Monday, December 2, 2013

Intrepid Lutherans - The Hamlets of the Blogging World

The Intrepids were started to support SP Mark Schroeder,
who has never supported them.
Instead, he supports the Mark/Avoid Jeske gang.


http://www.intrepidlutherans.com/2013/11/changes-on-horizon.html#comment-form

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2013

Changes on the Horizon

Since "nobody reads Ichabod," it may come as a surprise for some of our readers to hear that there are some changes in the works for Intrepid Lutherans. Then again, it may not. Likewise, if everyone reads Ichabod, it may come as a surprise for some to learn that the changes being considered are not nearly so dramatic as is rumoured. Then again, it may not.

The past year or so has seen some significant changes for us, personally, professionally and as a group. It is no secret that Rev. Rydecki, after making independent study of the Doctrine of Justification and having publicly raised some simple questions of exegesis from the floor of a Pastors conference in his District, was eventually labeled by his Brothers a heretic and cast out from among them without the honest review of his concerns for which he pleaded at length. No longer WELS, he has since colloquized into the ELDoNA, which was concerned and objective enough to give him an honest hearing, and to carefully consider and deliberate his arguments before receiving him. But this is not the extent of the personal changes many of us at IL have faced. I, for one, have been in the midst of some fairly significant business changes over the past several months, that have altered my availability to write with the frequency to which many may have become accustomed. And I know that shifting responsibilities and personal circumstances have impacted the others, as well.

But there have been other changes – changes in attitude toward our initial "objectives." In our recent, and very popular post, What on Earth could the CoP possibly have meant by THIS?, we identified two "primary precipitating situations behind [the] formation" of Intrepid Lutherans in 2010:
    (1) the appalling treatment of the layman, Mr. Rick Techlin, by his pastor and congregation, and the incomprehensible support publicly granted them by the praesidium of the Northern Wisconsin District; and 

    (2) the continuing existence of "Time of Grace Ministry" as a manifestly non-denominational and unionistic evangelism Ministry conducted by WELS and other Lutherans, and the continuing support of the praesidium of the Southeastern Wisconsin District enjoyed by "Time of Grace Ministry."
Regarding the first situation, it concluded most unsatisfactorily, while related issues either pre-existing or descending directly from it seem to continue unabated. Regarding the second situation... that liberalizing juggernaut continues – with an endless supply of independent funding and a multitude of supporting voices both within Synod, especially among its leadership, and among the laity as well.

The result is no small level of disenfranchisement among a majority of Intrepid Lutheran editors, and a resulting shift in personal interest and priority. Of all the friends they thought they had, very few have stood with them publicly. With no significant public voice to oppose the abuses that brought us all together in 2010, such abuses are now normative in WELS. There is no stopping it, there is no changing it, indeed, there is no referring to it as somehow "wrong" anymore. That is because WELS has changed. If, three and a half years ago, we very naïvely thought such things could have been stopped, curtailed or at least turned toward reformation (and some of us did think such could happen), that naiveté has been sucked from us as the hot desert sun draws moisture from a naked body; publicly deserted by those who privately supported us, we, along with our remaining stalwart public supporters, have baked alone in the sun.

For these and a variety of other reasons, the majority of Intrepid Lutheran editors have found that their enthusiasm with respect to our purpose regarding these precipitating situations has left them, that current circumstances have driven them to focus on other priorities.

The only two who are willing to continue are myself and Rev. Rydecki – although going forward neither of us will have the time to publish as frequently as we have in the past, with Rev. Rydecki's involvement reducing to moderator and occasional blog posts.

This leaves us with a dilemma of sorts. Currently, Intrepid Lutherans is incorporated as a non-profit religious and educational institution, so that we can collect revenue in the form of donations and use it to host conferences. Believe it or not, we were in the midst of planning such a conference for next Spring, a conference that would have included not only the results of a systematic study of Church Growth trends in the WELS, but an in depth examination of translation ideology – of Dynamic Equivalence versus Formal Equivalence – of the "Critical Text" Greek apparatus that stands behind DE, and the "Historical Critical Method" that props it up. In addition, this conference would have provided an academic defense for the adoption of the "New King James Translation" of the Bible. There were other topics on the docket for exploration as well. If Intrepid Lutherans were to continue with such endeavors, it would need to remain incorporated. But it would also need qualified Board Members. Though Rev. Rydecki is willing to continue as an author, he simply does not have the time to devote to the duties of a corporate officer. And corporations require at least two officers.

Likewise, even if Intrepid Lutherans were to continue as just a Blog, we simply need more qualified writers. Between Rev. Rydecki and myself, maybe two or three entries a month are all that could be expected, which is not nearly enough to maintain a dedicated readership.

If we were to continue in either case, the purpose of Intrepid Lutherans would necessarily change. First and foremost, we would entirely cease to be a "WELS blog", or an organization that defines its existence or purpose with reference to ANY Lutheran synod or church body. We have very definitely entered a post-Synodical Era, and it will do the scattered remnant of genuine Lutherans little good for Intrepid Lutherans, or for any Lutheran group, to conduct itself with an imbalanced and unrealistic devotion to earthly organizations. In order to provide a balance of Lutheran perspectives, the hope would be to attract regular contributors and/or leadership candidates from additional sources in American Lutheranism.

