The past year or so has seen some significant changes for us, personally, professionally and as a group. It is no secret that Rev. Rydecki, after making independent study of the Doctrine of Justification and having publicly raised some simple questions of exegesis from the floor of a Pastors conference in his District, was eventually labeled by his Brothers a heretic and cast out from among them without the honest review of his concerns for which he pleaded at length. No longer WELS, he has since colloquized into the ELDoNA, which was concerned and objective enough to give him an honest hearing, and to carefully consider and deliberate his arguments before receiving him. But this is not the extent of the personal changes many of us at IL have faced. I, for one, have been in the midst of some fairly significant business changes over the past several months, that have altered my availability to write with the frequency to which many may have become accustomed. And I know that shifting responsibilities and personal circumstances have impacted the others, as well.
But there have been other changes – changes in attitude toward our initial "objectives." In our recent, and very popular post, What on Earth could the CoP possibly have meant by THIS?, we identified two "primary precipitating situations behind [the] formation" of Intrepid Lutherans in 2010:
- (1) the appalling treatment of the layman, Mr. Rick Techlin, by his pastor and congregation, and the incomprehensible support publicly granted them by the praesidium of the Northern Wisconsin District; and
(2) the continuing existence of "Time of Grace Ministry" as a manifestly non-denominational and unionistic evangelism Ministry conducted by WELS and other Lutherans, and the continuing support of the praesidium of the Southeastern Wisconsin District enjoyed by "Time of Grace Ministry."
The result is no small level of disenfranchisement among a majority of Intrepid Lutheran editors, and a resulting shift in personal interest and priority. Of all the friends they thought they had, very few have stood with them publicly. With no significant public voice to oppose the abuses that brought us all together in 2010, such abuses are now normative in WELS. There is no stopping it, there is no changing it, indeed, there is no referring to it as somehow "wrong" anymore. That is because WELS has changed. If, three and a half years ago, we very naïvely thought such things could have been stopped, curtailed or at least turned toward reformation (and some of us did think such could happen), that naiveté has been sucked from us as the hot desert sun draws moisture from a naked body; publicly deserted by those who privately supported us, we, along with our remaining stalwart public supporters, have baked alone in the sun.
For these and a variety of other reasons, the majority of Intrepid Lutheran editors have found that their enthusiasm with respect to our purpose regarding these precipitating situations has left them, that current circumstances have driven them to focus on other priorities.
The only two who are willing to continue are myself and Rev. Rydecki – although going forward neither of us will have the time to publish as frequently as we have in the past, with Rev. Rydecki's involvement reducing to moderator and occasional blog posts.
This leaves us with a dilemma of sorts. Currently, Intrepid Lutherans is incorporated as a non-profit religious and educational institution, so that we can collect revenue in the form of donations and use it to host conferences. Believe it or not, we were in the midst of planning such a conference for next Spring, a conference that would have included not only the results of a systematic study of Church Growth trends in the WELS, but an in depth examination of translation ideology – of Dynamic Equivalence versus Formal Equivalence – of the "Critical Text" Greek apparatus that stands behind DE, and the "Historical Critical Method" that props it up. In addition, this conference would have provided an academic defense for the adoption of the "New King James Translation" of the Bible. There were other topics on the docket for exploration as well. If Intrepid Lutherans were to continue with such endeavors, it would need to remain incorporated. But it would also need qualified Board Members. Though Rev. Rydecki is willing to continue as an author, he simply does not have the time to devote to the duties of a corporate officer. And corporations require at least two officers.
Likewise, even if Intrepid Lutherans were to continue as just a Blog, we simply need more qualified writers. Between Rev. Rydecki and myself, maybe two or three entries a month are all that could be expected, which is not nearly enough to maintain a dedicated readership.
