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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

WELS District Pope Doug Engelbrecht's "A Clarion Call for Groeschel Plagiarism and Cell Groups"

WELS District President Doug Engelbrecht,
Northern - Anything Goes - District.
Click here for an attorney's response to this clarion call.

A Clarion Call For Faithfulness To The Word And For Faithfulness To The Tenor Of The Gospel 

A Presentation And Discussion Of Various Concerns That Have Been Raised Recently In Our Midst 

Pastor D.J. Engelbrecht NWD Pastoral Conference October 25-26, 2011

A “clarion call” is defined as “a strong and clear request for people to do something”. (1 http.www.The This paper and attendant questions for discussion are intended to be a clarion call to all of the pastors in our Northern Wisconsin District to remain faithful to the Word and at the same time to remain faithful to the tenor (2 Tenor -“the overall nature, pattern, or meaning of something, especially a written or spoken statement”) of the gospel. As Professor Daniel Deutschlander and others have so often said, we must be careful that we do not fall into the ditch on either side of the road when it comes to our doctrine and practice.  

When it comes to doctrine and practice faithfulness to the Word of God is paramount. Paul‟s second letter to Timothy could be considered a “clarion call” to his ministerial student and co-worker, Timothy, to remain faithful to the Word above all else. Likewise in chapter 4 Paul encourages Timothy to “Preach the Word,”(3 2 Timothy 4:2,3 NIV 1984 by Biblica) because the time would come when people would not put up with sound doctrine. The warnings of the Apostle John in the 22nd chapter of the book of Revelation to remain faithful to the Scriptures likewise emphasize the importance of making faithfulness to the Word “job number one” for all followers of Christ and most certainly for those who shepherd Christ‟s people. 

At the same time we want to be faithful to the tenor of the gospel. What do I mean by “the tenor of the gospel”? I mean the overall nature or pattern of the gospel. The very nature of the gospel is love. The gospel reflects the love of God for sinners through the redemptive work of Christ. And the gospel urges Christians to likewise reflect the love that God, in Christ, has shown them in everything they do and say. Christ urges his followers to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”( 4 John 13:33-35 NIV 1984 by Biblica)  The Apostle Paul told the Ephesian Christians that even when we must speak the truth to an individual who may not necessarily want to hear what we have to tell him, we do so in love. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”(5 Ephesians 4:14-16 NIV 1984 by Biblica) Luther emphasized the gospel motivation for all that we do and say when, in his explanation of the eighth commandment, he said that we are “to take his (our brother's) words and actions in the kindest possible way.”(6 Luther’s Catechism, (Milwaukee: NPH, 1982), 108) Professor J. P. Koehler, one of the men identified with the Wauwatosa Theology, reminds us: “A Christian as such receives the motivation and forms of his actions from the gospel and not the law.” (7 Koehler, Gesetzlich Wesen Unter Uns, p. 3. 8 1 Timothy 4:16  NIV 1984 by Biblica)  Therefore, if a clarion call is to be made to the brothers in our district for faithfulness, it must be a two-fold call: faithfulness to the Word and at the same time faithfulness to the tenor of the gospel.  

What is it that has prompted this clarion call to faithfulness, over and above the encouragement that is continually given to all pastors in our synod to “watch your life and doctrine closely” (1 Timothy 4:16)? Over the past couple of years a number of issues and concerns have been brought before the District Presidium by various individuals, involving doctrine, practice, and approaches to ministry. Some of them were cleared up immediately, some were the result of misunderstandings and miscommunication and were resolved through extensive discussion, some fall under the category of legitimate differences of opinion on approaches to ministry, and some called for continued evangelical warnings to the brethren to help them avoid straying from the Word, the Lutheran Confessions, and the tenor of the gospel It must be stated that at no point in time did the District Presidium find false doctrine being espoused or promoted by anyone. However, through extensive discussion of these matters it became clear that it would be to the benefit of all the brothers in the District to join the discussion, to be the beneficiaries of the fruit of the discussions the District Presidium has already had on these matters, and to receive guidance, direction, and evangelical warning in regard to them, so that we all may continue to be faithful to the Word and faithful to the tenor of the gospel. 

It is not my intent to get into specifics in regard to the matters that were brought before the District Presidium with names and places. However, a number of general issues warrant discussion among a broader spectrum of and for the benefit of the brethren. The first of these general issues concerns the subject of plagiarism. 

