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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Goody Two-Shoes Synod - LCMS.
Polishing the Marble at the Walther Shrine

LPC has left a new comment on your post "Reviewing the Stephan Book. The Deception Continue...":

Just my opinion, I am yet to find an LC-MS scholar I can look up to.

Goodness me this reviewer's review concentrates on the petty and trivial. If you are going to review, go to the heart of the most crucial thesis of this book and critique that!.

My unimpression of LC-MS scholarship continues to grow each day.

That is one set of scholars I do not want to study from.



GJ - The LCMS is full of various factions, each one shunning the others. But they do agree on one thing - the  immaculate conception of C. F. W. Walther, a university graduate who was the greatest theologian ever.

Zion on the Mississippi is a difficult book, typical of a dissertation. No doctoral student wants to give up a precious note-card, so every fact gets raked into the thesis. For most people, the dissertation is the first and last book written, so the self-editing process is not mature. Moreover, every advisor has his axe to grind, so various threads have to be followed to satisfy them.

Nevertheless, Zion is a Fibbermagee Closet of historical information (except for Kuehn's first name). For weeks I went over various parts of it, where the the facts contradict the official mythology of The Great Walther - as he is called, in all seriousness.

My Judaism teacher at Notre Dame taught me a lot about historical skepticism. He would recite a truism that we all learned, followed by evidence that destroyed that supposed fact. I was intrigued by the mob action and what really happened. Zion gives most of the details and shows how devious and dishonest Walther was, even though the book is gentle with all the characters.

The SynConference is drowning in its own mythology. Although the leaders live off Thrivent loot and constantly work with ELCA, they continue their Pietistic holier-than-thou claims, down to SP Schroeder and convicted sex offender Joel Hochmuth issuing a condemnation of ELCA for its homosexual agenda. Hochmuth's conviction, according to Google Alerts, began to be picked up by various gay bloggers who guffawed over the gay-hating sect having an child sex offender arrest at headquarters.

The Walther Shrine in St. Louis.

To be true to the SynConference mythology, one must recite the Pietistic catechism each time someone mentions an author not on the LCMS bus. That keeps the poorly educated members and pastors from getting involved in the serious study of other Lutheran theologians: Krauth, Schmauk, Reu, Loy, Lenski.

To prove my point, the Appleton crew plagiarizes non-Lutherans while denouncing Lutheran authors. Lenski seems to send them into status epilepticus. No one would guess from their eructations that Lenski is a long-time favorite in the LCMS, WELS, ELS, and The ALC. But they will transform their community with the insights of Methodist Craig Groeschel and Babtist gay activist Andy Stanley.

As someone said of their favorite, Jeff Gunn, "No one would know it was a Lutheran church." In fact, a faithful couple said that about all the WELS congregations in Florida. When I repeated that to the DP, he was me.

Critical thinking is the first victim of the Goody Two-Shoes mentality.

The Great Walther

Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel has left a new comment on your post "The Goody Two-Shoes Synod - LCMS.Polishing the Mar...":

Ichabod -

As pleasant of personality as Professor Cameron MacKenzie possessed during my seminary days, he never did strike me as one going beyond enjoying the comfort of a critic's arm-chair.

In the one class I remember having him in, the textbook used, was the rubber stamped official Concordia Publishing House c. 1964 – Moving Frontiers - Readings in the History of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod; edited by Carl S. Meyer. That book, I think insulated C.F. Walther and more or less absolved him from the scandal ridden Lutheran Church Missouri Synod past. Reference was made to Stephan but glossed over his significance and sin.

As "critical" as MacKenzie may be of historical books referencing Missouri Synod's scandal ridden history, I believe that he easily ignores history's basic discipline, - that being, to learn from it. I don't witness McKenzie recommending or encouraging what rank in file non historians recently encouraged and promulgated by their recent protests. At least they and the secular (non Christian) school of higher learning got it right. They connected the necessary and important dots, and removed the Penn State idol statute. Will Missouri Synod ever catch on; connect the dots and also remove their idol icon champion and distance itself from his shrine?

Nathan M. Bickel


GJ - Pastor Bickel, your comments are worth highlighting. I met Cameron once and talked to him a bit. He went out of his way to be friendly.

Is this the chalice stolen from Stephan?

I am not casting aspersions on his work. It is just too easy within Missouri to reject anything mildly critical of that era. I am all too familiar with the outraged response to P. Stephan's book. There are many court documents to discuss in that book.

Turning LCMS Students into Paupers So the Professors Can Live Like Kings

bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "LCMS Seminaries - Where the Money Is. Ultra High T...":

The average Concordia Seminary St. Louis professor earns $22,923 more than the average professor at nine other Lutheran seminaries in the US. That drives up the tuition and fees costs for M Div students, and their student loan bill. This is especially bad because in 2011 the Budget Control Act said that graduate student loans would accrue interest from the day they were taken out. Now, it turns out, pastors can't even have their student loans forgiven after 10 years like other NPO workers:

Pastors deemed not to qualify for public service student loan forgiveness program

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness forgives federal student loan debt after 10 years or 120 qualifying payments for people working in certain public service jobs. To qualify for forgiveness, a borrower must make the right type of payments (Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment, or a 10-year standard payment) on the right type of loan (federal Direct Loan) while working in the right type of job (government, nonprofit, etc.)., is a leading source of consumer information about the programs.


If you touch the last image of Walther on the computer screen,
your hair will miraculous stand up.

bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "Someone Has Sent an Insider's Report from the LCMS...":

Harrison will be able to visit a lot of LCMS students in debtors prison now:

Pastors deemed not to qualify for public service student loan forgiveness program
Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness forgives federal student loan debt after 10 years or 120 qualifying payments for people working in certain public service jobs. To qualify for forgiveness, a borrower must make the right type of payments (Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment, or a 10-year standard payment) on the right type of loan (federal Direct Loan) while working in the right type of job (government, nonprofit, etc.)., is a leading source of consumer information about the programs.


This is additional proof that Walther was conceived without sin.

bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "Judgment Day Approaches for the LCMS Seminaries":

It's hard to see how Ft. Wayne can survive this new hit. In 2011 it was determined under the Budget Control Act that in future years, graduate student loans would not be as subsidized as before, so interest would accumulate even while the student is in school, instead of only starting six months after graduation.

