The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
CONTEMPORARY THEOLOGICAL ISSUES IN THE BOOK OF CONCORD:
THE RESURGENCE OF ENTHUSIASM
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
Shepherd of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church
1950 Hard Road, Worthington, Ohio 43235
Ohio Pastor's Conference, Zion Lutheran Church, Toledo,
April 27-28, 1992
"Remember your leaders who have spoken the Word of God to
you. Consider how their lives ended, and imitate their
faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and
forever. Do not be carried away with different kinds of
strange teachings." Hebrews 13:7-9a
"We have no intention of yielding aught of the eternal,
immutable truth of God for the sake of temporal peace,
tranquility, and unity (which, moreover, is not in our power
to do). Nor would such peace and unity, since it is devised
against the truth and for its suppression, have any
permanency. Still less are we inclined to adorn and conceal
a corruption of the pure doctrine and manifest, condemned
errors. But we entertain heartfelt pleasure and love fore,
and are on our part sincerely inclined and anxious to
advance, that unity according to our utmost power, by which
His glory remains to God uninjured, nothing of the divine
truth of the Holy Gospel is surrendered, no room is given to
the least error, poor sinners are brought to true, genuine
repentance, raised up by faith, confirmed in new obedience,
and thus justified and eternally saved alone through the sole
merit of Christ."
Closing of the Formula of Concord, Concordia Triglotta, p.
When we study the Book of Concord, I hope that the passage
from Hebrews 13:7 is always on our minds. I attended a
college named Augustana, named for the Augsburg Confession,
in opposition to the brand of Enthusiasm being promoted by
the General Synod in the 1850's. The revivalists of the
Reformed camp were having great successes, and the General
Synod wanted to emulate their protracted meetings and deny
the Biblical doctrines of baptismal regeneration and the Real
Presence to achieve unity. The General Synod leaders
supported Pietism and revivalism, suppressing confessional
Lutheranism. Thus was born the Augustana Synod, Augustana
College and Seminary, and also the General Council.
The Augustana Synod had a history much like Wisconsin's,
combining Pietism with orthodoxy, the orthodoxy coming from
traumatic experiences with Enthusiasm. Augustana leaders
were unionistic until they ran into American Enthusiasm:
The crudest extravagances of revivalism (Methodism,
Pentecostalism, Holy Rollerism) have their root in this
specifically Reformed doctrine of the immediate working of
the Holy Spirit. 1
A favorite textbook of old ALC pastors stated:
The Lutheran theologians, in general, had reason to
illustrate very particularly the doctrine of the operation
of the Word of God, in order to oppose the Enthusiasts and
Mystics, who held that the Holy Spirit operated rather
irrespectively of the Word than through it; and to oppose
also the Calvinists, who, led by their doctrine of
predestination, would not grant that the Word possessed
this power per se, but only in such cases where God
One Augustana leader of orthodoxy, Eric Norelius, was trained
in Columbus and had an enormous influence, due to the sound
doctrine he learned at Capital. However, Enthusiasm won out
in the 1930's and Augustana Seminary began teaching,
overnight, the historical-critical method and the Social
Gospel, both examples of Enthusiasm. One pious young pastor
began his career at a pietistic Lutheran Bible Institute and
now serves as presiding bishop of ELCA: Rev. Herb Chilstrom.
It is often held against me that my history is tied to this
history, that I have experienced it first-hand instead of
reading about it in Christian News, that I was trained in
the historical-critical method. If this disqualifies me for
writing about orthodox Christianity, then I must offer other
examples who appreciated the truth better for having wallowed
in falsehood: Paul, Augustine, Luther, Chemnitz, Krauth,
Walther, and Hoenecke. In WELS today, they would be judged
by their bloodlines and not by their confession of faith.
Much of what is condemned in this paper was once appealing to
me. In many cases, some of the methods and techniques and
attitudes were offered - word for word - in the Lutheran
Church in America. More importantly, this battle has always
been waged in Lutheranism, because Enthusiasm attaches itself
to our work the way mercury attaches itself to gold and
silver. Once we are poisoned by Enthusiasm, orthodox
Lutheranism becomes our worst enemy and her advocates turn
into monsters of rigidity, legalism, and lovelessness.
Looking back a few years, we recall Wisconsin Synod leaders
who earned the respect of all Lutherans. Their scholarly
books are still praised today and used outside our small
circles: John Schaller, Adolph Hoenecke, August Pieper, and
J. P. Koehler. We should remember our leaders who have
spoken the Word of God to us, considering how their lives
ended. We should imitate their faith and not be carried away
with different kinds of strange teachings. (Hebrews 13:7-9a)
R. C. H. Lenski wrote about this passage:
They were true leaders indeed. All our church leaders may
well look closely at this characterization: speaking the
Word, the whole Word, and nothing but the Word (Acts 20:26-
27), and doing this with true personal faith; hence never
once misleading the Church. God, ever give us such
leaders! All followers may well look at these words. 3
The battle between the forces of Enthusiasm and the forces of
confessional Lutheranism have been contending for many
centuries, so this topic is current as well as historic.
Lutheranism fell apart months after Luther's death in 1546,
making the Book of Concord an absolute necessity. The
crypto-Calvinists perjured themselves in claiming to be real
Lutherans while slithering to the Reformed position on the
Lord's Supper. Lutheran anniversaries, as Prof. Fredrich
wrote, have been occasions for outbursts of apostasy, such as
the Prussian Union of 1817/1830 and the Preusian Union of
the 1980's. 4
Enthusiasm is such an inclusive topic that it bears a careful
definition. We are all by nature Enthusiasts, since it is
part of our fallen state.
In short, enthusiasm clings to Adam and his descendants
from the beginning to the end of the world. It is a poison
implanted and inoculated in man by the old dragon, and it
is the source, strength, and power of all heresy, including
that of the papacy and Mohammedanism. Accordingly, we
should and must constantly maintain that God will not deal
with us except through his external Word and sacrament.
Whatever is attributed to the Spirit apart from such Word
and sacrament is of the devil. 5
Enthusiasm is opposed to the Means of Grace, so we find
Enthusiasm both in the Protestant constellation of sects and
in Roman Catholicism.
In these matters, which concern the external, spoken Word,
we must hold firmly to the conviction that God gives no one
his Spirit or grace except through or with the external
Word which comes before. Thus we shall be protected from
the enthusiasts--that is, from the spiritualists who boast
that they possess the Spirit without and before the Word
and who therefore judge, interpret, and twist the
Scriptures or spoken Word according to their pleasure...The
papacy, too, is nothing but enthusiasm, for the pope boasts
that 'all laws are in the shrine of the heart,' [Corpus
juris canonici, Book VI, I, 2, c.1.] and he claims that
whatever he decides and commands in his churches is spirit
and law, even when it is above and contrary to the
Scriptures or spoken Word. All this is the old devil and
the old serpent who made enthusiasts of Adam and Eve. 6
Protestantism and Roman Catholicism alternate between
rationalism and Pentecostalism, sometimes mixing both
together. Against this is the doctrine of the Means of
Grace, which is the only antidote to Enthusiasm, and the
"peculiar glory of the Lutheran Church."
