Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Going – But Not Forgetting

Going – But Not Forgetting


          Please permit me a point of privilege today. I am leaving Intrepid Lutherans as a director and editor. But before I go, I would like to share with you a few reflections of my thirty-five years of service in the public ministry of the Wisconsin Synod, and the past nearly four years working with Intrepid Lutherans. First, please listen to St. John the Apostle as he writes to the churches under his care:

            The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full. The children of your chosen sister greet you. (Second John)

          As I meditated on these verses recently, it occurred to me that just four little words pretty much sum up my Pastoral experiences over these past third-plus-century of service in the public ministry of the Gospel, and especially the last three and a half years working on Intrepid Lutherans. These words are – Truth, Love, Obedience, and Duty!

 TRUTH: Truth is whatever God says, period. Let me repeat that. Truth is whatever God says, period! It’s just that simple, and just that black and white. There can be no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If God says it, it's true, no matter how we feel or what we think, whether we like it or not, and even whether we believe it or not. And this applies to every word God has preserved for us in His Holy Scriptures, but only to those words. We are not allowed to "read between the lines," or make up doctrines based on what we think God said, or on what we see as the "logical conclusion" of His clear words. Of course, His words are indeed always clear, understandable, and unmistakable. However, there are some, that, due to our sinful natures, we just don't "get." Thus, our formulations of God's truth must always take second place to His plain and simple words in the Bible. My simple rule has always been: When in doubt, throw it out!   

          As I said, God's truth is basically quite simple; but easy, no, not always. It’s very easy to accept God’s Word when He speaks about sin and grace in general. We all accept that we’re not perfect, that as Luther says, we indeed sin much every day. It's also easy to accept what God says when He speaks of forgiveness, either the general payment won for all sins by Christ on the Cross, or the specific forgiveness of some sin we lay at the foot of that Cross when it seeks to damn our souls. Those are times when we eagerly and readily listen to God, accept His Word and take great comfort in His truth. On the other hand, it is very hard to accept God’s truth when it comes to some of those specific sins, especially those we’d rather not talk about, or those where we think God is just plain wrong. We often think, "Oh come on, it can’t be wrong to sleep in on Sunday morning, or give tiny offerings, or cuss and swear just a little, can it? And its really not wrong to over drink, over eat, over spend, or look at just a little bit of internet porn, right?" All of the sudden God’s truth is very hard and very unpleasant. And the same is true when it comes to forgiveness. "Hey Lord, do I really have to forgive that brother who hasn’t spoken to me in ten years, or the sister who forgets my birthday every year, or my mother the drunk, or my father who beat me, or my son who lied and stole from me, or that neighbor who purposely revs his motorcycle every morning at 5 AM as he leaves for work, or that co-worker that misuses Your name whenever he’s around on purpose? Can’t I hold just a few grudges? Can’t I hang on to my anger and bitterness just once in awhile. God’s truth surely can’t apply across the board, can it?" Yes, it does, or it's not God’s truth. If I and all our sheep and all my brother shepherds would simply listen to and live God’s perfect truth more often, and stop questioning God, or trying to out-think Him, we’d all be a lot better off!

          And when it comes to truth, that's where my biggest complaint comes in regarding those Pastors and churches in our synod that are basically ashamed of being confessional Lutherans. First, please allow me to set the record straight once and for all: I have NEVER EVER said, nor do I believe, that those pastors and churches who have tossed out all or most of the historic Western Rite of the Christian liturgy in exchange for so-called "contemporary" worship are guilty of unbelief, rejection of the Bible, or denying Christ's Gospel, nor do I believe they are outside the pale of the Holy Christian Church on earth. In other words, I have never, and will never teach that following the historic liturgy is necessary for salvation. Get it? Got it? Good!

          That being said, I DO believe that worshipping according to the Apostolic, orthodox, and historic Christian liturgy, after the pattern established by God in the Temple, used by faithful Old Testament believers in the synagogue, copied by the earliest Christians, and defended and espoused by our Lutheran Reformers in the Book of Concord, is NECESSARY in order to be a member of and claim the title, whether public or private, of Lutheran and the Wisconsin Synod. Those who do not want to worship like Lutherans should not call themselves Lutherans or remain in a Lutheran church body. It is simply dishonest to do so, and lacks the integrity and truthfulness that God expects of Christian shepherds and congregations. Again, this is NOT about salvation, but about honesty and truth!

