Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Success

Pr. Roger James
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Zion Lutheran Church
Marshall, Michigan

http://zionmarshall.org/mp3/2010/SERMON_2010_08_15.mp3

I love a parade

"I respectfully disagree with the decision to invite deaconesses to process at the service for the installation of Synodical officers for the following reasons..."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

BEICHTSPIEGEL

There are other, somewhat simpler versions of "confessional mirrors", as well as this Pruefungs-Tafel from 1914, but the "teeth" of this particular Beichtspiegel ("confessional mirror") are particularly helpful in my Lenten devotions, not to mention regular self-examination for holy Communion and confession and absolution. This is the first time this particular Beichtspiegel has been made available online. If you find any typographical errors, please let me know in a comment below so that I may correct them.

This Beichtspiegel is published in
The Brotherhood Prayer Book, Emmanuel Press, 2007 (www.emmanuelpress.us). The authors, Rev. Michael Frese and Rev. Benjamin Mayes, compiled this "confessional mirror" from the writings of the best American and German Lutheran father-confessors. The text is public domain and therefore may be formatted, copied, and distributed as much as you wish without copyright concerns. You also have the blessings, explicit permission, and even encouragement of the authors to do so. Though it is not required, please acknowledge the authors and The Brotherhood Prayer Book. However, if you modify this text in any way, which you may certainly do if you wish, kindly do NOT mention the source. May God bless your use of this Beichtspiegel with fruit according to His will.

Free Beichtspiegel download links:

PDF

MS Word

P.S. SPECIAL OFFER!

The text of this Beichtspiegel is from the paperback "Text Edition" of The Brotherhood Prayer Book. In connection with my posting of this Beichtspiegel text, Pr. Michael Frese has generously offered a big discount on the book during Lent. The regular price is $20, but they are willing to sell it to you at $14.00 plus $2.50 shipping/handling during this Lenten season. They will only accept a personal check for payment, however. Then you can have the psalms, propers, and the Beichtspiegel - all before Holy Week! To take advantage of this offer, simply write an email to emmanuelpress@gmail.com with the word "Beichtspiegel" in the subject line.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Sacrament and the Church Under the Cross

After discussing with a friend his options in an area of the country that does not have any orthodox Lutheran churches, I had the following thoughts.

If there was no Lutheran church in the area I live that is not in serious error to one degree or another, I would seek to attend whatever church publicly confesses the most essential doctrine of Christ's saving faith. This might be a church that is not Lutheran, since many Lutheran churches these days are Lutheran in name only.

What matters most is the means of grace. If there were no solid orthodox Lutheran congregation within reach, I would choose to attend a Lutheran church that has the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament, even if it is obvious that the members and even the pastor are not in agreement with me on various other issues. What will keep me and my family in the faith is not good preaching or orthodox liturgical niceties, but rather the basic food of the means of grace which creates and strengthens saving faith in me and my family.

This is not an excuse for staying in a heterodox church when an orthodox option exists within a practicable distance.

I could explain to my family (and have in the past) what is wrong with the preaching and teaching (in my own home after church), but I cannot by any means provide Christ's saving body and blood for myself or them in my home. If we did not at least occasionally have access to the public reading of God's Word and to the Sacrament of Christ's body and blood, it would potentially have much more serious consequences than any other error I could think of in a church. Even if the pastor is a rotten preacher or a scoundrel, if the reading of God's Word takes place through the Scripture readings, and the Sacrament is administered with confession of the true bodily presence of Christ, the Gospel will still be there in Word and Sacrament, with all of God's intended strength and purpose, to maintain and strengthen us in the true faith.

If I attended a non-Lutheran church because the Gospel is rightly preached there and is not confessed rightly at any local Lutheran church, I still would not "join" that non-Lutheran congregation because doing so would be a false confession. And, I would definitely never partake of "communion" at a church that does not confess the true bodily presence of Christ in the Sacrament. If the church does not confess the true bodily presence of Christ, it is only bread and wine that is offered and received, and it also would be wrong to make a false confession by partaking of such a symbolic perversion of Christ's Holy Supper.

But I also must confess that if it was impossible for my family to ever, in the foreseeable future, receive the Lord's Supper in a Lutheran church, I would consider the possibility of communing at a church that confesses the true bodily presence of Christ in the Sacrament. Obviously this would probably be an Eastern Orthodox or a Roman Catholic church. I realize, however, that many such parishes would likely (and rightly) not commune us unless we confessed agreement with them in doctrine.

I'm not saying I would definitely commune at such a church under such dire circumstances. I'm just saying I believe I would at least consider the possibility. Let me explain...

Christ comes to us in the most important, intimate, and faith-sustaining way through his bodily presence in the Sacrament of His body and blood, given for our salvation. Through all the perversions the Church has experienced throughout the centuries, Christ's true bodily presence in the Sacrament was always confessed, and was still given and received. Even when the cup was withheld from the laity, Christ's true body was still given and received. The continued administration of Christ's true body, sacrificed on the cross for the forgiveness of the sins of the world, is the one consistent thing for over 2000 years that has always remained to ensure that Christians have been preserved and strengthened in the true faith.

That is quite amazing to me, and I believe it shows Christ's endless love for his bride, the Church. The Church is, and always has been, full of sinners, errors, and faulty preachers. But we must seek Christ were He is most certainly found - that is in the Sacrament of His body and blood, given and shed for our forgiveness. That was Christ's last will and testament, and it is the very food of immortality He continues to provide in endless supply today wherever His true bodily presence in the Sacrament is confessed.

Thanks be to God that this is only a theoretical discussion for me. We attend a truly orthodox Confessional Lutheran church, and I agree with my pastor in doctrine and practice. I am open to correction in anything I have written above.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Lutheran Manifesto

Dear "men of Wittenberg",

I urge you to read this confessional statement carefully and, if you agree with it, affix your signature according to the instructions of the website. As I understand it, this statement is not meant to be all-inclusive of the problems in our synod, but it can serve as a starting point.

There has been much discussion about the Manifesto on the Brothers of John the Steadfast website, where I believe it was first published. Some of the negative comments I have read thus far are, in my opinion, inappropriate
ad hominem arguments. Logically, it matters not how the manifesto was generated nor who generated it. What matters is whether or not it expresses true doctrine. I believe it does. Otherwise I wouldn't have signed it.

