Monday, August 4, 2014

UPDATED! — Organizer of 2015 Christian Leadership Experience (allegedly): “The only thing wrong with Lutheran churches is pastors who want to be Lutheran.

On July 12, 2014, we featured content that was referred to in a post on the blog Polluted WELS. This blog was created in the middle of June 2014 by a WELS pastor writing under the pseudonym “Matthias Flach”, who was evidently frustrated with rapidly disappearing Confessionalism in WELS, with false unity among the clergy, threats from leadership, and overbearing laity in his congregation who boasted of “family connections.” The title of that June 12 post was Time to Spill the Beans, and we introduced his blog, as follows:
    I stumbled across the following, rather old, exposé this morning while visiting the blog Polluted WELS. The author of that blog, a current WELS pastor who, understandably, finds it necessary to remain anonymous, included a link to [what follows] in his post, 'Conformity over Confession'. While the details are dated, as a WELS pastor, he indicates that all of the basics are absolutely accurate, and that he can personally verify that it’s true...
Yesterday afternoon, after ~20 posts since mid-June, one of which received over 150 comments, and over 20,000 page reads, Polluted WELS turned up missing.

Or deleted, rather.

He had been running a multi-part series critical of the 2015 Christian Leadership Experience -- which features Rev. Mark Jeske (WES) as the star of the conference, but who is also joined by many of his friends, followers, collaborators and other supporters in far less prominent speaking roles -- under the title “A Travesty Examined.” Many of these posts, now deleted from the blog Polluted WELS, have been preserved by Dr. Jackson on his blog, Ichabod, the Glory has Departed, at the following links:Yet another pock marring what was once a reasonably sound Lutheran church body, this Conference, which bears none of the standards or identity of Confessional Lutheranism, is not only decidedly favorable to the Church Growth Movement, but drives Lutheran and Confessional thresholds even further south by swinging doors wide open to the teaching authority of women over men, inviting open ecumenism with heterodox who entirely reject the Lutheran Confession, and even flirting with pagan religiosity. In our recent post, What is the 2015 Christian Leadership Experience?, we exposed and concluded many of these points.

The final post of “Mathias Flach,” the author of Polluted WELS, was a response to one of his critics. In it, we discover the attitude of a person connected with one of the Organizers of Experience; it is exactly the attitude that we at Intrepid Lutherans have been describing and warning of since 2010, exactly the attitude our critics have denied exists, exactly the attitude which is now, in fact, normative in the Wisconsin Evangelical Synod, that is, if “pastors who want to be Lutheran” are those pastors who desire to demonstrate their Confession through church practice which is, in fact, manifestly “Lutheran” and decidedly non-Sectarian -- i.e., historical, liturgical, catholic and evangelical. We include his final post below, Kelm'ed from Dr. Jackson's blog (Proof That I Am Not the Author of the Polluted WELS Blog), following which we include links to other articles related to the Church Growth Movement for the interested reader.

My Response
(the final post from the now deleted blog, Polluted WELS)

Here's a comment I received, with my responses interspersed.

First, I am not sure who Lillo is, but this comment did not come from him. I do not know if your post can be edited, but that false testimony should be removed.

Lillo is Joel Lillo, a pastor from the Appleton area who (like you) wanted me to shut-up but (like you) didn't want to discuss the actual issues. I never said that you were Lillo, I said that I was reproducing your comments in pink in honor of Lillo. It's a joke from about a month ago on this blog about how colors are adiaphora. Before you start accusing people of sinning against the Eighth Commandment, you should get your facts straight, lest you yourself break that very commandment.

Matthias, I am your brother in Christ. It is also true (regardless of whether or not you want to admit it) that the leaders and presenters of this conference are your brother and sisters in that same Lord. Yes, I know many of the leaders of this conference personally.

No, the organizers of this conference are not my brothers. See, I know them personally too. One of the speakers at this conference, when he still with Parish Assistance, sowed discord in my home congregation and almost caused it to split. Another of the speakers has made attempts to personally undermine my ministry. Another person associated with one of the sponsoring organizations once said, in my presence, "The only thing wrong with Lutheran churches is pastors who want to be Lutheran."

These men are not my brothers. They are enemies of the gospel. They actively work to thwart the preaching of the gospel. I don't care how personally you know them. Jesus said, "By their fruit you will know them." These are wolves in sheep's clothing.

