Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I know I am a little early, but I wanted to finally get to post. I had to reinstall Windows XP after a virus/malware caused mayhem. After a couple weeks of scanning, scrubbing and reinstalling, I am finally back up.

I hope you enjoy the coming New Year in your own way, but remember to thank God for keeping you this past year, and to place everything on Him for this next. He has promised to provide, and He will. Remember this especially when times are tough, when it is hardest. Wait for the Lord to do His work. (Psalm 27:13-14, Lam 3:23-26. Isaiah 8:17) And pray that we all stay virus and malware free!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm back!

I know my posts have been few and far between, but I am back now. I took a Masters level course, and it consumed my free time and some not so free time. The class is over and I plan on trying to toss little things up here much more frequently now.

Since the election is over and our President-Elect is Barack Obama, we must all pray he has wisdom and God's guidance. I don't agree with his policies to date, and I personally think he might do more harm then good. But he will be President, and thus the leader, of the USA, and I should pray that he does well. This is a civic duty as a citizen to wish the President and Congress to do well, but it also is my Christian duty. He has made it there because God granted it so. I make it a point to not argue with the Almighty. (Though I do fall into sin regularly, as all do. It still isn't wise to argue with God.) So, no matter what side you are on, pray that God guides Mr. Obama with wisdom. It is the right thing to do.

Monday, November 03, 2008

To the Polls!

For those who might read this prior to the polls closing, remember to vote. It is your duty, privilege and vocation as a United States citizen.

For Christians, there should be a litmus test that some seem to ignore. They choose who sounds the best, who promises the most tax cuts / social programs, or who looks the best in pictures and movies. In the end, though, a Christian should vote according to conscience based on Scripture. For example, a Christian should not vote for a "pro-choice"/abortionist because of the Fifth Commandment. (There should be no lee-way here.) If there are extensive social programs, they should ring warning bells because they might ignore 2 Thess 3:10b "...we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."" In the end, a gov't official who properly understands their roles in relation to Christ via proper understanding of Law and Gospel will (hopefully) translate to fulfilling their earthly roles with honor and distinction.

Unfortunately, the options we have to choose from might be unfavorable on any side. At that point, all we can do is consider to run ourselves for gov't positions. Crazy? Who else will stand up? The politician? Something to consider as we have plenty of opportunities to serve in the USA. Selecting an office to run for might be crazy, but at the same time we can't blame anyone but ourselves for the politicians and fools that we do elect. Just something to mull on as the mother-of-all-election-seasons wind down. Anyone up for Election 2012?!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Heterodoxy in the Synod

Heterodoxy is an important issue for any Christian. But most don’t know why, or what it means other than a general “feel.”. First, what is heterodoxy? The LC-MS has heterodoxy defined in the “Christian Cyclopedia” as “Teachings or beliefs differing from a position held to be orthodox.” (For clarity, orthodox is defined on the same site as “orthodox implies conformity to a certain standard.”) Heterodoxy is also defined publicly as “the state of being at variance with established doctrines or beliefs” ( Both of these are in agreement- it is a variation from the established norm. While this is usually not a major issue in most areas of our lives, it is of utmost importance in a church body. Failure to ensure consistent doctrine and belief is the start of error and schism. This is seen in a document on Lutheran Understanding of Church Fellowship. Heterodoxy is a serious affair. So how does this apply to the LC-MS?

For the sake of brevity, I will be short and require you to do a little more reading than normal. However this is good because you yourself must be discerning between falsehood and nuance and the Truth. This means comparing ANY teaching and ANY doctrine against Scripture and Confessions. I am also not going to cover areas I have already posted on, such as the issues within the Synod. The one that promptly pops into my mind that is the most related of previous posts is the inclusion of non-Scriptural “worship elements.” It isn’t wise and goes against teaching only Scripture and the Confessions. And this practice is allowed and encouraged within the LC-MS. This is one item of heterodoxy.

Another item is closed communion. This is proper practice and supports the spiritual health of the congregation as well as her visitors. Those without faith or a proper understanding will drink to their detriment. (1 Cor. 11: 29-30) There isn’t an overt “open communion” policy. But when was the last time you visited an LC-MS church and went to the communion rail without being questioned? Also beware questions of dubious worth that allow the individual to say “yes” without an examination, especially by the pastor. For an excellent post on wiggle words and how this is done “under the table” within the LC-MS, see Father Hollywood’s post on “Word games and communion statements.” Some LC-MS churches with a focus on “contemporary worship” won’t even bother to ask. (Try visiting a couple…see here) This is heterodox error number two, and puts souls in jeopardy.

