Friday, November 30, 2012

Brett Meyer to the Intrepid Lutherans



From: Brett Meyer <pygmypoacher@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 6:19 PM
Subject: Re: [Intrepid Lutherans] New comment on Christian Charity and Provisions for Amiable Separ....
To: Intrepid Lutherans <intrepidlutherans@gmail.com>



Thank you for your response and explanation Mr. Lindee.  It is difficult to be objective about the situation when you don't know what I wrote.  In fact it was simply the Scriptural extrapolation of what Daniel Baker stated in the second most recent post - to the effect that Universal Justification is a heresy.  Does IL disagree that teaching a heretical gospel removes the individual from Christ, the forgiveness of sins and salvation?  General Justification does exactly that as DP Buchholz clearly showed - those who teach Justification solely By Faith Alone are heretics and anathema in the (W)ELS.  Am I really breaking new ground by stating that as a fact? 

Five years ago I began discussing the doctrine of Justification with Lutheran laity and clergy online and in my personal life and the most common thread of thought was that the differences between JBFA and UOJ were insignificant, despite my contention to the contrary.  A few weeks ago my contention was proven correct in a most vile and violent way in an open and public attack on Christ and His Church from within the (W)ELS.  Since the doctrine of General Justification has no Scriptural or Confessional support can it not be said that those who truly believe and confess it, to the point of excommunicating those who reject it, are not of Christ and therefore are not forgiven of their sin or eternally saved?  Is the preaching of God's Law restricted to the clergy as in the RCC or was it given to the priesthood of all believers?

You state, "I'm not convinced that any of these men, having an honest disagreement with you over the central message of Scripture, are offended to the point of literally hating you for any of these reasons."

Since we're talking about complete disagreement concerning the central doctrine of Scripture: Justification I disagree with your statement and refer to John 7:7, "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil."  Your statement implies that someone can teach a false gospel and not be affected to the point of hating by teaching contrary to the Triune God.  I am directly stating that I am correct in my confession of the doctrine of Justification and in the identification of those teachings that depart from it.  I have defended it from Scripture and the Confessions and have shown where the contrary teachings have contradicted both. 

I must disagree with your contention that I've condemned specific individuals to Hell.  That accusation is unfounded.  My public and private statements have always tied a specific confession to its Scriptural conclusion and not an individual as though I've decreed who is damned and who is saved.  There is a significant portion of the Lutheran Synod's slide into apostasy which is averse to absolutes.  I can no longer count the number of Lutheran's who disagree that those individuals in the Catholic church who truly confess and believe exactly what the RCC officially teaches stand condemned and under the wrath of God.  This is the same knee-jerk reaction that spawns the claim that I am condemning individuals to Hell.  You should ask them to prove it by providing my quotes. That being said,  I certainly hope that you are not saying that we cannot condemn confessions of belief that oppose the central doctrine of Scripture.

You state, "To be engaged in honestly, both parties need to display a willingness to be corrected."  I don't think I've ever engaged in a doctrinal discussion where the opposing view was not allowed to establish their contentions.  But if a Christian is defending verbatim quotations of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions how could there be a show of correctability?  In a discussion of subjective opinions, then yes, I agree completely.  But in regard to Scripture and the Confessions I disagree.  It is also typical of those who are teaching from authority that is not of Scripture to cry foul and claim their opponent is not willing to be corrected.  Was this same tactic not used against Pastor Rydecki?  You simply need to read the Bailing Water, LutherQuest and Extra Nos discussions concerning UOJ to see that I have been uterly patient and consistent in my defense of Scriptural and Confessional Justification while suffering the ad hominem and personal attacks so prevalent with UOJists.

I do appreciate the time you gave me in writing such a thorough response I find most of it to be driven by the opinions of third parities of which you received only their side of the story.  And considering the fact that most if not all of them have a long history of teaching and defending the false gospel of Universal Justification is it any wonder that they would "hate" me for publicly opposing their central doctrine?  Pr. Rydecki was just excommunicated by those men and women.  There are only a handful of men in the world (LITERALLY) who are publicly opposing the faith destroying false gospel of UOJ and IL chooses to reprimand me for being contentious to the point of people hating me.  Can there be enough opposition to that doctrine when your own IL founder has been excommunicated for opposing it?  And again, I have consistently condemned the doctrine and not the individuals. 

The problem Pastor Spencer has with me has been clearly taken to the point of utter childishness.  To remove one of my comments for the sole reason it was written by me, without regard to its veracity and faithfulness to Scripture is a practice that should be relegated to school yards and not theological blogs.  I'm offended that you recommend I apologize to Rev. Spencer when you don't even know what I'm being asked to apologize for.   That he would justify his deletions of my comments with the reason that I've offended him without explaining to the rest of the IL management what that justification entails is absurd.   I publicly contended against his public promotion of UOJ on the IL blog by posting a public statement against such promotion on Ichabod.  He complained to Pastor Jackson to which I replied and we exchanged two brief emails.  Neither of which contained any false accusations or false teachings and to which I cannot apologize.  (attached email files). 

