Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Silence Is Broken: An Appleton Update

“This issue, and now the silence following it, has deeply shook my confidence in our synod.”
Dan Johnson (5/3/11)

The WELS Conference of Presidents (COP) reports in the recently released Book of Reports and Memorials for this summer’s synod convention:

“One continuing area of discussion is the matter of congregational practices in the areas of worship, outreach, and organization. While fully committed to the scriptural principle of Christian freedom, the COP continues to encourage congregations to determine carefully those things that lie within the realm of Christian freedom and then to exercise Christian freedom with wisdom, brotherly love, and extensive consultation with others in our fellowship who may be affected. The COP maintains, as it has in the past, that our practice in all of these areas should be consistent with our doctrine and should reflect a unified understanding of scriptural principles. It continues to encourage open and brotherly discussion of these matters at circuit, conference, and district meetings, convinced that such discussions, done in a spirit of Christian love and based on an ongoing study of God’s Word, are essential to maintaining our unity, our understanding of Christian freedom, and our clear identity as a confessional Lutheran church body.” (Emphasis added)

The concerns raised by a group of five WELS pastors and two laymen in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley have everything to do with “congregational practices in the areas of worship, outreach, and organization.” They center on the “exercise (of) Christian freedom with wisdom (and) brotherly love.” There’s a desire for “extensive consultation with others in our fellowship who may be affected.” And the concern is absolutely about how “our practice in all these areas should be consistent with our doctrine and should reflect a unified understanding of scriptural principles.”

The highlighted portion of the paragraph above relates why there has been silence since the March 25 meeting. We were told not to write in a blog about anything that was discussed. I’m not saying that I agree with this, but I’ve done my best to respect the request.

I will say this: the concerns we had were answered by the district presidium in a written response. There was a time for discussion, but it did little to bring the two sides closer to a real agreement on the issues before us. Nevertheless, there is a desire to keep talking.

As for Rick Techlin, please stay in touch with his situation by visiting his blog, "Light from Light." I’ve agreed to allow him to speak for himself.

I’m sorry, Dan, that your faith in our synod’s resolve to teach pure doctrine is shaken. As a whole, I believe the WELS is still committed to that. When practices that threaten to upset our unity of doctrine are paraded in front of the public on the internet, a public response may very well be called for, even if it’s not our first choice.

The Intrepid Lutherans’ hope has always been for an open, honest discussion on the matters of doctrine and practice that threaten to divide our synod. We still hope for that, instead of silence.

Pastor Paul Lidtke


Anonymous said...

I can't speak for Dan Johnson, I can only speak for myself. If my confidence in the resolve of WELS leaders to deal with false doctrine wasn't shaken before, it certainly is after reading this.

Public sin demands and requires public rebuke. By dealing with this matter silently and enforcing silence on all involved, the leaders of the synod have tacitly expressed their approval of the things going on in Appleton. This is inexcusable.

Who cares if the COP puts a paragraph in the BORAM about how nice it is to talk to each other? Talk is cheap. I get the impression that the leaders of the synod are more concerned with preserving external unity at the expense of true Scriptural unity. To paraphrase Ben Franklin: those who would sacrifice true Scriptural unity for the sake of false outward unity deserve neither.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Tim Niedfeldt said...

Another tough issue settled with an ambiguous letter that stresses silence, patience, and a promise to talk more. If they were any more effective they could be congressmen. I agree with Adam. I just sit dumbfounded as to why the ministry community can't handle dealing with issues in public, with authority and speed. But at least this BORAM addition is a nice public wuss out. Hmm. Lack of transparency, all talk no action, watered down compromise that ultimately leads to a unity no one is happy with. Where have I heard this tired story before?

Tim Niedfeldt

Daniel Baker said...

Perhaps if the synod bureaucracy considered itself to be the leadership of Christ's Church, rather than the administration of some money-obsessed business, we wouldn't be seeing example after example of politicking at its finest.

Suffice it to say, I remain unsurprised by this turn of events. Negotiations are not going to win this war (and that is what this is); an aggressive frontal assault is called for. Perhaps we 'die' trying, but there are worse things than leaving the synod.

Anonymous said...