Syncretism and Unionism have popped in and out of the LC-MS view recently, most notably with the Benke affair right after Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, the LC-MS has issued several resolutions (2004 Res. 3-06A and 2001 Res. 3-07A), and the defense of which hinges on the “civic-ness” of the event. I am all for engaging other denominations and religions, if only as an avenue to teach. That stops when the avenue becomes a “level field” where everything is equal and prayers offered. It does not have to reach the level of a “Lutheran Service” (i.e. page 15 in the red hymnal), but the level of service for any of the presiding erring denominations or pagans. We wouldn’t consider a prayer to a “goddess of a hill” a worship service, but to a pagan, that might constitute a worship service entirely. We would do better to avoid such things to present a clear message. The worming around with the words does not lend clarity. Given Benke was not disciplined (that I know of) and the unfortunate presiding Vice President, Rev. Wallace Schultz, was fired after providing an honest evaluation (after being asked to do so), the LC-MS’s dedication to providing a clear message of Christ Crucified is lacking. This is a troubling case of bowing to pressure to “not offend,” and losing the Truth in the process.

I have provided three clear cases here, evidence from the LC-MS and others, and several anecdotal ones in previous posts. I believe you can see a trend here, even within the past decade towards “not offending” others with the Gospel (by watering down the Gospel and preventing the “meat”), moving towards demographics and market studies (and ignoring the effect and the third person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit), and pillaging those things which are beneficial (congregational solidarity, unity, and seeking to remove aspects that don’t agree with them- see recent appointments to offices, Issues Etc affair).

I am also not the only one posting on LC-MS heterodoxy. “John the Steadfast” has posted on heterodoxy as well related to a youth gathering in Texas. This is a very serious affair, one the LC-MS is either blind to, or willingly ignoring. Both are bad, but the latter more so.

I have proven that claims that the LC-MS is not heterodox are unoriginal and misinformed. See for yourself! Synod has set herself up as the arbiter of her own rulings. When was the last time a District used Scripture instead of a By-Law to instruct her members? Why does Ablaze use Baptist terminology, invent new words, and seek to be all inclusive while providing a confusing witness to the world? Read Scripture, and the Confessions. And do it again. I firmly believe that you will discover that the LC-MS is a paper-disciple. Looks great on paper, and has all of the i’s and t’s dealt with. But the paper stays in the drawer and practice is something else. And that is the true sign of a heterodox church.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


If you wish to post comments, I encourage you to do so. However, if you are going to discuss any given thing, don't just say it is true. Back it up with quotes, links, and verses. Those who don't will be challenged. I don't think anyone has time to be wasted trying to prove everyone's opinion for them. I will end with this quote, which I find more than covers quite a few situations like these.

Sine factus persone istra cum opinione solo tu es."
In English: "Without facts, you are just another person with an opinion."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

LC-MS Warning!

Take heed, brothers and sisters in Christ. It appears foul play is at work in the LC-MS. I don't want to steal any thunder from an excellent post, so here is the link to the article on Extreme Theology: Changing the LCMSChanging the LCMS. I strongly recommend this to anyone in the LC-MS.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Public Confessions

I am not seeking a “perfect church.” It does not exist this side of heaven, and to seek a perfect church in this world is utter foolishness. What I seek is a church that seeks God. Sadly, that is a rarity anymore in the LC-MS. To paraphrase a saying I have heard, ‘you worship as you believe’. This is why I was led to question some of the actions of the LC-MS.

One of the questionable actions is the LC-MS affiliation with the AALC, which has an official “closed communion” policy like the LC-MS, but is known for its open communion practice. LC-MS as a Church Body has allowed itself to be yoked with another body that does not hold in practice to closed communion. This weakens the Synod’s official stance on Communion and its “conservative” status. The Synod’s public, outward acts are its public confession. This is how anyone is known. LC-MS is also known by who they associate with, which makes the poor doctrine of some daughter churches, members and affiliations detriments to the confession of Scripture. This is spoken of in the Formula of Concord, Section X (about adopting adiaphora and its dangers) and in a “Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod” (adopted 1932), Section 28 and 29. I quote 29 as it is directly applicable to the question of public confession.

