Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pastors are Watchmen and thus Need also to be Examined

Laypeople – How would like to be able to “quiz” your Pastors?
Pastors – How would you like to be able to “quiz” your brother Pastors?

Well, here’s your chance.

Allow me to explain.

In his Enchiridion, Martin Chemnitz writes,

“A minister of the Word ought not only teach things true and in harmony with the divine Word. But he ought also render his faithfulness to God and the church entrusted to him in this, that he at the same time rightly feed the sheep and hold off the wolf from the sheepfolds, or as Luther says, he should do both, nourish and defend. He ought therefore neither defend nor cover up or paper over false doctrine, but oppose it openly and plainly and warn his flock to beware of it (Ezekiel 13:10; John 10:5; Matthew 7:15; Titus 1:9-11, 13; Acts 20:29, 31). But he is not to stir up all kinds of unnecessary disputes and strifes about words instead of a discourse, and arouse his hearers with untimely clamoring, but only fight against
adversaries in necessary conflicts, without which purity of doctrine cannot be retained. And in these very things let him always have regard to his hearers, as to what is useful and necessary for their edification, so that they might continue in sound doctrine and be able to protect themselves against the ferment of false doctrine.

Let a faithful minister of the Word consider that he has been set by God as a watchman and lookout of the church, so that, when he notices that some of his sheep have gone aside from the way of the righteous and have turned aside into the way of sinners, he be neither a sleeping and blind watchman nor a dumb dog (Isaiah 56:10). Nor ought he provide soft pillows for the impious (Ezekiel 13:18). But let him cry out against sins with a loud voice (Isaiah 58:1). And let him be instant in prayer and exhortations, threats and rebukes in all patience and teaching, both in season and in a spirit of gentleness and also out of season with severe rebukes (Ezekiel 3:17; 33:7; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15; 1 Corinthians 4:21). For through these means God recalls the erring and raises the fallen. Otherwise, if a pastor neglect this, God will require the blood of lost sheep at his hand (Ezekiel 3:18).”
(Ministry, Word, and Sacraments – An Enchiridion; Martin Chemnitz, 1593, translated by Luther Poellot, Concordia, 1981)

This being the case, it is imperative that Pastors understand and observe both correct doctrine and practice and also be able to recognize and refute false doctrine and dangerous practice, in their own parish, and that of their neighbors, and of the church body to which they belong.

I have the privilege of serving as a Circuit Pastor in the Wisconsin Synod. As part of my duties I visit the other Pastors of my Circuit on a regular basis. During these visits we talk about the joys, problems, and needs of their ministries and families. We also talk about the successes and struggles of the church at large.

After reading through Chemnitz’ Enchiridion a number of times now over the past thirty years, I have come to the realization that these visits by the Circuit Pastor should also include some kind of “examination.” So, I am working to put together such.

Here’s where I would like the assistance of my fellow Intrepid Lutherans, both those who have signed on with us and those who are simply regular readers. Put yourself in my Circuit Pastor shoes for a few minutes and think about what questions you would like to ask your Pastor or your brother Pastors. The questions should, of course, focus on the basics of confessional Lutheran doctrine, but also – and perhaps especially – concentrate on current false doctrines and practices afflicting Christianity in American, and specific heresies attacking the WELS today. I'm looking for around thirty to forty questions or so; not more than fifty. (Chemnitz has 333 questions!)

Please send in your suggestions by simply commenting on this post. I will be working on this project throughout the summer, so there is no deadline as of yet. My hope is to have this ready for my next round of Circuit Pastor Visitations this fall. I also plan to share this with my District leaders in the hopes that it can become a template for use by other Circuit Pastors in our District and perhaps throughout the synod. Thus, through your suggestions, you will be providing a service to the whole church body.

Thank you in advance for your participation and assistance!

Pastor Spencer


AP said...

How about something like:

"Do worship practices and methodologies, which are rooted in sectarian or false doctrines that deny the Means of Grace or efficacy of the Word, not carry with them a corrupting doctrinal influence? If practice does have an influence on doctrine, then why would anyone ever adopt practices that are rooted in and corrupted by false doctrine?"

Perhaps it should also be asked: "What are the doctrinal roots of American revivalism and the so-called American evangelical movement? What are the danger of adopting methods and practices from movements and sects descended from these historical American movements?"

These are questions that I would hope any WELS pastors would be able to provide sound answers to.

Dr. Aaron Palmer

Anonymous said...

Hi all, I think this is a great idea. I have a good question.

