Friday, March 2, 2012

The Shepherd As Watchman

Dear Reader,

You will notice a new picture gracing the home page of our blog. It shows Pastors as shepherds defending their flocks from the attacks of the many wolves in this old evil world. It speaks for itself. It is how we see the efforts of Intrepid Lutherans.

To go along with this new image, we are posting two other items. The first is a sermon based on a section of Ezekiel chapter thirty-three – the famous chapter dealing with what it means to be a watchman in God's kingdom. The second is a brief clarification of our purposes, objectives, and methods of working here on the blog.

As always, your comments and questions on both or either are welcome!

Ezekiel 33:7-9
So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

Crash of American Airlines flight 191, O'Hare, May 25, 1979Many of you might remember the terrible crash of a DC-10 a few years ago in Chicago, in which over two hundred people were killed. It was found that the crash was caused by a defective engine mount on one of the wings. The problem had simply been missed by maintenance workers.

Now, what would you have done if you had seen the crack in the mount and realized the dire implications? Most likely you would have warned the airline, and the people about to board the plane, of the danger. If they listened to you, you would save many lives, but even if they refused to listen, you would still know that you at least tried to warn them.

The same is true in the spiritual world. Many are crashing into Hell everyday and many more are on a collision course. God has given us the responsibility to warn others about Hell, about the coming danger if they continue to refuse to believe what God tells them in His Holy Word. And not only are we to warn people about rejecting God and His Word, but also about teaching and living falsely concerning His Word. As Ezekiel points out: We Are God's Watchmen! As such, We are to listen to Him, and We are to pass on His warnings.

First of all, it is true that Ezekiel had a special and specific divine Call, directly from the LORD, to speak to the people of Israel. In this, he is certainly a picture of all Ministers of the Gospel, the Pastors and teachers who are Called to speak God's Word publicly on behalf of His believers in a given place and time. But in a more general, yet limited way, every single believer is a messenger of the LORD in their private lives of faith. In addition, every Pastor, teacher, and member is a watchman in God's Church, "testing the spirits," and making sure that His Word is taught in all its truth and purity, and the sacraments administered according to the command of Christ. This is why we have Creeds and Confessions, to aid all of us in this essential task.

Now, if we are to be God's watchmen, then we need to listen to Him, because only He can tell us the right things to say to warn people properly. This is true because God is the only perfect source of infallible truth. For this reason the Lord says to Ezekiel, "so hear the Word I speak and give them warning from Me." Notice the word comes from God to the people. Ezekiel is only a messenger. This is always what a prophet is; a mouthpiece for God. He is someone who is to speak to the people for God and from God.

What God has to say is always important. More than that, He is always perfect and correct. As the psalmist says, "Is God a man that He should lie?" In other words, it is impossible for God to lie. The same is not true for man. Ever since the Fall into sin, when man chose to follow the devil, the "father of lies," we have all been more that capable of lying. We have all done it at one time or another in our lives, perhaps even quiet often. Indeed, lying, like many kinds of sin, can be very habit forming. But, what is especially sad is to see people lying in the name of God. Using God's holy name to back them up. People concoct all kinds of crazy religions and ultimately lead many people straight to Hell instead of the promised paradise they were shown by these false prophets.

We can trust God because He has led us to our own salvation. We have the peace of knowing all our sins, including lying, are paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ the sinless Son of God. We have felt the security of being the children of God. We have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts, guiding and moving us to serve our Lord with our lives. Therefore we have confidence in our God and in His Word which led us to Him and will lead us finally to our reward in heaven.

If we are to have anything good to say in this world at all, we must listen to God. And not just for a few years in Sunday School and confirmation classes, or once a week for a few minutes, but we must be constantly hearing, learning, and growing in the Word of life. Just look at Ezekiel. He was a great prophet, chosen of God, but even he had to listen constantly to God in order to be a true prophet. Think of Abraham, Moses, David, St. Paul, and even Jesus! Did not all of them study God's Word at all times during their lives? Where did we find the boy Jesus - in the temple! Where did we see the young man of Nazareth - in the synagogue! How can we who so often know so little do any less? None of us are too old or too young or too smart or too busy to learn more of God's precious Word of truth!

