe the FiveTwo guy didn’t really remember which person it came from. But then again, FiveTwo has a history of making statements that come from others as if they are original.

What is astounding in the above exchange is what FiveTwo said was the source of those words:

FiveTwo: Actually, that’s Jesus.

Really!?? I’ve seen all kinds of this junk in Evangelical Free circles. They generally have no problem attributing their thoughts to Jesus. But FiveTwo was claiming to be a Confessional Lutheran group–well, maybe saying that is a stretch. They actually are removing the word Lutheran from most of their stuff. And they have taken the focus off the Means of Grace and placed it on the individual Christian as an embodiment of Christ to the world. What they call a “sacramental entrepreneur.” We’ve looked at how they cobbed that title from the failed efforts of the Emerging church and the Social Entrepreneurs in a previous article.

Back to the issue: FiveTwo claims Jesus said the words or taught the meaning of the words in the motivational poster and around it!

Which translation of the Bible is that in? What passages, which context?

After all, if one is to claim God said something, one actually ought to be able to go to the written word of God and show where He actually said it.

But FiveTwo couldn’t. They deflected the question and went to the Emerging Church method of Bible interpretation.

  • Take something in the Bible that is descriptive, find some principle embedded in it, and tell people that if they do this then they are following Jesus.

 

Notice how FiveTwo misused God’s Word:

FiveTwo: Joe, Jesus spent time with people, building relationships with them, demonstrating His love for them. That love and presence definitely influenced their lives.

There is no direction toward any specific context of Scripture. This is just a vague appeal to the general knowledge of the reader. And people maybe want to think that Jesus would want to spend all kinds of time building relationships with them. But aside from a few, very few people, Jesus didn’t really spend a lot of time with a whole bunch of individuals. He didn’t spend a lot of time getting to know them or any such thing.

Tim Wood’s response is direct to the point. He is right. The consequence of FiveTwo’s words here is promoting a false doctrine of justification by relationship. FiveTwo has fallen into the Reformed false doctrine of Faith and salvation as a relationship rather than God’s verdict on account of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

But did you notice that FiveTwo didn’t answer my question? They merely diverted attention away from the question.

So I tried to bring the question back into focus.

Me: I’m still missing the connection, sorry. Your quotation is designed
to appeal to leaders who desire to have influence with others. The
quotation makes no reference to Jesus, his life, or his preaching. Jesus
had all kinds of interractions with people through His ascension, not
just the slow-relationship-building kind. And he didn’t need to have
relationships built up in order to influence people. He just spoke “be
clean” “arise” “be opened” and it was done. So where is the biblical
mandate for that the OP claims?

OP=Original Post.

Another reader: Letetia Marie pointed out another Bible example that showed the OP was not really what Jesus taught.

Notice the time stamps above: 34 minutes ago down to 4 minutes ago.

That brings us to the next. Note the time stamps: 17 hours ago.

After the big lapse in time I posted the references to John C. Maxwell’s works where the words and sentiments in the OP were to be found.

Shortly after demonstrating what the real source was the FiveTwo network banished me and expunged all my comments from their Facebook Page.

This link will take you to this post on their FB page

//

 

It is their FB page. They can choose what goes on it and what does not. But it is important for the wider audience to be able to know what kinds of things they are deleting.

The pattern of deletion shows a casual disregard for the Word of God, the consciences of those who wonder whether FiveTwo’s claims come from God or are just human, and a serious rejection of the use of Confessional language.

If, as they claim, FiveTwo’s goal is actually to get people involved in the Sacraments, be Baptized, and attend the Lord’s Supper, they hide these goals pretty well from people reading their website and facebook page.

FiveTwo doesn’t have much patience for people who ask where in God’s Word the FiveTwo philosophy or methods are taught. They have two responses: divert to some other issue, or delete.

Comment Deleted by FiveTwo within minutes of posting.
Comment Deleted by FiveTwo shortly after Randy Yo posted.

FiveTwo doesn’t have any patience for people who bring up the Lutheran Confessions in an effort to correct or understand what FiveTwo is claiming.

