Mrs. Ichabod is in the hospital again tonight, for observation and tests. She looks healthy and energetic, but she may have another bout of Valley Fever, which can be dangerous.
I decided to use the opportunity to mention Medicare Advantage, since many people do not know about it. Once Medicare D began, we were squeezed into a corner, paying huge amounts for prescriptions, kicked out of two plans in two years. The health plan she had for 12 years encouraged her to shop for something else. So we did.
As I understand it, Medicare Advantage gives a fat sum of money to an organization to take care of all doctor, hospital, prescription, eyecare, and dental care. There are small deductibles for each prescription and some other items, but no charge for the plan itself (saving us $3600 a year). So we are paying nothing for the plan, less for out-of-pocket costs, and getting organized care where all the medical people work together well. We use Cigna, which has generic coverage for the prescription doughnut ($2500 total in prescriptions, which we reached in May).
I wanted to mention this because neither one of us knew how much better Medicare Advantage could be, and I have a health insurance license. Pastors who read this should inform themselves about this alternative in case they can help their members by pointing them to a plan in their area. One way is to Google "Medicare Advantage" and put the zip code in the window. Several plans and their outlines, plus a phone number, will appear.
I will join the same plan when I am 65. Mrs. Ichabod is in Medicare because she is disabled.
We no longer have a file folder with 100 recent Medicare and supplemental forms in it. Almost all the billing is done inside Cigna.
The Glory Has Departed
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Months before anyone noticed, Ichabod was studying the website of Trinity United Church of Christ. One reader said, long before the scandal broke, "Have you read their radical racist website?"
"Yes," I answered wearily. Eternal vigilance is the price of being an information maven.
The hero of WELS Church and Change, Leonard Sweet, was president of the Chicago seminary when Wright graduated.
Now Obama has given himself the Left Foot of Fellowship.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Check Cyberstones for evidence of LCMS infant communion obsession. One of the posts says, "I was talking to an Eastern Orthodox friend of mine, and he said..." Oh yes - my EO friend who graduated from The Fort, center of rock-ribbed Lutheran doctrine.
Click here for Gary Gehlbach's infant communion website.
Here is the faux-Augustana Ministerium, the cubic zirconia of Lutheran confessionalism:
Rev. Robert Schaibley, Superintendent; Rev. Dr. Kent Heimbigner, Legate; Rev. Gary Gehlbach, Recording Secretary; Rev. Gregory Schultz, Bursar; Rev. Eric Stefanski, Dean of Communications; Rev. Dr. Steven Hein, Dean of Education; Rev. James Heiser, Dean of Missions; Rev. Michael Liese, Dean of Pastoral Care; Rev. Drew Newman, Dean of Pastoral Recruitment. Faux-Augustana overlaps ELDONA, so the nano-group with the superfluity of mini-bishops must be the farm team for ELDONA.
"Join now and you could become the Gauleiter of North Dakota."
saxoniae has left a new comment on your post "Obsession with Infant Communion":
I'll admit that I'm really scared of LCMS pastors who keep bringing up infant communion. Pr. Petersen posted on his blog back in early 2007 in response to Rev. McCain's disagreement with infant communion:
"Newsflash1: people have questions about this. Newsflash2: the Confessions haven't addressed it as directly or fully as you claim."
I replied to him that people have questions about this only because certain pastors who want it keep bringing it up.
I didn't get a response to that.
But what is your problem with Augustana Ministerium? Last I heard it was an organization providing financial support for faithful pastors who had been "fired" from their Calls.
Timothy C. Schenks
GJ - Hmm. I thought you read my post. Faux-Augustana is another lobby for Eastern Orthodoxy.
Heart-thumps for EO include many other aspects for this non-confessional, high church fad. I am not against formal liturgical worship, but I do question the integrity of men who call themselves Lutheran (as Neuhaus and Fenton did) up to the point where they tear away the mask and own up to their foreign allegiance.
Motley Magpie is another, tediously superior, EO stalking horse.
Praying for the Predator But Not the Victim
The Rev. Gregory Brewer, a known conservative and rector of The Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli, the largest parish in the Diocese of Pennsylvania said, "It is a GLARING omission that there are not prayers offered for Charles/John's victim or her family; nor are there any prayers offered for those who will be called to testify."
On June 9, Bennison is scheduled to go on trial in Philadelphia on charges that he concealed his brother's sexual abuse of a minor, decades ago. Bennison, 64, was pastor of a California parish in the early 1970s when he hired his brother, John Bennison, as its youth minister. John Bennison soon began a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl that lasted several years.
Last year, the girl's family complained that Charles Bennison knew of the abuse, but did not act to prevent it, and failed to inform his superiors when John Bennison sought ordination. John Bennison resigned from the priesthood in 2006 after a Los Angeles TV station, and later VirtueOnline brought the bishop's abusive actions to the attention of Episcopalians and Anglicans worldwide.
GJ - Will Lutheran clergy ever have enough spine to stand up to the leaders who have engaged in the same kinds of cover-ups?
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Various Reports on WELS Hazing and GA":
"Could the exposure in Thy Strong Word, the Internet posting of Thy Strong Word, and the Ichabod blog have been a cause for the loss of this great tradition of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse?"
I can't believe you're taking credit for this. GA was dead and gone long before your book or your blog.
GJ - Oh really? Thy Strong Word was printed in 2000 and pubished on the Internet at the same time. Before that I sent email bulletins out about hazing. I know they got around, because TSW included some of the badly spelled responses, from WELSians who were forwarded the email.
Supposedly GA was killed in 2002. I am not a math major, but I assume that 2002 is after the year 2000.
I never claimed to be the sole cause of GA's putative demise, but published facts do contribute to the eradication of something truly evil. The secrecy was not to protect the fun, but the abuse.
Names Changed to Protect the Innocent has left a new comment on your post "Various Reports on WELS Hazing and GA":
I understand your doubts. Those lies you listed are in fact lies. I agree that they are lies. Especially - "there is no church growth in WELS." However, trust that I am telling the truth here.
HB stands for "Herzliche Bruederschaft," which in German means, "Sincere Brotherhood." It's a name that accurately depicts what is now going on.
Now, God willing, these truer friendships will help foster a truer attitude toward real sins and real doctrinal problems. If, as so many do, we trace a lot of WELS' problems to GA, then we can certainly hope that the "opposite" of GA will help foster the opposite results, based on God's Word, naturally.
It may also be of interest to the readers here that more and more efforts are made at teaching and encouraging proper admonition, confession, and absolution among the brothers at WLS, with a great amount of emphasis on sexual sins such as internet pornography. That is a good thing to address.
GJ - I guess the days are gone when the Mequon divinity students went to x-rated movies as a group.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Benjamin Kjendal, LCMS, Semi-Popes":
You've stepped in a violation of the Eighth Commandment, there. See? It's stuck all over your shoe! And I mean, real, authentic, full-bore false witness, not that nonsensical "let's just all try to get along" stuff that comes out of HQ.
[GJ - That is the first time this morning I have heard the 8th commandment falsely invoked.
All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it. (284)]
Out of my graduating class of 2006, only two are not currently serving LCMS churches--one because of divorce, another because he just went East. Did anybody know about Ben's leanings? Sure. Were they ignored? No, but neither were they handled well. Since none of us has ever failed to handle a situation well, or to foresee all the possible outcomes, or to discern all the thoughts and motivations of a sinful human heart, that leaves us free to sit back in our comfy chairs and feel smug. /sarcasm
During my four years at the Fort, never once did I hear anyone say "It's just a matter of polity." Never once did I perceive the faculty as devious and never once did I engage in or did I know one of my classmates to engage in dishonesty. Political wrangling takes place, sure. People have agendas, this is true. MDiv students "cooperate and graduate", as at the other institution. Are they dishonest? By and large, the most honorable group of men I have ever had the pleasure of associating with. This is not to say that the students there are a bunch of saints, or that the graduates are better than graduates of the other seminary-- we drank a lot of beer and shot a lot of pool, to be honest, and in my district, out of the pastors I have discovered to be kindred spirits, three are CSL graduates, and one is a classmate from CTS. The CSL grads were surprised to discover that I wasn't an ass, and I was surprised at how confessional they were. All of us were disappointed at the loss of Issues, Etc.
