Thursday, May 31, 2012

Intrepid Lutherans Conference Agenda

For those who will be attending the Church and Continuity Conference this Friday and Saturday...


Friday, June 1st
    5 PM – Board of Director's Meeting for Intrepid Lutherans, Inc.

    6 PM – Intrepid Lutherans Dinner with after dinner speaker, Rev. Robert Koester

    8 PM – Gemütlichkeit
Saturday, June 2nd
    9 AM – Matins

    9:30 – Welcome, Announcements, & Introduction, Chairman Rev. Paul Rydecki

    9:40 – Presentation: "What Has Brought Us Here?" Historical overview of the past 30 years in WELS and current issues, moderator – Rev. Steven Spencer; panel – Mr. Brian Heyer, Mr. Rick Techlin, and other laymen from the area, with discussion

    10:15 – Presentation: "Why Is This Happening to Us?" How the culture wars have become religious wars among us, Mr. Douglas Lindee, followed by discussion

    11:30 – Lunch provided on site

    12:00 – Presentation: "The Consequences of Church Growth Theology" What it is, where it is, and why it is dangerous, Rev. Luke Boehringer, followed by discussion

    1:15 – Presentation: "The Beauty of the Western Rite" How the complete Divine Liturgy fulfills the spiritual needs of our Pastors and people, Rev. Michael Berg; followed by discussion

    3:00 – BREAK

    3:15 – Presentation:"Do We Want to Be Dresden Lutherans?" What it means to be tied to the Book of Concord rather than to a church body, school, family, or ministerium, Rev. Paul Rydecki, followed by discussion

    4:15 – Open Forum

    4:45 – Preliminary planning for next conference

    5:00 – Vespers

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fascist roots of the Church Growth Movement

“Yea, hath God said?” Gen. 3:1
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

“Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’” John 18:38
“...Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.” Col. 2:2-4

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” -William Jefferson Blythe Clinton
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes.” Prov. 26:4-5

“Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State” -Benito Musolini
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Mr. Chris Rosebrough, Cap’n of the Pirate Christian Radio network and host of the daily show “Fighting for the Faith,” has been doing yeoman’s work identifying the tendril root of fascism in the post-modern church leadership movement. Understandably, readers may recoil at the word fascism, since it is misused in modern discourse. However, Rosebrough’s context is deliberate and accurate, highlighting America's founding on the Enlightenment ("we are endowed by our Creator") and contrasting with the subsequent Anti-Enlightenment (e.g. Kant: reality is unknowable; Hegel: truth is synthetic; Rousseau: individuals don’t exit, only society; Nietzsche: morals determined by community.)

Social engineer and management guru Peter Drucker, explains Rosebrough, adopted the former worldview at weekly dinner parties held by his father for Vienna intellectuals between the World Wars. (To put it in the Martin Luther College vernacular, that was Drucker’s “ministry crockpot.”) Drucker’s 1933 essay, “The Unfashionable Kierkegaard,” — to be read only after three cups of coffee — identifies social responsibility as man’s path between the hopelessness of mortal life and the hope of eternity. Drucker presses forward in the 2nd half of the 20th Century by shaping social organizations to fill the duality (eternal & mortal) of man.   In this 1989 interview, Drucker explains that people desire communities, and that churches should deliver what the market demands, but without worrying about doctrine or theology.

So where does the Church Growth Movement fit in here? There’s a thick black thread beginning from Drucker’s mentorship of Bob Buford’s Leadership Network, Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek, and Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven trainwreck. From that hydra, prominent names developed: Modalist TD Jakes, homosexual-affirming Andy Stanley,  Craig Groeschel, Mark Driscoll and others in the post-modern Emergent Church.  It isn't merely the adoption of management, marketing, and endless consulting and conferences which Drucker fostered into the megachurch movement. It is the abandonment of Sola Scriptura.

The following links are to outside sources for background reading. Proper Christian discernment is encouraged.  Below is the podcast of the presentation by Mr. Rosebrough, and the second link includes additional source material.

Chris Rosebrough on Peter Drucker: Resistance is Futile: You Will Be Assimilated Into The Community

“In order to make your church grow you must change the primary role of the pastor from minister to leader.”
(The link above also shows Warren twisting Col. 3:19 to infer that God commands church growth, but that’s another essay.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's time to register for Church and Continuity 2012!

Our first Intrepid Lutherans conference begins one week from tomorrow. Over 50 people have registered so far, and it's not too late to join them, but time is running out!

As a reminder, the conference begins on the evening of June 1st with dinner, followed by a highly relevant and scholarly presentation by Rev. Bob Koester on the issues surrounding the NIV 2011 translation of the Bible. The 12 districts of the WELS will be voting in the June district conventions whether to adopt the NIV 2011 now, or whether to put off the decision another year so that the NIV 2011 can be adopted then. At least, that's what some would like to see happen. As our readers know, we at Intrepid Lutherans are strongly opposed to the NIV 2011. Rev. Koester's presentation will demonstrate why.

Saturday, June 2nd, will be a full day of presentations, outlined in our conference brochure.

The deadline for registration is Tuesday, May 29th. Will we take last minute registrations after that date? Yes! Would we prefer to receive them before that date? Yes!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

God, Marriage, and The State In Our World Today

The Current Situation
(NOTE: This post is continued from an article posted last week, entitled Homosexuality, God, and The Bible)

A few years ago the State Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled that the state government cannot prevent two persons of the same gender from marrying one another. They further directed the State Legislature to in some way provide statutory regulations, or written guidelines and procedures, to counties and municipalities, so as to implement this ruling within the next 180 days. There are similar cases before the Supreme Courts of a number of States, and it is certain that the Federal Supreme Court will have to address this issue before too long.

Obviously, the Massachusetts’ ruling is a controversial one, as it runs counter to the customs and traditions of not just Western civilization, but the societal norms of the vast majority of the world over most of recorded history. Even the pagan governments of Greece and Rome did not formally sanction homosexual marriage.

Many well-meaning and sincere Christians would like to obviate the rulings of any Court on this subject by adding an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would restrict the definition of marriage to only a union of one man and one woman. To this end they seek the support of the President, the Congress, and many others.

While such efforts are understandable, and certainly permissible in our system of government, it begs the question of whether or not the State should be in the business of regulating marriage in the first place, and if it should, to what extent it is empowered by God to do so.