It is easy to know who is organizing - the hosting organizations are listed in numerous places.

That's not the same thing. How can I personally contact an organization?

This blog has become a tabloid because you are more concerned with sensationalism than truth.

What have I said that's not true? All of my posts on this conference have included direct quotations from the conference's own website.

I do not know what the Matthew 18 maneuver is. I know the chapter well, but I did not quote it.

Oh, come on. You know exactly what it is -- trying to shut down public debate by claiming that one must speak privately to a person first. As I said, Matthew 18 is about private sin, not public sin.

You are a WELS pastor with legitimate concerns about this conference. You chose to blog rather than speak to anyone. 

Yeah, you better believe it. These sponsoring organizations own the DPs. Two of the DP who are supposed to be the most Confessional are preaching at this conference. If I dared to voice my concerns, I would [be] automatically labeled "divisive" and blackballed. Anonymous blogging is the only recourse Confessional Lutheran pastors have.

Fine. But why do you choose to be the Enquirer?

How am I being the Enquirer? I'm not exposing personal information. I'm not calling people aliens.

Why not open a conversation by sharing legitimate concerns and asking the blogging community if they have more information or if they share the same concerns?

That's exactly what I am doing.

You had an opportunity to establish the style and substance of this blog a couple weeks ago. You slid into sensationalism and snide judgment. Any opportunity for positive influence or change slips right down that same slope. Your posters from now on will be the few who already share your thoughts. The inflated view count will be those who enjoy the guilty pleasure of a Lutheran tabloid.

Here's another tactic of the "synod-minders" -- whine about the tone. Guess what? When you're exposing false doctrine, you can't do it gently. The Law cuts and destroys. These are all grown men that I'm talking about, and they most certainly know how to dish out the "snide judgment" against others. They should be able to take some too.

Mathias, the members of your church need the love, instruction, and shepherding that you are trained and called to provide. My hope is that you pour abundantly more energy into that call than you expend in this online endeavor.

Why would you assume anything else? Are you trying to undermine my ministry too?

Here are some additional posts related to the Church Growth Movement, the real meaning of Change in the Church, and the recourse of laity, from previous posts on Intrepid Lutherans:
Rev. Rydecki was once personally criticized by one of the Experience speakers for his post, A refreshing church growth strategy: Get smaller and die. In that post, he concludes:
    So, God save us from the successful church. Give us churches who shun sentimentality and pragmatism and aren't afraid to face the inevitable shrinkage which comes as a result of following Jesus. God save us from church leadership strategies. After all, it takes zero faith to follow a strategy, but incredible faith to pursue the kingdom of God and leave the rest in God's hands. If I've learned anything as a pastor, it is this: faithfulness flies in the face of sentimentality and pragmatism, and if you pursue it you have to expect small numbers.
And so do we.

UPDATE 8/4/2014, approx 2:21pm: The blog Polluted WELS is back online. The author's explanation follows:
    I'm Back

    After publishing my last post, I was contacted by one of the people I mentioned. He was able to figure out my identity based on the details of the conversation that I related. He indirectly yet clearly threatened me and my ministry. I panicked and deleted the blog.

    After taking a day to think about it, though, I've decided I can't compromise the truth for selfish reasons. Despite the threats, I will continue to publish here.

    The person who threatened me is very well-connected within the synod. He has the right last name and I have the wrong one. Be sure to watch the call reports in the coming weeks for my removal from the ministry.

1 comment:

AP said...

I was glad to see the blog return, though I surely understand why the author deleted it. I would just add...

In the years that I have been publicly talking about these issues, mainly on Intrepid Lutherans, I have had a few people tell me to be careful (in a friendly way), but I have never been threatened by anyone. I did get a call once from an anonymous coward who berated me for something I wrote in support of Rick Techlin. He took great offense when I wrote that I was ashamed of my synod for how Mr. Techlin had been treated. I would say that I would be equally ashamed of a bully who would threaten another man's ministry over something written on a blog. Have the courage to come out of the shadows and engage in a real discussion of the issues and divisions we have in the WELS. I can't say that I have agreed with much of anything that Pastor Lillo has written here, but I will always respect his willingness to at least engage in the discussion. We need more of that--more people on both sides who are willing to debate the issues openly without threats and fear. If we can't have that kind of discussion--even about the little things--what hope is there?

Dr. Aaron Palmer

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