Stating as much in our conclusion to that post (the section entitled The Collective Descent of American Lutheranism), we submitted that the time of inaction, the time of armchair lamentation over the state of our Synod and of American Lutheranism, the time of complacent Synod watching as if it were a mere spectator sport, has come to a close. Yesterday was the time to act. Today is the time to do so feverishly. Tomorrow will be too late. After tomorrow, it will be time to separate and start over. The following will suggest one of the more potent actions laymen can take, but the reader will have to read to the end to discover what it is, and why it is among the most potent forms of action.
Dr. Walter R. Martin (d. 1989) was an expert on the occult, and from the 1960’s onward, disseminated countercultic and apologetic information through his organization, Christian Research Institute (CRI). At least one of Dr. Martin’s works, The Kingdom of the Cults, remains a very valuable resource, one which I consult with semi-regularity as need arises. An associate of Dr. Rod Rosenblatt and Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, Dr. Martin was, like they, an influential Christian intellectual, a man with the courage and ability to engage in public debate with his opponents, and, as a fierce defender of Christian orthodoxy in the face of truly diabolical liberal Christianity, more than equipped to defeat them.
Over the past three years, several of Dr. Martin’s lectures have been featured by Chris Rosebrough on his internet radio show, Fighting for the Faith – a daily program in the lineup of Pirate Christian Radio (PCR). I remember these PCR features, since I am of about the same age as Mr. Rosebrough, and remember Dr. Martin’s voice and manner of teaching from my youth, in a way similar to Rosebrough’s reminiscences. We confessional Lutherans would be mistaken if we should think that our struggles are unique to us. Others have already gone through the struggle that is now hard upon us. We would be fools not to learn from their experience and take their advice.
Dr. Walter Martin on the Cult of Liberalism
(lecture begins @~58min, 30sec)
A Cue to Theological Change: A Change in the Terms used by the Church
“Any person who does not know that today in the United States, and in denominational structures worldwide, we are in an accelerating apostasy, does not know, I repeat, does not know what is going on...” (1hr 12min)
“They were using all of our terminology... What you have to understand is very hard... the major denominational structures on the United States today have pumped all of the meaning out of Christian terminology, and have nothing but a hollow shell. And people are attracted by the shell...” (1hr 28min 50sec and following)
- What happens over the course of a generation or two when the church begins to use old familiar terms with subtly, though increasingly, different emphasis?
- Or, what happens when entirely new words, words previously unfamiliar in Church usage, words with less precise meaning, words with less established theological meaning, replace the old, precise, established and familiar terms? Is the deprecating declaration, “these terms are synonymous,” a sufficient explanation?
- What happens when well established ecclesiastical terms, having widely understood meaning, are simply dropped from use?
- What ecclesiastical terms can you identify which meet the above three conditions?
- If we are to heed Dr. Walter Martin's warnings, ought laymen to be suspicious whenever pastors or theologians use the authority of the church to push their language games as authoritatively binding on the laity?
The Average Layman is Defenseless!
“You can see these people in the cults and the occult if you have any degree of discernment at all, because they are outside the church. But how do you see the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopalian professor of theology? How do you get him in a place where you can find out what his theology really is? The moment you question him, he reverts to orthodox terminology, and then if you press him for the definitions of his terminology, he claims that you're being suspicious, bigoted and unloving. The average layman is defenseless! He's got to take what comes from behind the pulpit and recommended by his church authority because the moment he opens his mouth, he's accused of being divisive in the church, unloving, and disturbing the fellowship of the faith! When it is the devil behind the pulpit, not the victim in the pew, that's responsible for it!...” (1hr 36min 12sec)
“That is why I am concerned about the cult of liberalism as never before. We can identify the other cults, but how do you identify somebody that looks like you, acts like you, sounds like you...? Do you want the answer? ...1 Thessalonians 5:14ff ...put everything to the test, cling tenaciously to what is good...” (1hr 38min 30sec)
- Is it proper for the layman to assume that ALL pastors who may serve him, or that ALL theologians who may serve his church body, are orthodox on every point of Scripture teaching?
- When St. Paul commended the Bereans for verifying his teaching by searching the Scriptures, what was he commending if it was not a cautious reception of his words? Was he commending an open and uncritical reception of his teaching?
- How can a layman identify potential theological corruption in his pastor or his church's theologians? Unfamiliar terminology, or unfamiliar use of familiar terminology, perhaps?
- How then does the layman examine a pastor or theologian who, by definition, by virtue of the Office he holds, is not allowed to wrong, about anything, ever?
- How does a layman examine a Minister of the Word, whose operating assumption is that he is always orthodox and that laymen always need guidance and correction? Will a personal conversation bring about correction in the Minister's theology? Will writing a letter suffice?