"If We preach that all people have been forgiven (irrespective of faith) per Objective Justification, then how can we also believe in the unforgivable sin, blaspheming the Spirit, as in Matthew 12?. Doesn't the former negate the possibility of the latter? Or vice versa? Jesus plainly says that particular sin will not be forgiven, but Objective Justification teaches that every sin has been forgiven. The only way these two could both be true is if Jesus "un-forgives" sins. Can we find any evidence in Scripture that supports a doctrine of "un-forgiveness"? What is that one Bible passage that goes like: "Once you were innocent, but you believed not in the Lord Jesus. He shall surely take your innocence away"

This is a question that WELS Lutheran pastors really need to ponder.

--Tom Wyeth

Anonymous said...

"What do you understand your job and primary resposibilites to be as a Lutheran pastor?"

"How are you protecting your flock from false teachings/teachers?"

"How are you reaching the lost?"

If you wouldn't allow them to be vague or generic, the answers to those questions could be enlightening.

Other worthwhile questions:

"When is the last time you read one of the 4 Lutheran Confessions (other than the Small Catechism)? (If they don't correct the question or have an answer of less than 6 months, you should recommend their immediate resignation.)

"What other theological books have you read lately?"

Just for fun:

"How do you spell 'into it too fee day'?" (We might find out who the eskimo blogger is.)

"When is the last time you read that divisive, WELS destroying blog 'Intrepid Lutherans'?" (If they don't correct the question or have an answer of less than 6 months, you should recommend their immediate resignation.)

Daniel Baker said...

Hey, Anonymous at 7:40p didn't sign his name! Ha, ha.

I think asking pastors how often they read the Confessions is a great idea, particularly when coupled with a question about other theological books. I suspect that some pastors would answer with relatively little to the first question, and surprisingly much to the second.

Here are my suggestions:

"Why does the Lutheran church neglect the 'third sacrament' of private confession and absolution illustrated in the Confessions?"

"What rationale is there for neglecting to offer the Blessed Sacrament on every Lord's Day, festival, or other time that it is desired by the people of your congregation?"

I can probably come up with more, but those are two that are most pressing to me.

Joel Lillo said...


Instead of examining pastors, why don't you just hand them a list of your demands, tell them, "It's my way or the highway," drink down a quart of beef gravy, and leave laughing maniacally?

--Joel Lillo

Anonymous said...

You could lead up to Mr. Baker's questions by simply asking: Are the Lutheran Confessions prescriptive or descriptive?

Answer: Descriptive

What does this mean?

Answer: We should fear and love...oh wait...

The Lutheran Confessions describe our doctrine and practice. This is so by the repetition of the phrase, "Our churches teach..." and "We believe, teach, and confess..." etc.

Mr. Baker's questions are great questions, but I suggest leading with the above first and then the questions concerning the frequency and number of sacraments.

Jerod Butt

Pastor Spencer said...

Pastor Spencer here -

Thank you all for your comments so far! (Even you, Joel.) Keep them coming. Some really good ideas. I plan to incorporate many of these into my project. I promise I will share the finished product with you all in a post later on.

Anonymous said...

Joel, your comment is the best comment on any Lutheran blog I've read so far. Beef Gravy! rich.


Joel Lillo said...

Don't know where "beef gravy" came from. Don't care where "beef gravy" came from. I just love non sequiturs. That's why I put up with the arguments of the anti-UOJ crowd, the KJV only crowd, and the Intrepid Lutherans.

AP said...

Pastor Lillo,

Since all pastors in WELS do vow to teach in harmony with the Book of Concord, should it not be the confessional way or the highway? Or should we just become ELCA--a "big tent" synod where anything goes, where there is no discipline, where the wolves guard the sheep, and where the word Lutheran has about as much meaning as beef gravy in the context of this discussion? I don't really want to be a part of that synod, do you?

Dr. Aaron Palmer

AP said...

Another question comes to mind:

"What is your understanding of plagiarism? Even when properly documented, is it wise to base sermons and practice on sectarian writings and sources?"

Dr. Aaron Palmer

Pastor Boehringer said...

"Are you going to visit your people regularly?"

A vital aspect of being a shepherd who loves and cares for the souls of his flock is going to their homes and visiting with them. I'd encourage all our pastors, even those in team ministry settings and in large parishes, to visit their members at home. Brothers, please don't wait to visit your flock until they are in the hospital or until they are delinquent.