So we learn more of God's Word. Then what? What are we suppose to say? Who are we suppose to say it to? And why? What does God tell Ezekiel to say? "say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,'" So, obviously, we are to speak to the wicked. But who are they, and how are we to judge? Let's remember who God was talking about when He spoke to Ezekiel. He was talking about all those who would not obey Him, and to obey God always means firsthand foremost, to believe in Him and in what says, and to put it into practice as much as possible in your lives. There were many in Ezekiel's day who professed to believe in God, yet lived only for themselves and even followed other gods - idols. And there were some who refused to acknowledge the one true God at all. These are the wicked.

The Last Judgement, by Peter Paul RubensWe have many kinds of wicked people around us today. Just as in the Old Testament, there are those who claim to believe in God but do not follow His Word, they are the hypocrites, and they are wicked. Then there are those who say they follow God, but their religion is a false one, and the gods they follow do not really even exists. They are false teachers leading others to Hell, and they are wicked. Finally, there are those who claim to believe in no God at all, who put their trust in man, and his science, and technology. They are blasphemers, and they are wicked.

And why should we speak to these people at all? Why not just let God deal with them. Well, He has! He sent His Son Jesus to die for their sins too! And He has given us the task of warning them that unless they believe in the salvation won for them by Jesus Christ, they will be lost to Hell. Whether they believe us or not is not our concern. That we tell them is still our responsibility. Listen again to God as He tells us, "if you do not speak out to dissuade him from his wicked ways that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself." It is clear here what our duty is. We are warn the wicked. Not that they will merely die, but that such a death will be eternal and terrible. And if we fail to do so, God will ask us on judgment day why we did not speak up. Of course, since we are believers, we will not be damned to hell along with the wicked, but even to be saved from answering such a question from our Lord is worth whatever it takes to warn the wicked.

And yes, we are also our brother's keeper. Our brothers can be many kinds of people. They can be all the believers, and they can be all the other people in the world. Can we stand by and allow any to continue down the path of unbelief that leads to Hell? Can we stand still while some hold to false teachings that may destroy their faith? Can we be silent when the world attacks the true teachings of God's pure Word, and thus attacks our faith and our God? I believe we must all answer NO!! We must not remain silent in the face of evil of any kind. We must be witnesses to the truth of God's Word. We must call sin, sin; false doctrine, false doctrine. We must warn those who would put their faith in anything but the cross of Christ that they are in danger. We must point out all the terrors of Hell to those that deny God and His salvation. Finally, we must always be ready with an answer directly from God to any question or accusation. We must be prepared to defend our faith and our teachings from those who would tear it down. And to do all this, we must ever be students of the infallible Holy Scriptures and our precious Lutheran Confessions.

How would you feel if you had seen that crack in the wing and you didn't say anything about it, and saw the plane crash? Don't we feel the same way about those whom we are sure are without a saving faith? Don't we want to warn them of Hell, and show them the way to heaven? And don't we feel the same way about those whose faith we believe is in danger because of false teachings? I believe we do, and we can, and we must, and we will warn them all, because – We Are God's Watchmen! Amen.

[Preached originally by Pastor Steven Spencer at St. Peter Ev. Lutheran Church, Brodhead, WI – September 30th, 1984]

