Why I Quit the Gideons

Decision for ChristAssociate Editor’s note: this is the first of what will hopefully be many posts by Joseph Klotz. He’s the author of the forthcoming “Lutheran Book of Hours”, a talented musician, and a solid Lutheran layman (St. Paul, Brookfield, IL). He’s also bought me a lot of beer and I don’t want him to regret agreeing to write for us, so extend him a warm welcome and be nice!  

When I was a little kid, I found the pocket-sized New Testament that my father received from a Gideon when he was drafted. I used to carry this King James New Testament around with me and read it constantly, even though I found the language to be awkward and had difficulty understanding a lot of it. That was the first Bible that was really “mine.” I had other Bibles, but they sat on the shelf. This pocket New Testament went with me everywhere. It fascinated me that I was reading that particular New Testament because a Gideon gave it to my father in 1965.

My next encounter with the Gideons was when I was in college at Murray State University. They did a “blitz” on campus. One day in the fall of 1995 the Gideons took up their posts on campus and began handing out their green PWT’s (personal worker testaments). There were several students, friends of mine among them, who made a game out of collecting as many of the pocket-sized books as possible. By the end of the day, there were dozens of the testaments strewn about the lobby of the Fine Arts Building (which is where I spent most of my time). While walking across campus I spotted many more in trash cans. This didn’t sit well with me so I began rescuing the New Testaments. I also began to look at the men who gave up their free time to pass out New Testaments and endure ridicule from college students with more respect. It was at that time that I thought I would like to be a Gideon one day.

It just seemed, however, that I could never connect with them. Either I couldn’t find an active chapter, or I didn’t meet the membership requirements. The one time I did manage to get in touch with someone, our meeting ended up getting cancelled and never rescheduled. Then one day my cousin introduced me to a friend of his who attended The Moody Church. He just happened to be a Gideon. Long story short – he was my “in.” I was finally a Gideon and would get to go out and put God’s Word into people’s hands.

After attending the meetings for a while, though, I knew that I couldn’t stay. Despite their claims of being a non-sectarian para-church organization, the nature of the organization lends itself to certain idiosyncrasies of American Evangelicalism which are, at best, suspect. Among the issues I ran into were Pelagianism, the prosperity gospel, works righteousness, and the idea that people are converted by your testimony rather than by God working through means as he has promised (the means of grace – Word and Sacrament).

At camp meetings, there were a lot of heart-wrenching stories of how this-or-that person’s life was changed for the better after they received their PWT. It was also sobering to hear the accounts of Gideons in other, more hostile parts of the world, enduring great hardship in order to get Bibles and New Testaments into the hands of Christians who desperately needed them.

What we never really seemed to talk about was Jesus. Well, Jesus was mentioned a lot. We just never seemed to talk about His death and resurrection as our atoning sacrifice, repentance, or the forgiveness of sin. We certainly never talked about our need for those things. I heard people discuss how they had been terrible sinners before their conversion, but that was the end of the talk of sin. After all, we were already Christians. Now that we were saved, it was our job to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, right? To many in the organization, I’m afraid, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” translated to, “Live your best life now.” Knowing what is in my heart, however, I also recognized my need to repent and receive forgiveness for my sin constantly. It didn’t take long for the tension level to rise.

Jesus was there, to be sure, but he wasn’t the focus – D.L. Moody was. The important thing was the presentation – how being a Christian will make your life better, how to package this message in the most effective way to reach the unchurched. That may sound strange, but it was my experience.

After one particular fundraising luncheon last year, I knew that I couldn’t remain. The function involved a number of rather peculiar “pastors” who seemed to me like second-rate, charismatic, prosperity-preaching, TBN rejects. I decided (no pun intended) that I just couldn’t stick around any longer. This is the letter I wrote to my Camp Leader (the names have been removed):

February 28, 2015

Dear Brother,

Greetings to you in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I hope this card finds you well, I am writing in response to your previous message regarding my membership renewal in the Gideons. After much thought I have decided that I will not be renewing my membership. This is not a decision I have made lightly, and I continue to admire my brothers in Christ who continue doing the work of the Gideons. There is, however, a difference in theology between the organization and myself which causes me too much cognitive dissonance for me to ignore any longer.

