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Friday, November 30, 2007

Why the Passionate Promotion of Infant Communion?

Greek Orthodox Icon Wall

Click here for an interesting article about the non-antiquity of Infant Communion.

We have never had such widespread ignorance of Lutheran doctrine among the clergy and the laity. Perhaps the Medieval Church was worse, but that was the object of Luther's ire after the Saxon Visitation, when he found out how pathetic the clergy were.

How can Lutheran clergy become so involved in a new doctrine (for them) when they barely grasp the essentials of the Book of Concord? Could they reflect the basic content of Chemnitz' Enchiridion? I doubt it. Jacobs' Summary of the Christian Faith? That would be a rare find in a pastor's library, even more so if he knew who Henry E. Jacobs was.

Schmid was a typical book in the ALC clergy libraries. I used to see them in seminary book sales in Columbus. Schmid has quotations from the orthodox theologians who followed Luther. He published the forerunner of the Megatron "ready-to-go database" (Larry Olson).

Having the books is not enough. People need doctrinal conflict to study the essential books of Lutheran doctrine.

When Is Medicine Appealing?
Most antibiotics are distasteful. They have an awful odor that communicates its dreafulness with the person who takes them. They upset the stomach. So when we see an antibiotic on the shelf, we have no desire for it. When we get a raging infection, the antibiotic is the most precious thing we can have. We will send a spouse through a raging storm to get more.

Lutheran Orthodoxy As Medicine
An orthodox Lutheran book may be difficult to read and enjoy at first. Reading develops a capacity, but where is the motivation? The print is small. No one brings up Lutheran theologians anymore. But when there is doctrinal conflict, the orthodox Lutheran books are medicine against error. They also have a miraculous harmony. Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Gerhard, Schmid, and Jacobs say the same things (in different words) about the efficacy of God's Word.

From that one central doctrine, the effectiveness and power of the Word alone, we can trace all the components of the Lutheran Confessions.

Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide

Oh, keep us in Thy Word, we pray;
The guile and rage of Satan stay!
Oh, may Thy mercy never cease!
Give concord, patience, courage, peace.

O God, how sin's dread works abound!
Throughout the earth no rest is found,
And falsehood's spirit wide has spread,
And error boldly rears its head.

The haughty spirits, Lord, restrain
Who over Thy Church with might would reign
And always set forth something new,
Devised to change Thy doctrine true.

A trusty weapon is Thy Word,
Thy Church's buckler, shield, and sword.
Oh, let us in its power confide
That we may seek no other guide!

The Lutheran Hymnal, #292
Selnecker participated in creating the Book of Concord, 1580.


I often feel like the elderly Slovak Lutheran woman who lived in Cleveland with her children. She said, "Ich bin ein Fremd in ein fremder Land." (I am a stranger in a strange land.) Or perhaps like one of the last humans left in Night of the Living Dead. Every time I try to warn someone, he turns out to be a pod-person, a zombie who looks like the former friend but appears all hollowed out, without a soul.

I know from the emails, letters, and phone calls that there are many more like me.

WELS and Mormonism

It's a numbers game with Mormon missionaries, too.

I was doing research on secret Mormon rituals when I was struck by the number of parallels with the Wisconsin Synod. I have known and worked with Mormons and taught Mormons in world religion classes. All three Ichabods enjoy a lasting friendship long ago with our Mormon next-door neighbors. We specifically stopped to look them up in Sturgis. Mormons are often very nice people. So are WELS members.

I suggest Googling "secret Mormon rituals" to learn more about the Latter Day Saints, especially since Mitt Romney is running for the GOP nomination for president.

Not much will show up about secret WELS rituals. Here are some interesting parallels between Mormon and WELS attitudes:

1. Holy Mother Church is perfect, so no criticism is allowed.
2. Just as there are TBMs (True Believing Mormons), so there are TBWs (True Blue WELS) members. One signed herself WELS_Of_Pure_Doctrine on a blog! I can imagine her singing a church solo with a Sarah Brightman hyper-emotional grin.
3. The obvious gap between perfection and reality leads to a lot of posturing, denial, deceit, and emotional turmoil.
4. In either group, finding out the truth is emotionally devastating to the true believers. Ex-members take years to recover.
5. Both groups have secret, sexually provocative rituals. Initiates are not told the truth beforehand. Mormons had "naked touching" (banned in 2005). WELS had GA, where the entire first-year seminary class stripped naked outside after the dip the sewage pond. The pond is gone and GA is now underground. But no, it is really closed down, a TBW says. I am almost persuaded.
6. Both groups take pride in their peculiar doctrines and traditions. WELS clergy are always saying, "In our circles, this means..." That really means, "We are only ones promoting this weird idea." One was having vicars consecrate Holy Communion. Another was ordaining male teachers (for tax reasons and because they wanted it).
7. TBWs may not have special underwear, but they are acutely conscious of the need to conform, just like Mormons.
8. Both groups change doctrine whenever it suits them, because both want desperately to be mainstream.
9. Power play manipulation is the norm in both groups, not the exception.
10. No one has ever been murdered by Mormon leaders or by WELS church workers. No one has ever been sexually abused by the clergy of either group. Just ask. They will deny it.

Recessional Lutherans

Recessional Lutherans, like Father Neuhaus,
lead them out, reverently.

I remember when Rev. Richard J. Neuhaus used to call himself and his friends Confessional Lutherans. Clearly he was preparing for some years to become a Roman Catholic priest. His friend Robert Wilken (head of graduate studies, theology, when I was at Notre Dame) also joined the Church of Rome.

Now we have those Synodical Conference leaders who want to moonwalk toward Pasadena or Constantinople, while posturing about their Confessional Lutheran standards. They are like the choir and pastor leaving the church first, during the recessional. They cannot be Confessional Lutherans, so they must be Recessional Lutherans.

I began writing against the Church Growth Movement about 20 years ago. My first little article stirred up more letters than I ever received on a single topic. Many laity were suspicious of Church Growth. They were glad I identified some of the obnoxious odors coming from Satan's Lair, aka Fuller Theological Seminary.

Recently someone I know quite well told me about WELS Campus Ministry in Madison, Wisconsin. The pastor took his staff down to Willow Creek for training. Now they are spending millions on the building, starting cell groups, and bragging about their results. Willow Creek recently confessed that all their methods were wrong. I was not alone in suspecting that WC wanted to open up a new round of training for all the clergy they mistrained before. This time around they will apologize abjectly while fleecing the wolves again, many of them using denominational funds, or Trivent dividends.

Going Under
The tabloids use a term: going under. It means that circulation will increase if they go under the standards of the other papers. More salacious gossip. More skin showing. Congregations do the same thing. The whole WC/CGM approach is to go under the standards of all other denominations. Make the music slicker. Turn the Sunday worship service into a recruiting seminar. Spike the sermon and make it a pep talk.

ALC and LCA congregations used to go under the standards of LCMS and WELS by setting up shop nearby. They would promote open communion and lax standards all around. Who can complain about that? Sometimes a Missouri congregation strict on the lodge would find itself emptied by a new ALC congregation apparently conservative on every issue except that one.

The Recessional Lutherans are going under the standards of the Book of Concord with both gambits, whether they are slouching toward Pasadena or Constantinople. Fuller is low-church whoopie Enthusiasm; Eastern Orthodoxy is very high church, smells and bells Enthusiasm. The Book of Concord defines Enthusiasm as separating the work of the Holy Spirit from the Word.


Comments posted earlier:

Wreck said...
As a confessional Lutheran, I am disturbed at the trends of ELS and WELS.

I'm LCMS, but very confessional. I've been giving moving over to the WELS quite a bit of thought lately. It has to be better than the LCMS. OUr own congregation has embraced PLI, CGM, worship folder, etc. I cannot remember the last time my congregation used hymnals

I'm tired of the fighting. Some say it's a losing battle. Someone HAS to stay confessional. They have to.

I fear female ordination and female elders are not far away in the LCMS. ELCA is gone. They are Lutheran in name only. They might as well be United Church of Christ or Episcopalian.

November 30, 2007 1:42 PM
Anonymous said...

"As I suspected, Lutherans do not become Eastern Orthodoxy without some prompting. Some of the prompting comes from the outside or from the inner turmoil a Lutheran feels in a non-Lutheran Lutheran synod. Professors are encouraging the move to Eastern Orthodoxy as well."


When I visited a relatives WELS church with the whole Seeker Senseless model, I told him that if it were between that kind of worship and going to a Catholic church, I would pick the Catholic church. He rebuked me saying something like "I would definitely tell you that you would be making a big mistake knowing what the Catholic church teaches."

He was right to rebuke me, but such desperate times call for desperate cries. (and conversations) Why would I, a Cofessional Lutheran, want to do something so senseless? Keep pushing us and you'll push us all right out the door!