The doctrine of the means of grace is a peculiar glory of
Lutheran theology. To this central teaching it owes its
sanity and strong appeal, its freedom from sectarian
tendencies and morbid fanaticism, its coherence and
practicalness, and its adaptation to men of every race and
every degree of culture. The Lutheran Confessions bring
out with great clearness the thought of the Reformers upon
this subject. 7
For Roman Catholics, assurance of salvation comes from the
visible unity of the Roman church and the infallible
authority of the pope and those who teach infallibly in
concert with him. They use the term "Means of Grace" for the
seven sacraments, but they mean something else:
Therefore the media gratiae in the papistic sense are not
means through which God offers to faith the complete
forgiveness of sins and the salvation merited by Christ,
and through that offer also works faith in man or
strengthens the faith already present, but they are means
to incite and aid him to such virtuous endeavors, under
Roman direction, as can gradually and in constantly
increasing measure (Trent, Session VI, chapter 16, canon
32) win God's grace for him. 8
For Protestants, assurance of salvation comes from knowing
the moment of conversion, whether as an adult "born-again"
experience or, on a higher or deeper plane, the experience of
the Holy Spirit's baptism. However, both confessions
introduce a monster of uncertainty, which robs the believer
of certainty by placing certain demands of the Law upon him,
in both cases adding works to faith. Many of us have
experienced the testimony of Pentecostals, who invest their
dreams and visions with authority above and beyond the
Scriptures, a state which makes them despise the
Means of Grace and those who minister the Means. Therefore,
the Book of Concord states:
It is good to extol the ministry of the Word with every
possible kind of praise in opposition to the fanatics who
dream that the Holy Spirit does not come through the Word
but because of their own preparations. They sit in a dark
corner doing and saying nothing, but only waiting for
illumination, as the enthusiasts taught formerly and the
Anabaptists teach now. 9
We are not, then, in any way to represent to ourselves the
relation of the Word and the Spirit as though the Word were
merely the lifeless instrument which the Holy Ghost
employed, or as thought the Spirit, when he wished to
operate through the Word, must always first unite himself
with it, as if he were ordinarily separated from it. 10
Lutheran pastors seem to have forgotten that Protestants and
Roman Catholics must deny huge portions of Scripture to
maintain their dogmatic statements. Simply put, as Hoenecke
Aus dem allen folgt die Verwerflichkeit des
schwarmgeistlichen Grundsatzes, dass der Geist wirke ohne
die Schrift. Geist nicht ohne Schrift, Schrift nicht ohne
Geist, das is gesunde Lehre. (From this follows the
repudiation of Enthusiastic principles, that the Spirit
works without the Scriptures. Spirit not without the
Scripture, Scripture not without the Spirit - that is sound
Although we are often subjected to the sanctimonious
testimonies of Enthusiasts, who dominate the airwaves, the
Book of Concord points out how they destroy sanctification
while posing as defenders of holiness. That is why Jim and
Tammie Bakker still attract media coverage.
Both enthusiasts and Epicureans have in an unchristian
fashion misused he doctrine of the impotence and the
wickedness of our natural free will, as well as the
doctrine that our conversion and regeneration are
exclusively the work of God and not of our own powers. As a
result of their statements many people have become
dissolute and disorderly, lazy and indifferent to such
Christian exercises as prayer, reading, and Christian
But we are told by the current leaders of Lutheranism (ELCA,
LCMS, and WELS; 99% of Lutherans in America) that the
Enthusiasts have something to teach us about evangelism,
worship, and the Church. However, the Formula of Concord
expresses no tolerance whatsoever:
6. On the other hand, we must condemn with all seriousness
and zeal, and in no wise tolerate in the church of God, the
enthusiasts who imagine that without means, without hearing
of the divine Word and without the use of the holy
sacraments, God draws man to himself, illuminates,
justifies, and saves him. 13
We are given a hundred reasons why the Enthusiasts of today
are wiser than the orthodox fathers of the last generation,
but the Book of Concord made a point of emphasizing Luther's
last words on the subject. As Edmund Schlink has noted, it
is one thing to write a theological book or opinion, but
quite another to have the Church endorse that statement and
to have men sign their names confessing that point. 14
Luther wrote an enormous amount of excellent material, but
this was selected by the Concordists as part of the remedy
for the collapse of Lutheranism, a debacle which is being
Dr. Luther, who understood the true intention of the
Augsburg Confession better than any one else, remained by
it steadfastly and defended it constantly until he died.
Shortly before his death, in his last confession, he
repeated his faith in this article with great fervor and
wrote as follows: 'I reckon them all as belonging together
(that is, as Sacramentarians and enthusiasts), for that is
what they are who will not believe that the Lord's bread in
the Supper is his true, natural body, which the godless or
Judas receive orally as well as St. Peter and all the
saints. Whoever, I say, will not believe this, will please
let me alone and expect no fellowship from me. This is
III. Gray Areas of Scripture
A few years ago, we began reading that Ralph Bohlmann
considered the role of man and woman a gray area of
Scripture. Recently, this same claim has appeared in our
synod as well. A layman recently said, "I'm glad WELS is
clear on most doctrinal issues." If it is true that we are
going to make progress by arguing for the shortness,
incompleteness, insufficiency, ambiguity, and obscurity of
the canonical Scriptures, then we are adopting Roman Catholic
exegetical methods, which will certainly destroy Lutheranism.
Note what Martin Chemnitz said about how this line of attack
developed among the papalists:
The method of debate on the part of the papalists is far
different now than it was at the time of Eck, Emser, and
others like them. These men did not refuse to fight with
us with the weapons of the Scripture. Pighius, however,
has perceived that this arrangement has done the papal
kingdom more harm than good. Therefore he has shown a
different and shorter way by which, provided they stuck to
it, they could obtain practically anything without trouble.
It consists in this that they bring together every
oratorical device and then declaim loudly about the
shortness, the incompleteness, the insufficiency,
ambiguity, and obscurity of the Scripture and strenuously
fight for the necessity, authority, perfection, certainty,
and clarity of the unwritten traditions. 16
If anything, the Book of Concord is a tribute to the
completeness, sufficiency, and clarity of the Scriptures.
The following statements indicate no confusion by the
Confessors about the meaning of Holy Writ:
...far from having disproved our contentions from the
Scriptures, they have condemned several articles in
opposition to the clear Scripture of the Holy Spirit. 17
This is plain and clear, the faithful can grasp it, and it
has the testimony of the church. Nowhere can our opponents
say how the Holy Spirit is given. 18
It is surely amazing that our opponents are unmoved by the
many passages in the Scriptures that clearly attribute
justification to faith and specifically deny it to works.
Do they suppose that this is repeated so often for no
Yet there are clear passage of divine Scripture which
forbid the establishment of such regulations for the
purpose of earning God's grace or as if they were necessary
for salvation. 20
Those who would like to find in the Book of Concord a debate
about the normative force of Scripture or the inerrancy of
Scripture will be disappointed. This did not become a major
Lutheran conflict until Enthusiasm brought the historical-
critical method into American Lutheranism in the name of
scholarship. Then the Scriptures could be bent and shaped
like a wax nose, expressing everything except their clear,
plain message. The Book of Concord clearly supports the
Scriptures as the ruling norm of faith, infallible in all
respects. "Because we know that God does not lie. My
neighbor and I--in short, all men--may err and deceive, but
God's Word cannot err." 21
...Firmly Founded on the Word of God as the Only Norm 22
...we have in what follows purposed to commit ourselves
exclusively and only, in accordance with the pure,
infallible, and unalterable Word of God, to that Augsburg
Confession which was submitted to Emperor Charles V at the
great imperial assembly in Augsburg in the year 1530... 23
Norm is a word seldom found in the Book of Concord, since the
battle lines were drawn around that article of faith, but two
more citations are worth studying.
1. We believe, teach, and confess that the prophetic and
apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments are the
only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and
teachers alike must be appraised and judged, as it is
written in Ps. 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and
a light to my path. 24
Other writings of ancient and modern teachers, whatever
their names, should not be put on a par with Holy
Scripture. Every single one of them should be subordinated
to the Scriptures and should be received in no other way
and no further than as witnesses to the fashion in which
the doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved in
post-apostolic times. 25
Not only is this the best approach to doctrinal matters, but
this is the method which we have confessed as Lutheran
pastors, affirming our loyalty to the Book of Concord,
because (quia) it is a proper interpretation of Scripture.
In studying the Book of Concord, however, we do not find an
anti-intellectual, anti-historical attitude of "nothing
outside of the Bible." The Confessors clearly saw the value
of knowing the patristic fathers and using their testimony to
show that this is indeed the orthodox Christian faith and not
a new denomination. When we study the orthodox contributions
of our fathers and imitate their faith, we are not abandoning
the Scriptures but upholding the Word of God as confessed by
faithful warriors who now rest from their labors. Selnecker,
a Concordist, (who wrote "Ach, bleib bei uns") was bitterly
attacked, severely persecuted by the Reformed, deposed when
Augustus died, reduced to poverty, and not allowed to remain
in Leipzig as a private citizen. 26 If they had not stood
their ground and paid the price--jail, exile, humiliation,
execution--we would be the SWELS today, Schwaermer
Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
IV. Efficacy of the Means of Grace
The weakest area of Lutheranism today concerns the efficacy
of the Means of Grace, once the glory of Lutheranism and now
fading quickly into obscurity.