It's possible that I am misunderstanding your post and subsequent comments. Since I don't believe that is the case, however, I think you should either issue an apology to CTS, or should dedicate equal time to the libel of CSL.
Thank you for your time.
GJ - For starters, one of your fellow Ft. Wayne students did write me and say, "It's just a matter of polity."
Jay Webber (MDiv, The Fort) was deep into this 20 years ago. He is now in the Little Sect on the Prairie, but will guide Wisconsinites toward true worship at their next conference.
Heiser, another watchman at The Fort, is sinuflecting east as the Metropolitan of ELDONA, the nano-synod with a letter in its name for every member parish. Missouri-watchers tell me that one or two graduates of The Fort and a similar number from St. Louis have poped or semi-poped each year. The issue is not exactly how many poped from your class, but the general trend. I do not have an official count, but I did report someone joining Rome - as a report from another person. I have to work for a living, so I do not have time to check every fact.
One graduate of The Fort earned his doctorate there and joined Eastern Orthodoxy the next day. That is no more ironic that The Fort awarding DMin degrees in Church Growth while claiming (under Robert Preus) that they were reclaiming Missouri for Walther and Lutheran orthodoxy.
One can find Heiser working with Archemandrite Gary Gehlbach (LCMS) on this page. I think Gary's major is infant baptism. The EO lobby is obsessed with clerical robes, infant baptism, and Byzantine spirituality.
Fenton is famous for abusing Lutheran doctrine as he was leaving his LCMS congregation. Apparently he was a key person in the latest LCMS hymnal. Was Fenton from The Fort or St. Louis? That is irrelevant.
First the LCMS pastors were embracing the Church Growth Movement. WELS and the ELS were too, but denying it. Then Missouri began turning out Roman and Eastern Orthodox priests. The low church and high church defections are proof that the educational systems of the synods have failed miserably. Lutheran doctrine is not confessed. Lutheran doctrine is not taught. Lutheran doctrine is not believed.
I am not a Lutheran because it was the brand name of my birth. I consider Luther's doctrine and the confirming statements of the Book of Concord to be the true, Biblical, universal faith of the Church.
Brian P Westgate has left a new comment on your post "Ignore the Stream of Eastern Orthodox Converts: Do...":
Fenton was out of Fort Wayne.
I still can't see how you can talk about Heiser, et al. as being Eastern sympathizers when they oppose infant communion and even ICONS. Plus Heiser publishes good old Lutheran material, which most certainly is the exact opposite of being Eastern Heterodox. It also appears they have almost a dozen parishes now . . .
GJ - The Fort turned out an EO mole? I am shocked, or as Queen Victoria used to write in her Germanic style - schocked.
CPH publishes Lutheran books, too.
I look at the people who are raised up as teachers and examples in any denominational setting. The Eastern Orthodox tendencies of ELDONA and the so-called Augustana Ministerium--which cannot even find an original or honest name--are plain.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " Score reports? Anonymous has left a new comment...": GA was technically a "single" night--but a lot of "unsanctioned" events led up to it. GA itself was the "pinnacle" of the entire thing and fairly harmless w/lots of beer drinking--but there was more to it than just one night. I would agree that it was not secretive for the most part--at least not portions of it. There were some activities that were officially "sanctioned" by the Dean of Students and other activities that was not "sanctioned."As for sexual abuse. I have not heard anything at all in regards to that. However there was some sexual weirdness (for lack of a better term). For example at NWC, it was not uncommon for a first-year student to be told to "hump" the Sprinter (statue now up at MLC). I'm not saying it happened every year--but it did happen. MLSveteran--thanks for sharing your insight into what occurred at MLS in the past. We will not be sending our children away to any Lutheran school--even if that means our only option is public school. With or without initiation, I do not trust a few 22/23 year-olds to guide my children spiritually or to parent them properly (especially as they are not even parents themselves). I cringe when I hear Synod officials state they are more capable of raising my child in the faith than my husband and I. The church is there to assist the parents--encourage them, not to take over their God-given role.Anyways, I hope the Synod schools have done away with initiation of any sorts.I know a lot of the area Lutheran high schools did away with any form of initiation. My ALHS [Area Lutheran High School] put a strict anti-hazing policy into effect in 1991. I was never hazed and neither were my classmates. The fear of expulsion was enough to keep the bullies at bay.
MLS Veteran has left a new comment on your post " Score reports? Anonymous has left a new comment...":
The series of secretive hazing rituals have a lot to do with this
I am not sure how "secret" the hazing was at the prep schools, colleges (DMLC and NWC), although I had never heard of GA (before Ichabod, anyway).
I remember hearing about the hazing at the prep schools in my late grade school years (6th, 7th, and 8th grade) and was warned by some friends against going away from home to high school.
But I attended all 4 years anyway. Kind of questions my intelligence right there, doesn't it?
From my understanding, there is no longer a hazing of freshman (known as your "Zex" year) at MLS. I am not sure about Luther Prep. Since Luther Prep is a much newer school they may have avoided this "sentimental" tradition.
To a certain extent, the harsh treatment of freshmen (ala the plebes of West Point, Annapolis, or other military academies) was a means whereby control could be kept over 13 and 14 year olds living away from home for the first time. There were only 2 or 3tutors in the dorm with the responsibility of looking after 125 or more male students, so the upperclassmen often were used to keep discipline over the younger classes (hazing could occur through the Sophomore year).
This is much like the "trustee" system in prison, where certain prisoners are given power over other prisoners to assist in the control of the prison population.
Unfortunately, such a system is wide open to abuse. Much like any abuse, many of those abused take revenge not upon their tormentors, but upon those that follow after them.
So young people, 13 or 14, COULD be subjected to some pretty harsh treatment. Often a number of freshman would wash out, at least in part to this social phenomena.
Unlike the Seminary, where people are much older (22 years old or older), it was impossible to "opt out" of the activities. Or, I should say, opting out meant quiting school.
Some will tell you after initiation (held during the first 2 months of school) that the Zex year is basically over. However, the formal initiation was simply
more of a public ceremony with fairly harmless events.
Problems would occur during the normal 24/7 life of the dorm student.
In any organziation, there is always an unwritten rule against breaking the "bonds" of the institution. Sort of like Skull and Bones (famous Yale secret society) were some pretty freaky rituals go on, if the rumors are to be believed.
I can truthfully say that as far as I know there has not been any sexual type abuse in connection with this tradition of hazing. The real problem arise with the fear and hate that often accompanied the Zex year (nice for a Christian school dedicated to training pastors to have a tradition associated with fear and hate).
GA, a single evening, sounds fairly mild compared to a full year (and if one was especially targeted, it could continue into the sophomore year) in prep. That part about being naked within view of some female kitchen workers sounds kind of creepy though. It gives Ichabod's term "The Sausage Factory" a very graphic interpretation.
Thanks, Ichabod, I can't enjoy Hickory Farm summer sausage anymore!
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " Score reports? Anonymous has left a new comment...":
Interesting. When we went through the Seminary (late 90s), there were no "score reports"--unless of course the people I knew just wasn't "cool" enough to be included..I don't know.