I have been praying for someone to write such a document, and I anticipate that it will be expanded and perfected through discussion.

Doctrine divides. This Manifesto is not unnecessarily divisive. It is true to the Lutheran Confessions. It is unifying. A unity based on anything short of this Manifesto is false unity. We need to boldly profess the truth in this age of anti-truth. Satan hates a faithful confession, and the Manifesto is a faithful confession. Let's turn up the volume!
I urge every Lutheran blogger and online Lutheran discussion participant to post a link to the Manifesto wherever they can. Let us start the discussion that might expand this faithful confession to address all the matters that divide our synod. Let us, by the grace of God, "Honor the Office of Holy Ministry" as "men of Wittenberg" and "Brothers of John the Steadfast" by supporting pastors in Confessing the truth as expounded upon in this Lutheran Manifesto!

Monday, August 4, 2008

John Dewey and Confessional Pastors

"How about just telling people about Jesus and away with the stupid pastor tricks? -Pastor Todd Wilken

Since the Brothers of John the Steadfast have linked to this blog, I will begin to post some things here once in a while. I turned down a column at BJS because life has handed me a lot right now. But informally jotting down thoughts, observations, and questions here is less scary a commitment than actually having a responsibility to write and publish a column at something that feels more like an actual publication.

Writing here, I do not feel like I am afflicting anyone.

Life is busy. I am 47, my kids are mostly teenagers, and my mother, who has increasingly advanced-stage Alzheimers, lives with us and causes my wife and me a fair degree of stress. I have also tentatively started another graduate degree in Educational Leadership at a Roman Catholic university, mainly because I have to take classes to keep my Michigan teaching certification. I am the only conservative dinosaur in my cohort.

So vocations can be challenging.

This summer, I took a class in curriculum development that has me thinking about another vocation, the Office of Holy Ministry, and with this post and a fair degree of trepidation, I would like to raise a question that has concerned me and a group of confessional youth that I took to a Lutheran youth conference this summer.

As a conservative educator, I have to incessantly fight against a great deal of liberal nonsense within public education. The Progressive Education movement of the 20th century left an infamous and perhaps indelible mark upon American education, and in many ways, its specious and septic ideas of "relevance" and "student-centered instruction" mirrors much of the church growth movement's "seeker-sensitive" theories that have deeply damaged so many American churches, even within the LCMS. These are problems that confessional Lutherans have rightly identified and eloquently opposed.

But admit it: Most of us grew up attending public schools or within institutions, even Lutheran schools, that had deeply imbibed the progressive beliefs of men like John Dewey. These institutions have gone about their business, either knowingly or unknowingly, with progressive assumptions as their guiding influence. I have even been told that the Concordia University system's various schools of education have already drunk deeply from the noxious wells of progressive thought. To quote an ex-administrator of the Concordia system who now works at Hillsdale College, "The Concordias don't know what they believe anymore!" And to make matters worse, the 20th century also saw the rise of a pervasive entertainment culture with similar assumptions that teaching and preaching are obligated to fulfill the progressive mandate to "make learning fun."

Let's be honest: The waters in which we swim have been muddied for many years now. Even though we confessional Lutherans like to think that we are immune to such thinking, we are not, and it would be prudent to remember Richard Feynman's two rules of science:
  1. Don't fool yourself.
  2. You are the easiest person to fool.
Alas, I am now rambling, not only because, like Steve Martin, I'm a ramblin' guy, but also due to my fear of asking a question, as it might actually seem like I am not honoring the holy ministry, and that would be pretty ironic for this blog, wouldn't it? But here it goes, and I will pose it to my fellow Brothers of John the Steadfast.

As I have already said, I was a group leader at a youth conference this summer, and my kids were bewildered that there seemed to be a change in the teaching style at this conference, a change from the previous conferences that they had attended. Confessional pastors were now joking around in excessive and awkward ways during the teaching times -- in ways that actually undermined the instruction -- and at least to my kids, in ways that insulted their intelligence and sense of propriety. To these teenagers, there seemed to be a failure by the pastors to remember the prudent distinctions of work, play, and worship.

These teens in my group, in the conversations that I heard, were bewildered as to why this goofy change had taken place in conferences that they had grown to love. One sixteen-year-old girl complained:
"At other conferences, the speakers might joke a few minutes, but then they would shift to teaching and the teaching was serious. I don't get why these speakers had to joke and goof around throughout the plenary sessions."
Again, these questions came from my youth, as I had never been to one of these conferences before, and these kids aren't whiners. They're smart and they spoke out of theological conviction.

So how should laymen respond to this problem? The temptation to listen to the likes of John Dewey and dumb things down in the name of being "student-centered" is always there for pastors and teachers alike, even for good guys like the confessional pastors at this conference. Should lay folks just pray, keep quiet, and hope that other pastors will address it?

Here is one more apparent example of John Dewey's influence that I noticed at the same conference. The evaluation sheet that was used in each class that we attended had a question like this: "Did this class meet needs in your life?" Or something like that. The organizers of the conference seemed to be asking the kids what they wanted to be taught. Was it relevant to them?

If this layman may be so bold, let me suggest that pastors need to go to the Word to define what the needs of youth are. Teenagers might flock to classes on sex, drugs, or rock and roll, as they always do, but they also need to go to classes like the one I attended on the Athanasian Creed, which was completely void of youth and also seemingly hidden in a small room that required the adults who attended to follow a maze of hallways and stairs. As I looked for the room, I heard some adults engage in the following exchange, as they also tried to find the classroom:
"Looking for the Athanasian Creed?"

"Yep," the other answered.

"I guess this is where they put talks that aren't about sex."
Are the Creeds now irrelevant to the needs of youth? How about the Augsburg Confesson? They are most certainly relevant to teens, although as a teenage male, I would have most certainly chosen sex over Philip Melanchthon. And that is why kids need adults and why we all need pastors, for regardless of what teenagers or anyone thinks they need, we all need the purity of the Gospel as so faithfully unpacked in our Confessions.