29. The orthodox character of a church is established not by its mere name nor by its outward acceptance of, and subscription to, an orthodox creed, but by the doctrine which is actually taught in its pulpits, in its theological seminaries, and in its publications. On the other hand, a church does not forfeit its orthodox character through the casual intrusion of errors, provided these are combated and eventually removed by means of doctrinal discipline, Acts 20:30; 1 Tim. 1:3.

Poorly chosen affiliations and a lack of Christian Church Discipline against church growth movement/contemporary services have all eroded the position of the LC-MS as a church body. I am quite concerned that these all affect and decrease the use of Scriptures in the church, provide confusion and a lack of consistency, and will ultimately drive the faithful to other denominations or away altogether. I know of several LC-MS congregations and members who have left (including going to non-Lutheran denominations). I also have a deep concern for my children, who would figure out the divisions and wonder why they exist in the Synod. They will have poor understanding while young and in the early stages of doctrinal understanding, but that will provide an inlet for Satan to sow doubt and unbelief. Since I must give an account, I could not remain silent on these issues (nor should any Christian in the Synod). I am seeking God and His Truth, not a perfect church or happy Synod. Because of the issues, I sought a way to have an orthodox doctrine, confessional church in our area. But anyone who reads this blog knows how that turned out.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

An Explanation

Someone had suggested I explain a little more why I left the LC-MS, and I am finally getting around to writing a little. This will most likely take more than one post, as the issues are complicated, long, and carry a lot of weight. I hope to list this out clearly and concisely. I will include the correspondence quotes unchanged, including typos.

One of the most glaring reasons I grew very concerned on the focus of the Synod is the following quote from correspondence with the South East District (SED). The context is a discussion on desiring a confessional, orthodox mission congregation in our area (rapidly growing) and the one LC-MS church that is here is not confessional and introduces it's own variations of services (against Formula of Concord Section X, more on this later).

"In addition, we do not plant churches so that a small group can be more orthodox than other LCMS churches in the area. Our new congregations are Great Commission efforts. We plant to reach the lost for Jesus. This is our primary purpose by direction of our District convention and BOD. We do that in the context of solid Lutheran doctrine. "

Pay close attention to the focus on "Great Commission efforts" and "plant to reach the lost." While those are true, every church has those same goals. The phrases brought to my mind the Baptist revival movement and works, not Grace for the sinful. The approach seems focused on the "lost" and not on preserving the "found." I have no problem about solid Lutheran Doctrine (the whole point of desiring a confessional mission), but to exclude orthodoxy as a future option is quite limiting. It tells me that the "orthodox" or "confessional" is not wanted to form churches- they only want those with Ablaze (another poor adaptation of American Protestant revivalism) leanings. I found it also telling that he doesn't suggest this is due to Scripture (although the Great Commission does make a link), but explicitly though direction of the District and the BOD.

Another, later email contained this:

"Together, we look at a lot of factors - demographics, the need for a Lutheran presence, local support (e.g. parenting congregation), available resources ($, leadership, etc.). The primary focus of our congregations is on mission to the lost. "

I don't know of a church who's mission is not in search of the lost (in addition to the studying and learning of the Word). However, I also don't find a mention of demographics, need for a presence, or available resources in any of the missionary work within the New Testament. Christ sent disciples out without money, Paul went wherever he was asked or the Spirit lead him, and the list goes on. Not once do they study for demographics. I sincerely doubt there was a statistician or accountant on Pentecost holding back the disciples from preaching in the Synagogue because the majority there were not followers of Christ. The Spirit goes where it will, and, in my mind, limiting that to what we ourselves can do betrays a lack of trust in God. The explanation for the First Commandment is "We should fear, love and trust in God above all things." This includes pocketbooks, demographics, etc. Focusing on the "need for a Lutheran presence" while "seeking the lost" is like asking a family who needs food if they prefer stuffed turkey or hamburgers, then leaving when not satisfied with the answer! The "lost" need the Word! The believers need it too! Who are we to deny them this? Because there aren't many "Lutherans" around? This is what makes this ridiculous. So what if there aren't many "Lutherans" around? The Word is to be preached to all people (Great Commission). If Lutheran Doctrine is the Word, then what is the issue?

