Notice the argumentation and invention of facts, via "I heard that..."
From the Church and Change List-serve. They refused to include me on the list, but they like to talk about me.
I have been trying to uphold the C & C banner; WELS; and Confessional Lutheranism in a post modern age on Gregory L. Jackson's blog. He has a skewed MO, but his latest blog has my attention:
I have been to Stetzer's blog and verified what Rev. Jackson has posted. Can anyone here verify that Ed Stetzer is in fact booked to speak at the 2009 Conference? Especially after his cutesy remarks about 'Lutheran Tribes' and his down playing of the Reformation as some trivial 'European event'? (See 8-4-08) Does he realize he would not be a Baptist able to post arrogant remarks if it weren't for Martin Luther and the posting of the 95 theses?
Sincerely In Christ,
(A Lutheran trying to remain relevant in a Post Modern World.)
[GJ - Joe's question was never answered, certainly not by Parlow, who hosted the first Church and Change conference. They even lie to their own members on their list-serve.]
I compliment you for standing up. I have also seen this blog from Gregory L. Jackson. I don't have the answer but thank you for taking your time to look into this issue.
OK, I may have been a little harsh on the guy. It was late and I should have refrained. After some pointed emails and a nite of rest, it seems it was in jest. I read some of his other comments and he seems to genuinely appreciate us Lutherans.
Sometimes I am just too serious. :)
I looked at the Gregory L. Jackson blog and was rather astounded. This man was originally an LCA pastor and then a WELS pastor. Is he still shepherding a Lutheran flock? He is no longer listed as a WELS pastor.
The Jackson blog with its three part "Stealth Congregations of the WELS" is a vicious attack on individuals and congregations. How could anyone think that such an article could be beneficial to the Kingdom of Christ? If Jackson wishes to convince WELS leadership to keep our more traditional worship style, then why not stick with a clear presentation of reasons, such as was done by Pastor Strey in the fall 2008 Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly. Pastor Strey's article "Proclaiming The Gospel In Worship" is available from his website at:
I am a WELS lay leader who supports varied worship styles. I am also concerned about maintaining clear gospel based Lutheran worship. I do not agree with some of Pastor Strey's conclusions, but his article works to build the church through a loving examination of the situation. I see no love for the kingdom in Pastor Jackson's blog.
To God be the glory
It is my understanding that Jackson left the WELS (and the ELS) some time ago. It is my recall that the issue was doctrinal and specifically that Jackson does not believe in objective justification.
[GJ - Let's try clergy adultery and Church Growth supported by the Michigan District leaders and pastors. The facts pinch a bit, don't they?]
With best regards,
Gregory Jackson's situation and history are easy to oversimplify considering all that's there. Suffice it to say that he is no longer a part of the LCA, the LC-MS, the WELS/ELS, or the CLC. There may be other bodies in which he has either studied or served but I can't recall any off the top of my head.
[GJ - What omniscience does Aaron Frey have? He does not know me and has no contact with me. He just proved he is willing to substitute his ignorant comments for actual facts. He cannot even come to grips with the doctrinal issues in WELS' Pietistic double-justification.]
His blog has little to commend it. My experience with his writings is that they are not entirely truthful (and I am speaking only of those articles that spoke of situations in which I had personal involvement). If you read his stuff about Objective Justification, I think you will find that it reveals a mind of great intellect but little subtlety and not enough patience to deal with people in the process of dialoging until we truly understand one another's words and then either reject or accept one another as brothers with all the issues on the table. My conclusion is that his issue with Objective Justification is with the confusing nature of the term, not with the actual WELS confession concerning justification. However, he can't seem to separate the two. Quite frankly, I think the problem that he and others have had with it are evidence that it wasn't a great term in the first place. It requires so much explanation so as to be not misunderstood that we might be better off just using different terms when speaking of the full payment Jesus has made for the sins of the whole world.