What We're All About - And NOT

God’s Word, a Means of GraceWe've been getting messages about Intrepid Lutherans. Some have been quite good and complimentary, and some others somewhat worrisome. So, we wish to set the record straight. We want to clear up some misconceptions and false perceptions about our organization among brother WELS Pastors and all members and friends of our synod.
  • It is not our Divine Call to preserve, repair, or create doctrinal unity in the WELS. That can only be accomplished by God working by means of His Word as it is studied, cherished, practiced and proclaimed by Believers, whether holding a Divine Call or not, all of whom possess His general call to watch out for false teachers and join only with those who are fully agreed in all matters of doctrine and practice.
  • We also recognize that it is not our Call to tell Circuit Pastors, District Presidents, the Conference of Presidents, or the President of the Synod how to do their jobs. We speak according to Christian conscience. Those who believe something merits action, and who have a legitimate Call to act are certainly free to do so, or to refrain, on their own, without permission or direction from us. Again, as is true of all believers, we retain the freedom to speak passionately and confidently about sound doctrine and confessional practice.
  • We are not "checking up" on Pastors or congregations. It is not our Call to nit-pick sermons, or web-pages, or worship services. In cases of questionable public and repeated statements and actions which are brought to our attention by concerned laity and others, we may address them indirectly as examples, or directly, as the case may warrant.
  • We are not some kind of self-appointed “guardians” of “true” or “real” Lutheranism in the WELS. As stated above, all Christians, not just those holding office in church organizations, are under Scripture's direct injunction to watch out for false teachers, reject false teaching, hold only to the pure teaching of God's Word, and join only with those who do the same.
  • We are not "militant," but rather only have a passion for the truth and a love for the Scriptures and the Book of Concord, consistent with what one would expect from within the "Church Militant" – those believers on earth who are "contending for the faith."
  • We endeavor to support and encourage consistent confessionalism in every aspect of pastoral and congregational life – period, that’s it, no more, no less. And we are convinced that an internet blog can be a useful and effective vehicle for this effort.
  • Just as we have truly endeavored to "put the best construction" on things we observe, we respectfully request the same consideration from those who may disagree with us from time to time.
  • This is obviously a public forum and is intended to be such. Therefore, we respectfully request that if anyone has a comment, or a question, or a concern, or a complaint about anything posted on this blog, that they make it to us directly and publicly here on the blog. Please do not write to us or call us privately – again, about things written here on Intrepid Lutherans. We cannot guarantee that we will respond privately.
Lutheran Book of ConcordChristianity everywhere faces daunting difficulties, and much more than merely financial ones. Our synod is no exception. The matters which concern us all, cry out for serious deliberation, discussion, and yes, even debate. They need honest, open, and frank dialog. But they also demand patience, understanding, humility, charity, and circumspection. Intrepid Lutherans will make every effort to consistently practice these considerations and we expect the same from others.

May God guide us to fulfill His good and gracious will!

The Editors of Intrepid Lutherans


Anonymous said...

Did I miss something in the past or did the masthead change as well?

Lee Liermann

Anonymous said...

Passengers on a flight, are not the first line of watchmen/defence, correction, or warning.
If we see it, it's far too late to fix & that harms, maims & kills.
The ground crew, maintence crew, senior flight crew, secondary flight crew, BOD & CEO's of that fleet, of those planes are, held to account for the weakest cogs, thoughtlessness or ill training,FAA doesn't care who did it, it care it wasn't done,said or saw. The "chattle/passengers" that fly in that fleet & fills a seat/pew, know next to nothing about the design, aeronautics, rules & regs,etc, Gents'.
They know they are safe or they know they aren't. I spent almost 6 hrs at a gate in a fuselage at Munich, because the weakest link missed a huge problem. The Captain & his crew & the flight crew & passengers, were already on board. I used to sell parts in the aerospace industry~Military & Domestic Sales.
I knew what had happened, really meant! I wasn't a rep, I was a "sheep" a passenger.Flights are not His Bride, & knowing & being part of both, I say no!
This is about the Sacred trust of the Office, about Circut, District, & Synodical level Watchmen charged w/such as is their basic duty, no matter who it is or what they choose to lead by into thickets. Not by their sheep, but by their Shepherd, the One who owns the flock/fleet!!!!
If a weak link fails, w/air travel, people can loose their lives. I know how air travel & an airflight/fleet/plane is to work, ya cannot compare the 2. What is lost if an undershepherd fails, or abstains to speak out or up, souls walk,decry & could die 10x, for what? The lack of simple, Good & Right food, water, & Pastures?
That's to be a given for those who trust their lives in every way, to them that hold that Office & those that Govern them, if Shepherd is worth their salt, is it not right to speak out? Not matter what, your sheep, are still His, are they not, if they belong to Him & ?
Water flows downward folks, as does accountability when a close call happens in the aerospace industry. Great article, but still w/the utmost of respect, looks like someone is playin' "hot potato". I know what happens, w/air travel, but all I know is Who holds shepherd accountable & full well the cost for a Faith, abstained let alone mislead.
Dutch Gray Stoeberl

Daniel Baker said...