The Bible’s Definition of Marriage

Holy Scripture consistently gives only one definition for marriage: A man and a woman, are brought together by or under the authority of God, or His representatives, and agree to look upon one another as husband and wife, with all the rights and all the responsibilities of such an estate, for as long as they continue their earthly existence. That’s it; no more, no less.

While there are many wedding feasts and banquets described in the Bible, no actual marriage ceremonies are recorded anywhere in God’s Word. In both Old Testament and New Testament times, marriage was usually arranged by parents, and the betrothal or engagement announced to the people of the town or village. The actual marriage took place simply when the man was able to take care of the woman, and took her from her father’s house to his house. The Bible has only three requirements for a God-pleasing union of man and woman: 1.) Mutual consent, freely given,  2.) fulfill the responsibilities of husband and wife toward each other, and  3.) that this commitment be for life.

Thus, from the start, it should be clearly understood that there are not a host of different requirements or definitions for marriage as far as God is concerned. What the State may or may not add is irrelevant and immaterial to this simple basic definition.

Note the following passages from the Bible:

In the Old Testament –

Genesis 2:22 & 24 “Then the LORD God made a woman . . . and He brought her to the man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”  God established marriage during the Creation Week, before the Fall into sin. Thus, in its original institution, it too was perfect.

Genesis 24:57, 58, & 67  “Then they said, ‘Let’s call the girl and ask her about it.’ So they called Rebekah and asked her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ ‘I will go,’ she said. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife.” Note here that consent is sought from Rebekah and given by her. Note also there is no other rite or ceremony. This consent confirms the marriage.

Genesis 29:21   “Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.’” Jacob had an agreement with Rachel and her father that she would be his wife after he worked for Laban for seven years. This already made her his wife. Note that he does not ask Laban, “Give me Rachel to be my wife.” When the agreed upon time was up he wanted only to consummate the marriage.

Ruth 4:13  “So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife.”  Ruth and Boaz had made an agreement that if no one else in Boaz’ family wanted to fulfill the duty of being a “kinsman-redeemer,” and raise up children with her, he would do so and marry her. When no one else came forward they regarded themselves, and were regarded, as husband and wife, no other procedure was necessary.

First Samuel 25:39 & 42  “Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, . . . went with David’s messengers and became his wife.” Again note the consent requested and then given. By giving her consent, Abigail becomes David’s wife, even though he is already married. Thus, even a concurrent marriage to someone else does not abrogate this mutual agreement with a new wife.

Hosea 1:2 & 3  “The LORD said to him, ‘Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife . . . So he married Gomer. . .’” God commanded one of His prophets to actually marry himself to a prostitute, in order to graphically demonstrate to Israel what they were doing to their relationship with Him by their idol-worship. Gomer accepts this arrangement and becomes Hosea’s wife, as shown by the fact that she bears him a number of children.

In the New Testament –

Matthew 1:18 & 19  “His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” Notice that even though they are only “pledged,” that is, engaged or betrothed, Mary and Joseph are referred to here as already married. However, the Bible makes it clear that the marriage was simply not consummated as yet. And, if Joseph wanted to dissolve the marriage, he would have to formally divorce Mary.

Matthew 19:6  “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Jesus makes it clear that God intends marriage to be ended only by the death (separation) of one or another of those He has joined.

First Corinthians 7:11 & 39  “A husband must not divorce his wife. A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives.” Simply put, marriage is supposed to last “for as long as you both shall live!”

To sum up:

- God created the estate of marriage.

- Sexual relations alone do not establish a marriage.

- Merely living together does not establish a marriage.  

- Individual marriages are established only by the authority of God, either directly, or indirectly through His representatives, and by the agreement of those involved to look upon one another and treat one another as husband and wife.

- This agreement is also done in public so everyone will know that this man and woman are no longer available for marriage to someone else, and as a witness to their permanent commitment. Marriage is rightfully ended only by earthly death.

NOTE: Naturally, when a betrothal or engagement is based on this Biblical understanding, the man and woman involved are correctly referred to as “married in the eyes of God.” In this way, and this way alone, betrothal is indeed what is referred to as “tantamount” to marriage. This point will be important for us to remember a bit later on in the discussion.

It also goes without saying that all examples of marriage in the Bible are unions between men and women. While homosexuality is mentioned, as noted, even pagan cultures did not consider such relationships to be equal with marriage.

What Does This Mean For Us Today?

One area of application comes up most often with regard to the various types of regulations of marriage. Simply put, the question is: If marriage is established by God according to the guidelines set forth in the Bible, why then is the government even involved with marriage at all?

The Involvement of the Government Is By God’s Design

To answer this question, it is important to remember that God also created government, and human society produces governments, mainly for the purpose of protection; that is, to provide defense against those outside the society who would invade it for some nefarious purpose, and to keep order inside that society. Indeed, God wants people to be protected from physical attack from without and also from within the society. (See Romans 13) He also wants the things they acquire or produce to be safe from such attack, so that people can use and enjoy them, or pass them on to their descendants. (i.e. The Seventh Commandment) Therefore it is both God’s will, and in the interest of society, to have rules to protect men and women from other women and men; including rules about who is “off limits” as a potential partner. (see also Sixth Commandment) 

Even societies that allow plural marriage more often than not still regulate the number of husbands/wives, and who may be taken as an additional husband/wife. Thus, the government produced by a particular society is then called upon to enforce these rules with formal public laws, and real and meaningful punishments for those who break these laws.

The same is true when it comes time to pass on what a person has produced or acquired during life to their progeny. It is understood that a union of a man and a woman can and often does produce children. In addition, every society has rules about who is and who is not a “legitimate” child or “heir,” and thus able to receive part or all of what a person leaves behind when he dies.

Not just anyone should be able to step forward and claim some part of a person’s estate. If that were the case, then no one’s possessions would be safe after they were dead, and there would be little incentive for people to work to produce things of lasting value within that society. So again, the government is called upon to make laws about inheritance, and again to back up such laws with force if need be.

Therefore, it is necessary that the government of a society formally declare not only who can be married to whom, but also who is or can be considered a legal descendant of another individual for inheritance purposes. This in turn involves whether or not a particular descendant was produced within the framework of a legitimate or legal union of a man and a woman.

