You’re Killing Me Peter: Wiki Part 2

your killing me smalls

You’re Killing Me Peter

St. Paul guides us to treat one another gently when it comes to correcting each other. He, inspired by the Holy Spirit in Galatians 6:1 declared, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” St. Paul wrote this at the end of the Epistle, yet in chapter two he recalls his interaction with St. Peter when Peter came to Antioch. St. Peter wasn’t walking in accordance with the Gospel and, “the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy” (Galatians 2:13). This is part two of my review of the Wiki15 conference in which I will discuss the presenters and some of the breakout sessions. The two main lecturers that I will discuss are Rev. Bill Woolsey and Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell. The breakout sessions that I will recall were on the topic of preaching titled, “The Preacher’s Studio.”

In keeping with the 8th commandment, we all should put the best construction on anything from these various presenters, and yet act as St. Paul guides us to whenever a leader proclaims false doctrine or walks in falsehood. As St. James confesses, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). These pastors should be judged, not according to my opinion or practice, but according to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions in accordance with the Formula of Concord Solid Declaration Rule and Norm paragraph 3. As that same rule and norm declares, “In order to preserve pure teaching and fundamental, lasting, God-pleasing UNITY in the church, it is necessary not only to present the pure, beneficial teaching correctly, but also to censure those who contradict it and teach other doctrines 91 Timothy 3:9 and Titus 1:9” (FCSD rule and norm.14)

The Reverend Pastor Bill Woolsey is the head of the 5-2 network. After the opening service on Tuesday, Pastor Woolsey gave a summary of 5-2 network 2.0. He spoke on what the 5-2 network is and where the group is going in the future. We began by drawing a curve on a piece of paper, a line going up and then curving down. He (Pastor Woolsey) asked us to mark an “x” where our denomination is going. Are we growing? Have we plateaued? Are we going downhill in attendance? I marked an “x” on the downward curve because that is the reality. The LCMS is not growing by leaps and bounds, nor has she plateaued. She is decreasing because she won’t confess who she truly is and because of that no one believes her. The LCMS shouldn’t attempt to be someone she is not. Let us treasure the pure Gospel and the blessed sacraments that have been given to us by our Lord Christ. Let us proclaim that authentic message to every nation, language, tribe, and generation.

After we were asked to mark where our denomination is, we were asked to mark an “x” where our start up is located on the curve. Most people marked an “x” on the upward curve because most upstarts are growing. You can’t go to negative numbers if you start from zero when starting a church plant. After we did this, Pastor Woolsey commented that most mainline sacramental denominations, of which the LCMS would be included, are on the decline, with the appearance that they have lost the power of the Gospel. The Gospel doesn’t have the power anymore to reach the lost in these denominations. This was a red flag. Is he saying that these denominations have lost the forgiveness of sins? Can a pastor of 10 members on Sunday not declare everyone forgiven in the name of Jesus? Are Jesus’ words in the Gospel according to St. Matthew null and void that say, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).   Is the power of the Gospel based on the incline of a church body? Or is it on the proclamation of the Gospel and the distribution of the sacraments? This statement and way of thinking by Pastor Woolsey is dangerous and poisonous because it draws the attention to the earthly reward or production, rather than to the words of Christ in the forgiveness of sinners. There is no ‘best construction’ with this. I’ve heard it before in the mouths of the Baptists and Methodists growing up in the bible belt. This language and emphasis is destructive to the spiritual life of both the congregation and the Pastor that she calls.

From there Pastor Woolsey showed a clip from the new Colbert Late Show where Stephen Colbert interviews Vice President Joe Biden. Biden talked about his Roman Catholic belief and how it is more than just the ritual on Sunday morning. Pastor Woolsey then proceeded to define what “sacramental” means. If you would like to know what sacramental means, go to their website. However, his definition of sacramental is confusing and vague. The beauty of the cross of Christ is its clarity. You know what is happening. Jesus died because He became a sinner and died in the stead of all sinners. The cross is the emptying out of the Father’s wrath against sin. In this, Jesus is victorious over the devil and ransoms man from the tyranny of the wicked foe. Jesus died on the cross and there purchased and won our salvation. Now in the means of grace He distributes the gifts that He won on the cross for us, the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. This is clear. You can’t put your own interpretation on it. Jesus defines how He saves you in black and white terminology. However, Pastor Woolsey uses vague and mystical sounding words that can be interpreted in various ways by different hearers. His manner of speaking had a heavy post-modernist feel to it where the hearer controlled the interpretation, rather than the speaker.