Plagiarism is defined as: “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work, as by not crediting the author” (9 There are two basic criteria, therefore, for something to actually be considered plagiarism. One is that it is “unauthorized”. In other words, it is the use of someone else's material without being granted permission by that individual to do so. The second criterion is that it is the use of someone else's material with the purpose of passing it off as your own. “In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.”(10 By definition, then, using someone else's material with their permission would not be considered plagiarism per se. [GJ - False, Doug. The deception is a fraud perpetrated on the congregation.] The original author could not sue for copyright infringement under those circumstances, because he has given permission for his material to be used, perhaps even without citation. Doing so could, however, be considered unethical, if the person using the material did not cite the source and then represented the material as his own original work with the intent of deceiving those to whom he is presenting the material. We should note that, “Plagiarism is not a crime per se but is disapproved more on the grounds of moral offense and cases of plagiarism can involve liability for copyright infringement.”(11 Plagiarism is not a criminal offense punishable by law.  If a person feels that his original material has been used by someone else without authorization, he may bring a lawsuit against that individual for copyright infringement.) Wikipedia adds this rather interesting comment about the development of the concept of plagiarism: “the notion (of plagiarism) remains problematic with nebulous boundaries. The modern concept of plagiarism as immoral and originality as an ideal emerged in Europe only in the 18th century, particularly with the Romantic movement, while in the previous centuries authors and artists were encouraged to "copy the masters as closely as possible" and avoid "unnecessary invention.” The 18th century new morals have been institutionalized and enforced prominently in the sectors of academia and journalism, where plagiarism is now considered academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics, subject to sanctions like expulsion and other severe career damage. Not so in the arts, which not only have resisted in their long-established tradition of copying as a fundamental practice of the creative process but with the boom of the modernist and postmodern movements in the 20th century, this practice has been heightened as the central and representative artistic device. Plagiarism remains tolerated by 21st century artists.”(12 [GJ - Plagiarism is against the law. An author can go to court and sue for damages when someone makes money from his original work by selling it as his own.]

While plagiarism is mainly a source of concern in the areas of academics and journalism these days, it can also be a concern in the area of the church and with our ministers of the gospel. Ministers of the gospel should not knowingly and with intent to deceive their hearers or readers pass off someone else's material as their own, i.e. plagiarize. We use the word “knowingly” because it is certainly possible to say or write something that you think is original, only to find out that someone else has already said or written it, or something very similar to what you have written. When pastors are all basically preparing sermons from the same text it would not be unusual for one person's sermon to be very similar in nature to another's. We would also add the phrase “with intent,” because, first of all, that is part of the definition of plagiarism. By definition it involves a fraudulent intent. Someone may use another person's material and even have permission to do so without citation, and yet have intent on passing it off as his own to deceive his congregation into thinking that he is doing his own work when he is just reaping the benefit of someone else's labor. 

The bottom line is: plagiarism, as defined, is out of the question for a minister of the gospel, both from the standpoint of stealing someone else's material without permission and/or citation and from the standpoint of deliberately deceiving one's congregation into thinking that the work that is being presented is original (even though permission may have been given by the author) when that (originality) is what the congregation is expecting from its pastor. [GJ - Is it too much to ask for original Lutheran sermons from Lutheran pastors who get enormous grants from the synod to perpetrate this deceitful copying of false teachers like Groeschel and aping of gay activists like Andy Stanley?]

Questions For Further Discussion: 

• To what extent do pastors need to cite sources either verbally or in print when using materials from places like NPH (Advent or Lent series or outlines, stewardship sermons/outlines prepared by the synod, the “green” book)? 
• To what extent should a congregation expect originality from its pastor? (Consider Bible studies, text studies, the use of phrases or illustrations.) 
• Is there such a thing as “self-plagiarism”? If so, what steps must be taken to avoid it? 
Encouragement to the Brothers: 
Be careful to avoid any semblance of plagiarism or unethical practice by making an effort to cite the source of especially longer quotes or illustrations and sermon or Bible study outlines/series where practicable. 
If you are making use of other people’s work (e.g. a synod produced sermon on stewardship or a special occasion), make every effort to inform the leaders of your congregation that you are using such materials. 

Methodist EC Craig Groeschel (far left) comparing jeans with closeted Babtist Andy Stanley.
Andy does not admit to being Babtist at Northpoint,
just like Rick Warren at Saddleback.

The Use Of Materials Outside Our Fellowship 
That leads us to a related issue, namely the use of material from sources outside our fellowship. While our church body produces a great amount of resource material for our pastors, it is safe to say that our pastors use sources from outside of our fellowship in connection with their work, and that their bookshelves contain any number of volumes that have been produced by authors that are not WELS and/or not produced by our publishing house. The mere use of material that is authored or produced by someone outside of our fellowship cannot be considered plagiarism in and of itself. Again, I go back to the definition of plagiarism as “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work, as by not crediting the author”(13 It certainly could be, if done so without citation and the intention of deceiving the congregation into thinking that their pastor is giving them original work. However, the use of materials outside our fellowship when given permission by its author and without intention of deceiving the calling body should not be considered plagiarism nor unethical. 
[GJ - DP Doug is addressing the Ski/Glende use of Craig Groeschel's materials, which he gives permission to use but advises the ministers to be honest about using them.]

Not a Photoshop - Andy Stanley posed with Ski,
and Ski worshiped with Stanley.
Apparently, so did Glende, Parlow, Buske and others.
DP Doug did not excommunicate them, but supported them instead.