Thus it is that the safety, orderliness, and stability of a society is dependant in large measure upon the government of that society promulgating and enforcing rules about marriage and the subsequent sexual activity which could produce children. Indeed, the government, as a servant of God and society, has very good and necessary reasons for regulating marriage and therefore also reproduction.

Sadly, however, as we will see, the government is slowly but surely abrogating its duty to regulate marriage and the sexual relations that can produce offspring. But more about that later.

Until 1996, Marriage In America Was Solely A State, Not A Federal Matter

In the United States, the regulation of marriage is one of those matters originally left to the jurisdictions of the various States by the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. To my knowledge, until 1996 there had only been one attempt at making marriage regulations a matter of Federal Law. In the early part of the last century a Constitutional Amendment was proposed to formally and permanently outlaw polygamy. However, this attempt was derailed by President Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican leadership in exchange for political support from the heavily Mormon state of Utah. Recently, as noted earlier, due to the increase in demand for same-sex marriage in some areas of the country, there have been renewed calls for the Federal government to define marriage by way of a Constitutional Amendment as a union of one man and one woman.

However, in 1996, Congress passed and President Clinton, ironically the most promiscuous President in modern American history, signed into law the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (known as "DOMA" today). The Act reads in part:


“No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.”



7. Definition of “marriage” and “spouse”

“In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

While this Act does not dictate to the States how they must define marriage, it puts this one civil action outside the framework of the so-called “good faith and credit” clause of the Constitution. Therefore, regardless of any Court findings or laws passed in other States regarding same-sex marriage, the rest of the States would not be forced to recognize such unions. Of course, this Act has not yet had the opportunity to be tested. Many legal scholars doubt it could survive a U.S. Supreme Court challenge. For now, it is a mere “paper tiger.”

As for the regulations of the various States concerning marriage; in general, the laws of most States mandate that unrelated persons of the opposite sex who wish to live together, procure a license to marry from the County in which they reside, and have their marriage solemnized by a person authorized by that State to do so. However, with regard to specifics there is a great deal of difference among and between the States with regard to this basic activity of human life. Many States have fairly conservative laws concerning marriage and sex, while others are considerably more liberal.

Common-Law Marriage Is Also Biblical Marriage

One aspect of State regulation in particular actually involves what could rightfully be called a very simple Scriptural definition of marriage, and can very well prove enlightening to our topic. At this time fourteen States provide for what is called “Common-Law” marriage. However, here again, the regulations governing this type of union vary a great deal among those same States. For example, some have residency requirements, others do not. A few, though by no means most, also have a time requirement. In addition, there is no requirement for the couple to provide some kind of reason for procuring a common-law union as opposed to one established by a State-sanctioned individual.

Still, the requirements for Common-Law marriage in those States that provide for them in their statutes are basically the same:

A verbal public commitment, freely made, to look upon each other as husband and wife for as long as they live;

To actually cohabit in some way; and

To present themselves as married to the public. This can be done in any number of ways; telling people they are married, holding joint ownership of land or other property such are automobiles and the like, or maintaining joint financial arrangements, among others.

It will be noted that these requirements mirror quite closely those found in Holy Scripture. Thus, wherever they are provided for by law, there is no valid Scriptural reason why we should not look upon also Common Law marriages as legal, binding, and valid before both God and man.

The States that specifically allow for Common-Law marriage to be contracted within their borders are: Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington, D.C.

Still, a complicating factor is that, pursuant to Article IV of the U.S. Constitution and again that “good faith and credit” clause, all States must recognize not only a regular marriage contracted in any other State of the Union, but also a Common-Law marriage contracted in another State where such is legal.

In other words, a State that does not permit Common-Law marriage within its own body of laws is required to accept as legitimate any such unions from States where such arrangements are acceptable. For example, the actual law concerning Common Law marriage in Arizona reads:

“Under common law, Arizona will recognize a common-law marriage contracted in another state, provided parties establish a connection with the other state of kind and duration which will minimize the evils of common-law marriage; however, parties need not, unless that state requires it, have been domiciled in a state which recognizes common-law marriage.” [Arizona Statute 25-111.2]

The problem here is that there is currently no way for authorities in a State without a Common-Law provision itself to ascertain whether or not any particular Common-Law union now residing in that State was done according to the regulations of the State where the Common-Law marriage was supposed to have been made in the first place. Thus, a couple could claim to have a Common-Law marriage contracted in a State where such is legal, and there would be no way to concretely check the veracity of such a claim.

Also, as already mentioned, and contrary to popular belief, most Common-Law States have no specific time requirements, or even residency requirements to establish this union. For example, many people are under the mistaken impression that there is a fairly universal rule in the United States that living together for seven years constitutes a Common Law Marriage. Yet that particular provision does not exist at all among any of the fourteen States that recognize this form of civil wedlock.

So, as we have seen, the definition of Common Law marriage is almost the same and just as simple as the Scriptural definition of marriage itself, which, as we have also noted applies to a true betrothal. Therefore, since a true betrothal is tantamount to marriage in God’s eyes, Common Law Marriage is certainly even more so!

The Consequences of Having No Unchanging Standards for the Legal Regulation of Marriage

Much has been written about the use of such things as The Ten Commandments, Natural Law, and Christian principles in formulating the various legal regulations of a given society. Suffice it to say that while, as Christian citizens, we can hope, encourage, and even expect that such Biblical guidelines will be made use of by our lawmakers, we cannot demand, nor should we force them to do so. Even a cursory study of nations living under Islamic law should convince us of this!

Unfortunately, in our world today, without some kind of firm, objective guidelines to go by, the regulations of the various States can often cause more confusion and problems than they solve. For example, in the foolish rush to be seen as “politically correct,” many states have abrogated laws against certain sexual practices regarding homosexuality. However, in doing so they have also affected laws governing heterosexual relationships. Since Arizona is where we live and carry on our ministry, I will limit myself to this state’s laws. However, much of what applies to Arizona also applies to most if not all states.

Basically, as of 2002, almost any sexual contact, up to and including intercourse, between persons eighteen years of age and older, whether of the opposite or same gender, and whether or not they are married to one another, is legal in the State of Arizona. The exceptions are: prostitution, also called “concubinage” (AZ Statutes, Title 13, Chapter 32), polygamy, incest (Title 13, Chapter 36), and adultery (Title 25, Chapter 14). Yet, even of these, adultery is seldom persecuted, there have been many calls for legalizing prostitution, and court cases are now pending to force the government to allow for polygamy.