As you are well aware, our pocket sized New Testaments contain a decision page on the back cover, with a space for a person’s signature and date for the purpose of recording when that person made their decision to accept Christ. This indicates to me that, while the Gideons International intends to be an organization which is pan-denominational, it maintains a definite theological stance regarding conversion, free will, and grace. This stance is in direct opposition to that which I have learned from Holy Scripture.

Scripture teaches that man cannot, by his own reason or strength, come to our Lord Jesus Christ, or believe in him. Conversion, faith, and even the “drawing” of man to Christ are all God’s acts, which man is powerless to initiate or complete. St. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:1-2).

The unregenerate man is spiritually dead. He is as powerless to make himself spiritually alive as a corpse is to raise itself from the dead. Indeed, the restorative action comes from outside of man – from God – who makes the unregenerate alive in Christ. This undeserved mercy is the grace to which St. Paul refers:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgression – it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Paul continues, emphasizing that we are saved by the unearned, undeserved favor of God toward us (Grace) through faith in Jesus.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by work, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).

St. Paul says that we are God’s handiwork. He granted us the repentance and faith, through His Word by the power of His Spirit, which made us alive when we were dead in our transgressions. Even the good works which we are called to do as regenerate Christians, St. Paul says that God has prepared for us. We play no part in our conversion, aside from simply being the person God converts. Consequently, far from making a decision for Christ, Christ made a decision for us:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).

God provides the gifts Jesus won for us on the cross through the means of his Word and Sacraments – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. If it were left up to our own decision and act of our will, there would be no hope for conversion. The mind of the unregenerate man is incapable of making such a decision:

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, or can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:6-8).

Indeed, St. Paul was right when he wrote, “…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…” Therefore, before anyone decided to sign the back of their PWT and to accept Jesus, he had already been converted by the Spirit’s power through the means of the preached Word. It isn’t until after a man’s conversion that he has free will, and is able to act according to God’s will.

The problem with the idea of decision theology such as that which is promoted by the Gideons International is that it puts the decision in man’s hands rather than God’s. It gives people the false idea that their own work of making that decision is what saved them, rather than Christ’s holy, precious blood, and His innocent suffering and death.

We are certainly called to proclaim the Gospel. Men, however, are not converted from unbelief – they are not raised to newness of life in Christ Jesus – by some clever apologetic we might make, or by some heart-wrenching emotional experience which they will constantly seek to replicate in order to confirm their justification before God. God’s gift of salvation doesn’t depend on our work, but on God’s grace from beginning to end. The work was accomplished for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus, while mankind was still His enemy; it is given to us by the grace of God through faith in Christ. That gift of faith is given to us also by God through his means of Word and Sacrament.

I shall maintain a warm place in my heart for the Gideons in general, and my fellows from my former camp in particular, especially you. I love you all as brothers in Christ. I continue to admire you for bringing God’s word – his means of grace – to the lost. I cannot, however, continue to be a member of the Gideons International, while it promotes the pelagian heresy that is decision theology.

Brother: If you would like to discuss this further, and in person, I would be open to meeting you at your convenience. I wish you and all the brothers, and their families, God’s richest blessings in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Sincerely,

Joseph Klotz

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

For all their theological faults, the one redeeming characteristic of the organization is the thing for which they are best known – handing out Bibles and New Testaments. In the end the Gideons, at least the ones I met, all believed that the Bible is the divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God. And, while I can’t associate myself with them because of their doctrinal error, I pray that God will continue to use the scriptures they disseminate to regenerate people who are dead in their trespasses and sins.


Comments

Why I Quit the Gideons — 90 Comments

  1. Welcome Joseph!

    I’m just so pleased that you wrote this post for BJS. I’ve seen a Gideon bible with a ‘decision for Christ’ page in the back many years ago. The congregation (LCMS) I belong to has a Gideon person come and speak once a year after the service and then the people donate to them. Some speakers are okay but over the years I’ve heard the ‘ask Jesus into your heart’ too. I wrote the FAQ’s at the LCMS headquarters a few years back and wanted the public position of the synod on the Gideons. I got a very non-committal type answer back. It was obvious that it was in the realm of adiaphora, especially after the DS on a Sunday.
    Again welcome and thanks for posting.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  2. Good post! I agree that there is a lot of emphasis in this and many churches on a conversion testimony. I always felt inadequate in my testimony because I was raised in a Christian family, and my parents read the Word and taught me about Jesus. What did I have to share? After being taught about the sacraments, I realize the emphasis should never be on our story, but on Jesus Christ as shared in the Word of God. It is truly freeing to know that God does the work of salvation.

