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:
"The church cannot afford to waste time on incessant internal purification at the expense of the lost in the world."--Jerry Kieschnick, synodical president
"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."--Jerry Kieschnick, synodical president
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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