Comment Deleted by FiveTwo.

 

All Deleted by FiveTwo

 

Not supposed to ask this question. Comment deleted.

 

Can’t ask about the Lutheran Confessions. Comment Deleted.
 

 

About Pastor Joseph Abrahamson

Pastor Joseph Abrahamson serves Faith Ev. Lutheran Church, Clara City, Minnesota (E.L.S.). He and his wife, Mary, have 10 children. Pastor Abrahamson is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies. He has served on the Faculty/Staff at Bethany Lutheran College teaching Religion, Linguistics, Archaeology, and Self-Defense; and was on Staff at the University of Wisconsin as an Information Processing Consultant (Computer Geek) while doing graduate work in Semitics. Pastor Abrahamson served Clearwater Lutheran Parish (ELS) from 2001 to April 2015.

Comments

Five-Two, Casual Blasphemers — 73 Comments

  1. @Srsly? #45

    No, I personally have not contacted Five-Two. However, I know 2 pastors who have.

    Both had the same story, which boiled down to: the discourse was civil, but after several emails Five-Two refused to make any definitive statement, meaningful defenses of their heterodoxy from Scripture or the BoC, or directly address criticisms. It was all vacuous glittering generalities about “love” and “the unchurched”.

    So, if Five-Two will not give the common decency to respond meaningfully to fellow LCMS pastors, why would they with me?

    I still disagree with you that it’s so horrifically wrong to compare Party A behavior in some aspect (Five Two) to Party B behavor (e.g. Islam, Mormons, Mao, Stalin), when party B is a poster child for the type of the behavior one is trying to compare!!! It’s a common rhetorical and logical technique, and I will continue to use it because it IS so useful. People do it because one has to be familiar with Party B in order for the comparison to be understood.

    But, let me ask you, what do you think would be a better comparison — one where Party B is not “hyperbole” or “offensive”. With whom would you and/or Niemand Wichtig compare Five-Two’s silencing of dissent, where Party B would be understood as exhibiting the same behavior as Five-Two?

    I am also glad you brought up

    Biblical and synodical methods for dealing with fellow Christians, and public forums with ad hominems appear nowhere in either method.

    1. Synodical Methods — I am no expert at these, but the “Dispute Resolution Process” is regarded pretty universally as utterly broken and ineffective.
    2. Biblical Methods
    a. Matthew 18 only deals with individual / private sins, not heterodox public preaching
    b. Ad Hominems — Ha! Go read about the interactions of John the Baptizer and Christ with the Pharisees, or Elijah with the Prophets of Baal, etc.
    c. St. Paul is quite clear that false teaching of PASTORS is to be publicly denounced and Luther offers the “Kick the dog; comfort the child analogy.”

    I see no evidence that Five-Two wants a good faith discussion and debate over what they are saying, but rather engages in DIO behavior:
    D = deceive
    I = Inveigle
    O = Obfuscate

    I think Mohammed Ali had something similar called the “rope-a-dope,” i.e. just keep bobbing and weaving and evading until your enemy is confused and out of strength.

    I am reminded of the great Issues, Etc. segment on The Fact Finding Commission in Seminex with Paul Zimmerman. Pastor Zimmerman described the wacky, laughable, enraging, and deceitful behavior of many of the Seminex heretics, who would not answer questions and were purposefully vague and confusing, so that no one could understand what they believed and taught.

    If it walks like a duck, flies like a duck, and quacks like a duck… hmmmmmmm.

  2. Srsly?

    Pax tecum, yet again.

    Apparently, you need it.

    Some might take my most previous posting as acidic – what of it? Not sinful whatsoever – just very direct to the very points you made, and in total DISagreement with you, despite earlier attempts on the part of many to dissuade you from your defense of non-Lutherans.

    Have you read what you have written? As I said earlier, you have the Law down pat – and it is you who did not answer “my” original question, so trying to turn that back on me was rather lame – like the theology you are defending.

