Confessions and Conversion of a Former Jesus-Firster, by P. Rossow

Over on the “Tale of Two Synods” post from Pastor Daniel Hinton is the following story of how this blog and others have helped someone see the light of the liturgy and other things authentically Lutheran. It is from a gentlemen by the name of Nathan.

Lord have mercy upon me.

I was once a Jesus-Firster, not understanding why those “crazy uber-Lutherans” cared so much about liturgy that we lost members! Being faithful obviously wasn’t enough; we needed dog-and-pony shows! Then I read Art Just’s “Heaven on Earth,” and by God’s grace realized, “Instead of shouting, ‘Jesus First! Liturgy last!’ why not worship in such a way that puts Jesus first a lot better than CoWo does?”

And as I was writing that paragraph, I realized I’m just like the Pharisee: “Lord, I thank You I am not like that Jesus-Firster over there. By Your grace, I’m so much more faithful.” Lord have mercy upon me.

Y’all have been doing yeoman’s work on here even while I was a child being raised in a CoWo LCMS church. I lived through two “transitions” to CoWo (once in Houston, and again when we moved to the Austin area), and I heard and swallowed the CoWo propaganda. I thank God for you and the other theologians (Luther, Walther, the Preuses, Fisk) who have been so good at re-educating me that the growth of the Church is God’s job, not mine, so long as we remain faithful.

So when I read these demands for a “balanced” view and “unloving” closed communion, I see my past self. And then I see pride rising up to tell me how much better I am now. Even if by God’s grace. Lord have mercy upon me.

No doubt we should firmly rebuke false doctrine and teach the truth. Call out the false teachers and make the Church aware they are indeed false. But how do I do this without taking pride in the fact that “I’m so much better now; I understand”? Lord have mercy upon me.

This might be a bit off-topic, but I think it’s at least tangentially related. Y’all have been so good at re-educating me: How do I call out and rebuke false doctrine without taking pride in the fact that I know what true doctrine is? Simply recognizing it’s by God’s grace alone doesn’t seem enough. The Pharisee thanked God, not himself, for being “better” than the tax collector. So how do I do this? How do I keep from reading these awful letters to TLW and not immediately think, “Wow, thank God I’m so much better than these people!” Lord have mercy upon me.

I hope you will add your own responses below. Pastor Drew Newman from the ACELC took the words out of my mouth with this immediate response on the same string.

Your post made my day. There have been so many times when I’ve almost convinced myself that there is no chance to reach anyone in the CW camp. Now I see that it is true that with God nothing shall be impossible.

As for your own confessed self-righteousness, welcome, dear brother to a camp filled with poor, miserable sinners, for the bottom line is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom we are all the greatest!

Keep up the good work everybody. People are reading, listening, thinking and growing. Oh, and thanks Nathan for taking the time to make Drew’s day and the day of many of the few hundered thousand or so who have visited this blog through the years!

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