The question then becomes: Is it permissible/advisable for our pastors to use materials and resources that are produced outside of our fellowship? To say that it is not permissible for our pastors to use materials and resources that have been produce or authored by those outside our fellowship would certainly be going too far. That would lead us to head toward the ditch of legalism. And to intimate that no good scholarship or creative ideas can come from someone who is not WELS would be the height of theological narcissism. Throughout the decades our pastors have benefited from the scholarship and creative work of people who do not share our WELS confession or even our Lutheran confession. We need only look at the list of authors and their backgrounds that fill the pages of our hymnal, Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal (14 Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal is filled with texts and tunes that were authored by people from a variety of theological backgrounds including Charles Wesley, Fannie Crosby, Franz Joseph Mohr, Ray Palmer, and Augustus Toplady), or the materials that NPH offers in its catalog, or even check the books that our seminary has used over the years as required reading  (15 My homiletics class was trained by Professor Gerald Hoenecke using “Reu’s Homiletics” as its textbook.) to see that much can be learned from and beneficial use can be made of the scholarship, materials, thoughts, words, and ideas of those who do not share our confession. 

But the question is: how advisable is it? The excessive use of materials that are produced or authored outside of our fellowship can be not only inadvisable, but dangerous for a number of reasons. One reason is that constant exposure to unorthodox material can, without a person even realizing it, affect his thinking to the point where he begins to espouse the same false teaching contained in that material. If the expression “you are what you eat” can be applied to our theological diet, it is not out of the realm of possibility for someone to find himself losing his Lutheran confessional moorings when the lion’s share of his daily menu is Reformed or Evangelical material. Another reason would be that the consistent use of material produced outside of our fellowship can lead to pure laziness and a desire to skip the hard work and just use what somebody else has produced. Obviously, the latter could also be said of consistently using someone else’s materials even though produced by a WELS or other orthodox source. Consistent and wholesale use (that is, without thoroughly scrutinizing and reworking what needs to be reworked to reflect our Lutheran confession) is indeed very dangerous. For that reason it is extremely important to limit the use of such material to as little as possible to avoid the danger. The same could be said for the literature that fills our pastors’ book shelves. Even though we would assume that our pastors are more prepared to separate the wheat from the chaff than most of their parishioners, an overabundance of books produced by sources outside our fellowship can have the same inherent dangers. A good ratio of thoroughly orthodox books to books produced by those who do not share our confession is vitally important. We would never tell a pastor what that ratio has to be, but we would certainly encourage our brothers to keep the books and materials in their library that are authored by those outside of our fellowship to a small number in comparison to those that are produced within our fellowship or from basically orthodox sources. 

Questions For Further Discussion: 

• To what extent can unorthodox materials be “Lutheranized” or “WELSified” and be safely used by our pastors? 
• How much “original” work should our pastors be expected to do in keeping with their time and abilities? 
• Can materials from outside sources in areas such as church management or church architecture, etc. be used safely? 
Encouragement to the Brothers: 
Refrain from using materials from outside sources as much as possible, (even though they can be “Lutheranized” or “WELSified”) because of the danger of unknowingly assimilating any false theology that may be contained in the material. 
Make a greater effort to produce your own materials or make use of materials produced within our fellowship. 
Trust your brothers to know when too much is too much and encourage them rather than accuse them when Christian freedom is the issue in this area. 

Choose To Believe 
Another issue that was thoroughly discussed centered around phrases used in a number of hymns that could be deemed unclear or confusing.    One phrase in particular is found in a contemporary song entitled “Voice of Truth.”(16 Voice of Truth – Casting Crowns) “I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth.” The song speaks of how a Christian is bombarded by the lies of Satan and the world around him and is placed in the position of choosing between what the devil and the world tells him and what God tells him in Holy Scripture.  The Christian answers repeatedly in the song, “I choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth.” Would someone who might use that contemporary song be guilty of promoting false doctrine? At issue is the matter of decision theology as well as post-conversion cooperation in sanctification. Holy Scripture says, “ no one can say, „Jesus is Lord,‟ except by the Holy Spirit,” (17 1 Corinthians 12:3 – NIV 1984 by Biblica) and Dr. Luther reiterates that the natural man is unable to “believe in Jesus Christ (his)Lord or come to Him”. ( 18 Luther’s Catechism, (Milwaukee: NPH, 1982), 188) (i.e. natural man cannot do anything to effect his conversion.) We reject, therefore, Decision Theology which says that natural man can “ask Jesus into his heart” (19 Having said that, consider all the phrases contained in our Lutheran hymns, such as:  “Jesus is my pleasure, Jesus is my choice,” “Enter now my waiting heart”, “Come into my heart I pray…”, Come now to dwell within me-” We have to assume those are all said by someone who is a converted Christian and, therefore, we are not promoting decision theology when we pick hymns containing such phrases.), make a decision for Christ, or cooperate in some way in and with one's conversion. That is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. Speaking as an unregenerated person, there is no way we can say “I choose to believe.”   However, can a person in whose heart the Holy Spirit has produced faith in Christ say “I choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth”? 