As for the speaker at the 2009 Church and Change gathering, I hope the information is incorrect and that Ed somehow greatly misunderstood some communication from the Church and Change board--or that, for some reason, the keynote address at the conference has only tangental relationship to what the church should be doing to fulfill its mission more faithfully, which is an inherently spiritual and theological topic. More information from any of the board members who follow this forum would be appreciated.
Someone in my training (Prof Harstad at Bethany Seminary, maybe?) opined about the Gregory Jackson (and similar incidents) with the theory that those coming from a heterodox church body into an orthodox church body are so used to fighting doctrinal fights that the behavior continues. Not to defend the essays of Dr. Jackson, just maybe look at it in another vein. You know that "best construction" adage.
[GJ - Harstad does not know me, but he is known for joining the Amen Chorus for Church Growth in the ELS. Maybe Harstad has a chip on his shoulder?]
John Hoh, Jr.
Prof. Harstad's (or whoever's) observation seems very insightful. It reminds us also that when we are part of a church body that appears to receive correction but changes nothing, we no longer belong to an orthodox church body. That is why I will be watching what happens with the 2009 C&C keynote address speaker. It is hard to imagine a context in which we can have Ed Stetzer take the stage in front of us for an address that doesn't come out as a violation of the principles God has given us when it comes to handling false teachers.
Romans 16:17-18 says, "I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people."
The verb for "watch out for" in verse 17 is skopeo in Greek. It means to scrutinize something, investigate it carefully. That's not what we're doing with false teachers when we pay them to take the stage in front of us in order to set the tone for a conference on how to carry out the mission of the church faithfully. We're sitting at his feet. We're giving him the floor. We're not being critical of his teaching at all. This is exactly what we did in 2005 with Leonard Sweet. No correction. No criticism. Just a standing ovation, a check, a handshake and continual praise for the message he had delivered.
Now, if we believe him to be a brother who is just misled in his weaknesses, then our duty of love to him is clear: Correct him. Matthew 18, of course, is oft quoted in this regard. But consider Titus 3:10, too, which deals more directly with the teacher who falls into false doctrine: "Warn a divisive person once, then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him." Are we bringing Ed Stetzer in to warn him? Certainly not by any outward indication, and such an indication would be necessary to distinguish such an engagement from the invitation to Sweet in 2005. We are inviting him before us to speak on the very topic in which his false doctrine most plainly manifests itself: The "health" of congregations and their mission (he is the "missiologist in residence" for LifeWay Research, a division of one of the publishing arms of the Southern Baptist Convention--cf. www.lifewayresearch.com.).
Believe me, I have a lot of frustrations in my ministry and a lot of concern about the health of my congregation, but I'm not going to be addressing those concerns in a godly way if I violate God's direction. We will serve our people and our prospects better if we hold to the Word and stay away from false teaching. If we refuse to do that, then it's no wonder that pastors who join us from heterodox bodies can see no difference between us and the bodies they left.
Members of the C&C board, it is a necessity that you set consciences at ease on this matter which you have done in view of the entire church. This man is not an accountant or an architect who speaks only on external, common sense matters. He is a congregational spiritual health consultant. I'm sure that makes him a fascinating guy to scrutinize as men of God called to watch over the flocks entrusted to us. But we serve neither our flocks nor Ed's endangered soul when we pay him to stand in front of our people and talk with them about what improves a congregation's health. His teachings show that he doesn't even know what that is. Just look at the featured quotes from Ed in this article from Baptist Press http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=26914). The article is all about the rise in the number of confessing Calvinists graduating from Southern Baptist Convention seminaries. While that ought to concern Ed as a missiologist because the message being sent is distorted (even from a Baptist's perspective), all he can say is, "At the end of the day, Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike in our churches are failing to engage lostness in North America. This theological discussion has to lead to missional action and that missional action needs to cause Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike to love each other and to encourage each other and to provoke one another on to love and good deeds."
