"Venom" (ala LutherQuest sic) or just the truth?
BELIEVE IT OR NOT!
THE DOUBLE STANDARDS AND HYPOCRISY IN THE WELS
Pastor Mark F. Bartling
Ripley’s famous and interesting “believe it or not” oddities, filled with extraordinary and almost unbelievable information, still fascinate us yet today! Recent events in the Wisconsin Synod (WELS) may also seem unbelievable and the oddities will truly stretch your imagination.
In baseball it is only asked that the umpire be consistent. Call a wide strike zone or a narrow one. But be consistent! Don’t call one pitch a strike, but another a ball, when both crossed the plate at the same place.
In politics, when a Democrat moves away from a pro-life to a pro-choice position, it is called “growing.” But when a Republican changes to a more pro-life position, well, that is called hypocrisy.
One can understand hypocrisy and a double standard in politics. That is what politics are all about. But not in the Church of God!!! There one is called to a higher standard.
Believe it or not! The WELS synodical president and Vice president refused to print in the Book of Reports and Memorials a memorial, from 86 pastors and 3 congregations, to the Synod’s convention asking for a study of the Synod’s position on fellowship. But at the same time they made available the synodical mailing list and e-mail addresses to the Church and Change group. This group is leading the way in undermining the Synod’s position on fellowship in inviting heterodox teachers to address their annual meetings. Talk about a double standard! It can now be said that WELS leaders official endorse and approve the modern Church Growth Movement.
Believe this or not! When synodical leaders are involved in situations concerning appearances of impropriety and improper behavior, -- well, that must be quickly covered up. Recently, one synodical leader was found spending a considerable amount of time alone with a woman in frequent “counseling sessions,” both at church and in her home. But here we are told to put the best construction on it and not sin against the 8th Commandment. But when a young pastor of a small congregation, and with no high synodical connections or relatives, is involved in practically the same type of situation – well, he must be put out of the ministry and his Call, for now he is no longer “blameless.” (I Tim. 3:2)
One is for synodical officials, another is for parish pastors.
Believe this or not! In the WELS today a situation exist that is not too much different from the time of the Reformation, when men like Luther were excommunicated for being “too Catholic,” but the sellers of indulgences were protected and defended, -- for they were bring in the money.
If some pastor talks about private confession, making the sign of the holy Cross in the name of the Triune God, the sacrament of ordination, every Sunday Communion, wearing full liturgical vestments, and publishes a “motley magpie” (all which, by the way, are taught in our Lutheran Confessions) – well, that is being Catholic and such pastors are quickly excluded from our fellowship. But when other pastors completely omit any type of confession, public or private, use no Trinitarian invocations, continuously confuse law and Gospel in their sermons, practice open communion, with women helping in the distribution, have women read Scripture lessons in public worship, and use every innovation of Church Growth methods, -- well, that is to be highly praised and no one even thinks of calling the practice “too Methodist.”
Believe it or not, but the WELS is becoming just another Protestant Church and many congregational worship services are not too much different from the Baptist and Pentecostals churches on the next street. Just read some of the mission statements and tell me whether they are Confessional Lutheran or just Protestant.
A sainted WELS pastor, from a past century, in deep distress concerning the direction of his Synod, lamented:
WELS, oh WELS, wherefore art thou my WELS?
Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered
Oh foolish, WELS, who hath bewitched you?
All is not well, in WELS!
Gurgel and Mueller, President and VP of WELS, refused to print this memorial in the Book of Reports and Memorials.
To: The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Convention 2007
Subject: Definition of the expression “Framework of Fellowship”
WHEREAS 1) various groups within the Synod have arranged for speakers not in fellowship with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) to address them on matters relating to doctrine and on practical aspects of conducting the ministry; and
WHEREAS 2) some in our Synod question whether seeking such instruction from the heterodox is consistent with Scripture’s urging to “watch out for false prophets” (Mt. 7:15) and “keep away from” errorists (Ro. 16:17) and whether welcoming the errorist may constitute “sharing in his wicked work” (2 John 11); and
WHEREAS 3) groups inviting such outside speakers have defended the practice with the explanation that the speakers were addressing them “outside the framework of fellowship”; and
WHEREAS 4) references to “the framework of fellowship” are appearing more frequently in the literature of the WELS, but there exists neither a clear and commonly-accepted definition of what that phrase entails nor a thorough explanation of how the phrase is consistent with Scriptural principles of Christian fellowship; and
WHEREAS 5) disagreement over this issue is threatening the bond of peace within our beloved Synod; and
WHEREAS 6) it has been argued that a new study of the Scriptural principles might cast doubt on the Synod’s current position of Christian fellowship; and
WHEREAS 7) a review of those principles that aims to supply an element not currently addressed in our doctrinal statements would not cast doubt on the Synod’s current doctrinal position on fellowship; therefore be it
Resolved a) that the Synod instruct the conference of Presidents (COP) to conduct a thorough review of the Scriptural principles of fellowship with the aim of developing a clear and complete definition of what constitutes the “framework of fellowship” and a thorough explanation of how the phrase is consistent with Scriptural principles; and be it further
Resolved b) that the results of this study be published and shared broadly with the constituency of the WELS; and be it finally
Resolved c) That the COP be instructed respectfully to request that, in a spirit of brotherly cooperation, groups affiliated with the WELS defer from employing public speakers from outside the WELS fellowship who will discuss matters relating to doctrine and practical aspects of conducting the ministry until such a study can be completed.