Therefore, confessional pastors who oversee such conferences and retreats should develop "knowledge-centered" curricula that are based upon the Lutheran Confessions,
curricula that are decidedly not "student-centered." For when our youth are asked, "Do you find this class relevant to your life?" in evaluation forms, then I am afraid that Mr. John Dewey is in our midst.

If this layman may once again be bold, let me also suggest that pastors involved in youth ministry need to step up and reject the tenets of the Progressive Education movement and the expectations of our entertainment-driven culture. This will be difficult because, like fish not noticing the water in which they swim, cultural assumptions are often not explicit. We do not naturally think about or even notice the prevailing philosophical waters in which we swim.

Older pastors also need to act like bishops and give younger pastors needed correction if their joking around actually undermines the public teaching of the Word. To quote Pastor Klemet Preus,
"When we work, we work. When we play, we play. When we worship, we worship."
The temptation is always there to mix these things up. Recently, Issues, Etc. rightly ridiculed a pastor who started a motorcycle as a sermon illustration, and then accidentally drove it into the first few rows of pews. Although it is unlikely that confessional pastors would do such a silly thing, there are certainly varying degrees of foolishness.

Brothers, confessional pastors who teach our youth, please beware of the temptation to pander to kids in the name of relevance or hipness. The temptation is always standing at the door, and as a teacher myself, I have also at times failed in resisting it.

Blessings.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Missourian Ecclesiology

Below are the theses that C. F. W. Walther defended in the Altenburg Debate, which is considered the first major crisis in Missouri Lutheranism. This was a disputation held April 1841 at Altenburg, Perry Co., Missouri, on questions of church polity that had agitated Saxon immigrants since deposition of M. Stephan Sr. The disputants were C. F. W. Walther and F. A. Marbach. Walther drew the constructive conclusions, partially modifying a position that Carl Vehse had taken. We DESPERATELY need disputations on the issues that are agitating deep divisions within our synod today.

I consider thesis VIII below to be the one Altenburg thesis that applies the most to our current crisis in Missouri. What constitutes the "common public confession" of members (congregations and pastors) of the LCMS? I would submit that as a result of a long history of neglected oversight, what is written on paper in Missouri does not represent the public confession of many members of the LCMS, or even of the corporation in Missouri. Many members have deviated from this confession, publicly preaching and teaching and practicing contrary to orthodoxy. Many have even removed "Lutheran" from their congregational names. The public confession of the corporation called the "LCMS" is no longer the "COMMON" public confession of churches maintaining membership in the corporation. The corporation is now even planting a large number of "mission" congregations which have no Lutheran identity, touting them as the "best practice" to emulate, and using our financial contributions to synod to do it. The corporation has thus abandoned its public confession, outwardly confessing a foreign protestant doctrine of missiology referred to as "Ablaze!" It is perhaps yet to be determined if the LCMS has reached the point of no return. I believe we need disputations on the issues that divide us "so that those who are proven may be made manifest." [1 Cor. 11:19] Is such a thing even possible in Missouri today?

Altenburg Theses

I. The true Church, in the most real and most perfect sense, is the totality (Gesamtheit) of all true believers, who from the beginning to the end of the world from among all peoples and tongues have been called and sanctified by the Holy Spirit through the Word. And since God alone knows these true believers (2 Tim. 2:19), the Church is also called invisible. No one belongs to this true Church who is not spiritually united with Christ, for it is the spiritual body of Jesus Christ.

II. The name of the true Church belongs also to all those visible companies of men among whom God's Word is purely taught and the holy Sacraments are administered according to the institution of Christ. True, in this Church there are godless men, hypocrites, and heretics, but they are not true members of it, nor do they constitute the Church.

III. The name Church, and, in a certain sense, the name true Church, belongs also to those visible companies of men who have united under the confession of a falsified faith and therefore have incurred the guilt of a partial departure from the truth; provided they possess so much of God's Word and the holy Sacraments in purity that children of God may thereby be born. When such companies are called true churches, it is not the intention to state that they are faithful, but only that they are real churches as opposed to all worldly organizations (Gemeinschaften).

IV. The name Church is not improperly applied to heterodox companies, but according to the manner of speech of the Word of God itself. It is also not immaterial that this high name is allowed to such communions, for out of this follows:

1. That members also of such companies may be saved; for without the Church there is no salvation.

V. 2. The outward separation of a heterodox company from an orthodox Church is not necessarily a separation from the universal Christian Church nor a relapse into heathenism and does not yet deprive that company of the name Church.

VI. 3. Even heterodox companies have church power; even among them the goods of the Church may be validly administered, the ministry established, the Sacraments validly administered, and the keys of the kingdom of heaven exercised.

VII. 4. Even heterodox companies are not to be dissolved, but reformed.

VIII. The orthodox Church is chiefly to be judged by the common, orthodox, public confession to which its members acknowledge and confess themselves to be pledged. CSM

J. F. Köstering, Auswanderung der sächsischen Lutheraner im Jahre 1838, ihre Niederlassung in Perry-Co., Missouri, und damit zusammenhängende interessante Nachrichten, nebst einem wahrheitsgetreuen Bericht von dem in den Gemeinden zu Altenburg und Frohna vorgefallenen sog. Chiliastenstreit in den Jahren 1856 und 1857 (St. Louis, 1867), pp. 51–52; W. O. Forster, Zion on the Mississippi (St. Louis, 1953), pp. 523–525.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Roll Call

Who is coming to the demonstration in support of Issues, Etc. between 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Monday, April 14 at the LCMS International Center, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road in St. Louis?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pulling Back the Curtain: The Specious Siren Call of the Purple Palace



I was just asked for permission to use this old TUEBOR post, and re-reading it this morning in light of the cancellation of Issues, Etc. has me thinking.

Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz always exercised great prudence and restraint by never discussing synodical concerns on the air. Instead, Issues, Etc. simply equipped the priesthood of all believers through solid, engaging catechesis, and consequently, this enabled increasing numbers of laymen within the LCMS to see the very real contrast between what synodical officials say they believe and what they actually practice.