  3. Indeed, the Gideon’s adhere to the Baptist theology of “decisional regeneration” and this is no small matter, since it makes us the mover of our salvation. We must expose this wherever it is spoken, because it essentially denies biblical verses like John6:44 and others, and denies the atoning grace of Our Lord.

  4. For all their theological faults, the one redeeming characteristic of the organization is the thing for which they are best known – handing out Bibles and New Testaments. In the end the Gideons, at least the ones I met, all believed that the Bible is the divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God. And, while I can’t associate myself with them because of their doctrinal error, I pray that God will continue to use the scriptures they disseminate to regenerate people who are dead in their trespasses and sins.

    Amen.

    This is an excellent and balanced article.  We also should continue to support the Gideons in Bible distribution with prayer and donations.

  5. Specifically, Gideons do not hand-out Bibles. I would dispose of those incomplete texts that are missing 37 holy, inspired books about Jesus. Thanks for pointing out their false teachings.

  6. A very excellent article which indicates the points of doctrine where we agree and disagree with the Gideon Bible Society. The Gideon’s decision theology and apparent dismissal of baptismal regeneration or even through the preaching of the Gospel is a Scriptural matter and we must cling to the truth of Scripture. It is in the path of faithfulness that we not let the Gideons speak in our churches and also that we do not distribute material that is contrary to Scripture. Finally, this should serve as a call to Confessional Lutherans to be actively engaged in spreading the Word of God to all, as we have opportunity to give out Bibles. There is no good reason why we cannot do the same as the Gideons. Lutherans, let’s rouse ourselves for the task of faithfulness in our spread of Christ’s Gospel to all, with fidelity to Scripture and Confessions. It seems best, then, to politely decline to participate in the Gideons and give our efforts where Scripture is not compromised.

  7. Reply to #4 –

    Hi John,
    I don’t think Mr. Klotz in his last paragraph is advocating donating money to an organization that despises the Biblical (Lutheran) doctrines of baptismal regeneration, the efficacy of the Word of God and the Lord’s Supper. Just go to the LCMS web site and I bet you’d find quite a few organizations like Lutheran Bible Translators who could use your dollars. By having a representative of the Gideons speak after a LCMS church service only confuses the laity. Our catechesis is poor enough as it is and so we don’t need people telling us to ‘ask Jesus into our hearts’ after the service.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  8. Diane is right. We should certainly do everything we can to spread God’s Word & distribute bibles, but we need to be careful to avoid handing out bibles that promote decision theology, nor should we support the Gideons financially.

  9. “Q:  Has the LCMS taken an official position regarding the Gideons? Our congregation often invites Gideon representatives to give formal presentations during our worship service.

    A:  The LCMS has taken no official position regarding the Gideons. In evaluating the Gideons, the Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations has not found the objectionable features of fraternal brotherhoods (lodges) present in the Gideons.

    Judgment as to whether to invite Gideons International representatives to give presentations in or at the end of LCMS worship services (which is fairly common) is a matter left to the judgment of individual pastors and the local congregation. There should be no objection to LCMS members supporting the Bible distribution program of the Gideons.”    – LCMS.org

    [emphasis mine]

  10. @John Rixe #8

    John,
    Maybe something will be done about that statement after this discussion on BJS. I seem to recall that I asked about the Gideons during a previous administration and I would bet that the FAQ about them hasn’t been updated since the early 2000’s.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  11. The decision theology seems to have surfaced in the back pages of the Gideons small New Testament & Psalms books in the last 10 or so years. It is not in earlier versions. Those dominant in leadership must have pushed for this. The larger full Bibles that they place in hotels, etc. don’t contain the decision theology in the back pages of them.

  12. Very good discussion on the Gideons. I agree with the last comment. Although some of their “testimonies” have used decision theology’s language in the past, it seems to me like their literature has becoming increasingly sectarian and pelagian.
    We no longer accept their offers to present to our congregation because it cannot help but confuse our members, who have experienced some of the same confusion already in LCMS official functions.