I will say that while most (maybe 99.9%?) WELS pastors went through initiation at both NWC (not sure what they do at MLC) and the Seminary. Not all agreed with it--but they still went through with it to fit in.
Not all men went through initiation though--I know of one man that did not. During his first year at NWC, he was told by the Dean of Students at NWC that he would never ever be a WELS pastor because he had chosen not to participate in initiation. He was ridiculed and mocked. He did not merge into the "brotherhood" as defined by the WELS.
When he hit the Seminary, he again refused to participate in GA. I remember 2 seniors (only 1 of which is still in the ministry) at the Sem approaching him in the Sem parking lot--trying to convince him that he needed to participate in GA to "build the bonds of brotherhood." I watched as he emphatically told them "NO."
He never ate lunch at the Seminary because the mockery during GA was too great. If you did not participate, you were isolated--making it very clear that you were not part of the "brotherhood."
This man's argument for not joining in on initiation is that humiliation and degradation is not how one builds the bonds of trust in Christ. The disciples of Christ were solidified together not by mockery or perversion--but by the teaching of Christ--as well as His love and patience with them.
I am not sure how many men have refused to participate in initiation over the years, but many participated not because they truly believed it was a "good" thing to do, but because it was what they felt was "expected" and they were too afraid to stand up for what was right.
It's a sad statement--especially as it is still remembered who did and did not participate. In that, many WELS pastors will know who I am talking about because literally 99.9% of all pastors that I know of prior to the 2002 "effigy" burning at the Seminary participated in GA.
This man has been in the ministry now for many years--but the ghosts of initiations ignored follow him to some degree. After all, "once and opty, always an opty" at least in the minds of some "brothers."
GJ - The weirdness of WELS is beyond comprehension. A college president was talking to me about a WELS pastor. In the middle of the conversation, the president said, in an aggitated voice, "He didn't like GA." That was apparently an indictment in WELS.
Two men went to Dean John Brenner at Mequon, expressing their opposition to GA. Brenner defended GA. Neither man finished at Mequon. Doesn't WELS teach that "you must express yourself to the person involved?" Yes, but that only makes the dissenter a target. That is the idea. Hazing promotes conformity and mediocrity. One only has to contemplate the faculty at the Sausage Factory to see the results.
When I sent an email about GA to various people, I received an email denouncing me for printing an article about it in Christian News. They could not say I had never witnessed GA, so they made up an accusation (as if it mattered). They could not deny the details because I saw the first-year class at Mequon disrobing outside (after looking for the pope's bowling ball in the sewer water pond). And I heard a circuit pastor laughing about the female kitchen staff watching this annual skin show. I know from WELS pastors about: someone's leg being broken, a tooth being knocked out, a NWC student knocked unconscious by being hit with a pillow case full of books. (That gives new meaning to the term pillow head.) One prep school student was held out of his second-storey window by the heels. Unfortunately, the morons lost their grip and dropped him. He broke some bones in the terrifying fall.
GA was highly secretive. Anyone who knew the outcome would get special treatment from the upper classmen. I was told repeatedly that no one was allowed to tell anyone else the secrets of GA, including spouse and children. Hazing was a freshman ritual at Michigan Lutheran Seminary and at Northwestern College. The senior year at NWC included Bonecruncher, a pre-GA hazing that included various humiliations, and sex jokes - with wives and girlfriends invited to watch. The Wisconsin sect confuses sadism with humor. I heard of many cases where students took a year off from Holy Mother School to get away from the abuse. The next higher class seemed to have a franchise on abusing the next lower class. Leaving for one year got away from that particular group's franchise.
WELS is an abusive sect with many characteristics similar what we see featured on TV. The micro-mini sects and nano-synods are similar. The core issue is corrupt doctrine, which I will take up later.
Same anon as before has left a new comment on your post "Various Reports on WELS Hazing and GA":
GA is highly secretive. I always found this fascinating. I talked to a WELS pastor (second career btw) and when I questioned him on what occurred at GA, he stated he could not tell me. He went on to say that he had not even told his wife, so he couldn't possibly tell me. The goal of GA was secrecy--this secrecy is to further bond the men into the "brotherhood."
What I find interesting is that we criticize Masonic lodges for several reasons--but one reason is because they are based on a lot of secrecy. Yet here we see a history of WELS schools endorsing selective secrecy and I find that a bit hypocritical.
The "opty" I know, never participated in "Bonecruncher"(senior then at MLC)--so I have no idea if wives/fiances/girlfriends were there or what occurred.
He also didn't live on campus at the Seminary, so he was a able to just tune out most of it. He would go to class and leave right after. He was much more insulated from the whole thing at the Sem than he was at NWC when he was a dorming student.
So, does anyone know if hazing is totally removed from all levels of the WELS system? It seemed to affect the dorming schools moreso than the ALHS. I believe GA was technically abandoned in 2002 right? I was told by someone they built an effigy representing initiation and burnt it.
Is there any confirmation on this?
I think there is a lot of room in the WELS for spiritual abuse to occur. I am assuming you will be blaming UOJ--but I am not sure we can lay the blame of this all at the feet of UOJ. I am opening to hearing varying thoughts on this though.
Thanks for discussing this--I think it needs to be talked about because it explains a lot of why the WELS is the way it is.
GJ - I doubt whether hazing will disappear. Tiefel (aka Teufel) at Mequon is 100% for GA. He fought to get GA going again when it had been stopped. According to a very good source, there is an open and sanitized GA in operation at the Sausage Factory, plus a secret and abusive GA still in progress. Secrecy is the key for all these pathetic little brother-hoods (like my pun?), from WELS to ELDONA.
Names Changed to Protect the Innocent has left a new comment on your post "Various Reports on WELS Hazing and GA":
I thank Dr. Jackson for pointing out the ills of hazing. In high school at LPS I was originally disappointed that hazing was virtually non-existent by then (mid 90s), except for a few trouble-making seniors, most of whom never made it past graduation, let alone college anyway. However, I now agree that it was a horrible practice.
At MLC I never once heard of anything remotely close to hazing. Not even a whisper.
At WLS I had heard GA was dead, and was glad to find out that it was. I know Dr. Jackson takes denials of GA as confirmation that it exists, so this comment is primarily for other readers. (Besides, if a denial constitutes and admission then it's a lose-lose situation as far as talking about the issue goes.)
GA at WLS now no more. I've heard of one person with whom a couple seniors messed around with, but it amounted to nothing more than a trip to check out the dark attic.
Nowadays there is an event planned for the first couple weeks of school. Seniors take groups of juniors to various fun places (e.g. batting cages, golf courses, restaurants) in the area like Milwaukee to get them acquainted with the region and to get to know the juniors. The seniors pay for this out of their own pockets. Afterwards, a large barbecue dinner is prepared and everyone eats together. A devotion is conducted afterwards by the student body president. The topic is usually about biblical brotherhood and how faith unites us, and not some superficial unity.
I suspect this drastic change comes from the harsh criticism by many, which is good, since the criticism was valid. It also appears that most (again, not all, a few still are stubborn) of the newer generation of students who had less hazing in high school and none in college view hazing as ridiculous and pointless and much prefer to build actual bonds of Christian brotherhood and friendship.
You can believe this report or discount it, it matters not to me because I and many others know and have experienced the positive changes.
Many problems remain, particularly theological ones and the rampant infatuation with church growth methods, but at least in this area of WELS, I can report that a dark chapter is being set aside.
Thanks for your time.
rlschultz has left a new comment on your post "Various Reports on WELS Hazing and GA":
I am wondering if shedding light on all of this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Besides the doctrinal issues, the hazing in the worker training schools seems to be a type of conditioning that lays a foundation for all sorts of problems that the called workers experience in the real world. The Masonic type of secret rituals and the vow of silence is creepy enough as it is. It is no wonder that so many are now coming forward and saying publicly that the WELS is cult-like in their actions.