I'm admittedly not fully aware of all that is going on in Appleton. But I've followed the story here and on other blogs. But what, specifically, would you nail Pastor Skorewski to the wall for? (I assume that is whom is meant by Appleton?) I've read about the plagiarism charge. It is disconcerting that a pastor would preach a sermon that is not his own without referencing that it is his own. But I don't think that this is the heart of the concern.

Is he non-sacramental? Well, I know they celebrate the Lord's Supper and practice baptism. They might not do it with the reverence or frequency I would like, but I'm not sure I could call that sin.

Is it that Pastor Skorewski is non-liturgical? I would call that unwise, but saying that a failure to use the Western Rite makes you a sinner... well... I can't imagine any Lutheran saying that. A Pharisee, yes. A Lutheran, no.

Bottom line - I'd appreciate it someone would delineate a specific point of doctrine which Pastor Skorewski has violated, and which, if confronted, would not recant.

It seems to me that what the guy is most guilty of is failing to consult with and address the concerns of the other Appleton pastors in the area, as well as other WELS members at large. If that is the case, then the action of the district presidents seems fairly spot on - encouraging more theological study and discussion. To do more, to discipline Pastor Skorewski or remove him from ministry, would require someone to be able to name some specific doctrine that he has violated, and refuse to repent. I have not seen that done yet. It's all been fairly vague, it seems. If his specific offenses have been spelled out here, if someone could please link me to that post, I'd appreciate it.

Yours in Christ,
Daniel Kastens

Scott E. Jungen said...

A good place to start might be the open letter written by Intrepids to Pastor Ski.
Scott E. Jungen

Intrepid Lutherans said...

To AP, Tim, and Daniel Baker - What everyone simply must understand is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, which is complete, all-out, civil war in the WELS. If discipline were to be carried out as swiftly and as firmly as many of us believe it should, there would be open rebellion from a large portion of WELS Pastors, congregations, and district leaders; perhaps one-third or more would leave or withhold their support. So, let's all understand what is at stake here.

In my opinion, what our more confessional leaders, such as Pres. Schroeder, are trying to do is bring that one third around to a correct understanding and practice of confessional Lutheranism without alienating them or bringing about open warfare. This in itself is a laudable enough goal.

However, it remains to be seen whether or not it is already too late to accomplish this.

Many believe - I am one - that discipline should be carried out as needed and when needed, and that we must then simply put our faith and trust in the Lord of the Church. If He wants the WELS to continue to exist He is quite capable of making that happen.

All of us need to encourage our leaders to do what needs to be done and let Jesus take care of the results. Let us hold up their weary arms in this long battle!

To Daniel Kastens - By his actions, more so than his words, Pastor Ski has demonstrated a very clear lack of trust in the Means of Grace, and indeed a denigration of these Means, not to mention making a mockery of the Pastoral office. That makes him a sectarian and not a confessional Lutheran. While I believe he is a Christian, his ministry is not a confessional Lutheran one, and therefore, if he is honest he should not remain in the WELS, and if WELS were honest he would not be allowed to remain in the synod, unless and until his actions matched the promises he made at his Lutheran ordination.

Thank you all for your comments.

Pastor Spencer

Scott E. Jungen said...

Pastor Spencer,
I taught in Lutheran elementary schools for twenty-four years. One of the best ways to lose the respect of the well-behaved, hard-working students in your class is to not, or be perceived to not, discipline the "naughty" ones. Trust me, I know from first-hand experience. We have many "naughty" pastors and teachers in the WELS. (The above mentioned Pastor Ski being one of them.) I and several of the gentlemen above are saying they have lost confidence in the "teacher" because the "naught" ones still get away with the same old stuff.
I believe that open civil war in the WELS might not be the worst thing to happen. One of the problems I perceive in the WELS is the number of closed door, don't talk about it, I'll handle it personally meetings. I civil war would cause pastors, teachers, congregations, Districts to stand-up for, and fight for, what they believe. I know the dust would be knocked of those Books of Concord, Scriptures would be studied, the Smalcald Articles read, etc. As painful as civil war might be, can we say that greater study of Scripture and the Confessions is a bad thing? Didn't the Lord of the Church cause His Church to thrive in time of trouble?
As laudable as President Schroeder's goal of instruction might be, I believe that time is past. Stand up, state what you believe and confess, and let the "chips' fall where they may. Didn't a monk named Luther do that five hundred years ago?