This is why Kieschnick cannot open up in even a semblance of pastoral concern for the thousands of Christians who have been hurt by the cancellation of this popular ministry. The programming of Issues, Etc. "pulled back the curtain" that now shrouds his Purple Palace in a seeming Lutheranism. Appearances and power are everything, so they had to axe Issues, Etc. for the sake of their "vision" or ideological goals -- yet claim that it was merely due to present financial constraints. They had to maintain the guise of still being Lutheran, and that meant that the Christ-centered, cross-focused message of Issues, Etc. could not be given as the reason for its cancellation.

Like the usurping Claudius in Hamlet, Kieschnick cannot come clean, so the sad fact of how two honorable men were fired because they faithfully taught the biblical doctrines that he, himself, is supposed to believe, teach, and confess -- this is an embarrassment that cannot be publicly acknowledged, even though he has at least, at the very minimum, allowed the public defaming of these two good men. Kieschnick must now hide behind the people he controls, the increasingly ludicrous excuse of financial constraints, and the hope that this public relations problem will simply go away with the passage of time, like it did with Pastor Wally Schulz.

As Kieschnick leads the LCMS to gradually and quietly reject its rich, confessional heritage, he must continue, like the Minister of Magic in Harry Potter who stubbornly denied the return of Voldamort, to say that the LCMS is united and orthodox: All is well in Missouri! Do not look behind the curtain! Stop talking about all this doctrine stuff! We need to focus on the mission! (See the direct quotations here.)



Mr. Kieschnick sounds exactly like the liberal leaders of the various liberal mainstream protestant church bodies over the past 30 years: ELCA, United Methodist Church, PCUSA, The Episcopal Church, et al. If you would read or listen to their convention speeches during the last few decades, this very same diction that Kieschnick spews has been the constant specious siren call of the liberal mainstreams that are now hemmoraging members by the tens of thousands: "Forget about our differences and all those concerns about doctrine. We need to love people. People are hurting and desperately in need of the Gospel!" Meet the new libs, same as the old libs.

If rebellion against the Office of Holy Ministry puts the Gospel at stake, then so do members of the Office of Holy Ministry who, supposedly in the name of the Gospel, point us to our own hand-wringing selves just as the mainstream liberals have done now for over 30 years ago. "Deeds, not creeds!" has been their constant battle cry.

But Issues, Etc. has warned us that, at this point in history, American Evangelicalism is following the exact same path to apostasy that the liberal churches chose 30 or 40 years ago, only now Rick Warren, probably Billy Graham's successor as media darling and Evangelical figurehead, is the one using the very same specious siren call of deeds, not creeds. And the wizards who sit behind desks in the Purple Palace are telling us to follow these very same siren voices. Kyrie Eleison!

Do not let anyone tell you otherwise: Kieschnick cancelled Issues, Etc. because Pastor Wilken and Jeff, like that little dog in the Wizard of Oz, were pulling back the curtain of the Purple Palace by equipping the priesthood of all believers. Kieschnick wants us all to run out from under God's Word, wringing our hands like some pious chicken little in the name of so-called compassion for the lost. But Pastor Wilken pointed us to the Gospel and reminded us of its power in this postmodern age.

Personally, Issues, Etc.'s Christ-centered, cross-focused message made me ten times more effective and compassionate as a lay witness than all of the Church Leadership Conferences at Willow Creek that I attended. Those who do not care about apologetics and doctrine do not really care about genuine Evangelism or the people to whom they witness. Their hearts and egos might race and swell with the numbers of those who come to their meetings, those whom St. Paul warned would seek teachers in accordance to their own desires, but it will not be on account of biblical Evangelism. The training and teaching that we received from Issues, Etc. was exactly what I needed in order to confess my faith as a fellow beggar in need of the same Gospel that I shared with non-Christians.

Kieschnick, by opposing the Christ-centred, cross-focused message of the New Testament and selling out to the Church Growth Movement, is turning the LCMS into the Gelded Church of the Reformation -- all in the name the name of mission or Evangelism. If we follow him by taking our cues from American Evangelicalism -- the new, Bible-believing liberals -- then the LCMS will tragically end up in the very same sad place that the old mainstream liberals are today, only by a different, more ironic route, one draped with a curtain that seems Lutheran.

I know not seems...
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

Kyrie Eleison!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Issues, Etc.: Educating Congregations on the LCMS Mess

video

Thought Closing words on Doctrine:  The LCMS got this way due to years and years of no church discipline for aberrant teaching and practice.  

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The White Horse Inn Interview of Mollie Hemingway on Issues, Etc.

An den Herrn Strand: "Misapprehension about the Size of the Issues, Etc. Audience"

Mr. David L. Strand
Executive Director
Board for Communication
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Dear Mr. Strand:

I read with great sadness your explanation yesterday as to why you have canceled Issues, Etc., and today, after reading the Wall Street Journal article that has now brought your report into serious question at a national level, I am even more concerned about the veracity of your claims and the integrity of our synodical leadership.

I am writing you today about the supposed "misapprehension about the size of the Issues audience" that you mentioned in your statement yesterday. The most obvious omission in your statement and your grossest miscalculation of the Issues, Etc. audience, was your failure to even mention downloads of the program via iTunes podcast subscriptions. In fact, you don’t even mention podcasts!

I am one of probably thousands of Christians of all ages from around the world and in numerous denominations who received and enjoyed each and every hour of Issues, Etc. through automatic mp3 downloads with iTunes, the primary and most popular means through which its thousands of avid listeners received the programming. This was the chief reason I financially supported KFUO as a member of the Reformation Club.

I literally listened to each and every hour of Issues, Etc., but I never could listen live. I work during the week and care for my mother and my family after work; likewise, the Sunday night broadcasts were just too late for me, since we live in the eastern time zone. So I am one of the thousands of avid listeners that you failed to even acknowledge in your report yesterday, for you did not even consider podcast subscriptions at all. Mr. Strand, we count in the eyes of our Lord, and we should have counted in your eyes as well.

To put the best construction upon this conspicuous and telling omission, I must assume that you just don't know about podcasts or iTunes, the most popular means on Earth for people to receive podcasts and the method of downloading that was most prominently suggested on the Issues, Etc. web site. Not knowing about this would be amazingly ironic considering the position that you hold and the sad, apparently rash, uninformed action that you took last week -- the sudden and unannounced termination of a program that brought the life-giving message of Christ to thousands around the world.