NOW, however, the rules say that pastors are NOT going to be able to qualify for the student loan forgiveness program for people who work at NPOs for 10 years, even though the synod suggested this was the case, and word of mouth said it was a done deal:

Caesar’s continued war against the Church…


Public Service Loan Forgiveness


bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "Turning LCMS Students into Paupers So the Professo...":

Besides the links embedded in the post above, see also this post and its comments. The comments section cross-links other seminary student cost posts, and seminary professor salary posts:

September 17, 2011
LCMS Seminary Cost Scandal:
Fabulous Costs To Support Posh Professor Salaries  

Reviewing the Stephan Book.
The Deception Continues

"We built this synod,
We built this synod,
We built this synod on spirochetes." (This is for Mequon graduates, who have trouble finding embedded links. I am also doing this to show how to avoid charges of plagiarism.)

Book Review by Cameron A. MacKenzie:

Stephan, Philip G. In Pursuit of Religious Freedom: Bishop Martin Stephan’s Journey. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008.

In 1953, Concordia Publishing House released Zion on the Mississippi by Walter O. Forster. Anyone who has looked at this book knows how thoroughly Forster sifted through the evidence in order to recount “the settlement of the Saxon Lutherans in Missouri 1839-1841”; and Forster’s thoroughness alone is enough to keep most historians from trying it again. Unfortunately, Forster’s work did not deter Philip G. Stephan.

Of course, this is not because Forster is beyond criticism or because his conclusions cannot be questioned. Not at all. However, In Pursuit of Religious Freedom is not a good book. Interesting, yes; but not very well done. One hesitates to say this because the Stephan family has contributed much to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod over several generations; but it deserves better than the work at hand. Compared to Forster it is an embarrassment. It is filled with misstatements, its documentation is woeful, and its argument is tendentious.

A reviewer knows he’s in for a rough ride when the very first page of text contains an error – an assertion that Martin Stephan was “the first and…only bishop the [Missouri] Synod has ever had” (p. ix) – but synod only began in 1847 the year after Stephan had died! Perhaps one could dismiss this on account of its being in a forward not written by the author, but it’s hardly a good omen. And the errors continue: (1) the “Babylonian Captivity of the Church” occurred in the 14th century not the 12th (p. 15); (2) “awakened” in German is erweckt not erwecht (pp. 29 and 30); (3) Benjamin Kurtz’s periodical was in English not German (pp. 49-50); (4) the effort to implement the Prussian Union was not “completed in all of Germany [by] 1847” (p. 77); (5) Loeber preached the sermon that led to Stephan’s downfall on May 5, 1839 not March 5 (p. 179); (6) Augustine did not write, “we were made in God’s own image and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee” but instead, “You have made us for yourself and…” (p. 207); (7) Wilhelm Loehe was from Neuendettelsau not Dresden (p. 258) and his conversations with Walther were about doctrinal agreement not about “merger” (p. 258-59); (8) the Buffalo Synod did not “join” the Iowa Synod after Grabau’s death (p. 259); (9) Ottomar Fuerbringer was not president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis (p. 260); and (10) “Zersen” is spelled with an s and not with another z (pp. 68, 71, 315).

Of course, some of these mistakes show that the author simply needed a good editor. But it is also true that his errors sometime arise from inadequate scholarship. For example, Philip Stephan maintains that Martin Stephan Jr. “enrolled in Concordia College’s first class” (p. 268; expressed more tentatively on p. 230), but Carl S. Meyer’s Log Cabin to Luther Tower names all the students in the first two years of the school’s history and Martin Stephan is not among them – nor is Meyer in the author’s bibliography. [GJ - The author says the son went back to Europe to earn an architecture degree and to take care of his mother. Junior came back to America to graduate from the seminary. I know my grandfather studied agriculture at the U. of Illinois. That is all. Do we expect a family memoir to be the Weimar Ausgabe?]

The best read since The Court of the Borgia Popes.
Rated R for graphic violence and sexual content.
Of all the Stephanites, C. F. W. Walther has been written about most, but the author demonstrates no real familiarity with this material. As a result, he gets little stuff and big stuff wrong. As an example of minor matters, the author writes regarding the candidate who misled Walther into Pietism, “Kuhn is the only name given. No first name is given in any of the literature” (p. 68). But Stephan does not know the literature. In an article by August Suelflow from 1987, we find the name, “Johann Gottlieb Kuehn,” [note also the umlaut that Stephan missed] and in Suelflow’s biography of Walther, even more precisely, “H. Johann Gottlieb Kuehn.” [GJ - Zion only uses Kuehn's last name in the index. On page 37, he is called Candidate Kuehn. I never found a first name. Should Forster's PhD be revoked? Will we crucify P. Stephan on an umlaut instead of a cross?]

More importantly, perhaps, Stephan repeats the story that Walther changed his travel plans at the last moment and so avoided the Amalia (lost at sea during the voyage across the Atlantic) (pp. 130-32). He cites Forster in connection with Walther’s “switch”; but does not inform the reader that Forster rejects the Amalia story for good and persuasive reasons and that both of Walther’s modern biographers, Lewis Spitz, Sr., and August Suelflow dismiss this tale as well. Even if Stephan disagrees, he needs to show acquaintance with the argument but he does not. Incidentally, neither biography made it into his bibliography.

In his second to the last chapter, “View from the Twentieth-first Century,” the author decides to go after Walther’s doctrine of church and ministry as well as to accuse the LCMS of hypocrisy regarding its nature as a “loose federation of independent, autonomous, congregations” but yet binding them to “the Word of God and the unaltered Augsburg Confessions [sic]” (p. 260). Anyone at all familiar with Walther’s commitment to the Scriptures and Confessions knows that he never thought that congregational autonomy extended to doctrine – nor did any of his fellow Confessional Lutherans at the time, including Martin Stephan.

Without quoting Walther or citing any of his writings (and once again, the bibliography contains none), Stephan also charges Walther with refusing to view the clergy “as those people who equipped the laity to do ministry.” It is not at all clear why Stephan thinks this. After all, in his Pastoral Theology, Walther pointed out that an essential purpose of preaching was to instruct the hearers in righteousness. Yet Stephan insists that Walther “gave ground on this biblical function of clerical ministry” on account of those who remained “skeptical about the power of the clergy over the laity” (p. 259).

