Thursday, March 21, 2013

“What was missing in my life was Absolution”: One Christian's Journey from Evangelicalism to Confessional Lutheranism

On Tuesday, we published a short blog post highlighting the research of Rev. Matthew Richard (CLBA), who is working on a doctoral degree at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis, entitled, 'Crucible Moments' and 'Becoming Lutheran'. Afterward, while perusing his blog, PM Notes: Evangelizing Moral Therapeutic Deists; Comforting Post-Evangelicals; Strengthening Monergists, I stumbled across one of his posts from last December: Confessions Of A Former Evangelical (Encore). It is a brief post, featuring only a broadcast from Chris Rosebrough's Fighting for the Faith, regarding which he comments:I recall this episode from Fighting for the Faith, and agree: It is well worth your time. I've included it in this post, below. Give it a listen.

Incidentally, that post, linked to from Rev. Richard's blog to his Baptist friend's blog, is no longer there. Perhaps his Baptist friend was just cleaning up old posts, but nothing before January 2013 is available. However, maybe this following fact is pertinent. On February 28, 2013, his Baptist friend, a Baptist minister, announced that he has left the Southern Baptist Convention. He has many very interesting, and familiar, reasons for doing so. Please read his post: Why I’ve Left the Convention.

A Journey From Legalistic Pietistic Evangelicalism to the Cross
delivered at the First National BJS Conference, February 2009
by Chris Rosebrough


Quotes from Chris Rosebrough's “Plenary Speech”
compiled for those of who won't listen to the podcast,
who haven't been through the transition of “Evangelical” to “confessional Lutheran,”
who don't know what a genuine Worldview Crisis really is

(See our recent post, 'Crucible Moments' and 'Becoming Lutheran' for more information on “transition” and “Worldview Crisis”.)

They've completely transformed the church service. It's no longer a pastor who is an undershepherd of the Good shepherd, feeding God's sheep with God's Word, making disciples, giving them Word and Sacrament, proclaiming and announcing the forgiveness of sins won by Jesus Christ on the Cross. Instead, it has been turned into a psychological freakshow.

How about this from Saddleback Church: “When you're running on empty, learn the ancient secrets from God's Word for a less stressful, more relaxing, lighter and free-er lifestyle.

Now here is the fun part about it. All of these churches... when these guys launch -- four, five or six hundred people. They are marketing experts, they are running circles around us. And the people coming to their churches, are they hearing the Gospel? Not at all... All of these guys "claim" that they are doing these things to reach the lost for Jesus Christ, and to give them the Gospel, and that they are not compromising. HOGWASH!

What are the results of all this? ...After 20 years, 40% of their people don't believe in salvation by Grace... 57% don't believe in the Authority of the Bible... 56% don't believe Jesus is the Only Way to Eternal Life.

Former Evangelicals, they're like ex-smokers...

So you can say that, at that time, I was "On fire for the Lord!" -- and you bet I was, because I was told if I wasn't, I was going to burn in Hell. There was no Grace. There was no forgiveness. Only an endless rat-wheel of good works with no assurance that I was even meeting the lowest standard necessary for me to be saved. That's the thing about the Law: How do you know when you've done it enough to please God?

I did everything I could to stand out as a Christian among Christians, and at the time if you were to ask me if I was going to heaven when I died, my answer would have been. “I hope so... I hope so.Beneath the Christian facade was a young man who was struggling with his sin, and who knew he wasn't winning that battle. And I knew that I was not good enough to be saved.

We believe that 'Entire Sanctification' is that act of God, subsequent to regeneration, by which believers are made 'free from original sin, or depravity,' and brought into a 'state of entire devotion to God', and 'the holy obedience of love made perfect'. It is wrought by the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and comprehends in one experience the cleansing of the heart from sin and the abiding indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, empowering the believer for a life of service. 'Entire Sanctification' is provided by the Blood of Jesus, is wrought instantaneously by faith, preceded by entire consecration into this work and state of Grace, the Holy Spirit bears witness. This experience is also know by various terms representing its various phases, such as 'Christian perfection', 'perfect love', 'heart purity', the 'Baptism of the Holy Spirit', the 'Fullness of the Blessing', 'Christian Holiness', and 'Second Blessing of Holiness.'