You state, "Second, referring to those with whom you find yourself in disagreement as hell-bound reprobates, proclaiming them to be under Satan's dominion, declaring them the Gospel's enemy, or condemning them to an eternity of suffering in the torments of hell, simply will not be tolerated by us -- we can't tolerate such comments from anyone. And frankly, I'd suggest that you cease commenting on the internet like this in general."  I find this statement to completely disregard the specific doctrine at issue (Justification) which if one confesses faithfully to Scripture he is a Christian, receives the adoption of Sons, forgiven of all sin and saved eternally and which if one confesses contrary to Scripture he is not a Christian and remains under God's wrath and condemnation.  You may wish to boil the issue down to "those with whom you find yourself in disagreement" but it is wholly unfair, a false statement and slanderous.

In Christ,
Brett Meyer

***

GJ - I recall, since I got emails from Brett and Steve Spencer, that the issue was this - Brett saying UOJ was a minor or superficial matter was worse than Hochmuth's crime against children.

Spencer was extremely upset about that, even though that is precisely Luther's point about sins against the First Table. As Luther wrote, carnal sins harm the sinner (Hochmuth) but false doctrine murders souls. 

To cap the discussion, Spencer solemnly declared--about UOJ versus justification by faith--"a pox on both your houses."

In Shakespeare, a pox is syphilis. Spencer's prayer means - I hope you get syphilis. That may be Shakespearean, even Waltherian (given the STD of Bishop Stephan). 

I was extremely disappointed about this attitude of the Circuit Pastor and titular of the Intrepid Lutherans. Indifference about the Chief Article of the Christian Faith makes me wonder, "Why be a pastor? To defend Holy Mother WELS? To get a classmate into the synod presidency?"

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Brett Meyer has left a new comment on your post "Brett Meyer to the Intrepid Lutherans":

My exact statement to Pastor Spencer was, "If you won’t take a public stand against UOJ in the (W)ELS as your call requires of you then you’re no better than Hochmuth in the ongoing spiritual abuse of the laity you are responsible for."

The comparison is between WELS Communication's director Hochmuth sitting in Synod Headquarters watching young boys being homosexually raped and molested (specific charges by the United States FBI) and Lutheran clergy who have taken an oath before God to purely teach and defend Scripture and in accordance with the faithful Christian Book of Concord but instead sit silently by and refuse to publicly condemn the false gospel of Universal Objective Justification (UOJ) as their call requires. UOJ being a new and different gospel and way to righteousness before God which when truly confessed separates men, women and children from Christ, the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation - Galatians 1. Those who knowingly sit by and watch silently as the sheep are slaughtered are called hirelings in the Bible. That was true in the Apostle John's day as it is in ours - John 10:12-13.

As to Doug Lindee's contention, "Doctrinal discussion/debate between parties with opposing views amounts to mutual admonition and correction. To be engaged in honestly, both parties need to display a willingness to be corrected,..." - I quote Martin Luther:

"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures." 19 " In matters concerning faith we must be invincible, unbending, and very stubborn; indeed, if possible, harder than adamant. But in matters concerning love we should be softer and more pliant than any reed and leaf and should gladly accommodate ourselves to everything." 20 "Doctrine is our only light. It alone enlightens and directs us and shows us the way to heaven. If it is shaken in one quarter (in una parte), it will necessarily be shaken in its entirety (in totum). Where that happens, love cannot help us at all." 21 " But this tender mercy is to be exercised only toward Christians and among Christians, for toward those who reject and persecute the Gospel we must act differently; here I am not permitted to let my love be merciful so as to tolerate and endure false doctrine. When faith and doctrine are concerned and endangered, neither love nor patience are in order. Then it is my duty to contend in earnest and not to yield a hairbreadth." What Luther Says, II, 637f.

"However, if anything is undertaken against the Word, faith, and the honor of God, we are in no wise to preserve silence, are to bear it far less patiently. Then we should offer stubborn resistance."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1308. Sermon, 1523. 

Ecclesia Augustana: One of These Things Is Not Like The Others...

Ecclesia Augustana: One of These Things Is Not Like The Others...:


One of These Things Is Not Like The Others...

“We believe that God has justified all sinners, that is, he has declared them righteous for the sake of Christ. This is the central message of Scripture upon which the very existence of the church depends.”  ~  This We Believe, IV:1 

“Never does Paul teach universal justification. For as far as concerns 2 Corinthians 5, the words ‘not imputing their trespasses unto them,’ they are not to be understood universally about all men regardless of faith.”  ~  St. Aegidius Hunnius on behalf of the Wittenberg Faculty (as quoted in T. Hardt, "Justification and Easter").

“In the elect, who are justified by Christ and reconciled with God, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who is the eternal and essential righteousness, dwells by faith (for all Christians are temples of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who also impels them to do right), yet this indwelling of God is not the righteousness of faith of which St. Paul treats and which he calls iustitiam Dei, that is, the righteousness of God, for the sake of which we are declared righteous before God; but it follows the preceding righteousness of faith, which is nothing else than the forgiveness of sins and the gracious adoption of the poor sinner, for the sake of Christ's obedience and merit alone.”  ~ The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, III:54 

"[Psalm 130] Verse 4.--But mercy is with Thee, that Thou mayst be feared. [. . .] If God should deal sharply with us, then should our transgressions daily and continually move him to mark straitly, and sharply to punish us.  But he will not mark our iniquities.  This he requireth, that we believe in Christ.  Then will he bear with us, then will he wink at our weakness, and pardon our transgressions, yea, in respect of our faith in Christ, he will accept us as righteous.  [. . .]  Wherefore I will not despair, I will not suffer myself to be swallowed up with heaviness; but I will turn unto the Lord, who hath promised mercy, who also hath commanded that I should trust and believe in him.    Thus David setteth forth in this verse the sum and effect of all true Christian doctrine, and that sun which giveth light unto the church.  For whilst this doctrine standeth the church shall stand and flourish.  But when this doctrine faileth, the church must needs fail and fall to ruin.   ~ Blessed Martin Luther's Commentary on Psalm 130:4, (A Commentary on the Psalms called the Psalms of Degrees, pp. 358-359).