Also, any sexual contact between someone over 18 and another under that age is still illegal unless they are married. However, strangely enough, sexual contact between two person who are both under 18 is not illegal. Thus, if the couple are both over 18, or both under that age for that matter, and they engage in sexual relations, whether they are of different genders or not, with or without a wedding ceremony, the laws of the State do not come into consideration. In other words, what they are doing is not actually illegal anymore!

The Conclusion – The Gospel, Not the Law, Will Change Hearts, Minds, and Actions!

So, where does that leave us? As we noted, God makes it clear in Holy Scripture what His requirements are for marriage. And, for the reasons stated earlier, it remains in the interest of citizens for the States to continue to regulate marriage. Whether it is wise for the federal branch of our government to involve itself with this aspect of civil life is a political question, best left to that arena. But, it seems we can safely say that some kind of governmental regulation of marriage is good, and necessary, and God-pleasing.

But, what form should those regulations take, and upon what cultural norms should they be based? As we said, it would be wonderful for the government to base these laws on Holy Scripture, but that is problematical at best. For, whose interpretation of the Bible will be codified into law? Certainly not an orthodox, conservative, historical Lutheran view; of that you can be sure! And would we want, say, Catholic, or Mormon theology as the basis for marriage laws imposed upon us? I think not. One would suppose that the government should be able to come to an agreement on a simple, basic definition of marriage from a few clear passages of Scripture. But even that is beyond the realm of possibility in the politically charged and polarizing atmosphere in the halls of power today.

We are left with the very distinct probability that the government will eventually authorize same-sex marriage. In addition, polygamy cases in both Utah and Arizona are being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, partially on the basis of recent State court ruling on various laws outlawing homosexual practices or marriage. We must admit that it would be inconsistent and illogical for the Supreme Court to give legal standing to same-sex marriage, but not to plural marriage, especially if the later were presented as an intrinsic part of a religious practice, as it is with fundamentalistic Latter-Day Saints.

Once again we see that the law is powerless to change behavior, or to force correct, God-pleasing actions. Certainly we can and must hold forth God’s perfect Word as a rule and guide for our government. But even if our State and Federal governments were to codify the entire old Mosaic Law Code, it would not stop all sins against God’s will for marriage. Indeed, we know better, don’t we! Only the Gospel, with its soul-saving, and life-changing power can cause people to live as God intended in any area of life, marriage or otherwise. Therefore, let us re-double out efforts at proclaiming the pure Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ as the real, true, and only antidote to any and all social, moral, or institutional evils. In this way, and this way alone, we will be fulfilling the command of our Lord and Savior, and the will of His Father for all people.

Pastor Spencer

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Vatican II, the Church Growth Movement, contemporary “Sectarian Worship”, and Indiscriminate Ecumenism: A Brief History and Synopsis of their Relationship

Sectarian Worship (also known as “Contemporary” or “Charismatic” Worship) is not just a benign preference that some choose to engage in for stricly personal or otherwise irrelevant and inconsequential reasons, but is always adopted with a purpose in mind. Often, that purpose is to use man's choice of practice as a necessary means of drawing or keeping people within the family of Christ, apart from which, people will unnecessarily spend eternity in Hell and the Church on Earth will shrink and die. This necessity, whether confessed or not, is demonstrated in the rejection of other forms historically associated with confessional Lutheranism, forms which are viewed as old, irrelevant, and thus incapable of drawing a crowd (which is supposedly necessary for worship practice to accomplish, since true Christian worshipers won't come on their own), of keeping its interest for one hour a week (which is also supposedly necessary, since true Christians don't normally have an internal motivation to remain interested in Law & Gospel preaching and the Sacrament for one hour a week), according to the shifting fads and priorities of contemporary pop-culture (which is also supposedly necessary, since true Christians are unable to recognize and appreciate the uniquely cross-cultural and consistent historical practices of the Church Catholic). Thus, also involved in the purpose behind adopting Sectarian Worship, is, as the title of this worship practice implies, to volitionally express a separatation and “apart-ness” from the catholicity of the Lutheran Confession, and consequently, whether confessed or not, a togetherness with all those who likewise reject the notion of catholicity, regardless of their confession.

These supposedly evangelical motivations view the Divine Service, not exclusively as the privilege of the passive Believer to be served by His Lord and Saviour in Word and Sacrament, but, eschewing this notion, views the worship assembly as primarily an assembly of unBelievers; they do not view the function of the “Worship Service” solely as a process for focusing the Believer on the centrality of Christ and the Means through which He serves His own (as does the Divine Service), but primarily as a stage upon which is mounted the active foci of the worshiper – musicians and orators – as those foci engage in the age-old task of mass-manipulation and crass salesmanship. And because of the inherent ecumenical nature of these “evangelical motivations,” there is, among those Lutherans who adopt Sectarian Worship forms, a palpable fear of distinguishing Believer from unBeliver in the worship assembly, and worse, of distinguishing orthodox Believers from heterodox – a fear which results in two equally eggregious abuses: an invitation to everyone to partake of Christ's Body and Blood (upon the functionally meaningless condition of “private self-examination,” of course), or the elimination of the embarrassing Sacrament from the Service altogether.

Modern Sectarian Worship is a contemporary peculiarity of the Church Growth Movement (CGM), which sprung mostly from Arminian and Baptistic influences in mid-20th Century America oblivious to the the Lutheran and Scriptural teachings of the Church, of Predestination, and of the Means of Grace, and is today being referred to by confessional Lutherans as Functional Arminianism. In fact, the topic of Functional Arminianism (in the context of Predstination, no less) came up relatively recently on Intrepid Lutherans, in a comment to the post Circuit Pastor Visitation. In that comment, I directed readers to a recent and important paper on the topic of Functional Arminianism, statingAs a choice, the Sectarian Worship of the Church Growth Movement, in distinctly Arminian evangelical fervor,
  • vaunts man and his efforts with respect to the Church;
  • augments by man's efforts, or entirely eliminates, the Holy Spirit from His own work, and
  • thus inherently and unavoidably discards the Means of Grace as insufficient and ultimately superfluous;
  • removes Christ and His service to man from the center of the Divine Service, and instead places man, his interests and his entertainment needs at the center, calling it his service to God in the Worship Service;
  • and blasphemes God by crediting the results of man’s work, outside of and apart from the direct use of the Means of Grace (i.e., bald numeric growth in the visible church), to the Holy Spirit, with statements like, “Such an increase in numbers! Surely, this is the work of the Holy Spirit, alone! Praise God, that He equipped us with the right organizational tools to save all these people!”
It is no accident that the Charismatic Renewal in greater American Protestantism coincided with the rise of Church Growth theories emanating from Fuller Seminary, and it is no accident that the introduction of Church Growth theories emerged from Fuller at the same time this institution was the center of doctrinal controversy – indeed, the epicenter of a veritable crisis in American Christianity.