I wonder if the WC folks teach the buisness principal of "LEAD, FOLLOW OR GET OUT OF THE WAY."
It may be working.


November 30, 2007 3:02 PM

Thursday, November 29, 2007

West versus East

Interior of Hagia Sophia, Holy Wisdom,
Mother Church of Eastern Orthodoxy,
Built by Justinian around 500 AD and still standing.

I am reading the Norwich three-volume history of the Byzantine Empire for the third time. I found the condensed version first and enjoyed that edition. The complete version is around 1600 pages of soap opera, tragedy, triumph, defeats, and finally ruin.

Byzantium was a village located in a perfect spot for defense and trade when Constantine the Great fought to unite the Roman Empire under his rule. He chose Byzantium as the New Rome, which became known as Constantinople, Istanbul, Turkey today. Constantine established a Christian empire which lasted 1100 years.

The Christian Church began in the East and flourished there before moving toward the West. The long history of Muslim conquest of those Christian lands has made us forget where the faith was once so strong: Northern Africa, Jerusalem, Antioch, Edessa.

Some of the major controversies in Eastern Orthodoxy involved its relationship with the papacy, the Two Natures of Christ, and icons. The factions in the Two Natures included Monophysites (Christ having one divine nature), Monothelites (one will, never a major fad), and the Orthodox (Two Natures in One Person). Muslim and Jewish influence probably encouraged the icon clashes. Also the Monophysites did not want to see the divine nature of Christ portrayed as an image, especially a statue. There were two extremes in the icon battle. The iconodules worshiped the icons and even made them godparents at baptisms. The iconoclasts wanted all images destroyed - and many priceless works of art were.

The early Councils were held in the East because the Christian Church was Eastern. Look at the names and you will find theer locations near Constantinople: Nicea (325 and 382), Ephesus (431), Chalcedon (451).

Eastern Orthodoxy, nevertheless, is much more a mystical tradition than a confessional one. Emperors in Constantinople richly endowed monasteries. Some retired from office to serve as monks. The mystical tradition is experiential rather than doctrinal. I remember asking an Eastern Orthodox priest about Purgatory and the Assumption of Mary. He seemed quite willing to waffle about both until I pinned him down. (Yes to both.)

In contrast, the West has clearly defined doctrines. Lutherans are the most blessed because their divisions after the death of Luther caused them to develop the Book of Concord and the Formula of Concord under the leadership of Martin Chemnitz. No other denomination has such a unified and Biblical set of confessions. The confessions in the Reformed tradition contradict each other. The Church of Rome claims papal infallibility in doctrine but has anathemetized one or more of its own infallible popes.

The Appeal of Eastern Orthodoxy
Why does Eastern Orthodoxy appeal to so many people that ELCA, LCMS, and ELDONA ministers are guided by Constantinople rather than Wittenberg?

The mystical tradition is far more flexible than a confessional one in establishing outward unity. The current focal point for exiting Lutherans is infant communion, following the Greek Orthodoxy. Notice that infant communion is not a doctrine but a practice. The crypto-EO ministers definitely use doctrinal arguments to advance their cause, but the main one is rationalistic. As an ELCA worship leader said at Notre Dame in the late 1970's: "We give babies Holy Baptism. Why withhold the other sacrament?"

One person commented on ELDONA and infant communion said, "I think they are opposed to it." But the farm team for ELDONA, the soi-disant Augustana Ministerium, featured the biggest advocate of infant communion (Gary Gehlbach) as a speaker. He has a mega-site devoted to his favorite topic. Draw your own conclusions.

Eastern Orthodoxy has the added advantage of being exotic, elaborate in ritual, and new to most Lutherans. I used to attend Greek Orthodox services in Moline with the future Mrs. Ichabod. We enjoyed seeing the services, especially since we had Greek friends at Augustana College, but no one asked us to join. Nor would that thought have entered our minds. I never imagined that Lutherans would cross over, join the Eastern Orthodox clergy, and recruit more Lutherans to join.

EO Is UnFuller and UnWillow Creek
ELCA, Missouri, WELS, and the ELS have defined themselves through the gurus they admire at Fuller Seminary, Saddleback, and Willow Creek. The ELS has dabbled too, and even invited CG Doofus Robert Hartman to wash their brains with CG theories.

Fuller and WC promote rationalism, not worship. The Sneaker Services are designed not be be worship but entertainment. WC had no cross outside or inside when I visited with Mrs. Ichabod and Ichabod Jr. I doubt whether their anti-worship, anti-liturgy, anti-creed formula has changed. Since the Lutherans--especially the conservative synods--have run from their own heritage, it is only natural for ritual-starved clergy and laity to head toward Eastern Orthodoxy.

EO Encouraged at Ft. Wayne and St. Louis
As I suspected, Lutherans do not become Eastern Orthodoxy without some prompting. Some of the prompting comes from the outside or from the inner turmoil a Lutheran feels in a non-Lutheran Lutheran synod. Professors are encouraging the move to Eastern Orthodoxy as well.

Eastern Orthodoxy is closely allied with the Church of Rome. I enjoyed how Pope John Paul II called Eastern Orthodoxy a "defective church." The new pope has repeated the charge. In spite of their differences, they share one another's doctrinal errors. Therefore, joining Eastern Orthodoxy may not be the same as poping, but it is at least the equivalent of semi-poping.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Episcopal Church Property Disputes

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church,
Katherine Jefferts Schori

Posted by David Virtue on 2007/11/26 16:00:00 (1314 reads)

Canon Bishop Says National Church Has No Legal Claim To Church Properties

An exclusive interview with the Rt. Rev. William Wantland, the retired Bishop of Eau Claire. Bishop Wantland was bishop of the diocese from 1980 - 1999. He is a canon lawyer and lives with his wife in Oklahoma. He agreed to be interviewed by VirtueOnline about church property lawsuits, a number of which are making their way through various courts in the United States.

By David W. Virtue

VOL: Bishop Wantland, because of the Dennis Canon there is the overwhelming belief, substantiated in a number of state courts, that all parish properties are held in trust for the local diocese. Is that true in all cases? If not why not?

WANTLAND: Generally speaking, there is a trust interest running from the parish to the diocese. In 1570, the British Parliament passed legislation restricting the disposal of parish property. This was carried over to New York law, where an early statute provided that the Bishop and Standing Committee would have a say in the disposition of parish property, but so would the New York Legislature. This (without reference to State bodies) was added to Title II (now Canon II. 6) shortly after the Civil War. In the 20th century, a similar Canon was enacted in Title I, adding all parish property to that requirement, not just church or chapel buildings. Most States in the U.S. follow Implied Trust principles of law, so in those States, the diocese would prevail. Several States follow Neutral Principles of Law, and in those States, the local parish might, under certain circumstances, prevail.

VOL: Recently in the State of California, the Court of Appeal reversed a lower court ruling placing three parishes at risk of losing their parishes. They reversed an Orange County Superior Court's prior ruling that three former Episcopal churches, which disaffiliated from the national denomination in 2004, did not forfeit their property. This division of the appellate court broke with nearly thirty years of California church property law, and instead ruled that hierarchical church denominations can take over local church property. Where is this going?

WANTLAND: It is going to the California Supreme Court, which has already agreed to hear the matter.

VOL: Attorney Eric C. Sohlgren said the decision puts one division of the appellate court in direct conflict with other California court of appeal decisions that for almost thirty years have rejected the idea that a court must automatically defer to a church denomination in church property disputes. He said that idea offends basic principles of fairness and property ownership. Do you agree?

WANTLAND: The latest Appellate Court decision certainly offends the previously settled law in California. However, nothing would prevent the California Supreme Court from rejecting the Neutral Principles idea, and moving to Implied Trust.

VOL: It is also alleged that all properties are also held in trust for the National Church. Is that automatically true if the diocese can also lay claim?

WANTLAND: What is the National Church? We commonly use that title, but the so-called National Church has no current machinery for holding title to property outside of New York. While the Canons in both Title I and II recognize an interest in parish property for the diocese, this only re-states law that has been a part of our Church for over 400 years. Further, a careful reading of the Dennis Canon does not grant any real interest in diocesan property to 815 2nd Avenue.

VOL: What exactly is the National Church? Is it an ecclesiastical body or strictly an administrative body?

WANTLAND: The so-called National Church is an administrative body with very limited authority. It has defined itself in a number of documents over the years as a confederation of dioceses. Neither General Convention nor Executive Council has any jurisdiction over dioceses granted in either the Church Constitution or Canons.

VOL: In the 'which came first, the chicken or the egg', is the national church a product of General Convention, or are the dioceses the product of the national church and General Convention?