          Still, I am called a legalist, Pharisee, and worse, and I can't seem to make my brother pastors understand that I am not calling them lost heretics – I'm just saying they're not Lutherans!

LOVE: There is no love in the world without pain. Again, allow me to repeat; there is no love in the world without pain. God’s love for us hurt Him. Christ’s love for sinners hurt Him. Indeed, sacrifice is the heart and soul of love. Just look at the great and powerful examples of love in the Bible: Abraham, Joseph, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, and especially Jesus Himself, and then His Apostles. God teaches us over and over again that to love is to give of yourself, to put the needs of all others before your own; to think of others first, to give to others until you have no more; to put your ego, your pride, and yes even your life on the line for others, even those who hate you.

          The thing is, most people want to be sacrificed for by anyone and everyone else, but hesitate or even refuse to sacrifice themselves for anyone. This is the main cause of most of the problems in this word, within church bodies, and between and within Christian congregations. This is what makes the ministry so difficult and frustrating. My main job has been and remains to constantly preach and teach the Gospel – the greatest sacrifice ever known in the history of the world – and to use that message, and that message alone, as the only proper motivation for any kind of work in the kingdom. Yet, no matter how often I hold the sacrifice of Christ before the eyes of pastors and people alike, they still can’t seem to follow the example of that love. They want glory, crowds, excitement, fun, success, accolades; to be appeased and entertained. But love is pain; God’s pain for us. We all need to put up with a little more pain for others!

          Thus, what is often referred to as "the theology of glory," seems to have permeated our church body. Small, struggling, rural congregations are being ignored, left to decay, and finally shuttered. The same is true of congregations in poor areas of some of our cities – some of our oldest congregations. Yet, at the same time, new "missions" are being encouraged almost exclusively in areas where the demographics are quite good. Therefore, the WELS has acquired the nickname, "Country-Club Lutherans." Is not a soul in a ten or twenty member, 100 year-old-congregation in the middle of nowhere as valuable as a soul in the fancy suburbs of a prosperous city? Do we not have more of a responsibility for souls in places we have already served for a hundred years, or even fifty years, than we do for souls in areas we have never served before? Should we not sacrifice for these places, even if it is expensive or doesn't bring us the glory of big numbers? I think so, but I have not made a dent in the policies or thinking of most of my dear brother pastors.

 OBEDIENCE: Nothing, and I mean nothing, shows both truth and love better than simple, abject obedience. Again, I say, nothing, absolutely nothing, shows both truth and love better than simple, complete, total, abject obedience. To speak God’s truth is great. To talk of His love is fine. To proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified is good and necessary. Ah, but to obey God; that’s where faith and affection meet. That’s where our devotion is tested and proven. This is true of God in His dealings with us. He doesn’t just proclaim the truth of His grace and talk about His love; He acts it out. He does exactly what He says, when He says, where He says, and how He says to whom He says. This is also true of Jesus. As we might say today, He not only talked the talk, but He walked the walk – all the way to the tomb!

          This is where we really fail most often. We say we believe, that we accept the Word as truth, and that we love God and His Son and His kingdom, but then we refuse to obey Him. We say: "I’ll read my Bible – tomorrow. I pray – another day. I’m late for work, so I have to run that red light. I’ll never forget or forgive what my boss did to me. Oh, how my life would be so much better if I had her for a wife. Why did I have all these kids?! Capitol Records is rich; a few pirated songs won’t bankrupt them. Pssst – don’t do business with that guy, I’ve heard his wife is a drunk and his kids are druggies. Boy, if I could only hit it big at the casino, I’d have everything I ever wanted or needed in life; so what if I use the mortgage money." And Pastors think: "I know it's wrong to have women voters, but if I call it decision by consensus, I can get away with it, and not lose any members. And hey, a few Reformed songs with a tiny bit of false teaching hidden in them can't be that bad for our congregation; besides, people keep asking for them. We need to do everything we can to fill the pews; the Means of Grace are wonderful, but they need all the help they can get!" So it goes.