The brotherhood thing or "good ol' boy network" works to the advantage of the called workers when a lay member attempts to air a grievance through the circuit pastor or district bishop. Obfuscation and nepotism seem to describe that situation properly.
As indicated in this posting, the hazing has another aspect to it that would be equally important in a cult setting. This has to do with the "opters" or those who choose not to participate. One who more actively resists will surely be handled more harshly. The strangest twist on all of this is when members are admonished to bring their concerns forward. To the unsuspecting, this would appear to be fair and democratic. But, sometimes it is used as a means to identify those who will not "get with the program". They can be singled out and be given special treatment. In some of these situations, it would be better to remain silent and let "one rascal beat up another" as Luther once said.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Various Reports on WELS Hazing and GA":
Yes...GA is dead. There is a new tradition...HB (another German abbreviation, which stands for something like "Brotherly functions" or something). It is a day when the seminary students get together in groups. Older students man certain locations, which are different every year; locations such as a mini-golf place, a driving range, Frisbee golfing, batting cages, restaurants etc., and the Juniors go from one place to another. It is a brotherly-bonding event where you actually sit down and chat with the new Seminarians and get to know them and they you. It's really quite fun and helps facilitate the family atmosphere of the Seminary.
GA is dead for a number of reasons, the prime reasons being it fostered anger/bitterness from some students toward others. There are greater numbers of second career students for which GA is inappropriate for; there is the issue of potential lawsuits that could occur if an injury of any kind occurs; and it is an out-dated tradition. The Seminary faculty unanimously approved the ending of GA, even warning students about there being harsh consequences if any aspect of GA ever happened.
GA is dead, and the Seminary is the better for it.
GJ - Those who doubt my doubts should reflect on the perfidious atmosphere of lying in the Wisconsin sect. "There is no Church Growth in WELS." (Wayne Mueller, in charge of Church Growth) "The Anschluss will only cost $8 million dollars, or we will pull the plug." (SP Gurgel, finessing the so-called amalgamation.) "Floyd Luther Stolzenburg has a Scriptural divorce." (VP Kuske, Kovaciny, etc.) "Al Just is innocent." (Lloyd Huebner, president of DMLS) "Tabor is innocent." (The Love Shack) "I didn't know nothing." (Fred Adrian, about his vicar Scott Zerbe).
If GA is indeed gone, that is good. If all hazing is banished from WELS, that is very good. Could the exposure in Thy Strong Word, the Internet posting of Thy Strong Word, and the Ichabod blog have been a cause for the loss of this great tradition of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse?
Lawyers may have frightened the WELS GA veterans and enablers more than any publication. The legal problem is this - WELS cannot deny knowledge when the facts are in print and on the Internet, years before and publicly commented upon. That is how they lost the Zerbe case, when the minor girl--"counseled" by the married vicar--sued in court. The judge, informed by the little girl's lawyer, forced WELS to tell the painful truth. The sect had a boatload of cases. The jury voted a large settlement. WELS immediately filed an appeal. (I call that going to court against a fellow Christian. No?) I still have the list of felons in my file.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Getting 'with the program'
There was a very interesting piece in MinnPost today about former Attorney General Mike Hatch and his successor Lori Swanson. The fine details of the story would be interesting only to Minnesota people, I think, but there is another issue that might be of interest to readers of Norman's Demesne.
The idea is that within the AG's office, Mike Hatch had a 'program', his own program, his own career. If you are one of Mike's people you got advances and promotions. If you were an ordinary attorney who was interested in doing the business of the State of Minnesota you wouldn't get far because you didn't 'get with the program.' Those who weren't with Mike Hatch's program were pushed off the boat.
I've recently been reading the two volume set of Ian Kershaw's biography of Adolf Hitler. In the early days of his political career Hitler's program was to promote rugged Aryanism and anti-Semitism. Advancement within the movement was directly related to how fiercely one was getting along 'with the program.' The program was Hitlerism, Naziism.
In recent ELS church history, [and this is quite a jump], a pastor or professor had to 'get with the program.' This meant that one had to follow the leader no matter what. The leader determined what was good for the Synod because of his own experience. His followers associated the good of the Synod with the good of the program. Patronage was denied to those who were not with 'the program' and a number of good men were forced out of the ELS.
My late father, B.W. Teigen, wrote a book which the synodical leadership felt was not 'with the program' and some persons who read his book were branded as 'Teigen-ites'. One didn't have to be a member of the family to become a Teigenite. Some persons were thrown overboard and some of these arbitrary decisions were justified by presidential investigating committees.
The anti-Teigenites in the ELS are slowly slipping away and their influence is waning. One restored Teigen-ite, a relative, is actually going to be giving the main address at the upcoming ELS Synod Convention.
There is a 'get with the program' situation in the Missouri Synod, too, according to many sources. The 'program' is the brain-child of the incumbent President who has fired a number of qualified people. These people were qualified to serve the church but were not with the President's program and had to go. They were, to use another common expression, 'thrown under the bus.'
What can be done about this? Misuse of power can happen in churches, too, and it is up to the laypeople to stay on top of things.
Ben Kjendal wrote:
"As I have struggled to be faithful to God over these past two years here, I have come to realize what that means in the greater fellowship of churches that are part of the Missouri Synod. I can no longer in good conscience remain in that fellowship, no matter how wonderful this little piece of it is. There are other pastors who also strive to be faithful and who remain in the Missouri Synod. But, as I have preached here, part of our faithfulness to God is in submitting to the authority which he has placed over us. In the Missouri Synod this means that pastors are to be in agreement with each other in terms of teaching and worship. That is not a reality in our synod, and is no longer the case for me. At times Jesus asks us to drop all that we have to follow him. For every Christian, that may be something different, but for me and my family that means leaving the Missouri Synod and seeking fellowship in the Orthodox Church."
The following quote was mistakenly attributed to the Niles ELDONA site. Instead, the Luther quotation is from a collection by Sanders - Devotional Readings from Luther's Works for Every Day of the Year, by The Rev. John Sander, L.H.D., published by the Augustana Book Concern in 1915. I misread the email from Grey Goose. He wants me to cry, "Fowl!" but it was my error.
Where else would God dwell? Those self-constituted saints, in their own estimation excellent, high and great, are much too proud, much too high, wise and holy. They have passed up through and far above heaven, so that they could not be his habitation on earth, although they boast of being the only Church and people of God. Though they appear in all the pomp and glory and ornament of their self-made holiness, yet God does not do them the honor to look at them. He is found in the humble huts of the poor and despised, who fear and believe the Word of Christ and would gladly become Christians, but who feel that they are very unholy and unworthy sinners. "They are the temple of the Living God."
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Another Triumphalist WELS Post":
Off topic just a bit, but relevant to the topic of the seminary/Sausage Factory/etc.
I was reading on an older post about "Score Reports" at the seminary.
What exactly is/was that?
I know what GA was (is?)--but am clueless on the Score Report issue...
A woman in the WELS who will be able to use her name once she leaves the WELS.
GJ - In a WELS gathering, someone brought up score reports. I think it was a pastor's wife. She objected to the custom. I wondered about the term. Her husband, a circuit pastor at one time, laughed and explained. The guys got together and described exactly what they had done with their dates. She continued complaining and he continued laughing. That may explain the Wisconsin sect's attitude toward women.
After Sig Becker left the LCMS for the Wisconsin sect, he complained to Herman Otten about the drunkenness and adultery of the WELS pastors. That suggests the amount of both was surprisingly higher than in the Missouri Synod.