  13. Your statement that “he makes the unregenerate alive with Christ” is Neo-Calvinism. He regenerates the sinner but only in his regenerated state is he made alive with Christ.

  14. @Carl Vehse #11

    That’s hilarious! Thanks for the laugh.

    @John Rixe #9

    I agree with Diane. That statement must have been written before they started promoting decision theology in their bibles. If the LCMS supports the distribution of bibles with the believers’ prayer (which I cannot image we would), then we are openly heterodox.

  15. @Pastor Eric Andersen #15

    This seems kind of speculative.  I don’t know what’s on the back cover of the current Bibles.  Does that negate what’s in the content of the book?  I feel much has been accomplished by their distribution of 1.9 billion Bibles in 190 countries. 

    “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  – Isaiah 55

  16. @John Rixe #16

    What you see in the photograph is what is on the back page of the PWTs (Personal Worker Testaments) handed out during distributions. It is current. I have an old pocket New Testament (copyright 1969) which I purchased on eBay from a seller in Great Britain, which has no “decision” page in the back. The New Testament which belonged to my father that he received in the 1960’s had the same decision page.

  17. @Diane #7

    Just go to the LCMS web site and I bet you’d find quite a few organizations like Lutheran Bible Translators who could use your dollars.
    LBT is one; Lutheran Heritage Foundation is another RSO which translates and distributes confessional Lutheran materials at little or no cost.
    [Translations done for overseas have also been found useful among immigrant populations in this country.] They are high on my list.

    A (conservative) pastor allowed the Gideons to speak after the morning service and said he asked them not to discuss the “decision” statement, but one or another couldn’t resist, most visits! [I don’t know why the “official position” doesn’t reflect the change in the Gideons’ emphasis.]

  18. @Joseph Klotz #17

    Thanks for your good article. Do you feel the “decision page” negates the value of the rest of the book? Is there a “decision page” in the motel Bibles? (comment 12). Do you think Christians should stop donating to Gideons? These are not “gotcha” questions. I value your opinion..

  19. @John Rixe #19

    No, I don’t think the decision page necessarily negates the value of the New Testament. Also, there has been such a page in every motel Bible I’ve seen. As commented by someone earlier quoting Isaiah, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

    I do think, however, that it indicates a definite theological stance of the organization regarding conversion, and that theology is not what Scripture teaches. This definetly has the potential to, at the very least, confuse the person reading that New Testament or motel Bible. I know that, when I was younger, it was confusing to me. I am a life-long Missouri Synod Lutheran, baptized when I was two months old. Reading the decision page caused me to doubt whether or not I was really a Christian when I was young, as I did not have a conversion “experience” that I could pin down to a specific date. Thankfully, my confessional pastor was always available to answer this child’s questions. This also came up when I joined the Gideons, however. They asked me at one of my first camp meetings, when it was that I became a Christian. My reply was, “December 25, 1977 at about 9:30 AM.” After some quick math, the fellow asking me this countered, “Yes I know you were Baptized when you were a baby, but when did you really become a Christian?” This opened up the way for a great discussion regarding the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

    I don’t think we Lutherans should necessarily hold any animosity for the Gideons, or try to hinder what they do. We would probably be putting our money to better use, however, by supporting organizations which do not support a theology which is contrary to Scripture, as suggested previously by Diane.

  20. Although we disagree on donations, I appreciate your clear, candid writing. I look forward to more of your articles.

    Do you have a suggestion as to how the “believers prayer” should be reworded (Romans 10:9)?

    @ Mr Klotz

  21. @John Rixe #21

    Thank you for your straightforward questions. I would, rather than calling for people to make a decision to accept Jesus into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior, call them to repentance as St. Peter did, using the Law to show them their sin, and proclaiming the Gospel that Jesus bled and died for that sin. As previously stated, anyone who decided to pray such a prayer and accept Jesus has already been converted by the Spirit’s power through the means of the preached Word before they made their decision. It isn’t until after a man’s conversion that he has free will, and is able to act according to God’s will.

    Far from being a formula for someone to follow to “get saved,” St. Paul shows us in Romans 10:9 how faith in Christ and public confession are inseparable. In the next verse he writes, “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Faith and confession are then unified by St. Paul later when he writes, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (v. 13). Faith and confession go together; you can’t have one without the other.