Stephan also maintains that Walther taught that “the Office of the Ministry is the same as ‘the priesthood of all believers’” (p. 259); but just a glance at Walther’s Church and Ministry would have shown him that “the holy ministry or pastoral office is an office distinct from the priesthood of all believers” (Thesis 1 on the Ministry). In fact Walther goes on to call the ministry, “the highest office in the church.” Stephan’s statement that for Walther, “ordination was not separate from the call and was not a consecration to an office higher than that of any other believers” (p. 259) is simply confusing. Walther taught that ordination was the public confirmation of the call and that while the ministry is an office of service, “to the ministry there is due respect as well as unconditional obedience when the pastor uses God’s Word.” But he also insisted that the pastor “has no authority to introduce new laws or arbitrarily to establish adiaphora or ceremonies.” If Stephan thinks that Walther was in error on these points, he should say so and explain why. What he should not do is to criticize his own version of Walther.

As already evident in the above discussion, one of the major weaknesses of Stephan’s book is sourcing. This is critical because any work of history is only as good as the information that goes into it. Thus, scholarly historical writing is full of footnotes that show the reader where the information comes from in order to persuade him that the analysis rests upon facts rather than mere opinion or even imagination. So any careful reader of In Pursuit of Religious Freedom will ask where did Philip Stephan get his information? [GJ - Readers should ask why the real history of Stephan and Walther has been more carefully guarded than Obama's birthplace and paternity.]

On the positive side, there are a few places in which the author cites primary sources that improve our understanding of what actually happened, e.g., his long quotation of a letter from Stephan’s attorney regarding Stephan’s condition and lawsuit after his exile (pp. 243-48) and his quotations from court records and family correspondence regarding Stephan’s wife (pp. 117-19, 222-25). Unfortunately, however, even these sources are problematical since they are unpublished (the author locates them in the “Stephan Family Archives”) and so not easily available to scholars who might, for example, want to see if the translations are reliable.

Much more troubling, however, are occasionally the sources that he does cite and, most troubling of all, his failure sometimes to cite any at all. As an example of the former, consider his chapter on “Ancestral Roots and the Reformation.” Basically, the author is trying to show that his ancestors were Hussites and so he refers to secondary sources for information about them. But which ones? A biography of Hus from 1915 and a general church history from 1834 (p. 19)! Good historians rely on the most recent research, not secondary sources 175 years old.

The section analyzed above dealing with church and ministry offers an example of the absence of sources to support a historical argument. The failure to cite Walther or Loehe or Grabau (to whom he also refers) or even secondary works that summarize their positions is bad enough; but he does not even cite the subject of his book, Martin Stephan, although he does refer to Ottomar Fuerbringer’s criticism of Stephan’s “errors” in this regard (p. 260). It is true that earlier sections of the book discuss Stephan’s theology on the basis of his sermons (see, for example, Chapter 7, “Martin Stephan as Preacher”), but they do not treat church and ministry. There is some discussion in the section dealing with Stephan’s becoming “bishop” about what he thought of this office, viz., that it was a human arrangement and not of divine origin (p. 163); but the author also says that Stephan thought the episcopacy was “the closest to New Testament practice” (p. 259). However, he does not quote the man or offer any other evidence.

Even in describing a crucial event that determined Stephan’s fate, viz., the first confession of adultery involving Martin Stephan, the author fails to provide a source. Philip Stephan says bluntly, “The woman was Louise Guenther” (p. 180) but does not say where he got his information. He goes on to criticize one of Forster’s sources and suggests that it was his only one: “Forster cites Gotthold Guenther…as his source for naming other women. However, G. Guenther fails to mention his own sister’s verbal confession. In light of missing documents and G. Guenther’s omission of his own sister’s involvement, the stories of other women accusing Stephan rely heavily on hearsay, conjecture, and gossip” (p. 180).

But Forster does not rely exclusively on Guenther. He also cites G. H. Loeber (on the basis of extant church records) who actually read three names out in church the following July as repentant sinners. This was hardly “hearsay, conjecture, and gossip.” Incidentally, the three names did not include Louise Guenther, regarding whom Forster remarks that her admissions did not come until a month after the first revelations. So where did Philip Stephan obtain his information? He needs to tell us if he expects us to accept his account of things rather than Forster’s.

One possible source is a secondary work that the author relies on very heavily throughout his book, viz., an unpublished manuscript, “Pastor Martin Stephan and the Saxon Immigration of 1838,” by William Koepchen, written in 1935. Philip Stephan’s attachment to this work is remarkable. About a quarter of his footnotes cite it, and this total does not include references to another Koepchen manuscript that the author also uses extensively, “Brief Conference Notes.” The problem, of course, is that Koepchen’s history is a secondary work that is only as good as its sources. But about these, Philip Stephan does not inform us very much except to say that Koepchen worked closely with Theo Stephan “who had gathered a great deal of family history,” including some letters from Stephan and his son. Only on rare occasions does the author indicate Koepchen’s source when citing him. However, at the outset of his work, he does tell us that Theo Stephan and Koepchen “wanted to ‘set the record straight’ and ‘stop the slander’” (p. xii).

But this suggests yet another problem with Philip Stephan’s work (and probably with Koepchen’s as well) and that is its tendentious character. It simply does not offer an objective reading of the evidence. Instead, its purpose is to rehabilitate Martin Stephan just as the final sentence in the book indicates, “Six generations of his family honor him for his dream, his courage, his patience, and his ability to live through many difficulties while continuing faithful service in the ministry of the Lutheran Church” (p. 272). Not a word about his “faithful service” coinciding with years of marital unfaithfulness!

And yet it is the charge of adultery that is critical. After all, it was the irregularities of Stephan’s behavior, including his relations with women, that led to his being suspended from preaching in Dresden and then his suspension that led to the decision by his followers that the time to leave had come. No wonder, therefore, that when the issue arose again in the New World and this time confirmed by admissions from those who had shared in Stephan’s sin, the colony reacted in anger and summarily expelled him from their midst.

Of course, Stephan’s stubborn denial of adultery and his persistence in it (Louise Guenther resumed living with Stephan after her confession right up until the time of his death) does not cancel out a ministry that provided the comfort of the gospel to many over the course of almost 40 years. But one cannot ignore it. Sex may not “matter” in the 21st century, but it did in the 19th – at least among Confessional Lutherans – and Stephan’s behavior outraged many – especially those who had at one time accepted his denials.

