Friday, July 22, 2011

Reprise: 'non rockaboatus' is an organizational disease: Lectures by Walter Martin

In commentary following yesterday's post, Michele Bachmann as an Example of the Importance of Catechesis, David Kreuter suggests that certain attitudes regarding ways of thinking about or dealing with problems, or, one may reasonably conclude, "established processes" which descend from a culture described by such attitudes, could "destroy" our "ability (or Will) to think critically about the most important things."

Intrepid Lutherans has existed for just over a year now, and in that time we have "rocked the boat" by publicly discussing public manifestations of "problems" such as the following:
  • pulpit plagiarism from sectarian sources
  • the growth of sectarian worship
  • the willingness to invite pop-culture to dominate the church's practices
  • laymen ministering without Divine Call
  • the increasing use of Cell Groups (Ecclesiolae in ecclesia)
  • the decline of sound Law & Gospel preaching
  • dangerously sloppy expression of our central teaching, "Justification by Faith Alone" (and the thinking and practice which descends from such sloppy expression)
  • the abuse of overly broad definitions of "love" and "adiaphora"
  • decline in respect for pure doctrine and the significance of doctrinal differences between Christians (which impacts our understanding and practice of Fellowship)
and most recently we have expressed concerns regarding
  • the need for periodic examination of pastors, and
  • our choice of Bible translation and the principles we employ in making that choice
In this time, we have publicly defended against the unjust excommunication of a layman – who still does not know what his error is – and we have publicly admonished celebrity WELS pastors for their very public involvement leading and promoting a conference entitled "Change or Die," an entirely wrong notion which exalts man's genius and effort in achieving numeric growth in the church at the expense of exclusive reliance on the Means of Grace. In nearly every issue we have addressed, we have done so in a way that not only “exposes the issues”, but remediates these issues through application of sound Lutheran doctrine, and we have always been willing to entertain discussion on such issues. Just check our Catalog of Intrepid Posts to read through our blog posts over the past year.

For this "boat rocking" we have been roundly criticized. Some even regard us as the greatest threat that WELS is currently facing (no kidding!). Some of those who have expressed concerns resonating with ours have been warned not to participate in our public discussion. Even outside of those who have received such expressed warnings, although there are many who enthusiastically agree with and support Intrepid Lutherans (despite our failings!), few feel free to do so publicly.

Why is this? Should we even concern ourselves with an answer to that question?

In answer to the latter question, we are re-posting our blog post from May 9, 'non rockaboatus' is an organizational disease: Lectures by Walter Martin, which features audio lectures, with some key transcriptions, telling the tale of American Christianity's demise in the last generation from the perspective of one who valiantly fought epic battles against error, and lost – and who is warning what's left of Christianity to be on guard. Error is separate from Truth, it divides people by gathering to itself adherents from among those easily beguiled and those dissatisfied with the Truth, and it divides organizations by populating established structures with its adherents and abusing their otherwise wholesome processes to serve its own ends. This is what happened to American Christianity. It did happen. It is what happens.

Are we on guard? Have we lost our will to think critically about the most important things? May we heed Dr. Martin's warnings.

Harmony with God, in EdenGiven that a number of our Lutheran readers may resonate more with non-Lutheran commentators than they do with confessional Lutheran authors and speakers, we thought it would be of interest for them to hear a little from a renowned Baptist of the previous generation, regarding the maintenance of doctrinal integrity in the face of liberalism: Dr. Walter R. Martin.

Dr. Martin was an expert on the occult, and from the 1960’s onward, disseminated countercultic and apologetic information through his organization, Christian Research Institute (CRI). After his death, he was succeeded as “The Bible Answer Man” and President of CRI by Hank Hanegraaff – a popular commentator who can be heard these days on many, though not all, “Evangelical” radio stations. At least one of Dr. Martin’s works, The Kingdom of the Cults, remains a very valuable resource, one which I consult with semi-regularity as need arises.