Perfection... and that's really the Material Principle of Pietism... Modern day Evangelicals, the center of their preaching is 'the changed life', and, their Formal Principle is 'The Bible as Guidebook for Living.' That's what they preach for. Life change.

I was literally fed a steady stream of tactics and practical methods for 'living a God-pleasing life'... But there was no peace for me, no assurance, no hope, my sin problem wouldn't go away, and I knew that I would face shame and rejection if I had to stand before Jesus and give an accounting of my life. Because that's all they were preaching: an Accounting.

Be ye perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Yeah, but I wasn't... I obviously didn't love God... I came to [my pastor] for Grace, and he gave me more Law. Looking back on it I now realize, the teaching and preaching of my church literally cut me off from all hope of salvation. I diligently searched God's Law for little shreds of hope and tiny crumbs of sunlight that could tell me that I would be okay. But there is no comfort in God's Law. There is no forgiveness offered in God's Law.

A person can only live under despair for so long. And that is what this kind of teaching produced in me: utter despair. I was literally withering under the heat of God's Law. But what I didn't know, is that that is exactly what God's Law is supposed to do to us. What was missing in my life was Absolution.

There's no way he can make it into heaven, he's not even trying!

He comforted me with Christ's shed blood on the Cross, he told me over and over again that Jesus' Blood was shed for me, for my sins, all of them, FREE, even the one's I've committed today. I'd never heard a Christian talk this way before. And I'm telling you, there are millions of Evangelicals who've never heard a Christian talk this way before. They don't know the Gospel!

He openly confessed his overwhelming need for a Saviour and his utter dependence on Christ's shed Blood on the Cross for his sins.

But now the righteousness of God has been made manifest apart from the Law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe, for their is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are Justified freely by His Grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

I had stopped my incessant worrying about whether I was good enough, holy enough, or perfect enough to be saved. Instead, I was asking a far more important set of questions:
“Was Jesus Christ good enough?”
“Was Jesus Christ holy enough?”
“Was He perfect enough to save me?”
“Did Jesus' Blood, which He shed on the Cross, cover all of my sins? Or just some of them?”

These texts show that it is all about Jesus Christ [not ME]. His obedience, His ministry, His perfection, His righteousness, His taking my sin and suffering my punishment for me, on the Cross!



Anonymous said...

Mr. Lindee is correct, please take the time to listen to the podcast. The Evangelical dreck described is exactly what has been dragged into the WELS with the approval, tacit or not, of the WELS' leadership. Please support those on this blog and others who have been "encouraged" to remove their names.
Scott E. Jungen

Anonymous said...

Mr. Jungen,

I couldn't agree with you more.

The first quote in the box from the podcast says:

"They've completely transformed the church service. It's no longer a pastor who is an undershepherd of the Good shepherd, feeding God's sheep with God's Word, making disciples, giving them Word and Sacrament, proclaiming and announcing the forgiveness of sins won by Jesus Christ on the Cross. Instead, it has been turned into a psychological freakshow."

There are those who read this website who will say to that quote "never in the WELS, not even close". Yet one WELS church in my area had there "vision planning" meeting this year in an Evangelical Community church to learn how to emulate their pratices, and are rushing to implement those practices in their WELS church.

Yes, please support those on this and other similar blogs. In particular, I want to commend the young men at Ecclesia Augustana. They are displaying a high level of spiritual maturity faithful to the truth of Scripture that is rare and seldom seen in others many years their elder. And they are being called out in a way that would cause many to shudder in fear. Two names come to mind who similarly faced criticism by the established churches of their time. One was Martin Luther. Perhaps from that name, you might be able to guess the name of the other that I am thinking of.


Anonymous said...

I also want to commend the young men from Ecclesia Augustana. Reading their blog gives me earthly hope for the future of the WELS. Having been there (slightly) myself, these young men may have a difficult time in the ministry, if they even get there. Sadly, these are just the kind of young men we need in th ministry.
Now that other name, do we have to start using the "R word" now?
Scott E. Jungen

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