Philip Stephan’s treatment of these matters is illustrative of his whole approach. On the one hand, he cannot deny everything. After all, Louise Guenther’s evidence (obtained by a lay leader of the colony just days after Stephan’s exile) is very damning (see pp. 193-96). But he attempts to minimize it by asserting that it was forthcoming only because the Saxons had broken “the confessional seal.” Of course, his failure to document Guenther’s “confession” to Pastor G. H. Loeber in the first place makes this claim suspect. Even worse, however, is the double standard he employs. On the one hand, he tears into Loeber: “Loeber… knew the boundaries of the confessional. No doubt her confession stunned him. However, the severity and implications of Guenther’s confession was neither premise nor excuse for him to break his oath and ethical pledge of privacy of the confessional” (p. 196).

On the other hand, what about Martin Stephan? Only a few sentences earlier, the author had pointed out that in Germany, Louise Guenther had referred to Stephan as her “confessor father, and she had been a ‘beicht kind,’ or child of the confessional.” But does this lead the author to rebuke his ancestor for misusing the confessional by initiating an adulterous affair with his Beichtkind? Not at all. The author simply goes on to assert that Guenther had experienced the “grace and forgiveness of the confessional” and understood it as “very private and protected” (p. 196). Private yes but hardly protected from the depravations of Martin Stephan. [GJ - Zion admits that everyone knew about Stephan. He was generating scandal in St. Louis with his female groupies. Why did they avoid choice land in St. Louis and buy land in Perryville, which was over-valued at the same price? Zion suggests the bishop wanted privacy. Everyone obeyed.]

But while the author is amazingly silent regarding Stephan and the confessional, he spends a great deal of space indicting Loeber and the others for abusing it. He charges them with breaking a solemn oath and maintains that this rather than Stephan’s exploitation of young women was the source of the problem: “It did not even dawn on him [Loeber] that this confession would cause no problem for anyone [including Stephan?] had he obeyed his pastoral oath of protecting the confessional seal. If he remained silent, no one would ever know” [emphasis mine] (p. 200).

This is quite an accusation but once again the author’s scholarship fails him, because he never shows that Loeber actually took the oath he is charged with breaking and he virtually ignores Loeber’s claim that he discussed the women’s confession with their permission. This is extremely important because pastors preserve confessional privacy for the sake of those confessing, in this case the women, and not for those, like Stephan, who may also have sinned but remain unrepentant. Loeber committed no sin against the bishop. Furthermore, if the women recognized that the community needed to deal with their hypocritical leader and so permitted Loeber to use their admissions, he did not sin against them either. [GJ - Loeber and Walther were very close friends. Reading over the many accounts of the early years will show this - They were closer than Mequon graduates who started parochial school together, because they were also in three Pietistic cell groups: the Kuehn cult, the Pietistic Bible study cell, and Stephan's cell. This closeness made lying and secrecy easy for the group.]

But the author insists that it is always wrong to reveal a confession, “The seal should never have been broken, even if she had granted Pastor G. H. Loeber permission to discuss it with others. The pledge of confidentiality by pastors is firm, but even more important is the pastors’ ordination pledge to loose or bind sins confessed to him or her [sic]” (p. 200) – as if the absolution depends on privacy, but what does that say about the absolution delivered in public in Sunday morning worship? Even worse is the fact that in making his argument, Philip Stephan does not cite any oath or pledge from 19th century Saxon Lutheranism. Instead, he relies on another problematic secondary source, this time the audiotape of a pastoral conference paper by Stephen Wiest. How can anyone evaluate Wiest’s evidence from a source like this?

Furthermore, Wiest and Stephan may actually have been assuming that ordination oaths taken today are the same as those of earlier eras. Beginning with the agenda attached to Lutheran Worship in 1984, ordinands in the Missouri Synod have promised “never” to reveal sins confessed, but that was not true in the synod’s previous agenda in which they only pledged to do their duties according to the Scriptures and Confessions. So what oath did Loeber take? If the author wants to accuse him of breaking it, maybe he should know what it was in the first place.

It is for reasons like these – inadequate documentation, prejudicial reading of the sources, and factual errors – that one must criticize Philip Stephan’s In Pursuit of Religious Freedom. It is a deeply flawed book. However, it has convinced me that Martin Stephan could use a scholarly and unbiased biography. Unfortunately, this isn’t it.


GJ - Someone can take any historical book and find numerous petty faults with it. The author is not a specialist, but he provided a unique perspective that Keepers of the Shrine should recognize and appreciate. How many would open up their family archives so everyone could read them?

Most of the information against Walther is already found in Zion on the Mississippi. Since the book came out in 1953, relatively little is new about Ferdy in the new book. Walther is a minor figure.

The Stephan book backs the theory, previously researched, that the real scandal was Bishop Stephan having syphilis and spreading it to the young women in his Pietistic cult. The Stephan book clarifies that his scandalous behavior was even better known to the public than we can judge by Zion. Neither book says the bishop had the clap, but the Stephan book lays out the evidence, as I wrote before. Stephan demanded absolute obedience and submission.

To quote the novelist, "When a man and a woman are alone in a room, they are not saying the Lord's Prayer." Stephan was often alone with young women and stayed at the spa with his main mistress, sending his wife home. She walked about 20 miles home. Stephan was inhuman in his cruelty.

Since everyone knew Stephan was fooling around with various women, leaving his wife and all children but one son in Europe, discovering adultery could not have been the breaking point. That is just plain hooie. His pitiful wife and younger children died of syphilis, but Walther privately said (in a CPH book)  that the adultery problem was Mrs. Stephan's fault.

Privately, I would like to whisper that the Missouri Synod has a problem with idolatry. They have three idols set up for worshiping Pope Walther. One is in Perryville, where they lie about the criminal mob action against Stephan. A shrine idol is at the cemetery in St. Louis. A third is set up at the Purple Palace. No other Lutheran Synod has such a fixation on their founder(s). No other group has the vapors when someone is described as fallible. Only the LCMS. Even the Wisconsin Sect shows signs of humility about its checkered past.

Loehe invited the Perryville cult to join what he was forming, but Loehe had to be vilified later.

The real founder of the Perryville cult was Stephan. He organized the first of  the Lutheran migrations to America (for that era). Stephan's exodus was headline news all over Europe.

If someone wants to review my reviews, first crack open about five books on Walther and study his life. Let's get past the idolatry and the need to make him Papa Immaculata - the infallible pope who never committed a sin his entire life.

The whole sermon and confession story, plus the highly organized mob action, speaks of a host of dastardly deeds. The claim that a sermon made one or two women confess adultery with Stephan is simple fabulous - a fable. The bishop was a rock star with groupies, investigated by the police, brought into court in Europe for testimony.