Over the past two years, several of Dr. Martin’s lectures have been featured by Chris Rosebrough on his internet radio show, Fighting for the Faith – a daily program in the lineup of Pirate Christian Radio (PCR). I remember these PCR features, since I am of about the same age as Mr. Rosebrough, and remember Dr. Martin’s voice and manner of teaching from my youth, in a way similar to Rosebrough’s reminiscences. Anyway, lest we Lutherans should fall under the mistaken impression that our struggles are unique to us, I supply links to the following lectures, along with selected quotes, in which Dr. Martin defines liberal theology as “cultic,” and makes it clear what the orthodox Christian’s response ought to be. Others have already gone through what we are approaching – it may be of some use to examine and appreciate their own assessments.

Walter Martin on the Cult of Liberalism


(lecture begins @~58min, 30sec)

1hr 12min, and following...
“Any person who does not know that today in the United States, and in denominational structures worldwide, we are in an accelerating apostasy, does not know, I repeat, does not know what is going on... There was a time when one could pick a Presbyterian church, a Methodist church, an Episcopal church walking down the street, send somebody into it, and be reasonably sure that he would hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today before you'd send people into most of these churches, you would need a psychiatrist if you opened the door and just said 'Go'... because you would know what you did!

“The Episcopal church which I came from, has a rigid orthodox background. Thirty-nine articles of the church, Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed... good solid theology. Yet, the Episcopal church fell so far from its position that it let James Pike continue as one of its representatives. They didn't dare bring him before the House of Bishops – want me to tell you publicly why? Pike said so, I might as well quote him. He said, 'You will never take me to trial before the House of Bishops for my theology, which you say is heretical, because I am an attorney, and I will defend myself, and I will prove that you, in the House of Bishops, are as heretical as I am.' Do you think they listened to him? You bet they listened to him. Because Pike would have proven it. Do you realize that James Pike was an Episcopal Bishop in the United States, denying the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, Salvation by Grace, the Vicarious Atonement, and the Bodily Resurrection of the Lord, the Nicene Creed, the Apostles Creed, all the creeds of Christendom, and the Episcopal Church never touched him?! Know why? Because they are as corrupt as he is! They don't dare touch him... The Presbyterian denomination has suffered the same inroads. Today you can be ordained in the Presbyterian Church and deny the Deity of Jesus Christ. The Baptists have had their fare share – we’re up to our eyeballs with it! The Missouri Synod fought them to the death, and won. They said, 'We don't know how we're going to get along without you, but we're going to.' And they threw them out... The Southern Baptists are fighting the same war right now – I know, I'm in the Convention. We don't know how we're going to get along without them, but we are going to. Because if we don't, there is no such thing as a little bit pregnant... you are or you're not! Well, there's no such thing as a mild form of cancer. It's cancer. If you don't get rid of it, you don't deal with it, it get's you! We have to deal with these things today. If we don't, they'll end up getting what's left of the Church... What did the Apostle Paul say? 'They will gather to themselves teachers who will tickle their ears, and the Truth of God will be turned into mythology.' It's here!”

1hr 20min, and following
“Every major theological seminary that has turned from orthodox Christianity began with disbelief of biblical doctrine... Corrupt Bibliology led them to the next step. Theology began to be touched by it. Their view of the Cross and the Virgin Birth immediately was questioned. Then came the miracles of Christ. And finally they had emptied the Gospel of all its content, and simply were using the outward shell so that they could go on collecting money from the people and the churches, because they knew that if the people in the pews knew that they were apostate they'd throw them out. So the strategy was: hang on to the trust funds, hang on to the money that we've got, hang on to the properties we control, we will gradually educate the laymen into this new approach to theology. And then, finally, we will take control of everything. This is the gradual process of feeding you theological poison, until you become immunized enough so that you don't know what is happening to you. And when you wake up to what is happening to you, it's too late. They've got everything.”

1hr 28min, and following
“Look what happened... Look at the votes. We were very subtly, systematically, squeezed out. All of the positions of leadership were given to people who denied the foundations of the faith...”