'via Blog this'

Let's Put a Few District Presidents in Prison for the Same Length of Time.
WELS DP Ed Werner Already Did Time in the Big House



bruce-church (https://bruce-church.myopenid.com/) has left a new comment on your post "LCMS Lay Pastor Convicted - But the Synod Official...":

The article says Schauer waived his right to having the jury decide whether his 1983 conviction constitutes aggravating circumstances that would ensure he gets a stricter (or maximum) sentence. I would bet the prosecutor demanded a jury trial because ever since 1983, Schauer was saying he was innocent, and people in the LCMS believed him, so just having a judge say he was guilty wasn't good enough this time. This other article says the jury trial lasted three days:

Former Lake George lay minister convicted of six sex crimes:

http://www.parkrapidsenterprise.com/event/article/id/35051/

The Hubbard County Attorney's office on November 29, 2012, completed a three day jury trial concerning the case of State v. Darwin Frederick Schauer, DOB 09/21/1941 from Laporte.

Working That Didie-Changing Academy into the Documents

I miss those ads.


rlschultz has left a new comment on your post "Day Care Dreams":

At my present tiny WELS congregation, we have had our first full time pastor since its formal charter was signed way back in 1974. He has been with us for four years now. After his first year, the synod cut off our home mission subsidy. I consider that to be a blessing. Within the past year, there has been something here called long range planning. Being a member there for three and a half years, I know most of the members well enough to know that this effort certainly did not come from the laity. Buried in the long range planning presentation was all of the usual tripe Kelmed from business methods. One detail raised a red flag right away. One of the goals was a day care center. I wondered if that was not part of the agenda from synod HQ. After all, we can barely support a full time pastor. Hmmmmm.

***

GJ - The concept of day-care being a money maker is absurd and dangerous. When everyone is in the business, the prices are beaten down. But why should a congregation be in the market place, competing against legitimate business while using its tax-favored status?

As I showed in the ELCA post, the motivation is money pure and simple.

WELS Circuit Pastor Steve Spencer is in a position to know about a lot of congregations. He wrote me that day-care is most often the death of a congregation.

Besides the obvious problems of stealing from the congregation to support jobs among a favored few, there is the alienation created by day-care versus the congregation. The members are not supporting a ministry to others but part-time and full-time jobs for a few. So who benefits? The favored few and the non-members who get subsidized baby-sitting.

Questions to Ask in the Parish

Is the day-care above all criticism?

Do people really know the total cost of the day-care business?

Are the day-care costs and contributions separated from the rest of the budget?

Are non-day-care staff allowed in that part of the building - or do they have their own domain?

Is it called a Christian academy when it is just another day-care business?

Paul McCain Has Another Roman Catholic Plagiarized Post - St. Andrew


bruce-church (https://bruce-church.myopenid.com/) has left a new comment on your post "Paul McCain Has Another Roman Catholic Plagiarized...":

he Festival of St. Andrew the Apostle

http://cyberbrethren.com/2012/11/30/the-festival-of-st-andrew-the-apostle/

And I quote:





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"Roads Go Ever, Ever On" - The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

We were called the Garfield Gashouse Gang when we went to junior high.
Our elementary school produced engineers, lawyers, a doctor, an opera star,
a Broadway performer, teachers, and a psychologist.
When unpacking at our new home, I came across the high school newspaper that listed which colleges we were going to attend. There was my name, listing Augustana in Rock Island, where my mother graduated.

I thought, "How odd." That college choice meant I met the future Mrs. I. on the first day in class. We  married a few minutes after graduating from Augie. Because Chris' relatives lived in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, I had an interest in their seminary and went there. That led to Yale, because of a professor who came to visit the seminary and write a report on it.

There are many other coincidences, such as my sister-in-law babysitting for Stan Hauerwas, when he went from Augie to Notre Dame. She encouraged me to visit Stan, where I gleaned enough to apply there. One feature was - no application fee! I saved money by not applying anywhere else.

Notre Dame gave me access to an entire Protestant library they bought from a seminary closing, so I had the chance to study American Lutheran church history, doctrinal statements, the Social Gospel movement, and more. That opened my eyes to the gap between LCA claims and Lutheran doctrine.

My mother's class, two years younger than my own.
I hear from two of these families all the time, on Facebook.

LCMS Lay Pastor Convicted - But the Synod Officials Who Promoted Him Skate


image
LCMS sex offender Darwin Schauer was convicted.
Why are synod officials not going to prison?


Former minister convicted in northern Minnesota child sex case

A Hubbard County jury found Darwin Frederick Schauer, 71, of Laporte, guilty on six charges after a trial this week.
By: Forum Communications staff, Forum Communications
PARK RAPIDS, Minn. – A former minister in Cass Lake and Lake George was convicted Thursday after a jury found him guilty of six sex crimes involving a child.