For myself, my goal (which I don't meet) is to visit every home once a year. Some homes refuse to schedule visits; others will only agree to the every member visit when you first arrive. Use your judgment, but there are times when it's your duty to just show up in the evening after supper at their door step (after repeated attempts to schedule a home visit, of course).

I mentioned delinquent members before. Sometimes they'll just call you out of the blue (after screening your calls for months). When they do, rejoice... and schedule a visit. But if they are ducking you or whatever's going on, just go to their door and find out what going's on.

But if they refuse to listen to your patient rebuke, are you willing out of love for their souls to remove them from fellowship?

In our fellowship there are pastors and officials who excommunicate members who desire to have a dialogue about doctrine and practice. On the other hand, in our fellowship many pastors refuse to discipline or even talk to those who treasure and promote sectarian doctrine and practice. Many refuse to discipline the obstinate in their flock. What a sorry mess. Lord, have mercy on us.

I have been a coward. Lord, have mercy on me, a poor miserable wretch! I have not visited my flock. I have confirmed delinquent children without talking to their delinquent parents about coming to church and Bible study. I have chickened out of afflicting the comfortable from the pulpit. Have mercy, Lord.

And He does! And tomorrow is a new day, so I'll visit the healthy and the lazy, I'll afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, and discipline the openly impenitent. Christ give me and all of us faithfulness and courage!

Pastor Spencer said...

Pastor Spencer here again -

Pastor Boehringer makes an excellent point. Brother Pastors - take his words to heart. Laypeople - urge your Pastors to follow his advice.

I should perhaps say that I already have put together and are using two other "CP Visitation Interviews," and that some of the suggestions made so far are already incorporated in them. Pastor Boehringer's point is one that I strongly encourage on the other Pastors in my Circuit.

Maybe if there's an interest, I can share most of the content of those questionnaires/interviews with our readers.

Yet - it might be seen by some as a gallon of salsa.

Thanks again for all your comments!

Anonymous said...

What is your philosophy of ministry?

What upcoming seminars are you planning to attend? Will you be attending any non-WELS seminars?

What Bible studies are offered for your members? Who teaches them and what materials do they use?

During a typical week, how do you prepare for a sermon? How much time do you devote to personal study? How much time do you spend with your spouse and children?

What media is used during the service?

How do you connect with the younger generations in the church?

Joe Krohn said...

Here's one for you...'Are you the 'pastor' running fake-o-bod?'

Joe Krohn said...

Comments like Pastor Lillo's would land him on my suspect list as one of the authors of fake-o-bod.

Seriously...What will a Circuit pastor do when his charge doesn't agree with questions on said questionnaire?

I brought up weekly communion at Holy Word among many other points concerning practice including visitations. These are practical matters (adiophora as they like to say)I was told and that I was wrong to question the church's practice.

As laymen we should be able to submit a list of demands when our shepherds are not keeping with their call. They work for us.

Unknown said...

Do you take advantage of the continuing education offered by WELS at MLC or WLS? Brushing up on Greek / Hebrew and other theological topics seems to fad as pastor age into their calling.

Anonymous said...

"As laymen we should be able to submit a list of demands when our shepherds are not keeping with their call. They work for us."

Is that accurate? I wrestle with that. The call comes from God through the church. Yes, the members pay the salary, but does that then mean they dictate how the pastor run his ministry.

I think there are two equal evils. One is dictatorial pastors, who make unilateral decisions without any care for the feelings or needs of his people. But just as bad (maybe worse) are when laymen think of their pastor as an employee who "works for them" and therefore must submit to their demands.

"These are practical matters (adiophora (sic) as they like to say)."

There ARE a lot of practical matters where neither the Scripture nor Confessions speak. How many services should a church have, and at what time? Does the Pastor automatically follow what the people want? Do the people ignore the pastor's opinion on things like whether it's wise to divide a church into two smaller groups or whether the unchurched would attend a 7:45AM service? It seems that if you answer "yes" to either of those rhetorical questions, you have a poor understanding of how the Body of Christ is to work.

Here's a real life example. A pastor in a Georgia mission church had gathered a group of a couple dozen. A decent number wanted to have midweek Advent and Lenten services, like they had growing up in a nothern church. The pastor said no. He cited how it would add 20 hours to a work week that was already full with canvassing. He said that at that time, faithful Gospel ministry dictated that they spend that midweek time doing canvassing for Christmas and Easter, not having midweek services. He was concerned about doing "faithful" Gospel ministry. His members might have a different view of what constituted that. So... were the members wrong for asking? Was he wrong for the stand he took? Was he faithfully serving the Lord according to his call, as both pastor and missionary? Was he being obstinate, ignoring the will of those he "works for"? I'd definitely say the former.