Walther's mob action was a perfect opportunity to rob the bishop of all his gold and books, to get the cult in the black again, and to open up a position of authority for Walther, who did not even have a job at the time.

I imagine all the personal effects were also valuable in Perryville, when cash was short and clothing precious. Grabbing 120 acres of land was quite the feat, too. Many of us would like to own 120 acres of land, although the District Presidents are content to steal only a few acres at a time, in Minneapolis, Arizona, and California.

Walther did not want the early history of the cult written down. Ludwig Fuerbringer avoided the early years, too in his dual books on early LCMS history. Fuerbringer's father came over with Stephan, marrying the widow of CFW's brother.

Jonah Lehrer resigns from the New Yorker after making up Bob Dylan Quotes for "Imagine".
We Know Where He Can Pull Down a Princely Salary

Join WELS or Missouri - they defend and reward plagiarism.
Besides Jonah, you are already forgiven and saved in their eyes.

Jonah Lehrer resigns from the New Yorker after making up Bob Dylan Quotes for "Imagine":

The now-former staff writer made the news public in a statement from his publisher on Monday afternoon, shortly after an article in the online magazine Tablet reported that he had admitted making up quotes he attributed to Bob Dylan in his latest nonfiction book, Imagine, published earlier this year.

The discovery of the fabricated quotes came only weeks after Lehrer apologized last month for recycling some of his previous work—sometimes nearly verbatim—in his other work, including articles and blog posts.

'via Blog this'

Pastor George Spicer: At the Crosswalk.
Endorsed Warmly by DP Jon Buchholz.

Pastor George Spicer, LCMS: At the Crosswalk:

TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2011

At the Crosswalk
One of the benefits of the renewal is the opportunity to visit different churches is the area and see how they do worship and also see what role music plays in the worship service.  Last Sunday, my dear, sweet wife and I visited CrossWalk Church, a church of the Wisconsin Evan. Lutheran Synod.

Not that you would know that this is a Lutheran Church.  Except on an envelope found inside the church bulletin, there was no mention anywhere else that this was a Lutheran church.  Many mission or start up churches do this kind of thing.  The thinking is that if you identify yourself with a particular demonination, that will discourage people, who've had a bad prior experience with a church, to pass on yours.  It is also felt that a church without demoninational ties will seem more open and welcoming to visitors.
Job and grant security in WELS: Church and Change.
Share a platform with Larry Olson, DMin, Fuller Seminary.

I don't think the folks at CrossWalk should worry about that.  The church meets in the auditorium of Cesar Chavez High School in South Phoenix.  As Sherri and I walked on campus, we were met by 3 or 4 very friendly people at their Welcome Center.  They greeted us very warmly and even laughed when I told them that "I was spying on them."  Later we met Jeff Gunn, the pastor of CrossWalk.  He also was warm and personable.  In his message he explained that he and his wife had spent 14 years in Africa as missionaries.  It's obvious that one of his core values, shared by the members of the church, is to be passionate about sharing the Gospel of Christ and making disciples for the Lord.

The service itself was not very Lutheran, following what one might call the praise and worship model for having church.  The service consisted of:
Music - a Jeremy Camp song
A Greeting (a kind of passing the peace idea)
Music - a Chris Tomlin song
Confession and Absolution (all of this was spoken by the pastor - no participation by the congregation)
The Lord's Prayer (with slightly revised words)
Music - Matt Maher's great song, "Christ is Risen"
Music - an original song by the CrossWalk band

The band sconsisted of seven members - three vocalists, two guitarists, a bass player and a drummer (using an electric drum kit).  The vocalist were fine but the musicians were very good.  Three of the four songs were recognizable and fairly easy to sing.  I was especially glad to sing Matt Maher's song about the resurrection of Christ - very powerful lyrics and music.

The pastor was doing a sermon series, "Unreliable or Undeniable: Can I really count of God?'  Jeff Gunn has a nice way of presenting God's Word.  He spoke freely without notes although he did follow a sermon outline that was included in the bulletin.  His message spoke about the reality of a changed life through faith in Christ.  He emphasized the power of  baptism.  He drove home the point that because of God's grace, we do not live in fear but in hope.  He told a story about the people who worked in fear on the Golden Gate Bridge because falling from the bridge meant certain death.  Once a safety net was installed, the workers felt safe and worked faster and with greater efficiency.  He then explained that God's grace is our safety net and through forgiveness and restoration, we can live a new life in Christ.

There were about 150 people in the 11 am service and the 9 am service has that many or more in attendance each Sunday.  The church is starting a summer growth group ministry, kind of like our small groups, with 20 different groups for people to choose from.

One additional interesting thing: Jeff Gunn told us that he thought it might be a long time before the church purchased property and built their own building.  He explained that at present the focus was to have a strong staff (they currently have 5 full time staff) so that they can get more people involved in ministry.  It was an interesting observation for me.  One criticism of staff-driven churches is that the congregation loses its place in leading and serving in the church.  But Jeff Gunn's approach is to get people involved in the life of the church.  But you have to have staff to help organize and lead others.

From my journal:"One might die for a truth, but one will never die for a lie."  Max Lucado, speaking about the disciples unwavering testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

'via Blog this'

Aping Rick Warren - Awesome.
Another recipient of Jon Buchholz/Mark Schroeder generosity is another Church and Changer -
Rick Johnson.

He gave a sermon with the same title Unreliable or Undeniable?

Here is Gunn's fill-in-the-blank bulletin. Same title? A co-inky-dink. I wonder who wrote the original sermon.


Brett Meyer has left a new comment on your post "Pastor George Spicer: At the Crosswalk. Endorsed W...":

"Confession and Absolution (all of this was spoken by the pastor - no participation by the congregation)"

Is this the recommended practice in the (W)ELS today? The congregation not speaking the Confession of sins?

Must be since the (W)ELS has embraced Crosswalk as one their own.

“WHEREAS 7) the Crosswalk Ad-Hoc Committee recommends the reception of Crosswalk; therefore be it
Resolved, That Crosswalk Lutheran Ministries of Phoenix, Arizona be accepted as a member of the WELS by our AZ-CA District in Convention


quercuscontramalum ( has left a new comment on your post "Pastor George Spicer: At the Crosswalk. Endorsed W...":

Google: sermon Golden Gate Bridge workers
Gunn takes a salary of how much for this originality?