However vague Woolsey was, he did have some beneficial things to say. He revealed the problem of our daily devotional life. You can’t go 165 hours a week without Christ and expect to get a little shot on Sunday of Him and be alright. You can’t live throughout the week as if Sunday didn’t happen. He connected the Divine Service on Sunday morning to the daily life of the baptized. During this I thought, “Good. That’s Luther’s doctrine of vocation. This isn’t anything new.” But I was wrong. It wasn’t vocation. It was sacramental. To Woolsey Sunday morning isn’t about feeding the empty sinner, but about equipping the saint to live the week in their ‘sacramental identity’. He said, “We need to emphasize the 1st article gifts and create awe in the sacramental saint in order that they see Jesus, not only in the Sunday morning stuff, but in the Tuesday board meeting and on the Thursday evening soccer field”. While he was saying this, on the screen behind him were slides from National Geographic. One of the slides that came up while he was speaking of seeing Jesus in more than just the Sunday morning service was a picture of a Mosque and Muslim’s worshipping. I wondered, “How can you see Jesus in pagan worship?” You can’t. He is not there in His grace and mercy. You can see Christ in the face of your neighbor and therefore you are given to love your neighbor as Christ loves you. However, you should not say that in pagan worship one can see Christ. Jesus is not present in any worship besides the Worship where He comes to us in the means of grace. If this slide was used on Sunday morning with a bunch of laity, it would confuse and inevitably kill the saint. We don’t have to look for Christ. We don’t have to try to see Him in everything. No. Christ is given in the Gospel proclaimed and the sacraments administered, in accordance with the Gospel. In the reception of these gifts you live your life in love for your neighbor in whatever vocation God places you. We don’t have to come up with a new formula.

If I am a little harsh on pastor Woolsey it is because he is a rostered pastor in the LCMS. He swore to uphold the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions and he is not doing that. I don’t hate him for it. I’m not mad about it. I just want the honesty. If you don’t agree with these confessions, then don’t pretend to in public. It is dangerous to the hearer and the sheep that Christ gathers to hear His voice on Sunday morning or whenever the Gospel is proclaimed. The questions that I have for Pastor Woolsey are as follows. 1. What is vocation? 2. Why go to Church? 3. How can the Gospel lose its power? 4. Why do you have to come with new language instead of walking in the confessions you swore to at your ordination?

The next presenter that I will discuss is Pastor Caldwell of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. He had some great thoughts and was very charismatic. I liked him as a speaker. I enjoy and get involved when I see that the speaker is passionate about what they preach because it shows their belief in what they speak about. He started out by saying that the pastor needs to have his priorities straight. He has God, then family, then church. I appreciated this because so many pastors burn out and sacrifice their family life for the sake of the church. From there it went downhill. He started praying the Lord’s prayer, but he skipped an important petition. He went, “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What about ‘Thy Kingdom Come”? I thought that he would bring it up eventually, but never did. He talked about the social gospel and what his congregation is doing for the community. This is great, but not all there is. He talked about infiltrating the lines of the enemy with the mindset of the kingdom. However, He never defined that kingdom in the image of the cross. The cross of Jesus Christ never came up. He even brought up the Day of Atonement at the end and I thought, “Yes. I will eat my words and he will bring up the cross. NOPE. It’s like he was allergic to the cross. He talked about mindset, methodology, and money abstract of the cross. I wasn’t upset with him because he is not bound to the same Confessions as I am. However, he is bound to the same Scripture and He did not preach that.