This was one of the highly troubling aspects of my discussion with SED. They talk about the "Great Commission", but then say that the demographics need to support it. Why not trust God and try? It is a hard concept; truthfully a nearly impossible one. But the Church lives on the Word of God and the faith God imparts. She must trust that God will lead in all cases (and all true Christian denominations). If God wills it, will man prevail? I think not.

I will continue with more of my reasonings later as this is longer than I expected, and my short time to write is coming to an end. God's blessings.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Proper Discernment

While I was contemplating leaving the LC-MS, I was told I shouldn't judge other's intentions. I agree with that statement. But all too often admonitions not to judge the heart are shortened to include admonitions to not judge at all. We are supposed to, and encouraged to, judge actions. You know who someone is by what they do, since we cannot see the heart. Actions by LC-MS hierarchy have not been wise, and their actions to not match their words. For this alone they should repent and turn back to using Scripture alone.

Decisions on missions and church starts should be done by need for the Gospel, not on budget. I don't suggest anyone ignore the reality of the pocketbook, but I don't believe that is the sole basis of stewardship. Stewardship means trusting God's promises to provide for our needs. Just because the pocketbook is narrow doesn't mean you stop preaching the Word where it is needed. Faith requires you to lean on God through plentiful and through scarce. This is the tack I am taking- I am trusting God to provide for our mission, regardless of the wisdom or sense of man or demographics.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Moving On...

I have moved on from the LC-MS. I don't think anyone would argue that the public LC-MS doctrine has not been diluted, Synod-wide practices unified, or even that the Synod has presented a good face recently. I hope that the Synod returns to its roots and confesses the confessional doctrine it has officially on paper without embarrassment. Given the refusal by the Synod to tend to the needs of the flock in denying a confessional church and for varying from Scripture and the Book of Concord, the choice was made for me. This is a difficult path that I have been walking for the past 4 or 5 months, and I have finally made the decision to leave.

If you are curious, the group we are affiliating our congregation, Agnus Dei, with is the United Lutheran Mission Association (ULMA). They seem to be the most confessional group out there and are headed by a church in Decatur, Ill. They willingly provided (after prayerful consideration of course) a missionary-at-large for our pastor and we had our first service today with him presiding. Our congregation is focused on proper worship of God and hopes to be a beacon to the area of confessional, proper Christian doctrine. We especially want to help those in the LC-MS who want to focus on God, not numbers or bureaucracy, return to the historical position of the Christian Church since the beginning. Sola Dei Gloria (to God be the Glory)!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Truely Sweet?

Buried in the March issue of the LC-MS Reporter is the following two paragraphs:

An Aug. 18-20 theological convocation on Congregation — Synod — Church is set for the Marriott St. Louis — Airport, where some 250 Synod leaders — including representatives from each district — will take an in-depth look at the 22 theological principles.

Sponsored by the COP and the CTCR, the convocation will feature a presentation on the theological principles by the presidents of the Synod's two seminaries. Also on the schedule as a presenter is Dr. Leonard Sweet, a theologian, author, and church futurist who was voted "one of the 50 most influential Christian leaders in America" for 2006 and 2007.

This sounds all well and good. However, a quick check on Dr. Leonard Sweet can lead you to the following site. The site has exceptionally un-christian, heretical statements that liken faith and Christianity as one path to a type of enlightenment, unionism, and the list goes on. This man will be talking to the LC-MS?! What has the LC-MS done?! This is to provide clarity?! No clarity can be had outside the Word. I am incensed that this is even possible. Even the Pope doesn't consider Christianity a path in the same line as Hindus, Muslims, or any other theology or cult!

This should be an outrage, but since this is a buried comment, I sincerely doubt anyone even knows who this joker is. Be wary, Brothers...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The "Issue" with Synod

For anyone who has somehow missed the latest unchristian approach by Synod, the conservative, and quite popular, radio show "Issues, Etc." was unceremoniously canceled the Tuesday before Easter. The two pastors in charge were fired, and one of their wives is gravely ill. I won't attempt to redo the work of many fine bloggers. See all of Pastor Esget's blogs, Whey Lay's comment, the well reasoned comments on CyberStones, and the insight at Kyrie Eleison. This whole issue stinks. There is no other way to put it. While we are supposed to put the best face forward, let us not do it to cover actions that are in opposition to the right thing to do, the proper thing, the Christian thing. Firing Pastors without cause, without proper discussion, and with only consideration for programming and budget is WRONG. There is no sugar coating possible.