Scott E. Jungen

Unknown said...

I am a delegate to the WELS convention this summer. I am uncertain that any of this will come up as formal discussion. I do know a few other memorials are on the voting block so to speak. The makeup of delegates is one such memorial.

As Pastor Spencer and Rydecki and other suggest, I continue to voice my concerns to local and circuit pastors. They sometime in turn voice concerns to the Minnesota DP. I have written a letter to Pastor Jeske with concerns previously. I certainly hope others write letters in their districts.

Whether it happens quickly or slowly, we must continue to be vigilant and faithful in pointing out the problems of doctrine and practice. We certainly would not want to wakeup some day to anything resembling Seminex. My biggest concern is the lack of public communication, even with the Internet today. If its a public offense, we need to have public responses, lest the parties causing offense are seen by WELS as edifying and orderly in their poor practices.

Intrepid Lutherans said...

Scott & The Lunds,

I taught in a Middle School in El Paso, TX for five years, and wholeheartedly agree with you. What's true of 1st graders, is doubly true of Middle-schoolers! The best way to loose control of a classroom is to let the trouble-makers get away with disrupting the class!

So, I for one agree that we should carry out discipline swift and sure and let the war happen if it happens.

My other point is that ALL of us need to let our leaders know WE will support them if and when they do their job. Maybe instead, or at least in addition to, of being "ankle-biters," and criticizing them for not acting as fast as we would like, we need to constantly encourage and support them and tell them we are behind them 1000%. This might do as much if not more than kicking at them to act. Yes, they sometimes need to be criticized, I agree with that. But, more than anything else, I believe they need to know that many are very strongly behind them and will back them up when and if they have to take action. Call it "positive reinforcement."

Thanks for your comments and your efforts!

Pastor Spencer

Joseph Jewell said...

"The highlighted portion of the paragraph above relates why there has been silence since the March 25 meeting. We were told not to write in a blog about anything that was discussed. I’m not saying that I agree with this, but I’ve done my best to respect the request."

That makes no sense at all vis-a-vis the highlighted text. How are "open discussions" especially "essential" open discussions done with "ongoing study" at all compatible with a gag order? It grieves my heart that my synod operates like this.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Mr. Lund,

You state matters quite well. And, I'll add, as I've read your commentary over the past, what, couple years or so on this blog and on others, I have been impressed with how careful and well-balanced you've been as you address the concerns of others and express your own. You'll make a fine delegate.

I will not be at Synod Convention as a delegate this year. It was my congregation's turn to send a delegate to the last convention – though I volunteered, I was passed over for that privilege. Rev. Lidtke has official duties at Convention this year, however, as a member of one of the committees, but none of the rest of us have an official reason to be there, nor do we have an invitation to be there. We had discussed among ourselves the possibility of having a booth for Intrepid Lutherans at Convention, but have not made a final decision on that. If we do something of that sort, I, and possibly Mr. Heyer, would attend for the sake of attending the booth and engaging in discussion with folks, but obviously we would have no part in the Convention itself.

Personally, I am quite positive that no provision for formal discussion over these and similar troublesome issues will be made part of this years' agenda. Nevertheless, I would encourage you and others to make them a part of informal discussion, not only at Convention, but among the lay delegates prior to and leading up to it. When your district delegates meet, bring them up personally with your fellow lay delegates. Point them to our blog articles, or print some out and bring them with you. The fact is, the pressing issues of unity in doctrine and practice underlie all matters of practice that can or will be discussed at Convention. Therefore, while not formal items on the agenda, they will, nevertheless, indirectly be aspects of each item. Informal discussion of them is implicit in the agenda, and reference to them ought to be made from the floor when appropriate. For example, rather than assuming that the Convention is being presented with orthodox and confessional recommendations, all agenda items ought to be critically assessed by the delegates from the perspective of consistency with our body of doctrine and unity of practice across our fellowship; committee chairmen ought to be interrogated from the floor regarding the practices they recommend to Synod; essayists ought to be scrutinized, and if found wanting, suggestion that their work be returned by the Synod in Convention, rather than "received with thanks," will need to be made by the delegates.