A Hubbard County jury found Darwin Frederick Schauer, 71, of Laporte, guilty on six charges after a trial this week.

Schauer sexually assaulted his victim during a three-year period, starting in spring 2009.
The jury of eight women and four men finished deliberating Thursday, returning guilty verdicts against Schauer for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. All the charges related to contact with a minor at least 13 years old, but less than 18, while Schauer was in a position of authority.

Schauer was charged with Fourteen Counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct of a minor at least thirteen but less than 18 years of age while being in a position of authority over the minor.
Prior to the jury receiving the case for deliberation, a judge dismissed eight allegations on the grounds of duplicity of the charges.

The most serious convictions of first-degree criminal sexual conduct each carry a maximum penalty up to 30 years in prison.

According to a news release, Hubbard County Attorney Donovan Dearstyne and Assistant County Attorney Erika Randall said they’ll seek an aggravated sentence for Schauer. At a Dec. 28 court hearing, the prosecutors plan to present evidence to support a stricter sentence, including criminal sexual conduct in 1983 in Nicollet County.
Schauer waived his right to have a jury determine whether or not he should receive an aggravated sentence.

Now Judge Paul Rasmussen will determine whether aggravating factors apply for Schauer’s sentencing.

The Park Rapids Enterprise reported Schauer, formerly a minister at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lake George, retired from the church in 2008.

His arrest came after a complaint was filed March 4 with the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office and an investigation was launched. Don Kirchner, who replaced Schauer as the church’s pastor, reported the incident that led to Schauer’s arrest.

At the time of that arrest, Kirchner issued a statement saying: “The congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lake George is devastated by this terrible news. I’ve seen and shared in the members’ emotions that have moved from shock, to tears of grief, even to anger... But most of all and most importantly, our hearts and prayers go out to the young victim of these horrific acts.”
Schauer has been jailed since April in Hubbard County on $1 million unconditional bond.
The Enterprise also reported earlier this year that Schauer reached out to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod’s South District and sought to continue work as a minister after the 1983 conviction.

By decade’s end, Schauer was admitted into a program for certification as a lay minister. Schauer’s first placement was with Immanuel Lutheran Church of Cass Lake, then Trinity Lutheran Church of Lake George, where he was commissioned as a lay minister. Initially a Black duck pastor mentored or supervised him, allegedly aware of Schauer’s criminal history. The Trinity and Immanuel parishes merged in 2000.

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bruce-church (https://bruce-church.myopenid.com/) has left a new comment on your post "The LCMS Case - Darwin Schauer - Convicted Sex Off...":

Interestingly, Schauer didn't do a plea deal (or bargain). Either the prosecuting attorney refused to offer him a deal, or he opted for a jury trial:

Former minister convicted in northern Minnesota child sex case

A Hubbard County jury found Darwin Frederick Schauer, 71, of Laporte, guilty on six charges after a trial this week:

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/251234/group/News/

Don Kirchner, who replaced Schauer as the church’s pastor, reported the incident that led to Schauer’s arrest.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

LCMS Scandal
Students Borrowing Staggering Amounts To Pay Bloated Salaries for Seminary Professors



bruce-church (https://bruce-church.myopenid.com/) has left a new comment on your post "LCMS Seminary Cost Scandal: Fabulous Costs To Supp...":

Average LCMS seminary graduates owes $30 grand at least. 10% of seminary graduates owe over $50 grand.

The pastors must all be choosing the 30-year payoff option on their student loans (rather than the more common 10-year payoff), since a representative sample of LCMS pastors (between 1 and 30+ years of service) were asked how much student debt they still had to pay off, and the median figure was a whopping $18,100!

===========

The Pastor Debt Monster
http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=24918
LCEF conducted a survey in 2011. This was a similar survey to one conducted in 2006. The respondents ranged from newly called workers to those having been in the ministry several (30+) years. This tends to “skew” the medians. The respondents were nearly equally divided into ranges of 0-10, 10- 19, 20-29 and 30+ years in the ministry, The median numbers for those in each category, for example, is not available. However a couple of things that jump out: The median level of outstanding STUDENT LOAN debt was $18.1K. On the surface, that doesn’t appear alarming. However this figure is 20% higher than reported in 2006. In addition, the number of workers that incurred student loan debt increased from 48% to 61%. Those reporting outstanding debt in excess of $50K increased from 4% in 2006 to 10% in 2011. An increase of 250%!....

Based on this data my guess that the average (not median) for my 2009 graduating class was at least $30k per student is probably accurate. That’s over $4 mil for the graduating class of CSL/CTSFW of 2009 alone.

Comments on Intrepid Lutherans about WELS Kicking Out a Congregation and Losing the Property



23 COMMENTS:

Brian G. Heyer said...
The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender. Proverbs 22:7


I once asked the president of one of the largest insurance companies in the USA if he would consider buying church bonds secured by mortgages against the church. He declined, saying his company couldn't endure theshame of foreclosing on a church.
Pastor Jeff Samelson said...
You present the actions of the WELS CEF as though they are somehow vindictive, or at least punitive. This is not only unfair, it shows a lack of understanding.

The WELS CEF exists as a "not-for-profit religious corporation established to make loans and grants to churches and other institutions affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod". Once your congregation was no longer affiliated with the WELS, the CEF was legally no longer able to hold your loan, because you no longer met the criteria by which such a loan could be maintained by the CEF.