  22. @Joseph Klotz #22

    I understand and agree.  On the other hand, I don’t think that the “believers prayer” is so terrible awful as a response to the conversion already taken place.  It seems to follow Romans 10:9.  The contents of the book is what counts IMO.

    – Poorly catechised and still supporting Gideon Bibles 🙂

  23. @Rev. Weinkauf #5

    Specifically, Gideons do not hand-out Bibles. I would dispose of those incomplete texts that are missing 37 holy, inspired books about Jesus.

    Are you serious?  You would throw away New Testaments?  We have Gospel of John booklets in our tract rack.  Would you come into our narthex and throw them away?  The diverse comments around here are endlessly fascinating.
    (I realize this wacky comment isn’t representative of BJS)

  24. @Brad #55:

    “To be fair, Chuck, the LCMS “allows congregations to be served by non-Lutheran pastors”– we just colloquize them first.”

    Well, that’s not completely true, according to a series of BJS posts from Post #86 to Post #94.

    Two years later in Koinonialand, nothing has changed and Reverend Mose is still not on the LCMS roster

  25. I sincerely hope you continue to write much. This is most certainly an excellent “testimony.” I am looking forward to more articles!

  26. I know he doesn’t represent confessional Lutherans, but when a pastor thinks it’s a good idea to throw away New Testaments why aren’t you folks responding?  

  27. @John Rixe #25
    Dear John,
    I guess we don’t respond on that comment because it is so wacky at the core. Perhaps no comments because we “kind of” know what he means, albeit poorly worded.

    He is against the theological teaching of Gideon’s, not the Word of God that is timeless and is in every Word of all of the Bible. Best construction thinking on my part??

    Perhaps don’t toss it, but insert a “What About Tract” (you know, A.L. Berry’s great series) inside the Bible. Hmmm, gives me an idea.

  28. My husband and I have been members of Gideon’s International for over 30 years, this is were we learned how to pray out loud which sad to say is not a practice in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, getting to know other Christians has been a blessing to our marriage and our lives and the lives of our family. The comments that I read makes me sad to see such uninformed comments, when we share a Personal Workers Testament with someone we always show them the plan of salvation on the inside back cover of the book, this is where the Holy Spirit works faith in their heart, this is what leads the individual to sign the decision page. How many of our fellow Lutherans are led to hand out God’s Word? It has been a blessing for me to have these testaments in my purse or pocket to hand someone one at an opportune time, the Holy Spirit does the converting, God uses our hands and our feet to be his disciples.

  29. This is a good article, Mr. Klotz. It is wonderful to see how you clearly defined your disagreement with them, while at the same time you avoided accusations of heresy, or throwing the entire organization under the bus as if they have not accomplished any thing positive. I believe that is the ecumenical spirit we all ought to strive for. It is an ecumenism that recognizes the commonalities and even strengths of some Christian organizations that we otherwise disagree with.

  30. @Lorene Haertling #30

    Hi Lorene,
    I’m glad that this organization has been a blessing to you and your family. Is the Personal Workers Testament just the New Testament? Could you give us a brief summary of the ‘plan of salvation’ in the inside cover of the book? The Holy Spirit works only through the Word and Sacraments. No where in the Bible does God say we need to ‘ask Jesus into our hearts or make a decision for Jesus’. This is a complete misunderstanding of how the Holy Spirit converts people. Unfortunately, the bad theology of ‘making a decision’ for Christ is rampant in American Christianity. IMO, Lutherans would do better to give to an organization within our own synod like the ones mentioned above.

    See Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller’s article, ‘Can you make a Decision for Christ’ found at http://www.hope-aurora.org. This article is under the topic ‘Repentance’.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  31. The Holy Spirit works only through the Word and Sacraments.

     

    I believe the Holy Spirit had worked tremendously through the 1.9 billion Bibles distributed by the Gideons.  We have His promise:

    “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  – Isaiah 55

    ….but I’m repeating myself 😉

  32. I’m pretty sure the folks receiving these wonderful Bibles read more than just the inside covers.

  33. @John Rixe #33

    Hi John,

    Pairing God’s Word with the bad theology of ‘asking Jesus into your heart’ is not a good idea. I think that is the point of the post by Mr. Klotz. Please read Pastor Wolfmueller’s article, ‘Can You Make a Decision for Christ’.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  34. @John Rixe #36

    Almost seems as casual as choosing medium or large.