Continued in next post...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous post.

At this point, after having been at this with Intrepid Lutherans for almost a year now, and in the process having seen from the inside some of the political pressures that are applied to the clergy, I am convinced that, regardless of how critical these issues may be, there will be no "broad uprising" from among them. If the issues were viewed as that important, it would be far simpler for a pastor to lead his congregation out of Synod than to try to change it – but where would he go? He’d have to grin and bear no matter where he went, so why not just stay put and keep quiet? I’ve heard a few confessional pastors among us speak to me this way in the past year.

The fact is, although many support IL privately, we have been informed by several young and mid-career pastors that they cannot do so publicly due to very real external pressures that are exerted on them. And among the more experienced clergy – especially the old war-dogs like Rev. Spencer who have been fighting these battles for decades – they simply won't bother with it anymore – but not because they’re tired, and not because they don’t care, but because they've given up any hope that meaningful positive change can occur and will no longer exert themselves toward this end. If positive change is going to occur, then, in my honest opinion, meaningful leadership will need to emerge from among the laity. The laity alone, in the end, however, will be insufficient – but perhaps their leadership will roust otherwise complacent, fearful or burdened clergy to action. "Perhaps" – that's as positive as I can be, humanly speaking. Seriously.

But what sort of leadership shall the laity supply? Certainly, speaking out on the floor of Convention, or in committees, is one way. Another may be openly communicating in venues like IL. A third may be openly addressing issues as they are observed in one's own congregation. Just as importantly, I think, is letter writing to Synod leadership and encouraging fellow laymen to do the same. It seems ridiculous that in an “apolitical” institution, such our Synod, “lobbying” for one’s position en masse seems to garner the most attention and respect from leadership – and the greater the numbers, the greater the attention and respect, while the fewer the numbers, the greater the risk, even to one's continuation in fellowship. In principle, this should not necessarily be the case, but observation over time has shown this to be true.

Ultimately, we know that the Lord of the Church is in control.

Mr. Douglas Lindee

Scott E. Jungen said...

Mr. Lindee,
One of the few positive aspects of leaving the teaching ministry is the fact that I am more free to speak my mind. (For better or worse!) I would not have written what I wrote above two years ago. I'm not sure my former pastor and congregation would have minded. I know they feel the same ways on many issues. My current pastor reads this blog. However, there is an unspoken reluctance to "rock the boat."

Scott E. Jungen

Anonymous said...

Dear Scott and Pastor Spencer,

I just re-read that open letter. I didn't comment on it at the time, because I figured I didn't understand the whole situation. I am certain I still don't.

The first objection is that Pastors Jeske and Skorewski shouldn't participate in the conference because the premise is faulty - Change or Die. I certainly appreciate that God's Church will never disappear. But can the same be said of individual congregations. For example, if an orthodox Lutheran church continued to preach in German, in spite of the fact fewer and fewer members spoke German, would not that church eventually "die"? I would be willing to bet both Pastor Jeske and Pastor Skorewski would say they believe the Means of Grace are the only thing that can save souls. I think, as that letter indicates, they are focusing on methodology, German vs. English, contemporary music vs. historic music, etc. I think the terminology is probably bad, a bit sky-is-falling. I'd rather the theme be stated positively, something like, "Being good stewards of the Means of Grace," or "Using All Our Gifts to Share the Gospel." But, bottom line, I don't know you can say for certain that the premise is wrong.

The second objection of that letter is more of a concern -- the appearance of unity. But, does simply participating in a conference together signify unity? Did Pastor Jeske and Skorewski worship or pray with these other pastors? If so, that's clearly wrong. But what if they actually gave testimony to the false doctrine of other Lutheran church bodies by their non-participation in such activities? Might they have done that? I still would have concerns. The way the event was promoted, it can give the appearance of unity. But might not that danger always be there with any type of free conference? I'm certain there are some who feel with this recent Emmaus conference, WELS and the LCMS might be moving very close to re-establishing fellowship. That would be a false assumption, but it is one that I could see one making. Yet, a judgment call was made that the potential misunderstanding does not outweigh the potential good that was accomplished by clarifying positions on the basis of the Word and Confessions. I assume that's what Pastor Jeske and Skorewski did too - weighed the potential good vs. the potential harm. I would disagree with their conclusion, but I wouldn't say they have sinned, but simply acted unwisely.

