- Brothers at [name of church removed],
First, let me express to you how encouraged and relieved we were to read the public apology on your website (“Pastor’s blog,” formerly “Pastor’s message”). Our interest in writing to you in the first place was loving concern: concern for the one who posted the plagiarized material, concern for our brothers and sisters at [your church] who may have been harmed by it, concern for the poor example it gave to other pastors in our synod, and concern for anyone in the world who might have noticed the plagiarism and stumbled in their faith because of it.
We give thanks to God that those responsible for the public act of deception have been led to see their error and confess it in the same public forum in which it occurred. Be assured that you have our forgiveness and our prayers for your work in the Gospel.
Although nothing was mentioned on the “Pastor’s blog” of the use of the material from sectarian preacher Craig Groeschel, we trust that this has been or will be addressed at the local level. Again, our concern is for the one who uses this material without attribution, for those who may be influenced by Groeschel’s false doctrines, and for other pastors who may be emboldened by this example to turn to Groeschel as a resource.
Although we had been planning on posting an article using the “Pastor’s message” from [your church] as a warning to all who might be tempted to plagiarize in a similar way, we have been moved by the public apology offered on your website not to mention [your church] by name on our blog at this time. We hope you will take this as a sign that we are not “out to get” anyone, but truly concerned for our brothers and sisters in the faith. This is why we wrote to you first.
Now, allow me to clear up some potential misunderstandings. One of the concerned readers of our blog alerted us to the use of Groeschel’s materials at [your church]. (We found the plagiarism of Swindoll on our own, since the “Pastor’s message” sounded so un-Lutheran that it caused us to investigate its possible sectarian origins.) We knew that this concerned reader had written to one of your pastors, and were glad to hear that he was phoned with a personal apology following our letter to you on Friday.
From that phone conversation, our reader got the impression that you had considered our Friday letter to be written “anonymously.” That was never our intention. Please forgive us for not making it clear who we were. We thought that by signing, “Intrepid Lutherans” and giving you the URL of our blog - www.intrepidlutherans.com, you would easily identify us by the five names visible on the right of the screen. The five of us were responsible for that letter, and also for this one.
As our reader recalled his phone conversation with the pastor, he seemed to remember hearing something about the perception on your part that our letter to you was “unloving” and “failed to follow the steps of Matthew 18.” Be assured, we acted only out of love (for all those mentioned above). Surely you must agree that warning a brother of a public sin in accord with Scripture (especially 1 Timothy 5:20) is the only loving thing to do, since this has God’s own command, and “This is love for God: to obey his commands” (1 John 5:3).
As for Matthew 18, it certainly must be followed according to the steps Jesus outlines there when the sin is secret or private between one brother and another. In that case, the one who knows about the sin has the responsibility to approach his brother in private first. But we’re sure you’ll agree that there is nothing private about the “world wide web” and the information posted there, just as there is nothing private about a sermon series advertised and preached at a public worship service.
We invite you to follow our articles on Intrepid Lutherans as we continue to work for true confessional Lutheran unity in our beloved Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Among other things, we have run a series on worship entitled, “Let’s call it what it is: Sectarian worship”, and have now begun a new series on plagiarism.
- Mr. Brian G. Heyer
Rev. Paul Lidtke
Mr. Douglas L. Lindee
Rev. Paul A. Rydecki
Rev. Steven Spencer