The Lutheran Confessions state: “From this, then, it follows that as soon as the Holy Ghost, as has been said, through the Word and holy Sacraments, has begun in us this work of regeneration and renewal, it is certain that through the power of the Holy Ghost we can and should cooperate, although still in great weakness. But this [that we cooperate] does not occur from our carnal natural powers, but from the new powers and gifts which the Holy Ghost has begun in us in conversion, as St. Paul expressly and earnestly exhorts that "as workers together with Him we receive not the grace of God in vain," 2 Cor. 6:1 But this is to be understood in no other way than that the converted man does good to such an extent and so long as God by His Holy Spirit rules, guides and leads him, and that as soon as God would withdraw His gracious hand from him, he could not for a moment persevere in obedience to God. Therefore, there is a great difference between baptized and unbaptized men. For since, according to this doctrine of St. Paul, Gal. 3:27, all who have been baptized have put on Christ, and thus are truly regenerate, they have now arbitrium liberatum (a liberated will), that is, as Christ says, they have been made free again, John 8:36; Whence they are able not only to hear the Word, but also to assent to it and accept it, although in great weakness.”( 20 Formula of Concord: Thorough Declaration Article II) 

The dogmatics notes which, in part, guide the study of dogmatics at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary say “A Christian may and must cooperate in his own sanctification ¬2 Cor. 6:1; 1 Cor. 3:9…he is one raised to new life”? Romans 6:13 Johannes Quenstedt, who is quoted in those notes says: “The Holy Ghost, however, renews us (brings about our renewal) in such a way that also man himself cooperates with him through powers of grace by which he is able to do that…Therefore the renewed man is a subordinate cause of his own renewal motivated by God to renew himself from day to day through the powers received from above. The Holy Ghost indeed without cooperation of man produces in man the ability to do good, (i.e.) the first power, (nearest power, the power that comes at the same time as conversion) and the actium primum of sanctification. The actus primus or "first act" is the ability to do good, and ability given by the Holy Ghost. But as soon as the Holy Ghost has begun the work of sanctifying man, he can cooperate in the actum secudum ("the second act"), namely, the use of the power {to do good} and the continuation of sanctification. He does that not by natural powers but supernatural. And thus by powers granted by God a man can become a coworker with God in the continuation of his own sanctification.” 

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Professor Richard Gurgel writes: “Does our new self joyfully and willingly cooperate in every area of sanctification—both tables of the law---of course it does! The „new self‟ is the recreation within us of the image of God that Adam and Eve once possessed. Listen to the new self speak in Psalm 119 and any idea that he does not participate in joyful obedience to both tables of the law should disappear. He delights to believe in every promise of God. It is not wrong to say that a believer chooses to believe those promises….(although)… 

Of course there are some cautions to observe. Our Confessions rightly warn us about speaking of the Spirit and our new self as equal partners in sanctification. And unlike Adam and Eve before the fall, we still have the remnant of our old self hanging around to trouble us. However…I would say this, for two reasons I wonder if “our new self chooses to believe the promises of God” is the most helpful wording. First: we are surrounded by the "Evangelicals" who have forever corrupted that phraseology so that those who hear us say "choose to believe" will often be thinking decision theology. Then, here's the second reason I wonder if this is the clearest wording: the new heart God plants in us at conversion simply does believe every promise of God. That is its very nature. Our old self, of course, since we are simul justus et peccator, at the same time refuses to believe in any promise of God. So, the struggle we have is to act on the faith our new self possesses rather than the doubt and unbelief that springs from our old self. In other words, it's not so much whether I "choose to believe the promise (I both do and don't at the same time as saint/sinner). The question is whether I will act on faith or doubt as I live. Of course, the more I act on doubt the sooner I bring the day when complete unbelief robs me of believing in any promise of God! I am convinced that the brothers who are objecting to your wording are over-reacting in fear of  "decision theology".  But in the context in which we serve, I understand the concern behind it. The Bible is quite comfortable using language and expressions that portray believers as active participants in embracing God's promises, but at the same time maintain a clarity that God is always the Prime Mover and that the concept of merit is not to enter the picture. Let us be therewith content. To deny the validity of using the language of believers choosing what God declares fitting and pleasing to him is to overreact and invariably creates a false and distorted picture that differs from the biblical norm. The envisioned cure becomes part of the problem.” 

We would also note what Bethany Professor Adolph Harstad, ELS theologian, says in Joshua -The People‟s Bible p. 241, commenting on Joshua 24:15, a passage that came up in the discussion we had: “Israel faces a choice. When seen clearly, the choice is easy. It is between idols of wood, stone, and metal on the one hand and the living, powerful gracious Lord on the other. Joshua is not advocating a „decision theology‟ of the many preachers today when he says, „Choose for yourselves.‟ Modern decision theology claims that unconverted people have the power within themselves to choose the Lord and become believers. Sinful humanity has no such power of its own to turn from unbelief to faith in the Lord. That power comes from God (1 Cor.12:3) Joshua is here calling for a choice from people who already own the gift of faith from the Lord. They can choose to abandon the Lord, or by the power of the Spirit already given them, to confirm their God-given faith and renew the covenant he put in place.”(21 The People‟s Bible ((Milwaukee: NPH, 1991) p. 241 A survey of the WELS Conference of Presidents revealed that the group, as a whole, finds the interpretation that says Joshua was addressing only unbelievers, giving them only a choice between the false gods of the Amorites or the gods their fathers served beyond the river, to be a spurious one. ) 

From the quotations above, it should be clear that the converted Christian, given the ability by the Holy Spirit, can choose to listen and believe what God has promised as opposed to what the devil and the world whisper in his ear. That is part of post-conversion cooperation in sanctification, which involves both tables of the law. From the quotations above it should also clear that man cannot in any way choose to come to faith or choose to believe the Word of God on his own, without the regenerating and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. 