          How often I have seen rotten trouble and problems in my own and others lives and ministries that could have been avoided if we would simply have obeyed the Lord, and trusted Him and His Word!

 DUTY: In the face of such failures, why continue? Why stay in the ministry, or why keep trying to live for Christ? Because that is our duty! Duty is doing what you are suppose to do whether you like it or not – whether you want to or not – whether you think it’s important or not – whether you get rewarded or not – whether anyone appreciates it or not – and yes, even if it kills you or not! To repeat; duty is doing what you are suppose to do whether you like it or not. We all have the duty to worship and serve God at all times no matter what else we do. Most of us don’t. And none of us do so as much as we should, myself included. Still, this is why I try to go above and beyond what is expected by the world. Therefore, I don’t see the ministry as a 9 to 5 job, but as a 24/7/365 job. No, I don’t like being called out at night, or disturbed during dinner. Its not fun being beside sickbeds, or deathbeds. Listening to the same problems over and over from the same people who either can’t or won’t follow my advice gets to be very hard.

          And, of course, there are those sweet souls who tell me to take more time off, to take more vacations, to not work so hard. Why do I keep at it the way I do? Duty – to God, to my sheep, and to myself. But I always hope and pray that my example of duty will encourage others to do likewise. If even only a few do so, the past 35 years will not have been in vain. Nor will the next how-many-ever years, God willing.

          Also, I see Synod problems keep getting worse, and can’t seem to get our leaders to do what needs to be done. Neighboring Pastors and churches can’t seem to get God’s work done without fighting and arguing. Brother Pastors accuse me falsely, twist my words, refuse to even try and understand the points I am endeavoring to make, sully my motives, and try to silence me year in and year out.

          Let me make it clear that it is not merely such opposition that is causing me to step away from an active role in Intrepid Lutherans. I have put up with such since my Walther League days back in the mid-60s. Opposition does not deter me. However, I simply do not see any hope anymore that our synod will go back to being one hundred percent confessional, orthodox, historic Lutherans. Five years of publishing my independent newsletter, the Orthodox Lutheran Forum back in the 90s, nor these past three and a half years putting out the Intrepid blog, has frankly made any dent. Oh, sure, I get phone calls and emails from dozens and dozens of WELS Pastors and laypeople telling me they agree with me, and encouraging me to continue to speak out. But, very few want to speak out themselves, for various reasons – it doesn't really matter why. And what is the outcome of this almost total silence from otherwise confessional people and pastors? This is what has happened over the past three and a half years: In every District of our synod today, and even probably in every Conference, there are now congregations, both old and new, that ignore the historic apostolic liturgy, hide the Sacrament of the Altar from the public, substitute entertainment for reverent worship, cater to the wants and desires of people, rather than serve them with all the Means of Grace, and freely make use of Calvinistic and Arminian songs that appeal mostly to people's selfish emotions, rather than point them to God and what He has done for them in Christ. And not only are these pastors and churches allowed to be as unLutheran as they want, including being ashamed to use the name "Lutheran," or sometimes even "Christian" in their names, but they are actually supported financially by our synod, lauded by our leaders, and set up as examples for the rest of the synod to follow. All this has taken place even with a very fine and confessional Synod President. Even he has been unable to stem the tide of these unLutheran churches in the WELS. What chance, therefore, do I – or even Intrepid Lutherans – have? Our District Presidents, for the most part, and our Boards, Committees, and Commissions, seem bent on taking our synod as far away from historic orthodox Lutheranism as possible. They must see this as the only way to survive as a church body. Obviously, I can't change them, or even move them to re-think their path.

          Therefore, I now see my duty in a little different light. I have a congregation of precious souls to care for, and that shall be my main focus. I now have seven grandchildren, and they too will receive more time and attention. Matters outside my church, which have always taken second place anyway, whether people believe that or not, will now receive less and less of my energy and effort. I will, perhaps, from time to time still comment on Intrepid Lutherans and elsewhere, and I hope and pray that I am wrong, and that not only the Intrepids, but many, many others within our synod will someday be able to turn the WELS back to a solid and truly unified confessionalism. May God in His mercy grant this, and soon!