My point is simply that we're on vary dangerous ground if when a pastor does something we don't like, we accuse him of being unfaithful to his call or the Confessions. That's a serious charge.


Daniel Baker said...

Dan - Not that I think canvassing is bad, particularly if one's call is as a missionary, but the office of the Ministry (as I understand it based on AC V, XIV, and XV) fundamentally exists to rightly preach and teach the Word and administer the Blessed Sacraments. It seems to me that the Pastor's primary job is to meet his people's needs in those capacities before he worries about the surrounding territory. But, I could be missing something.

Mr. Lund - I like your question about continued education. I would expand that question (or add a new one) to ask if the pastor being examined has maintained - at the bare minimum - a reading knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and German.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Mr. Baker.

I don't disagree with you at all. AC V and XV make it clear. The word "fundamentally' is important. Sometimes I wonder if the Confessions are abused in that there is little acknowledgement that the applications of them (much like Scripture) may change over time. At the time of Smalcald, I'm not sure how much outreach - the way we'd define it today - would take place. It's just apples and oranges. You can't say Martin Luther was an unfaithful pastor because he didn't canvass door to door. Everyone in his town was a member of his church. To then look at his example and conclude, "So canvassing/outreach isn't an important part of the office of the Ministry" is to make an odd leap. (And I'm not saying you or anyone else on IL has made it. But I HAVE heard pastors talk like that in my old churches.)

I don't think the pastor I described who nixed midweek Lenten services so the church could canvass is ignorant of AC V adn XV. He probably knows them better than most. I'd say he is applying V and XV in light of his present day circumstances, which is quite a bit different than when AC was penned.

If laypeople really could make a list of "demands" or if Pastor Spencer wants things that I personally think are important to ask pastors today, I'd include the following.

- Do you intend to train your members to do personal outreach and evangelism?

- Do you intend to model in-home outreach to your members, knowing a pastor can't really ask his members to do something he himself doesn't do?

- Do you intend to form an evangelism committee, that they might aid your congregation in sharing the Gospel, primarily by being models and encouragers for members who aren't on the committee? Do you intend to give this committee adequate budgetary funding, for training materials, and so that, if they want, they can have something to hand out in canvasses?

- Do you intend to come up with a plan for how to react when a visitor walks through your door, so they not only feel welcome, but are able to follow the liturgy?

- Do you intend to follow-up on a visitor in worship, face-to-face, within 48 hours? (This is ESPECIALLY important if you had communion, so that you might explain that the practice of close communion done in love.)

- Do you intend to take advantage of the opportunity which God places before us in holidays like Christmas and Easter, which are misunderstood by the secular world, to share the Gospel with the lost and unchurched?

- Do you intend to spend a night or two a week, walking the streets of your community, so that you might get to know people and invite them to church? (If "family time" is an issue, take them along.)

- Do you intend to teach a Bible Information Class which is faithful to Scripture and the Confessions in a manner that is timely (quarterly, minimum) and convenient for prospects?

- Do you intend to preach friendship evangelism as a regular application from the pulpit, if it fits the text, and to model it in your personal life, just as you are to model all other forms of sanctified living?

- Do you intend to learn from your brothers in Christ who have demonstrated expertise in this area? We do NOT expect you to attend conferences outside our fellowship. But we do demand you attend those within our fellowship where outreach and evangelism ideas are shared. Whether you adopt all those ideas, we leave to your pastoral wisdom. But we want you to at least consider them.

Add in the other stuff that has been mentioned, and now maybe you're getting somewhere.

In Christ,

Pastor Spencer said...


To be fair, I think what Mr. Baker was getting at is the fact that the "primary" job of a parish Pastor is to feed Christ's sheep, and that this should and will take up a good deal of his time and effort. I don't think anyone is saying that outreach shouldn't be done, or that it should consist of, "We have a sign out front and we're in the phone book. People can find us if they look." (About thirty years ago, a WELS Pastor told me that this was his philosophy of evangelism.)

If you look through the two interviews I posted earlier today and run through all the various duties and responsibilities of a parish Pastor I think you will recognize how comprehensive and extensive this work can indeed be. True, some of these things might be handed off to Associate Pastors, Staff Ministers, Church secretaries, Elders, etc...., but many, if not most WELS Pastors shepherd relatively small congregations, and thus if many of these things are going to get done, the Pastor is going to have to do them. I know I put in many sixty and seventy and even eighty hour weeks. And I know many Pastors that do the same. Fulfilling all the outreach suggestions you made would make it ninety or a hundred, and we'd have a lot of sleep-deprived Pastors on our hands.