1hr 34min, and following
“The Jehovah's Witness is easily detected. The Mormon has his bicycle. The Christian Scientist has the Monitor to get you to subscribe to. The religious science people are telling you that you can have health and prosperity and you can rise above all these torrents of life, floating over them as the ping-pong ball soars over Niagra Falls... You can see these people in the cults and the occult if you have any degree of discernment at all, because they are outside the church. But how do you see the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopalian 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! When it is the devil behind the pulpit, not the victim in the pew, that's responsible for it! I've used the term ‘devil’ a couple times. That's mild. God uses much stronger language. He describes those who pervert the Scriptures as enemies of the Cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetites, and whose glory is in their earthly shame...”

1hr 37min, and following
“That is why I am concerned about the cult of liberalism. We can identify the other cults, but how do you identify somebody that looks like you, acts like you, sounds like you...? Do you want the answer? ...1 Thessalonians 5:21ff ...put everything to the test, cling tenaciously to what is good.”

2hr 19min, and following
“[Liberalism] is a cult because it follows every outlining structure of cultism. It has its own revelation, its own guru's, and its denial, systematically, of all sound systematic Christian theology. It is a cult, because it passes it's leadership on to the next group, that takes over either modifying, expanding or contracting the same heresies, dressing them up in different language, and passing them on. It is theologically corrupt, because it is bibliologically corrupt; it denies the authority of Scripture and ruins its own theology. And, it ends in immorality.

“Because the only way you could have gotten to this 'homosexual,' morally relativistic garbage, which is today in our denominational structures, is if the leadership of those denominations divide the authority of the Scriptures, and Jesus Christ as Lord. That is the only way we've gotten there. And there is a remedy for this, brothers and sisters. The remedy? Is to start asking questions! Start demanding definitions of terminology. Start insisting that people tell you what they're giving your money to before you give them a dime. Examine the people that occupy the chairs of theology in the seminaries, and if they are not given to the historic Christian faith, out with the rascals! Examine your churches, your sessions, your boards... and find out who is in the faith! You're told to do this in First Corinthians. You're told to do this in Galatians. You're told to do it everywhere in Scripture: Examine to see whether they are in the faith; test all things; make sure of what is true! I'm not being harsh. I'm not being judgmental. I am being thoroughly consistently Christian, in the light of historic theology and the Holy Bible. And I think we have a right to demand that the men who occupy the seats of learning and who preach from the pulpits either preach Jesus Christ or we cut off their pensions, their salaries, their golf club memberships, and let them go on living as social workers, because it is obvious they don't have any theology that is going to save anybody. With Luther, Here I Stand.”

Walter Martin: It's Not Unloving to Confront Error

(lecture begins @~18min)

18min, and following
“Tonight we are dealing with an extremely complex subject, we are dealing with 'positive confession' and the health and welfare groups, some of which have crossed over from merely Christian forms in their expression of theology, into the area of the Kingdom of the Cults. Ten years ago... I did a paper on the 'Errors of Positive Confession.' I was vilified, rather openly, by a large number of charismatics on the ground that I was being divisive and unloving, and because I was being 'critical of brothers'. The fact is, you can be a brother and be in very serious doctrinal error, and if you have a large ministry and a lot of people watching you on television or listening to you on radio, and if you are not responsive to your peers it is possible for you to lead literally millions of people into false doctrines – not meaning to do so, but being in ignorance yourself. And we are dealing today with doctrines which have progressed from simply ignorance to outright heresy, and finally, to blasphemy.

“If the Christian church does not address these subjects, if Christian leaders... pastors and teachers do not stand up and say 'Enough! this is what the Scripture says, and you are answerable to Scripture!,' then we are going to have false doctrine running rampant all over the Christian world, and nobody will be able to police it or stop it... [To whom is anyone accountable, theologically??]