Fuller Seminary and the Church Growth Movement
Established in 1947 as the flagship theological institution of the burgeoning Evangelical Movement – an ecumenical movement begun in reaction against the separatism of Fundamentalists (viewed as a barrier to spreading the Gospel and to engaging in constructive dialog with errorists) – Fuller Theological Seminary initially stood as a theologically conservative Evangelical bulwark, and progenitor of “the new paradigm” of evangelical methodology. Among pop-church Evangelicals, it is still a widely respected institution. Within a decade of its founding, however, cracks in the foundation of this bulwark began to reveal themselves, and by 1972 they had become chasms, as Fuller went on record officially questioning the veracity of the Scriptures by striking the phrase “ from all error in the whole and in the part...” from their statement concerning the inspiration and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures. The environment created at Fuller by raging internal struggles over the inerrancy of the Scriptures, coupled with ecumenical predilections under the waving banner of the “new evangelicalism,” provided both the soil and the atmosphere in which the ideas of the Church Growth Movement (CGM) could germinate and flourish.

In 1965, “the father of the church growth movement,” Donald McGavran, became Dean of the Fuller School of World Mission (now the School of Intercultural Studies), moving that department to Fuller from the school at which he had founded it in 1961. Thirty-four years' experience as a missionary in India led him in 1954 to begin developing his own entirely pragmatic notions of “cultural contextualization” for the purpose of “Christianizing whole peoples,” etc. One can immediately see the preoccupation with mass appeal and the inordinate fixation on popular culture that these notions engender, and the displacement of concern over individual souls, along with any sense of catholicity, that result from them – indeed, McGavran, in his Bridges of God repudiated the notion of carrying the Gospel to individuals as counterproductive to true evangelical “Church Growth,” inevitably leading to the acceptance of particularly revolting and unscriptural Church Growth principles, such as “scaffolding”1. C. Peter Wagner was a disciple of McGavran’s at Fuller, and was later passed the mantle of CGM prophet.

But these were not the only influences at work at Fuller.

Ecumenism and the “Pentecostal Experience”
A primary purpose of the Evangelical Movement, as a reaction against Fundamentalism, was ecumenism, and this Evangelical purpose was seriously supported and engaged at Fuller. Enter “Mr. Pentecost,” David J. du Plessis, who had been active through the 1950’s as an ardent proponent of ecumenism on behalf of the Pentecostals, convinced that the Pentecostal “experience” could serve as an effective ecumenical bridge to non-Pentecostals (namely, the historic mainline denominations) and help bring unity to Christianity worldwide.

That “experience” had its modern genesis partly in the Brethren movements of Europe2 in the early/mid-1800's (the left-overs of Scandinavian and German Pietism), but especially in the practices of the Scottish Irvingites with whom John Nelson Darby (Plymouth Brethren) spent much time during their outbreaks of agalliasis (“manifestations of the Holy Spirit,” which, among the Irvingites at that time and place, included practices such as automatic writing, levitation, and communication with the dead3) and whose practice and theology (including the foundations of Dispensationalism) influenced him greatly. Passing from Darby to James H. Brooks and Cyrus I. Scofield in America, his teaching has continued to see development over the years and is still disseminated by Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, Bob Jones University and others.

These experiential practices began finding their way to America at about the same time that a charlatan known as Charles Finney exploited the use of these “New Methods,” as they were called, during America's “Second Great Awakening,” fueling the fever of “revivalism” and captivating Christians with the allure of the “Anxious Bench” as a means of saving souls4. Widespread use of such practices strengthened the Brethren movements and touched off the Holiness Movements within Methodism (which later developed into [and at Azusa Street, Los Angeles in 1906, was confirmed as] full-blown Pentecostalism). By the mid- to late-1800's, such radical practices defined “American Worship” – and it was precisely these forms that Walther notoriously condemned. Even the Old Norwegian Synod, in the 1916 edition of its Lutheran Hymnary, Junior stated it’s warning against Sectarian “American Worship” forms:
    The songs of childhood should be essentially of the same character as the songs of maturity. The child should therefore learn the easiest and best of the songs he is to sing as a communicant member of the Christian Congregation. Old age delights in the songs learned in childhood. The religious songs learned in children should therefore be worth while. We want childlike songs, but not childish songs. The early songs should be the choicest congregation songs adaptable to his age and capacities. In the same manner as he is taught the rudiments of Christian theology through Luther's “Smaller Catechism” and the chief Bible stories through the “Bible History,” he should also be taught the words and tunes of our most priceless church songs and chorals. It can be done just as easily as teaching him a number of equally difficult and perhaps new songs and tunes which will never be sung in his congregation. It should be done, for a child should be trained up the way he should go (Pr. 22:6)

    ...The songs of Lutheran children and youth should be essentially from Lutheran sources. The Lutheran Church is especially rich in songs and hymns of sound doctrine, high poetical value and fitting musical setting. They express the teachings and spirit of the Lutheran Church and help one to feel at home in this Church. Of course, there are songs of high merit and sound Biblical doctrine written by Christians in other denominations also, and some of these could and should find a place in a Lutheran song treasury. But the bulk of the songs in a Lutheran song book should be drawn from Lutheran sources. We should teach our children to remain in the Lutheran Church instead of to sing themselves into some Reformed sect.
By engaging in such forms, the Old Norwegian Synod insisted, Lutherans will wind up singing their way out of their own Confession. A sound application of lex orandi, lex credendi.

