Ichabod – Thank You for Highlighting the Erroneous Teaching of Universal Objective Justification! You are Spot On!
Again, I appreciate your continued emphasis about the false teaching of "universal objective justification," commonly known as UOJ. I think that I share your view that this UOJ erroneous teaching has pathetically permeated Christian churches. Especially, has it permeated Lutheran churches, as you highlight on your website. I only wish that more faithful pastors would shed their timidity and feel free to share (from their Scriptural) perspective, how this dangerous teaching, passed on from synodical schools and promulgated by church bureaucracies, is spiritually and publicly infecting their synodical church bodies.
When I first visited this website, I immediately understood what you were trumpeting. Your many and varied articles, (sometimes smattered with humor and interesting pics), speak directly to some very disturbing trends in Christianity - especially within the "world" of Lutheranism.
Hence, I believe, (by reading your website) I've become a better listener. And, listen is what I do when I attend my congregation of WELS Bethel Lutheran, (Bay County Michigan). And, increasingly, I hear the unscriptural teaching of universal objective justification. Here, following, are some recent and pointed examples:
# 1 Example –
It was a Holy Trinity Sunday sermon based upon Romans 8:14-17. The pastor was preaching from Romans 8:14-17:
As is his mode, he initially launches his sermon with an illustration and carries that illustration theme to the bitter end. This time though, he launched what seemed to be a shorter introduction based upon Shakespeare’s Romeo soliloquy about how a name does not define a person. Then he spoke how it actually does. He then continued by saying that as a Christian, God's Name is stamped upon a person beginning with Christian Baptism. Hence, what God did and does, indeed, defines us. [I’m sure that you get the picture]
This particular Sunday I was listening with rapt attention because for the first time (that I can remember) unless I've been otherwise dozing, [and, I think not] he spoke at some concerted length about the Holy Spirit and His work in the individual. I was very pleased as he seemed to be headed in the proper doctrinal direction. But, then, (sadly) to my disappointment, he ended his sermon by encouraging the graduates to remember who they are.
Now, that would have been okay to say, but not to immediately stop at that point. I don't remember the Scripture saying:
"....be thou in remembrance of who you are, unto death and I will give you a crown of life."
No, - not at all. The Scripture does (though) read:
"......be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." - Revelation 2:10b
Also, I don't recall Scripture's words penned (under inspiration) by the Apostle Paul, saying:
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have remembered who I am."
No, - Instead the Scripture reads:
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith......" - 2 Timothy 4:7
The pastor [he is young and about 10 years out of the seminary] got all the way to the end of his sermon and stopped short. He blew it! He didn't go "full circle!" He left the graduates, essentially with cheap grace. No mention of the necessity of them persevering in the faith until the end. No mention of personal belief and faith. No mention of justification by faith alone.
Note: I also highlighted the aforementioned in my topical message:
“Cheap Grace is a Worthless Substitute for a Faith That Saves:”
# 2 Example –
I happened to come across one of my grandson's 1st grade WELS parochial school paper booklets. It was [is] one of those copied school materials that is stapled together as a simple paper booklet. This one, is 27 pages with pictures to be colored (by the student) on every page. The printed material is somewhat poetic. The booklet is entitled:
"Who is Martin Luther?" - c. 1995 WELS Parish Services Commission on Youth Discipleship - Milwaukee, WI 53222 - Author: Burow-Gauger - Illustrator: Gail B. Day
One of the portions of this 1st and 2nd grade booklet is, as follows:
Pages 11-12 –
"John Tetzel came near Wittenberg selling papers that were bad. When Martin read the lies they said, it made him very sad. Luther wrote down many truths-- there were ninety-five in all. Later he told about the Bible and that Jesus saved us all."
Nowhere in this booklet did I recall reading the words, “belief,” “faith” and the “Holy Spirit.” Nowhere in this booklet does it state the hallmark Scriptural teaching of Luther, - that being, that the sinner is justified by God's grace through faith in Christ.
The booklet's error is that it teaches tender souls, that Jesus "saved us all," rather than what the Scripture actually says, that Christ died for all. Just because Christ died for all sins, - that does not then translate into all people being "saved," no more than a cookie jar, is guaranteed to possess cookies within it. Thus, Scripture is, undermined and children are subjected to a type of spiritual molestation. In the process of it all, children miss out on what the Word, actually says:
Galatians 3:11 - "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith."
Also: Romans 3:28 ; Romans 5:1 ; Galatians 2:16 ; Galatians 3:11 ; Galatians 3:24 and James 2:24
Personally, I think it is repulsive that little minds should be so spiritually abused with false teaching. It's bad enough that church attending adults hear this UOJ (universal objective justification) throughout the church year. But, to spiritually mess up these young minds with this damning doctrine, (as they regularly attend Christian Lutheran schools), is, I believe, inexcusable! I think of the Scripture where Jesus stated: “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones who believe in Me……”
If my first grade grandson is presented [and, he is] the aforementioned teaching about Martin Luther and the erroneous misapplication of Scripture at his WELS parochial elementary school (about) 20 miles from Saginaw, - I then ask: "What type of false teaching goes on at the MLS (Michigan Lutheran Seminary), there, in Saginaw? Or, is the damage already done from pre-K to 8th grade, - and there is no further need to solidify the UOJ mindset? What then "tops" this false UOJ teaching beginning at grades 9 through 12?