“...So the gospel of the checkbook has replaced the Biblical Gospel of authority in the church. Now, so long as nobody insists on accountability, then it will go on; but, the church has awakened, and people are demanding accountability, and that is as it should be. No minister should be afraid to account for his theology, privately or publicly. And if he has questions about it, and he won't answer them, then we have every right to suspect him. That is not unloving, it is not heresy hunting, it is not divisive, it is not unloving, it is thoroughly Biblical. Often, when I cite people's names publicly, they say, 'But, why can't you just name the thing? Why do you have to name the person?' Because, in Scripture, Paul gave us our example; when he confronted evil in the church, he said 'Hymenaeus and Philetus have erred concerning the Truth, they are teaching that the Resurrection has passed, and they are overturning the faith of some.' He named them. And then Hymenaeus and Alexander... So, consistently through church history it has been necessary to confront evil. It doesn't make you popular, alot of people don't love you, but the people that will end up loving you are the one’s delivered because of the confrontation.”

If our Lutheran leaders and laymen won’t listen to fellow Lutherans who quote Scripture and the Confessions, maybe they prefer the testimony of the Baptists?


Unknown said...

The Intrepid Lutheran blog site has been a wonderful resource for WELS in discussion and bringing to light the potential issues the cause problem and error in doctrine and practice. Frankly I am surprised more people do not join the conversation from our WELS ranks. I have had no knocks on my door or phone calls berating the blog itself or my participation.

I believe something like "Issues, Etc." would also be valuable to the WELS. We have some talented people in technology and its an area of ministry that I think would be supported by congregations. Just food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lund,

Like you, I haven't had any knocks on my door because of my participation here. We, though, are laymen. I have talked to several pastors who have told me privately that they support IL completely and read it frequently, but know that if they add their comments there will most definitely be a knock on the door.

A previous article here asked if the WELS really has rejected the Roman papal system. Sometimes, though, it seems that politics in the WELS are more like the old Soviet Union--if you question the Party, you should expect a knock on the door and a sudden "disappearance" (figuratively speaking, of course).

Unlike you, I'm not surprised that people (pastors especially) have been reluctant to post here. They have families to support, and questioning the WELS can very seriously and realistically put men's ministries in jeopardy.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Thanks for your comment, Perry – and for your participation on this blog.

So you say you want a radio program like "Issues, Etc.", eh? We here at IL couldn't do a daily as extensive as IE, but we have been discussing a weekly radio program of some sort for quite awhile. Also under consideration since the beginning have been plans to incorporate and more aggressively pursue projects like educational/theological publishing, conferences, or perhaps a youth outreach program similar to "Higher Things."

How does that sound?

I know, I know – those who think that IL is "the biggest threat WELS faces right now" might not be to crazy about these ideas, but if organizations like "Time of Grace" and "Grace in Action" can collaborate "outside the context of church" to take on the "ministry of the church," inviting laymen and clergy of WELS churches to function as their ministers apart from their own congregations, without so much as a peep of objection from the CoP or anyone else, then we figure that such activity must be perfectly unobjectionable, and that therefore we ought to try something like that, too.

We'll see what happens after Synod Convention.

Pastor Spencer said...

To our readers -

Concerning these "knocks on the door," etc.... One thing, I believe, really needs to be said clearly and for the record here and now; namely, that no intimidations or threats of intimidations have come from the synod president or presidium, or anyone else at 2929 for that matter. Any pressure or attempts at intimidation have come and are coming only from some District Presidents, and not all of them, or the CoP as a group.

Pastor Spencer

Anonymous said...

How does this sound?

It sounds excellent.

Jerod Butt

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Messrs. Lund and Peeler,

Interesting you should pick up on that particular comment. Oddly, and thankfully, I have not been interfered with, either -- neither by knocks on the door, nor by phone calls, nor even by surprise packages which come by certified mail.

Nor do I know of any pastors who have been "warned" in any way, though I know for a fact that IL is discussed among them and that there are a variety of opinions. Not personally knowing of any authoritative "warnings," therefore, I'll assume that they carry on with each other in the most brotherly and peaceful of ways.