And even if there were no such legal requirement, there would still be the matter of fidelity to its mission and keeping faith with its investors, who are all WELS members who have invested their funds with the clear and explicit understanding that all CEF loans will be to congregations or other organizations that are part of the WELS.

In other words, the WELS CEF is not just some kind of bank or credit union that chose to foreclose on your congregation because someone was angry with you. They had no choice but to do so once you disaffiliated -- and this was all perfectly in keeping with the loan documents your congregation had knowingly and voluntarily signed, and had nothing to do with whether you were current in your payments or not.

I'm unclear as to how statements of fact -- that the CEF would do what it did, since it was under obligation to do so -- constitute "another warning not to defy the synod".

The CEF has been very good to us, and has served the synod and its mission faithfully and lovingly. It pains me to see its words and actions taken in the unkindest possible way.
Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...
Pastor Samelson, I wish you had been as pained and as vocal when the WELS suspended me from its ministerium and forced my congregation into this position.

It pains me that the synod I called my home for 35 years suspended me for teaching the truth of Scripture in accord with the Lutheran Confessions, thus forcing my congregation into an impossible situation in which they either had to be faithful to Jesus, or faithful to the WELS, using the threat of foreclosure as an "incentive" to make the "right" decision. Thankfully, they remained faithful to Jesus in spite of that threat.

The scenario of so many churches being beholden to the WELS via CEF is not a godly one.
Brett Meyer said...
May the Lord continue to richly bless Emmanuel Lutheran church in Las Cruces and faithful Pastor Rydecki.

By the everlasting grace and mercy of the Triune God you have stood firm in the faith, teaching and defending Christ's true Gospel of Justification.

In Christ,
Brett Meyer
Anonymous said...
Pastor Samelson is absolutely correct. Your congregation signed a contract guaranteeing that you would use the money loaned by CEF to support a WELS congregation. Why would you expect that money to still be available to you after leaving the WELS? CEF was contractually, legally, and morally obligated to do what they did. The proper and honorable course of action for your congregation would have been to secure a different loan before voting to leave the WELS.

What if one of the liberal WELS mega-church wannabe congregations voted to leave the WELS, but continued to receive CEF funds? Would you be fine with that? Or would you call on CEF to withdraw funds, since CEF is obligated to support only WELS congregations?

Mr. Adam Peeler
Intrepid Lutherans said...
Many years ago, upon the recommendation of an ELS pastor, I purchased and read through Nelson & Fevold'sThe Lutheran Church Among Norwegian Americans (Augsburg Publishing House, 1960). A two volume work, it covers a massive amount of historical material, though ultimately must be characterized as a work of propaganda for the Norwegian Lutheran church body to which the authors – both professors at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN – belonged (the Evangelical Lutheran Church), and which in the year of this work's publication joined with several other Lutheran church bodies to form the American Lutheran Church (ALC). Reading through this work, I was (and remain) astonished at the protracted and bitter nature of the struggles these Norwegian Lutherans endured.

As Norwegian immigrants settled in the upper mid-west, they brought their Lutheran religion with them, forming local congregations, which, once established, reached out to other Norwegian Lutheran congregations in neighboring settlements in hopes of establishing fellowship and enjoying the benefits thereof. A great many Lutheran "synods," "conferences," and "associations" were developed among them. And these organizations were manifestly imperfect. In the first case, perhaps due to ignorance or poor legal advice, or due to language barriers, the incorporation of congregations and church bodies was not always sound. In the second, as these Lutherans discovered over time, in their understandably natural eagerness to enjoy unity with other Lutherans sharing the same language and culture, they either overlooked or failed to recognize doctrinal differences, which, festering over the years, eventually came to a head and erupted in controversy. No, "Election" was not the only one – there were many doctrinal controversies among American Lutherans in the 19th Century. As difficult as these controversies were for those involved, once personal convictions had been arrived upon and sides taken, one would have hoped that Christians of such high ideals would have amiably separated – at least respecting the stand upon Christian conscience taken by their adversaries, even if they vehemently disagreed. "Amiable separation" was not the term for what happened. The fact is, the most bitter, protracted and ugly public displays of petty materialistic vindictiveness occurred after the lines of doctrinal disagreement had been established and separation revealed as the inevitable course of action. The worst and most sickening fights were not over the doctrine. They were fought over the stuff – the publishing houses, the schools and seminaries, and the church buildings – and such fights were made all the more difficult given the legal imperfections of the incorporating documents, which in many cases very poorly considered the dispersion or liquidation of assets in the event of separation or dissolution.

Continued in next comment...
Intrepid Lutherans said...
...continued from previous comment