For Christ wants to assure us, as was necessary, that the
Word is efficacious when it is delivered by men and that we
should not look for another word from heaven. 27
In his Word he has revealed to us as much as we need to
know in this life, and wherever the Scriptures in this case
give us clear, certain testimony, we shall simply believe
it and not argue that the human nature in Christ is not
capable of it. 28
For the Word through which we are called is a ministry of
the Spirit--"which gives the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:8) and a
"power of God" to save (Rom. 1:16). And because the Holy
Spirit wills to be efficacious through the Word, to
strengthen us, and to give us power and ability, it is
God's will that we should accept the Word, believe and obey
Every poor sinner must therefore attend on it, hear it with
diligence, and in no way doubt the drawing of the Father
because the Holy Spirit wills to be present in the Word and
to be efficacious with his power through it. And this is
the drawing of the Father. 30
The reason for such contempt of the Word is not God's
foreknowledge but man's own perverse will, which rejects or
perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Spirit which
God offers to him through the call and resists the Holy
Spirit who wills to be efficaciously active through the
Word, as Christ says, "How often would I have gathered you
together and you would not!" (Matt. 23:37) 31
Anyone who has tried to carry out mission work in an area
dominated by groups which despise Lutheran orthodoxy may well
succumb to the temptation of looking for guaranteed results
delivered for a specific cost. The Book of Concord, echoing
the Bible, reminds us again and again to trust in the Word
and remain faithful to the Word. Only the external Word,
preached and taught, and the visible Word, administered in
the Sacraments, will bring about justification and salvation.
This goes against the Enthusiasm of Old Adam and the venom of
the Old Serpent, but it is consistent with God's promises
throughout His Word. His Word never returns fruitless but
always accomplishes His will. (Is. 55) One may plant and one
may water, but God alone provides the growth. The seed falls
everywhere, so our task is not to judge the soil, but
to sow with reckless abandon, following the example of the
inept sower (Mark 4).
Unfortunately, we have in our midst a group of pastors who
have adopted the Reformed perspective on the Word. They
try to Lutheranize what they have learned from the
Enthusiasts of Pasadena, but their published writings reveal
their lack of trust in the efficacy of the Means of Grace.
This is also reflected in the Board of Home Missions (BoRaM,
1991) wondering in print what to do about "ineffective"
pastors. The use of effective and ineffective is prima
facie evidence of Reformed doctrine. We find it quite often
in WELS materials and Fuller Seminary materials.
Those who promote Enthusiasm in our midst claim that it is a
sin to disagree about doctrine, calling it slander and a
violation of the 8th Commandment. They also object to naming
names. They seem to forget that St. Paul confronted Peter in
public (Gal. 2:14) for Peter's public undermining of the
Gospel, that St. Paul named names in his apostolic letters,
(2 Tim. 2:17), that the Book of Concord identified people
with false doctrines--denouncing those doctrines, and Prof.
J. P. Meyer in Our Great Heritage, vol. I, supports dealing
with the doctrine itself:
We must bear in mind that we are not dealing with the
person of these errorists. We are not called to
investigate their personal character...We are dealing with
their confession, with the doctrine which they publicly
proclaimed before the whole church, for which they stood,
which they defended. 32
On the other hand, those of us who have tried to deal
directly with doctrinal matters, going through channels, have
met with personal attacks, puerile name calling, and attempts
to meddle in our congregations and remove us (in violation of
Scripture) from our calls. It appears that some attempts
have been successful.
"While only the Word is efficacious, the methods we use to
minister to people with that Word may vary in their
Pastor Lawrence O. Olson, Peace, Love's Park, Ill.,
"See How It Grows: Perspectives on Growth and the Church,"
EVANGELISM, February, 1991, p. 2. Olson is a Parish
Consultant for the WELS Board of Parish Services and his
district's Coordinator of Evangelism. [Emphasis added.]
"We cannot add anything to the Word, but we may be able to
remove the human barriers which might be in the way of the
Pastor Lawrence O. Olson, ibid., p. 3. [Emphasis added]
"What do people mean when they talk about effective church
growth principles? Do we make God's kingdom come? 'God's
kingdom certainly comes by itself,' Luther wrote. Ours is to
sow the seed. We hamper the kingdom if we sow carelessly or
if we do not sow at all. But we do not make it grow."
Mark Braun, "The Growing Seed, What Do People Mean When They
Talk about Effective Church Growth Principles?" The
Norwestern Lutheran, September 1, 1991, p. 300. [Emphasis
"We can't do a thing to make his Word more effective. But
surely we can detract from its effectiveness by careless
errors and poor judgment. It just makes good sense to
utilize all of our God-given talents, to scour the field for
appropriate ideas, concepts, and material, to implement
programs, methods, and techniques so that we do not detract
from the effectiveness of the gospel we proclaim. Church
growth articles, books, seminars, and conferences can offer
such ideas and programs."
Pastor James Huebner, Spiritual Renewal Consultant,
Notebook, School of Outreach IV, p. 178. [Emphasis added]
"THE CHURCH ORGANIZED FOR ACTION.
1. THEOLOGY - The Word of God...unchanging. The Word of God
is efficacious. We are more or less effective
administrators of the Word. Steps 2 through 6 (below)
assure that our theology is put into practice as ministry
in the most effective way possible.
Outline of Pastor Paul Kelm's paper, reprinted in WELS
Mission Counselors' NEWSLETTER, Pastor Jim Radloff, editor,
April, '92, p. 16. [Emphasis added; as mission counselor in
Texas, Pastor Radloff carried around a briefcase of C. Peter
Wagner's, Your Church Can Grow, to give away. Wagner was
required reading for world mission pastors as well.]
The preceding selections from published WELS materials
represent the concept that the Word of God is efficacious,
but... That is the same as claiming that the Word of God
becomes efficacious when we use the proper man-centered
methods. One thing is worth noting: we seldom find the
word "faithful," but we often find the word "effective" in
current WELS materials. The word "effective" is normative
in the publications of Enthusiasts, as noted in the Catalog
of Testimonies at the end of the paper. Lutherans stress
faithfulness, and Enthusiasts emphasize effectiveness,
because Lutherans trust God's activity through the Means of
Grace, while Enthusiasts consider God's Word a dead letter
unless it is made attractive and relevant. note
V. Women's Suffrage, Women in Authority over Men, Women
The ferment for women taking over spiritual leadership in the
Church has moved from the ALC and LCA to members of the
former Synodical Conference. In recent years we have seen
many new approaches taken: a woman in charge of OWLS, a woman
in charge of lay ministry, and a woman as assistant editor of
The Northwestern Lutheran. Women vote in the Twin Cities and
in Columbus, as well as other areas. Women serve on boards,
in authority over men, and women teach men. When I discussed
women teaching men with a former synodical official, he said,
"What's wrong with that?" I started to quote what St. Paul
said in 1 Timothy 2:12, but he interjected, "What about
Priscilla?" (He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When
Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their
home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Acts 18:26) I started to answer, but he changed the subject.
Many think that the role of man and woman will be reversed
through the influence of church leaders, the promotion of
suffragette pastors, and the lack of discipline.
WELS is the first Lutheran church body, to the best of my
knowledge, to have a woman write the editorial page for the
national magazine. It was the Reformation issue of The
Northwestern Lutheran, 11-1-91. Therefore, we have passed
ELCA in trendiness. Our new hymnal will bow to the feminist
language demands, which is what the Lutheran Book of Worship
did in 1978. Some think it is being written with Church
The Book of Concord does not deal with these issues,
indicating to us that no one was trying to overturn Biblical
teaching at that time. The upsurge of studies and special
commissions to deal with an issue is an indication of a
change in direction, which we are seeing - in WELS, in the
Ohio Conference, and in the Michigan District. The promotion
of Enthusiast cell groups will complete the feminization of
the WELS. Those of you who want your wives on church boards
and voting at the voters' meeting cannot possibly fathom what
this will mean in another generation. Remember, much of your
required reading at Mequon was from ELCA pioneers.