WANTLAND: The Episcopal Church came into being in 1789. Dioceses preceded the existence of TEC by a number of years. For example, the Diocese of Connecticut not only existed for years before 1789, but elected a bishop and had him consecrated in Scotland in 1784. New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia also elected bishops and had them consecrated in England in 1787. Clearly, the dioceses came together to create the Episcopal Church by adopting a Constitution and Canons and a Book of Common Prayer. The dioceses created the Episcopal Church, and not the other way round.

VOL: If the national church or general convention is the product of dioceses and not the other way round, then what legal claim can the national church make in court for parish properties?

WANTLAND: The only way TEC could even claim a trust interest in parish property is to rely on the imprecise language of the so-called Dennis Canon. However, prior to 1979, the so-called National Church never claimed any trust interest in parish or diocesan property. A basic principle of trust law is that two people can agree to create a trust interest in property which one of the parties owns. However, a third party cannot then claim a trust interest in that property without the consent of the original parties. While it might be possible, I am not personally aware of any diocese which has recognized the interest of 815 2nd Avenue in any property. To the contrary, a number of dioceses have specifically rejected any claim of the so-called National Church to property within those dioceses. With the possible exception of the Diocese of California, I am not aware of any parishes voluntarily granting an interest in their property to 815. In the absence of such a granting of trust interest, I doubt any court would uphold it.

VOL: Does the Presiding Bishop have any canonical authority in a diocese, any diocese, either liberal or conservative?

WANTLAND: The authority and duties of the Presiding Bishop are set forth in Canon I. 2. 4. In regard to dioceses, the PB shall consult with the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese if there be a vacancy in the office of bishop, but the PB has no authority to act, only to consult. Further, the PB is to visit every diocese, and takes order for the consecration of bishops within a diocese. No other duties in regard to dioceses are delineated. All other duties apply to the administrative structure of the Episcopal Church.

VOL: Mrs. Jefferts Schori, while holding the title of Presiding Bishop, is in reality the bishop of nothing. She has no diocese, unlike the Archbishop of Canterbury who is both the titular head of the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury. In that case, does she have any legitimate (legal or ecclesiastical) authority over the leadership of a Diocese?

WANTLAND: The Presiding Bishop has no authority over the leadership of a diocese, except if charges are brought against a bishop. The PB does have certain responsibilities in regard to the charges, as set forth in Title IV of the Canons. However, there is absolutely NO authority in any instance over Standing Committees, Diocesan Councils, or other diocesan leadership.

VOL: Ft. Worth Bishop Jack Iker said to his diocese recently that "there is no such thing as "the national Church." We are a confederation of Dioceses, related to each other by our participation in General Convention. He went on to say that from the earliest days of the beginnings of the Episcopal Church in this country, including the formation of dioceses and eventually the creation of the General Convention itself, there has been a strong mistrust of centralized authority that is deeply rooted in our history as Episcopalians. We do not have an Archbishop in this Church, who has authority over other Bishops and their Dioceses. Instead, we have a Presiding Bishop, with very limited canonical responsibilities, mainly administrative in nature." Do you agree with him?

WANTLAND: Bishop Iker has stated precisely what I feel the situation to be.

VOL: Mrs. Schori has said she will allow the sale of properties back to the parishes, even to other religious groups, but not to another Anglican jurisdiction. In your mind is that legal? Can she in fact do that? Is she breaking some federal statute by saying that a property sale can be restricted because she says so?

WANTLAND: Federal law does not apply here. The law of the State rules. I would simply observe that the previous Presiding Bishop declared in Louisiana that the so-called National Church had no interest in property disputes between a parish and the diocese, and would not intervene unless asked to do so by the diocese. Therefore, if a diocese is negotiating with a parish to avoid a costly lawsuit, what right does a Presiding Bishop have to dictate terms? None whatsoever.

VOL: Recently the Diocese of Western Michigan sold their cathedral to an independent evangelical mega church without apparently a whimper from the national church or David Booth Beers, Mrs. Schori's attorney. But when the pro-cathedral in El Paso, Texas, under the ecclesiastical authority of then Bishop Jeffrey Steenson in the Diocese of the Rio Grande, wanted to leave the diocese and TEC, I was told by Steenson that Beers raised all hell. Steenson told me that he did not want to litigate and furthermore the parish gave the diocese $2 million as part of the deal! Why do you think Beers ignored one situation and yet weighed in on another?

WANTLAND: Because of prejudice against so-called conservatives.

VOL: David Booth Beers bills out his time at $600.00 an hour less 15% discount for TEC at a cool $510.00 an hour, so I have been told. Presumably he has a team working with him. He seems to be everywhere, - Virginia and Philadelphia (recently). I can't imagine that at the end of the day millions of dollars in legal fees are being given to him by the national church. Where, in your opinion, is the money coming from?

WANTLAND: The money, in all probability, is coming from the endowment funds of TEC, which funds are more than $200,000,000.00.

VOL: A number of bishops, including yourself, have asked Mrs. Jefferts Schori where the money is coming from for the present litigation, but she has not replied. Why is that?

WANTLAND: I was one of the bishops to raise this question. To date we have received no answer. My guess is that TEC doesn't want to start the precedent of providing full and complete information about anything. The name of the game is "spin".

VOL: Is it possible that litigation costs could, in the end, bankrupt the Episcopal Church?

WANTLAND: I doubt it. While the cost of litigation is ridiculous, I don't think it will deplete the endowment funds.

VOL: Can the Trust Funds be raided without accountability and financial responsibility to pay legal costs?

WANTLAND: Some of the trust funds are unrestricted, and can be used however 815 2nd Avenue sees fit. Others are restricted, and cannot be legally used for purposes other than stated in the establishment of those funds. In any instance, the matter of our Treasurer (Ellen Cooke) who went to jail for misuse of trust funds proves that there must be accountability.

VOL: In the end, if the National Church takes possession of dioceses that will be 90 per cent empty, is the victory anything more than pyrrhic?

WANTLAND: In the highly unlikely event this were to occur, it is not really a victory of anything. What do you do with property you can't use? History has shown that it gets sold at a great loss.

VOL: With empty or near empty churches which will have to be sold in the open market, what is the ultimate victory for the National Church?

WANTLAND: The only victory is for the forces of Satan and secular humanism.

VOL: Thank you Bishop Wantland.


GJ - This story reminds me of the legal situation in the LCMS. Missouri congregations have the greatest level of property rights and independence. LCMS presidents since Jack Preus have tried to make Missouri more papal. Spineless congregations and pastors will have it no other way.

ELCA has assumed property rights, but former ALC congregations have left with their property. The Little Sect on the Prairie (ELS) has given pastors the Left Foot of Fellowship, but they took their congregational property with them (sometimes). The dirty tricks by Pope John the Malefactor were aimed at retaining the property of the congregation. "It's not personal, kid, I always liked you."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Not Every Pope Is Male:
Some Are Fully Human

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori tries to work the handicap access panel.
"Let me in! Do you know who I am?"


News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is learning the lesson that what goes around comes around.

Mrs. Jefferts Schori is learning she cannot escape the consequences of her actions or words over the way in which she is running the Episcopal Church.

She is doing major league harm to the institution. She thinks she is getting away with it, but ultimately she will pay the price for her bad behavior. Her iron fist in the velvet glove approach is not working. In fact, it is back-firing.

Mrs. Jefferts Schori has threatened three orthodox bishops demonstrating that behind the façade of sweet-talking "reconciling" language there lurks a fist of conformity, veneered over with a facile spirituality. She is fast becoming the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland."

The most recent target of her wrath - the Rt. Rev Jack Iker - received a not so veiled threat that if he tried to pull his diocese out of the Episcopal Church, all legal and ecclesiastical hell would rein down on him. It was the same threat she aimed at Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan - it is starting to look like a form letter that only requires someone to change the addressee and hit the "send" button to every recalcitrant bishop who dares to raise his head over the Episcopal Church ramparts and declare their independence.

Undeterred, the conservative bishop of Ft. Worth accused the presiding bishop of misusing her office and engaging in "aggressive, dictatorial posturing," forgetting all the nice words about reconciliation, dialogue and mediation she utters so frequently. Frank Griswold, her predecessor had us all going to a "deeper place", but no one knew where the hell it was, or to Sufi Rumi on a plain beyond good and evil, but no one could find that either. (Charles Bennison is still looking for it, but it might be too late for him.) Schori warned Iker in a letter that he could face church discipline if he continued to back proposals that lead his diocese away from the national church.

If Schori thought she could personally bully this Anglo-Catholic bishop, she clearly badly misjudged the bishop. He wasn't playing nice either. He roared right back saying, "[your letter] appears designed to intimidate our delegates and me. It grieves me that as the Presiding Bishop you would misuse your office in an attempt to intimidate and manipulate this diocese."