If I were less charitable, I would simply conclude that you were deliberately trying to obfuscate your actions and protect yourself or those who control you. Sadly, this is the perception of many, and now that the termination has been further revealed in a Wall Street Journal article, your actions and the specious reasoning upon which you have based them are now known nationally. This is truly a sad day for the cause of Christ and for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, but it is NOT due to those of us who are merely asking honest questions.

Mr. Strand, even though you are not a pastor, I ask you to please be pastoral to God’s people, even when those ordained persons in positions of political power over you may not be. Have you not read some of the heartfelt comments on the Issues, Etc. petition which now has more than 5,200 signatures? Does that not tell you anything at all? As Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, there comes a time in every man’s life that will test him, perhaps profoundly, and how he handles and responds to that challenge will decide how he will be remembered. Frankly, this seems to be your time, Mr. Strand. Please be honest and open with God’s people! Do the right thing. Bring everything out into the light, for Christ commands us to do so.



I hope that you can provide Issues Etc.’s thousands of avid listeners more information, so that we can correct any false perceptions that you have given your brothers and sisters in Christ, and if necessary, humbly ask your forgiveness. I would at least like to know why you completely ignored podcast subscriptions in your report yesterday, for this is the primary means through which the vast majority of Issues, Etc.’s listeners -- thousands of Christians outside of the St. Louis area and around the world -- enjoyed this Christ-centered, cross-focused program.

I look forward to your response, and I pray that God would give you the grace to to clarify these matters in biblical openness and under and in the light of God’s Word.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Some Music for Advent

I know it is off topic for Honoring the Office of the Holy Ministry, but......

Back in the mid 90’s a good friend of mine, Victor Minetola, with a recording studio in his basement, came up with a great way for us to give out cheap Christmas presents: Record a Christmas tape!

He recently put three of the best that we did on his website:
http://hyp0static.com/projects/projects

“Born in Bethlehem” was written by Victor (I wrote one stanza)

“The Coventry Carol” was arranged by Victor and me and is kind of what one ends up with when punk meets traditional hymns – but still respectful.

“A Fire is Started in Bethlehem” is my favorite.

I am playing guitar on all of the pieces.


It isn’t the Rapps, but it ain't too shabby.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

God Speaks Through Real Mouths!

I don't know about you, but I've always had the cinematic picture of God speaking to a bewildered Noah from the clouds, and Noah (played by John Huston) looking around to see where this mysterious voice (I think also played by him) is coming from until he recognizes it as the voice of God.

This is even more enforced by movies like George Burns in "Oh, God!" and the recent "Evan Almighty" where God (in this case Morgan Freeman) has to make repeated special miraculous appearances to convince the hearers that it is, indeed, God who is speaking to them.

Why do we think that when Scripture says God speaks to someone that it must be through some strange or miraculous means? I think it is because we think of God as some kind of distant deity who doesn't have a natural and constant means of connection to His people in this material world.

Alternately, some people think God exercises a special hot-line connection to them (or visa versa) through emotional experiences, signs, and/or wonders. Well, what do we Lutherans believe? In other words, what does Scripture have to say about this?

These are the generations of Shem. Shem was a hundred years old and fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood... [Genesis 11:10]

These genealogies always seem to me like useless tidbits of Biblical trivia at first blush. However, let us consider Luther's commentary on this verse:

Even Abraham was almost swallowed up by the church of Nimrod; but he was called back by the voice of the Lord, who admonished him to separate from the ungodly race and to seek a new abode. I believe that this was done by Shem himself. Since he was the ruler of the church and had the promise concerning Christ, he was held in high esteem by his grandsons; for his ministry was in truth a ministry of God, and what he ordered, his grandsons received as the voice of God.

Thus when it is written that Rebecca consulted the Lord (Gen. 25:22), I think that she consulted Shem himself, whom the Lord wanted to be at the head of the church. For Shem died when Jacob and Esau were fifty years old; and when men who are full of the Holy Spirit speak, it is God who is speaking. At about this time the kingdom of Egypt had its beginning, for the account states that Abraham went down to Egypt.

Hence it is the main point of this chapter to have us realize where the church was at that time, by which fathers it was governed, and finally which fathers were contemporaries.

Luther's Works, Volume 2: Lectures on Genesis (Ge 11:10)

I searched for this Luther quote on my Luther's Works CD (Libronix) after hearing that Luther believed that when God spoke to Noah he did so through Methuselah. Perhaps it's speculative, but according to this theory, God through Adam confronted Cain with the sin of killing Abel, and Abraham was called by God through Shem to leave Ur and go to the promised land. Before we dismiss this as pure speculation, consider that God's Holy Word itself says:

For prophecy was not borne at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke being borne along by the Holy Spirit. [2 Peter, 1:21 - emphasis mine]

Apparently, throughout his commentaries on the Old Testament, at almost every point in history in which God spoke, Luther was able to find a patriarch who was alive and who could speak for God in His place. Peter obviously wouldn't have found this such a novel idea.

So perhaps it's not all that speculative. It is certainly a great comfort to know that God normally uses means to communicate with us. We aren't left (like the enthusiasts and charismatics in our midst think) to try to discern God's voice in superstitious signs and wonders, or in our own sinful hearts and minds.

God gives us parents, brothers, sisters, and godly friends; and He talks to us through them. How much more does he speak to us through the mouths of pastors, who are divinely called and ordained to be preachers and teachers of the Word of God. And, of course, we should always consult Scripture to affirm that what any and all of these messengers tell us is consistent with His infallible Word.

Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments. For God wished to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word; and no prophet neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments [or spoken Word]. Neither was John the Baptist conceived without the preceding word of Gabriel, nor did he leap in his mother’s womb without the voice of Mary. And Peter says, 2 Pet. 1, 21: The prophecy came not by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy, much less would the Holy Ghost have moved them to speak when they still were unholy [or profane]; for they were holy, says he, since the Holy Ghost spake through them.