The feminist pastors should not gloat that the Book of
Concord is silent on these issues and does not deal with
the Biblical texts which are at the center of the current
debate (1 Cor 11:1ff; 1 Tim 2:12f.) The Confessors never
suggested that the Bible had gray areas which left doctrinal
issues open. The false charge of Biblical vagueness was a
claim of the liberal Lutherans in the last century (General
Council and General Synod), who were content to leave as open
questions the issues of altar and pulpit exchange with
Enthusiasts, the Masonic Lodge, and millennialism.
The loss of trust in the Means of Grace is underlined by the
current WELS enthusiasm for imitating the Willow Creek seeker
service, for eliminating the liturgy, and for using "felt
needs" to draw people to church. Those of us who read the
material printed by WELS about Willow Creek are horrified
that Pastor Robert Hartman and Pastor James Huebner would
endorse the seeker service--especially Pastor Dan Kelm's
version of it--on the evangelism training tape. (The last
time I spoke to Bob Hartman, he began quoting Donald McGavran
to me. I pointed out that The Donald should have studied
In their exegesis of 2 Corinthians 4:1ff.(Catalog of
Testimonies), Prof. J. P. Meyer and R. C. H. Lenski have
both pointed out that the use of bait, lures, and
entertainment is equivalent to being ashamed of the Gospel,
adulterating the Word of God, and using devious methods to
achieve a supposedly worthwhile end. We should not be
surprised, then, to learn that the chief theologian for
Fuller Theological Seminary is Karl Barth, an apostate who
moved his girlfriend, Charlotte Kirschbaum, into his house,
against the expressed wishes of Frau Barth, and spent every
summer with Charlotte in a mountain cottage, writing.
Barth's influence upon Fuller theolgians changed the modified
inerrancy stance of Fuller Seminary into a defiant errancy
position, before Donald McGavran moved there. As Lenski
pointed out (see Catalog), those who are not trustworthy with
the Word are not trustworthy with anything else. When we
read The World's 20 Largest Churches, Church Growth
Principles in Action, (written with Church Growth Eyes,
according to C. Peter Wagner), we can count a large number of
notorious anti-Christian teachers and a recently exposed
adulterer and anti-Christian teacher, Jack Hyles. All of the
20 largest churches are centers of Enthusiasm, mostly of the
Pentecostal style. The largest, Paul Y. Cho's, is occultic
and works closely with C. Peter Wagner and Robert Schuller.
In the Book of Concord, in Luther's writings, and in the
study of church history, we can find many examples of
Enthusiasts leading people astray and then falling into the
snare themselves. Luther wrote:
The peacock is an image of heretics and fanatical spirits.
For on the order of the peacock they, too, show themselves
and strut about in their gifts, which never are
outstanding. But if they could see their feet, that is the
foundation of their doctrine, they would be stricken with
terror, lower their crests, and humble themselves. To be
sure, they, too, suffer from jealousy, because they cannot
bear honest and true teachers. They want to be the whole
show and want to put up with no one next to them. And they
are immeasurably envious, as peacocks are. Finally, they
have a raucous and unpleasant voice, that is, their
doctrine is bitter and sad for afflicted and godly minds;
for it casts consciences down more than it lifts them up
and strengthens them. 33
The wonderful unity of false doctrine is concisely
illustrated in Sasse's comment on Karl Barth and the Means of
Grace, showing what a rotten foundation Enthusiasm offers:
The means of grace are thus limited for Barth. The
preacher descending from the pulpit can never quote Luther
and say with joyful assurance that he has preached the Word
of God. Of course, he can hope and pray; but he can never
know whether the Holy Spirit has accompanied the preached
Word, and hence whether his words were the Word of God. To
know this, or even to wish to know it, would be a
presumptuous encroachment of man upon the sovereign freedom
of God. 34
VI. Cell (Affinity, Koinonia, Share, Prayer) Groups
The lust for cell groups, which are the heart and soul of
Enthusiasm, is waxing in our synod. The extensive support of
cell groups in WELS is shown in the Catalog of Testimonies.
Intelligent pastors, bombarded with propaganda about the
effectiveness of cell groups, are starting to explain how
they can Lutheranize this form of denying the Means of Grace.
Some points worth considering:
1. Halle University was very successful as the center of
Lutheran Pietism, which grew through the promotion of
lay-led cell groups. Halle Pietism was unionistic and
therefore denied basic Lutheran doctrines. Spener
rejected the Real Presence and baptismal regeneration. 35
The visible success of Halle and its charitable
institutions is still worthy of note today. In one
generation, Halle became the center of rationalism.
Pieper stated: "Furthermore, it must be admitted that
the Reformed teaching of the means of grace filtered,
particularly through Pietism, also into the Lutheran
Church." 36 Krauth showed how Enthusiasm turned into
pure rationalism: "...it is exceedingly difficult to
prevent this low view from running out into Socinianism,
as, indeed, it actually has run in Calvinistic lands, so
that it became a proverb, often met with in the older
theological writers--'A young Calvinist, an old
Socinian.' This peril is confessed and mourned over by
great Calvinistic divines. New England is an
illustration of it on an immense scale, in our own
2. The lay-led cell group creates a division between the
disciples (or soul-winners) who go to a group and those
who merely worship on Sunday. When Enthusiasts use the
term "disciple," they mean those who have reached a
higher level of sanctification. Have you noticed how
often disciple is being used in WELS? C. F. W. Walther
had to work very hard at escaping the toxins of Pietism
which clung to him and affected his sermons. This
distinction of levels of Christianity led to the
Pentecostal movement. Pietism is cured by the large
doses of the Book of Concord, rather than by large
amounts of alcohol. Pieper concluded about Pietism:
"In so far as Pietism did not point poor sinners directly
to the means of grace, but led them to reflect on their
own inward state to determine whether their contrition
was profound enough and their faith of the right caliber,
it actually denied the complete reconciliation by Christ
(the satisfactio vicaria), robbed justifying faith of its
true object, and thus injured personal Christianity in
its foundation and Christian piety in its very
3. The spiritual nature of women will lead to women teaching
men, which has already happened at two churches in
Columbus. From that point we will move rapidly to
women's ordination, which is de facto a practical reality
today in the LCMS, with women preaching and consecrating
4. Pentecostals love to take over cell groups and teach
people how to become "real Christians" by speaking in
tongues and healing people. President Robert Mueller, I
believe, mentioned some time ago that the charismatic
movement has popped up in WELS churches with cell groups.
5. The Church Growth Enthusiasts in WELS are promoting cell
groups and a repudiation of the Biblical role of man and
woman. The suffragette centers in WELS are also hotbeds
of Church Growth.
6. Because Enthusiasm is by nature unionistic, cell groups
promote doctrinal indifference and persecute orthodox
Christianity. Cell group members adopt the sanctimony of
the Enthusiasts, confronting and praying for orthodox
pastors who "quench the Spirit." Hell is paradise,
compared to a Lutheran church split by Pentecostal
Enthusiasts. WELS pastors: do not ask to be baptized in
this baptism and drink from this cup.
Those who enjoy saying that I am being extreme and rejecting
any use of anything outside Lutheranism should pay attention
to the following. I think, under certain circumstances, a
layman may teach others, as long as he is directly
responsible to the pastor and held to the doctrinal standards
of orthodoxy. Women may teach women and usually do a fine
job of expressing the Christian faith. However, I am
disgusted and alarmed by the promotion of Schwaermer training
materials and cell group resources by WELS leaders. If we
think we are going to have legitimate, orthodox, lay-led
groups which use Serendipity, Navigators, Intervarsity, and
Paul Y. Cho, then we are no better than wolves ourselves.
When I attended Paul Kelm's School of Outreach in 1987, Larry
Olson praised Cho and Schuller during the panel discussion on
Church Growth. I stood up and said, "What are we doing, here
at Mequon, praising two false teachers, one who got his butt
kicked out of the Assemblies of God, which is not noted for
doctrinal discipline, and the other, who is in fellowship
with non-Christians?" (This was during the Bakker and
Swaggert scandals, which the Assemblies of God allowed to
develop, even though certain top leaders knew all about the
allegations of adultery.) No one said anything, although
Olson talked with me briefly afterwards.