With widespread criticism against these experiential “American Worship” forms, and, let’s face it, their rather shallow substance, infantile antics, and transparently manipulative purposes, such practices fell out of fashion by the early 1900's (as “contemporary” forms have a habit of doing anyway). Nevertheless, Pentecostals continued to cling to them, and continued to develop them alongside their theology. Accordingly, such worship forms have come to mean much of the following:
  • the actions of the worshiper are themselves Means of Grace, or means through which the Holy Spirit supposedly comes to, and works in, the worshiper;
  • the Holy Spirit's work in and through the worshiper’s actions is generally regarded as a function of the zeal with which the worshiper engages in them;
  • the purpose of these acts is human centered, “to draw near to God in the act of worship,” that He would reciprocate by drawing near to the worshiper and experientially confirm for the worshiper that the Holy Spirit is with him, and that he is therefore accepted and loved by God;
  • these acts of “drawing near to God” are really acts of man's yearning, tarrying, and striving, of wrestling with God through worship and prayer with the expectation that He give the blessing of spiritual experience in return;
  • the assurance of one's salvation is measured by the magnitude of the blessing which proceeds from successfully wrestling with God – in the experience of God Himself through worship;
  • such experience of the Holy Spirit's presence in worship or prayer, or “the Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” is public confirmation of an individual's “spiritual anointing,” of his salvation and approval before God, and serves as divine qualification and appointment for ministerial authority in the congregation (creating levels of Christians in the congregation based on relative “spirituality”);
  • apart from such visible experiences, the individual is naturally prompted to introspection regarding why God does not bless him with His presence (with the usual explanations being sin or doubt, or not really being saved, or even demonic possession), and is looked upon with suspicion by fellow worshipers as one who is not visibly accepted and blessed by God – both factors leading individual worshipers who lack spiritual experiences to guilt and dismay;
  • as a result, many of those who have habituated themselves to the “Pentecostal Experience,” also have a keenly developed ability to whip themselves into a frothy lather (to avoid introspection and the suspicion of others, and to vaunt their spirituality in the eyes of others); if they cannot, or do not, or are unable to reach a pinnacle of spiritual euphoria according to their own expectations, or those of their peers, they just blame it on the band for “not doing it right;”
  • worship accompaniment must therefore serve the need of the worshipers to have particular spiritual experiences, by manufacturing those experiences for them;
  • and these experiences are referred to as “the working of the Holy Spirit,” even though they are little more than the cooperative effort of human worshipers seeking hard after emotional/psychological “spiritual experiences,” and of human entertainers, mounted on stages in classic entertainment-oriented venues, who are skilled at providing those experiences for their audiences;
  • thus, the “Pentecostal Experience,” and all of its derivatives (including contemporary “Sectarian Worship”), are the epitome of anthropocentric worship practice, which, as stated above, remove Christ and His service to man from the center of the Divine Service, and instead place man, his interests and his entertainment needs at the center... and blaspheme God by crediting the results of man’s work, outside of and apart from the direct use of the Means of Grace, to the Holy Spirit..
The “Pentecostal Experience,” Vatican II and the Charismatic Renewal
Pentecostalism dwindled over the early decades of the 20th Century to near insignificance. It was in the throes of this insignificance that David J. du Plessis, the ardently ecumenical Pentecostal, secured a position as Pentecostal Representative to the Second Vatican Council. Following Vatican II came implicit encouragement to Roman Catholics to reach out to Protestants through investigation and even experimentation with worship forms that appeal to them, which eventually led in the 1960’s to the opening of the “Catholic Charismatic Renewal.” The Charismatic Renewal had already begun in some quarters of liberal protestantism, but following the start of the “Catholic Charismatic Renewal” it began to rapidly spread among Episcopalians and liberal Lutherans, until finally, beginning in the late 1970’s it spread to Reformed Evangelicalism where it was swiftly incorporated by the Church Growth Movement as a necessary component of the congregation’s corporate experience – specifically, necessary to the salvation of souls, since appealing to unregenerate culture on its own terms, and to individuals directly through means of physical and emotional manipulation (rather than the public use of the Means of Grace, Word and Sacrament), was considered necessary to attract the un-churched from pop-culture, secure their conversion, and increase the membership of the congregation. Hence the connection of “worship style” to so-called “evangelism” – similar to Papistic ritualism which was also considered necessary for salvation, and was the cause of its repudiation by the Reformers.

Fuller Seminary, the Charismatic Renewal and the Church Growth Movement
The incorporation of “Charismatic Worship” as a necessary component of the Church’s practice was immeasurably influenced by the ecumenical and evangelical work of Fuller Seminary. By the mid-1970's du Plessis had an ongoing partnership with Fuller Seminary, as a consultant on ecumenical issues, and by the mid-1980’s, Fuller Seminary had erected the multi-million dollar David J. du Plessis Center for the Study of Christian Spirituality in his honor. It was also about this time, in 1974, that the Quaker, John Wimber, was hired as the founding Director of the Department of Church Growth at the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth. Wimber left that position in 1978, starting what would become the very influential Vinyard Movement. By the mid-1980's C. Peter Wagner was not only the chief exponent of CGM, he was, along with John Wimber, also one of the chief prophets of the Signs and Wonders Movement, inextricably linking CGM with Pentecostalism and Charismaticism.

The notions under which “Sectarian” or “Charismatic Worship” was introduced to the Lutheran Church in the era of the Charismatic Renewal were entirely foreign to her practice. Striving to achieve ecumenical unity through shared experience across denominations, it was also foreign to her Confessions. Clawing for approval by Arminian standards of evangelical necessity, it betrayed her entire body of doctrine. The fact is, the Church Growth Movement and Sectarian/Charismatic Worship, insomuch as they evangelically strive to achieve by man’s own alternative means what the Scriptures say is exclusively the Holy Spirit's work through the Means of Grace, by definition begin with a low view of the Scriptures and the Sacraments, and with a dismissive attitude toward the Holy Spirit’s work through those Means. Insofar as CGM “evangelically” regards such manufactured worship experiences as necessary for the salvation of souls, CGM practices directly serve the synergistic doctrines of Arminianism. The ancient liturgical principle of lex orandi, lex credendi must be respected with regard to these points. Moreover, Church Growth methods along with Sectarian/Charismatic Worship were designed to function cross-denominationally as ecumenical bridges, and whether engaged in with these purposes in mind or not, they are nevertheless understood among those who regularly practice them as ecumenical expressions, and thus make a mockery of our Confessional unity and voluntary separation from the heterodox.