If we were to continue in either case, the purpose of Intrepid Lutherans would necessarily change. First and foremost, we would entirely cease to be a "WELS blog", or an organization that defines its existence or purpose with reference to ANY Lutheran synod or church body. We have very definitely entered a post-Synodical Era, and it will do the scattered remnant of genuine Lutherans little good for Intrepid Lutherans, or for any Lutheran group, to conduct itself with an imbalanced and unrealistic devotion to earthly organizations. In order to provide a balance of Lutheran perspectives, the hope would be to attract regular contributors and/or leadership candidates from additional sources in American Lutheranism.
Second, since it would not be defining itself relative to any Lutheran synod or church body, Intrepid Lutherans would end that aspect of its mission which continually addressed itself to the political issues of WELS, or those of any Lutheran synod or church body. That isn't to say that such issues won't be pointedly discussed from time to time, particularly as Intrepid Lutherans continues to warn of growing corruption in, and encroaching worldliness upon broad segments of American Lutheranism – a warning that is relevant to all Lutheran church bodies in America, even if they (think they) have separated themselves from the rest of Christianity, or even if they (think they) have sequestered themselves from the rest of the World.
Third, rather than addressing ourselves to Lutheran clergy and laity, we would be focusing on primarily equipping and engaging Lutheran laity. We would do this not by insulting them with condescending "bubble-gum," but by providing what seems be disappearing from the main Lutheran publishing houses: the highest quality writing we can muster, sufficiently sourced so that the layman can continue to investigate as interest would lead him, and have confidence in what he passes on to others. The equipping we would hope to offer Lutheran laity would be a preparation, not to stand as confessional Lutherans before similarly confessing "brothers" and family members who don't really want to live up to the label they apply to themselves, but to stand as confessing Christians in a Western Society that has swiftly grown shockingly and openly hostile to Christianity.
Fourth, there would be a more deliberate effort to cover Lutheran teaching and practice from a more broadly and historically orthodox perspective, rather than elevate peculiarities of recent American innovation that have supplanted those perspectives. To this end, and in the interest of equipping the laity, there would also be a more deliberate effort to cover Lutheran teaching and practice not only as current issues in American Christianity give rise to questions regarding, or a need to defend, historic and orthodox Christianity, but from the standpoint of balance from the four categories of preparation in the Christian religion: Exegetical & Historical Theology (the so-called "historic" disciplines), and Systematic & Practical Theology (the so-called "constructive" disciplines) – where we would also recognize that Systematic Theology is more than just dogmatics, but also includes apologetics and ethics. In other words, our goals would be set so that there could be no mistaking – on our part or anyone else's – that rather than set out to "achieve" any particular result (impossible, since these goals include no arrival point), we are merely proceeding in a direction that we are convinced it is proper to go, trusting that the Lord will make fitting use of our "going."
What would not be changing? Our "What we Believe" statement would not be changed. We would continue to be a forum in which friendly and productive discussion on the article of Justification may be engaged by genuinely interested and concerned Lutherans. We will continue to herald confessional Lutheran practice – historic, liturgical and catholic practice, that is – as the proper form of worship for confessing Lutherans, and we will continue to vigorously oppose all forms of sectarian worship which boasts of its separation from the Church catholic and heralds its union with worldliness, and which disparages the Holy Spirit who works exclusively through the Means of Grace and arrogantly augments or even supplants His work with the efforts of man. We will continue to oppose the encroachments of Truth-killing post-Modern thought upon our pre-Modern system of theology, we will continue to oppose post-Modernism as a foundation for contemporary translations of the Bible, and we will continue to reject the NIV as a viable translation for the serious Christian. All posts would remain as they are – without editing or removal. The efforts of editors and Board members would continue to be rendered gratis.
We have given ourselves until the end of the year. It's up to our readers, now. If there are those who would be interested in becoming a regular essayist, or in having more substantial involvement with IL, please make yourselves known to us (privately, if you desire). If we don't know you, we may ask you to submit a CV and provide references. If, by the end of the year, we have not made any progress toward increasing our number of active authors, or in acquiring additional qualified leadership candidates, we will de-incorporate and mothball the blog. In this event, all blog posts will remain as they are and continue to be available for public access into the foreseeable future, for as long as we are able to maintain our domain name.