All Enthusiasts have cell groups, so we find them in Reformed
denominations, in Pentecostal groups, in the Roman Catholic
charismatic movement, in all mainline charismatic movements,
and in anti-Christian cults. We find the Means of Grace only
in Lutheranism, so the Book of Concord has much to say about
how we receive God's grace and how we are nurtured by the
Word. Subsequent Lutheran leaders, until now, always taught
against the Reformed concept of prayer as a means of
grace. 39 They based their doctrine on the Book of Concord:
It is indeed correct and true what Scripture states, that
no one comes to Christ unless the Father draw him. [John
6:44] But the Father will not do this without means, and he
has ordained Word and sacraments as the ordinary means or
instruments to accomplish this end. It is not the will of
either the Father or the Son that any one should refuse to
hear or should despise the preaching of his Word and should
wait for the Father to draw him without Word and
sacraments." [See SD, II, 4, 80] 40
WELS leaders want to pretend that cell group Enthusiasts,
like C. Peter Wagner and his friend Waldo Werning, are in
our camp. They should read Francis Pieper, who began his
ministry as a Wisconsin Synod pastor:
Moreover, the advocates of this error [Reformed advocates,
against the Means of Grace] are by no means always irenic
people. Rather, they go on the warpath and malign the
Biblical truth in many ways. 41
VII. Unionism and Open Communion
Fellowship principles are Biblical and well known to WELS
pastors, but fellowship now seems to be defined in terms of
what we can get away with and what we can excuse with
Pharisaic alibis and outright falsehood. An orthodox
Christian simply does not want to participate in formal
religious activities with false teachers, due to his love for
the pure Word of God. An orthodox pastor does not want to
support publicly any religious activity which suggests that
he condones false doctrine or is indifferent to it. Prof.
Reu has wisely written that unionism creates doctrinal
indifference, doctrinal indifference leads to unionism. 42
They are inseparable, as we have seen already in cell groups
and Pietism, a predicament summarized by Bill Moyers as, "You
lie down with dawgs, you get up with fleas."
Yes, I do think we should study textbooks and journals by
false teachers, but we should, like Ulysses, be bound to the
mast of the Scriptures and have our ears treated with the
Book of Concord, to guard against listening to the Sirens of
Enthusiasm. I think some pastors, like Robert Koester,
should attend Fuller to write a thesis against Church Growth.
But we have a large number of WELS leaders who have trained
at Fuller and endorse Fuller's doctrines and methods. The
mission board pastors have trained at Win Arn's Church Growth
Institute in Monrovia, near Fuller. Our district mission
board even sends pastors to D. James Kennedy to be trained in
Reformed decision theology. When I was at Mequon in 1987, a
poster from Paul Kelm was outside the president's office,
inviting seminary students to attend Billy Graham's School of
Enthusiasm. I had been at Wheaton 5 times (before colloquy)
and thought it very odd that WELS talked fellowship
principles and rushed to learn from those opposed to infant
baptism and Holy Communion.
The excuse is: "We are so orthodox, we can separate the
wheat from the chaff." The Catalog of Testimonies shows that
we are building on chaff, sowing chaff, and reaping
Open communion belongs with fellowship questions, because
communion is the clearest sign of unity, a factor recognized
by the April 27, 1992 issue of Christian News, in the story
about "Four Protestant Sects" working toward joint communion:
ELCA and 3 Reformed groups. In order to do this, the
Lutherans had to give up the Real Presence, which has always
filled Enthusiasts with wrath.
Schmauck, who worked against Enthusiasm in the Muhlenberg
tradition (ULCA), wrote:
Is the Lord's Supper the place to display my toleration, my
Christian sympathy, or my fellowship with another
Christian, when that is the very point in which most of all
we differ; and in which the difference means for me
everything--means for me, the reception of my Savior's
atonement? Is this the point to be selected for the
display of Christian union, when in fact it is the very
point in which Christian union does not exist? 43
The Augsburg Confession makes doctrinal unity the basis for
peace in the Church. Luther told the Evangelical
participants at Augsburg to go home rather than compromise
about the truth. The Confessors wrote, risking their lives:
The desire was expressed for deliberation on what might be
done about the dissension concerning our holy faith and the
Christian religion, and to this end it was proposed...to
have all of us embrace and adhere to a single, true
religion and live together in unity and in one fellowship
and church, even as we are all enlisted under one
Fifty years later, after wars and persecutions, the
Concordists were not in a mood to explain under what
circumstances they could associate with false teachers:
To dissent from the consensus of so many nations and to be
called schismatics is a serious matter. But divine
authority commands us all not be associated with and not to
support impiety and unjust cruelty. 45
Martin Luther clearly advocated closed communion when he
wrote the following, which is now our confession as well:
"So everyone who wishes to be a Christian and go to the
sacrament should be familiar with them [the benefits of the
sacraments]. For we do not intend to admit to the sacrament
and administer it to those who do not know what they seek or
why they come." 46
Pastor Paul T. McCain, LCMS, the editor of Kurt Marquart's
latest book, has written a fine booklet on Communion
Fellowship, A Resource for Understanding, Implementing, and
Retaining the Practice of Closed Communion in the Lutheran
Parish, (R. R. 3, Box 79, Waverly, IA, 50677-9517). Some do
not practice closed communion in Columbus. A Missouri pastor
told my friend in the ELS, "I went to a WELS church in
Columbus, and nothing was printed in the bulletin or said
during the service about closed communion. You are in
fellowship with them. How can you say we are liberal?"
Open communion is not simply a matter of bad practice but of
doctrinal indifference. Refusing someone communion is not
loveless, but loving. I gave one man a blessing instead of
communion and he is now an active member. Someone asked,
"Would you refuse your own mother communion?" I did, and she
is now an active member of WELS and a supporter of Lutherans
For Life. Closed communion not a ball and chain for Lutheran
churches but a banner which says, "We place sound doctrine
above everything else: family ties, friendship, cell groups,
a balanced budget, and unity based on compromise and
deception." When a Unitarian minister came to my Christmas
Eve communion service, in the LCA, I knew that I could not
practice open communion. I did not have to refuse her, since
her principles prevented her from saying the Lord's Prayer,
singing certain hymns, and coming to the altar. Liberals are
much better at doctrinal discipline than conservatives are.
The Unitarians would never let a Trinitarian speak at their
national convention, but we invite someone at war with our
doctrinal stance to be the preacher at our national youth
conference and national LFL convention - Pastor Richard
"Ephesians appears to be a circular letter, originally
written for a number of different congregations, and thus it
is addressed to a diverse audience. So it is more likely to
express general principles that deserve wide application.
But a letter like I Timothy which is addressed to an
individual - or even I Corinthians which is addressed to one
specific congregation - is more like to apply such general
principles to a particular time, place, and situation. We
who live in a different time and place will then have to
adjust the application accordingly - obviously without
compromising the general principles." ("Heirs Together of the
Gracious Gift of Life," by Richard H. Stadler, Michael J.
Albrecht, Iver C. Johnson, December, 1991, p. 3)
At the Snowbird Ecumenical Conference, the best ever,
according to Rev. James Schaefer, our council of presidents
and other leaders, 25 in all, were taught how to manage the
church by a woman. They were taught what St. Paul says about
ministry by a Trinity Seminary professor, an advocate of the
historical-critical method. They were told by a liberal
Reformed theologian that the radical left mainline
denominations were not becoming "sideline" denominations.
George Barna, Who's Who in Church Growth, also taught our
leaders at Snowbird, but they seem to know Barna's work quite
well already. When Columbus WELS pastors invited ELCA to
discuss inerrancy, no one from Trinity Seminary showed up.