In one famous case – the Augsburg Controversy – a group of Lutherans lead by Rev.'s Sven Oftedahl and Georg Sverdrup from Augsburg College/Seminary in Minneapolis, withdrew from their participation in the mergers of 1890, which formed the United Norwegian Lutheran Church of America (UNLC), mostly over ideologies of Christian education pitting Augsburg against St. Olaf college seminaries and threatening the existence of Augsburg (though the doctrine of the "Church" and the issue of church polity was involved as well), resulting in a crisis over control of Augsburg Publishing House and Augsburg College. The Church organization to which the Augsburg professors belonged – the Conference for the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – had emerged from a preceding church body, along with another church body which claimed control over the assets of both church bodies on the basis of the incorporating documents of their predecessor body, and on the basis of deficient incorporating documents of the Conference. Already wary of it's legal foundation in 1877, the Minnesota Legislature had gotten involved at the request of the Conference, passing a special curative Act in their favor to ensure independent control of the Seminary property. Lengthy court battles ensued. In 1890, the newly formed UNLC initiated legal proceedings against Augsburg. In 1894, the control of the Publishing House was handed over to the UNLC by the courts. In 1897, the curative Act of the Minnesota Legislature was found unconstitutional by a Minnesota District Court, which also ruled that control of the Seminary must be handed over to the UNLC. Augsburg appealed, and in 1898, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the lower court's finding that the curative Act was unconstitutional, but nevertheless overturned the decision of the lower court ordering Augsburg to hand over control to the UNLC. The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the independence of the School from the UNLC on other grounds. Sverdrup and Oftedahl went on to form the Lutheran Free Church, an association of free and independent Lutheran congregations, which was part of the ALC mergers in 1960. A minority of the LFC objected to union with the ALC, and, refusing to join, formed the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC) instead, and sued once again for control of Augsburg College/Seminary. They lost that battle, and today Augsburg is entrenched in liberal protestantism. Prior to the breakup of the ELCA, the AFLC was the fourth largest Lutheran organization in North America (just behind the WELS). It remains a conservative association of Lutheran congregations, and runs the nation's only Lutheran Bible School. Interestingly, it is my understanding that the American Association of Lutheran Congregations (AALC), a small association of Lutheran congregations which enjoys fellowship with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod as of its 2007 Convention, is largely comprised of congregations from the former LFC which had joined the ALC in 1960, but which refused to join the ELCA when the ALC, LCA and other liberal Lutheran Church bodies formed it in 1987. This is irony, given the profoundly anti-Missourian positions of Sverdrup and Oftedahl from which the old LFC emerged. Anyway, I highly recommend these books, not only as a balance to the one-sided Missouri-centric history we Synodical Conference Lutherans sing in unison to each other, but as preparation for certain reality once realignment among confessional Lutherans in North America begins in earnest. It won't be pretty.

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Intrepid Lutherans said...
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In my opinion, it makes sense that a Synod funding organization like CEF would include provisions for the termination of a loan in the event of a congregation's separation from WELS. They're not in the business of funding non-WELS congregations, after all. One would hope, however, that Christian charity would prevail in such circumstances, and that reasonable terms and time periods would be applied. Whether a month-and-half is reasonable, I'm not in a position to judge. What I find troublesome, however, is not that such provisions exist in a mortgage contract or that they are acted upon, but that it is done so in a way that appears vindictive, as if the objective is to hurriedly deprive a Christian congregation of its rightful property, either in favor of a minority party who is not legally entitled to it, or to simply "get back" at them for leaving the Synod, or as if such action is calculated to impact decisions which ought to be made strictly from the standpoint of Christian conscience. Whether there was vindictive intent or not, the appearance of impropriety is certainly evident.

Regardless of whether such impropriety is the fact, this situation opens an entirely more significant issue: that of leveraging the threat of "taking stuff away" to ensure the continued allegiance of Christians to an earthly organization. I absolutely do not want a pastor to lead from anything other than the convictions of Christian conscience, nor do I wish in any way shape or form to be affiliated with a Christian organization which prohibits its members from speaking and acting from such convictions, and threatens them with loss of home, income and healthcare if they do. There is no realistic way to maintain either doctrinal integrity or unity under such circumstances. Purists will say, and quite correctly so, that material things don't matter, that only God's Word and the integrity of pure doctrine matter, and that pastors who do not stand in the face of error are weaklings and cowards. Though many would like to face the error, such purists may say in all charity, sin has made them timid and weak. I agree. I'm a sinner too, and can identify with its depleting effects. And if that were the only factors involved, then shame on all us sinners for not doing the right thing, and that would be the end of the matter. But they aren't the only factors involved.

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Intrepid Lutherans said...
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What about the organization which exploits human weakness for its own benefit by lumping the honest convictions of Christian conscience in with moral infractions like embezzlement, child pornography and marital infidelity (yes, I know, remorseful embezzlers, child pornographers and adulterers receive unconditional absolution, while those perceived as "errorists" are unrepentant sinners from whom absolution is unconditionally withheld)? Only someone worse than an embezzler, child pornographer or adulterer would dare express his genuine convictions – the threat of such a stigma is an effective deterrent. What about the organization that threatens the expression of ones genuine Christian convictions with immediate termination of pay and healthcare, and the loss of home? What does that mean to the young pastor trying to repay eight to twelve years of Synod education which he is required to have, that, outside of the Church, won't get him a job pushing a broom? What does that mean to the pastor who's been encouraged by Synod to have a large family, as the new method of "growing the church," who is now responsible for four to six or more dependents? What does it mean for the mid-to-late career pastor whose body is beginning to deteriorate, who has begun to think that he would like to avoid a retirement in forgotten obscurity as a resident of a government-run convalescent home like the ones he routinely visits? Threatening such men with immediate loss of home, loss of income, loss of healthcare and loss of pension does not in any way shape or form encourage them to do what the church needs them to do: to be watchful for error and to oppose it. It doesn't even make them ambivalent towards it. Instead, exploiting human weaknesses in this way has the effect of forcefully driving them away from this activity which is vitally important to the health and integrity of the visible church. Such men may even see error or unwise activity, but will deliberately remain silent.

