Monday, March 2, 2009

The Corky Koelpin Essay



The triangles going up into the mouth of the fish represent
all the synod, Thrivent, and and grant money
consumed by Church and Chicanery.
The triangles leaving the fish represent the toxic waste
spread by their leaders, all over the synod.



I find it strange that Issues in WELS expressed its feelings by posting an essay by a dead man, a pastor who wrote perceptively 15 years ago. Here is the link:

http://www.issuesinwels.org/RecReading07/IIWKoeplin.doc <==Dead link. Ask around: the essay is still being circulated. If someone has a Word document of the essay, I will post it verbatim.

Corky Koeplin, as he was known, was senior pastor of a large WELS church, Atonement in Milwaukee where all the synodical staff were members. He wrote this essay, had a stroke, and then died. The synod staff said he wrote it while brain damaged from the stroke, but he published it before the stroke. Someone sent it to me anonymously, so I had Christian News print it. One of my "friends" called me up to scream at me that the essay was only to be circulated "among the brothers," that this was stated on the cover sheet. The anonymous sender omitted the cover sheet. I thought it odd that the person phoning, who decried the changes in the synod, was so distraught that the synodical crisis was laid out so clearly and so publicly by one of the senior pastors.

Odder still is having pastors publishing the essay now, an indictment of the whole Issues in WELS bunch. They have been silent for 15 years. The best essay on the website is Corky's. The rest are mushy, wimpy, and poorly written.


To summarize the Koeplin essay, using his own categories.

1. A Synodical Drift.

2. The “Business” of the Church Supplanting the Work of the Church.

3. An Unhealthy Inroad of “Church Growth.”

4. A Top Heavy Administration.

5. A Denigration of the Holy Ministry.

6. A Dismantling of the Worker Training System.



Oh yes, Corky noticed they were taking apart the WELS school system 15 years ago. But wait, didn't Issues in WELS just point out the problem, as if the school crisis suddenly breached the surface, like Moby Dick?

Marcus Manthey shouts from the crow's nest, "Thar she blows! We are doomed."

The Silent Generation circulated the Corky essay covertly in 1992, angry that I had it published for everyone to see. The pastors did nothing. They said nothing. Meanwhile, they let the synod leaders behave just as Pope Pius IX did about the topic of infallibility. Every Catholic prelate had to submit to Pope Pius' infallibility. If they did not, they were punished. If they were slow to repent, they were still punished. No one was spared. Many Catholic prelates were hounded and even feared for their lives. Fear is a wonderfully motivating emotion. Some think that the infallibility decree alone had a tremendous, negative effect on European politics, making it far more secular and anti-Christian. The infallibility of the synod has had the same effect on WELS.

Looking at Corky's categories, I notice that they are more true today than in 1992. The synod, first under Naumann and then under Mischke, allowed the anti-Lutherans to take over the doctrinal leadership of the denomination. This will become clear later. Perhaps someone will write a dissertation. The evidence is abundant. They started with TELL magazine, which Synodical President Naumann endorsed. The first editor was Ron Roth. The second was Paul Kelm. The third was Robert Hartman. The theme of TELL was to promote the Church Growth Movement in WELS.
"The publication TELL ('The Evangelism Life Line') has been inaugurated to promote the cause of church growth."
Ernst H. Wendland, "Church Growth Theology," Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, April, 1981, 78, p. 105.

"When was the last time you kissed a frog?...'Lifestyle Evangelism and Follow-up,' a Navigator video seminar for the church, makes a solid case for Christian frog kissing as a way of life."
James A. Aderman, TELL, The Evangelism Life Line (WELS), Summer, 1986, p. 2.

"TELL has served the church faithfully for 15 years. Three editors have served; Ronald Roth (1977-84), Paul Kelm (1985-88), and the undersigned since 1989...The lead article in the first issue of TELL was titled 'Church Growth - Worthwhile for WELS.'...The author of this article in April 1988 issue of TELL concludes, 'It's obvious by now that I believe we in WELS can profit greatly from the writings of the church-growth leaders.' ... TELL as a separate publication ends with this issue. Nevertheless, the focus of The Evangelism Life Line will continue for years to come as an integral part of the new Board for Parish Services journal - PARISH LEADERSHIP." (Robert Hartman)

"Our decision not to use the name Lutheran in the name of the congregation seems to have caused some concern. We point you to the Lutheran confessions which clearly state that a name is an adiaphoron. So only when not using the name is a denial of what the name stands for is there a problem. We reject the inferences that have been drawn that have been drawn [sic] that it is our intention to deny the biblical teach [sic] (ibid. conservative Lutheran teaching). Put in very practical terms our question is: Can we reach more of the unchurched if we can begin with sin and grace, guilt and forgiveness, rather than having to deal with lodge, scouts, the vagaries of ELCA, etc. at the beginning."
WELS Michigan District Vice-president Paul Kuske, Letter to the Ohio Conference, Pilgrim Community Church, sponsored from Grove City by Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church Fall Conference, Gibsonia, 1989.[44] [emphasis in original]