They understand fellowship. But our synodical president
posed for photos with Rev. Herb Chilstrom, former Pietist,
who advanced himself by promoting the cause of homosexuality
and pornography-as-sex-offender therapy as bishop of the
LCA's Minnesota Synod. A Lutheran troubled by false doctrine
in Missouri and ELCA would have to say, reading The Lutheran,
"They are all in it together." Knowing the ELCA quota
system, I have to conclude that the very large ELCA
contingent included homosexual and lesbian pastors, certainly
a large group of women pastors and women executives. Did we
not express our approval of this violation of Scripture, not
to mention the blasphemies of Braaten Jenson's Christian
Dogmatics, which is the standard ELCA dogmatics text? 47
Another insurance sponsored ecumenical endeavor, the Joy
radio show, put together by ELCA, LCMS, and WELS, has 3
versions about its development. The one published in
Christian News, 12-9-91, p. 2) claimed it was the first joint
ministry among the three groups. The synod office denied in
writing that we were involved at all and claimed that the
ELCA pastor had been corrected. Another version, from ELCA,
is that John Barber was involved from the beginning and WELS
supported the joint religious program. As of 1-10-92, no one
had informed the ELCA pastor who wrote the release that WELS
was not part of the program. I spoke with him and with his
secretary at length. ELCA sent out various publicity flyers
identifying our participation in a classic case of rank
unionism. A third version of events came from the synod
office - that John Barber was sharing his great talents with
ELCA and LCMS. Is that so bad? The NWL denied WELS was part
of the program itself. Since I was once part of the LCA's
enormous media program, as a writer and stringer for The
Lutheran, as chairman of the district committee, and as a
participant in a national conference with the LCA media
people, I was amused to learn that ELCA needed our man at
all. (Worthy of note: we are following Missouri and ELCA in
spending bundles of public relations and advertising - and
getting the same results.)
WELS has acquired a well-deserved reputation for rudeness to
outsiders over the years, but I do not think that public
relations and unionistic efforts will change anyone's
attitude toward us. If we want to be loved and respected by
false teachers, then we must wallow in Enthusiasm with them.
If we want love, a fruit of faith, to flourish among us, then
we must believe, teach, and confess the true Christian faith.
As Lenski wrote, we cannot pick apples where there are no
trees. Schwaermer trees will only produce large, wormy
When I hear WELS leaders speak about adiaphora, I wonder if
they understand the meaning of Article X. of the Formula of
Concord. Briefly, the section on "matters of indifference"
became necessary because of the compromises which Melanchthon
accepted under duress from the papal forces, claiming that
certain practices could be acceptable since they did not
involve the central doctrines of the faith. First,
Melanchthon remained silent during the imposition--by force--
of the Augsburg Interim. Pastors were deposed and jailed and
driven into exile. Some pastors were killed. 48
"In Swabia and along the Rhine about four hundred ministers
were willing to suffer imprisonment and banishment rather
than conform to the Interim." 49 Then Maurice had the
Wittenberg and Leipzig theologians draw up the slightly
improved Leipzig Interim. F. Bente explained reasons for
Melanchthon's treason, apart from his natural timidity:
"Evidently, then, Melanchthon consented to write the Interim
because he still believed in the possibility of arriving at
an understanding with the Romanists and tried to persuade
himself that the Emperor seriously sought to abolish
prevailing errors and abuses, and because the theological
views he entertained were not as far apart from those of the
Leipzig compromise as is frequently assumed." 50
The best summary of the Adiaphora article is found in a brief
We believe, teach, and confess that at a time of
confession, as when enemies of the Word of God desire to
suppress the pure doctrine of the holy Gospel, the entire
community of God, yes, every individual Christian, and
especially the ministers of the Word as the leaders of the
community of God are obligated to confess openly, not only
by words but also through their deeds and actions, the true
doctrine and all that pertains to it, according to the Word
of God. In such a case we should not yield to adversaries
even in matters of indifference, not should we tolerate the
imposition of such ceremonies on us by adversaries in order
to undermine the genuine worship of God and to introduce
and confirm their idolatry by force or chicanery. It is
written, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast
therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
(Gal. 5:1) 51
The Formula of Concord is clear why this is so:
"Hence yielding or conforming in external things, where
Christian agreement in doctrine has not previously been
achieved, will support the idolaters in their idolatry, and
on the other hand, it will sadden and scandalize true
believers and weaken them in their faith." 52
Getting rid of our Lutheran name, which has happened twice in
the Michigan District (Pilgrim Community Church, Columbus;
Crossroads Community Church, Livonia) and also out west, is
excused as an adiaphoron. The advocates forget to say that
they are following the sage advice of Robert Schuller and
Lyle Schaller, two Church Growth Enthusiasts. The Michigan
District praesidium which approved Pilgrim Community Church
ignored the objections of pastors and laity, including
members from Beautiful Savior, Grove City, the sponsor. For
many, it was a case of dishonesty, using bait to lure people
into Lutheranism (dolow, 2 Cor. 4:2). For others, it
included the whole doctrinal stew of the Enthusiasts.
Examine for yourselves the bulletin for Crossroads, A
Contemporary Christian Church, January 12, 1992:
Announcements and Prayer
Song of Praise
Message "Honoring Relationships"
Closing Prayer and Blessing
The message, not sermon, is outlined thus:
I. Honor Received (v. 1)
a. Encouragement from________
b. Comfort from______________
c. Fellowship with___________
II. Honor Returned (vs. 2-5)
The expressed intent of Crossroads Community Church and
Pastor Dan Kelm's Divinity Lutheran Church is to imitate
Willow Creek Community Church, the Church Growth showpiece
which has no cross or religious symbols to offend the
unchurched. Floyd Stolzenburg's plan for Pilgrim Community
Church was to abstain from ever using the name Lutheran.
Lutheran finally appeared in microscopic print.
Must we have Reformed entertainment services, with puppets
and drama in order to lure people into the Kingdom of God?
We are not ashamed to sit with ELCA at the feet of
Enthusiasts at Snowbird, but our praesidium claims that ELCA
has ruined the name Lutheran, so we are ashamed to use it in
Columbus. (A thientific survey in Columbus showed nobody
cared.) The Book of Concord does not support our identifying
with the Enthusiasts in order to trick them into attendance.
The adiaphora article also forbids, in my opinion, our
coziness with ELCA and Missouri, where the Gospel is truly
IX. Optimistic Conclusion
The doctrinal crisis is so great in the old Synodical
Conference that pastors and laity are being aroused from
their self-satisfied slumbers. The Ohio Conference refused
to receive my last paper "with thanks," although it was good
enough for the conclusion of Liberalism and was checked twice
over for doctrinal errors by NPH. The "Cure" chapter, which
compares the Means of Grace to Enthusiasm, has been favorably
reviewed by everyone, including Dr. John Brug in the WLQ.
Clearly something is amiss.
Each new issue of The Northwestern Lutheran and the Mission
Counselors' NEWSLETTER proves that I have understated the
case here. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod is declaring
itself against Church Growth, in the latest issues of the
Lutheran Sentinel and Lutheran Synod Quarterly. The
Northwestern College faculty is teaching against the Church
Growth Movement in the classrooms and in the chapel services.
Missouri has a clear example papalism in the Robert Preus
case, which is directly related to Waldo Werning's work at
Ft. Wayne, and Preus' resistance to Church Growth Enthusiasm.
In addition, ELCA is being thrown into turmoil by their
mission board's open espousal of Church Growth tactics,
visions, and marketing techniques.
In my opinion, the vast majority of WELS pastors are faithful
to the Scriptures, sincere in their faith, and eager to serve
the cause of orthodoxy. This is based upon hundreds of phone
calls and letters, from laity and pastors, encouraging me to
defend the Means of Grace against the Enthusiasts. Our
leaders--the Council of Presidents, the synod administration,
and the seminary--have not guarded the sheep and kept away
the wolves. I am optimistic because we have the polity to
work at this problem, parish by parish, circuit by circuit,
conference by conference. The conventions themselves mean
nothing if we cannot deal with these matters as they occur
around us. But this will not happen, if we continue to
ignore the safeguards against apostasy. My circuit, for
instance, has two district officials in it, but has seldom
met in the last decade. The constitution mandates regular
circuit meetings. Church history shows than decline into
Enthusiasm begins with a lax attitude toward doctrinal
discipline. False teaching, left alone, will flourish, while
sound doctrine needs constant attention and nourishment from
the Scriptures and Confession. Do we want to grow roses or
Many blessings will result from the defeat of Enthusiasm in
WELS, although it will always be in our bones and ready to
strike out in another form against the Means of Grace. Some
obvious blessings from defeating Enthusiasm are:
1. Pastors will be encouraged to be faithful to the
Scriptures and Confessions and trust in the power of
the Word and Sacraments to accomplish God's will.