At the very least, Strand should be fired for ineptitude (not having recent numbers for all listeners, firing without consultation of the board, etc) as he would in the commercial world. Others involved should be fired, and very serious questions asked about the theological considerations for stewardship. Wasting money is very bad for stewardship. However, the church is supposed to rely on God for its sustenance. If a program is doctrinally sound, what good money reason is there for canceling it? I ask the question in light of the $5 million for Ablaze, but not $650k for Issues, Etc. Why is the LC-MS spending money on a program that is questionable with dubious theological underpinnings and canceling conservative, orthodox programs?

I have been told by the South East District that they won't allow any new "more orthodox" churches than the closest congregation. They revised this to "confessional" from orthodox, but the point was clear to me. Ol' Mo is in serious trouble.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Words

I know it has been a while, but here goes another post. In some reading lately, I came across an Ablaze document titled "Covenant Churches." I figured this would be interesting to peruse. I found a new word in there that is troubling. It is "incarnational." No, not "incarnate" as in "incarnate God." Here is a quick quote:

The cross of Christ heralds the incarnational, expansionary
movement of the reign and rule of Jesus Christ in the hearts
and lives of people also today.

The usage of "incarnational" becomes problematic when you consider other english words with the "-al" ending. Those words usually mean "act of" or "being" such as confessional (act of being in confession), functional (having function) , and internal (being inside). What does "being incarnate" mean? Let me pull another variation of incarnate used.

This “Gospel imperative” spoken to the disciples as the
representative leaders of the church summarized the
will of God that the reign and rule of Jesus Christ in the
hearts and lives of people on earth (the kingdom of God)
be incarnated, expanded, and lived out in communities of
the faith, confession, and mission.

Catch the use? Since incarnate means "embodied in flesh" and "personified," and include that with the Christian verbiage about Christ as the Incarnate God, you are opening up a place of confusion. Are we "little incarnate christs"? Or are they trying to mean "living in the way of Christ"? I think the intention is probably the latter, but the lack of clarity leaves this too dangerously close to the edge. Creating new words in english is a dangerous proposition, as it is in any language.

I won't even start on the legalistic tone of the document. There are Baptist/Pentecostal type calls for service and the insinuation of a requirement to do something. This is not going to help churches expand the ministry. What helps is the Word of God spoken clearly and taught properly. Anything else is a weakened place to start missions from.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Proper Teaching

We have been reading the Catechism at night to my children. My eldest at least recognizes the Ten Commandments in order and can recite most of the Apostle's Creed. This has shown me the necessity of proper teaching of our children. It isn't the Pastor's responsibility. It isn't something that will just pop into their head. Parents must teach it consistently. This is a failing point of many Christians, not limited to just LC-MS, Roman Catholics or some "other denomination." If you aren't teaching your children, the best you can hope for is a mediocre appreciation and very little to fall back on in times of temptation and testing. For anyone who ends up reading this (if there is anyone at all), please teach your children the basics of Christian faith. It is imperative that they understand and learn these things early. It is the basis that allows a deeper understanding of what the Bible is really about.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

It is 2008 and I just read an essay called "Strangers in our father's house" by Dr. Laurence White. It goes over the history of the LC-MS and contains quotes by Walther and Pieper (among others) that promote and require that the Synod must reject false doctrine, poor teaching in all places if the Synod is to remain strong. Alas, looking around at the LC-MS, orthodoxy is a minority and error is allowed to "preserve the peace." I hear from a lot of orthodox, good Christian people that they are working to "change from the inside." After getting some more in depth understanding of where the Southeast district, and thus a portion of the Synod, sits, I think my response will be "So when was the last time you/your church rebuked error in the Synod?" True Christians cannot tolerate theological error any more than mathematicians can tolerate lax arithmetic and symbology. A church body should seek to remove error whenever it is found, even if it is within itself. Perfect churches don't exist, but pursuit of a true understanding of God's Word does. This should be the aim of the Synod and every sanctuary within it. This doesn't seem to be the case, but I will expound more on that at a later date, when more information is available.

May God bless your New Year.