(to be continued . . . )

Pastor Spencer said...

continued . . .

The bottom line it seems to me is simply this: There is a great deal of consternation among us in the WELS over the fact that we are shrinking in numbers. In fact, one of the Districts of our Synod has sent an unpublished Memorial to this summer's synod convention, seeking to address just this issue and calling for research, committees, commissions, and some kind of concerted effort to take place to try and reverse this trend. That's all fine, well, and good - and no criticism of that memorial is intended. However, the impression I get from much of this hand-wringing is that many people believe that somehow we Pastors in the WELS are doing something wrong, or not doing enough of something. I don't think that's the problem. The problem is we're not doing enough something's right, if at all. We're not practicing enough doctrinal discipline within ourselves or within our ranks. We're not doing enough of our own study of Scripture and the confessions and applying it to ourselves and our members. We're not in our people's homes enough so that we can address accurately and empathetically the deficiencies we see there. And yes, we're not out in the community enough letting our Gospel lights shine and/or letting the full effect of God's law and judgment be heard.

In short, we don't need anything new - not programs, positions, policies, committees, commissions, boards, administrators, departments, rules, regulations, or anything else. What we ALL need to do is simply buckle down and do our work as God's shepherds and God's people. And we need to hold each other accountable and responsible for this work.

I've been asked a number of times recently what I want out of the Wisconsin Synod; did I want and expect to get a "perfect church body." The answer is a very loud "No!" All I want, indeed all any of us should want, is for those who are suppose to function in a certain way to do so. Pastors should pastor. Circuit Pastors, and District and Synod leaders should encourage, guide, and yes rebuke, correct, and instruct when and where necessary, and as soon as it is necessary. Members of congregations and rank-in-file Pastors should, in turn, insist and demand that those leaders function as they are suppose to. That's it!

So, if Pastors spend so much time on outreach that they don't prepare a proper Scripture-based sermon, or end up "borrowing" one from sectarian sources, there are going to be a lot bigger problems in that parish than some empty chairs on Sunday. Thus, it's not a question of "either - or," but rather a matter of "both - and." Pastors need to be about the work of Christ's kingdom - ALL the work of Christ's kingdom. And because we're human and have only so much time and so much energy, we need to prioritize. And when we do we simply must first feed the sheep Christ has given us and who have Called us, then "bring in those who are not yet of this pen-fold." It's just as simple as that.

Mr. Baker, I hope I have captured your point. And Dan, I hope I have helped you see the bigger picture.

Thank you both for your comments.

Pastor Spencer

Anonymous said...

My two cents,

I'm reminded of an Issues, Etc. interview with Fr. Burnell Eckhardt (Contemporary Worship and Decision Theology), and a paper "The Liturgy as Beacon for the Elect" by Fr. Heath Curtis. Both pastors are from the LCMS. (Links:

The doctrine of Functional Arminianism is discussed. As I understand it, this teaching is that one can help God along in bringing non-believers to Christ. Just as Arminianism teaches that one must cooperate with God for his own salvation (decision theology), so Functional Arminianism teaches that one must cooperate with God to bring those who are supposedly not of the elect to Christ. Functional Arminianism is evangelism guilt.

Fr. Eckardt asserts (although with some uncertainty) that the current idea of evangelism programs infiltrated the Lutheran Church sometime in the 1970's. He does not oppose us telling others of Christ. He says that telling others of Christ is a good thing to do and something we should do at certain times during our lives. But he warns that we need to be careful. "We don't want to say that our involvement is somehow going to change God's grace" (7:49). This interview is interesting because of the connection of sectarian worship with sectarian theology, particularly the comments about evangelism. Perhaps more can be said about the history of how we got here.

Fr. Curtis' paper deals more in-depth with this teaching. "The savvy Lutheran practitioner of
this call for missions will not dare to say that we are trying to convince people to make their decision for Jesus and convert themselves with their own will power. No, he will speak of the necessity to get the Word out so that the Holy Spirit can convert more men" (5).