A national traveler told East Coast (a WELS pastor) that the Wisconsin ministers were the crudest, most loutish, and and carnal of all the denominations he had seen.
The series of secretive hazing rituals have a lot to do with this. The doctrinal foundation is UOJ. Everyone is forgiven already, so whatever they do is fine. WELS also has a strong streak of antinomianism. The Law is obsolete, some of them will say. UOJ and no-Law go together quite well. Both have been thriving in ELCA for decades.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
May 7, 2008
Scholarships for students, others to attend International AIDS Conference
by Melissa Ramirez Cooper
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is offering scholarships for seminarians, students and others ages 18-26 to attend the International AIDS Conference July 31-Aug. 9, 2008, in Mexico City. Held every two years, the conference draws more than 20,000 health workers, government representatives, people living with HIV and AIDS, and others. This year's theme is "Universal Action Now."
The dread LutherQuest [sic] Discussion Group is dissecting the latest loss of LCMS pastors to Rome and Constantinople. The recent Ft. Wayne graduate who was thirsty for Eastern Orthodoxy had a friend equally thirsty for Roman Catholicism. The loss is not in clergy but in the laity damaged. Many Missouri members refuse to acknowledge the current of Roman/EO bewitchment. As one LCMS pastor on my email list wrote, the group email discussions in Missouri are saturated with crypto-Romanism. He used the term sacerdotalism, but I think crypto-Romanism is a better description. Neuhaus said he became the Roman Catholic he always was. Apparently Jaroslav Pelikan said the same thing about Eastern Orthodoxy, after he joined. (We used to see Pelikan every week at Bethesda, New Haven, Connecticut, just down the hill from Yale Divinity School.)
A WELS member just had to weigh in on the LQ [sic] thread and crow about how pure his sect is:
This thread is a powerful reminder of the gem the WELS has in its ministerial education system and the rich blessings God gives to us through it.
Full Name: Steve Ames
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Last Logged In: May 26, 2008
Registered: November 27, 2004
Total Posts: 1383
Status: Senior Member
Positions Held (elder, pastor, layman, teacher, etc.): layman
I noticed that a Gurgel (not the fugitive), on the faculty of the Sausage Factory in Mequon, is earning a D.Min. in preaching. The school is not named in the WELS worship bulletin. I doubt whether Mequon has a D.Min. program. That would be another degree of theological incest. Imagine - graduates of an unaccredited college and seminary, holding unaccredited M.Div.s, conducting a unaccredited D.Min. program. The D.Min. is a recycled S.T.M. degree. The seminaries were no longer attracting post-grad students to S.T.M. programs, so they started D.Min. degrees. Ministers flocked to take these degrees, so they--like Kincaid Smith and Larry Olson--could call themselves doctor. The D.Min. at Fuller Seminary, where Dr. Olson studied, has minimal requirements, as he admitted in his confession published in Christian News.
Smith's D.Min. at Ft. Wayne was in Church Growth. The whole program was Church Growth, as he confessed in a conversation. Under Dr. Robert Preus? Oh yes. His seminary faculty endorsed Church Growth principles - in writing.
The Sausage Factory is taking it to a new level, as the management experts say, if they are admitting that their instructors are studying at other religious institutions. Once that position is taken more publicly and defended by the infallible faculty, the dam will break. WELS pastors will scramble for more D.Min.s from Baptist, Pentecostal, and Unitarian schools. They have been doing this for decades, but the facts will be finally out in the open. Richard Krause was the circuit pastor and getting an ecumenical D.Min. 20 years ago. Dr. Krause's advisor was none other than Dr. Larry Olson, D.Min.
The WELS gems of the ministerial education system are turning out lumps of coal. Anyone can reckon that a system turning out future Baptist and Pentecostal ministers is deeply flawed and doctrinally corrupt. When Paul Kelm (D.Min., Concordia, St. Louis) was an adjunct at Wisconsin Lutheran College, his course promoting Reformed doctrine was required for graduation.
Wilken taught at Notre Dame as a liberal LCMS, but his congregation under Fritz Pfotenhauer (grandson of the famous one) joined ELCA. So Wilken became ELCA for a time. Wilken followed the lead of his long-time friend (LCMS, then AELC, then LCA, then ELCA) Richard Neuhaus and joined the Church of Rome.
Trivia from Herman Otten - Otten and Marquart ran the student newspaper at Concordia, St. Louis. Wilken and Neuhaus arranged a defenestration and took over.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Charles M. Province wrote a poem called The Soldier:
It is the soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the soldier,
who salutes the flag,
who serves under the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.
The Lutheran Church Canada has a blogger who links to church websites. This linking to public sources is considered an abomination by those who think their public websites constitute a private sin, requiring a personal visit. Does that remind anyone of Kelm and Parlow's plagiarized sermons, posted on their website? "Have you talked to them about this?"
The blog is Virtual Lutheran.
Here is the link to Pastor Karen, the worship pastor for this congregation. Supposedly, the Canadian version of the LCMS does not ordain women.
Brian Smith - Lead Pastor
Stephan Bouwer - Associate Pastor
Cory Illingworth - Youth Pastor
Chad Hoffman - Children's Pastor
Karen Swanson - Worship Pastor
Julia Zhang - Admin Assistant
Debra Bohlken - Admin Assistant
Bill Wiskar - Custodian
Bruce Church has comments on Eastern Orthodox culture at Concordia, Ft. Wayne.
The situation at Ft. Wayne (and St. Louis, Otten claims) reminds me of the universities during the 1960's. Tenured professors encouraged students to join the radical cause. The professors enjoyed watching the young occupy buildings and engage administrations in various debates. The Leftist professors never had to abandon the comfort of their positions to accomplish their goals. Calling themselves confessional Lutherans, the Byzantium lobby has infiltrated the LCMS. The photo above is the ordination of the newly departed Ft. Wayne graduate. Only two years later, he sinuflected to Byzantium. Many will eventually join Rome with Neuhaus, Wilken and the other confessional Lutheans, as they called themselves then.
Bruce Church has another interesting comment the funding of the LCMS:
Add to the KFUO debacle the fact that the districts take in $100 million per year, and only $20 million gets to the synod HQ, and one wishes Ministry Watch would slap a big fat F grade for Transparency on the entire LCMS! Ministry Watch should brand an F on Kieschnick's forehead. By rights, Ministry Watch should spam LCMS members' email boxes with "Donor Alerts," too.
The appeals for mission money at the congregational level mean that only 20% donated will make it past the district pope's staff headquarters. The Purple Palace takes its 20% share and pays a small army of administrators. Thus a miraculous abundance is turned into five loaves and two small fish.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
So were the men.
Proud To Be An American
Artist: Lee Greenwood
If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘ Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.
And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.
From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say.
That I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.
And I’m proud to be and American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.
The First Sunday after Trinity
Live Lutheran Worship Service, Sundays, 8 AM, Phoenix Time
The Hymn #245 - St. Crispin
The Invocation p. 15
The Confession of Sins
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 John 4:16-21
The Gospel Luke 16:19-31
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #388 - Woodworth
The Hymn #249 by Luther - Jesaia
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 #54 – Guide Me
KJV 1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
KJV Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to rule and govern our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not, like the rich man, hear Thy word in vain, and become so devoted to things temporal as to forget things eternal; but that we readily and according to our ability minister to such as are in need, and not defile ourselves with surfeiting and pride; in trial and misfortune keep us from despair, and grant us to put our trust wholly in Thy fatherly help and grace, so that in faith and Christian patience we may overcome all things, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
This Epistle is best understood when we consider this letter of the apostle John along with his Gospel. John’s Gospel is often called the Gospel of love, and his first epistle is an epistle of love.