Iker turned the screws a little tighter accusing Schori of "intimidation" and making attempts to deter the diocese from taking any action in opposition to the direction she is leading the Church. "It is highly inappropriate for you to attempt to interfere in the internal life of this diocese," he blasted back at her.

Them's fightin' words.

He closed with these words, "While your threats deeply sadden us, they do not frighten us. We will continue to stand firm for the unchanging truth of the Holy Scriptures and the redeeming Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whatever the costs."

Late last year, Schori attempted to intimidate another bishop, John-David Schofield of San Joaquin by accusing him of "spiritual violence" due to an attempt by him to disassociate his diocese from The Episcopal Church. This brought a riposte from one priest saying that such an accusation, delivered from the public face of the Episcopal Church, is not only "reckless but also offensive, especially to those of us resident in the Diocese of San Joaquin. Is this the 'shalom' that you so fervently preached about at the National Cathedral earlier this month?" Indeed not.

This also begs the question "Just who is doing the spiritual violence?" For orthodox Episcopalians and orthodox Anglicans watching from the sidelines it is Jefferts Schori, not Duncan, Iker or Schofield who are doing "spiritual violence" to the Episcopal Church. She has replaced the faith of the church with Millennium Development Goals. The Great Commission has become the Great Omission.

This past week saw yet another side to the Iron Lady of Episcopalianism. It appears that Mrs Jefferts Schori likes to manipulate even her band of not so merry liberal bishops, who apparently live in mortal fear of her tongue and her legal Rottweiler, David Booth Beers who practically lives at her elbow for $510.00 an hour.

It was revealed in testimony before a Virginia court, where some 11 parishes want to leave the Episcopal Church, that she ordered Virginia Bishop Peter Lee to break a verbal agreement, which would have allowed the parishes to withdraw from the Episcopal Church, and directed the Diocese of Virginia to sue the clergy and lay leaders of the 11 congregations.

The Dominatrix of 815 has wielded her whip against one of her own kind, reducing the theologically soft-headed bishop, Peter James Lee, to a quivering mass of compliance. Earlier he was ready to cut a deal with the departing parishes which was almost on the table, according to testimony from the Rev. John Yates, but then it all fell apart.

No one knew at the time what caused him to change his mind, but at the Fairfax County Circuit Court it all came out in the open when Jefferts Schori admitted that she did it to prevent "incursions by foreign bishops."

She revealed, that shortly after her installation as Presiding Bishop in November, Schori met with Bishop Lee, telling him she "could not support negotiations for sale if the congregations intended to set up as other parts of the Anglican Communion."

Is there a law in American statutes that says to whom you can and cannot sell property? Does Schori have the right to tell a parish priest or bishop to whom he may sell a building?

Jefferts Schori tried very carefully to parse her words, but that didn't fly with the court. She was directed by the court to answer the question more explicitly.

The moral of this story is that she can say whatever she wants in pulpits to gullible Episcopalians, but the courts brook no such prevarication and pluriform talk. You either say what you mean, and mean what you say, or be directed by the courts to be more explicit.

Jefferts Schori has demonstrated that she can play hardball, and that is going down like a lead balloon. One wonders if she successfully intimidated Dr. Rowan Williams in New Orleans when the House of Bishops met. On the surface, all appeared sweetness and light between the two, but there were indications at a press conference that she was in charge and she would not tolerate any opposition or interference in the affairs of the Episcopal Church, even by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

She made it clear in New Orleans that there would be no reversal of the church's forward movement on pansexual behavior and that "consultation" means never having to say you're sorry or change your mind about the direction of The Episcopal Church. Schori made it clear that the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons are sacrosanct, and that TEC will never abide by, accept or sanction a universal set of canons that the whole communion would write and live by because TEC could be disciplined by such a body. It would also set a legal precedent over property disputes in the TEC.

If Williams didn't get the message, he would have to be the dumbest archbishop to sit in Lambeth Palace. He can mull over The Episcopal Church's "baptismal covenant" till the Second Coming, but the political situation will demand more immediate attention.

Clearly Schori's ecclesiastical and legal strategy of iron-fisted conformity is not going down well. In fact it is not going over at all. She is more than a disappointment. She is a disaster.

As Charles Bennison, the inhibited Bishop of Pennsylvania learned the hard way recently, when you betray your own liberal constituency, you can find the tables turned against you. If Mrs. Jefferts Schori pushes too hard against her own kind, the same thing could happen to her.

In the world of ecclesiastical politics as in the world of Machiavellian realpolitik, the long knives of revenge are never far from the convention floor. Just ask Bishop Bennison.

The Book of Concord

Martin Chemnitz,
Principal Editor of the Book of Concord, 1580

Martin Chemnitz had the distinct advantage of learning under Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon. Lutherans usually overlook Melanchthon, who trained so many future pastors in his long career. Some say Melanchthon was more influential than Luther, when measured by numbers of students.

Melanchthon was such a theological giant that he would have been known as the chief Reformer of any country in Europe except Germany. Many countries courted him. Melanchthon would have added intellectual luster to his royal sponsors.

Chemnitz was not just another disciple of Luther and Melanchthon. He added substantially to our treasury of great Lutheran books, although his work on the Book of Concord alone would be enough. Chemnitz' important strengths were:
1. His knowledge and use of the Patristic Fathers.
2. His polemics against the Calvinists.

Lutherans are generally weak on the Patristic Fathers. Like their Baptist brothers, they think church history skips from the Apostolic Age to the Reformation, with nothing but darkness between. Chemnitz edited the Book of Concord to show that the Lutheran Confessions were in harmony with the historic Christian faith. Lutheran is not a brand name, a sectarian sideshow, but the best expression of genuine Christian teaching.

Chemnitz' The Two Natures of Christ is educational and devotional at the same time. Doctrinal books, like church history, can turn people into atheists or pan-religionists. Norwich's brilliant history of the Byzantine Empire cannot questions anyone getting upset about the Two Natures of Christ. Chemnitz' great book traces the issues, quotes the Patristic Fathers, and reveals a love for the Word of God and faithful confessions of that truth. Chemnitz alone could match Luther in writing a book that could be called a collection of sermons, Scriptural exposition, or a doctrinal textbook.

The quotations below are a sample, starting with Luther, then Melanchton's work, finally Chemnitz' work in The Two Natures of Christ and the Formula of Concord. The Two Natures was published just before the Book of Concord and its Formula, so we can see how the earlier efforts of the Second Martin contributed to these unifying Confessions.

"The Holy Scripture is God's Word, written and, so to speak, lettered and put into the form of letters, just as Christ, the eternal Word of God, is clothed in humanity. And men regard and treat the written Word of God in this world just as they do Christ. It is a worm and no book compared with other books; for the honor people accord other writings of men by studying, reading, pondering, keeping, and using them they do not accord Scripture. If it is treated well, it lies there in neglect. Others tear it to pieces, scourge and crucify it, and subject it to all manner of torture until they stretch it sufficiently to apply to their heresy, meaning, and whim...It is a good sign, therefore, if a man has the precious gift of loving and liking Scripture, of gladly reading it, of highly esteeming and treasuring it. Such a man God, in turn, will surely honor...."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. p. 71f. 1541 Psalm 22:6

"Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably conjoined in one Person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, that He might reconcile the Father unto us, and be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men."
Augsburg Confession, III. The Son of God. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45. Tappert, p. 29f. Heiser, p. 12.

"The Third Article the adversaries approve, in which we confess that there are in Christ two natures, namely, a human nature, assumed by the Word into the unity of His person; and that the same Christ suffered and died to reconcile the Father to us; and that He was raised again to reign, and to justify and sanctify believers, etc., according to the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, III. #52. Of Christ, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 119. Tappert, p. 107. Heiser, p. 32. Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:19ff.

"These arguments of the Monothelites can be found in the proceedings of the Sixth General Council and in the writings of Damascenus. The Church was severely shaken by this controversy, for on the one hand, the Nestorians, under the pretext of the two wills and activities in Christ, tore the person of the one Christ in two, and on the other hand the Eutychians, stressing the one activity, took away the difference of the natures and the essential attributes of Christ."
Martin Chemnitz, The Two Natures of Christ, 1578, trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971. p. 234.

"This dispute concerning the two wills and the two natural operations in Christ is no idle thing, for in addition to the points which we have mentioned, it also has this use that the Son of God assumed our nature in such a way that first in and through Himself He restored our nature to its pristine beauty which had been despoiled and corrupted in Adam, as Cyril says, In Johannem, Book 11, chapter 25...He restored even the powers which our nature had lost because of sin, and in Himself He first repaired and renewed the powers which had been currpted through sin."
Martin Chemnitz, The Two Natures of Christ, 1578, trans. J. A. O. Preus, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971. p. 239.