I'd want to badger my workerbees into more efficiency too if I was going to preach works righteousness. (God has your back when you want to transform your life! That's surely what Rom 12:2 is all about.) They need a large staff to keep the congregation in its place of serving & feeding the drones on the large staff. Baby Jesus never said how bloated the staff couldn't get, so it must be okay.


Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel has left a new comment on your post "Pastor George Spicer: At the Crosswalk. Endorsed W...":

Brett Meyer -

You say in part of your comment:

"Is this the recommended practice in the (W)ELS today? The congregation not speaking the Confession of sins?"

Please allow me to remind you:

Did you forget the universal objective justification enthusiasts no longer need to participate; that they are only passive bumps on the log; that they were long forgiven before they were even born; and that they have (therefore) sovereign immunity not (therefore) having to personally confess their sins?

Personally, I see this worship service as no surprise, - and as a natural outgrowth of universal objective justification infestation in-breeding........

Nathan M. Bickel - pastor emeritus


Febreze has left a new comment on your post "Pastor George Spicer: At the Crosswalk. Endorsed W...":

-No Eucharist.
-Emphasis on the third use of the Law.
-Absolute Pietism.
-WELS is confessional?
-WELS is coming out of its Pietistic roots?
-Absolutely not.
-Supported on the highest levels by apathy, non-action, and full-blown endorsement?
-Run, don't walk.
-Standing up against these morons in the WELS is a lost cause.
-The goons are in control and they are brainwashing the next generations.
-The true Lutherans are being kicked or shunned out behind the scenes.


My Way News - Author acknowledges fake Dylan quotes, resigns.
OK, It Was Fiction.
Will He Become an Anonymous Lutheran Blogger?


My Way News - Author acknowledges fake Dylan quotes, resigns:


(AP) This July 22, 2012 file photo shows U.S. singer-songwriter Bob Dylan performing on at "Les...
Full Image

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NEW YORK (AP) - A staff writer for The New Yorker has resigned and his best-selling book has been halted after he acknowledged inventing quotes by Bob Dylan.

Jonah Lehrer released a statement Monday through his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, saying that some Dylan quotes appearing in "Imagine: How Creativity Works" did "not exist." Others were "unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes."

Lehrer said he acknowledged his actions after being contacted by Michael Moynihan of the online publication Tablet Magazine, which earlier Monday released an in-depth story on the Dylan passages in "Imagine"
"I told Mr. Moynihan that they (the quotes in question) were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan's representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Mr. Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said," Lehrer wrote in his statement.

"The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers."

Houghton Mifflin said in a statement that Lehrer had committed a "serious misuse." Listings for the e-book edition of "Imagine" will be removed and shipments of the physical book have been stopped. "Imagine," published in March, has sold more than 200,000 copies, according to Houghton Mifflin. It has spent 16 weeks on The New York Times' hardcover nonfiction bestseller list and ranked No. 105 on as of midday Monday. Amazon had cited the book as among the best March releases.

'via Blog this'

Church and Ministry Questions from Warren Malach

Dear Dr. Jackson:

WELS vs. "old Missouri" (NOT modern LCMS)--who is right?  Walther vs. Loehe--who is right?  Does CTSFW teach that ONLY pastors can forgive ALL sins; that Christ gave the Keys NOT to the Church, but to the disciples and their "successors" the pastors; can a layperson ONLY forgive sins commited against themself and otherwise can ONLY "announce" that God forgives sins, while ONLY the pastor can say "-I- forgive you your sins...;" does a pastor "become Christ" to his congregation; can a layman NEVER, under ANY circumstances, EVEN with the permission of his pastor and congregation, administer the Sacrament of the Altar in the absence of the/a pastor, because he doesn't have an AC XIV call, BUT a pastor on the "clergy roster" who ALSO DOESN'T have an AC XIV call to a congregation CAN administer the Sacrament there.  Thanks for your consideration!  -- Warren


GJ - Some use the term Hyper-European Lutheran, which is ambiguous. The orthodox fathers are good to read, but not unless one has immersed himself in Luther and his work in Biblical exposition. Apparently many clergy, and some professors, thought the answer to Fuller Seminary Enthusiasm was Roman Enthusiasm. That is like curing alcoholism with drug addiction.

The two Concordia seminaries are dominated by Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox factions. The pastors who ran the Matt Harrison election campaign are also Romanists. WELS is not lacking in the same gullibility. They also promoted the papal three-year lectionary and the gay-friendly liturgical colors. The church year named have been dumbed down. Why? Because Rome says so.

WELS, Missouri, and the Little Sect on the Prairie owe far more to Rome than to Luther. They emulate the infallible papacy, the rewards for venerating their popes, the punishments due dissenters. The thought police never rest. As someone pointed out to me, fellowship is defined by how one approaches certain verses.

In the good old days of Photoshopped memories, the three Pietistic sects of the SynConference mixed the WELS and Missouri models, as Professor Fredrich of Mequon (RIP) observed. He was one of two Lutherans on the faculty when I was there.

Loehe, Stephan, Walther
The Missouri position is that the congregation is the only divine form of the church. Looking at the founding of Missouri by Loehe, Bishop Stephan, and Pope Walther, I wonder how they discovered that insight. Stephan and Walther demanded absolute obedience. Loehe operated as a one-man synod, creating various world missions and seminaries.

Today, Loehe is the boogey-man for some because the Romanists use him as their hero. As jaded as I am by Lutheran apostasy, I still gasp at the open promotion of the papacy, the adoration of Pope Benedict, and the constant promotion of the Roman Catholic way of ordering the church.

I doubt whether  the Loehe fan club could withstand a scrutiny of their claims. But they are no different from the Fuller boys, using a fad to promote apostasy and to grab power for their mutual fiends.

The Lutheran sects are suffering from a terminal case of dogmatism and Scriptural dishonesty.

The dogmatism is evidenced by their eagerness to define what the Word of God says without any Biblical exposition. Find a faction and parrot their words - that is the approach. They have their labels, which replace honest discussion. Actual Biblical study is too much work. That is why they fear any challenges.

The LCA began with changing titles. There are many with the title but few serving as bishops in the Biblical sense. The DPs and CPs are no different. I think they like the secular translation - overseer - like Simon Legree holding his lash and threatening the slaves on the Lutheran plantation.