KJV 1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
This brief lesson deals with love, fear, and hate. God’s Word sees a direct relationship between what we believe and how we conduct ourselves toward others. According to tradition, the apostle John went through the streets of Ephesus saying, “Children, love one another.” Ephesus was once a mother church of Christianity, but later gave up her first love and, as Luther observed, “Now they have the Turks.”
People want to be loved and many want to be loving. For the vast majority of people, love is obtained by the Law. We can hardly exaggerate how foolish this is. Love does not come from the Law but from the Gospel. I know of one church study that claimed that the congregations known to be loving and nurturing were also known for growth in membership. The conclusion of many Lutherans was: You have to be loving. They even started programs to make congregations more loving. This is almost as effective as telling warring children to kiss and make up. They may kiss and force a smile that looks more like a grimace, but the command to love someone is not very powerful in converting the heart.
The apostle begins his exhortation by pointing out the love that God has for us. That is the Gospel. Whenever we think about Christ Jesus our Savior, we remember that He is our righteousness. Because He paid the price for our sins, we can always return to Him as our source of forgiveness.
In the Bible, God’s love is defined not by strength of emotion but by His giving toward us. God’s love shows itself in God sending His Son and giving His Son for the forgiveness of sins. In addition, God gave us the Holy Spirit when Jesus ascended to heaven, so that we would be guided, strengthened, and helped by gifts of the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit can be seen in how God provides the people and the special talents needed for the proclamation of the Gospel, in the local congregation and in the universal Church. When the Medieval Church was almost dead from moral, spiritual, and doctrinal corruption, God provided a series of faithful teachers, each one a true genius, to reform the Church and lead people back to the Gospel. In this Age of Apostasy, God may use the collapse of clergy vocations and the old institutions to make faithful congregations spring up to glorify His name.
Our modern age separates what we believe from what we do. Thus we have a television journalist mother who expresses her love (in a clueless self-parody) by stating that she missed important phone calls in order to talk to her daughter on the phone during a teen crisis. The message, as one reviewer noticed, was: “I really love my daughter, so much that I am willing to make minor sacrifices during my workday to phone her.”
Genuine love does not separate the action from the thought. A loving father will care for his family and spend time with them, not just say that he loves them. One workoholic father used to make insurance agents laugh when he bawled and his family bawled on stage every year at the annual meeting. He would cry and say how much he loved them, but all he did was work and brag about his results. We joked that his kids cried because they only saw him once a year on the stage for his awards. No doubt they had total financial security, but all children will say they prefer parental love to parental money. Love is best expressed with time spent, because all of us have exactly 168 hours per week. How we spend the disposable time speaks eloquently about what we really believe.
God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
We often see “God is love” on plaques, but not the entire sentence. The phrasing is very common to John’s Gospel and to the sermons of Jesus in that Gospel. Think of interlocking rings. One is “God is love.” The second is “dwelling in love.” The third is “he dwells in God.” The fourth is “God dwells in him.” Another word for “dwell” is “abide” or “remain.” So the emphasis is upon remaining, living in that state. If you live in a state of love, you are dwelling in God and God in you.
How can that be done? This state of dwelling in love and dwelling in God can only take place through the Means of Grace. Therefore, all the programs of love in the world will not amount to anything because their foundation is false. God shows His love in giving His Son and in giving us forgiveness through His Son’s atoning death. Our love toward God is the chief fruit of the Spirit, the result of the Gospel at work. That is the purpose of having pastors appoint to preach and teach the Gospel. The message of God’s love creates and sustains faith. Faith trusts and receives the proclamation of God’s love, responding in love toward God and our neighbor as well.
As everyone knows, when forgiveness fails, love turns to hatred. When there is no forgiveness, the Law moves people to condemn each other. At an animal rights rally, the participants condemned anyone who harmed animals. The journalist asked one person, “Then why are you wearing leather shoes, made from killed animals?” This happens within families as well. One condemnation leads to another one. The cycle continues until there is total alienation.
The apostle compares love and fear because fear comes from the Law rather than the Gospel. Many people are bold and brassy unless their actions are recorded. We had children smoking in a stairwell behind an old tinderbox church in New Ulm. Yelling did no good. Calling the police did nothing. One flash photograph sent them crying and moaning in spiritual pain. Their slack-jawed faces were captured on film for the dean to see. The anti-red-eye flashing effect gave them just enough warning to look at the camera with their lit cigarettes hanging from their terrified mouths. Later, a camera set on a tripod told them, “You can be photographed any time.”
If we do right because of fear, we are not living in the Gospel. The Gospel moves us to love God and our neighbor without thought of thanks or benefit. This goal of living in the Gospel must remain a life-long goal, never fully realized, because our Old Adam wants to live in the Law, measure according to the Law, and be measured by the Law (as long as the Law is edited in our favor). As I have said before, the way in which we express ourselves shapes how we act and how we think. If we are asked to do something and we say, “I will be glad to,” it is far different from saying, “Do I have to?” Although we may think little verbal cues are missed, the two words “have to” always tell others that the Law is involved. “Glad to” or “love to” can only belong to the Gospel.
God did not wait until we pleased Him to send His Son as our Savior. Nor should we wait until people deserve our kindness. As we see from God’s example, love promotes love. If every member of a family looks to the needs of others, then others will look to his needs as well. In contrast, if the Law is laid out, the Law will be repaid in all of its severity. Make one rule for children and see how soon they carve it into the hides of their parents.
Since we live in a world of Law, even though it is usually man-made and capricious, we must struggle to escape the Law-only mentality and live according to the Gospel, with thanksgiving toward God and concern for others.
This does not mean that love means suspending the proper use of the Law. Unfortunately, this is another symptom of a confused and confusing era. People imagine that accepting lawlessness is proof of a loving nature. One foster care teen was upset that his foster dad kicked him out of the house for smoking marijuana, even though being dope free was an established rule. The teen claimed that grass was non-addictive and harmless. So I said, “If it is non-addictive, then why did it get you kicked out? Obviously you could not leave it alone, even though you said you wanted to live in that home.” The problem was that the boy’s DNA father did not care, so the boy was having trouble realizing that love is also shown in being firm and resolute about behavior.
It is a wrong use of the Gospel to show forgiveness when there is no evidence of contrition. As Walther has shown in his Law and Gospel, this only hardens the heart and makes the person worse than before. It is interesting that people bring about their own destruction this way. In many cases a person demands that the Ten Commandments be suspended for his personal benefit. (One man excused his own adultery while condemning anyone who participated in Halloween. Which one is mentioned in the Decalogue?) Sometimes, especially with so many pliable clergy today, a man can insist on being lawless while serving as a congregation leader. He hears the Gospel and receives the sacrament, but the efficacious Word hardens his heart when he continues to reject his need for forgiveness. Eventually this brings him to ruin and he cannot find his way back, because he is so blinded to the real meaning of the Scripture. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows he will reap.
In the Office of the Keys, the Small Catechism points out that forgiveness consists both of contrition for sin and the declaration of forgiveness. If the Law is taken away, the Gospel is neutralized and we end up with the Law in another form. (Waldo Werning illustrated this in his personal opinions about worship. He did not want tradition Lutheran services mandated, but he ordered congregations to abandon the liturgical service because he could not worship using such archaic forms. He told me that he worshiped with the National Association of Evangelicals.)
God makes our joy complete by teaching us the Law and the Gospel. I am amazed at the number of clergy who consider themselves Gospel preachers and yet are openly and obnoxiously contemptuous of anyone outside of their narrow associations. This not only applies to “my synod versus your synod,” but also to exclusive groups within synods. Disagreeing about doctrine is not personal or destructive. Honest disagreement about God’s Word is good for everyone. But when ministers work to undermine each other and personally attack each other, they are perfect examples of: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
KJV John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
If there is more love in a bar than in a congregation, we should not be shocked to see people preferring a saloon to a church full of condemning and peevish hypocrites. On the other hand, there are many who will always prefer vice to the Gospel and find reasons for it. Still, our love and devotion belong to God and not to institutions.