" has been unanimously taught by the other teachers of the Augsburg Confession that Christ is our righteousness not according to His divine nature alone, nor according to His human nature alone, but according to both natures; for He has redeemed, justified, and saved us from our sins as God and man, through His complete obedience; that therefore the righteousness of faith is the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and our adoption as God's children only on account of the obedience of Christ, which through faith alone, out of pure grace, is imputed for righteousness to all true believers, and on account of it they are absolved from all their unrighteousness."
Formula of Concord, SD, III. #4. Righteousness of Faith. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 917. Tappert, p. 539f. Heiser, p. 250.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dixie Byzantine

Lutherans - the Mother Ship Beckons

I Googled two names together and found another Lutheran-to-Eastern-Orthodox blog, mentioning Fenton (former LCMS pastor).

This Dixie Byzantine blog brings up common themes for Lutherans who join Eastern Orthodoxy. I find this trend hauntingly similar to the one leading so many to Fuller Seminary and Willow Creek.

The last few Lutherans may need to build an ark to survive the tidal wave of Romanism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

I Googled some more and found a blog by Rev. Stuckwisch, who previously published through His Grace, Archbishop Heiser, ELDONA. Stuckwisch listed 40 pastors who influenced him. I am sure Kurt Marquart would be aghast to be on the list with Fenton and Gehlbach. Robert Preus? He died warning his colleagues about their fascination with all things Roman and Eastern Orthodox. Many of the others make sense. They are the leaders slouching toward Constantinople.

The recent issue of Christian News mentions student papers appearing at Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne. Jack Cascione is the source, so the information is seriously compromised. If the quotations are correct, future LCMS pastors are stating that a bishop validates the true Church. Cascione is on the opposite end of error, claiming that the Voter's Assembly validates the call, even the Sacraments: extra ecclesiam voterorum nulla salus.

Herman Otten's Sister -
Marie Meyer

From the ALPB Online Forum, ipsissima verba:

ALPB Forum Member

Posts: 22

Re: Lesbian Pastor Tests ELCA Celibacy Rule
« Reply #512 on: Today at 08:46:49 PM »

Posts on this topic have come primarily from persons who are members of the ELCA. I'd like to comment "up close and personal" as an LCMS women.

Today's article in the NT Times first caught my attention because I grew up in the shadow of Fordham Lutheran Church. When my husband and I returned to the area that now comprises the Metro Synod I served on the Board for LSS of Metropolitan NY and so had the opportunity to meet Bishop Bouman. IMO his stated defense of Pr. Foster, "She's not afrasid to tell people that she loves God and that God loves them" sounds so generic. His reference to a genuine faith that she lives in an "inclusive" way will be ammunition to those in the LCMS who claim that Lutheran bodies who ordain women do so on the on the basis of inclusivity.

Throughout the LCMS it is maintained that Lutherans who ordain women do so on the basis of equality, inclusivity, love and fairness. Thus, LCMS women who openly speak up for an open discussion of how the LCMS defends a male only pastorate are assumed to base their request on "inclusivity and equality." The specter of a "slippery slope' leading to the ordination of persons in a same sex relationship is an insurmountable barrier to any discussion of how the LCMS defends a male pastorate.

I suspect few in the ELCA realize the degree to which how the ELCA deals witrh the ordination of gays and lesbains impacts upon the lives of LCMS women who maintain that the LCMS defense of a male only pastorate ought to be open for discussion.

Marie Meyer


GJ - Pastor Herman Otten's sister, Marie Meyer, is an advocate for women's ordination in the Missouri Synod. So is Ralph Bohlmann. I understand Jerry Kieschnick favors women's ordination as well. I met Marie at Concordia, Ft. Wayne and thought I knew her from before. She said we had never met. When I mentioned this to Herman, he said, "She's my sister!" Then I realized her Ottenesque gestures, voice, and looks made me think we had met.

I put the errant words in bold. Several passes through the inspired text were required to find all the mistakes. But truly, Marie's final paragraph, er ah, statement, er ah, paragraph, is worthy of an award.

From this blog I see that Marie Meyer was speaking on the campus of Concordia University Wisconsin. However, her brother Herman is not allowed to speak at either LCMS seminary.

Famous Passage - Good Question

St. Paul, Justification by Faith

KJV Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.


GJ - We need another justification here--UOJ--a universal absolution, grace without the Means of Grace, forgiveness without faith, justification without the Gospel. I hope the UOJ Stormtroopers study this passage.

  1. Those whom He foreknew, He predestinated.
  2. Those whom He predestinated, He also called.
  3. Those whom He called, He also justified.
  4. Those whom He justified, He also glorified.

This divine time frame includes all of God's activities, from the very beginning.

Time To Say Goodbye -
Richard Roberts

President Richard Roberts with his lovely second wife.

Scandal Brewing at Oral Roberts

Oct 6, 6:38 AM (ET)


TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Twenty years ago, televangelist Oral Roberts said he was reading a spy novel when God appeared to him and told him to raise $8 million for Roberts' university, or else he would be "called home."

Now, his son, Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts, says God is speaking again, telling him to deny lurid allegations in a lawsuit that threatens to engulf this 44-year-old Bible Belt college in scandal.

Richard Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors' expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter's senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.

She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as "underage males."

(AP) Richard Roberts, president and chief executive officer of Oral Roberts University, is shown in...
Full Image

At a chapel service this week on the 5,300-student campus known for its 60-foot-tall bronze sculpture of praying hands, Roberts said God told him: "We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not. This lawsuit ... is about intimidation, blackmail and extortion."

San Antonio televangelist John Hagee, a member of the ORU board of regents, said the university's executive board "is conducting a full and thorough investigation."

Colleagues fear for the reputation of the university and the future of the Roberts' ministry, which grew from Southern tent revivals to one of the most successful evangelical empires in the country, hauling in tens of millions of dollars in contributions a year. The university reported nearly $76 million in revenue in 2005, according to the IRS.

Oral Roberts is 89 and lives in California. He holds the title of chancellor, but the university describes him as semi-retired, and his son presides over day-to-day operations on the campus, which had a modern, space-age design when it was built in the early 1960s but now looks dated, like Disney's Tomorrowland.

Cornell Cross II, a senior from Burlington, Vt., said he is looking to transfer to another school because the scandal has "severely devalued and hurt the reputation of my degree." [GJ - What exactly was an ORU degree worth before the scandal?]

"We have asked and asked and asked to see the finances of our school and what they're doing with our money, and we've been told no," said, Cross who is majoring in government. "Now we know why. As a student, I'm not going to stand for it any longer."

The allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by three former professors. They sued ORU and Roberts, alleging they were wrongfully dismissed after reporting the school's involvement in a local political race.

Richard Roberts, according to the suit, asked a professor in 2005 to use his students and university resources to aid a county commissioner's bid for Tulsa mayor. Such involvement would violate state and federal law because of the university's nonprofit status. Up to 50 students are alleged to have worked on the campaign.

The professors also said their dismissals came after they turned over to the board of regents a copy of a report documenting moral and ethical lapses on the part of Roberts and his family. The internal document was prepared by Stephanie Cantese, Richard Roberts' sister-in-law, according to the lawsuit.

An ORU student repairing Cantese's laptop discovered the document and later provided a copy to one of the professors.

It details dozens of alleged instances of misconduct. Among them:

- A longtime maintenance employee was fired so that an underage male friend of Mrs. Roberts could have his position.

- Mrs. Roberts - who is a member of the board of regents and is referred to as ORU's "first lady" on the university's Web site - frequently had cell-phone bills of more than $800 per month, with hundreds of text messages sent between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. to "underage males who had been provided phones at university expense."

- The university jet was used to take one daughter and several friends on a senior trip to Orlando, Fla., and the Bahamas. The $29,411 trip was billed to the ministry as an "evangelistic function of the president."

- Mrs. Roberts spent more than $39,000 at one Chico's clothing store alone in less than a year, and had other accounts in Texas and California. She also repeatedly said, "As long as I wear it once on TV, we can charge it off." The document cites inconsistencies in clothing purchases and actual usage on TV.

- Mrs. Roberts was given a white Lexus SUV and a red Mercedes convertible by ministry donors.

- University and ministry employees are regularly summoned to the Roberts' home to do the daughters' homework.

- The university and ministry maintain a stable of horses for exclusive use by the Roberts' children.

- The Roberts' home has been remodeled 11 times in the past 14 years.

Tim Brooker, one of the professors who sued, said he fears for the university's survival if certain changes aren't made.