2. Worship services and sermons will improve by glorifying
God and showing people the way to eternal life.
3. Those who love orthodoxy will more than make up for
those who run away to Schwaermer churches.
4. We will stop recruiting pastors and teachers and instead
begin culling from the masses who want to share in this
wholesome and salvific work of God.
5. The synod will send out reprints of John Schaller for
free instead of Lyle Schaller for a license fee.
6. Pastors will no longer resign in disgust and
discouragement, thinking they are not handsome, clever,
or political enough to be ministers.
7. Teachers will be respected for their special calling.
8. Parochial schools will flourish.
9. People will give in proportion to their blessings,
motivated by the Gospel.
10. District presidents and mission boards will stop trying
to get rid of pastors and will instead respect the
divine call and the work of God through faithful
11. Apostate pastors and teachers will be given the left
foot of fellowship.
12. The Northwestern Lutheran will be viewed as a godsend
for parish work and evangelism.
Finally, Luther's words to Major should be framed and placed
above our desks, because they are aimed at us as well. When
Major insisted that he was not addicted to false doctrine,
It is by your silence and cloaking that you cast suspicion
upon yourself. If you believe as you declare in my
presence, then speak so also in the church, in public
lectures, in sermons, and in private conversations, and
strengthen your brethren, and lead the erring back to the
right path, and contradict the contumacious spirits;
otherwise your confession is sham pure and simple, and
worth nothing. Whoever really regards his doctrine, faith
and confession as true, right, and certain cannot remain in
the same stall with such as teach, or adhere to, false
doctrine; nor can he keep on giving friendly words to Satan
and his minions. A teacher who remains silent when errors
are taught, and nevertheless pretends to be a true teacher,
is worse than an open fanatic and by his hypocrisy does
greater damage than a heretic. Nor can he be trusted. He
is a wolf and a fox, a hireling and a servant of his belly,
and ready to despise and to sacrifice doctrine, Word,
faith, Sacrament, churches, and schools. He is either a
secret bedfellow of the enemies or a skeptic and a
weathervane, waiting to see whether Christ or the devil
will prove victorious; or he has no convictions of his own
whatever, and is not worthy to be called a pupil, let alone
a teacher; nor does he want to offend anybody, or say a
word in favor of Christ, or hurt the devil and the
Perhaps this is why the District Mission Board and the
Michigan District praesidium have criticized my extensive
quotations of Luther. May God help us to lose our shame of
Luther and learn to take the strong medicine he offers our
Thank you, brothers, for your encouragement. May Christ be
glorified in our work. Amen. 54
1 "Grace, Means of," The Concordia Cyclopedia, ed. L.
Fuerbringer, Th. Engelder, P. E. Kretzmann, St. Louis:
Concordia Publishing House, 1927, p. 299.
2 Heinrich Schmid, The Doctrinal Theology of the Ev. Luth.
Church, trans. Charles A. Hay, Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia:
Lutheran Publication Society, 1889, p. 511.
3 Hebrews, James, Columbus: Lutheran Book Concern, 1938, p.
4 That was the nickname for Bishop David Preus' declaration
of altar fellowship with the Reformed, affirmed by the ALC,
denied by the LCA, but now actively pursued, using the same
words ("the only difference is the mode of His presence," by
5 Smalcald Articles, VIII. Confession, 9-10. The Book of
Concord, ed. Theodore G. Tappert, Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1959 p. 313; hereafter cited as Tappert.
6 Formula of Concord, Smalcald Articles, VIII., Confession,
3-5, Tappert, p. 312.
7 "Grace, Means of," ibid.
"From these it is evident how unjustly and poisonously the
Sacramentarian enthusiasts [Sakramentschwaermer] ridicule the
Lord Christ, St. Paul, and the entire church when they call
oral eating and eating on the part of the unworthy 'two hairs
of a horse's tail and an invention of which even Satan
himself would be ashamed,' just as they describe the majesty
of Christ as 'Satan's dung, by which the devil amuses himself
and deceives men.' These expressions are so terrible that a
pious Christian should be ashamed to translate them."
[phrases used by Theodore Beza and Peter Martyr Vermigli]
Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 67,
Tappert, p. 581f.
8 Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vol., St. Louis:
Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 117. Hereafter
cited as Pieper.
9 Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIII, The
Sacraments, 13, Tappert, p. 213.
10 Heinrich Schmid, ibid., p. 505.
11 Adolf Hoenecke, Evangelische-Lutherische Dogmatik, 4
vols., ed. Walter and Otto Hoenecke, Milwaukee: Northwestern
Publishing House, 1912. "6. Likewise we reject and condemn
the error of the Enthusiasts who imagine that God draws men
to himself, enlightens them, justifies them, and saves them
without means, without the hearing of God's Word and without
the use of the holy sacraments." Formula of Concord,
Epitome, Article II, Free Will, 10, Tappert, p. 471.
12 Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article II, Free Will, 46,
Tappert, p. 530.
13 Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article II, Free Will, 80,
Tappert, p. 536. Dr. Luther: "Let a hundred thousand devils
and all the enthusiasts come along and ask, 'How can bread
and win be the body and blood of Christ?' I know that all the
enthusiasts and scholars put together have less wisdom than
the divine Majesty has in his little finger. Here we have
Christ's word, 'Take, eat, this is my body...'" [Large
Catechism] Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's
Supper, 22, Tappert, p. 573.
14 Theology of the Lutheran Confessions.
15 [WA 54:155, 156] Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article
VII, Lord's Supper, 33, Tappert, p. 575. The Enthusiasts
called "crass fools" by Luther, Formula of Concord, Epitome,
Article VII, Lord's Supper, 103, Tappert, p. 587.
16 Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, 4
vols., trans. Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing
House, 1971, I, p. 71. Pastor David Jay Webber has
excellent, concise articles on Reformed and Roman Catholic
exegesis in Lutheran Synod Quarterly, March, 1989.
17 Apology of the Augsburg Confession, preface, The Book of
Concord, Tappert, p. 99.
18 Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV., 63,
Justification, Tappert, p. 115.
19 Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV.,
Justification, Tappert, p. 122.
20 Augsburg Confession, XXVIII, 43, German, Tappert, p. 88.
21 Large Catechism, Infant Baptism, 57, Tappert, p. 444.
22 Concordia preface, 1580 Tappert, p. 1.
23 Ibid., p. 8.
24 Formula of Concord, Epitome, Part I, 1, Tappert, p. 464.
25 Formula of Concord, Epitome, Part I, 2, Tappert, p. 465.
26 Schmauk p. 726. "And where the preacher does not consent
to the confessions of the church, by whose servants he has
been ordained, he is no fellow-confessor, and certainly
cannot be a preacher of a confession which he does not
acknowledge. In no event is the preacher individually any
more a witness to the truth than the common testimony of the
church in the symbols. He is not above the symbols, nor
under the symbols, but a joint witness with them." p. 86,
27 Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII,
Eccles. Power, Tappert, p. 284.
28 Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article VIII.,
Person of Christ, Tappert, p. 601.
29 Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article XI.,
Election, Tappert, p. 621.
30 Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article XI.,
Election, Tappert, p. 629.
31 Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article XI,
Election, 41, Tappert, p. 623.
32 Lyle W. Lange, ed., Our Great Heritage, 3 vols.,
John P. Meyer, "Ancient Errors about God," from The
Northwestern Lutheran, 1940, Milwaukee: Northwestern
Publishing House, 1991, I, p. 551.
33 What Luther Says, II, p. 642 (W-T 2, No. 2152; SL 22,
34 Hermann Sasse, Here We Stand, trans. Theodore G.
Tappert, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1946,
p. 161. Can you imagine an ELCA leader translating Sasse
35 Gregory L. Jackson, Liberalism: Its Cause and Cure,
Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1991, p. 25.
36 Pieper, III, p. 143.
37 Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its
Theology, Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication
House, 1871, p. 489.
38 Pieper, III, p. 175.
39 "The Christian's faith trusts in the ordinary means.