    The reality is that if someone reads the passages, and the Holy Spirit grants repentance and faith, then they already believe even before praying the “sinner’s prayer” or making a conscious decision to receive Jesus.

  35. @T-rav #37

    Totally agree.  The “sinners prayer” in this link is simply an affirmation of the conversion that already happened.  It is directly (almost word for word) from Romans 10:9.  

  36. First of All when we have scripture reading at our camp meetings we do not explain anything on the reading. Only members from Christian Churches that believe that Jesus paid it all are invited to become members. The day that I see Lutheran mentioned in the bible I will resign my membership in the Gideon’s International.
    The comment that God works only through word and sacrament, those testaments are the word, please rethink your statement.
    The plan of salvation is based on John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 3:10, Romans 3:10 Romans 6:23, John 1:12, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Revelation 3:20, and Romans 10:13
    These are all referenced on the inside cover of the Testaments.

  37. @Lorene Haertling #39

    Hi Lorene,
    I can see how my placement of the sentence, ‘the Holy Spirit works only through the Word and the Sacraments’ would cause someone confusion. I should have written more concisely. My apology to you.

    My disagreement with the Gideons is in the ‘decision’ page in the back of their Bibles. When one thinks one makes a decision for Christ, it can lead either to boasting or despair, Ephesians 2:8,9. As Lutherans we believe that our conversion is completely God’s action toward us. His choosing us. His decision to accept us. Please refer to Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller’s article, ‘Can You Make A Decision for Christ’ found at http://www.hope-aurora.org.

    If the Gideons would completely do away with the ‘decision’ page, I wouldn’t have a problem with the Bibles they distribute. I do have a small issue with the reference of Revelation 3:20 as part of the Gideons plan of salvation. This Scripture verse is misinterpreted by a lot of American Evangelicals today. In context, this letter to the Church in Laodicea, is written to people who are already Christians, not unbelievers. By including Rev. 3:20 in their plan of salvation, the Gideons appear to be doing exactly what Mr. Klotz said in his post.
    That is, ‘While the Gideons intend to be a pan-denominational organization
    In Christ,
    Diane

  38. @Diane #40

    I guess my time for corrections has expired so I’ll continue here. By including Rev. 3:20 in their plan of salvation, the Gideons appear to be doing exactly what Mr. Klotz said in his post. That is,

    ‘While the Gideons International intend to be a pan-denominational organization, it maintains a definite theological stance in regards to conversion, free will and grace. This stance is in direct opposition to what I have learned in Holy Scripture’.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  39. @Lorene Haertling #30

    this is were we learned how to pray out loud which sad to say is not a practice in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod,

    If you attend a liturgical LCMS congregation, you will find yourself “praying out loud” quite a bit, in participating.

    But I expect you mean extemporaneous prayer. It’s true, Lutherans are likely to use a written or memorized prayer, or Scripture.
    It spares us the famous “Lord, weejus…” petitions; I don’t find that sad at all. 🙂

  40. Dear Helen:
    Prayer should be a conversation with the Lord, He is our Heavenly Father and we should be able to come to him, with our personal petitions, our written prayers are fine, but that should not be the only way we bring our concerns to the Lord. I see a real lack of a personal relationship with Jesus, in our Lutheran membership. I asked the Ladies in one of our meetings if they would be willing to pray for our pastors, and the needs of our congregation, during their meeting, they decided they would pray by themselves at home. We seem to want one foot in church and one foot in the world, in other words we don’t want to look too Christian.
    I would like to hear more encouragement from our Pastors to be in the word daily, have personal devotions, family devotions, I am sure there are exceptions. I appreciate your comments.

  41. @Lorene Haertling #43

    I see a real lack of a personal relationship with Jesus, in our Lutheran membership.

    I don’t think you can read hearts, so I don’t think you see any such thing, Lorene. I use extemp prayer publicly on occasion and privately all day long, but I certainly would not say that someone who sticks to what they memorized is less in tune with God.
    The important thing is whether Jesus has a personal relationship with me, which He does, in baptism and the Sacrament.

    You might ask yourself why you want to “put people on the spot”
    by asking them to pray “your way”. Why not lead the prayer instead?