[Luther, Smalkald Articles, Part III, Article VIII, 10-13]


...which takes us right back to the motto of this blog from the Large Catechism's explanation of the Fourth Commandment with regard to pastors:
Now, since they are fathers they are entitled to their honor, even above all others. ...those who would be Christians are under obligation in the sight of God to esteem them worthy of double honor who minister to their souls, that they deal well with them and provide for them. ...He who despises and casts this to the winds is not worthy ever to hear a word of God.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Jeff Schwarz for the President of Something

Jeff Schwarz, producer par excellence of the radio show Issues, Etc. made a throw-a-way comment on running for president and his former vicar started a page on Facebook for him: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8048400700.

I'd vote for him. In one of his weaker moments he made me promise to take over for him if he should die. I suppose public office is a kind of death.

This is a stealth campaign, kind of like Fred Thompson.

There is talk of him running for Synodical President of the LCMS - which begs the question can a layman be SP of the LCMS?

Why not? I defy anyone to show me in sacred scripture the requirements to be Synodical President. Bishops, deacons and presbyters are mentioned, but not Synodical Presidents. So I suppose as it is not truly an office of the holy ministry, Jeff could certainly fill the role.

This is all done in jest of course, Rev. Matt Harrison should fill that role in 2010.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Blind Men, Beggars, Preaching and Those Who are Sent

This morning I was on my way to church with the kids and was listening to the local Roman Catholic radio station (I've taken it on the chin on The Unknown Lutheran blog and back in the Beggars All days for my EWTN obsession - I know the fact that it beats the heck out of Joel Osteen, Robert Schuler and D. James Kennedy is no excuse - and when I hit the lotto there will be a Lutheran nationally broadcast radio and television network.).

A priest from Africa was preaching on Luke 19 (Zacchaeus and the sycamore tree) and was doing an admirable job of preaching the Gospel text - he emphasized what Jesus did in coming to Zacchaeus' house. Somehow he went outside of the gospel for the day and talked about the beggar mentioned in Luke 18:

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."
He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"

"Lord, I want to see," he replied.
Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.


The priest followed up with these words, "We too must ask Jesus to heal our blindness and the blindness of others."

I started praying for a friend of mine, who simply fails to see that he needs to return to the Church. I prayed, "Lord, please help my friend to see." And something odd happened, my mind went to the following bible verse in Romans 10 - and it was odd, it was almost as if someone else was speaking to me.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!


My friend certainly believed at one time. He is baptized. He went to Lutheran school. I have told him that he needs to return to the Church and I have told him why he needs to return. He is however blind and cannot see his need. He also doesn't realize that he is a beggar.

And I started thinking, could it be that my "preaching" to this man is in vain, because I am not sent? Or maybe he is so blind that the only way he will realize that he is a beggar and blind would be to bring him to where Jesus is walking by? How am I going to get him there? How I am going to get him to the place where I know that a man sent by Jesus is? Or maybe when I told him that he needed Jesus, did I do it all wrong?

After all of these mental gymnastics, I could only return to the fact that I was blind and still only see through the glass dimly. I am a beggar but, I have much to rejoice in, just as the man Jesus healed in Luke 18. I was only 1 mile from where I would soon meet Jesus in the words of Absolution, in the preaching of the Gospel and in the Sacrament of the Altar.

In the end, I can only tell the blind that they are blind. I can only tell the beggars I know where Jesus will be passing by. And I should continue to rejoice in the healing our Saviour has given me.

And those who are sent will continue to make sure that Jesus passes by, by the command and in the stead of our Lord Jesus Christ. This our Lord has promised until the end of time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wonderful News from Northern Europe! Pray for the Ordained in Finland

Try holding -without reservation - to the Book of Concord in Finland..... and you'll end up renting out the local Seventh Day Adventist church for your divine service.

There may be great and wonderful Lutheran parishes and cathedrals there. And hey, if you are lodge member or having some kind of secular event, you may use it. If you are a pastor who stands on scripture and opposes the ordination of women, you must rent space elsewhere to feed your flock.

Rev. Markus Pöyry is such a man who stands on scripture and holds to the Book of Concord. He was a student at Fort Wayne and was supported by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation.

He was ordained in Gothenburg Sweden on October 20th. He will be serving Luukas-koinonia in Seinäjoki, Finland. St. Luke's has 50 members and is renting space from the local Seventh Day Adventist congregation, because there is, as it were, "no place for them in the inn".

Please pray for Pastor Markus and his flock. May our blessed Lord strengthen and preserve them and use their example to strengthen us all!

Happy Reformation Day Markus!

For pictures of the ordination go to:
http://www.luthersaatio.com/Vihkimys_kuvat_20071020.pdf

Monday, October 22, 2007

Is your Lutheran pastor trying to make you a Roman Catholic?

I recently heard my pastor publicly accused of trying to make our church in Marshall, Michigan a 'Roman Catholic' church. The brothers and sisters in Christ who suggested this were, quite frankly, just plain silly. They have a grave need for catechesis, especially since several of them actually teach Sunday School.

The accusations reminded me of an
Issues, Etc. interview from about three or four years ago in which my favorite regular guest on that fine program, Pastor Will Weedon, read some apposite quotations from the founding father of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, C.F.W. Walther.

I tried to find the episode, but couldn't, so I wrote Pastor Weedon, and he was kind enough to, amazingly, almost immediately send me the following:
No one would ever argue that C.F.W. Walther was a true Lutheran! This man who was so instrumental in the founding of the Missouri Synod wished to be nothing other than a faithful Lutheran. I’d like to offer for your consideration, then, some of his statements about the liturgy and the fear of being “too catholic”:

"It is too bad that such entirely different ceremonies prevail in our Synod, and that no liturgy at all has yet been introduced in many congregations. The prejudice especially against the responsive chanting of pastor and congregation is of course still very great with many people - this does not, however, alter the fact that it is very foolish. The pious church father Augustine said, “Qui cantat, bis orat - he who sings prays twice."

- C.F.W. Walther
Explanation of Thesis 17 in “The True Visible Church”


Below is an excerpt from a Reformation sermon delivered by C. F. W. Walther in 1858. Source is listed at bottom.