Some Episcopalian bishops have shamed the Lutherans by standing up to their popish dictator and fighting her in court when necessary.

Nathan Bickel Finds Feedjit

Ichabod -

I just noticed yesterday an apparent new facility on your website. Maybe it has been present for some time. But, it is new to me.

I scrolled down the page toward the bottom left and found the:

"FEEDJIT Live Traffic Map."

When I clicked on the red color, there opened up a large geographical display of US flags, indicating geographical areas from which your faithful readers access Ichabod.

What really impressed me, were all the flags bunched up in what appears to be three Midwest states - Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

The individual flags are so crowded that I had a very difficult time even making out the geographical boundaries of these 3 states. My question for you: 

Do you have an explanation for this strange phenomenon?

Nathan M. Bickel - pastor emeritus


GJ - The map and the live feed are on the left down near the bottom. They show a lot about who is reading the blog and where they are. The WELS pastors in Fox Valley are ardent readers. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Thanks To Two Readers - The Dietrich Catechism, 1902, in English

Arthur Repp, Senior, p. 200 and note-
The Dietrich catechism was used by Missouri.
Johann Conrad Dietrich wrote it in 1613, and it was epitomized in 1627.
Missouri issued a revision of the epitome in 1858.
Compare the Dresden Catechism.

J C. Dietrich Catechism, 1902, in English

From: "theronlbrady" <theronlbrady@...>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, 03. February 2006 03:24
Subject: [LutheranBookReview] Dietrich Small Catechism question

I just bought a J. C. Dietrich edition of Dr. the Small Catechism;
explained in questions and answers by Dr. J. C. Dietrich at $45.00.

Concordia Publishing House - 1891 - Abridged Edition Half-cloth &
Boards 130pp. Maroon cloth spine with rubbed marbled boards; tight
binding; clean text.

Translated from the German ed. published by the Evangelical Lutheran
Synod of Missouri, Ohio, etc.; authorized by the Evangelical Lutheran
Synodical Conference of North America. By J.C. Dietrich, with
additions from the Dresden Catechism and the Symbolical Books of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church, and with additional proof passages from
the Holy Scriptures.

Question: is there a 'non-abridged English edition of this?

----- Reply -----

Yes there is.

From the title page:

Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism Explained in Questions and Answers

by Dr. J. C. Dietrich

with additions from the Dresden Catechism and the Symbolical Books of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and with additional prrof passages from
the Holy Scriptures.

Together with two Appendixes
[NOTE: These are (I) Of the Holy Scriptures and (II) Of the Symbolical
Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church]

For Schools and Families

Translated from the German edition published by the Evangelical Lutheran
Synod of Missouri, Ohio &c.

St. Loius, Mo.:
Concordia Publishing House

It is 220 pages, about 6" x 4", reddish-brown cloth binding

BTW, $45 seems high. Mine is in excellent, nearly-new condition only
some slight rubbing on the boards), and I think I paid less than $20 for
this, sometime in the last ten tears. (Working solely from memory--I
usually write the acquisition date and price in the inner margin of the
title page, but I seem to have neglected to do so for this volume.)

Jeffrey M. Keuning

From California - Something To Read Carefully

One of my favorite readers, nicknamed California, has always been a superb researcher. As I recall her grandparents put this article in their Bible so they could pray for their country. Many decades later we can see how prophetic this speaker from the NRA (not the National Rifle Association) was.

Educating the youth is always the aim. WELS is quite Stalinistic in doing a thorough brain-washing through its schools. Conformity is the only agenda, because the robotic state works well whenever the cult wants to change its rules, fads, and condemnations.

Pastor Nathan Bickel - Time of Grace

Pool levitation is easy after watching Time of Grace.

Ichabod - Re: Your article:

"Truth Faith Seems Quenched on Every Hand. Men Suffer Not Thy Word To Stand. Dark Times Have O'ertaken:"

Your pic of the Rev. Mark Jeske reminded me of his weekly "Time of Grace" online presentation. So, I accessed it on my computer and found his latest weekly message of July 27, 2012. It is entitled:  "The ears of the deaf are open." Under the video box, were the written words:

"God works in mysterious and wondrous ways. As sinful human beings, we are not perfect and often forget that even though we have hardships God delivers us through it all."

No, - not so! I find that aforementioned statement to be very misleading [false] - God does not deliver the ungodly "through it all." [Psalm 1] The Scripture says that: 

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all." – [Psalm 34:19 – KJV]

Scripture does not lump the righteous and the unrighteous together to receive the Lord’s blessing.

As pleasantly communicative and gifted as Rev. Jeske is, that, which I've pointed out, violates a basic rule of public communication - especially as it pertains to proclaiming God's Word. To be a responsible public speaker and faithful to God's Word, one must differentiate in public speaking. It is irresponsible to lump all the listeners into one group; assuming that they are godly (righteous / Christians). When one has an audience which is public, such as Rev. Mark Jeske, one ought to be responsible and careful not to give the non-Christian [unbeliever] the impression that he or she is so favored by the Heavenly Father:

"God is not your heavenly father unless you are one of His children:"

Common to Christian preachers, (and Pastor Mark Jeske is not the exception), is to include the non-Christian (unbelieving) audience into the Christian audience fold. Still fresh on my mind is the Christmas Eve children's service message I heard at Bethel Lutheran. The pastor missed the opportunity of clearly proclaiming the Gospel to the mixed audience. What more of a mixed audience can one have at a children's Christmas program, other than that of a Christian burial (funeral) service where relatives and family are attending who aren't all church members and Christians?

As I was mentioning, a wonderful opportunity was missed because the pastor omitted the complete Gospel message. Although he did make reference in passing to God's Law, he did not mention "sin" or being "sinful. His re-occurring theme to the mixed audience was that Christ coming in Bethlehem 2000 years ago was "for you." But, the pastor failed to connect the dots, illustrating the full reason why Christ came.

In short, he did not spell out, and make it clear, what Christ the Savior saves the individual soul from. Nothing was mentioned about the fatal eternal results of sin - hell (eternal damnation). In summary (I believe) he did not go "full circle." He left the impression that all that was important for the mixed audience was to accept the principle that Christ came, "for you" [them] - without explaining the crucial "why" and spiritual and eternal implications.

Seminary never did teach this basic principle of public speaking. I learned it from my first two public speaking courses in college. [And, I continue to learn it]:

"A speaker is not only responsible for what he says; he is also responsible for the impression he leaves."