In my honest opinion, since we want pastors to live out their Christian conscience, then in cases where separation occurs as a result of their honest convictions, as opposed to cases of moral turpitude, the terms of separation need to reflect the fact that we have genuinely valued Christian conscience all along. The pension accounts of pastors separating under such circumstances ought to be rolled over into personal IRAs or some other retirement vehicle, and provision for severance packages which include the continuation of pay and health care for a reasonable period of time also ought to be made. While this does not at all alleviate the uncertainty involved with separation, it tends to remove the vindictive nature of termination threats, and encourages a healthy idealism and a willingness to be objective and have dialogue. Will it ever happen? I doubt it...
Anonymous said...
I'm just wondering... Do the WELS people (pastors and laypeople) who have signed on to Intrepid Lutherans and those who have their names included in the masthead agree with all that is written on this site, including the WELS bashing?

Pastor Steve Kurtzahn
Mr. Douglas Lindee said...
Oops... Comments at 7:40am were mine.
AP said...
I'm going to assume it was not intended this way, but Pastor Kurtzahn's comment sounds a little threatening.

I was one of the first to sign on to I.L. based on the original statement of purpose. I have no plans to remove my signature.

I think that Pastor Rydecki has been done a great wrong. This most recent episode strikes me as being entirely petty and possibly vindictive. I have been a WELS member for 36 years and of course have a lot of attachments to it. I am also not going to be blinded to the problems within WELS or its sometimes bad behavior by some kind of misguided sense of loyalty. The WELS is NOT a divine creation. It was founded by sinful humans and is currently run and staffed by sinful humans (including this one). Why should any of be surprised to see imperfect behavior in the WELS? It is one thing to "bash" the WELS. It is another thing to justly criticize the synod when it and its members and leaders behave poorly.

Dr. Aaron Palmer
Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...
Mr. Peeler, I think you're missing two important points.

First, you talk about how our congregation should have gotten out from under CEF before deciding to leave the WELS. That's actually a very wise suggestion, and I wish that all WELS churches that love the truth would learn from our example and do just that. Mr. Lindee outlined the reasons above.

But you are not taking into account that neither I nor my congregation planned on leaving the WELS. We didn't want to leave, intend to leave or even contemplate leaving the WELS. My district president walked in and labeled me a false teacher for teaching Article IV of the Augsburg Confession, then suspended me on October 2nd, leaving my WELS congregation with a non-WELS pastor. That was an untenable situation. No one knew what to do. Some wanted to remain with the WELS, no matter what. Others, at that point, were ready to leave the WELS because they saw no Scriptural grounds for my dismissal. Which way would our congregation vote? That was not clear until the vote was taken, and the vote had to be taken quickly.

Secondly, the purpose of the original post is not to garner sympathy, but to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to rejoice, because the Lord has seen us through this trial and provided for us richly. CEF gets their money, and we get to keep our church building. In that sense, it's a win/win, isn't it? Don't you rejoice with us?
Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...
One other point. Securing a commercial loan for a small church with very few liquid assets within a month and a half, from start to finish, is only slightly short of miraculous. Normally these things take several months to complete, if the church is able to secure the loan at all. We found out quickly that most banks are not interested in financing small churches at this point and given our current economy. Most banks wouldn't even return our phone calls. The Lord's grace is highlighted all the more by the difficult circumstances we were facing. May His name be praised!
Anonymous said...
Dr. Palmer, I didn't intend my comment to be threatening at all. I would just like some clarification. Pastor Rydecki was suspended from the WELS for teaching false doctrine when it comes to universal objective justification. Pastor Rydecki has defended his error on this blog, which is also run by a WELS pastor who served as his circuit pastor. Others from Pastor Rydecki's former WELS district (and conference I can assume) also have their signatures on the blog ("A great many others, too, have with great consent subscribed their names.") Can it be assumed that since they have not removed their names from the IL site, that they agree with Pastor Rydecki? It's an honest, straight-forward question, isn't it? Pastor Steve Kurtzahn
Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...
Pr. Kurtzahn,

First, your facts are simply wrong. No one involved with IL has ever served as my circuit pastor. On the contrary, I was myself a circuit pastor of the AZ-CA District.

Second, your question is hardly innocent, but regardless, it has already been answered here:

Intrepid to the Last: Rev. Paul Rydecki has been Suspended from WELS

Specifically, with these words:
“Let me be very clear, your subscription to the What We Believe statements remains just that, a subscription to those specific What We Believe statements, nothing more and nothing less. Your subscription does not mean that you either agree or disagree with me about everything I say or write, or that you personally question the WELS on its teaching of justification, and we will point that out again on the blog before any discussion of this begins.”
Anonymous said...
I agree, AP. Pastor Kurtzahn's comments sound a little threatening, and I too hope they weren't meant that way. I have been a WELS member even longer than you. WELS teachings and practices are being changed. Yet I was raised and taught in the WELS that the teachings of the Bible don't change. So what happens when concerns are raised about changes in what WELS teaches and practices? Rather than a mature discussion of biblical doctrine, there are accusations of "WELS bashing". Seriously? Are our convictions on spiritual matters so weak that concerns about what is taught and practiced in the WELS is waived off as WELS bashing? What I have found here at Intrepid Lutherans is by and large consistent with what I was taught in the past by faithful WELS pastors, and consistent with what the Bible teaches. Were these pastors of the WELS in the past wrong?