Is our primary goal still "to promote, support, and, where necessary, encourage a restoration of confessional Lutheranism within the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)?" I only ask because the new motto in the header (i.e. "For Lutheran unity in the historic catholic faith of Concord (1580)") seems to indicate something on a more grand scale. Not to say that this is a bad thing, but sometimes specificity is easier to work with . . . especially in the WELS. I know I have shared this blog with numerous people before, and the fact that it is a *WELS* blog (i.e. not Missouri) has been inexpressibly useful to that end. I just wonder if the new motto will be more or less helpful in that regard?

For the record, I ask this as someone who has nothing but deep gratitude and love for the Missouri Synod (and who likes the new motto, for that matter).

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Yes, we changed the masthead today, as well. In addition to adding our corporate information, we changed the byline from "For true confessional Lutheran Unity in the WELS," to now read "For Lutheran unity in the historic catholic faith of Concord (1580)". The reason for adding the corporate info is to impress upon our visitors that we are, in fact, an organization, not just an informal group. There are at least three reasons for changing the byline, however.

The first reason is rampant ignorance of what the term "confessional" means among both laity and clergy. Too many clergy seem to consider this word to be equivalent to "the oath they gave way back at the time of their ordination" rather than a confession in which they daily abide, which, as the public statement of their convictions of conscience, functions for them as their Worldview, and to which they staunchly adhere as if facing accusers intent upon killing them for these convictions. Too many, it appears, think of being "confessional" as remembering that they 'promised' something some years prior to the moment, to which their thoughts have not really returned since. In the case of laity, the simple fact is, it seems that most have never heard of the Book of Concord, nor have any idea that "confessional" is a term that refers to the pubic Confession that Lutherans make according to it. We therefore emphasize the term Concord, instead, for two reasons: (a) as a Book, as the source and substance of our Confession regarding what Lutherans say the Bible says, not just an oath about what that Book is presumed to say about our Confession; and (b) as “harmony,” because that is what the Book of Concord truly represented in 1580 – the harmonious conviction and confession of the historic catholic faith by all who subscribed to it as Lutherans.

The second reason is the fact that using an institution, like WELS, as a point of reference in a discussion of Lutheran orthodoxy and confessional practice, gives the impression that the institution is, or ought to be looked to as, the curator of pure doctrine and confessional practice. Such an impression encourages an unhealthy devotion to institutional Lutheranism, as opposed to devotion to Scripture and the public Confession of true Lutherans regarding what Scripture says. So reference to WELS is removed from the byline in our masthead, and the Book of Concord is emphasized in its place. The work of Intrepid Lutherans will continue with reference to WELS, however; we will remain a "WELS blog," and this will continue to be reflected in our Who We Are page.

The third reason is to point out that, in addition to common confession, unity is, and always has been, visibly expressed by those congregations sincerely desiring to present themselves to the world as the "True visible church on earth," by deliberately carrying forward the unique practices inherited from previous generations of Christians. This is in sharp distinction to rank sectarian thinking, which rejects such historic practices in favor of contemporary inventions that express spiritual unity only with those immediately present, not with all true Believers across time and space, and does so in ways that are riddled with transparent attempts to entice man through worldly means which, rather than being eternally relevant, represent only momentary fad. We vigorously reject such sectarian thinking and the practices which descend from them, as doctrinally misleading and destructive of unity. To emphasize this point, we introduce the phrase "historic catholic faith" to the byline in our masthead.

Daniel Baker said...

Thank you for your timely response, Mr. Lindee. The three-fold rejection of "Confessional" apathy, institutionalism, and sectarianism that the new byline represents is unfortunate but recognizably necessary in our American Lutheran culture. I look forward to further material from Intrepid Lutherans which unabashedly rejects these pernicious tendencies while faithfully proclaiming the Truth of Christ's Holy Gospel.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Mr. Lindee, regarding your statements under "The first reason ...", I have also witnessed first hand the equating of "confessionalism" to "an oath made in some distant memory of ordination" rather than a current confession. Asking for a confession and acknowledgement of what the Bible teaches, outside of reading or recitation of the Apostles' Creed during a worship service, seems to have become "taboo", as if the thinking is "how dare anyone ask anyone to confess what they believe the Bible teaches". Asking for a confession on what the Bible teaches regarding fellowship, or the role of men and women, seems to be viewed as a form of entrapment or manipulation.