Prayer is not a means of grace. Means of grace are divine
appointments through which God uniformly offers blessings to
all who use them. Faith is the means by which the blessings
are received and appropriated. God gives us bread, when we
ask it, not through the channel of prayer, but through the
ordinary channels of His providence. He gives us grace when
we ask it, not through prayer, but through the ordinary means
appointed for this end, namely the Word and Sacraments. He
who despises these will as little have grace as he who
refuses to accept bread produced in the ordinary way of
nature. Faith asks with confidence, and trusts in the
ordinary means of God's appointment for the blessings asked."
Matthias Loy, Sermons on the Gospels, Columbus: Lutheran
Book Concern, 1888, p. 387.
40 Solid Declaration, Article XI, Election, Tappert, p.
628f. "Our opponents hold that saving faith must be founded
on Christ Himself, not on the means of grace. This
reasoning, common to the Reformed, the 'enthusiasts' of all
shades, and modern 'experience' theologians, assumes that
faith can and should be based on Christ to the exclusion of
the means of grace." Pieper, III, p. 152.
41 Pieper, III, p. 162.
Excursus: Calvin and the Means of Grace
"If the Spirit be lacking, the sacraments can accomplish
nothing more in our minds than the splendor of the sun
shining upon blind eyes, or a voice sounding in deaf ears."
John Calvin, Institutes, IV, xiv, 9, Benjamin Milner,
Calvin's Doctrine of the Church, ed. Heicko A.Oberman,
Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1970, p. 119. Hereafter cited as
"...we are touched with some desire for strong doctrine, it
evidently appears that there is some piety in us; we are not
destitute of the Spirit of God, although destitute of the
John Calvin, Commentaries, Amos 8:11-12; CO XLIII, 153.
Milner, p. 109.
"He also convinced them without the word, for we know how
powerful are the secret instincts of the Spirit (arcani
John Calvin, Commentaries, Amos 4:12; CO XLIII, 68.
Milner, p. 108n.
"I grant that doctrines ought to be tested by God's word; but
unless the Spirit of wisdom (spiritus prudentiae) is present,
to have God's word in our hands will avail little or nothing,
for its meaning will not appear to us...." John Calvin,
Commentaries, 1 Jn 4:1; CO LV, 347-48.
Milner, p. 105.
"The word of God is not set before all men that they return
to soundness of mind; but the external voice sounds in the
ears of many, without the effectual working of the Spirit,
only that they may be made inexcusable."
John Calvin, Commentaries, Acts 28:26; CO XLVIII, 571,
Milner, p. 93n.
Pieper: On Calvin
"But according to the teaching of Calvinism this 'inner
illumination' is not brought about through the means of
grace; it is worked immediately by the Holy Ghost. Modern
Reformed, too, teach this very emphatically. Hodge, for
example, says: 'In the work of regeneration all second
causes are excluded....Nothing intervenes between the
volition of the Spirit and the regeneration of the
soul....The infusion of a new life into the soul is the
immediate work of the Spirit....The truth (in the case of
adults)[that is, the setting forth of the truth of the Gospel
through the external Word] attends the work of regeneration,
but is not the means by which it is effected." [Hodge,
Systematic Theology, II, 634f.]
Pieper, III, p. 120
42 M. Reu, In the Interest of Lutheran Unity, Two Lectures,
Columbus: The Lutheran Book Concern, 1940. "In tolerating
divergent doctrines one either denies the perspicuity and
clarity of the Scriptures, or one grants to error the right
to exist alongside of truth, or one evidences indifference
over against Biblical truth by surrendering its absolute
validity; and (b) in allowing two opposite views concerning
one doctrine to exist side by side, one has entered upon an
inclined plane which of necessity leads ever further into
complete doctrinal indifference, as may plainly be seen from
the most calamitous case on record, viz., the Prussian Union.
Doctrinal indifference is at once the root of unionism and
its fruit. Whoever accepts, in theory as well as in
practice, the absolute authority of the Scriptures and their
unambiguousness with reference to all fundamental doctrines,
must be opposed to every form of unionism." p. 20.
"Rationalism, unionism and nativism, both European and
American, have been the cause of the bulk of the trouble in
the Lutheran Church in America. Perhaps the most insidious
and treacherous of these ostensible friends has been
unionism." Schmauk, p. 855.
43 Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The
Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the
Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia:
General Council Publication Board, 1911, pp. 905ff. Schmauk
was the president of the (conservative) General Council.
44 Preface, Augsburg Confession, 2-3, Tappert,
45 Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X. Church
Usages, 23, Tappert, p. 615.
46 Large Catechism, Fifth Part, The Sacrament of the Altar,
2, Tappert, p. 447. "The real question is not what do you
subscribe, but what do you believe and publicly teach, and
what are you transmitting to those who come after? If it is
the complete Lutheran faith and practice, the name and number
of the standards is less important. If it is not, the burden
of proof rests upon you to show that your more incomplete
standard does not indicate an incomplete Lutheran faith."
Schmauk, p. 890.
47 I have known the editor of The Lutheran since 1978, wrote
for him often, and met with him when he was in the
neighborhood or at the same conference. When the Snowbird
photo and stories ran in The Lutheran, I could imagine
Trexler saying, "You are in fellowship with us, Gregg, on our
48 Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing
House, 1921, p. 96.
50 Ibid., p. 99.
51 Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X, 10-11,
Tappert, p. 612.
52 Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X.
Adiaphora, 16, Tappert, p. 613. "Shall we permit this to be
done! in the name of Christian unity! and by a
latitudinarianism that is our own heritage, which rises ever
anew from the embers of the past to find such veiled support
and strength in the citadel of Zion that Confessionalism is
told to whisper low in Jerusalem lest she be heard on the
streets of Gath." Schmauk, p. 941.
"We should not consider as matters of indifference, and we
should avoid as forbidden by God, ceremonies which are
basically contrary to the Word of God, even though they go
under the name and guise of external adiaphora and are given
a different color from their true one."
Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X. Adiaphora,
5, Tappert, p. 611.
"Nor are such rites matters of indifference when these
ceremonies are intended to create the illusion (or are
demanded or agreed to with that intention) that these two
opposing religions have been brought into agreement and
become one body...."
Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X. Adiaphora,
5, Tappert, p. 611.
"4. Likewise we hold it to be a culpable sin when in a period
of persecution anything is done in deed or action to please
enemies of the Gospel contrary and in opposition to the
Christian confession, whether in things indifferent, in
doctrine, or in whatever else pertains to religion."
Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X. Adiaphora,
29, Tappert, p. 615.
53 Concordia Triglotta, p. 94.
54 The extensive quotations were made possible by the
initial work of my wife, Christina, on our first database of
doctrinal material: Ortho-Docs. Advice and source material
has been provided from all over Lutheranism. Our son Martin
has helped revise the manuscript and check for factual
POSSIBLE CONFERENCE PAPERS ON THE BOOK OF CONCORD
"The Difference between the Priesthood of All Believers and
the Public Ministry"
"Law and Gospel, Contrition and Forgiveness"
"Election and Evangelism"
"Freedom of the Will and Original Sin"
"The Relationship between the Book of Concord and the
Patristic Church Fathers"
"The Lives and Contributions of the Concordists"
Brief Bibliographical Sketch
The most useful book of all is NPH's Concordance to the Book
of Concord. Bente's historical introduction to the Concordia
Triglotta will put steel in anyone's spine. Lenski is a
perfect companion to any passage cited, since he knew the
orthodox fathers and always dealt with the history of
doctrine in reference to disputed passages. The best Luther
sources are the 8 volume sermons, Baker Book House, and
What Luther Says, Concordia. The best Luther biography is
Ewald Plass, This Is Luther. Many others could be called
This Is Luther? Walther's Law and Gospel is a fine laxative
for Enthusiasm, if one section is read carefully at a time.
Our Great Heritage, a best seller at Wisconsin Lutheran
Seminary, reminds us what our fathers taught us.
John Brenner and Paul Prange have both written outstanding
papers about Pietism. James Langebartels (2906 24th Street,
Hopkins, MI 49328) has translated volume I of Timotheus
Verinus, about Pietism's war with Orthodoxy. Robert Koester
is completing volume II.
This is the second printing of the conference paper, due to
demand from all over the United States. Letters of
appreciation have arrived from many different readers,
pastors and laity alike.
Some typos from the first printing were corrected and two
quotations were added: one from Richard Stadler and another
from Kincaid Smith. Martin H. Jackson provided invaluable
help in proofreading.