False practice leads to false thinking, and eventually false belief
It has been said that there are no non-smokers like former smokers. The same can be said of former Evangelicals, particularly those of us who lived through the height of the Charismatic Renewal and nevertheless emerged with an intelligible, articulable Confession – in other words, who miraculously emerged rejecting vapid Evangelicalism, mindless Charismaticism and the Arminian Church Growth theories that have facilitated their proliferation, who have emerged with a clear view wrought from long experience with how false practice induces false thinking and eventually false believing, having watched friends and family lose their faith as a result, and having only been saved ourselves “as though escaping through flames.” Experience. Decades of first-hand experience with false practice and the false belief that follows from it. I’m not about to live through it again, nor am I going to subject my children to it.


  1. According to the purely utilitarian CGM theory of “scaffolding,” the backs and money of established and active members of a congregation exist solely for the use of that organization's “leadership,” on which they are not only free, but ordained by God, to build something new and foreign according to the “vision” God directly reveals to them, regardless of anyone's objections. When those who object, or realize they've simply been used, leave the congregation as a result, their departure is happily accepted by “leadership,” who appeal to a twisted version of God's sovereignty to excuse their gross actions against those entrusted to their spiritual care by thus determining that God, having led such departing members away from the congregation, has merely indicated to them that their work on the “scaffold” of such former members has been exhausted, and that thus the old scaffolding ought to be dismantled, while the focus of their leadership ought to be more fully directed on the new scaffolding that had been erected as work was being accomplished on the old.

    In this CGM theory we see prima facia evidence that at its foundation, CGM does not consider that the visible Church exists to minister to Believers, but solely to use Believers in its task to convert entire people-groups. It is myopically fixated on incessant change because people and pop-culture incessantly change, which is also why “congregational leadership” is continuously exhorted to create and re-evaluate “Mission” and “Vision” statements, to frequently engage in “Strategic Planning” to verify the relevance of these statements to continuously shifting strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with respect to a single, narrow and immediate objective: bald numeric increase in the organization. Thus, the Church Growth Movement calls upon the congregation to continuously re-invent itself and to this end leverages contemporary leadership theories which exult and glorify the role of a congregation's “leadership class.”

    Because the Believer is not the purpose of the congregation's existence and the focus of its ministry, continuous back door losses are an inevitable reality in CGM congregations. The repulsive CGM theory of “scaffolding” was invented to explain and justify it. Because continuous back door losses are an inevitable reality in CGM congregations, continuous numeric growth, or at least continuously driving new people through the church doors, is vital to the existence of the congregation as an organization. Because evangelism is the Biblical process of achieving numeric growth in the congregation, the “Mission” and “Vision” of the congregation must fixate on evangelism as a process of achieving numeric growth. Rather than the Means of Grace, a congregation's “leadership class” is central to the practice of a CGM congregation, and because leaders must have something to lead, the health of the congregation as a visible organization is the focus of the leaders’ vision and of the organization’s effort. In CGM congregations, the congregation as an organization, and the people in that organization, serve the organization’s leadership, rather than the leadership serving the souls entrusted by God to their care.

  2. Gerstner, J. (2000). Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism, 2nd Edition. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications. pp. 17-59.

  3. Please see following works:
  4. For more information on the errors of Charles Finney, see the following article written by Michael Horton almost two decaes ago:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Homosexuality, God, and The Bible

The Whole Truth!

There has been much discussion and debate about homosexuality, not just in the secular world, but also within various Christian denominations. In all this, the most important consideration must be what God says on the issue. Therefore, the question for all Christians must be: What Does God say about homosexuality in the Bible?

Human Questions – Divine Answers

Question: Isn’t the Bible silent about homosexuality, or isn’t it true that what is written does not show it to be against God’s will, and not really sinful?

Answer: Actually, the Bible is very clear on the subject of homosexuality in such passages as Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26 & 27, First Corinthians 6:9, and First Timothy 1:10, where homosexuality is called sin.

Question: But do these passages really talk about what we know as homosexuality?

Answer: In the Leviticus passage God forbids a man to “lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” The word for “lie” is the Hebrew word for bed, and is also used for marriage, and the act of consummating a marriage; therefore, there can be no doubt as to what Moses is referring; for a man to have intercourse with a man as he would with a woman is disgusting to God! Indeed, there are numerous Old Testament passages, that all condemn homosexuality: Genesis 19:1-29; Leviticus 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; Judges 19; and First Kings 14:24, 15:12, and 22:46.

Question: But the Old Testament laws are no longer binding on New Testament Christians, right?

Answer: True enough for the most part, but then we have the passages in St. Paul’s letters, given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These are certainly authoritative to any who would claim to be Christians!
- In Romans 1: 26 and 27, Paul speaks of “shameful lusts,” and describes this as happening when “women exchanged natural relations for un-natural ones,” and also “men committed indecent acts with other men.” The term “unnatural” literally means “against the natural order of things.” As for what that natural order is, all we need to do is look back to Creation. In Genesis 2:24 we see that the natural order is that of husband and wife (i.e., male and female) becoming “one flesh.” Therefore, according to the One who created humans, any sexual intercourse aside from male and female is un-natural - not the natural or intended use of the Creator - in other words, wrong! Please forgive the bluntness here, but it is necessary so as to leave no doubt as to what the Bible is talking about. The term “indecent acts” means any “deed of shame having to do with one’s genitalia.” Since Paul says these acts are being done between men and men and between women and women, the meaning is clear to anyone who is willing to see it: the use of one’s genitals with those of the same sex is shameful to God.
- In First Corinthians 6:9 God condemns “homosexual offenders” and “male prostitutes.” The first term comes from the Greek word for “soft, weak, sick,” and was often used for “effeminate” men, and especially for catamites; i.e. men and boys who allowed themselves to be sexually used or even abused for money or goods. The second word was very commonly used for a sodomite, someone engaging in homosexual anal intercourse; or pederast, someone using young children, usually boys, for sexual purposes. The same word is used in First Timothy 1:10; only there, the NIV translates it as “pervert.” The term is a compound word from two Greek words meaning “male,” and “marriage act, bed, or intercourse.” Again, sorry for the explicit language, but the meaning could not be more understandable and to-the-point; male to male, or female to female sexual activity is sinful, period.

Question: But isn’t it really just homosexual “activity” that’s condemned in the Bible, not homosexual “orientation?” Isn’t it possible that a person can be a “non-practicing homosexual,” like being a non-practicing Catholic or Jew?