Second, since it would not be defining itself relative to any Lutheran synod or church body, Intrepid Lutherans would end that aspect of its mission which continually addressed itself to the political issues of WELS, or those of any Lutheran synod or church body. That isn't to say that such issues won't be pointedly discussed from time to time, particularly as Intrepid Lutherans continues to warn of growing corruption in, and encroaching worldliness upon broad segments of American Lutheranism – a warning that is relevant to all Lutheran church bodies in America, even if they (think they) have separated themselves from the rest of Christianity, or even if they (think they) have sequestered themselves from the rest of the World.

Third, rather than addressing ourselves to Lutheran clergy and laity, we would be focusing on primarily equipping and engaging Lutheran laity. We would do this not by insulting them with condescending "bubble-gum," but by providing what seems be disappearing from the main Lutheran publishing houses: the highest quality writing we can muster, sufficiently sourced so that the layman can continue to investigate as interest would lead him, and have confidence in what he passes on to others. The equipping we would hope to offer Lutheran laity would be a preparation, not to stand as confessional Lutherans before similarly confessing "brothers" and family members who don't really want to live up to the label they apply to themselves, but to stand as confessing Christians in a Western Society that has swiftly grown shockingly and openlyhostile to Christianity.

Fourth, there would be a more deliberate effort to cover Lutheran teaching and practice from a more broadly and historically orthodox perspective, rather than elevate peculiarities of recent American innovation that have supplanted those perspectives. To this end, and in the interest of equipping the laity, there would also be a more deliberate effort to cover Lutheran teaching and practice not only as current issues in American Christianity give rise to questions regarding, or a need to defend, historic and orthodox Christianity, but from the standpoint of balance from the four categories of preparation in the Christian religion: Exegetical & Historical Theology (the so-called "historic" disciplines), and Systematic & Practical Theology (the so-called "constructive" disciplines) – where we would also recognize that Systematic Theology is more than just dogmatics, but also includes apologetics and ethics. In other words, our goals would be set so that there could be no mistaking – on our part or anyone else's – that rather than set out to "achieve" any particular result (impossible, since these goals include no arrival point), we are merely proceeding in a direction that we are convinced it is proper to go, trusting that the Lord will make fitting use of our "going."

What would not be changing? Our "What we Believe" statement would not be changed. We would continue to be a forum in which friendly and productive discussion on the article of Justification may be engaged by genuinely interested and concerned Lutherans. We will continue to herald confessional Lutheran practice – historic, liturgical and catholic practice, that is – as the proper form of worship for confessing Lutherans, and we will continue to vigorously oppose all forms of sectarian worship which boasts of its separation from the Church catholic and heralds its union with worldliness, and which disparages the Holy Spirit who works exclusively through the Means of Grace and arrogantly augments or even supplants His work with the efforts of man. We will continue to oppose the encroachments of Truth-killing post-Modern thought upon our pre-Modern system of theology, we will continue to oppose post-Modernism as a foundation for contemporary translations of the Bible, and we will continue to reject the NIV as a viable translation for the serious Christian. All posts would remain as they are – without editing or removal. The efforts of editors and Board members would continue to be rendered gratis.

We have given ourselves until the end of the year. It's up to our readers, now. If there are those who would be interested in becoming a regular essayist, or in having more substantial involvement with IL, please make yourselves known to us (privately, if you desire). If we don't know you, we may ask you to submit a CV and provide references. If, by the end of the year, we have not made any progress toward increasing our number of active authors, or in acquiring additional qualified leadership candidates, we will de-incorporate and mothball the blog. In this event, all blog posts will remain as they are and continue to be available for public access into the foreseeable future, for as long as we are able to maintain our domain name.


Mr. Douglas Lindee said...
Thank you Heidi, Daniel, Lee, Joseph, Joel, Tim, Vernon, Jami, and other laymen who have offered kind words of support, both for our efforts over the past three-and-a-half years, and for the slightly different direction we may be taking in the future. When I was first invited to contact Rev. Spencer in early 2010, regarding the formation of a group to address various issues surrounding CGM, it was the plight of an abused layman which had already brought he and Rev.'s Lidtke and Rydecki together. For me, that concern for my lay brethren continues. In his case, the abuse was not only in the immediate circumstances he faced – of false doctrine and practice (including not only sectarian practice, but rank and unapologetic plagiarism of sectarian sources), of an overbearing and vindictive pastor hardened against criticism and correction, and a heartless congregation which, despite their life-long relationship with that layman, nevertheless conspired with their pastor against him, adamantly refusing to consider his concerns and refusing his repeated requests to be corrected where he may be in error, and finally, meeting together as a congregation, specifically without his knowledge, to cast him and his family out of their congregation – it emanated from a long standing, generation-spanning pattern of catechetical failure. It's not that he and others had failed to memorize the catechism. They had memorized it and lived it as they had been taught. More significantly, his broad catechesis had failed to pass bona fide Lutheranism on to him and his generation. After he discovered Lutheranism for himself in the Book of Concord, he couldn't help but speak and warn of error, when he plainly heard and observed teaching and practice in his "Lutheran" congregation that deviated significantly from the Lutheran confession.