A follow-up question is: Can man cooperate in the preservation of his faith? The Formula of Concord – Thorough Declaration says that the Synergists believed that man can cooperate “by its own powers, with the Holy Ghost, in the continuation and maintenance of this work.” (22 TD, II, p.910:77) The Confession, of course, refutes that contention and says that anything good or God-pleasing the believer does is done only through the power that the Holy Spirit grants him. He cannot come to faith “by his own powers” nor can he remain in faith “by his own powers”. For example, if I as a believer understand that in order to remain in faith I must be in regular contact with the Means of Grace, the fact that I read my Bible, go to church on Sunday, read my Meditations, etc., is something I do, but not by my own power. It is done by the power that the Holy Spirit has given me. Thus my faith and the preservation of my faith is entirely the work of God. And yet I participate in that work in a certain respect. 

Here we would do well to hear what Koehler says in his “Summary Of Christian Doctrine”. He says that faith is the work of God and the act of man. “Conversion consists in the bestowal of faith. Hence, faith is not a work of man in the sense that by his own powers he produces faith in his heart. Faith is the "operation of God" (Col. 2:12) It is given unto us to believe in Christ (Phil. 1:29). Faith is, therefore, the work of God in the sense that it is He, and He alone, who creates and sustains it in our hearts. [GJ - DP Doug seems to be a synergist.]

However, it is not God who believes in us or for us; it is man who does the believing. "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief." (Mark 9:23,24) What shall we do that we might do the works of God? (works God requires of us.) „Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent. (John 6:28,29) These texts plainly show that faith is indeed an act or work of man, which he performs in his heart. To be sure, it is not a physical act, but, like fearing, loving, and hoping, believing is something we do in our hearts and souls. To illustrate: I live, but it is God who gives and sustains this physical life of mine; so also, I believe in Jesus as my Savior, but it is God who creates and preserves this spiritual life in my heart. Faith, therefore, is an act or work of man inasmuch as man actually does the believing.”(23 Koehler – A Summary Of Christian Doctrine (Concordia Publishing House-2006) p. 136)

Thus, there is a cooperation on the part of the Christian also in the preservation of faith in the sense that God does not continue to believe for me, but does supply the power and the means through which my faith is sustained. I am part of the process even though I supply none of the power to do so. Perhaps confusion comes from the word “cooperation” since it has the connotation of providing some power or impetus to remain in faith (“operatio”). A better word might be “participation”. Man participates in the preservation of his faith because God does not do the believing for him. At no point in time, however, can we say that such participation is meritorious, as the Confessions clearly state. We are called to faith and are preserved in faith by grace alone. 

In summary, Scripture speaks clearly of the regenerate Christian cooperating with the Holy Spirit in every aspect of sanctification, including both tables of the law. Therefore, it would not be wrong to use the phrase “I choose to listen and believe God's Word” in the context, not of conversion, but of sanctification. However, because of the confusion that such a phrase can cause among our people, especially those who do not fully understand post-conversion cooperation in light of the Scriptures and the Confessions, and because we are surrounded by the Evangelicals who espouse a Decision Theology, our pastors are encouraged to avoid the use of hymns and songs that have that phrase, or one similar, in them. 

Questions For Further Discussion: 

• How important is it to know your people and what they understand when it comes to choosing songs for worship? 
• Should we, in the theological climate in which we live today, make an effort to revise some of the hymns in Christian Worship, or would that be a case of theological paranoia? 

Encouragement to the Brothers: 
• Be judicious in the use of phrases or songs that contain words such as “I choose to listen and believe” or, if need be the hymn in CW that says, “Jesus is my choice,” to avoid confusion in regard to decision theology and the doctrine of post-conversion cooperation with the Holy Spirit in the 
Christian’s life of sanctification. 
• “It is wicked to interpret a poor choice of words as error when you know that the right meaning was intended.” (24 Gerhard, Johann – Good Works p.38) Trust that your brother has the proper understanding of a doctrine and perhaps just used poor judgment, in your opinion, rather than accuse him of false doctrine. 
• Do not consider your judgment to be more sanctified than your brother’s judgment. 

The Service You Need 
Along these same lines, concern was expressed over using the phrase “Show me, Lord, the service you will need.” Hymn #252 in “Let All The People Praise You” (NPH – 1999) contains that phrase. Scripture clearly states that the Lord, who is almighty God and creator of all things, does not need anything from His creatures. He is all-sufficient. He is El-Shaddai. “ When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD 
appeared to him and said, “I am walk before me and be blameless) אל שדי (GodAlmighty.” (25 Genesis 17:1 – NIV 1984 by Biblica)
Taking into consideration what the Scriptures say about God not needing anything from us, and taking into consideration the context of the song, it should be clear that the intent of the author (and therefore the one who sings this song) is to say: “Lord, show me the kind of service you require or ask of me as a Christian. This is borne out in verse 3 where the author says, “More than words I know you want from me.” He does not say “need” from me. Though a better choice of words by author Richard Avery would be preferred in verse 1, we can understand what he means when he uses the word “need” in the phrase, “Show me, Lord, the service you will need.” The songbook “Let All The People Praise You” was produced by the synod‟s Commission On Worship, which “reviewed the songs that were proposed, offered editorial suggestions, deleted a few selections, and authorized publication.”(26 Let All The People Praise You – (NPH – Milwaukee – 1999) Introduction) We should be confident, therefore, that the words of that song, though they could be improved upon, are consistent with the doctrines of Holy Scripture. 