I think that we addressed it well from the floor at the last Church and Change Conference, but it did become obvious that some of our members who are excited about evangelism have difficulty seeing doctrinal purity as an integral part of mission. Ed would obviously make that worse. As I proofed this message (I sat on it for a few days, following the good advice of our moderator), Ed was finishing up a speaking engagement with the American Society for Church Growth. We serve ourselves, our Savior and our people well when we distance ourselves from such organizations and from people who take leading roles in them--unless, of course, we are coming to them to correct them in love.
Members of the board, please address this in the listserv as well as on the C&C website. And don't relegate it to the discussion listserv, either. This is "a place where [we] can talk about any issue in a safe and caring environment" (that's from our etiquette document). Here's my issue, my idea I want to discuss for sharing the message of God with the lost better than ever: Let's stop inviting false teachers in to set the tone for our gatherings about sharing the message with the lost. Now let's share.
In his name,
PS We have so many members within our own midst with so much expertise, any of whom would be better than a false teacher. Even I could do it! I did a whole Bible class from scratch a couple of years ago called "Straight Talk on Evangelism: How to Speak Like the Apostle who Took the World by Storm." It was very well received, my Bible class attendance surged (in case you wonder about such things) and I've even had more people in BIC since then. I think I could easily boil that down into the time of a typical keynote address. I know it would be easy to read facetiousness into that, but, believe me, this is said with complete sincerity.
I thought this Q & A was very helpful for our discussions about the importance of always trying to seek an audience for the Gospel in our ministry contexts. It certainly addresses some of our "excuses"!
I have always been taught that the doctrine of predestination/election was given to comfort and assure believers that your heavenly Father loves you and that his providing you with a Savior and the gift of faith through the Holy Spirit is fully dependent on God, not yourself. Recently I have read on WELS blogs that some appear to use this doctrine as an excuse to refuse to change the things that can change so we can share the Gospel with more people. It seems some
pastors use the doctrine as an excuse for failing to reach out to their communities. Some even say, "God knows those who are his and he will bring them to us. All I need to do is be faithful. Exploring new ways to reach people with the Gospel is an indication that you don't trust in the Means of Grace. It's Church Growth!" Isn't that misusing the doctrine of election? If such thinking were true why would God make us a part of his ministry on earth (Matthew 28)?
I sense that your question is really rhetorical, but the point you make is certainly valid. The doctrine of election has been revealed to mature believers for our comfort. God certainly did not intend it to furnish us with a pretext for carnal security. We donâ€™t draw from it the conclusion that there is no possibility of our being lost and therefore no need for us to nourish our faith with the means of grace.
In the same way, carnal security is involved if we conclude that, because God won't fail to gather his elect into his kingdom, there is no need for us to reach out with the Gospel. The Gospel proclaimed by his church is the means by which God gathers his elect, and proclaiming it is our God-given task.
As for faithfulness, God calls us to be faithful, not just with the means of grace, but with everything that he has put into our hands--our time and energy, our people and their gifts, and even human arts and sciences. It is an odd concept of faithfulness that refuses to explore how all of these could be used in the service of the Gospel, for fear that to do this is somehow Church
That said, there is a valid concern on the other side. The Church Growth Movement confuses methodology derived from the social sciences with the means of grace as â€œthe power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:17). It automatically equates God-pleasing growth with growth in numbers and attributes the growth of the church to technique correctly applied rather than to the blessing of a gracious God. None of this is scriptural; and because its not scriptural, it's not Lutheran (AC V).
It is one thing for us, when our very best evangelism efforts do not bring the visible results that we had hoped for, to take comfort in the fact that the salvation of the elect is ultimately God's job, and God will see that the job gets done. It is another thing entirely to use this truth as an excuse for slipshod efforts at evangelism or none at all.
"Dream big ... the Word works!
"So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches."; -- 1 Cor. 9:26 (NLT)
Dennis, thanks for the reminders to take each other's words and actions in the kindest way possible. Maybe the person who posted the original question on the WELS.net Q&A forum might have been more careful with his (or her) words. (And, of course, we owe him/her the same charity.)