    Pax tecum, yet again, again. 😉

  3. ANY time liberal LCMS pastors or congregations have been contacted about error, they say that Satan is behind the criticisms, then continue business as usual. It’s ridiculous.

  4. @Eric ex Cathedra #1
    If I have a friend who is a mediocre painter, I would be amiss in saying, “He’s a regular Hitler!” Considering that Stalin is most remembered for the oppression of peoples via forced labor camps and mass murders, suggesting that a group who is deleting comments on social media is even remotely similar is uncalled for an just plain bizarre.

    “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.” James 4:11

    You say that the synodical systems for resolution are “broken”. How about you work to convince your representatives to fix them, rather than fight publicly with people on facebook and twitter. Which solution actually accomplishes something positive?

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

    As for ad hominems, I’d be careful equating those whose methods are different from yours with the Pharisees– Luther himself stated that he believed them to be most concerned with legalism, not unlike many of the people on this site! (Although, his interpretation on them isn’t entirely historically accurate, which is a topic for another time, or maybe never, because it really, really doesn’t matter.)

    Ahh jb, I knew that you would come back. 🙂 You know, there’s a difference between honesty and acidic rudeness.
    “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
    “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6
    So, maybe it is a sin after all?

    I find it very strange that you continually attempt to shove peace at me, when it is apparent that you yourself are not at peace. I have yet to be angry despite being personally attacked by many on this site, mostly because I am at peace with the things I am saying. Where is your peace? How can you presume to pass that which you obviously lack?

    And finally, Mr. Schenks, I would suppose that there is a possibility that pastors or congregations that have been contacted about error attribute Satan to the criticisms because they have read or heard that people handing out those critiques call them ignorant, illiterate, stupid, cowardly blaspheming self-pleasing louts who are comparable to murderous dictators (things that have all been said on this site, how very Christian!). Would you suppose that to be possible?

  5. @Srsly? #4

    Friend,

    I have to ask, why is it that you frequent this place? I sense that you are more interested in critiquing the methods and manners of the commentators, than the issues they are trying to discuss.

    For example, I don’t frequent biker bars often. But if I enter one for a beer and a burger, I certainly don’t critique the regulars on their methods and manners. Doing so is not only foolhardy, but frankly unrelated to why I went into that bar. If my point in going into a biker bar was to critique the clientele, well… I should be ready to take whatever they give me.

    What is your interest in this “Confessional Lutheran pub?”

  6. Srsly? :
    @Eric ex Cathedra #1

    As for ad hominems, I’d be careful equating those whose methods are different from yours with the Pharisees– Luther himself stated that he believed them to be most concerned with legalism, not unlike many of the people on this site! (Although, his interpretation on them isn’t entirely historically accurate, which is a topic for another time, or maybe never, because it really, really doesn’t matter.)

    Do you see what you did here? It would be illogical for me to say that you just accused many on this site of putting Christians to death. The Pharisees certainly are known for that. But perhaps more of a head-scratcher was you cautioning against ad hominems, while employing the same against the many on this site. Kind of a riddle there.

  7. @Brad #5

    Pr Brad

    One thing I would never do is compare BJS to a biker bar. 🙂

    If BJS were to become a confessional echo chamber, wouldn’t it be kind of boring?  I participate because to my untutored mind some of the comments seem kind of out there.  My goofy questions allow you folks to explain yourselves.

    BTW – respectfully.  How do you respond to TR’s good question:

    “My identity is disclosed. I take on whatever may be the hazards of public identification with my statements. Sometimes one of the hazards is being shown to have been wrong, and then I’ve had to change my positions. Is there a particular, overriding reason why the first thing about your posts, namely, the identity of the poster, needs to be harbored?”

  8. Brad :@Srsly? #4

    For example, I don’t frequent biker bars often. But if I enter one for a beer and a burger, I certainly don’t critique the regulars on their methods and manners. Doing so is not only foolhardy, but frankly unrelated to why I went into that bar. If my point in going into a biker bar was to critique the clientele, well… I should be ready to take whatever they give me.
    What is your interest in this “Confessional Lutheran pub?”