At one point he grabbed a bottle of water and said, “We have to remove the label because all people care about is the content.” The he started ripping off the label and in a dramatic fashion, like a good BBC drama, he threw the label down and took a big sip from the bottle. “People don’t care about the label; they care about the content.” Well, let’s take that analogy and go with it. I have a son that is allergic to gluten, dairy, eggs, and pretty much anything that tastes good and makes you happy. If I have three bowls of ice cream in front of him. One is made from almond milk (Allergic), one is from good whole milk form a cow(Allergic), and one is from coconut milk (Not Allergic). I put all three in front of him and say have at it. All that matters is the ice cream, right? If he grabs one of the ones that he is allergic to then he will have a reaction and have to be treated. However, if there is a label, then either his mother and even he himself can see what he shouldn’t eat and what he is safe to consume. Label’s matter. They tell you what is inside. Only a complete naïve child would not care about labels. Vodka, water, and bleach can look similar. Only the label will protect you from consuming something that you shouldn’t. I know this isn’t good to say, but COME ON. Really. This is juvenile stuff. We pastors are called to the highest office. Act like it. Feed the sheep rather than entertain the goats.

This theology came to fruition in the preaching workshops. In these breakout sessions I listened to sermons, talked with my table, and was allowed to question the pastor about his sermon. A wonderful idea. I would encourage circuits to do this and pastors to do this with their friends. If people do it the right way. However, it was not done the right way. Pastors did not preach Christological sermons grounded in the means of grace, but growtivation was the driving force. The pastors were more concerned about equipping the hearer, rather than forgiving them. The pastor was the leading example of the Christian life, rather than the dispenser of Holy Absolution. As I mentioned in the first part of these articles, the cross is a mere footnote in their theology and inevitably their preaching.

My review of the presenters is that they all said similar things in different ways for different audiences. However, the one thing lacking was the Blessed Exchange, the justification of the sinner in the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus the Christ. This can never be assumed, but must always be proclaimed until Christ calls us home. Church for this group is about equipping the saint to live out the sacramental life throughout the week. When in reality Church is about the empty sinner being filled with the righteousness of Christ that is delivered in the means of grace. So with St. Paul I say, “You’re killing me Peter. Get with it. You know better.”


About Pastor Chris Hull

Chris Hull is the Senior Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tomball,Texas. He was married to Allison Desiree Monk on June 3rd, 2006. They have been blessed with four boys, Lochlann Richard Patrick, Eamonn Julius Luther, Tiernann Thomas Walther, and Jamesonn Frederick Flacius. Pastor Hull graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, Il in 2006. He received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2010. He is currently in the STM program at CTSFW.


You’re Killing Me Peter: Wiki Part 2 — 25 Comments

  1. Thank you, Pr. Hull. Your observations are pretty much in line with what is generally observed with this group’s very public false teaching.

    However, if I may offer a gentle chide… “your” title header for this posting is killing me, too. 😉

  2. I must say that I am pretty disappointed in the review. What is the one thing that people hear about when it comes to Pr Woosley? His view on sacramental living. It is what I came to this article for.

    And do we hear from the horse’s mouth what he thinks? No. Pr Hull skips over it and says “Read the website.” But he was there and could have reported on what Woolsey says. But he doesn’t.

    He does describe it as vague which I thought was pretty hilarious given that his description didn’t say much at all.

    I’m generally willing to give missionals some benefit of the doubt. But I also am willing to listen to valid criticism. Woolsey has been getting a lot of press recently. So what do I know about his position? No much more after reading this article than before.

    Which is disappointing.

  3. Mark,
    I understand your disappointment. I would love to do a co Porte piece on Woolsey and the definition of sacramental life. The issue is this, I have no clue what it is even after he talks. At best, it is an amateur theology of theosis. Its his way of saying that Christ is in us in more ways than the means of grace. I didn’t try to define what he said, becuaese he didn’t say anything. He said much without saying anything at all. At this conference he didn’t spend much time talking about sacramental because the assembly already knew what it meant. So, rather than summarize the site, it would be prudent for us all to read the source. @Mark Louderback #2

  4. The best reaction to 5-2 may be for the 2016 Synodical Convention to pass a resoltuion asking the CTCR to evaluate the teachings and practice of 5-2 to see if it is in accord with Article II of the Synodical Constitution and the doctrinal statements of the LCMS. I am considering asking my congregation to submit such an overture.

