Friday, March 11, 2011

Change or Die - Issues, Etc. Comments

We have very little to report so far on the Change or Die conference that took place on Thursday. We were told earlier in the week that Pastor Skorzewski had decided not to participate, for which we were glad. We are working under the assumption that Pastor Jeske did participate, as advertised, although we would be happy to learn otherwise.

Our post of two weeks ago was picked up by Issues, Etc. and was chosen as one of their two picks for Blog of the Week. They found the "Change or Die" concept to be as offensive and unbiblical as we did.

Just yesterday, Issues, Etc. commented again on the Change or Die conference in response to an e-mail they received from a pastor who attended it. What follows is a transcript of their commentary. (Listener E-mail and Issues, Etc. Comment Line, 30:30-34:35)

Jeff Schwarz: Here’s an e-mail we just received in the studio here,
    I’m a former ELCA pastor now called to an independent Lutheran congregation in southern Minnesota. And I attended the Change or Die conference Yesterday, March 10th. This was supposed to be a pan-Lutheran event, however, one presenter pulled out due to pressure from the WELS leadership.

    Sadly the event lived up to Pr. Wilken’s suspicions as he mentioned in blog of the week recently. Two presenters from the ELCA promoted their liberation and social gospel theology, nothing new here so I don’t know how this was seen as new and relevant.

    What surprised me were the two LCMS presenters who proudly demonstrated how they worked outside of the orthodox understanding of the Lutheran Confessions. When I challenged one of these presenters during a small group discussion concerning his definition of “church,” which was not about the Word of God properly preached and the Sacraments properly administered from his point of view, he removed himself from the conversation.

    The other LCMS presenter openly advocated the removal of confirmation instruction (I’ve heard this in the ELCA several times in the past) and insisted that the seekers who come to the second preaching point of his ministry were not ready to attend worship at the primary worship site which is a classic Midwestern church building and liturgy. He did not say why, and in keeping with the 8th Commandment, I will not speculate. The best part of this free conference was the fine dinner sponsored by two external organizations who sponsored the event. I guess you get what you pay for. I appreciate your work, and yes, Todd, you were right, sometimes others can do a great job in demonstrating what not to do,
writes Kerry in Minnesota.

Todd Wilken: Well, Kerry, thank you very much, and look, change is change. And when the attitude is “we must change or die, that the Church’s life, the Church’s ongoing life and existence depends not upon the living Christ present in his Word and his Sacraments, but upon our ability to change,” usually change with the times, which is just another way of saying, “Let’s let the culture call the shots.” Right? “Let’s just let the culture tell us what is relevant, what we should be talking about. The audience is sovereign,” all this kind of George Barna nonsense.

When change is the essence of the Church’s existence, then you have no stopping point. When you believe that the Church can only continue to exist if it continues to change, you have absolutely no boundary to limit what you will change. So, old definition of the Church? Sure it’s in the Lutheran Confessions, and sure we call ourselves “Lutheran.” I mean, what does that mean? We drink beer and wear Lederhosen and we talk to each other in German occasionally. That’s why we’re Lutheran, come on! The Confessions, what are you talking about? Definition of the Church? That needs to change, too.

And what dictates the change? The Word of God? No. Any faithful confession, be it Lutheran or otherwise? No. What dictates the change? Well, it’s going to be one of two things, isn’t it? It’s going to be our own imagination or opinion, or it’s going to be someone else’s imagination or opinion, neither of which are, well, solid ground upon which to build the Church.

And remember what I said when I talked about this in blog of the week. Jesus says, “Upon this rock I will build my Church” – Peter’s confession! – “and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” But if you build – well, you can call it a “church,” I don’t know what it is, — when you build upon change, when you build upon your own imagination or opinion, then that promise does not prevail.

What I’d like to see is a conference called “Change AND die.”


Scott E. Jungen said...

Well, it would appear that Pastor Jeske "thumbed his nose" at the admonition of fellow concerned "brothers" and the Synodical President. Now what?

Scott E. Jungen

Anonymous said...

The silence from the DPs, especially from that of the Michigan District, is deafening.

Jeff Long

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

For my part, I am willing to be patient for the time being. The letter that was sent by the CoP to the WELS pastors involved in the Change or Die conference initiated a process that cannot just be dropped -- especially with the bulk of concerned laity now watching. Of course, whether any "nose thumbing" has, in fact, occurred is dependant upon the terminology of the letter itself, which we know was not an "order" not to participate, but has been described as a "strong request." Further, if it was the "unanimous opinion" of the CoP that stood behind their strong request, well then, participation is still just a matter of opinion -- and we are free to differ in "matters of opinion", right? But it all depends on the terminology of the letter, of which we are, frankly, ignorant.

I say, let it lie, and let's see what happens over the next few weeks.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Jeske is related to prestigious people and is friends with powerful people, and so nothing is going to happen to him. Sadly, that's the way things appear to work in the WELS.

I pray that the DPs will prove me wrong, but I'm not counting on it.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

It seems as if the good Rev. Jeske simply made his choice - and it wasn't the WELS. How hard is it for WELS to make theirs? Back in the '60's synods were split for less. Time to cut our 'losses'.

-Caroline Sanchez

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lindee, I wish I shared your patience. I probably would share your patience if this was Pastor Jeske's first offense--but it isn't. Pastor Jeske has a very long and public history of pushing the envelope... If the CoP doesn't act quickly and decisively and publicly, it will only confirm the impression that, for whatever reason, the CoP is unable or unwilling to support Confessional Lutheranism. It will also confirm the impression held by some that if you have the right lineage or connections you are untouchable in the WELS. Whether this a valid impression or not, it is one that most certainly does exist out there and one that the CoP must work to overcome.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

I tend to believe that this whole thing will fade if it is allowed. There have been issues for years and no one likes to talk about them much. I don't really understand why.

Maybe it's because the WELS is relatively small and there is a lot of interconnectedness between individuals and families?

Whatever the reason, it seems the WELS is struggling with a contradiction within themselves. There is definitely one set of rules for some people and another set of rules for others. :(

My concern is that things are not being handled correctly or in an orderly & timely fashion. Because of this, there is confusion in the clergy & laity. This disorder may also be part of the reason why WELS membership is going downward, not upward.

Shanna Wright

Anonymous said...

My apologies that my two comments above basically make the exact same point. I was under the impression that my first post hadn't gone through and submitted a second one.

Mr. Adam Peeler

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