"We have discovered that the Early Church was an institution that unknowingly saw its world through Church Growth eyes. We have some benefits they did not have in that we can look back today and analyze their successes and failures."
Floyd Luther Stolzenburg, "Church Growth - the Acts of the Apostles," Taught at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Columbus, Ohio. Stolzenburg worked closely with Kuske in creating Pilgrim Community Church, a flop.

Conclusion
In conclusion, Corky wrote an essay 15 years ago, naming Church Growth as the main culprit in the drift of the synod. The synod's own wrecking team (Roth, Kelm, Hartman) gloated in 1992 that they had been busy promoting Church Growth for 15 years. This is the happy 30th Anniversary of Church Growth in WELS. The results are in:
1. The synod is completely broke, even with Marvin Schwan money, Thrivent gifts, and the loot from the Tetzels gathering Irrevocable Gift Trusts. Note well the first word in IGTs.
2. Two preps have been closed - Mobridge and Prairie. Northwestern College has been absorbed by Dr. Martin Luther College, its unique pastoral track ended. The pre-sem students all take the same courses as the teachers at MLC.
3. Michigan Lutheran Seminary will soon be closed by the synod, making that 3 out of 4 preps killed, but Martin Luther Prep is already losing synodical support and may close in two more years or so.
4. Closing the last two preps will finish off Martin Luther College.
5. Seminary enrollments seem to be down and will be heading downward fast with the loss of the preps. Church workers come mostly from the prep schools.
6. WELS membership has been going down ever since the Church Growth Movement was started. The solution for the declining membership has always been, "We need more Church Growth methods!"

Luther says this about false teachers:

False Doctrine Tolerated

"And such false teachers have the good fortune that all their folly is tolerated, even though the people realize how these act the fool, and rather rudely at that. They have success with it all, and people bear with them. But no patience is to be exercised toward true teachers! Their words and their works are watched with the intent of entrapping them, as complained of in Psalm 17:9 and elsewhere. When only apparently a mote is found, it is exaggerated to a very great beam. No toleration is granted. There is only judgment, condemnation and scorn. Hence the office of preaching is a grievous one. He who has not for his sole motive the benefit of his neighbor and the glory of God cannot continue therein. The true teacher must labor, and permit others to have the honor and profit of his efforts, while he receives injury and derision for his reward."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 110f. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9. Psalm 17:9.

God Punishes Ingratitude by Allowing False Teachers

"In the second place such teachers are disposed to bring the people into downright bondage and to bind their conscience by forcing laws upon them and teaching works-righteousness. The effect is that fear impels them to do what has been pounded into them, as if they were bondslaves, while their teachers command fear and attention. But the true teachers, they who give us freedom of conscience and create us lords, we soon forget, even despise. The dominion of false teachers is willingly tolerated and patiently endured; indeed, it is given high repute. All those conditions are punishments sent by God upon them who do not receive the Gospel with love and gratitude."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 111. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9. John 5:43.

False Teachers Flay Disciples to Bone

"In the third place, false teachers flay their disciples to the bone, and cut them out of house and home, but even this is taken and endured. Such, I opine, has been our experience under the Papacy. But true preachers are even denied their bread. Yet this all perfectly squares with justice! For, since men fail to give unto those from whom they receive the Word of God, and permit the latter to serve them at their own expense, it is but fair they should give the more unto preachers of lies, whose instruction redounds to their injury. What is withheld from Christ must be given in tenfold proportion to the devil. They who refuse to give the servant of truth a single thread, must be oppressed by liars."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 111f. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9.

Avarice in False Teachers

"Fourth, false apostles forcibly take more than is given them. They seize whatever and whenever they can, thus enhancing their insatiable avarice. This, too, is excused in them."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 112. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9.

They Lord It Over Us

"Fifth, these deceitful teachers, not satisfied with having acquired our property, must exalt themselves above us and lord it over us...We bow our knees before them, worship them and kiss their feet. And we suffer it all, yes, with fearful reverence regard it as just and right. And it is just and right, for why did we not honor the Gospel by accepting and preserving it?"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 112. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9.

We Are Dogs and Foot-Rags

"Sixth, our false apostles justly reward us by smiting us in the face. That is, they consider us inferior to dogs; they abuse us, and treat us as foot-rags."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 112. Second Sunday in Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9.

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