    This “I’m in love with Jesus” stuff, (if that’s what you are promoting; I can’t tell) strikes many of us as a little showy, and Lutherans are not like that, usually.

    Are you bringing in a little evangelicalism from where you came from, perhaps? Just asking because I wonder what the issue is here.

    in other words we don’t want to look too Christian.

    Since you said you were in a meeting of women of the church (or do I presume too much?) I don’t see where the problem would be in “looking Christian”. Care to explain that one?

  42. @Lorene Haertling #43

    I would like to hear more encouragement from our Pastors to be in the word daily, have personal devotions, family devotions, I am sure there are exceptions.

    I get that encouragement pretty regularly; I hadn’t thought of it as unusual. Perhaps I should.

  43. @John J Flanagan #3

    Well, I’m a Baptist, and I certainly don’t believe in “decisional regeneration”. (I believe in the five points of Calvinism.) In fact, Baptists are so diverse in their views there is really no such thing as “Baptist theology”. “Baptismal regeneration” sounds a bit dodgy to me.

  44. It’s the heart that matters.
    The bible may not mention anything about asking Jesus into your heart but so what. Do you really think that Jesus cares if we do? I’m sure He does care and probably with a smile on His face. As His children we should never be afraid to ask. Many of us don’t receive because we don’t ask. So why make such a big religious issue out of it. It’s these silly arguments that divide us and that prevent many from coming to Christ. Why don’t we celebrate and discuss the things we do agree on. For all the other things, let’s simply ask for God’s wisdom and agree to disagree if necessary.

  45. I am a Gideon, one recently assigned to head the church ministry team in my camp. I looked at this site because I want to understand why the pastors of so many Lutheran churches will not schedule an appointment for me to visit with them. I will not argue any points but rather bring to your attention the actual Gideon agreed credo, and Gideon policy for interaction on spiritual matters within the camp as instructed in the Gideon Guide Book. First, no one becomes a Gideon unless he signs an application confessing the following: 1- Belief in the Bible as the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God (II Timothy 3:16). 2- Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Eternal Son of God (John 3:16). 3- He must have received the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior (Romans 10:9). 4- He must be endeavoring to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in his daily life (Romans 12:1-2). 5- Belief in the endless lake of fire for the unsaved (Rev 20:10-15). 6- He must be a member in good standing of a local church, congregation or assembly as confirmed and recommended by his pastor. 7- He must be a layman and not a clergyman. Each applicant’s pastor is contacted by the Membership Committee at Gideon International Headquarters to verify that the applicant is a member in good standing of a Protestant or Evangelical church. Second, the FAQ in the Gideon Guide Book when discussing meetings categorically states that we are not to talk about doctrinally specific matters. Gideon purpose is to introduce men and women, boys and girls to the Savior and not to cause division among ourselves (Titus 3:9-10). To summarize, just like there are people under the banner of Christian who are misrepresenting us, apparently there are some people who have come into Gideon ranks and may not be properly representing we who are Gideons.

  46. Joseph,
    Really wondering why you ever joined the Gideons in the first place as it clearly asks on their membership application “Have you received Him (Jesus Christ) as your personal Savior?” The Gideons require a “yes” answer to become a member. Did you not realize this meant a decision to accept Christ? The very next question on the application is “Do you endeavor to follow Him in your daily life? (Romans 12:1-2)
    Just seems like you make an over-the-top criticism of The Gideons in your article.

    From their website: “The Gideons International is a diverse association representing many Protestant denominations – all with a common interest in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gideons International is an association that works with evangelical or Protestant churches. Our members come from many denominations, live all over the world, and share a desire to see the lost come to Christ.” https://www2.gideons.org/faq

  47. with much of Joseph’s theology, I would like to offer a quote from the inerrant Word of the Living God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the inspired message by St Paul.
    “that if thou shalt confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, you shalt be saved” Romans chapter 10 verse 9
    and again; “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, for the scripture saith, whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved” Romans chapter 10 verses 10 – 13. If you continue in the chapter, you will see the through the next few verses that hearing the WORD of God produces Faith.
    The Gideons do they not preach get rich gospel or believe that by just writing on a page of a bible about accepting Christ makes them Christians, “by their fruits you shall know them”
    the signing a bible only represents a acknowledgement and witness that they want to begin the road of following Christ.
    May God grant you His blessing and a continuance in His service.

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