I did Not Intend to Hurt Anyone, by Pr. Rossow

I did not intend to hurt people with my words to Pastor Morris in the BJS post the night of the Newtown Vigil. My intention was to speak God’s word to the situation. Shortly after the post was put up, President Harrison asked that the post be taken down so that public heat and light could be taken off the situation while it was being handled personally by him. I did not hesitate for a moment. The post was taken down.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch and others have chosen to go back to the words of a post that was taken down and dwell on them. I stand by the words and will explain that stance in a moment but at the outset I ask that people recognize that all the furor is over a post that was taken down.

BJS has gotten fair treatment by the Post Dispatch in the past and I actually don’t think their recent story on the matter was all that bad. I will repeat however, they and everyone else are focusing on a post that we humbly took down.

As I said above, I did not intend to hurt anyone with the words I said. The evangelical pastor’s goal is always to heal the wounds of sin in this world with the salve of the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ has died on the cross to satisfy the Father’s just desire for a price to be paid for the sins of the world and that all who receive this news in faith become his children and shall live with him forever in heaven.

This good news of salvation is paired with the hard words of the law. You and I have sinned and need to confess that sin so that we might be forgiven. The words I spoke on that BJS blog were words of law but they weren’t hateful words. The world hears them as hateful because the world does not acknowledge its sin. The world desires to define righteousness as whatever anyone chooses to do in sincerity. If one is sincerely trying to help someone it is okay to lie. Homosexuality is not a sin as long as it is done in sincere love. Everyone is accepted by God as long as they are sincere. It is okay to worship with those who worship false Gods as long as you are sincerely trying to help someone and care for them.

The words I spoke on that comment thread were not hateful words. They were loving words. They were intended to call out sin as sin in order to result in repentance and the reception of God’s love for Christ’s sake.

This post is getting long so let me try to wrap it up. I want to say a few words of explanation so that people can better understand the words I put on that comment string. In future weeks I will write more about the Biblical prohibition against syncretism and unionism but for now these few words will need to suffice.

The Bible uses the motifs of prostitution and adultery to describe syncretism, i.e. joining in the rites and ceremonies of the pagans. Ezekiel speaks of it this way (and this is only one of dozens of similar references):

[20:27] “Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: In this also your fathers blasphemed me, by dealing treacherously with me. [28] For when I had brought them into the land that I swore to give them, then wherever they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices and there they presented the provocation of their offering; there they sent up their pleasing aromas, and there they poured out their drink offerings. [29] (I said to them, What is the high place to which you go? So its name is called Bamah to this day.) [30] “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your fathers and go whoring after their detestable things?

Here is what Paul says in I Corinthians 10:

[14] Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. [15] I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. [16] The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? [17] Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. [18] Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? [19] What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? [20] No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. [21] You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. [22] Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Syncretism is spiritual adultery because God has joined himself to us in Holy Communion. It is the most intimate of all spiritual experiences. God enters into us and becomes one with us. He is a jealous God and does not want us taking him into the worship of false gods. That is stepping out on him and even worse, taking him into a false, adulterous, whoring union with other gods.

 These are not my words. They are the words of the prophets and of Paul. They are the words of God. I do not mean to hurt anybody. I mean to give a clear testimony to the word of God and rejoice that he has joined himself to me in the most intimate and mysterious union of Holy Communion and do my best, sincerely, to keep from stepping out on God.

Concerning the words I said about compromising the Gospel, that it can bring more harm than the bullets of an enraged gunman I offer to you the words of Christ. He says in Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Do I think that Pastor Morris intended to hurt anyone spiritually? Not in the least. Do I think standing next to pagans and praying the liturgy alongside their liturgy does spiritual harm? Yes it does.

My words were not intended to make a negative comparison between the gunman and anyone else but simply to point out the eternal fate of souls should not be compromised simply to obtain earthly approval.

My old sinful self would love to apologize for those words to take some of the heat off of this situation. My new self in Christ, cannot apologize for these words because my new self is born of Christ’s words, both law and gospel. I stand by the truth of the words but humbly acknowledged straight way, that they were spoken in the wrong forum at the wrong time and so we took the post down. I ask the St. Louis Post Dispatch and all others interested in this matter to see all the facts of this story and relate them all including the fact that they are quoting words that were taken down for the sake of winning back the brother.

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