"All over that campus, there are signs up that say, 'And God said, build me a university, build it on my authority, and build it on the Holy Spirit,'" Brooker said. "Unfortunately, ownership has shifted."


GJ - Richard Roberts has taken a paid leave and is thought to be living in a secure, undisclosed location, where he can discuss denominational politics with a man known only as Karl, aka the Artful Dodger.

PS -

Statement from George Pearsons - Chairman of the ORU Board of Regents

Today, a letter was sent from Richard Roberts to the Board of Regents of Oral Roberts University tendering his resignation as President of Oral Roberts University effective today, November 23, 2007.

The Board of Regents will meet Monday and Tuesday, November 26 and 27, 2007 to determine action in the search process for a new president.

Executive Regent Billy Joe Daugherty will continue to assume administrative responsibilities of the Office of the President, working together with Chancellor Oral Roberts, until the Regents meeting.

In his letter of resignation to the Board, Richard Roberts said, “I love ORU with all my heart. I love the students, faculty, staff and administration and I want to see God’s best for all of them.”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Sermon


Day of Thanksgiving

KJV 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

KJV Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.


The Hymn #574
The Invocation p. 15
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 1 Timothy 2:1-8
The Gospel Luke 17:11-28
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #36
The Sermon

Enter His Courts with Thanksgiving

The Offertory p. 22
The Hymn #304
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #52

KJV Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD,
all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness:
come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the LORD he is God:
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth to all generations.

Luther often commented that our biggest failing is lack of thanks toward God. The pivotal points for an official Day of Thanksgiving are the first Pilgrim’s gathering and later the official pronouncement of President Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War.

The first Thanksgiving developed from a host of bad rulers in England. Looking back, we can see God’s foresight in providing the Stuart kings, who “left an indelible bad impression on England.” They are the kings who followed Queen Elisabeth I, a monarch so powerful that the pope admired her. King James I gave us the KJV, but he worked to make England a Roman Catholic country again. This was completely devious and dishonest, causing two good things to develop. One was the periodic flight of Protestants to America to enjoy religious freedom. The other was the loss of royal authority and the increase of Parliamentary power. The colonists came to America with a new concept of religion. They were Christian, but they did not want their political leaders to control religion. They even established denominations in the colonies that became states. The separation of Church and State that President Jefferson pledged was a promise to keep the federal government from meddling in religious affairs.

The Stuart follies did not stop with King James I. He was followed by King Charles I and II, who also tried to undermine Protestantism. Finally the Glorious Revolution of William and Mary put an end to these furtive efforts to re-establish Rome. The loss of royal power during this era fed the democratic principles of America.

Because the slavery issue was not resolved in America as it was in England (by the Methodist Wilberforce’s life-long efforts), we had to face a horrible Civil War. Many people forget that we lost more Americans in that war than in all our foreign wars put together. The only other war more savage has been the one against unborn babies.

The Pilgrims barely had a home in America when they stopped to give thanks to God for their new opportunities. Lincoln was still facing disaster when he asked the nation to give thanks to God. He proclaimed:

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

2 Serve the LORD with gladness:
come before his presence with singing.

Being thankful to God is difficult in two different ways. When everything is going well for us, we grow slothful or boastful and think all of it comes from our wisdom, hard work, and foresight. Wealthy people often become godless because everyone treats them as gods. In Fiddler on the Roof, the poor dairyman wishes he were rich so that everyone would pay attention to his words of wisdom.

Another difficulty is being thankful to God during times of trial. That is always relative to the individual. Whatever goodness comes our way we treat as a natural right, until it is gone. We do not even thank God for those benefits until they are missing. Then we are resentful that the bounty is gone. We may have more than most of the people who ever lived and yet feel slighted. Or we may be healthier than most people our age and still feel abnormally ill or weak.

The people with the fewest physical blessings are often the happiest, not because they are without pain, suffering, discomfort, or the difficulties of requiring care. They are the happiest because they are grateful for what they have rather than bitter about what they lack. Brenda Kiehler often mentioned how precious the Gospel was to her, since she really had nothing else. She lived in constant pain, could not take care of her own personal needs, and faced various surgeries that only managed problems for a short time. What mattered most to Brenda? She worried about everyone else. That was her most effective pain therapy. (Her birthday is November 26th.)

Being a little older provides some perspective. My wife and I have outlived many friends and relatives, the same age or much younger. Many years ago my first cousin went out berry picking with his wife and his mother. My cousin was newly married. Later that day his wife died of heat prostration. We thought the news was about his elderly mother, but that was not so. Three young people from my congregation in Sturgis died from needless auto accidents: a new car malfunction, two different drunk drivers. The congregation only had about 60 members, but they lost three teens in a few years. In Midland a young mother, who seemed to have everything and who cared for others, was stricken by fatal cancer only a few years after she visited our daughter Erin in the hospital. In fact, a nurse who cared for Erin soon joined her as a patient in the same area, the intermediate care facility.

When we lose people or face the loss of someone dear to us, we realize how God has created a soul, a unique person, never to be repeated nor forgotten. One of the great tragedies of this age has been the denial of this truth. Therefore, when a child is lost, even due to natural or unavoidable causes, there is a deep sense of loss. Someone unique has begun life. As Professor Nagel said at a Concordia, St. Louis lecture, “Every soul has a name,” speaking of infant baptism. Every single soul has a purpose because God created everything through Christ for that very reason.

3 Know ye that the LORD he is God:
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Creation and thanksgiving go together, because the awesome nature of God’s design helps us look beyond the immediate problems of the day. Right now our tangelo tree is ripening. The lemons are not because of the record freeze we had last January. For some reason the tangelo tree escaped damage and produced a record number of individual fruits.

We get to enjoy two phases of the citrus season. The first one happens when all the citrus in Phoenix bloom over a few weeks’ time. The air is heavily scented everywhere, since citrus grows almost without effort here. The aroma is one of the best in Creation, neither heavy nor sweet. Later the little green fruits appear. The long growing season ends with fruit impossible to resist, far better than anything in a grocery store.

The trees should make us thankful to God because their growth, flowering, and fruiting are all accomplished without any help from me, except for a little watering. (My neighbors provide most of the ground moisture through their efforts.) The bees arrive on time to pollinate. The fruits form, take color, and sweeten from the energy of the sun. What is more astounding? – the infinite complexity of the solar system and our main energy source, the sun? or the mutual dependencies of soil, water, rain, insects, molds, birds, butterflies, and lizards?

Now that the weather has changed for the worse in many places, people are angry that we do not live in paradise. They even want to make man the cause of the earth warming and cooling. If 99% of what God provides is good for us, we are angry with the 1% that does not seem pleasing and beneficial at the moment. Faith means trusting in what we do not see and know at the moment, trusting in God’s foresight and His loving-kindness.

KJV Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

This means that nothing happens outside of God’s purpose, design, and benevolence. What confuses people is the impact of man’s sinful nature. As Luther wrote, we live in a world of deceit and greed. Therefore people are always been deceived and cheated. Yet God is so powerful that He can and does use the worst experiences as a blessing. Sometimes He strengthens us for the future. At other times He makes us more compassionate, patient, and understanding. We do not have to listen to His guidance. Most people do not. One LCA pastor told me, “Use others before they use you.” That was his model, and he was outwardly successful. The same minister thought the Feeding of the 5,000 was a “miracle of sharing,” meaning that Jesus did not feed the multitude. They were ashamed of their parsimony and took out their hidden lunches when the boy shared his. (That verse is missing from the KJV and even the feminist NIV!)
First of all, God gives us our material needs, which is so much His nature that He takes care of unbelievers and believers alike.

KJV Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For those who are called according to His purpose, God provides an abundance of spiritual help. We are weak, frail creatures, easily discouraged. If we were left on our own, to trust our knowledge, feelings, and experiences, we would desert God in a moment. Look at the disciples on the boat with Jesus in a storm-tossed sea. They relied on their knowledge of the Sea of Galilee, the experience as fishermen, their memories of lost friends and relatives. In a word, they panicked. They shook Jesus awake and accused Him of not caring if they drowned. His response? “O ye of little faith!” They trusted in everything except Christ. They relied on the most unreliable and accused the Lord of Creation of not caring.

When we trust our own knowledge and feelings, we are like the engineer who used to walk across oil storage tanks. They have fabric on top. His inspections meant that he walked across waving, toxic pillars of petroleum. If he had stepped on a tear in the fabric, he would have slipped into thousands of gallons of oil, a bad career move. Our generation has never tired of saying, “Trust your feelings. Go with your feelings.” Contrariwise, they also insist, “Do not trust the Word of God until you judge it with your own experience and knowledge.” Human reason soon makes a fine mess of the Scriptures, which cannot be like anything manufactured or imagined by man. So the overwhelming voice today is to guide us to walk across the shimmering mass of toxins called human experience while avoiding the bedrock of Christ. “On this bedrock I will build My Church.” (Matthew 16. The bedrock is Christ, not Peter, not Peter’s confession.)