    As a Biker and a Lutheran, if you showed respect you would be treated with the same and probably end up having a good time!

  9. John,

    Attempting this from a mobile device, so apologies in advance if it doesn’t work well. My interest here is the topics, and the resultant debates on issues of substance.

    My intention behind using only my first name, is that I hope my ideas have merit enough to stand on their own, without respect of my person, degrees, and titles. If my ideas need those things to have merit, they are insufficient intellectually.

    And as for bikers… I’m one, too. 😉

  10. I don’t pass judgment on anyone’s choice of anonymity, John. My reasons are my own.

    But technically, I do use my real name. Cheers —

  11. @Randy Yovanovich #12

    Brothers:

    We are not here to engage in off-topic personal sneers. Randy, I would encourage you to engage John in more fruitful conversations. I have sometimes have had to painfully find that while the Word certainly works, love opens ears so that the Word can be heard. Personal sneers do not help for the Word to be heard or for constructive engagement of issues. Getting back on topic would help.

    I personally am glad that John Rixe comes and asks his many questions and engages in the Word here. I would much rather John come here where he gets saturated with so many good teachings and explanations of God’s Word and in-depth teaching from solid teachers. Plus, John is a gift to many of us to be more patient. I think John is growing in his understanding of the Word from what I have noticed from him from when he first started commenting some years ago. And for that, I give thanks.

    Keep coming back, John. I think you’re becoming more of a Confessional and less of a middle-of-the-road person, and you’re the better for it. After all, in all the spirit of humor, people who walk in the middle of the road are also tending to walk in the lanes of oncoming traffic. And I would rather you not be “squished just like grape.” 😀

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  12. @Brad #11
    “I don’t pass judgment on anyone’s choice of anonymity, John. My reasons are my own.”
    And for that I thank you, Brad. However, there are some on here who are judging, even though some of us have truly valid, personal reasons for using an alias. I am disappointed every time I see someone I respect, ridicule those of us who are trying to participate without doing harm to our loved ones.

  13. @Rev. Robert Mayes #13

    Thanks for the kind words.  Randy and I exchange barbs all the time but it’s just good natured.  He didn’t mean any offense. It’s easy to misjudge tone on internet comments.  Smileys help. 🙂

    Now, back to the topic…

  14. @Rev. Robert Mayes #13

    Pastor Mayes,

    You make a good point and I will watch my tone, but John is right. We do this all the time. It comes natural to us. It’s in our nature. He was Army and I was Air Force. It would be a violation of protocol not to make fun of each other. With that said, I very much appreciate John’s involvement in the discussions here. He’s even rightly pointed out an error or two that I’ve made in the past.

    @John Rixe #15

    John, thanks for participating in the conversation and please keep me honest. Remember, you’re a shining star. Star = big ball of hot gas. 🙂

  15. @Srsly? #4
    You said, “If I have a friend who is a mediocre painter, I would be amiss in saying, “He’s a regular Hitler!” Considering that Stalin is most remembered for the oppression of peoples via forced labor camps and mass murders, suggesting that a group who is deleting comments on social media is even remotely similar is uncalled for and just plain bizarre.”

    Comparing mediocre painting to false doctrine is no less bizarre than comparing 5/2’s deleting of comments to Stalin. Neither comparison is legitimate in my opinion. Mediocre painting only hurts the painter, altho a case could be made that such painting hurts those who purchase such stuff–at least financially. False doctrine, and ascribing to Jesus things he never said is quite another matter–the damage is spiritual and has eternal consequences not only for the purveyors of same, but those who buy into such teaching. I do agree that the Stalin/Hitler comparison is over the top, however, from what I’ve read here, and having visited their website, and watched a few of their sermons, they (5/2) are preaching another Gospel. Their treatment of those with whom they disagree (deleting comments, etc), is more akin to a totalitarian attitude than to Stalinism, but totalitarian it is, nonetheless. Having been shouted down and cut off from two liberal Lutheran websites, I know whereof I speak. 5/2 seems to be exhibiting the same totalitarian practice that I experienced. Hitler or Stalin they ain’t, but totalitarian they are.