Come to think of it, the aforementioned teaching booklet came out in 1995. That's about 17 years ago - about the same time frame which MLS - Michigan Lutheran Seminary students are about to graduate and then some of them go on to other WELS schools in preparation for teaching and pastoral ministries. I cannot but help conclude, that it's no wonder why there are some Lutheran pastors and teachers out there who avoid Scripture’s teaching about personal faith, belief and the mention of the Holy Spirit's role (from beginning to end) in the life of the believer. Sadly and pathetically, it’s easier to preach and teach the blanket Lutheran synods’ sanctioned teaching of overall (sinner) absolution through UOJ - universal objective justification. All this is the sorry case for Lutherans and other Protestant Christians who have been so richly and divinely blessed by the great reformer, Martin Luther.....
Note: The aforementioned was also related on the following website:
"UOJ in the Schools:"
Finally - # 3 Example –
The following is another example of universal objective justification proclaimed from our Bethel congregation's pulpit:
Our (10 years out of the seminary) young pastor was still on vacation, so our local Bethel congregation had a fill-in Sunday preacher. He was [is] the (recent and brief) former Saginaw MLS - Michigan Lutheran Seminary president, Rev. Aaron Frey.
Unless I dozed off during the sermon (and I think not, as the Rev. Frey has a boisterous voice at times; then a quieter one with pauses, at other times) - I again heard the nasty UOJ - universal objective justification creep into his sermon about the Gospel of Mark's account of Jesus calming the sea storm - Mark 4:35-41.
Part and parcel of the former MLS president's emphasis was, "Who starts the storm?" He readily discounted (a) nature; (b) the devil but, credited it to God the Father.
He then went on to ask and answer the question: "If God allows storms [in the life of the Christian] - what is His purpose?
Furthermore Rev. Frey went on to distinguish between "saving faith" and the Christian's "measurement of faith," mentioning that the faith that Jesus was talking about to His disciples (in the boat) was that (everyday type) trust faith - that "measurement of faith."
In the process, Rev. Frey stated [Paraphrase] - "that God goes to any length to remove your obstacles to saving faith."
He went on a little while after that, to assert how God looks upon us - [Paraphrase] - "You are forgiven; you are my son, my daughter - nothing in all creation can change that. No cause to concern; no worry; the Lord will bring you home to heaven." [Paraphrase]
Consequently, [then] am I to suppose that the Apostle Paul was just blowing hot air when he penned the Scripture (under the Holy Spirit's pointed inspirational direction)? - 2 Timothy 4:7 - "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith."
|Michigan Lutheran seminary is the shrinking prep school|
where Ski, Glende, and Frey
learned the closeness of WELS fellowship.
And, if the Apostle Paul was just blowing hot air, it would be a lot less struggle if I and all Christians were to believe what the Rev. Aaron Frey related to the congregation this morning. Then we wouldn't have to struggle and fight the good fight of faith like the [apparent] disillusioned Apostle Paul. We could all then just attend Sunday morning worship; pray the confessional prayer, get absolved and cap it off with Holy Communion. [Oh yes - no mention in the sermon of the Holy Spirit - His work of creating and sustaining personal faith and belief]
Finally, again, I am disappointed in what WELS has been apparently seeding in their present and future parish pastors! In this case (with Rev. Frey), this was the man who was called to preside over a WELS high school and prep school for future parochial school teachers and parish pastors. In another posting to Ichabod I've illustrated (from WELS own educational materials) how the elementary children are being UOJ conditioned, and more recently a Vacation Bible School where personal faith, belief and the working of the Holy Spirit were scratched (eliminated).
Note: This above example was highlighted as a comment on the 2 websites of:
extranos.blogspot.com/ and ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/
So there you have it, - my observations. And, I believe that “my” observation can be multiplied hundreds and hundreds of times over throughout this one small “Lutheran” synod. [WELS]
I began with the one preaching example of a young pastor, about 10 years out, from the WELS seminary. I then offered what the parochial elementary youth are being incorrectly taught. And, then I ended (with the third example) of a former Michigan Lutheran Seminary (high school) president, who was also preaching universal objective justification. This has all taken place at the congregation and school where my wife and I are members, - Bethel Lutheran – WELS – Bay County, Michigan
What am I to conclude - that, this unscriptural and dangerous universalism teaching is isolated? I would be a fool to conclude that; - and, very naïve. So, as I stated at the beginning of my remarks, what you are highlighting on your website is very timely and most important! Once Scripture’s teaching of God’s grace through faith alone is destroyed, there is no other genuine Christian foundation for the Christian Faith. May the good Lord, have mercy!
Nathan Bickel – emeritus pastor
Bay City, Michigan