Thanks, also, for coming back to the real issue at the end of your remarks:
" 'Changing how we do things' has value if, and only if, it gives more opportunity for God's people to be the Holy Spirit's handiwork, as he works in them daily contrition, repentance, and renewal through Law and Gospel."
That actually sounds very much like the goal of Church and Change:
"Church and Change folk are... thinking about, working with, and pioneering different ways to reach more people, more often, with the gospel so the Holy Spirit can do His thing..."
That's from C&C's website. And isn't that a rather good description of faithfuness (as long as we're on the subject)?
[GJ - Borgwardt is one of the stealth congregation pastors, CrossEyes or something like that.]
Doesn't the Great Commission say, "GO INTO the world and MAKE disciples...." It doesn't say, "Wait in your churches and I will bring the crops to you." Coming from a farm, the feature of going to the fields for the harvest is ripe doesn't mean I sit in the barn or granary and the grain will come. I actually have to hop aboard my John Deere combine and actually go out into the field and get the crop. Even in inclement weather (lest my lack of action would forfeit my crop).
If we as a church body have to have people tell us how to reach people today, then I wonder how well we are training people. OK, bad analogy when 5% attend Bible class (and I provide study sheets and no one takes them home for personal study, but I'll let you draw your own conclusion). If we don't know about the people around us, are we not connecting with neighbors, co-workers, etc.? Are we socializing with *only* other church people? (I know there are "Christian Business Directories" out there that don't help matters.) Take one day a week to read a copy of the "Wall Street Journal." For a business newspaper it may seem amazing what they report and write on, yet how do businesses find where trend are going or where the next trend is coming? They read what's happening in society. Makes sense to me.
We cannot assume people have a reverence for church or see it as relevant. A generation has stayed away from church; the following generation does not know what church is or what church is about.
Yet people seek spirituality and answers in life. I hope that Bible studies in our synod do more than study the Bible as a collection of historical books. I hope we teach in a way that touches hearts, makes personal application, shows the people in the Bible as real, living, breathing, blood-flowing and flawed individuals.
But we do need to"get out there." We need to take the Gospel to the streets and teach it in all its truth and purity. God does promise to do all the work behind the scenes to create and strengthen faith. But he calls us to be the face of His Gospel.
A book to read is by Thom Rainer's "The Unchurched Next Door." This book looks at prospects and "grades" them from 1 to 5 based on where they start in their faith life. It's rare for someone to jump from a "5" to a "1." It proposes an incremental approach to faith buildling and witnessing. (Of course that doesn't mean the Holy Spirit cannot effect such a change; I think St. Augistine is an example.) Even at that, even if new people come through our church doors, do we have patience to build that relationship and grow, like a child, in faith? Or do we burden them with "Christian" obligations without training and timely instruction?
As for the doctrine of Election, I have always wondered why a church body that teaches "Some saved, others condemned" (double pre-destination) even has an evangelism program. Seems kind of pointless, no, to evangelize if the destination is already determined? It makes as much sense as the couple that knocks on my door to save me, then tell me only 144,000 will get to heaven and that the 144,000 have already been selected, and there is no place called hell, but we want to save you. Save me from what?
JOHN L. HOH, JR.
John, I have to correct a few points you made that would likely lead some astray in this discussion.
First, I couldn't agree more with the report of the commission passages task force at the last convention regarding commission passages. There are things I'm still working out in their report, but you can't argue this one point they made: What makes Matthew 28 the Great Commission? We don't know who ever gave it that name, and it is certainly not to be considered with greater weight than other commission passages.
Secondly, the go in Matthew 28:19 is a rhetorical device in Greek that indicates a change in the direction of the story or approach. In this case the context would plainly indicate the change from going only to the lost sheep of Israel to going to all nations. While I would agree that it would be unfaithful never to say a word of the gospel to anyone but the folks inside our church, the command in Matthew 28 doesn't give us an indication of how much we should be knocking door-to-door and how much we should be preaching in our churches. For most of the Apostles, it was years before they ever left Jerusalem, and, while they were there, the church got its message out just as much through joining together in the Temple (and even in believers' homes!) as it did any other way that has been indicated to us (cf. Acts 2:42-47).