Hence, with this aforementioned Christmas message, (I believe) the pastor left the impression to the mixed crowd that Christ came "for them" without conveying "full circle" in his message what Christ came to completely save them [us] from.  And, I don't recall the preacher speaking about faith and belief; but only conveying the universal objective justification message of God's forgiveness without personal faith [belief] as Luther taught it.

Finally, I only hope and pray that with the rich Christian heritage with which Lutherans have been blessed, - that many pastors and others would figure out how to speak to the mixed audience crowd. After all, didn't Luther distinguish between the visible and invisible church? Didn't he correctly point out that even in the visible church there are both believers and unbelievers?

Nathan M. Bickel - Bay City, Michigan

New Bible translation has screenplay format - Yahoo! News

New Bible translation has screenplay format - Yahoo! News:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A new Bible translation tackles the challenge of turning ancient Greek and Hebrew texts into modern American English and then adds a twist: It's written like a screenplay.
Take the passage from Genesis in which God gets angry at Adam for eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil:

"Adam (pointing at the woman): It was she! The woman You gave me as a companion put the fruit in my hands, and I ate it.

"God (to the woman): What have you done?

"Eve: It was the serpent! He tricked me, and I ate."

Later, Eve bears her first son, Cain.

"Eve (excited): Look, I have created a new human, a male child, with the help of the Eternal."
Even people who have never read the Bible could probably guess that other translations don't say Adam pointed his finger at Eve when he blamed her for his disobedience. Neither do other Bibles describe Eve as "excited" about her newborn son.

That's pure Hollywood, but the team behind "The Voice" says it isn't a gimmick. They hope this new version will help readers understand the meaning behind the sometimes archaic language of the Bible and enjoy the story enough to stick with it.

The idea was a longtime dream of Chris Seay, pastor of Houston's Ecclesia Church. Seay had had success in helping church members relate to the Bible by dividing out the parts of the various speakers and assigning roles to church members who read them aloud.

'via Blog this'

The Political Diaprax - Count Me Out.
The Word Is the Only Effective Approach

One Facebook contact ordered me to remove all my posts on Paul McCain. I found that demand strange, since I do not get on various Internet sites and order them to block his comments. Nor do I use other blogs as platforms. McCain does both.

The excuse for this order is to rescue Holy Mother Missouri Synod from its immanent doom. Steadfast Lutherans are supposed to do that. When ordered to stop discussing LCMS felonies, SL immediately obeyed and erased the discussion threads. How many children will be abused to protect the SynConferrence from legitimate lawsuits? LCMS policy is to destroy all evidence taken by District Presidents. People thought the Roman Catholic Church was corrupt and evil?

One LCMS case could cost them $10 million. Do you want to be the one who lets a child victim of LCMS pastoral abuse get that money - instead of missions?

The synod politicians in the LCMS, WELS, and Little Sect on the Prairie want people to engage in the political process. They set the pastors and members up like bowling pins for the Diaprax. Everyone has a managed voice before a managed decision is made. Minders manage each dissenting group so real action turns into an endorsement of the latest folly.

Writers California, Rogue Lutheran, and Church Mouse have been my instructors in Diaprax.

Herman Otten has used the political approach for 50 years. Write memorials. Gather groups. Back candidates. Certain people (for the moment) are above criticism because "they are on our side." Where has that led? Few realize that the SynConference leaders constantly manage the news through Herman Otten. He is always on the phone with them. Story spiked? No problem. Writer banned? Why not? The synod politicians get to loathe Christian News in public while guiding the tabloid in private.

The only issues are doctrinal. The SynConference is terrified of a doctrinal conference - and so are the lazy pastors.

Truth Faith Seems Quenched on Every Hand.
Men Suffer Not Thy Word To Stand.
Dark Times Have O'ertaken

Two Affinities That Damaged the Synodical Conference

The Arthur Repp book on American catechisms brought up two affinities that help explain why Missouri and WELS headed so effortlessly into Calvinism.

One is the German language. As Repp explained, German-speaking church leaders in America had more affinity for each other than they had for the English-speaking leaders of parallel synods. A German Calvinist was a German first of all: easy to read, easy in conversation, sharing the same culture.

All the Lutheran groups in America were Pietists, so that was not a key difference. They all blended plenty of Pietism with their newly discovered Confessional roots. They all added more or less of Lutheran doctrine to their Pietism, an amalgamation that could not last.

The second affinity was rationalism. Just as the Pietist Delitsch veered into rationalism (advocating two Isaiahs), so the Synodical Conference leaders were drawn into rationalism, which was natural to Pietism and Calvinism.

The cornerstone of UOJ thinking is a rationalistic pratfall. Thus - If Jesus became sin on behalf of mankind, then mankind became righteous at the same moment: Universal Objective Justification.

For UOJ Enthusiasts, the atonement and justification are the same thing, because of that argument. However, the argument is fallacious, because justification is not the same as the atonement.

The Gospel message is the atonement - Christ crucified for the sins of the world. That is the treasure, as the Book of Concord says, in harmony with Luther.

The Holy Spirit distributes that treasure through the Means of Grace. The invisible Word of preaching and teaching plants faith in individuals. The visible Word of Holy Baptism does the same in infants. The visible Word of Holy Communion sustains faith. All the Means of Grace accomplish what God promises - the declaration of forgiveness. Grace comes to the sinner only through Means, never without the Word.

The same rationalism is at work in the assumption that mankind was justified when Jesus rose from the dead. Because 1 Timothy 3:16 says Jesus was justified in the Spirit, that phrase is used to claim the world was also justified. Who advanced that line of thinking? - the Halle Pietist Rambach, echoed by Jay Webber, the Buchholz peritus.

There is no intention to make a perfect parallel between Jesus and mankind in 1 Timothy 3:16. Jesus was not a sinner in need of forgiveness. His resurrection showed that He was perfect in holiness. To equate Jesus with mankind is to make Him in need of forgiveness and sharing that forgiveness instantly with all of mankind, Hottentots and Hindus alike, even before birth.

Although it is fair to show the inherent conflicts within UOJ, such as the Keys, infant baptism, or excommunication of the pre-forgiven, the biggest errors are the foundational ones - Enthusiasm and rationalism. Everything else is a symptom.

The SynConference will not teach justification by faith correctly until

  1. its leaders repent, 
  2. repudiate the Stephan-Walther UOJ, 
  3. and teach in conformity with the Scriptures and Confession.