Pastor Spencer, your comment - "more by his actions than his words" - is sort of an example of what I mean when I say things seem to be stately vaguely. If the Judge were holding court, and you were the prosecuting attorney, what passage of Scripture would you say Pastor Skorewski has violated, that he would not readily recant if confronted with his error?

Daniel K.

Anonymous said...

Rick Techlin made three accusations of false doctrine, pointed largely at Pastor Glende at St. Peter, Freedom, in his January 20, 2011 letter (see pages 14-26). The Intrepids (which includes pastors) said that they stand behind Mr. Techlin one hundred percent.

That leaves three possibilities:
1. Mr. Techlin is right and Pastor Glende is promoting false doctrine
2. Mr. Techlin is wrong and the Intrepid pastors are promoting false doctrine
3. This is all just a big misunderstanding.

The following sentence in the original post above seems to eliminate #3 as a possibility: "There was a time for discussion, but it did little to bring the two sides closer to a real agreement on the issues before us."

That leaves possibilities #1 and #2. In a synod that says we keep its doctrine pure, there cannot be public accusations of false doctrine flying around without public rebuke or remorse about them.

The silence addressing the false doctrine continues...

Dan Johnson

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

First, the "Appleton update" is not to be understood as a big target with Pastor Ski as the bullseye. The issues being discussed are bigger than Ski. Our treatment of the ongoing situation there is centered around the concerns of a confessional Lutheran WELS layman, and the inexplicable refusal of some pastors and leaders in that district to treat him with respect and answer his concerns in accordance with the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. Daniel, if you're looking for a point by point explanation of what the issues in question are, then I'll encourage you to read Rick Techlin's two letters (available on his Light from Light blog) outlining the specific issues he and the area pastors are trying to address.

Daniel, you played the "Pharisee card" above, and I'm going to have to call you on it. You say "failure to use the Western Rite" would never be labeled as sinful by any Lutheran. Granted. It's not the "non-use" of the Western Rite that's the problem. It's what IS used that's the problem. If not the Western Rite, then use the Eastern Rite, I guess, or any rite that is compatible with Lutheran doctrine. Popcorn, theatrical smoke and lights, pop bands, Wizard of Oz sound bites (literally!), hip duds, and even sermon outlines that all flow from the entertainment based, man-centered, decision theology of the Methobapticostals is incompatible with the Lutheran doctrine in regard to God, Man, Salvation, the Means of Grace, Law and Gospel, Faith, Holy Communion, etc.

As for the Change or Die open letter, I stand behind what was written. We do call their participation (in the end, only Pastor Jeske participated) in this conference as sinful and wrong and demanding public rebuke, for all the reasons stated. "German to English" and "liturgical vs. sectarian" is a complete apples and oranges comparison. Exploring ministry methods together with apostates is far worse than praying together with apostates. In the latter case, no one else is brought into their detestable prayer but the participants. In the former, many souls will be affected as church-growth ministry methods are introduced into parishes.

Finally, it's absolutely wrong to compare the honest doctrinal discussions among Bible-believing, Confessions-subscribing Lutherans at the Emmaus Conference with the false type of unity of purpose that was explored with apostates at Change or Die.

Perry Lund said...

I would echo Pastor Rydecki's well written statements on the matters of discussion here. I would echo that by saying that Lutheran doctrine is hidden by the use of incompatible methodologies learned from other theologies. It is dishonest to those souls coming to a Lutheran church to do so; of course many of those churches using tainted theological methods hide the term Lutheran as well. Lastly, these methodologies and poor practices cause offense to many confessional Lutheran, confuse many others who see WELS leaders staying neutral while edification and good order are left to chance.

As Lutherans, both called workers and laity, we fail to look at the Book of Concord. I too do not refer to it often and regret my lack of effort in understanding how it reflects the truths of the Bible. In particular in reference to the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord in article X, we find the very reason the issue of poor practice in our churches burdens our consciences.