Believe it or not, however, the "warnings" I refer to, above, are cases of individual laymen (yes, plural) who have posted here in the past, who have been "ordered" (in their words) by their pastors (yes, plural), not to post their opinions here or participate in public discussion among us. The reason given by these laymen is not so much that they have one opinion or another, but has to do with the fact that we require a person's full name in order to post comments on IL, and that certain individuals with more prominent family names are apparently more easily identified with the congregations they attend, with the the congregations their relatives attend, or with members of their family who serve in the ministry as Called workers, or.... all kinds of such things that I can only conceptualize since I am the only member of my extended family who is, or ever has been, a member of the WELS. Or the ELS (unless one goes back three generations on my father's side, maybe, and two generations on my mother's side).

Anonymous said...

"...but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (KJV John 12:42-43)

Christian Schulz

Anonymous said...

I would like to say something else on the topic, if I may. I think those responsible for Intrepid Lutherans are moving in the right direction, not falling for the discernment-killing trap that some brothers might fall into, and within the culture context of the WELS, you are filling a void. Good Job.

But may I encourage you to fill that void even better? I have no criticism for the approach the Intrepid has taken, but I think that because the WELS' weakness for the problems I recently commented on are so all-invasive, the Intrepid folks might exhibit even more fearlessness.

Will you disagree that most of the problems the WELS currently faces could've been corrected if we were not more apt to exercise Christian discernment without fear of reprise? I maintain that a fear of a charge of "The Eighth Commandment" and "Matthew 18" have given more license to misguided brothers than anything else.

But we know that it is NOT breaking the eighth commandment to condemn false teachings or erring practices. It is NOT ignoring Christ's command in Mt. 18 to publicly call out those who (by mistake or on purpose) publicly lead Christians to accept foolish and false doctrines and practices. So let's be more fearless.

If we love the WELS, let us be willing to see her struggle and to fight to keep her head above water. If we want the Wisconsin Synod to remain a Confessional body let us welcome a fight that might save her though it splinters her. We must accept the idea that IF the body is to be saved, cancer must be cut out.

I would love nothing better than to see the erring pastors in the WELS repent and come to relearn Lutheran doctrine. But we must also admit the possibility (likelihood) that this will not happen. We must be willing to make difficult ultimatums to those who are error: Correct your errant teachings Publicly or leave the synod. (In whatever way we issue these ultimatums, we must act with Christian impulses) Intrepid Lutherans must accept the responsibility of issuing these ultimatums. Who else will do it?

I hope it's not crass of me to bring up the analogy of the "a frog in boiling water". You know where I'm going with this. As long as we, who have been (By the Grace of God) alerted to the problems the WELS faces, do not holler at the top of our lungs "THE WATER IS BOILING! HOP OUT" other fellow frogs will slowly cook. THAT, is why we ought to be condemning these problems Publicly. We do not want others to cook unawares, while we sit silent. And this is why Intrepid Lutherans exists, right?

What is the most Stern, the most Definitive, and the most Christian way for the Confessional contingent of the WELS to warn every layman of the dangers we face in our own churches? I'm not equipped to answer that perfectly, but I do know that a Public Statement of Disunity issued by the Seminary President and the Synod President would go a long way to driving the average WELS laymen toward the Bible via the Book of Concord.

God be with you

David Kreuter

Daniel Baker said...

I agree with Mr. Kreuter. It is why I have not left my congregation (or the WELS) to date. We need to speak the truth fearlessly, LOUDLY, and in love. For if those of us who know the Truth are afraid to speak it, who will?

Anonymous said...

Pastor Spencer,

I'm certainly glad to hear that the synod's presidium has not done anything to dissuade your efforts. I'm extremely troubled, though, to hear that you have been pressured and intimidated by more than one district president. That is truly a travesty.

The more I learn about our synod's structure, the more problems I see inherent within the office of district president, including:

1. District presidents seem to have near total autonomy within their districts, with few if any checks or balances. The synod presidium does not have the ability to step in when need be to correct an erring DP. Really, no one in the entire synod has the ability to correct an erring DP.

2. District presidents are charged with making difficult and sometimes controversial decisions in order to maintain confessional doctrine and practice, and yet district presidents must stand for re-election every few years, which would lead them not to do anything controversial.