          Some of the others involved as leaders and officers of Intrepid Lutherans have told me that they would like to see the blog continue. A number of our readers have also ask that Intrepid keep operating. While I myself may see such efforts as having not even a snowball's chance in Hades to make positive and constructive changes, I fully understand some folks still wanting a place to go to see confessional postings, and a place where they can voice their concerns. So, I will leave the future of Intrepid Lutherans to others.

Truth. Love. Obedience. Duty. Perhaps these words and what they mean to me will stay with you for a while. Thank you for listening to me. May God bless all of you. And may God bless all truly confessional Lutherans, both in the WELS and everywhere else.  Amen.

 Pastor Spencer

 

13 comments:

vdma said...

God bless you Pastor Spencer. God is in control, and always has been. Even when He allows us to do bad, He is still in control.

Rick Techlin

Pastor Spencer said...

Thank you, Rick. I will say also that I think Intrepid COULD have worked, and might have been one small tool to stop and reverse the unLutheran tendencies spreading in WELS lately. But for that to happen, many more pastors and congregations would have to overcome first their fear of retribution and second their overwhelming loyalty to the human institution of the synod. That simply is not going to happen unless God does it. So, like you, I now leave it to Him. Come, Lord Jesus!

Joel A. Dusek said...

Thanks Rev. Fr. Spencer. You are a great defender of the faith, and a wonderful resource for confessional Lutherans! I'm sorry you're not able to continue, but know you will keep up the fight in other ways. Though things may seem hopeless and even depressing, we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God. May our Lord continue to bless your efforts at your church and bless your family.
Joel Dusek

Pastor Spencer said...

While I still have moderation capability, it was my GREAT pleasure to REJECT a comment from a certain Joel out there in webland. He is one of those who believes we should run the church like a business and go by the "bottom line" in our ministry decisions. This just makes good sense to him, as it does to 95% of those who are in charge of the WELS today.

I'm not that old, but I can remember when the very opposite was the case, when churches and Pastors were helped and served regardless of any kind of numbers. It used to be that it was felt if the synod started a church or mission somewhere, we had an obligation to stay with it as long as "two or three were gathered." I remember missionary conferences where I was told as a young missionary that the synod would be behind me 100% "no matter what."

I also remember when that changed - a so-called missionary conference back in the early 80s, where, for the first time in my Christian life I heard business terminology being applied to the work of Christ's Kingdom, where men with full-time jobs at synod headquarters talked about "Plans, Programs, and Projections," and such things as "management by objective," and "mission-vision statements," and other such worldly trash. We would go through hours of meetings concerning statistics and growth strategies and such, and not a single word would be spoken about the needs of souls, or supporting the struggling pastor or church, much less any emphasis on confessional Lutheranism.

This change did not take over immediately. There was some resistance, but not very much. Attacking this "church-as-business" foolishness was the major focus of my Orthodox Lutheran Forum. My reward to fighting this was to be told by a DP that I was "blackballed," and no DP wanted me in his district.

So, to all the Joels out there waving me bye-bye, and continuing to defend the more "efficient" and modern way of running a church - I only hope y'all don't get crushed under the wheels you're now riding on, because that is very likely. Don't cry for me, guys, but - watch your own backs! Someday, the bell shall toll for thee!

Tim Niedfeldt said...

Pastor Spencer,

I appreciate all the work you have done in highlighting the end of the synodical age. As sad as it is to give up hope for a return to orthodoxy, one just has to. The LCMS and WELS et. al. will not be redeemed from the path they are following. Of course we have already discussed the natural question as to "Why Stay?" I won't badger you on that again but I will appeal to the rest of you that it is about the only valid question left.