Encouragement to the Brothers: 
If you feel that your people will misunderstand the phrase contained in that hymn or any other hymn or contemporary song, do not make use of it in your worship. 
Consider carefully the context of words and phrases used in hymns before ascribing false doctrine to either the author or the user. 

The Efficacy Of The Word 
Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions have made it clear that the Word of God is efficacious in and of itself. “For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any two-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”( 27 Hebrews 4:12 -NIV 1984 by Biblica) and “So is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”( 28 Isaiah 55:11 – NIV 1984 by Biblica) Nothing you or I do can make the Word of God more powerful than it already is. That all-powerful Word of God, is conveyed when it is written and spoken (or sung or signed), but it is not conveyed by a sanctified life. When Jesus says in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is heaven,” ( 29 Matthew 5:16– NIV 1984 by Biblica) we do not understand Him to mean that people can be converted by seeing the good deeds that a Christian performs. Nor do we assume that the good works of a Christian can convey the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners. The Apostle Paul emphasizes the fact that “faith comes from hearing the message,”(30 Romans 10:17 – NIV 1984 by Biblica) not by observing the sanctified life of a Christian. The familiar and often used phrase that is correctly or incorrectly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel always, if necessary, use words,” may be understood correctly if it is meant to echo the words of Christ in Matthew 5:16 and used as an encouragement to actually live the Christian faith one professes. However, if the indication is that the saving message of Christ crucified for sinners can be conveyed simply through the sanctified life of a Christian, we would have to object to its use. 

The Word also cannot be made more powerful than it already is by the manner or method in which it is proclaimed.  Though the Word cannot be made more powerful or effective by the manner or method in which it is proclaimed, man can hinder the work or stand in the way of the Holy Spirit, thus blocking the Word from allowing its power to take effect. The Apostle Paul writes “Quench not the Holy Spirit.”(31 1 Thessalonians 5:19 -NIV 1984 by Biblica) (1 Thessalonians 5:19) Professor emeritus David Kuske writes, “Through these means (the Word and Sacraments) the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith and renews our zeal to live according to the New Man. Failure to make use of the Word and Sacraments, then, would by default give the Old Adam the upper hand and thus put out the Spirit‟s fire.”(32 The People’s Bible (NPH – Milwaukee 1999) Failure to make use of the Word and Sacraments, as well as failing to make the Word available (or understandable, i.e. in a language that the hearer can understand) can hinder the work of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul says, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (33 Romans 10:14 – NIV 1984 by Biblica) He also says in 1 Corinthians 14:13 “For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say.”(34 1 Corinthians 14:13 – NIV 1984 by Biblica ) Method or manner of presentation cannot make the Word more powerful than it is, but method or manner of presentation can either make the Word more accessible to people so that they have a greater opportunity to hear it, or it can prevent people from hearing the message. For example, though the Word of God is in and of itself the “power of God unto salvation,” (35 Romans) and nothing you do can change that, scheduling your worship services at 3:00 am on a Friday when it is likely no one, or at least a very few, will come to hear the Word being preached may prevent the power of the gospel from ever being released. The Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 9:12 “If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.”(36 1 Corinthians 9:12 – NIV 1984 by Biblica) Paul is referring to the fact that he and his coworkers had every right to be compensated for their work of preaching the gospel among the Corinthians. But he chose not to accept financial support from them because he did not want to hinder the gospel of Christ. The indication is that there are things that we do that can hinder the gospel, so that it does not have a chance to unleash its saving and redeeming power. Part of being faithful to the Word and to the call that we have to preach that Word is doing everything we can to remove as many hindrances as we can to the gospel reaching the ears of our people and the people of the world around us. 

No, there is nothing you and I can do that will change the ultimate will of God to save the elect and bring them to heaven. Nothing we do will “change the numbers”. But since we don't know who the elect are (“The Lord knows those who are his”) (37 2 Timothy 2:19 – NIV 1984 by Biblica), and since we don't know what the numbers are, we need to work almost as if just the opposite were the case! almost as if everything did depend on us, though we know full well it doesn't. How easy it would be for us to say, “Since there is nothing I can do to enhance the power of the gospel and since there is nothing I can do to "change the numbers" of the elect and the number of those who will ultimately be lost, I might as well spend my time on the golf course and just shake a sermon out of my sleeve on Sunday without putting any effort into it. It won't change anything in the grand scheme of things anyway.” Such thinking borders dangerously close to a belief in the double predestination of the Calvinists. [GJ - No more like the typical WELS pastor who plagiarizes from false teachers, visits the gym, but won't visit his own members.] The words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22 are interesting here. He says, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”(38 1 Corinthians 9:22 – NIV 1984 by Biblica) Paul wasn't saving anyone! Nor could he! The gospel saves, and the gospel alone, and yet Paul says that he became all things to all men, so that he might save some.  In other words, he worked as hard as he could to bring the saving gospel to people, taking away as many obstacles to the Word unleashing its saving power as possible, and working as if the success of the gospel were all up to him. That is part of being faithful to your call and faithful to the Word, doing whatever you can to prevent the gospel and its power from being hindered or failing to reach people with the hope that through you God might save some. 