Theological Language Games and the Destruction of Orthodoxy
“British theology was corrupted by German theology – Friedrich Schleiermacher, Albrecht Ritschl, David Strauss – and finally [it came] to America... Where do you think we got the God is Dead Theology from? From historic Christianity?... We did not! We got it from a good solid Baptist theological seminary, known as Colgate Rochester in New York, which was absolutely orthodox, but which sold out to liberalism! And when it did, they embraced the theology of Paul Tillich, and ended up with God is Dead. It was called at the time, The Gospel of Christian Atheism – did you ever hear such linguistic nonsense in your life!?” (1hr 40min 30sec)
This is at least the third point in Dr. Walter Martin's lecture where he emphasizes the language games of theologians as evidence of changing theology.
- How can changes in the use of language possibly result in changes to one's theology, if one's use of language doesn't change the way he thinks about theology?
- What is the potential threat to the Christian when his pastors and theologians defend dramatic changes in the language he ought to use when contemplating and expressing his Christian convictions?
- From what primary source might Christians be most vulnerable to subtle, or even overt, changes in language use and the threat of its impact on their theology?
- Why is it safest to stay with historical and well-established terminology of the church?
- If the concern is that our "contemporary generation" doesn't use historic ecclesiastical terminology in everyday conversation and therefore doesn't understand it,
- Was there ever a time when ecclesiastical terminology was in such wide use in everyday conversation that it was understood on the basis of its everyday usage?
- How might catechesis have helped people understand the church's use of language in the past?
- How might catechesis help in the same way, today?
- Is it possible for an orthodox Lutheran seminary to go liberal?
- How can a Lutheran layman know, or even suspect, that his seminary is going liberal?
- What can the Lutheran layman do to correct problems in his Synod's seminary, if he suspects, or if it is confirmed that such problems exist? Will a personal conversation bring about the desired correction? Will writing a letter suffice?
A Declining Regard for the Scriptures: Spiritual Death and Social Destruction
“[Liberalism] is a cult because it follows every outlining structure of cultism. It has its own revelation, its own gurus, and its denial, systematically, of all sound systematic Christian theology. It is a cult, because it passes its leadership on to the next group, that takes over either modifying, expanding or contracting the same heresies, dressing them up in different language, and passing them on. It is theologically corrupt, because it is bibliologically corrupt; it denies the authority of Scripture and ruins its own theology. And, it ends in immorality. Because the only way you could have gotten to this 'homosexual,' morally relativistic garbage, which is today in our denominational structures, is if the leadership of those denominations divide the authority of the Scriptures, and Jesus Christ as Lord. That is the only way we've gotten there.” (2hr 28min 50sec)
- How does the Christian's view of the inspiration, inerrancy and perspicuity of the Scriptures impact his theology?
- How does the teaching of the church impact society in general – that is, apart from its immediate impact on the people who sit in the pews and hear it directly?
- How might false doctrine, therefore, in addition to destroying faith, also become a social evil?
- Given that most liberal churches have abandoned orthodoxy, and have embraced the "social gospel" in place of the "Gospel of Jesus Christ," can their fixation on issues of "social justice" be classified as precisely the opposite? Not as the "good" they would have it to be, but as an unmitigated evil perpetrated by liberal churches, which result, rather, in gross injustice?
Immunizing Christians against Theological Poison
“Every major theological seminary that has turned from orthodox Christianity began with disbelief of biblical doctrine... Corrupt Bibliology led them to the next step. Theology began to be touched by it... And finally they had emptied the Gospel of all its content, and simply were using the outward shell so that they could go on collecting money from the people and the churches, because they knew that if the people in the pews knew that they were apostate they'd throw them out. So the strategy was: hang on to the trust funds, hang on to the money that we've got, hang on to the properties we control, we will gradually educate the laymen into this new approach to theology. And then, finally, we will take control of everything. This is the gradual process of feeding you theological poison, until you become immunized enough so that you don't know what is happening to you. And when you wake up to what is happening to you, it's too late. They've got everything...” (1hr 26min 10sec)
“Look what happened... Look at the votes. We were very subtly, systematically, squeezed out. All of the positions of leadership were given to people who denied the foundations of the faith...” (1hr 30min 35sec)
- The fixation of liberals is what:
- Preserving sound teaching? ...or
- Preserving the organization as an institution?
- The process of changing theology while maintaining the organization requires that liberals retain the laity while retraining them "gradually" – through a use of familiar terms with subtly, though increasingly, different emphasis, by introducing foreign terms and dropping common ecclesiastical terms.
- Why do they need to retain the laity? What does the laity offer them?
- Why is the change gradual?
- Why is changing the organization's language the best way to change the thinking of those in the organization?
- Is it possible for an orthodox Lutheran Synod to go liberal?
- How can a Lutheran layman know, or even suspect, that his Synod is going liberal?
- If sound teaching is not valued by a liberal Synod as highly as the organization itself, what does the Lutheran layman have that would be so sufficiently valuable that a corrupt organization would pay heed to the orthodox advice of a layman?
- Merely his orthodox advice? ...or
- His money?
- Can organizational change which laymen must purchase with their money be relied upon as genuine?