I have been asking this question a lot to folks. The more I tap into the orthodox underground that exists in the WELS particularly I ask..."Why Stay? What does one honestly think they can accomplish?" I get a lot of non-answers and they have little to do with conviction. Pastors are always afraid of employment, or lack there of, particularly if their congregation doesn't follow them. They seem a bit spineless in being afraid to divide a congregation for what is right. They are afraid to lose seminary graduates. Now they also know that synod will call their mortgage immediately if they leave. I guess it seems easier to just sit quietly in the underground. Parishioners seem afraid because of family ties, WELS relatives, and a fundamental fear of being separated from the WELS cult. I can understand this as a former WELS member living in the very heart of downtown Milwaukee it can seem very alone to not be part of a synod. The confessional Lutheran options in the very heart of the synodical conference is close to none (except for www.stphiliplutheranmission.com of course...an independent beacon in a sea of synodical heterodoxy) I still will ask. I still wonder how one can rationalize belonging to an organization that is whole-heartedly endorsing taking the synod to the evangelicals. The intellectual dishonesty is overwhelming.

One day as the confessional pastors are picked off or retired...there won't be your local underground church to hide out in anymore. That praise band will show up and you won't know where to go (www.stphiliplutheranmission.com) Your synod is working overtime to make sure there are no more underground churches to hide out in or seminary graduates who would lead a church into orthodoxy.

The other "Joel" that Pastor Spencer filtered represents the problem. He epitomizes why the synod is non-redeemable. What could possibly be saved if the powers that be would offer the Lutheran church on the altar of the world. The seminary is the champion of adiaphora and it is on a roll. You will be getting new CoWo mission churches added all over the place. NIV2011 all over the place and a generation of pastors who know nothing of the Lutheran Confessions while those who do get ostracized, dissed and run out on a rail.

If you were smart you'd spare yourself the heartache get out with your spiritual life intact...and if in downtown Milwaukee, visit stphiliplutheranmission.com and join a real Lutheran Church on Wednesday evening at 7:00 or by live streaming.

Just Sayin'

Tim Niedfeldt





Vernon Knepprath said...

Tim,

Looks like your new mission church shows up at .com and .org. Thanks for the info. I'll send people your way as the opportunities arise.

Vernon

Pastor Spencer said...

[The following comment is my opinion only and is quite fallible. It is not necessarily the opinion of the management and staff of this blog.]

Dear Tim,

Thanks for your words. I appreciate your point of view.

I think you are spot on re: the vast majority of truly confessional people, both pastors and laypeople, in the WELS, namely, just as I have been saying all along, that it is fear that keeps them in their current synod. But that is only part of the issue. There are others . . .

- Loyalty, which, I think we all have to admit, is not always a bad thing. Loyalty is important in life. I believe you are being very loyal to ELDoNA when you invite folks to the new mission there in Milwaukee. That's good and fine. More power to you. Of course, the question becomes, to just what should one be loyal? I'm pretty sure you would say - and I would not argue with you - that you believe being loyal to ELDoNA is being loyal to the Bible and Book of Concord, and that if you ever felt that ELDoNA was not being true to those standards you would leave and find a new church home, if such existed. It is important to understand that most of those who are in WELS today feel exactly the same about their synod. It must be shown to them, and proven to them beyond a reasonable doubt that such is not true of their church body before they will even begin to think of leaving. You and I may wonder why they can't see the problems, but they don't or won't, and thus until that changes there is very little we can do. As one Pastor who agrees completely with me has told me over and over again, "Yes, I know the WELS has problems, but it's MY synod you're talking about - my and my parents and their parents, etc... spiritual HOME!" (emphasis his - and we could and should add brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc....)

To be continued . . .

Pastor Spencer said...

- Then there is the unending drumbeat which has been hammered into them, literally since conception; i.e. that ONLY in the WELS (and grudgingly ELS also) will they find the safety of 1000% pure and unadulterated, totally correct exposition of every Scriptural doctrine; that if they stray to Missouri or anywhere else, they will be putting their immortal souls in dire danger of hell-fire. Whether this was said in just these words or not, I think it is safe to say that this has been the general tenor of things since the breakup of the old Synodical Conference. Do not underestimate the power of this constant teaching. It is extremely hard to combat, again, regardless of the evidence you may feel is obvious.