Joe Krohn said...

I had a WELS pastor tell me that The Confessions, Confessionalism and Lutheran symbols are no longer relevant today, except for those who know the secret handshakes. Anyone want to guess who that pastor was? I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count. :)

Pastor Spencer said...

I was told the same thing by a fellow Pastor, who would later become the head of one of the major divisions of the synod. So, I wouldn't be surprised by any name.

WELS has secret handshakes?! Rats! I never knew that.

Pastor Spencer

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Last Autumn, a paper was delivered at a WELS Pastors' Conference that seemed to have as its intent an indirect response to Intrepid Lutherans and our emphasis on the Lutheran Confessions. It covered AC VII, and within it was the assertion that Lutherans are not bound to the "Lutheran Confessions," that only the retention of the Marks is necessary for unity in the visible church. The reason? The Book of Concord was the confession of the Reformers, it is not really our confession. So, even though our pastors make unqualified subscription to the Book of Concord, they are not necessarily bound by that subscription.

Certain personage(s) from the Seminary were present for the paper. There were a few objections from the peanut gallery to some of the points this paper made, but those objections were apparently rebuffed. In the end, the paper received thunderous ovation, and afterward, during discussion through the rest of the Conference, continued to receive the accolades of even the most liturgical pastors who were there to hear it.

This is the report that reached me from pastors who were personally present, who spent some weeks afterward in a mild state of depression. I haven't read the paper, so I'm not sure how much of what they reported is stated directly in the paper, or how much came out through the course of Q&A. Either way, it seems to explain the WELS view of the Confessions, as we observe it in practice.

Pastor Spencer said...

That so-called "liturgical" Pastors can also be non-confessional is no surprise. Just look at the ELCA for goodness sake. Nobody does pomp and ceremony like those clowns, and they're not even Trinitarians anymore! A chasuble, alb, incense, crucifer, or chalice is no guarantee of confessionalism.

Also, if that's the way so many WELS Pastors feel, then we should be honest and remove the subscription to the Book of Concord from our Ordination and Installation vows - or at least make it an option for the candidates to use or not as they see fit. As for me and my ministry . . .

Pastor Spencer

Anonymous said...

Mr Lindee,

I take it this essay is not in the Seminary's Online Essay File?

Isn't what this paper states similar to the view of the ELCA regarding the Confessions?

If we do not have an unqualified subscription to the Book of Concord are we really Lutheran's?

Lee Liermann

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Mr. Liermann,

I'm not sure what the title of the paper is, but I see that the author is listed neither at the WLS Essay File nor at the District website where the paper was presented. It may be possible for one of the pastors I mentioned, who were at this conference, who might still retain a copy of the essay (if they haven't thrown it away), to write a review of the paper and address the troubling sections. I'll ask them if they would be willing to do so. Then again, such a review may be regarded by our secretly vocal detractors as "unnecessarily 'nit-picking' the ministries of brother-clergy." Of course, I wouldn't consider it 'nit-picking,' nor would I consider it going out of our way to 'root out and check-up on' the public ministries of pastors in the wild – this one had practically walked up and slapped us in the face!

Whether they consent to write a review of this essay or not, I don't see that any essay by this author has been published on any WELS website.

Daniel Baker said...

There is no doubt that there are many pernicious practices and teachings floating about those claiming membership in our Synod. Who knows - perhaps this sort outnumbers those of us who remain true to our Synod's Confession. Regardless, I don't think we can judge our Orthodoxy based on these false components. The Evangelical Lutheran Church does not place her faith in Institutions; if she did, she should never have ceased submission to the Roman Pontiff in the first place.

That there are false prophets among us is a fact of life; indeed, something foretold by the sure Word of Christ Himself. We have to expect it. To this end, we cannot put our faith in man-made positions, be they designated Arch-Bishop, Pope, or District President. These offices may be useful here and there, but history (especially LUTHERAN history) has shown us the frail despondency that results from placing trust in such offices.

Rather than in human institutions and offices, our Orthodoxy lies in the marks of the Church, of which there are many, but primary among which is the unadulterated Holy Gospel in Spoken and Sacramental forms. To ensure that this Gospel remains pure, we have bound ourselves to a Confession - The Concordia. That is what matters - a unity of Confession which is indicative of unity in the Gospel.