  5. @Mark Louderback #2
    “I’m generally willing to give missionals some benefit of the doubt. But I also am willing to listen to valid criticism. Woolsey has been getting a lot of press recently. So what do I know about his position? No much more after reading this article.”
    I thought the author did a great job with the article. So you are not going to critize the leader of wike5 for making a statement such as this: “After we did this, Pastor Woolsey commented that most mainline sacramental denominations, of which the LCMS would be included, are on the decline, with the appearance that they have lost the power of the Gospel.” This statement is ridiculous. I attended a LCMs cowo church three weeks where they had the band, drop down screens, no pulpit, no altar, no lectern; I think I saw the pastor, he was wearing jeans and a polo shirt. Well there was a whopping 15 people in attendance. And this church has been in existence for over 40 years in a populated area. How’s being like every Christian church at the corner working for them.

  6. What makes you think the resolution will not get to the floor? I don’t think 5-2 has that much power yet in the Synod. And I would put a time limit on the study, say December 31, 2018 so action can be taken by the 2019 Synodical Convention. I know this is slow, but such is Synod.

  7. @Harry Edmon #8

    I say go for it– it can’t hurt, and it will at least let them know they are on notice. Plus, it will let other congregations around the synod who know nothing about these folks, know that something is askew enough to be under investigation.

  8. @Harry Edmon #8
    Because district presidents are in favor of this group for not trying to put a stop to this group making congregational appearance within there own districts. I bet every district (district president) touching the Atlantic Ocean loves this group.

  9. Well, what did he say? I mean, what was an example of the vagueness? Did you write down any particular meaningless phrase he said?

    As I said, when talking about it, you can imagine that it is different than what is written.

    I do appreciate your frustration.

  10. Mark,
    Woolsey said things like, “Sunday is integral not sufficient.” This is when he was talking about the sacramental life. This is true, that you cannot just show up to church on Sunday morning and then act like a pagan the rest of the week and assume that Jesus will forgive you anyway. However, he continue to say that Jesus doesn’t replace creation, he flavors it. This sounds ok, but it isn’t true and biblical. Jesus doesn’t flavor creation, He redeems it. Jesus ransoms us from the world. We are in the world, but not of it. Woolsey spoke of being a sacrament throughout the week. You’re sacramental in that Christ dwells in you and lives through you. This is still good. However, he then continued to say that we need to see Jesus in everything when he showed the Muslims worshipping that was enough. You do not see Jesus in His grace and mercy in pagan worship. Woolsey doesn’t get the means of grace, he doesn’t get vocation, and he doesn’t see how we love our neighbor. This is lazy evangelicalism. We have to sanctify everything. No you don’t You’re forgiven. You love your neighbor. Have fun until your dead. Yes, you can see Jesus in all of creation, but you aren’t promised Jesus in all of creation. You aren’t promised the forgiveness of your sin in all creation. That comes in the means of grace. That is sacramental. @Mark Louderback #11

  11. I would ask Mr. Woolsey another question, based upon his words:

    Since when does the Bible order us to place numerical growth as 1.) a measure of true Christianity and 2.) the primary goal of the church?

    And then I would answer that NOWHERE in Scripture is any such thing even hinted at.

    When you exalt numbers over all else as Mr. Woolsey seems to be doing, you’re taking a step in the direction of pragmatism. And pragmatism ALWAYS subverts doctrine. ALWAYS. If you don’t believe me, look at American evangelicalism, and understand that 5/2 is the same thing, only a little more toned down and a little late to the party. That’s all.

  12. These are some CGM distinctives as I see them:
    • There is analysis of the differences between declining and thriving churches, from governance to worship, utilizing the latest demographic and sociological data.
    • Church governance is centralized, streamlined, and more agile, organized around team leaders and lay ministries making it easier for empowered lay leaders to manage their church’s agenda and conduct ministry.
    • Visionary, futuristic leaders (formerly pastors) equip members of the congregation (Ephesians 4:11-12) to be successful believer-priests (1 Peter 2:5, 9) who are deployed to their individual ministries as they witness to the community at large in service to others.
    • Traditional, liturgical worship is de-emphasized if not denigrated and often referred to as “institutional church.” It has become an obstacle and at worst is described as some sort of arcane, officious, impenetrable monolith soon to be anachronistic and defunct.
    • A sensory worship experience employing multimedia is necessary to be culturally relevant.
    • The highest calling and focus of the Church becomes the “Great Commission” wherein the unchurched and dechurched in the community are valued above the sheep of the flock who are encouraged to become “self-feeders.”
    • Repentance is needed for congregational lethargy, lack of vision, and inward focus, apathy, and idolatry. Visionary leaders create an environment that allows the church to change its errant ways and focus on making disciples beyond the walls of the church of people that God misses most in the community.