I will not bore you with the text copied and pasted here. Rather read it in your copy of the Book on Concord or here at in the Internet. The issues is that "most practices" that do not use the Western Rite are done so in a thoughtless and offensive manner and not in an orderly and becoming way that is profitable, beneficial and that preserves good order. It does not edify the Church, rather it edifies the feelings of our sinful nature.

Forgive my aggressive wording, but given it is from the Book of Concord and it is part of our confession, I do not think it is an overstatement.

Perry Lund
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Oskaloosa, IA.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki,

I agree with you wholeheartedly in regards to the use of the Western Rite. What I guess I wrestle with is the statement, "Popcorn, theatrical smoke and lights, pop bands, Wizard of Oz sound bites (literally!), hip duds, and even sermon outlines that all flow from the entertainment based, man-centered, decision theology of the Methobapticostals is incompatible with the Lutheran doctrine in regard to God, Man, Salvation, the Means of Grace, Law and Gospel, Faith, Holy Communion, etc." You lump a lot of things in there. Obviously, a sermon which is based in decision theology is not only unwise to preach, but one sins in preaching it. But "popcorn" or "hip duds"? How does that make one no longer Lutheran? I find it silly. I find it dumb. I find it unwise. I would not want to attend a church where such was the norm. But to say it makes one no longer Lutheran...? Why? How does popcorn make one unLutheran? Or are you simply lumping a bunch of things you don't like into one diatribe. That, too, is unwise, as it undermines your argument. Stick with what is actually WRONG, and substantiate it.

"Exploring ministry methods with apostates is far worse than praying with apostates." Really? Is that what WELS doctrinal statements declare, or are they inadequate? If you attended a conference on secular counseling (not that you would!) much of what you'd hear is going to be based in humanism. But I believe you a wise man who would be discerning, while perhaps picking up one or two things that MIGHT be helpful. Was that Pastor Jeske's hope? To pick up one or two things that might be helpful? Or maybe even to provide a more Biblically conservative influence? I'm never sure when putting the best construction on things becomes Pollyannaish, but my point is, we don't know. And while acts of worship are acts of fellowship, I don't know that any theologian has said that talking about ministry methods is an act of fellowship.

Finally, I think you misunderstood my point of comparison between the Change or Die conference and the Emmaus Conference. I'm not saying the goals or merits are equal. I can see good coming of the Emmaus Conference, and I can't imagine anything of value being learned at the Change or Die conference. My point was that while going to the Change or Die conference might be pointless, I can't see how it's de facto wrong. I mentioned the worst part of it is that participation in a joint conference MIGHT be perceived as a statement of unity, but that such a misperception might be given from ANY joint conference, including Emmaus. There are SOME who are going to think this means WELS and LCMS will soon rejoin fellowship. (And, if it could be achieved on the basis of confessional unity, God grant it!) The WELS and the LCMS are not close to fellowship, even if there was a joint conference. Likewise, Pastor Jeske is not close to fellowship with the other Lutherans at Change or Die. He just wasted time with them.

Daniel Kastens

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't see how there can even BE a WELS Synod convention this summer if there is not complete doctrinal unity amongst the members - both laity and pastors. There must be a common starting point. The synod seems to be in complete disarray. Just the fact that we ~ who have been long awaiting some kind of indication to show which side of the fence the WELS leadership would fall on ~ are STILL waiting... speaks volumes. Wait no longer, their silence tells the story loud and clear. It should be the FIRST thing that's discussed at the synod convention to show the church body as a whole where we stand. That should be followed by a proclamation of what we believe and then go from there. It then becomes decision time for every one of us. Do you stay or do you go? Will you be part of the solution or part of the problem? Sadly, there are many members who do not even know the first thing about these matters or choose NOT to know about them. The way it stands now, we are not even in fellowship with many of our own synod members. How does one get past that to carry on a convention? What other matter could top this one in importance and priority? I, for one, will be watching and making decisions of my own afterwards.

I have personally written President Schroeder over the past couple years with concerns and encouragement. It's been my prayer, and still is, that under his leadership and with the help of God, our synod resolves its issues and we are able to read, learn, and inwardly digest God's Word- our Great Heritage, keep its teachings pure, and continue to spread them from age to age. Others before us did that for us. It's now OUR responsibility to do it for others and throughout all generations. There needs to be a quick resolution of all these problems so we can get back to the real work of the church.