As I like to point out, Articles II and III of our constitution read as follows: "The synod accepts the canonical books of the Old and New Testament as the divinely inspired and inerrant Word of God and submits to this Word of God as the only infallible authority in all matters of doctrine, faith, and life.
The synod also accepts the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church embodied in the Book of Concord of 1580, not insofar as, but because they are a correct presentation and exposition of the pure doctrine of the Word of God. . . .
Membership in the synod shall be restricted to congregations, pastors, and male teachers who agree in doctrine and practice with the confession referenced in Article II."

Note that Synodical membership is not bound by "This We Believe" or the popular opinion of the current mainstream of theological thought among seminary professors or pastors. It is simply bound by the Word of God as exposited by the Book of Concord. And it is bound in doctrine *and* practice!

So long as this is how our Constitution reads, as far as I am concerned the Wisconsin Synod is an Orthodox Institution. There may be false parts in her - perhaps a whole lot of parts! - but they don't belong in her any more than the dominion of the Antichrist belongs in the Catholic Church. The Roman Church's claims to catholicity aren't any more valid than the claims to Lutheranism made by the pastors cited in Mr. Lindee's example.

This is how I view Synodical affiliation, at any rate. If the sole measure of the integrity of an institution is its weakest link, then no American Lutheran Synod measures up. Thus, I am fully content to stay in the Wisconsin Synod. Should the time ever come that she officially rejects the Concordia as the standard of her doctrine and practice, then it will be her that has left me, just as Rome left the Catholic Church with its Tridentine proclamations.

In any case, I for one am hopeful. In the short time since my "conversion" from non-Confessional "Lutheranism," I have often questioned whether or not there are other faithful souls out there, let alone in the Wisconsin Synod. Yet, just as the LORD preserved 7,000 faithful whose knees did not bow to Baal, I am confident that there are many pastors and laypeople in our Synod who have not bent a knee to any of the number of spiritual maladies that plague our fellowship. Having experienced the results of simply proclaiming the truth of God's Word as exposited by the Confessions in my home parish, I am confident now more than ever that the Holy Spirit is able to accomplish what He wills.

Pastor Spencer said...

This is precisely why our Constitution reads:

"ARTICLE IV – Affiliation

Section 1.

This Congregation is currently a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and shall affiliate itself only with a church body that holds to all the truths of God’s Word in doctrine and practice, and is bound to the Statement of Faith set forth in Article Two, if, and only as long as, such a church body exists.

Section 2.

The term “affiliate” shall not be construed as meaning only organic union."

In case anyone wonders, yes, this has been reviewed and approved by our District Constitution Committee.

Pastor Spencer

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lindee,

Thank You for the response.

As a layman I find it unsettling that a WELS Pastor not only could present a paper containing this but that they were not corrected swiftly either by the Parish Pastors present or by the Seminary Pastors.

If the Pastor's won't vigorously defend sound doctrine and the confessions what should a layman make of it?

As for "Secretly Vocal Detractors", one would think if they were interested in sound doctrine and sound practice they would be openly vocal detractors and join the discussion here to convince us of the error of our ways. All that is being done here at Intrepid Lutheran's is done publicly, therefore if rebuke should be done it should also be done publicly. Not doing so raises questions.

Changing the subject back to the new masthead, does this also mean we have officially received 501(c)3 status with the IRS?

Lee Liermann

Anonymous said...

Excuse me if I could .....

I have read and re-read the main OP and am not quite sure how comments 2 and beyond are pertinent to the OP.

However, my pastor here has reservations about Intrepid and who would say "What We're All About - And NOT" is healthly to the unity of the WELS.

Though I have concerns about both parties ( WELS and Interpid) to some degree or another, I do not feel that accusing a fellow believer\ pastor as "wolf's in sheep clothing" among our midst is not appropriate nor constructive if one is truly attempting to get an receiptive ear.

I hope that it isn't the yeast of the Pharisee that is coming through when certian Intrepid advocates pray about some of the tax collectors sheperds in the WELS and also the other way around (yeast of certian WELS sheperds praying about certian tax collectors advocates of Intrepid)
Jon Rehborg

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Lindee et al.