  13. @Tileman hesshusius #10

    With a Synodical Convention overture it depends on which floor committee it would be sent to and which DPs and other delegates are on that committee. Both of those are determined by the Synodical President. I do not think that President Matt Harrison is a fan of 5-2, so such an overture may very well make it to the floor.

  14. @Mark #14
    Mark – Are these YOUR understandings or something that has been taught or preached to you? Are you in agreement with these? You say that these are CGM distinctives – is it your understanding that this is the distinctive of the group being discussed here, namely FiveTwo? Pastor Hull – would you say that this is what is being espoused by FiveTwo?

  15. @Bruce vH #17

    My church is undergoing revitalization so I have first hand experience with the church growth movement. Also see Scott Diekmann’s series on the Transforming Churches Network and Bill Easum’s book, Growing Spiritual Redwoods. No, I don’t agree with these and only post them for further thought and discussion.

  16. Seems to me we don’t need District offices or DPs any more, if they are not seeing that their congregations are not “in accord with Article II of the Synodical Constitution and the doctrinal statements of LCMS.” What, other that that, is their job?

    And, really, why does LCMS need to be policed? If all pastors are taught the same things at our seminaries why is there any diversity in their teachings? (Oh, that’s right, St Louis and Ft Wayne DON’T have the same curriculum – wonder why THAT is!)

  17. @Redeemed #19

    Because you have circuit visiors who find nothing wrong with the likes of wiki whatever, and even promote it. I heard in the Pittsburgh Northeast, a circuit visitor is all in favor of the transforming church network, praise bands and even quotes Rick Warren when he preaches down among. When he makes his rounds he wants to see more of that sort of nonsense. When you have a DP and circuit visitors all in favor of Wiki junk they are going to make sure that like minded minions are placed in their district churces.

  18. Carl Medearis, a speaker at Wiki 14 last year, just spoke at an event called the “All Pastor’s Conference” put on by the Michigan District of the LCMS:

    Carl Medearis teaches that Christians should not evangelize, and has met with a leader of Hezbollah:

    What is the “All Pastor’s Conference”? What is going on here, and why does Medearis keep getting invited to speak at LCMS sponsored events?

  19. It gets worse. Carl Medearis is a promoter of the “Insider Movement” on the Muslim mission field. Also known as “Chrislam,” this movement teaches that Muslims get believe in the Biblical Jesus and remain Muslims. It teaches that missionaries should not refer to Jesus as the “Son of God” or teach Christ’s Sonship to the Muslims they are supposedly evangelizing:

    Why on earth would the Michigan district invite this guy to speak?

  20. While it is obvious already that Medearis is a theological liberal, here is a post on his Facebook page where he shares material from emergent writer Brian Zahnd:

    Zahnd is very open about his rejection of Substitutionary Atonement and Biblical Inerrancy, and has even engaged in debate against both doctrines. This is the kind of poison that some district bureaucrats seem intent on bringing into our Synod.

  21. So here is even more involvement by Carl Medearis with FiveTwo beyond his speaking at the Wiki 14 conference: Medearis lays out all of his heresies in this interview, and Bill Woolsey calls it “profound.”

    And here he is speaking at an LCMS “multi-site”, even though he isn’t part of any church in pulpit fellowship with the LCMS:

    This guy seems to be all the rage with the church-growthers in the LCMS, just like Ed Stetzer. Church growthers have invited other heretics like Soong Chan-Rah, Leonard Sweet, and Daisy Machado to speak to LCMS audiences, and these are all worse than Tullian Tchividjian. This is a problem, one which will not go away on its own.

  22. When FiveTwo defines sacramental or discusses the sacraments they talk about joining a person with with the presence of Jesus, but there is no mention of the forgiveness of sins. Ultimately they present a faith which connotes a joining with God for power and glory rather than one defined by being joined to the crucifixion of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.

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