Questions For Further Discussion: 

• What kind of things could be put into the category of “hindering the gospel” (not its power, but hindering it from unleashing its 
power/preventing people from hearing the message)?  
• Can “becoming all things to all men” go too far?   If so, how? • Can “becoming all things to all men” come in conflict with our 
stand as confessional Lutherans? 
Encouragement to the Brothers: • Remind yourself often of the complete efficacy and power of the Word and carry out your ministry with that in mind. • Do everything you can in your ministry to avoid putting hindrances in the way of people hearing the message. • Do not assume that brothers who approach their ministry in a different manner than you do reject the complete efficacy and power of the Word. • Keep in mind the fact that you are a confessional Lutheran as you carry out your ministry. 

Relevant/Relational Worship/Ministry 
We note the word “relevant” as it is used by some to describe worship and/or ministry. By definition “relevant” means: “bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; the purpose—syn. applicable, appropriate, suitable”(39 We would assume that the worship that takes place in any of our WELS congregations is “connected with the matter at hand” and is therefore “relevant” in that sense.  The “matter at hand” is man‟s sin and his need for a Savior. Worship that is relevant does not have anything to do with where it takes place, or what instruments are used to lead the congregation, or what style the songs take, or what form the sermon takes, or whether the pastor wears a black or white gown. Worship that is relevant is worship that leads the worshipper to the knowledge of his sin and points to the cross of Jesus Christ as the solution to that sin. Relevant worship is worship that leads the worshipper to give praise to God for the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ and for all other blessings in life. Worship that is relevant is worship that presents the truths of the Bible and mines the treasures of God‟s Word. It is worship that focuses not only on the “here” but more importantly on the “hereafter” as it leads the Christian through this life to life eternal in heaven. 

Our pastors should correctly understand that manner or method of presentation cannot make the Word more effective or more relevant, but that any form of worship or method of presentation that gets to “the matter at hand”, namely sin and grace, and is suitable to bring the sinner to repentance and to the foot of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ for full and free forgiveness is “relevant” worship. 

Another term that we hear being used in respect to ministry and worship is “relational”. The dictionary defines the word relational as “indicating or specifying some relation”.(40 relational. STANDS4 LLC, 2011. 19 September. 2011.) Barista Daron Lindemann in his essay delivered to the 61st Biennial Convention of the WELS said, “caring for souls means caring for people, because every soul on earth this side of eternity is embodied in humanity. If anyone could have bypassed human nature and directly cared for souls, it was Jesus Christ himself. However, consider his ministry, beginning with his own incarnation. His active obedience healed and helped people. In his parables he taught about people and for people. His full humanity participated in the work of redemption even unto death, his resurrection appearances to his friends, and his real body and blood still given in the sacrament. Jesus cares about humanness—his own and that of every soul. People matter. No wonder crowds were “amazed at his teaching.” (Mark 11:18) Relationships, as messy as they can be, build bridges for spiritual care. Might there be room in our hearts and memories to appreciate this just a little more today, and in our minds and plans to gain some fresh insights as those called to care for souls?” ( 41 Essay “Caring For Souls: People Matter – Lindemann, Daron – July ,2011 p.2.) The point that he makes in the essay is that our ministry, and our worship as well, needs to be relational, that is, concerned about souls, about people, not just about form and function. He says, “The means of grace enrich, equip, engage, and encourage people, with pastoral rites, and through personal relationships. And often both wonderfully at the same time.” (42Essay “Caring For Souls: People Matter – Lindemann, Daron – July , 2011 p.31) 

A ministry that is “relational”, therefore, is a ministry in which great emphasis is laid on creating relationships with people so that the means of grace can be brought to them. A worship that is “relational” is 
one that fosters relationships and speaks to the hearts of people, rather than one that follows only rubric and ritual. “When your job becomes running the church from Sunday to Sunday with institutional duties, much like running a house where the to-do list grows as fast as the summer grass, practice the virtue of building a home, not running a house. You‟re not the manager of the lawn but the caregiver of the family. Nurture us with the peaceful pastures of Christ‟s love.  Lead us on the paths of Christ‟s righteousness by walking alongside of us in a relationship. Restore souls. Comfort us. The house of the Lord is not a structure or a system but a shepherd calling the Good Shepherd‟s sheep closer, safer, farther.” ( 43 Essay “_aring For Souls: People Matter – Lindemann, Daron – July, 2011 p.30) 

That is what is meant when someone describes their ministry and their worship as “relational”.  