He contrasts the Arminian and its Lutheran cousin (Functional Arminianism). "The entrance of human agency into salvation simply comes at a different point – for the Arminian, in the will of the one to be saved, for the Lutheran in the will of those who can prevent the Holy Spirit from doing his work by refusing to give money for missions or tell their neighbor about Jesus. But once the human agency (as an efficient cause) is injected, the practice of the church flows naturally. The Arminian has a praise band because that is what a lot of people like, and they want to convince those people to make a decision for Christ. The Lutheran has a praise band because a lot of people won't come hear the Word (through which the Holy Spirit works) unless they have a praise band; in other words, the Lutheran has a praise band because that is what a lot of people like. The Arminian gives to missions because people can't make a decision for Christ unless they hear a preacher, and so folks might go to hell if they don't give. The Lutheran gives to missions because people can't be saved apart from the means of grace through which the Holy Spirit works, and so folks might go to hell if they don't give. A slightly different expression of theology, to be sure – but the same practice, the same church life emerges – hence, Functional Arminianism. Indeed, even the speech patterns end up being the same: ‘Father God, we just want to praise you.…’ Such diction resides not in the Scriptures, not in the historic Lutheran liturgy, and not in the Confessions. Lutherans who pray this way learned it from American evangelicalism – and why? Well, birds of a feather flock together. Churches with the same practice recognize each other for what they are and learn from one another” (6-7).

(...continued in the next post)

Jerod Butt

Anonymous said...

Fr. Curtis points out that this teaching is correct to say that the Holy Spirit works through means. For example, Baptism is the objective act which washes away your sin. Therefore you can sing:
God’s own child I gladly say it:
I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it,
Gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth’s treasures many?
I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free
Lasting to eternity! (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary 246:1)
A Calvinist cannot sing such a hymn, because he cannot be sure that he is one of the elect. An Arminian cannot sing such a hymn, because he claims to have cooperated with God in his conversion. A Lutheran can sing this hymn, because it tells of God’s objective act of forgiveness. “God’s promises are for you” (7). The means of grace that God has instituted allows for the fullest comfort of God’s mercy toward sinners. Functional Arminianism takes that word of comfort and says, Because you have such a sure hope in Christ, go and tell others of Christ. Failure to do so will result in those people going to hell on the last day.

Fr. Curtis asks a particularly interesting observation: “But think a little more deeply on the subject. If someone else's salvation is dependent on your works – isn't your salvation dependent on someone else's work? If your inaction can damn another – can't someone else's inaction damn you? Well then, it is not really true that neither life nor death nor angels nor powers can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus – all it takes is a selfish and lazy human being” (8-9). He then points out how this “madness” is due to the denial of the doctrine of the election to grace. If we are to accept this doctrine then the salvation cannot be by grace alone, because it ultimately depends on whether or not one decides to go out and evangelize. If however this doctrine is not true and we accept FC XI, then you can do all you want to thwart the Church and the number of the elect will not change. God chose those who would be saved before He created the world. Those who are condemned, are condemned because of their sin.

The two important passages that are central to the mission theology that Fr. Curtis sets forth are Acts 13:48 (which he directly quotes): “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” and I Peter 3:15 (which he strongly alludes to) “But in your heart honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (ESV).

I remember a WELS Connection video that was talking about a particular mission. A quote from the video: “God will do the rest,” with the implication that we actually participate in the salvation of other people. I do not remember what month the video is from, but it seemed odd, and yet not surprising that such a thing could be said by a confessional Lutheran. Others have testified on this blog about hearing sermons that confuse Law and Gospel especially when talking about evangelism/missions. A particularly dreadful hymn from Christian Worship 570, "O Christians Haste" exemplifies Functional Arminianism. Basically this hymn says (particularly in verse 2) and, "There are people who are going to hell unless you do your job of evangelism" ( I am not trying to bash the hymnal or other synodical resources, but we must remember that they are not perfect and to point out where there are problems or potential problems. Remember the explanation to the Third Article. The Holy Spirit creates and sanctifies the individual believer and the rest of the Church (the elect).

Jerod Butt

Daniel Baker said...

Pastor Spencer,

You summarized my point and expounded on it much better than I could have!

Mr. Butt,

VERY good commentary and citations, in my opinion. I have read Pr. Curtis' essays on this topic as well, and find his description of "Functional Arminianism" to be very pertinent - not just for our Missouri brethren, but also for us in the WELS.

In particular, I appreciate the concern you raise with the WELS connection quote, “God will do the rest." Incidentally, it seems to be the opposite of the following: "God did it all, all you have to do is believe" (which, regrettably, is something I have heard from WELS pastors before). In either case, undue (and non-Scriptural) emphasis is placed on human action and effort.

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