  16. Randy Yovanovich :
    @Rev. Robert Mayes #13
    Pastor Mayes,
    You make a good point and I will watch my tone, but John is right. We do this all the time. It comes natural to us. It’s in our nature. He was Army and I was Air Force. It would be a violation of protocol not to make fun of each other.

    From an old USAF bomb loader, AMEN! 🙂

  17. Ya know, Sports Fans . . .

    Srysly? notwithstanding (and she should simply be ignored, rather than all the words wasted trying to persuade her different to that which she came here to persuade us) . . .

    She is a generation or two removed from Kent Hunter, and about as worthy of consideration as is he for denying the One Holy Faith in its fullness.

    Acidic? Oh heckers YES! 😉 I just now read a rather incisive post on the methodology of feminism and how it can take offense at simply anything. Feminist have the patent/copyright on acidity!

    Wasting my time in that direction? Not hardly. Gave her a few chances – as one of my readers put it, she is a “one trick pony” who hasn’t a clue, but is damn sure she is right and the rest of us – even those who charitably tried to tone down others (not that they really needed to be toned down) are wrong. Like Luther, I am not going to verbally pussyfoot around someone who is intent on converting me to their theological garbage, rather than hearing the Gospel.

    She can go hang out with “Gary.” Those who get around, know his silliness. Hers is not much different.

    BTW – to the Brothers in Arms – AF – ’72 – ’76. Volunteered despite my number being way too high. I didn’t get ‘Nam – but the Middle East just as things were going stupid there.

    Pax tecum

  18. Ooooh wheeee what a thread.

    Well, perhaps there is some wisdom in using the least emotionally charged terms possible as some folks are, um, uh, easily distracted.

    If you stick to the main points, then those wishing to discuss tone instead content won’t have anything to discuss.

    There is certainly more than enough to discuss from the 5-2 videos, facebook posts, etc.

  19. @Brad #5
    I come here because, as a lifelong member of an LCMS church and as a young mother interested in raising my children in the same church, I feel a sense of urgency to speak up in the middle of discord between christian brethren. I cannot fathom why that would be problematic, but it has earned me many insults from the people here, some more well-disguised than others. I urge all of you to examine your words, and consider if they reflect the grace we have been shown. I am not (contrary to apparently popular bjs belief) an unintelligent person, but I cannot understand what benefit anyone sees in belittling and outright insulting others “in the name of” Lutheranism remaining pure.

  20. @jb #19
    Bro. You could use a hobby if I am causing you this much frustration. I can’t keep up with these posts because my life is rather busy right now, but maybe you should step away from the keyboard for a few days! Srsly.

    (See what I did there? ROFL)

    Blog away, fellow Lutherans! I’m buying a house this week so I will likely not be back for a while. May the Peace of the Lord be with you always!

  21. @Srsly? #21

    Glad you’re getting a house Srsly?. However, I am the one that must be the stupid one.

    1. What SPECIFICALLY are these problems you see.

    2. Whether it is you (whether it may not be) or someone else, I cannot fathom why people who fundamentally disagree with Luther doctrine AND practice, which are 100% inseparable (lex orandi lex credendi) want to stay in the LCMS.*

    * this is like “cultural” Jews, who don’t believe anything that Judaism teaches, but insist on flaunting their Jewishness. Why?! If you don’t believe in anything that orthodox Judaism teaches, why do you care a hoot about being a Jew? Similarly, if you don’t care what orthodox Lutheranism teaches AND practices, fine, that’s absolutely your choice to make. But, why burden those of us who do with your presence. The orthodox Lutheran bodies are be no means the only games in town. There are many other denoms that are far closer to what you espouse. Why not simply be part of them?

    So, as I said, now I am the stupid one. I don’t get it.

    If Dad, Grandpa, and Great Grandpa all were ardent Democrats, but I believe very differently than the Democrat platform, why would I stay to be a “cultural” Democrat. At best it is delusional and lazy; at worst it is disingenuous.

    I’m just too dumb to understand this.

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