Even so, Thom Rainer would be a bad fountain of knowledge to turn to. Here's the motivation and foundation of his research according to pages 22 and 23 of The Unchurched Next Door:
Perhaps as much as any information we gleaned throughout this process, we have been amazed at how much unchurched people look and act like us, Christian churchgoers. At first glance such a statement may seem appalling, for Christians are to be "the light of the world" and "the salt of the earth." We are supposed to be significantly different from the lost and unchurched world.
I do not mean to suggest that there are no differences between a lost and a saved person. Obviously one has been saved by Christ and one has not. One is heavenbound and the other is hellbound. One is, it is hoped, motivated to do those things that please the Savior; the other has no such foundation.
But when I speak of common ties, I am referring to that which takes place in the everyday walks of life. Most of the unchurched are concerned for their families. Their moral values are not radically different from ours. They work alongside us, and their children and our children play together. Some of the unchurched are the teachers of our children. The unchurched live in our neighborhoods and carry on friendly conversations with us. They often carry the same financial burdens we do, and they are just as patriotic as we are. And many of the unchurched live in the same home we do; they are our family members.
Yet I have been in churches where a Christian leader has spoken of the "pagans" as if they are fire-breathing aliens from another planet. They are often stereotyped as angry at Christians, doubtful of the existence of God, and bitter toward the church. Yet the reality is that 95 percent of the unchurched would meet none of these descriptions.
The faith stages concept helped us immensely in our understanding of the demeanor of the unchurched world. Only the U5s were antagonistic toward the gospel and angry at the church. Yet the U5 group accounted for only 5 percent of the unchurched in America.
How amazingly naive is this? He had to do a research project to discover that the unchurched aren't fire-breathing aliens who are totally atheistic and bitter toward the church? I can learn that from Jesus' ministry, especially from his encounters with the Pharisees. And Jesus didn't go up to them and say, "You know, you and I have a lot in common. We both care about the temple. We both care about our country. We both love our moms." Jesus preached as Paul and all other faithful preachers of the gospel do, with the assumption that people without faith are dead in transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2), completely hostile to God (Romans 8) and yet completely unable to understand these truths because such things are spiritually discerned (1Co 2). He preached a message of repentance to those who thought they were close to God without faith in the Savior (the U1s on the "Rainer Scale" or receptivity), just as he would have preached repentance to those who were antagonistic toward the church (U5s). He reached them not through what they held in common but with the offense of the cross at the fore.
I remember sitting back in unbelief when I read what Rainer wrote about only 5 percent of the population in America being antagonistic toward the gospel. Such a statement displays a complete misunderstanding of what the gospel is, brothers and sisters. The paper I was researching for when I first read this is called Tendrils of the Church Growth Movement and it is available in the Files section of the listserv website, if you would like to read what I discovered about receptivity scales and other tools of the modern evangelicals who are looking for "effective" ways to preach the gospel to unbelievers. They don't understand the gospel and they don't understand conversion. That means they don't understand the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.
Could we possibly learn something interesting from their books? Possibly. Incidentally. But do not seek their wisdom for carrying out God's will for the church. Leave them, brothers and sisters. They are blind guides. Anything we actually need in order to carry out the will of God for saving the lost is already in the Scriptures that God has given us, and the Holy Spirit will lead us into that truth without us having to go to false teachers that he warns us to avoid.
In his name,
GJ - I think they should open up their list-serve to the public, so everyone can see what deep thinkers and fact-seekers inhabit Church and Change.
A doctor of divinity asked me if Leonard Sweet actually spoke at a WELS conference apart from the one canceled. One writer above seems to say Sweet did. I am not sure. I know Church and Changed pouted ferociously when they were challenged openly and the Sweet-Hunter-Werning event was deep-sixed. I would have gone there just to see the Church Doctor (Hunter) speaking in tandem with the Dr. Kevorkian of Evangelism (Werning).