"It is true that of all the church bodies which have left the papacy, it is precisely the Lutheran Church which is accused of retaining many papal abuses and of having been the least successful in cleansing itself. It is pointed out, for example, that in our church priestly clothing, church ornamentation, pictures, altar, crucifixes, candles, confession, the sign of the cross, and the like are still apparent. But, my friends, whoever regards these innocent things as vestiges of the papacy knows neither what the papacy is, nor what the Bible teaches. The very fact that the Lutheran Reformation was not aimed at indifferent adiaphora, but retained those things which were in harmony with God's Word, shows that it was not a disorderly revolution, but a Biblical reformation; for whatever did not agree with God's Word was unrelentingly cleansed from the church by the Lutheran Reformation even though it seemed to glow with angelic holiness.

"The Lutheran Reformation, however, was complete not only in the destruction and tearing down of all the idols which had been erected in the church, but also in bringing forth its treasures and in setting up its truly sacred possessions. Luther followed not only the principle, "truth and nothing but the truth," but also the principle, "and the whole truth." Therefore, through his efforts, not only this and that truth, not just half the truth, but the whole truth of Holy Scripture was opened for the church, was used, and made the Christians' common possession. Not only did the Lutheran Reformation get all its doctrines out of the marble quarry of the written Word of God, but there is no doctrine of the Word of God which it did not place on the candlesticks of the church like a heavenly light in its purity. This includes the doctrine concerning God as well as the doctrine concerning man; the doctrine concerning the foundation of salvation as well as those concerning the means of salvation and the order of salvation; the doctrine concerning faith as well as those concerning love and hope. The whole counsel of God for man's salvation was clearly and purely brought to the light of day out of the gold mine of Scripture, beginning with the doctrine of justification; namely, that a man is righteous before God and can be saved only by grace through faith in Christ without the merits of works. This laid the foundation on which the whole Christian doctrinal edifice rises like a holy diamond temple. In its holy of holies the New Testament mercy seat of the holy sacraments and the absolution is enthroned."

(Excerpt of C. F. W. Walther's 1858 Reformation sermon published in "Gottesdienst: A Quarterly Journal of the Evangelical-Lutheran Liturgy" Michaelmas 2000, Volume 8 Number 3 (2000:3), p. 12. "Gottesdienst" provides us with more from the same sermon which they reprint from: "The Word of His Grace: Sermon Selections, C. F. W. Walther", Lake Mills, Iowa: Graphic Publishing, 1978, pp. 50-53.)

In an essay delivered to a district convention, Walther said:

“We refuse to be guided by those who are offended by our church customs. We adhere to them all the more firmly when someone wants to cause us to have a guilty conscience on account of them…. It is truly distressing that many of our fellow Christians find the difference between Lutheranism and Papism in outward things. It is a pity and a dreadful cowardice when one sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American sects, lest they accuse us of being papistic (i.e., too catholic!). Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, who perverts the saving Word, or be ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that the sects can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them?”

We are not insisting that there be uniformity of perception or feeling or of taste among all believing Christians – neither dare anyone demand that all be minded as he is. Nevertheless it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extend that the houses of worship of the latter look like lecture halls in which the hearers are addressed or instructed (NOTE: if he were writing today, he’d no doubt add: they look like movie theatres in which the hearers are entertained!), while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world.
(Essays for the Church, Volume 1, p. 194 (St. Louis, CPH, 1992).
Thank you, Pastor Weedon!

Woof!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Feed for Our Podcast

Law & Gospel at Zion (Sermons, Bible Classes, Eric and Polly Rapp concerts, and even sound bites from Snoopy!)

Here is a new feed for our podcast:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/zionmarshall
  1. Go to the "Advanced" menu of iTunes.
  2. Select "Subscribe to Podcast."
  3. Copy and paste the above feed.
Enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bible Class on the Royal Priesthood: Lesson #3

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9

Here is this week's Bible class on the Royal Priesthood:

http://www.zionmarshall.org/mp3/2007/BIBLECLASS_2007_10_14.mp3

Blessings.


Protecting My Family from False Doctrine and Bad Pastors

I want to protect my family from false doctrine and bad pastors.

I know that this blog deals with honoring the Office of Holy Ministry, so it seems odd to be talking about bad pastors. But I have already acknowledged in a previous post
("The Spiritually Abused and the OHM", 7/2/07) that there are Lutheran pastors today, called and ordained servants of the Word, who are simply bad.

My family has been spiritually abused in the past by clergy who have, in the name of evangelism or 'compassion' for the lost, brushed aside the need for sound doctrine. So it was with great sadness, disappointment, and more than a few hairs standing up on the back of my neck that I read a disturbing series of contrasting quotations in an e-mail that I received this morning.

The following quotations contain language that I heard all of the time during our years in manipulative, abusive charismatic/Evangelical churches, and I thank Rev. Charles Hendrickson for pointing out the sharp contrast between them and those (further below) of C.F.W. Walther:
President Kieschnick:

"The church cannot afford to waste time on incessant internal purification at the expense of the lost in the world."
--Jerry Kieschnick, synodical president
http://www.lutheranchurch.ca/synod2002/fri-greetin gs.html

"We have not the luxury of time and energy spent on incessant internal purification at the expense of the eternal destiny of the souls of men and women for whom Christ died, but who know not His name and have accepted not His saving grace."

"My concern is that we can spend so much time in incessant internal purification that we do so at the expense of the eternal destiny of people who are dying every minute."
--Jerry Kieschnick, synodical president
http://www.wfn.org/2002/12/msg00199.html

"People, this is NOT a game. Our incessant internal purification at the expense of the eternal destiny of the souls of men and women for whom Christ died must stop!"
--Jerry Kieschnick, synodical president
http://www.jesusfirst.net/2002aug04.htm

President Walther:

"Many say, 'Instead of disputing over doctrine so much, we should much rather be concerned with souls and with leading them to Christ.' But all who speak in this way do not really know what they are saying or what they are doing. As foolish as it would be to scold a farmer for being concerned about sowing good seed and to demand of him simply to be concerned about a good harvest, so foolish it is to scold those who are concerned first and foremost with the doctrine, and to demand of them that they should rather seek to rescue souls. For just as the farmer who wants a good crop must first of all be concerned about good seed, so the church must above all be concerned about right doctrine if it would save souls."
--C. F. W. Walther, synodical president
"Our Common Task--The Saving of Souls," 1872
http://www.concordtx.org/vision.htm