Love also means overlooking the shortcomings of others. That does not mean approving of lawless behavior, but being tolerant of someone less than perfect. Loving God means loving our brother. It is unfortunate but true that believing in the orthodox Christian faith will alienate many friends and relatives. It does not need to be that way, but orthodoxy represents a teaching of the Law that is most grievous to people. If a man loses his house from gambling, he is going to be rather open about saying it was a bad move to bet the home on a few hands of Blackjack. However, if he hears that what he believes is not God’s Word, he will bristle.
KJV 1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
This is true spiritual warfare, because sinful flesh, the unbelieving world, and Satan all agree on one thing: the pure Word of God burns and hurts.
KJV John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
It is not my opinion that makes people rage. Personal opinions are not very significant to anyone. But God’s Word has the power to divide and to unite. God’s Word divides those who hate it or cannot accept the whole counsel of God from those who want only the pure Word. But God’s Word also shows its power in uniting people across the continents. Many days the communications to Bethany (email and long distance phone calls) are from the corners of the world, asking about doctrinal issues and Lutheran publications. No one could afford a convention to get everyone together, from Europe, Canada, America, and Japan, to name some countries involved. But the Gospel unites believers as only God can do.
KJV John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
The apostle John gave us Jesus’ solution for being loved and loving: abide in Me and I will abide in you. He did not say we undertake a work, but to remain in Him, to trust His Word, to receive His forgiveness and love. All the blessings, or fruits, of the Christian faith will come from this one state: to abide in Him.
KJV John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you. Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is received through faith...Then we learn to know how flesh, in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us. But when, on hearing the Gospel and the remission of sins, we are consoled by faith, we receive the Holy Ghost, so that now we are able to think aright.
Augsburg Confession, Article III, #11, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159.
"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1411f. Ephesians 6:10?17.
"In matters concerning faith we must be invincible, unbending, and very stubborn; indeed, if possible, harder than adamant. But in matters concerning love we should be softer and more pliant than any reed and leaf and should gladly accommodate ourselves to everything."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 412f. Galatians 2:8.
"Doctrine is our only light. It alone enlightens and directs us and shows us the way to heaven. If it is shaken in one quarter (in une parte), it will necessarily be shaken in its entirety (in totum). Where that happens, love cannot help us at all."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 414. Galatians 5:10.
"The Christian doctrine of Purgatory was not finally worked out until the sixteenth century by the Council of Trent. Rejected by Protestants, it was an exclusively Catholic doctrine. After Trent, Bellarmine and Suarez, who were responsible for Purgatory, put forth several Biblical references in support of the newly approved doctrine." [references: 2 Macc. 12:41-46; Mt. 12:31-32; Lk. 16:19-26; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; the Corinthians passage played a crucial role in the development of Purgatory, p. 43]
Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, trans. Arthur Goldhammar, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984, p. 41f.
"All believers are like poor Lazarus; and every believer is a true Lazarus, for he is of the same faith, mind and will, as Lazarus. And whoever will not be a Lazarus, will surely have his portion with the rich glutton in the flames of hell. For we all must like Lazarus trust in God, surrender ourselves to Him to work in us according to His own good pleasure, and be ready to serve all men."
Sermons of Martin Luther, IV, p. 24.
Constantinople (Istanbul), 1500 years old
Constantine the Great established the new city of Constantinople in 330 AD, creating a Greek-speaking Christian empire that lasted 1,100 years. The Eastern Roman Empire already existed, but Constantine anchored it by establishing his capital at the old city of Byzantium, hence the Byzantine Empire (and endless confusion for history novices).
Mohammed founded the religion of Islam, which was really a monotheistic reform of Bedouin polytheism. The self-appointed prophet died in 632 AD. A few years later, Muslims took Jerusalem from the Christian Byzantine Empire. The Crusades, starting 1095 AD, took back Jerusalem and protected Christian pilgrims who were being captured and sold into slavery by the Muslims.
Islam continued to expand toward Europe. The Ottoman Empire, starting in 1299 AD and eroding into modern Turkey in 1923, was an enormously rich military empire stretching out toward Europe. Muslims had to get past Constantinople to enter Europe.
Using siege artillery and overwhelming numbers, the Ottoman Turks finally captured the great and ancient city, turning Hagia Sophia into a Muslim mosque. The event was so traumatic that Eastern Orthodox members still mourn the loss of their city and church on this day, May 29th, each year.
Constantinople stood between the Ottomans and Europe before 1453. The Muslims began a steady campaign toward Europe, standing at the gates of Vienna more than once. The Muslim armies so threatened the Catholic emperor, Charles V, that he left off persecuting the Lutherans from 1530 (when he heard the Augsburg Confession) until the death of Luther in 1546. The Muslim threat gave Lutherans a chance to become established before Charles V turned his attention back toward Germany.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
The congregation's website has a note about the pastor leaving the parish. Perhaps the letter has been edited. LutherQuest [sic] (hardly a reliable source for anything) reports that he has joined Eastern Orthodoxy, only two years after graduating from Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne. Joining the Church of Rome is called poping, so this would be semi-poping.
So far a Google search has not added any additional information. Confirming information from the Fentonistas is welcome.
I was just thinking of when this started. The first clue was over 20 years ago, when graduates of Ft. Wayne were showing an unhealthy interest in Eastern Orthodoxy. I have nothing against incense, fancy robes, and interest in other confessions. However, the Ft. Wayne crowd has been exhibiting an unhealthy coveting of anything from Eastern Orthodoxy.
I noticed that Kjendal's ordination featured a lush abundance of pricey robes. The website features Eastern Orthodox icon art and that gushy spirituality associated with fresh converts.
Ft. Wayne's faculty has long been turning out EO-wannabees. The ELDONA sect is proof of that. The Fort, as its delusional graduates call it, has been turning out men who are sinuflecting toward Rome, one step at a time. Given the assupmptions of Eastern Orthodoxy, that is the next logical step to take. Wives are welcome, as long as the Roman priest does not marry again. Eastern Orthodox priests can marry, but not after ordination. If they marry, they cannot be bishops, except in ELDONA.
Something more is at work than the dishonest doctrine of the Ft. Wayne faculty. The Church Growth Movement and Eastern Orthodoxy have one attribute in common: both are non-confessional. For many decades the LCMS has been mincing away from the Book of Concord and a serious translation of the Bible. The LCMS, WELS, and the Little Sect on the Prairie could have adopted the New KJV for their publication work, with some explanations about the anti-sacramental changes in a few passages. Instead, they adopted the NIV, an atrocious and ever-changing feminist translation.
The so-called conservative synods have worked closely with ELCA (the LCA/ALC before 1987) and emulated apostasy in every way possible, lying about it to those who inquire. "Who told you?" - followed by abusing the original messenger.
The genius of EO and CGM their method, their trick of being non-confessional. They cannot be called anti-confessional. No, believe whatever you want. The key to success is the external method, not the external Word. ELDONA, a nano-synod, began with opposing views of justification. Did that matter? Not as long as the robes matched.
A Ft. Wayne graduate, disgusted with Cousin Brunhilda singing "Amazing Grace" in a prom gown, might prefer instead to chant in his own gown. As long as he does not look too carefully at the flaws in Eastern Orthodoxy doctrine, he is fine.