Answer: The main definition of homosexuality is “sexual desire for those of the same sex” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). Jesus teaches us clearly that sin begins in the “heart,” or mind (Matthew 5:27,28). Thus, the very attraction itself to members of one’s own gender is just as sinful as attraction to someone other than your own spouse, whether any overt action takes place or not. Thus, the Bible is clear that so-called “homosexual orientation” is sinful also.

Question: Isn’t it possible that certain people are born as homosexuals; and therefore God cannot condemn them because He created them that way?

Answer: We have already seen that God does indeed proclaim homosexual thoughts and actions as contrary to His will, and therefore wrong, morally sinful, and thus certainly imperfect. Yet, when we look back at creation, Genesis 1:31 tells us, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” The Hebrew word here means “good in every way; totally perfect.” Thus, it is completely impossible for God to create homosexuals. The fact is, God does not create or make homosexuals anymore than He creates or makes any other kind of sinner!

Question: If that’s the case, then what is the origin of homosexuality?

Answer: In Mark 7:21-23 Christ says, “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.” And St. James reminds us, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, not does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (1:13-15)

Question: Does this mean that all homosexuals are lost and condemned to hell for all eternity, with no hope of salvation?

Answer: Absolutely not!
- Yes, the Bible does speak out strongly against both homosexual desire and activity. Indeed, the Holy Scriptures are crystal clear – one could even say quite open and blunt – on the subject. Simply put, homosexual thoughts or acts are definitely against God’s will and therefore sinful, pure and simple.
- However, they are no different from any other sin. They have been completely paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross and can be forgiven. Homosexuality is not the one and only “unforgivable sin,” and homosexuals should not be shunned or looked upon as hopelessly condemned to hell.

Question: How can homosexuals be saved?

Answer: Just like every other sinner – faith in Jesus Christ as Savior!
- However, so that a person may receive the eternal benefits of this free forgiveness, the truthfulness of God’s condemnation of homosexuality needs to be acknowledged. People cannot claim to believe in Jesus, but then also say He was and is a liar on a particular subject!
- And unfortunately, homosexuals are not going to admit they are wrong, confess their sin, and repent of their soul-destroying life-style if they are told that what they are doing or thinking its fine with God and not a sin, and thus “natural,” and “normal.”
- It is, therefore, a great tragedy that the leaders of most church bodies today deny the clear teaching of the Bible and allow for – or even promote – homosexuality as normal and natural and not sinful.
- Such people are actually leading homosexuals away from forgiveness and salvation, and thus shall themselves receive a terrible judgment from God. Jesus said in Matthew 18:6 and 7, “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!”

Summary: Our Savior wants everyone to repent, believe in Him, and be saved. That includes people caught in the sin of homosexuality. It is the church’s duty to proclaim this truth. May God help us to always do so clearly, for the salvation of many!

Pastor Spencer
On Tuesday, look for -

God, Marriage, and the State in Our World Today

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Promotional Materials are Finally Here!

Fully one month ago, in the post Dear Pastor: What are our congregation's policies for promoting non-denominational ministries?, we at Intrepid Lutherans hinted that we would be making our own promotional materials available for download so that readers can post them on the bulletin boards of their own congregations. Of course, we suggested at that time that those materials would be available in a week... We'll spare the details, but admit that we were a little optimistic about that. Regardless, they are now here!

Click here to download promotional materials for the
2012 Intrepid Lutherans Conference: Church and Continuity

This package of materials contains two posters, one suitable for immediate display, and the second more suitable for the middle of May; a trifold brochure with agenda, presenter biographies, and registration instructions; and a brief note from Intrepid Lutherans thanking you for downloading and making these materials available, along with suggestions for posting them in your congregation.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Borrowing (Lutheran Hymnody) from Baptists

A Baptist friend of mine recently posted on his Facebook page his concerns over Contemporary Christian Music. It should be noted that my friend is not a casual Baptist, but a fire & brimstone, Creationism street preacher, ask-every-waitress-if-she-knows-whether-she’s-going-to-heaven, KJV-only, variety Baptist.  The resultant exchange of Facebook-thread crossfire between his Baptist friends was useful to observe. Not only did some recognize the folly of the bait-and-switch of making Church more like the World, they concluded (in not so many words) that Doctrine and Practice are indeed intertwined.

Is it okay to borrow that lesson from the Baptists?  Or should we postpone that lesson and try to Lutheranize church theatrics?  (Gee, I wonder why Hoenecke didn't think of using vaudeville acts to pack the pews?)

A curious turn in the discussion was a Baptist quoting the words of Dr. Martin Luther himself to appeal for glorifying hymnody in the Church.  They posted Luther’s first preface to the Wittenberg Hymnal, from A.D. 1524, the text of which follows below for your future reference.  


That it is good, and pleasing to God, for us to sing spiritual songs is, I think, a truth whereof no Christian can be ignorant; since not only the example of the prophets and kings of the Old Testament (who praised God with singing and music, poesy and all kinds of stringed instruments) but also the like practice of all Christendom from the beginning, especially in respect to psalms, is well known to every one: yea, St. Paul doth also appoint the same (1 Cor xiv.) and command the Colossians, in the third chapter, to sing spiritual songs and psalms from the heart unto the Lord, that thereby the word of God and Christian doctrine be in every way furthered and practiced.

Accordingly, to make a good beginning and to encourage others who can do it better, I have myself, with some others, put together a few hymns, in order to bring into full play the blessed Gospel, which by God’s grace hath again risen: that we may boast, as Moses doth in his song (Exodus xv.) that Christ is become our praise and our song, and that, whether we sing or speak, we may not know anything save Christ our Saviour, as St. Paul saith (1 Cor. ii.).

These songs have been set in four parts, for no other reason than because I wished to provide our young people (who both will and ought to be instructed in music and other sciences) with something whereby they might rid themselves of amorous and carnal songs, and in their stead learn something wholesome, and so apply themselves to what is good with pleasure, as becometh the young.

Beside this, I am not of opinion that all sciences should be beaten down and made to cease by the Gospel, as some fanatics pretend; but I would fain see all the arts, and music in particular, used in the service of Him who hath given and created them.

Therefore I entreat every pious Christian to give a favorable reception to these hymns, and to help forward my undertaking, according as God hath given him more or less ability. The world is, alas, not so mindful and diligent to train and teach our poor youth, but that we ought to be forward in promoting the same. God grant us his grace. Amen.

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