Mr. Richard L. Andersen, Anchor Point, AK
Prof. Richard D. Balge, Thiensville, WI
Rev. Terry G. Balogh, Mayville, MI
Rev. William Balza, South Haven, MI
Rev. Mark Bartling, LaCrosse, WI
Mr. Ross Bannister, Bancroft, MI
Rev. Jeffrey Berg, Oshkosh, WI
Rev. Spencer G. Biga, Freeland, MI
Mr. Thomas H. Buege, Greenville, WI
Rev. Carl Busse, Medford, WI
Mr. Brent Buzzalini, Mayville, MI
Mr. Steven Desek, Fostoria, MI
Prof. Daniel M. Deutschlander, Watertown, WI
Rev. Timothy J. Ehlers, Oakley, MI
Rev. Larry Ellenberger, Franklin, WI
Rev. Mark H. Falck, Grand Rapids, MN
Rev. Gerald Free, Neenah, WI
Rev. Keith Free, Plover, WI
Rev. Kenneth Frey, Appleton, WI
Rev. Marc P. Frey, New Carlisle, OH
Mr. Philip Frey, Black Hawk, SD
Rev. Daniel P. Garbow, Saginaw, MI
Rev. James A. Gorsegner, Pigeon, MI
Rev. Timothy H. Gumm, Loves Park, IL
Rev. Roy W. Hefti, Bangor, WI
Rev. Michael T. Jensen, Ixonia, WI
Rev. Christopher D. Johnson, Algoma, WI
Rev. Peter Kiecker, Watertown, WI
Prof. Roger Kobleske, Watertown, WI
Rev. Henry F. Koch, Manitowoc, WI
Rev. Robert Koester, Milwaukee, WI
Rev. Steven Korth, Bay City, MI
Mr. Allen Krause, Oshkosh, WI
Rev. David Krenke, Leesburg, FL
Rev. Arnold J. Kunde, Durand, MI
Rev. Stephen C. F. Kurtzahn, Coon Rapids, MN
Rev. James L. Langebartels, Imlay City, MI
Rev. Donald Laude, Marquette, KS
Rev. Herbert Lichtenberg, Milwaukee, WI
Rev. Earl Lindemann, Winner, SD
Mr. Larry Lindemann, Salem, SD
Rev. Carl A Lindemann, Bismark, ND
Rev. Edward Lindemann, Watertown, WI
Rev. Michael A. Lindemann, Lewiston, MN
Mr. Paul Lindemann, New Berlin, WI
Rev. Waldemar Loescher, Manitowoc, WI
Rev. Martin Luchterhand, Hustler, WI
Prof. Marcus Manthey, Saginaw, MI
Rev. Paul A. Manthey, Waukesha, WI
Rev. William Mayhew, Sebewaing, MI
Rev. Bruce McKenney, Lake Mills, WI
Rev. David Mielke, Mount Pleasant, MI
Rev. James W. Naumann, Vassar, MI
Rev. Paul S. Naumann, Benton Harbor, MI
Rev. Marcus C. Nitz, Placentia, CA
Rev. David Nottling, Fox Lake, WI
Rev. Carl T. Otto, Saginaw, MI
Mr. Carlton Palenske, Winona, MN
Rev. Bradley Pearson, Prairie du Sac, WI
Rev. Gary L. Pieper, Grove City, OH
Rev. James Plocher, Vassar, MI
Rev. Guy Purdue, Westland, MI
Rev. Marvin Putz, Fond du Lac, WI
Rev. Paul Reede, West Bend, WI
Rev. Theodore Sauer, Manitowoc, WI
Rev. Paul Schaewe, Bay City, MI
Rev. Paul D. Schleis, Green Bay, WI
Rev. Andrew C. Schultz, La Crosse, WI
Rev. Martin Schulz, Greenfield, WI
Rev. Gerhard F. Shapekahm, Fremont, WI
Rev. Gordon J. Snyder, West Allis, WI
Rev. Peter J. Snyder, Saginaw, MI
Rev. Joel Spaude, Ft Collins, CO
Prof. Cyril W. Spaude, Watertown, WI
Rev. Steven D. Spencer, Sierra Vista, AZ
Rev. Steven Staude, Onalaska, WI
Rev. John Strackbein, Oklahoma City, OK
Rev. Paul Stuebs, Platteville, WI
Rev. Frederick Toppe, Fond du Lac, WI
Mr. Frederick Uttech, Manitowoc, WI
Rev. Roger Wahl, Cambria, WI
Mr. Douglas Westenberg, Watertown, WI
Rev. Philip Wilde, Bristol, WI
Rev. Michael D. Zarling, Sturtevant, WI
Rev. Frederick Zimmerman, Kaukaulin, MI
Rev. Ronald Zindler, Wrightstown, WI
Church Council of Epiphany Lutheran Church, Racine, WI
Voters of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oklahoma City, OK
Voters of Martin Luther Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oshkosh, WI