To provide us with good spiritual guidance, God has given us His Word in many forms. First of all He made sure that we would have the precise revelation of His will, preserved with amazing precision, written for all time in the Scriptures. No other ancient book has been transmitted so well. No world religion compares to Christianity. The Christian faith is not better or superior. The Christian faith is simply the unique truth of the universe. Everything else is simply a bad imitation.

Every day we should thank God for the Gospels and for the other books of the New Testament, not to mention the Old Testament. The Gospels teach us about Christ and His love for us. They convey Christ to us. God has bound His Holy Spirit to the Word so we can be sure that He is always at work in the Gospel message. When they convey Christ to us, the Scriptures also bring forgiveness. That faith which was implanted in most of us at baptism, as babies, is renewed and strengthened with the often told story of Christ’s death and resurrection. Some were converted as adults and then baptized. In both cases the Word converted us to faith. The Word has preserved that faith.

4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Thanksgiving is another word for Holy Communion. Many people call it the Eucharist, after the Greek word for thanksgiving. If I know someone is Greek, I say, “Ev-char-isto,” modern Greek for “I thank you.” One woman was overwhelmed and kept thanking me for saying one word in her language.

Thanksgiving is a good word for the sacrament because we should come to communion with hearts thankful to God. In Luther’s time people disputed the nature of Holy Communion, since that was under attack by the papacy. At one point Luther said, “Do not concentrate on the elements but on the Word. The Word is the power of the sacrament – given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sin.”

People get distracted by other issues when they should concentrate on what God has done, how He loves His own people for loving His Son. What we fail to see here and now will be revealed in the time to come. We always know:

5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth to all generations.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Slouching Toward Constantinople: Turn East!

Father Rutowicz no longer links to the Confessional Lutheran Marian monastery, cited earlier on Ichabod. The link does not work.

The Augustana Ministerium, not to be confused with the Augustana Ministerium:

“The Challenge of Eastern Orthodoxy”


“Sanctification and Modes of Communication”

Augustana Ministerium Second Annual Theological Conference

August 30-31, 2007

“Eastern Orthodoxy and Lutheranism on Original Sin,” by Rev. John Rutowicz, Part 1 Part 2

“Eastern Orthodoxy and Lutheranism on Justification,” by Rev. David Juhl, Part 1 Part 2

“Eastern Orthodoxy and Lutheranism on Sanctification/Theosis,” by Rev. Gary Gehlbach, Part 1 Part 2

“Sanctification: What Is It? What Causes It? What Are its Consequences?” by Rev. Dr. Steven Hein

“Modes of Communication in the Ministry of the Gospel,” by Rev. Robert Schaibley

GJ - An Eastern Orthodoxy advocate is not amused.

GJ - This reminds me of the Panel Discussion on the Church Growth Movement, Mequon Sasusage Factory, 1987, led by such Fuller luminaries as Paul Kelm, Lawrence Otto Olson, David Valleskey, etc. etc. Paul Y. Cho received fulsome praise and adoration. Criticism of Church Growth was received with smirks.

Note below from Cyberstones:

Re: Infant Communion - weedon
I don't think many of us are actually advocating for the immediate move to infant communion - we know and love our parishes and our people, and we know what such advocacy would do to our churches. But we are advocating for the freedom to discuss this and explore the matter - a matter which many of us think the Reformation fathers did not put on the front burner, and therefore did not do justice to. One cannot but be struck in the discussion between Andreae and Jeremias II how Andreae builds his entire case on a reading of 1 Cor. that Luther disallows; or how Andreae can say that we do not NEED to commune the baptized infants because they spiritually eat of Christ by faith, never even taking note that it was exactly this "spiritually eating of Christ by faith" which according to the Formula is the very grounds for a beneficial oral eating. These are matters which the CTCR in its report simply did not deal with, and they need to be looked at. Not in the heat of someone pressing the Church to change on this over night, but in the calm and reasoned and prayerful discussion of the Scriptures by which the Holy Spirit leads the Church to an ever deeper appropriation of the faith once delivered to the saints.
Mar 30, 2007 13:32:44 Re: Infant Communion - Gary Gehlbach
Fr. Weedon, thank you for your well-reasoned comments. You said it much better than I could.

Mar 30, 2007 17:53:42 Re: Infant Communion - weedon
Fr. Gehlbach,

What I presented was nothing but a condensation of the arguments you have assembled and helpfully presented for all to read. For that the Church owes you a debt of gratitude indeed.

Mar 30, 2007 07:24:48 Re: Infant Communion - Gary Gehlbach
Bill, your analysis is spot on. In the CTCR response to Circuits 18 & 19, it asserts that advocates of infant communion are making the two sacrament equivocal to each other. Yet, that is exactly what it does in its own response. The CTCR dismisses 2000 years of Church history as being irrelevant, yet asserts the importance of the past 150 years of the LCMS. It plays word games by asserting that a person can be "worthy" yet receive the sacrament "unworthily."

For more information on infant communion and links to several LCMS documents, I would refer folks to my website. It has references and links to all sorts of papers on infant communion.

Mar 30, 2007 08:18:21 Re: Infant Communion - Rev.PTM
Gary, I know that you personally are really "into" the whole infant communion thing. If so, I urge you to take your views very public and post them on your blog site along with all supporting documentation for your position and then's let's have an open debate over it. Subject your position to that scrutiny.

You are going to have a tough row to hoe though trying to reinterpret the Confessions and Scriptures and appealing to a couple of pastor's papers isn't going to cut the old mustard.

Mar 30, 2007 10:11:34 Re: Infant Communion - Gary Gehlbach
I should take it public? Apparently, my website isn't public, although it has been one of the top search results under Google and only recently overtaken by wikipedia and I lost my top listing when we changed ISPs last year.

Several pastors' papers may not "cut the mustard" in your opinion. But the opponents' arguments are weak and don't cut the muster with Scripture and the Confessions.

The topic of infant communion is an open question. Luther and the Reformers never condemned the Eastern Churches on this topic. (Oh, right that is an argument from silence; but it is still a valid point.) Oh, yes, I'm "into" discussing infant communion. Unlike others who simply wish to pontificate their opinions and bully others into submission.

Paul, believe it or not, I want to discuss the issue (my website lists articles both pro and con) and have been discussing it for years. And besides, the real issue behind the infant communion discussion is whether or not infants have faith or if they must have adult faith to be worthy. All the arguments against infant communion (even the CTCR's) indicate that there are two types of faith -- adult faith and infant faith. I find this most offensive and contrary to the Scripture and the Confessions.

You ask in another place whether I commune infants. No, it is not in the western tradition I inherited. But as with all traditions, it must continually tested by Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

GJ - Click here for Pastor Gehlbach's Infant Communion Mega-site.


GJ - The recently resussitated Augustana Ministerium seems to be the farm team for ELDONA. Both are intent on imitating the Eastern Orthodox as much as possible. One Ft. Wayne student dismissed concerns about crypto-Romanism as "just a matter of polity." Likewise, Church Growth is not doctrine but "just a few useful ideas," in the words of Church Growth Enthusiast David Valleskey.

In fact, both trends are Enthusiasm, one hiding in a cloud of incense, the other behind the latest marketing surveys.

Episcopal Tolerance



By David W. Virtue

Whenever liberals excoriate the orthodox for holding to "rigid positions" on sexuality, they do it by making conservatives look fundamentalist, uninclusive, lacking diversity, while ignoring the real issues like poverty, HIV/AIDS and a woman's right to free abortion.

Liberals and pansexualists also want to make it very clear, and underscore, that if the Anglican Communion splits it is the fault of narrow-minded conservatives who can't see beyond the end of their moral and theological noses. If they would just rediscover the big tent of Anglicanism with its Via Media approach to just about everything, all will be well and all manner of things will be well.

The man who comes in for the most bashing and vitriol is Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria. Now if Akinola were an African-American, white liberals would never dare say the things about him that they say and get away with because he is ensconced in Africa and does not have access to America's legal system. Bishops Spong, Griswold, Shaw, Bennison et all have all said things about Akinola and his fellow African bishops that would be deemed racist and subject to lawsuits were they spoken on US soil to a US African-American bishop. But they can say the things they do and know they can get away with because Akinola is a "fundamentalist" who lives in Africa, far from the litigious North American scene.

Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison's memorable line likening the growth of the church in Africa to that of the Nazi Party will probably make the history books. On another occasion he called African Anglicans "extreme Anglicans." The majority is black and they are tied to the Church of England more than we are, he said. An enormous lie if ever there was one. Liberals and pansexualists are constantly pleading their case with one eye firmly fixed on the Archbishop of Canterbury, begging him to accept New Hampshire Gene Robinson to Lambeth next year regardless of what Dr. Williams might think about sodomy. American liberals would build an altar and sacrifice Akinola on it if it would guarantee an invitation for the homoerotic bishop of New Hampshire - and these people don't even believe in the atonement and the blood of Jesus to cleanse them from all their sins. But Akinola is certainly worth sacrificing for the greater cause of Anglican unity!

Something calling itself the Inclusive Church held their first conference in Derbyshire, England recently and Dr. Jenny Te Paa Principal of the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand, and a member of the 2003 Lambeth Commission, and someone assisting in the St Augustine's Seminar responsible for planning the detailed content for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference 2008 (talk about the loading dice for what the content of the Lambeth Conference will be) had this to say.

She condemned what she called the 'reach of enmity' among Anglicans. In a strong speech, Te Paa reminded her hearers "how pervasive the reach of enmity has become amongst us." She told her audience "not to notice the bad behavior of the few, but the good behavior of the many."

So who exactly are those who have enmity and who practice "bad behavior"? Mrs. Jefferts Schori and her legal pit bull David Booth Beers as they sue dioceses and parishes? I don't think so. Jon Bruno Bishop of Los Angeles who is repeatedly suing three orthodox parishes for their properties? I doubt it. What about uninclusive liberal dioceses that refuse to allow graduates from the evangelical Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry exercise their gospel ministry in their dioceses? Not a prayer. Or the 2,000 pansexualists in The Episcopal Church who are pounding the bricks for sodomy seven days a week in every parish and diocesan convention, bullying priests and bishops (look what Louie Crew had to say about SW Florida Bishop Dabney Smith recently).

Sodomists are TOTALLY RELENTLESS in their pursuit, read behavior, of inclusion. The Episcopal-recognized organization Integrity has its leader Susan Russell running to her computer at every opportunity to push LGBT issues to the forefront on every occasion she can. She is utterly and totally relentless to the point of viciousness in making sure that anyone, bishop or priest who stands in the way of the full inclusion of non-celibate sexual behavior in TEC is included in every statement. The only sexual behavior not to get a pass in The Episcopal Church is, of course, adultery.

Dr. Te Paa lamented the church's obsession with drawing lines that exclude, which is distracting us from the enormous suffering so many people face. We must not "fret and fight" while people are literally dying. Perhaps Mrs Te Paa should talk with Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa whose province is being torn apart over sexuality issues. This province is dying not because of poverty or HIV/AIDS but the relentless pursuit of sodomite acceptance by a bishop and a wannabe English cleric who wants to be a bishop resulting in the destruction of an entire province.

The only people drawing the lines in the Anglican culture wars are liberals and pansexualists. THEY not the orthodox have drawn the lines (of exclusion) demanding full acceptance of a behavior that the church in 2,000 years has never endorsed by the vast majority of Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Evangelicals of all stripes.

At the same conference the Revd Canon Giles Goddard, chair of Inclusive Church, said, "We are not a pressure group of the like-minded." He added, "We are ordinary Anglicans who love our church, and we are deeply concerned by the way in which the effort to exclude is overtaking the calling to live the Gospel."

That's a downright lie at least in the American Episcopal Church. No group has done more pressuring than Integrity, and the few hundred LGBT folk use every diocesan convention, and for the last 25 years, every General Convention, to pressure the Episcopal Church into accepting their abominable behavior. It is a fiction to say otherwise.

Their tactics are nothing short of Stalinist. First preach, change a few lay people and priests' minds, raise unholy hell, convince a few bishops, then coerce the rest. When the rest don't follow, pass a resolution demanding they do, then bully them, scream at them (you can take lessons from Jack Spong, Gene Robinson or Walter Righter) and then set out to destroy those who don't share the now "majority" opinion. Is it any wonder whole dioceses are fleeing the Episcopal Church. How much more should they take from "tolerant" liberals, read revisionists?

A case in point is women's ordination. What was initially a matter of conscience is now fully accepted and DEMANDED in The Episcopal Church. And if you don't conform you will be hounded out of the church. Just ask Ft. Worth Bishop Jack Iker and what he has had to put up with for the sake of his conscience on this issue. It has been nothing but misery in the way he has been beaten up by a single laywoman in his diocese who gets full liberal media attention and support from the national church whenever she opens her mouth.

One only has to scan liberal Episcopal bloggers to read the nastiness and anger at anyone who opposes the pansexual agenda of the Episcopal Church. It is a sight to behold. Their anger and vitriol would fill volumes. The informal HOB/D Listserv which features mostly liberals commenting on church issues occasionally has an orthodox commentator. He is torn to shreds the moment he appears and dares to challenge the current zeitgeist.

Is it any wonder that in recent months three Episcopal bishops have fled to Rome, another has joined CANA (The Nigerian Anglican province) with bishops being consecrated in a half dozen African provinces with the Province of the Southern Cone now offering a safe place for fleeing orthodox dioceses. Two Canadian bishops have even leaped off the floundering Anglican Church of Canada for the spiritual safety of the Southern Cone.

The Inclusive Church crowd meeting in Derbyshire concluded with this statement: "180 people have gathered here at a time in which many people are concerned that the generous tolerance which has characterized Anglicanism is under serious threat from those who wish to divide the church."

GENEROUS TOLERANCE! Mrs. Tee Pa comes from the province of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia that is more than 70% liberal. There is only one orthodox Anglican diocesan holdout in the whole country - Nelson - and I am told that there is now contention in this diocese over the issues. The Province doesn't have to "tolerate" orthodox folk; like the Borg, most opposition has been stifled or absorbed.

If Anglican unity is being threatened it is being threatened by its innovators not by those who stand for the 'faith once delivered for all to the saints'. It is people like Robinson, Bennison, Bruno, Crew, Shaw, Schori, the majority of Episcopal bishops and laymen like Louie Crew who want to change the church's received teaching to make it conform to their desires.

Don't blame orthodox Episcopalians, or evangelicals like Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen, or Recife Bishop Robinson Cavilcanti (who has still not received an invitation to Lambeth next year) while his liberal counterparts in Brazil have, or the CAPA bishops in Africa, or Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan. These men are KEEPING the faith not destroying it. Tolerance for sexual sin is not on their agenda, and they fear the eternal destiny of the immortal souls of those who don't repent. They will not join them.

To paraphrase: "Woe unto you, sodomites and self-righteous liberals, hypocrites! For you destroy the orthodox, and for a pretence preach inclusion and diversity: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation...Woe unto you, for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."

Woe indeed.

Informal UOJ Research

Church Growth Guru,
Reviewing His UOJ Stormtroopers

A layman interviewed some conservative Lutheran clergy and asked them about Universal Objective Justification, the notion that God absolved the world of sin the moment Christ died (or the moment He rose from the dead). UOJ standard bearers have trouble establishing the Moment of Absolution.

Several clergy replied, "UOJ is another word for the Atonement." The layman said, "Read the Brief Statement." They looked at the words or heard them repeated and said, "That's not right."

My point is that most people, hearing the plain words of Scripture, believe what is revealed - that Christ died for the sins of the world, that this forgiveness comes to them through the Word of the Gospel received in faith.

Only certain clergy cling to UOJ. They are closely associated with the Church Growth Movement in conservative circles, with a more honest Universalism in the ELCA.

Recently some clergy were organizing some kind of independent group, with some laity in attendance. They tried to foist their UOJ on the crowd, only to be clobbered by the clear, plain words of the Bible and the Book of Concord.
I think UOJ--which came recently from Pietism, via Walther--was the turning point for Lutherans in North America. Other fads contributed (evolution, imaginative text criticism, promiscuous translations appearing on a weekly basis) but UOJ has short circuited and undermined the Gospel itself.

Nota bene:

  1. UOJ leaders are unionists who have no trouble studying at Fuller Seminary and Willow Creek, as long as their associates help them in denying the obvious.
  2. UOJ favorite theologians are Waldo Werning, Kent Hunter, Leonard Sweet, Martin Marty, and David Valleskey.
  3. UOJ leaders show contempt for the Book of Concord.
  4. UOJ leaders have worked unashamedly with ELCA leaders on joint worship and evangelism programs.
  5. UOJ leaders defend their position with hysterical attacks against those who prefer justification by faith.
  6. UOJ leaders deceive the simple by calling the article on justification "the chief article..." just before attacking the central doctrine of the Book of Concord.
  7. Conservative Lutherans have fallen into rapid decline with the steady rise of UOJ and its favorite malady, the Church Growth Movement, aka the Purpose-Driven Church, aka Becoming Missional.