3. District presidents should be, above all else, solid theologians. It doesn't seem that a popular vote is the best way to identify theologians within a district. Rather, a popular vote will tend to elect men for far more superficial reasons.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I should suggest some solutions to the issues I highlighted above in regard to the office of district president.

1. District presidents should no longer be elected by popular vote at district conventions. Instead the district convention should elect a board of "electors"--a handful of experienced and well-trusted pastors from the district. These electors would then elect the DP.

2. District presidents should be given a life-time election. (They basically already are.) If a president didn't have to worry about re-election every two years, he might be more willing to take hard action when needed. DPs could be removed though by a vote of no confidence from the district or the electors.

3. District presidents should be subject to discipline from the synod presidium. This one scares me most, since, as a libertarian I distrust centralization of power, and yet, there needs to be some check on the power of the DP.

Or, if you don't like those three suggestions, my other suggestion would be that we simply admit that the American democratic system doesn't work within the Christian Church--but that's a whole other can of worms.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Pastor Spencer said...

David and Adam,

We are working on memorials to the District conventions that will we hope will tackle and hopefully resolve at least some of your concerns regarding the office of District President. God willing, the Districts will move them on to the synod in 2013.

Our memorials will deal with two issues - term limits for DPs, and the nomination process for their election. It is also possible that the office of Circuit Pastor will also be included.

You are both correct in your observations that there are very few, if any, real "checks and balances" on the power of a District President. This is something that needs correction if the WELS is to continue as a confessional Lutheran church body.

Thank you for your comments!

Pastor Spencer

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Good suggestions, Mr. Peeler. There must be a better way than what we currently have.

But let me throw in a little plug for faithful DP's here. If a DP is faithful, he has a grueling, thankless task. No one calls the DP when things are going great. It's one problem call after another. He often has to step into very tense situations, try his best to figure out what's really going on, and then use his authority firmly, but wisely.

A faithful DP sometimes has to end the career of called workers, never a pleasant task, even when necessary.

And these days, it's even harder for a DP to be faithful, because we've grown to expect so little "supervision" from the DP's that when a DP tries to actually attempt it, he's charged with daring to do the job for which he was elected.

I don't think they're out there campaigning for the job like Washington politicians. We need to pray for our DP's, and yes, expect more of them and probably devise a better system for electing and "supervising the supervisors." They ought not to become popes in their districts.

Anonymous said...

Pastors Spencer and Rydecki,

I'm glad to hear that you also see issues with the office of DP as it currently exists.

I agree that DPs don't campaign for reelection like Washington politicians, at least not overtly. I do think it subtly comes into play when, for example, there is a popular and powerful pastor within a district who is erring. The DP knows that if he makes an attempt at discipline, there will be turmoil within the district, which will cost him more time and effort, and quite possibly his position. In such a case, it's much easier for a DP to try to sweep problems under the rug and pretend they don't exist.

Also, your comment reminded me of a fourth suggestion to add to my list above--districts must be divided up and be made much, much smaller. Currently the Midwestern districts are so big, that one DP can't really even be expected to be supervising doctrine and practice in every congregation. It would be much easier for a DP to identify and discipline erring pastors and congregations if he were able to form a relationship with every congregation.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Pastor Spencer said...


You are absolutely correct. The size of many districts also makes supervision of doctrine and practice very difficult. This is one reason why it was recently mandated that Circuits be reduced in size. The exact same effort must now be made with Districts. If Circuits should no more than 10 churches, Districts should be no more than 50.

Of course, that would probably give us 20 or more Districts. You would hear arguments that the size of the Conference of Presidents would become unwieldy, but this is about the size of the current synodical council, so I don't see a real problem there. The bigger arguments will be that a.) it will be very expensive to replicate all the various District offices, and b.) that will be very hard to find capable men to fill all these various posts. Naturally, the solution to both of these "problems," is extremely simple - eliminate many of these positions as unnecessary to the management of the districts and synod! In my opinion, the proper, energetic, and expeditious supervision of doctrine and practice trumps all other functions of church organization.

Pastor Spencer

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