Whether our Synod gains friends or makes enemies, wins honor or invites disgrace, grows or declines in numbers, brings peace or incites enmity, all this must be unimportant to us--just so our Synod may keep the jewel of purity of doctrine and knowledge. However, should our Synod ever grow indifferent toward purity of doctrine, through ingratitude forget this prize, or betray or barter it away to the false church, then let our church body perish and the name "Missourian" decay in disgrace.
--C.F.W. Walther, synodical president
First Sermon Delivered at the Opening of Synod,
1 Corinthians 1:4, 5

http://www.ctsfw.edu/library/files/pb/1517

Oh my dear friends of the Lutheran faith, confession, and conflict, do not be misled when today those are everywhere accused of lovelessness who still do not give up the battle for pure doctrine in our Church. . . . Oh my dear friends, let us indeed sorrow and lament over this: that false teachers constantly assail the pure doctrine in our Church and thus are at fault for the conflict and strife in the Church. However, let us never lament but rather extol and praise God that he always awakens men who fight against those false teachers, for, I repeat, this pertains to "the common salvation." . . . This conflict is one commanded us by God and is therefore certainly one blessed in time and in eternity. . . . Oh, therefore, let us never listen to those who praise and extol the conflict of the Reformation for the pure Gospel but want to know nothing of a similar conflict in our days.
--C. F. W. Walther, synodical president
"Why Dare and Can We Never Give Up
the Church's Struggle for the Pure Doctrine?" 1876

Pastors who brush aside the critical importance of sound doctrine in the name of 'compassion' for the lost have brushed aside God's Word and do not, in spite of all their pious platitudes, give a rat's behind for the unsaved. Show me a pastor who does not care about doctrine or apologetics, and I will show you a man who does not care about the lost. When they complain about others who are concerned about sound biblical teaching, they really are saying that they do not want to stand under the authority of God's Word. They do not want their doctrine or practice to be questioned.

As a lay person who almost rejected the Christian faith due to spiritual abuse at the hands of such men 'ablaze' with such a supposed 'compassion' for the lost, I became a Lutheran because of the explosively liberating doctrine of the Reformation. So now when I hear that pastors in the Missouri Synod are using the very same rationale to avoid standing under the authority of Holy Scripture, I realize that honoring the holy ministry is one thing, whereas honoring the specious, manipulative, and damnable teachings of truly bad pastors is another.
The Office of Holy Ministry ends where pastors step out from underneath the authority of God's Word, even in the name of Evangelism.

Such teaching is a public, deadly evil, and I will, by God's grace, keep my wife and children far from such men.

"Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11

Blessings.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Paper Just Published by Rev. Joel Baseley, Emmanuel-Dearborn


"The Lord, the Keys and the Church vis a vis Synodical Offices"

-or-

"The Department of Redundancy Department"


A paper delineating the Authority and Responsibilities of the mandated Office of the Keys, theologically diagnosing current synodical confusions with remedies suggested. It contains copious Walther quotes previously unavailable in English. This paper is deep and long, but is
addressed to every member of our church vis a vis their own responsibilities for the use of the Office of the Keys.
Available in three formats:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Priesthood of all Believers: Lesson #2 (9/30/07)

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9

Our second lesson on the Royal Priesthood last Sunday focused upon 1 Peter 2.



Blessings.




Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jokes & Preaching

Pastor Petersen has a worthwhile post on humor in the pulpit over at Cyberstones, and I suppose it could be categorized under Pastor McCain's recent posts:  "Because it Had to be Said."

I used to belong to a Lutheran church where sermons always seemed to begin with jokes, cheesy object lessons, or cutesy stories, and they ALWAYS seemed to undermine the death and life nature of Law and Gospel sermons.

Everyone had a good chuckle and relaxed, as nothing serious was to follow.  (Do the professors at St. Louis actually teach their students to do this?  Seriously.  Do they?)  Beginning sermons in this way seemed to be an attempt to be a good old boy and 'relevant' in an appeal to some country club style of populism.  

Every Christian should be required to read Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death and consider how the terrible state of public discourse in our country might be influencing the pulpits in our churches!

Cyberbrethren: Pious Pretense and Attacks Against Faithful Shepherds

Pastor Paul T. McCain makes this very wise observation:
Congregations that refuse to abide by the faithful preaching and teaching of God's Word and force a pastor out who is carrying out his ministry faithfully but not according to the whims of the wealthy members in the congregation...
  • who want him to marry their fornicating children who refuse to stop living together,
  • who demand he commune their relatives who have long ago abandoned their Lutheran confession,
  • who demand that the pastor stop calling on inactive members because he is irritating them,
  • who insist that the pastor accept as baptismal sponsors people who have no interest in seeing the child raised in the Lutheran faith,
  • who do not want their pastor talking about the differences between church bodies,
  • who never want to hear the Law preached too specifically,
  • who want their pastor to be, more or less, their hired hand,
...do not deserve another pastor and it is a shame when a church official allows them to receive another one!
Of course, those who attack and oppose faithful pastors do not really want a biblical pastor, like the one Pastor McCain describes above. And such sad, lost people will rarely force a pastor out honestly, for pretense and passive aggression are always their modi operandi. Instead, they write 'letters of concern' to district presidents or do their dirty work behind the scenes or through secret ballots.

They will not openly tell a district president why they are so dissatisfied with their pastor. Instead, they will point out that 'souls are leaving the church' because the pastor is not compassionate enough, caring enough, is not open to lay readers, blah, blah, blah. Frankly, I wonder how often domineering women or hen-pecked husbands are behind such attacks: "Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path." Isaiah 3:12

May God give 'church officials' the wisdom and character to discern the truth that such disgruntled sheep are rebelling against their faithful shepherd because they are in open rebellion against Christ, our Good Shepherd. Such deceived people, more than anyone else, are in need of the faithful shepherding that they so despise. Their souls are in grave danger.

"The curses of the ungodly can be more pleasing to God than the hallalujahs of the pious." -Martin Luther