Grace and peace to you.

My name is James Panning. I am the pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church and School (WELS) of Las Vegas, NV. I am the author of the essay on Article VII of the Augsburg Confession that you referenced in a previous post. I do not ordinarily visit this Intrepid Lutherans website because of my belief that it is a less than constructive way of addressing important synodical issues, but that's my personal choice. Nevertheless, I have heard through the grapevine that my essay has been a matter of some discussion and criticism, even by those who apparently have not heard or read it. I aim to fix that. If you or anyone else wishes to receive a copy, please email me at

There seems to be much confusion these days about what it means to maintain a quia subscription to the Lutheran Confessions. In addition to my essay, I would strongly suggest that you also read the most excellent essay written by John Brug entitled "Why Bible-believing Lutherans subscribe to the Book of Concord without Reservation". It can be found in the seminary essay file at

The Lord bless and keep you all!
Jay Panning

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Thank You, Rev. Panning, for taking the effort to post your comment and offer your paper for all to read. It's like pulling teeth for, sometimes, to get those who disagree with us to engage in our public discussion. I will send you an email, shortly, for a copy of your paper.

Since your paper doesn't seem to be published anywhere, would you consent to having it published here on IL? This would give our readers a central place to refer to the paper as they comment on it.

Thanks Again!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lindee,

It is disappointing and offensive that you would choose to make such comments about a conference paper that you haven't even read. Christian love (and, really, common sense as well) would dictate that you make an effort to verify hearsay for yourself before you take the very serious step of so publicly maligning the character and doctrine of a fellow Christian.

As someone who actually has read the paper and witnessed the discussion that followed, I can say that the majority of what you wrote was inaccurate. (Even the assertion that Pastor Panning has no papers printed on any WELS website is inaccurate--an especially puzzling error since it took me all of 30 seconds on the internet to disprove it.)

The most glaring and dangerous error is your claim that Pastor Panning said that Lutherans are not bound to the Lutheran confessions. The accusation is simply a lie. In fact, he quite clearly said the opposite. Even a cursory reading of the paper would have revealed that to you.

One accusation that you made was entirely accurate, however. Pastor Panning did indeed say that only the retention of the Marks is necessary for unity in the visible Church. But he said that because the Augsburg Confession itself says it: "To the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is is necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike."

Once again, it is disappointing and offensive that you chose to defame a fellow Christian on the basis of nothing more than hearsay (and inaccurate hearsay, at that). More than that, it is a shameful offense to the Good Shepherd when a blog that purports to be defending the flock instead leads the flock astray by posting slanderous hearsay. I pray that you will reconsider your post in the light of the Eighth Commandment and that you will also consider the Eighth Commandment before any posts and communications in the future.

Paul Rutschow

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Lindee et al.

I will forward a copy of my essay to Intrepid Lutherans after this post goes up, but not without some reservations.

I am of the personal opinion that the Intrepid Lutherans blog is essentially divisive. I am not a regular visitor to this site and am here today only because I was told that my essay was being criticized as anti-confessional. I truly do not mean to offend anyone with this my point of view, but I do not want to give a false impression either.

If any individual wishes to discuss this topic with me privately via email, I am more than happy to do so. :)

I also feel that it is *very important* for people to study articles such as John Brug's essay entitled "Why Bible-believing Lutherans Subscribe to the Book of Concord without Reservation." It is an essay that has as a primary focus the rather new danger of "over-subscription," which seeks to extend subscription beyond the doctrinal content of the confessions. His is essentially the position I take in my essay. The Brug paper can be found at Please read it.

I wish my paper had received "thunderous applause" at the AZ CA Pastors' Conference, but I suspect it was more than a few decibels shy of that. :)

In God's saving grace,
Pastor James Panning

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Mr. Rutschow,

Thank you very much for sharing your opinion. I certainly understand where you are coming from, and would agree with you entirely if I had passed off the report I received as something more authoritative than a verbal report from eyewitnesses (who evidently disagree with your appraisal of the paper). The fact is, I made no secret that I was passing along a verbal report, so that everyone could evaluate what I stated accordingly. Further, I mentioned no names. On purpose. Moreover, I mentioned no district. I short, I defamed no one at all. What I reported was done so in a way to avoid negative aspersions on specific individual(s) or district(s), and instead to emphasize a situation. Any adult reader, who wasn't looking for an opportunity to be critical, would understand these clear cue's in this way. In short, I appreciate your angst, but disagree most fully with your conclusion.