- Along with this there is the fellowship problem. OK, XYZ Lutheran Church of ABC leaves WELS; maybe goes ELDoNA, maybe starts a new group with a few other churches, or joins a group that has broken away. I'm sure you know how inter-connected the WELS is, not only the family relations mentioned above, but countless other close ties with people all over the country - even around the world - in this internet age. What happens to these close personal relationships? Can they be maintained. Some were after the breakup of the Synodical Conference, but many were not. Again, you may say that these ties are not as important as a stand on the Bible and Confessions, but if these folks don't know and understand what such a stand is all about, they're not going to see it necessary to break up close bonds and complicate their worship life with their friends and associates, not to mention family members.

- Finally then, there is the sheer ignorance of the situation. And how, without a national voice reaching into every WELS congregation and home, can this be remedied? People simply do not know there is a problem, period. And even when they hear about it, their first reaction is to think of guys like you and me as busy bodies with way too much time on our hands, and fanatics who are trying to get 100% agreement on the exact number of sparrows that can ice-skate on a frozen bird-bath! (kinda tired of the angels/pinhead deal)

In my opinion, these ideas are even more important to them than a regular paycheck, job security, avoiding having to work two jobs in a tent ministry, and so forth. We do not help our cause when we assign merely base and materialistic motives to this vast majority of WELS pastors and people. That would be simply wrong and foolish, and a dis-service to both us and them.

To be continued . . .

Pastor Spencer said...

In point of fact, guys like Joel are most certainly NOT the problem - not at all. The problem is, once again, that this great majority simply does not see, know, feel, hear, or realize that there even ARE problems. These folks believe and accept and even revel in every word and picture in Forward in Christ, WELS Connection, and other sources from headquarters. And they think this is just fine, and who are we to disturb their idea of their WELS world?!? I do not know how to reach them, and even if I did, I'm not at all sure I or anyone else could convince them that their world needs disturbing.

People like Joel are still the minority, I believe, although a growing one. Simply put, they are bored with worship as it has been done for most of the past two thousand years. They are bored with doctrine as contained in the Book of Concord. In point of fact, though they would be loathe to admit it, they are bored with God, and Christ's simple Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone from the Means of Grace alone. Like most Americans of Baby-Boomers years and beyond, they need constant stimulation, and never-ending innovation. The grass is always greener somewhere else, even when it's only artificial turf! I don't even bother to talk to such anymore; they're totally and completely hopeless - it's like I'm from Jupiter and they're from Uranus. Let them be. Like I said, they will end up being blown up by their own petard!

As for my own ministry and congregation: I have an obligation to educate my people as to the situation throughout the synod in a calm, balanced, and serious manner, and have been doing so, and will continue to do so in the future. They support me and my involvement with Intrepid completely and without reservation, and they have nothing to do with my stepping away, except in the sense that my congregation is growing (Even with every Sunday communion and TLH liturgy among other "old -fashioned" things. Shock and amazement!), and I do need to devote more time to them. In addition, I have other considerations which I must take into account. One of these is the fact of our location, near one of the largest Army installations in the nation. We get a constant influx of WELS members from all over the country. They come from old, established, traditional congregations in the heartland; newer missions in the East and South, some of which are more contemporary; and exploratories where it could be that anything goes. I have an obligation to them not to just slap them up the head with every iota of the contentious issues in the WELS the moment their boots hit the ground. Indeed, in some cases, these men and women are heading into combat very soon, and the last thing they need to worry about is finding an ELDoNA chaplain in Iraq! I will say that so far all of them have appreciated my approach to ministry here and our services. In most cases they become good ambassadors to other WELS churches of real orthodox confessional Lutheranism by the time they leave and move on to their next post.

To be continued . . .

Pastor Spencer said...

In short, Tim, to your very important and necessary question of "Why stay?", there MUST added another question, "Why leave?" The reasons must be compelling. Frankly, I myself would prefer rather that the WELS be reformed where needed. As I said, however, that is not something that I believe humans can accomplish anymore; it has gotten to the point where only divine intervention will do the trick. I may have thought at one time that poor pitiful me could be a tool of that intervention, but that was proud and arrogant of me. I've learned better. I leave it to the Lord of the Church. If He wants me to get more involved again, He knows where to find me.