Rhonda Martinez

Joe Krohn said...

I am deeply disturbed by the comments of the sponsors of this forum.

Initially Mathew 6:24 came into focus...but as the ensuing comments came in...there is just an utter lack of faith in the Means of Grace. I am appalled and astounded.

I truly believe that the problem of all of this is rooted in the doctrine of justification...that doctrine by which the church stands or falls.

I will be blogging about this soon enough from my corner of WELS as experienced through the portal of Holy Word Austin, Texas...May the Lord have mercy.

Joe Krohn

Daniel Baker said...

The 'worship' methods illustrated by a number of the above commentators are "unLutheran" for a number of reasons, most obviously because they directly contradict the sentiments and prescriptions of the foundational confessions of the Lutheran Church:

"At the outset we must again make the preliminary statement that we do not abolish the Mass, but religiously maintain and defend it. For among us masses are celebrated every Lord's Day and on the other festivals, in which the Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other like things" (Ap:XII:1).

This in and of itself would not make these 'worship' methods non-Christian or sinful, however - only "unLutheran" (or, more appropriately, different than the Churches of the Augsburg Confession). Unfortunately, and perhaps in a graver sense, these 'worship' methods are dangerous and apostatic because of their origins.

Although Article X of the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord - referenced by Mr. Lund above - was written with the papists in mind, the same principles can be applied to the radical Evangelical and Reformed sects that are arguably more threatening to the Church in America today. Although Mr. Lund declined to bore us with long blocks of text quoted from the Solid Declaration, in light of the recent discussion I find certain portions worth noting, namely:

"When under the title and pretext of external adiaphora such things are proposed as are in principle contrary to God's Word (although painted another color), these are not to be regarded as adiaphora, in which one is free to act as he will, but must be avoided as things prohibited by God. In like manner, too, such ceremonies should not be reckoned among the genuine free adiaphora, or matters of indifference, as make a show or feign the appearance, as though our religion and that of the Papists were not far apart, thus to avoid persecution, or as though the latter were not at least highly offensive to us; or when such ceremonies are designed for the purpose, and required and received in this sense, as though by and through them both contrary religions were reconciled and became one body; or when a reentering into the Papacy and a departure from the pure doctrine of the Gospel and true religion should occur or gradually follow therefrom [when there is danger lest we seem to have reentered the Papacy, and to have departed, or to be on the point of departing gradually, from the pure doctrine of the Gospel].

For in this case what Paul writes, 2 Cor. 6:14-17, shall and must obtain: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what communion hath light with darkness? Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord.

Likewise, when there are useless, foolish displays, that are profitable neither for good order nor Christian discipline, nor evangelical propriety in the Church, these also are not genuine adiaphora, or matters of indifference" (FC:SD:X:5-7).

Copying the practices of the erroneous sects around us (which, as I have personally experienced, Pastor Ski does not only in 'worship' practices but also in use of graphics, bulletin content, and sermon outlines) is not only a violation of the principle of being unequally yoked, but such practices as popcorn munching during prayers are also "useless, foolish displays" that are not in the best interests of the "evangelical propriety" of the Church, as condemned above.

I hope this begins to clarify why abandoning the historic, traditional, and Christ-centered tradition of the catholic Church is not only "unLutheran," but why it is also dangerous and unbiblical.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

For those who are following Rick's situation, he has just posted an update.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

I stated above:

"It seems ridiculous that in an “apolitical” institution, such our Synod, “lobbying” for one’s position en masse seems to garner the most attention and respect from leadership – and the greater the numbers, the greater the attention and respect, while the fewer the numbers, the greater the risk, even to one's continuation in fellowship. In principle, this should not necessarily be the case, but observation over time has shown this to be true."

How many laymen in the NWD have come to Mr. Techlin's aid? How many are going to now? By my recollection of this ongoing issue, based on its public documentation, representatives of his congregation, including his pastor, refused his overtures to meet and discuss these issues, requiring escalation to the District President. This meeting finally occurred, as Rev. Lidtke stated above, but "did little to bring the two sides closer to a real agreement on the issues before us." Following the meeting, still without meeting to discuss any issues directly with Mr Techlin, his congregation terminated his fellowship.