Now that the author has identifed himself (which no one asked him to do), and now that we all have access to the paper (for which we all thank him), it may very well be proven that I, and everyone else, are the victims of a verbal report laced with hysterical hyperbole -- in which case, I'm more than happy to correct and ammend what I stated. Now that we have the paper, we will vet it publically and everyone will know.

Thanks Again.

Anonymous said...

The flaw in your logic, Mr. Lindee, is that every pastor in the AZ-CA District knows exactly who wrote an Article VII paper at the last conference, some have passed it on to their members and **add to that** members of my own congregation have it, including my Elders, some of who might be visiting your blog. Please rethink your position on slander. It is not right.


James Panning

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Rev. Panning,

Thank you very much for allowing us to post your paper. We may very well have a vigorous discussion over it -- but please understand, it's all the process of coming to common agreement. Then again, like I intimated to Mr. Rutschow, maybe there is absolutely nothing to be alarmed at, there will be no discussion at all because there is nothing to disagree with, and I will offer you a big apology (yes, I am capable of doing that) -- both on my behalf and on behalf of those whose report to me will be shown to have been a little more shrill than was necessary (I know them personally, and trust them and their judgement, which is why I'm sticking with their testimony, for now).

I understand your opinion regarding IL. We have a reputation for being "divisive" but I think that is more the product of hearsay from folks who don't visit us very often and who are not participants in our discussions. Of course, human failure happens on occasion here as well, and that doesn't help given that our positions are already unpopular. Nevertheless, I think the reputation is undeserved. Give us a try for awhile.

Thanks Again.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

The flaw in your logic that every pastor in the AZ-CA District knows exactly who wrote an Article VII paper... etc.

Point conceeded. I didn't sufficiently conceal your identity or that of your district. You have my deepest apologies, sir.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lindee,

Thank you and accepted. I wish I could self-righteously claim that I always get this right, but I cannot. By the grace of Jesus we stand unashamed before our saving God.

James Panning

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lindee,

I am grateful for your apology to Pastor Panning. It was good and God-pleasing.

However, it also betrayed a not-yet-complete understanding of the Eighth Commandment in that you apologized only for having been a bit too specific in your identification of the individual.

According to your misinterpretation of the Eighth Commandment, the following post (which is entirely made up and is used only for the sake of making a point) would be good and God-pleasing.

"A report has reached me that a member of Intrepid Lutherans was recently seen beating his wife. While a few of the Intrepid Lutherans present objected, most of them supported the action and even applauded it. I wasn't actually there, so I don't know exactly whether the applause took the form of clapping or shouts of 'Good for you!' Either way, it seems to be an indicator of Intrepid Lutherans' stance on wife-beating."

According to your reasoning, since I did not name a name (or even specify whether the individual was a founding member or someone who signed on later), since I did not cast negative aspersions on a specific individual (although I have now cast negative aspersions on every member of the group), and since I made it clear that I was just passing on hearsay (although giving no indication that I had made any attempt to actually speak directly with the individual), such a post would be good and God-pleasing.

Of course any reader, who wasn't attempting to defend the indefensible, would not say that such a post is good and God-pleasing.

Neither was your post--even if the reference to the paper being about Article VII had been removed.

To steal from one of Pastor Panning's previous posts, "Please rethink your position on slander. It is not right."

Paul Rutschow

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Actually, Mr. Rutschow, I've been thinking about your first post. You're quite right, when it comes down to it. Without the evidence in hand, whether the reports were accurate or not, whether I had identified those reports as "eyewitness testimony" or not, I should not have passed them along in a way that reflected negatively on the contents of the paper. So, my sincere apologies once again.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lindee,

Your reply provides a very good ending to my day! It renews my faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to work in and through sinners like you and me, and it makes me marvel at the grace of God that allows us to assure one another of his forgiveness through Christ.

Once again, thank you for your response. How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

Paul Rutschow

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