Questions For Further Discussion: 

• How can “traditional” or “contemporary” worship fail to be relevant? 
Can “becoming all things to all men” come in conflict with our 
stand as confessional Lutherans? • How can pastors fail to be relational in their ministry? • How can worship fail to be relational? Be relational but fail to 
be means of grace oriented? 

Encouragement to the Brothers: 
Don’t assume that when a brother uses the term “relevant worship” he means that “my worship is better than yours”, but uses the term “relevant” because it gets to the matter at hand, namely presenting sin and grace, Law and Gospel, with Jesus Christ and eternal life at the center. 
Take care to avoid being either “over-relational” or “too institutional”. 

Small Group Bible Studies 
The matter of small group Bible studies also came up for discussion. There is no doubt that a major factor in the Pietist movement was Jakob Spener‟s insistence on small group Bible studies. The question one must ask, however, is: when pastors make use of small group studies in their congregation does that mean they are automatically Pietists? A second question one must ask is: does the use of small group studies in a congregation automatically lead to Pietism? While it is true that small group Bible studies were part of the Pietist movement and contributed to a certain extent to the rise of Pietism in the past, we would be going too far to say that every pastor who organizes small group studies in his congregation is a Pietist, and that every congregation that uses some sort of small group Bible or sermon study in their midst will, without a doubt, soon be displaying Piestistic tendencies and leaving behind the doctrine of justification by faith in favor of a preoccupation with sanctification and “right living”. It should be noted that the small group conclaves that Jakob Spener advocated were in many ways designed to supplant the corporate worship service. There surely is a great danger in replacing the corporate worship service with small groups. The Lord has told us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:25) We will never replace the corporate worship service with small group conclaves. However, there can also be great advantage in having members of a congregation actively engaged in a review of the previous Sunday's sermon or a properly led study of the Bible during the week between Sunday services in small groups. 

We would reiterate the caution previously stated when it comes to using and adapting materials that are produced outside of our fellowship for such small group studies. While we would not insist that such materials can never be used or adapted for our use, the dangers of consistently using such materials do exist and pastors should use great caution in making use of material produced outside of our fellowship. 

Questions For Further Discussion: 

• How can small group Bible studies or sermon reviews held during the week create a Pietistic atmosphere? How can they be of spiritual benefit? 

Encouragement to the Brothers: 
• Familiarize yourself with the history of Pietism and recognize the errors that were present in the movement and the methodology that may have contributed to those errors. 
• Do not universally condemn small group Bible studies in the home, either pastor or lay led.  
There are a variety of other topics that have come up for discussion among the brethren in the past few years that would be of benefit for all to hear and weigh in on, but time does not permit us to cover them all. My prayer is the discussion of these particular items and the encouragements contained herein will serve to keep us all faithful to both the Word and to the true tenor of the gospel and keep us from heading off into the ditch on either side of the road. 

Pastor D.J. Engelbrecht NWD Pastoral Conference October 25-26, 2011 

Rebuttal by Rick Techlin, an attorney who was kicked out his congregation for questioning plagiarism, the excommunication upheld by relationship expert Doug Engelbrecht.


Not a Photoshop - Craig Groeschel.

Craig Groeschel - making the Word attractive...or something.

From Craig Groeschel on using Andy Stanley material:

How To Use Someone Else’s Material
Recently I used Andy Stanley’s series, “How to Be Rich.” (If you haven’t listened to his messages, I highly recommend that you do.)

Here’s what we did:
We asked for permission. (For the record, if you use something from Open, you don’t have to ask for permission. Since I didn’t know North Point’s stance, asking permission seemed like the right thing to do.)

We gave Andy credit publicly and sent people to his church’s website.

We sent Andy a note with a small gift to say “thank you.” (This obviously isn’t necessary, but I wanted to express my gratitude for his hard work, excellent material, and generosity.)

Parts of the series included almost exclusively his material. Other parts were very much my own. To me, he deserved full credit and honor for God’s work through him.

Several people thanked me for exposing them to North Point’s ministry. I’m thrilled to turn them on to a great spiritual resource.

When have you observed this done well?


GJ - DP Doug did not listen to an attorney from his own district, but he aped an EC Methodist from the Net!

Plagiarizing Pastors
Some have said, “If a pastor copies from one source, it’s plagiarizing. If he copies from multiple sources, he’s researching.”

This week I’d like us to talk about using other people’s material with integrity.

Giving Credit
On Open, we don’t require attribution for resources that people download and use. We don’t need credit nor desire it. We simply want to make anything we create freely available for other pastors and churches to use in ministry.

Sadly, we know of a couple of pastors who have been fired, in part, for “plagiarizing” our work and others whose integrity has been questioned.

Here are my thoughts:

It isn’t plagiarizing if you’re given permission.
Just because it isn’t plagiarizing doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t give credit to others.

Years ago I used material—with permission—from a friend. He had asked me not to credit him, so I didn’t.

A few people took a strong stance against me for plagiarizing. Although he didn’t desire to be mentioned, we all would have been better off if I had given credit for the material I used.

Giving credit does several valuable things:
It honors the pastor or church who came up with the idea.
It demonstrates humility and security.
It exposes a church to other great leaders and teachers.
It removes any doubt of copying.
This week, we’ll discuss when and how to give credit.
What are your initial thoughts?