Let us applaud the Fentonistas for their honesty. Those who favor Eastern Orthodoxy and Rome should leave and honestly state their reasons. Likewise, those who favor Baptist-Pentecostal theology should announce their beliefs and head for the exit. However, both sides of non-confessionalism will stay and contend for the money and members of the Lutheran Church.
Carl Vehse has left a new comment on your post "Benjamin Kjendal, LCMS, Semi-Popes":
Had these classmates already dipped their toes into the Bosphorus (or Tiber) before they came to the sem, or was there some subverting influence present at the sem that enticed them to fall from their Lutheran confession?
And what kind of vetting goes on at the sems? Do these guys give off clues that are just ignored or do they just out of the blue pop it on their professors, classmates, congregations, DPs, circuit counselors, etc.?
GJ - Ho ho! The seminary is not vetting candidates to keep them away from Eastern Orthodoxy. They are preparing their own graduates to semi-pope soon after graduation. The Ft. Wayne faculty is devious and the students are dishonest. I suppose this is a way to get an education as cheaply as possible before semi-poping.
One excuse at The Fort is just too clever: "It's just a matter of polity." Where did I hear that before? I remember. The Church Growth drones kept saying, "Our methods are doctrinally neutral. They work everywhere." Their methods are so neutral that the stars of Church Growth in WELS have become Evangelicals and Pentecostals.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Brigadoon-like, these links periodically appear and disappear from this ELDONA congregation's website. I have copied them from their last appearance:
Neither Pastor Rutowicz nor Saint Boniface Evangelical Lutheran Church necessarily endorse all the positions taken on any of the following web sites. These sites are listed because it is felt that they have some value. The reader is responsible for his or her own use of these sites.
Issues, Etc. ~ The Radio Voice of the Lutheran [the links have been updated since they were last discussed on Ichabod, but the link does not work again! It's almost like being in love.]
Faith for the 21st Century
Links of Interest
The Survival of the Historic Vestments in the Lutheran Church after 1555
by Arthur Carl Piepkorn
The Proper Communion Vestments
by P. Severinsen
Vestments and Liturgies
A plea for a more general use of the historic Vestments
and Liturgies of our Church
By J. A. O. STUB, D. D.
Salem Lutheran Church in Malone, Texas
Saint Augustine's House
Lutheran Monastery & Retreat House,
Oxford, Michigan [featuring a chapel devoted to Mary]
The Left Wing of the LCMS also loves this monastery and also links it on their website - American Lutheran Publicity Bureau.
Student Stabbed At Sheboygan Lutheran
SHEBOYGAN - A student was stabbed inside a private Christian high school in Sheboygan.
Sheboygan Lutheran High School is the last place you'd expect to hear about school violence, but parents are thinking twice after a teen was stabbed by a classmate in front of several other students.
Parents at Sheboygan Lutheran never thought their kids would witness a stabbing at school.
"My daughter was actually there when it happened. She helped the student who was stabbed go to the office,” Lori Wieck said.
It started Wednesday with an argument in a school hallway between two 16-year-old boys. Classes had just ended for the day.
Police say one 16-year-old boy was angry because another student was making fun of one of his friends. So he got a knife from a female classmate and he stabbed the teen.
"He came actually walking to our principal, the student who had been stabbed, and very quickly we called and brought in the authorities,” Jim Pingel the school's Executive Director said.
The victim had a two-inch cut to his chest, but he's expected to be OK. The suspect and the 15-year-old girl who gave him the knife were arrested.
"You definitely would not expect this in a Christian school,” Wieck said.
Now, the school is trying to reassure parents that their kids are safe.
"It's a scary situation I have to admit. It can happen anywhere nowadays,” Wieck said.
The attacker has been kicked out of school, and the school is still debating the punishment for the 15-year-old girl. School administrators say they're going to take a second look at their security procedures.
GJ - I tried to find out the school's affiliation. I found links to other schools. One admitted to being LCMS, so I have to assume SHS is also LCMS.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
"The WELS catfish comes from Europe. It is the second largest catfish in the world growing to lengths of 16 feet. WELS catfish are scavengers. They scower the bottom of rivers for food and eat anything they can fit their mouth around which literally is anything."
"WELS catfish have even been credited with the eating of a small boy long ago. Although it is an isolated freak event that hasn't been repeated in decades."
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Martin Luther College, WELS, Adds $7.5 Million Cha...":
Okay, imagine you're in charge of the seminary. How would you prepare pastors differently? What would you change?
GJ - I am straining to imagine it. Getting rid of the Wauwautosa delusions would be essential. The worst thing about the Wisconsin sect and the Little Sect on the Prairie is this - Synod Worship. If one must always bow to the synod's Talmudic glosses on everything, what is the point of studying the Scriptures and using the Book of Concord as a rabbit's foot?
If a senile professor invents something even more preposterous than the previous incarnation of UOJ, the synod must be follow lest the old geezer be found wrong.
As District Pope Nitz wrote in one of his threatening letters to me, "You are taking on the whole seminary faculty!"
I think the system has to unravel before something new replaces it.
If a pastor can be known as adulterous and get promoted for it, the synod has not changed. A lot of pastors need to resign, retire, or go to prison before substantial changes take place.
Brett Meyer has left a new comment on your post "Bailing Water Comments":
I didn't submit the first article but have read this one and seems to fit.
SOUTHERN BAPTISTS NOW IN DECLINE
By Paul Proctor
April 29, 2008
In a story from the Christian Post, Lillian Kwon reports that Southern Baptists are now a declining denomination, meaning they are no longer getting the Results and Relationships they covet.
The troubling article begins this way:
For the first time, Southern Baptists can say membership has reached a tipping point and the nation's largest Protestant denomination is now declining, says one long-time Southern Baptist.
"The decline that many of us have already believed is there is now becoming real," said Ed Stetzer, director for LifeWay Research, in an interview featured on MondayMorningInsight.com, a Web site for pastors and church leaders.
Baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention fell for the third straight year in 2007 to the denomination's lowest level since 1987, dropping nearly 5.5 percent to 345,941, according to LifeWay Christian Resources' Annual Church Profile (ACP), which was released this week.
Total membership also declined by 0.24 percent to 16,266,920.
Later in the article, Kwon offered a quote from the head of LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, in response to the findings:
"This report is truly disheartening," said LifeWay president Thom S. Rainer, according to Baptist Press. "Total membership showed a slight decline. Baptisms have now declined for three consecutive years and for seven of the last eight years, and are at their lowest level since 1987. Indeed, the total baptisms are among the lowest reported since 1970. We are a denomination that, for the most part, has lost its evangelistic passion."
Well, Mr. Rainer, that’s not all we’ve lost.
A quick stroll through the trinkets, toys and knickknacks for sale at LifeWay Christian Stores, formerly the Baptist Book Store, speaks volumes about our passion, doesn’t it?
Besides being president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, Thom Rainer is also the author of many books – one of which encourages churches to simplify and “unclutter their ministry” in order to “become more effective for the glory of God” – emphasizing “the importance of eliminating nonessential programs” to “focus on those ministries that really matter” – which is curious considering all the clutter and nonessentials being retailed by LifeWay.
Does he honestly think the Lord Jesus wouldn’t pull out a whip and start turning over tables if He walked into one of LifeWay’s ecclesiastical emporiums today? No, they’re not temples or houses of worship – but trivializing God’s Word by putting it on novelties, notions and assorted household items just so you can sell them to churchgoers is tacky. And does LifeWay really think there’s nothing wrong with using the Lord’s name in vain on their products and play pretties as long as it’s not in a curse word?
Is there nothing sacred anymore?
Where’s the awe, reverence, fear and trembling of our faith for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – in the bottom of a LifeWay bag with a receipt?
How can we expect the unredeemed to take Jesus seriously, if we don’t?