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!

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