In my post, 'non rockaboatus' is an organizational disease, posted yesterday, I quoted Dr. Walter Martin as he provided analysis of similar events and movements in other church bodies:

"But how do you see the... professor of theology? How do you get him in a place where you can find out what his theology really is? The moment you question him, he reverts to orthodox terminology, and then if you press him for the definitions of his terminology, he claims that you're being suspicious, bigoted and unloving. The average layman is defenseless! He's got to take what comes from behind the pulpit and recommended by his church authority because the moment he opens his mouth, he's accused of being divisive in the church, unloving, and disturbing the fellowship of the faith!"

Are we seeing the same practices played out here in Freedom, WI? We'll need to watch closely, and as Dr. Martin advised, start asking questions! -- beginning with our own fellow laymen and church councils, our pastors, Circuit Pastors, etc.

Daniel Baker said...

This is unacceptable in the highest degree. As I said on Rick's blog, so I say here: Anathema to the leadership and voting members of St. Peter's, Freedom.

Scott E. Jungen said...

Well, if you ever had questions about some of the underhanded things that go on in WELS, take a look at what happened to Rick Techlin. All you laity out there can be assured that that was orchestrated by Pastor Glende, and was "rubber-stamped" by Church Council and Voters' Assembly. To some of you out there who were wondering, you can't make it any clearer.

Scott E. Jungen

Joe Krohn said...

Since y'all backed Mr. Techlin 100%, you need to address these latest developments in a blog post of it's own and not let it get buried here...

Joe Krohn

AP said...

I agree with Joe on this one. What happened to Mr. Techlin is such an egregious violation of church discipline and justice, it cannot be buried here. This abuse needs to be bought out fully into the light. Yes, doing so will make some people unhappy. So what? Let them be unhappy, and let them try to actually answer difficult questions out in the open for once. All of this letter writing and private meeting has clearly gotten us nowhere fast, at least in this particular case.

Dr. Aaron Palmer

Daniel Baker said...

I echo the above sentiments. And I will support the capable leaders of this blog in whatever course of action they decide to follow.

Daniel Baker said...

It has been pointed out to me that my above sentiments, namely:

"Perhaps if the synod bureaucracy considered itself to be the leadership of Christ's Church, rather than the administration of some money-obsessed business, we wouldn't be seeing example after example of politicking at its finest."

Are little more than a gross exaggeration. While I can think of numerous instances "bureaucracy," I can also think of numerous instances of faithful leadership, and to those instances I apologize. My slight was not aimed at you; I need to learn to choose words more carefully and less sensationally. "In your anger do not sin," etc.

Unknown said...

I saw this coming 40 years ago. Inconsistencies in church teachings, holier than thou attitudes, lack of harmony between pastors and teachers as to what degree of authority they have, or was given to them by God to preach/teach, inconsistent candidates coming out of Mequon, and also as to what they teach/preach/believe. Now you have infighting just like the Scribes and the Pharisees of the Old Testament. We are a spinoff from the Catholics, and yet we crucify their faith and teachings at every turn. You must remember that Martin Luther was Catholic. He did not want to start a new church, he wanted to "Reform" the Catholic Church. I have to tip my hat to the Catholics as they have tried to reorganize in the past with Vatican I and then Vatican II. We have had our "Reformation I" and now it may be time for a "Reformation II." WELS has no continuity now. We don't just roll along smoothly. It appears as though there are 4 squeaky wheels on the wagon. There will never be a consistent belief that is unified into the hearts of all congregants of every congregation in the synod. Everyone has some of their own beliefs that differ from somebody else's beliefs. So now we snicker and watch the heads and leadership of the synod bang heads. Everyone has their own ideas, and everyone thinks that they're right. It is a sad day, but it's been coming for years. It's been building like a volcano for years. Instead of the infighting you now have, there should be more of a commitment to prayer and worship. How does any man, know for sure what another man worships in his heart? I think we at WELS need to take another look at the 95 thesis that Martin Luther nailed on the door at the church in Wittenburg. If the shoe fits for we Lutherans, then we must wear it.

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