Vernon
Anonymous said...
Thanks for clarifying the circuit pastor remark I made earlier, Pastor Rydecki. I appreciate it.

I did check out the link you provided that supposedly answers my questions. These men don't disagree with you. So does that mean they agree with you in your position on universal objective justification? And what about the rest? I suppose they can answer for themselves.

I don't see how my questions are threatening. I'm just looking for clarification.

Thanks,
Pastor Steve Kurtzahn
AP said...
Vernon raises an excellent point. Whether or not any of us agrees with Pastor Rydecki, what is the harm in having the discussion? Indeed, all he asked for was a serious discussion of this issue. Luther asked for the same thing of the Roman Church and got a similar response.

Pastor Kurtzahn's question does not seem innocent to me either. How can you assume anything about us other than what has been said here publicly and repeatedly about what a signature on I.L. means and does not mean?

Again, to criticize the WELS is not heresy or "bashing". Which I.L. subscriber is bashing anything here? Define "bashing" for me if you can? What are we allowed to criticize without it being labeled "bashing"? Perhaps nothing? If that was the attitude of Luther and the reformers toward the Roman Church, then we would all probably be papists today.

Dr. Aaron Palmer
Tim Niedfeldt said...
Vernon, I find your comments reflect a fitting state of affairs. Things have changed although I was a "frog in a Pot" not noticing it. What is IL but a collection of those who have realized that the WELS is not what it once was and the change that has occurred has not been good change. There is no harm in talking about it.

About 5 years ago Doug Lindee helped me take the "red pill" and I have learned a lot. I spent the last 3 years shutting my mouth and studying like crazy. My reading list has been The Large Catechism, The Small Catechism, The AC and Apology, Luther's commentary on Galatians, Luther's Commentary on Romans, etc. I have also been reading WELS Essay files and now recently Chytraeus, Chemnitz and Gerhardt. You can't study these writings and truly believe what the WELS has to offer is an accurate reflection of the original Lutheran fathers.

So to Pr. Kurtzahn, I an not a signer on IL because I still have some vices. I like modernized classic Lutheran hymns as presented by a band. I don't have concerns about instrumentation (Sorry Doug..). I still wear shorts or jeans to church and I bring my coffee in. However, I agree with everything the IL stands for in it's statements except that one little part. And even as you said its an individual thing as to whether an IL person agrees with Pr. Rydecki.

I, personally, do agree with Pr. Rydecki. Apparently most of the people I have been quizzing in my family and WELS circles over the age of 45 agree with Pr. Rydecki (and are now somewhat shocked that WELS does not agree with him) I think you will find this may happen more and more. Maybe thats what people are afraid of. Just as my mother pulled out her catechism when we discussed the issue and looked to find the WELS justification position in it, she couldn't find it. Same thing with my catechism. However, look at my children's catechisms and there it is. The change. It has been proliferating more overtly since the mid-80's and most of us were asleep to it.

So now I sit in my casual blended contemporary church in the WELS waiting for the day I am outed. When I am booted, I will go back to a more precise liturgical Lutheran church that is truly confessional. It won't matter what synod or association it is part of, if I know my congregation is solid. It would be nice to have an organ again too. I probably won't be able to bring in my coffee and I'll probably have to go back to at least Khakis. But if that is what it comes to, I know that at least I am in a church that truly reflects its Biblical and Lutheran confession.

Tim Niedfeldt
LPC said...
The attitude shown by the WELS magisterium reminds me of the same thing I saw when I was in Pentecostalism. Their attitude is this - you disagree with us, we are not your friends anymore. All past relationships do not count.

Just play a little bit of imagination, what if the CEF said instead - ok, we have the right to extract and demand payment but let us negotiate, when can you give the money back to us? What if WELS did this in a relational manner?

I think if I were an Emmanuel church member, I would have left WELS with a little bit more respect in tact for some of its sections.

If I were CEFI would have loved Emmanuel to be in my books, why? Because they have been paying their amortisation faithfully. Why ask them to pay up now? In fact they should be given more money to borrow because CEF will get more from the interest.

I am glad Pr. Rydecki's church paid faithfully their dues, that shows they are low risk to the lenders. Needless to say it was easy for them to go to another lender. Sure thing, they are the customers lenders are looking for.

WELS CEF lost twice here. They lost good will, they lost opportunity too.

I rejoice at God's provision for his congregation.

LPC
Daniel Baker said...
I just want to give Mr. Niedfeldt's comment an "Amen."

I hope that more and more people - pastors and laymen - continue to come forward in support of Pr. Rydecki's rejection of the universal justification heresy.
Seth Enius said...
At one point Pieper wrote: "At our seminaries dogmatics predominated to such an extent and the exegetical and historical disciplines receded into the background so much that besides Pastoral Theology only dogmatics was studied....And what was the consequence of this method? This, that, although we emphasized sola scriptura in principle again and again, inwardly we were bound more and more to the authority of the fathers, and taken captive by them."

Is this what has happened to this website? Why such a lack of exegesis from pastors? Why the ad hominem attacks? Who cares what the fathers said? What we teach must be a reflection of the Scriptures. Don't be taken captive.
LPC said...
But Pieper was not a good at exegesis either, look at how he did eisegesis on Romans 4:25.

LPC