And in the end, every single person - pastor or layperson - must follow their own consciences. You and I may lament their choices, and disagree with them, but finally, we have to allow those consciences to be their guides. As Luther always said - it is neither right nor safe to go against one's conscience. I applaud you for following yours, and God bless you. God only knows what the future holds for the WELS, and Missouri, and ELDoNA. One thing I think we say for sure, however, is that it won't be dull and boring!

Deo Vindice!


Les Baker said...

As l read these comments and reflect on their rationale l am dismayed at the excuses. The fact is the WELS no longer follows God's Word. There is no rationale that can excuse following false doctrine!

I joined a WELSchurch almost 20 years ago after careful search and study of different denominational doctrines. The WELS was as close as l could find to what scripture taught. As a father of young preschool age children l was elated to bring my family to worship and raise them as WELS christians because there they would grow in God's Word.

lt is for the same reason that l will shortly be talking to my pastor, also my friend, to tell him l am leaving his church and will shortly join ELDoNA. All my friends are WELS. My wife and two of my sons will remain WELS. My heart is broken. At times l cry out to our Triune God asking why he let this happen to my family. Once united in faith, now divided.

So, people can keep their rationalizations about family and friend contacts. The truth is unless God, and that includes His Truth, come first you worship an idol. I speak from experience. My family has been my idol and only recently have l realized and placed them second to God. This has left me psychologically bruised and scared. Yet, God must come first or we worship the Golden Calf all over again.

Anonymous said...

Pastor,
I am sorry to see you leave. Yet, I understand & support you in your past & present actions! I understand, more than I can say.
I have learned so much, from your posts here, comments & answers to many. And those, you took the time, to answer, just for me. I know I am & will be most blest & grateful for the knowing.

All shepherds are Pastors, but not all Pastors, are shepherds.

Now many know, if not prior, that not all Congregations, are safe pasture. "What doth the Lord require of thee? But to do justly, & to love mercy & to walk humbly with thy God." Micah 6:8. Sits above, in our front room, for all to see, every moment, of every day. Not man's idea of justice, mercy, or humility. No, His meaning of those three. And the two meanings, are very different, indeed.
We all learned that & were taught that once, and now it's different, and that is why IL started, this site, & many others, I followed & posted on. Most of which, are also gone. It looks an awful lot, like winnowing out those who stand fast & steadfast on the anchors & foundations, that 500 yrs, stood & withstood. Let's try not to forget, no Lutherans would have left Germany, for the US, if a certain type of winnowing, had not occurred there first, not so very long ago. It is His Bride, His Church, & He does as He sees fit & owes us no explaining, we trust what we cannot see, not what we do, at the moment.

Articles & posts here at IL, may not have stemmed a tide, may not have opened collective eyes, but they did let me & others just like me, let us know, we are not alone. Not alone in what we saw, heard, or was done or in most cases, not done. If He chooses to winnow out or into, sometimes, it is at His good choosing. If that is what this all shakes out to be, I am glad & grateful for the friendships I've gained, wise counselors I've been gifted with, and the good, right, & true instruction I once knew & can no longer find. If IL taught me anything, it's no, I/we are not alone, in this, & much more, indeed.

God's richest blessings to you & your Congregation. They are blest indeed to have a shepherd, not just a Pastor.
Pax Domini,

Anonymous said...

Pastor Spencer -

May the Lord bless you richly as you continue to serve Him as a faithful shepherd.

You article and comments here spoke true. I could not agree more, WELS has set a path that barring the Lord's intervention will lead it away from Confessional Lutheranism. Only my own opinion - but the rot is set in at Seminary and all who pass through her gates will take on the rot, excepting only those few spared by the Grace of God. I always thought of this forum as a healthy place for discussion. (Hopefully the Organization will continue - all be it with a changed focus.) Unfortunately as time has gone by the discussion has become less and less and more one-sided. Now this is not through any lack of IL's wish to engage in fruitful debate but basically no one with a different opinion being willing to engage in debate. Sad as this appeared to be the last best hope for our Synod's future as a Confessional Lutheran Church body, but it appears one side is not into discussion or dialogue.

Let us all continue as God gives us the means to be faithful Berean's.

Lee Liermann

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