I knew what that is like. I was raised in "Lutheran" congregations (AELC and then AFLC). But I was never really a Lutheran. Thankfully, though, my parents (LCMS/ALC) were fastidious in their regard for Holy Scripture, for its teaching and its authority, so they carefully sought those congregations which overtly relied upon, taught, demonstrated and otherwise reinforced its Divine Inspiration, Inerrancy, Perspicuity and Authority in its every jot and tittle. Whatever else they may have done wrong, the congregations I was raised in got that right. And that's the most important thing, in my opinion. So, when, as an adult, I finally investigated confessional Lutheranism for myself, it was the plain meaning of Scripture – being the ultimate authority – that measured it, validated it, and ultimately confirmed it as my own Confession. Today, I'm very happy and thankful to be a Lutheran. As a result, I cannot help but speak and warn of error, when I plainly hear and observe teaching and practice within Lutheranism that deviates significantly from its confession. But for the laity, as it was for me, it is more than "today's problem" that can be fixed as simply as "correcting" the doctrine and practice. It is a catechetical problem that is over a generation in the making.

Continued in next comment...
Mr. Douglas Lindee said...
...Continued from previous comment.

"Catechism class" is thought to satisfy the need for Christian catechesis, but catechism class succeeds at nothing more than indoctrinating children in the naked teachings of Scripture, as Lutherans confess them. It is not full catechesis. Rather catechesis comes from every source of consistent speaking and doing in the congregation, and forms the Christian's thinking and believing. Thought, language and behaviour are all very closely related: but the kingpin is language, for its form determines the way individuals think and the way those within a culture of common language interact with one another. Indeed, it is said that if you want to understand a culture better than any history book can teach you, learn it's language – and this is especially true of ancient and dead languages and cultures. Equally true is the correlation of cultural change with change in its language and change in its fundamental ideas. The same applies to the church, as well. It is interesting to note, then, that, at least in recent times, dramatic change in the Western church, in the American Church, an in American Lutheranism, can be traced to the period of time following WWII, to a period of cultural upheaval in the West and the coinciding disappearance of Classical Learning, emergence of post-Modern philosophy and associated ideologies like Dynamic Equivalence (DE), development Church Growth theories and infatuation with pop-Entertainment forms and its icons of cultural rebellion, the confluence of which resulted in the adoption of the NIV, the wholesale re-writing of catechisms, liturgies and hymnals, the near-complete disappearance of entire categories of language within the church (like long-used and important ecclesiastical terms), and the dramatic rise of leadership that earned fame for themselves by pushing this junk.

The fact is, with reference to the catechesis of Lutheran laity, leaders of the previous generation completely turned their back on the past, other than to pay brief homage to the quaint and passé, and proceeded to march face forward into the future. This is most un-Lutheran. As I explained in the paper I delivered at our 2012 Conference of Intrepid Lutherans (Why is this Happening to Us? How the culture wars become religious wars among us), ours is not a marching face first into the future with our back to the past, but "a backing into the future, with our minds firmly fixed on what we can know with certainty – the foundations of the past – as a basis for living out the present." This, our post-Modern leaders do not do. The resulting fact is that many Lutherans are simply left with a dire need to (re)discover their own Religion, by becoming (re)acquainted with its historic forms, with its former way of speaking and manner of doing. That realization is why I signed on with Intrepid Lutherans in 2010. I think that need continues now, more than ever, and is why I am willing to continue.

Continued in next comment...
Mr. Douglas Lindee said...
...Continued from previous comment.

But for Intrepid Lutherans to continue, we will need authors. They can be lay or clergy, but we simply will need to have a consistent flow of quality content. Some, above, have lamented of themselves, "I am not sure if I am up to the task of writing with a level of quality that fits the standards of IL." Well, that should be explained a little. The three standards that I work with are simply stated: (1) write everything as if it is going to be submitted to a journal;(2) write everything as if it will be the basis on which my progeny will judge me; and (3) be as "asocial" as possible. That last point is a requirement made necessary by this forum. Technically, the blog format is "social media" – but, even though quite a bit of "relating to others occurs" on IL, we not trying to engage in or build relationships here. Yes, I know, it happens anyway, but that is because people are involved and that's what people do. And that's fine. But it is not part of our objective or purpose. We absolutely do not want persons or personalities to dominate or become central, but struggle to keep the issues central (and much of our blog moderation serves this necessary goal, as well). Outside of that, a variety of individual writing style is something we've always tried to promote among us. For better or worse, however, over the past three-and-a-half years, Rev. Rydecki and I have been the most frequent authors, and our styles (which are similar, but certainly not identical) have kind-of set the tone, offset most often by Rev. Spencer, who writes with a much different style. And that's just fine, as well. In fact, more variety of this sort on IL would be nice – as long as the standard remains "high," as I've described.

In addition, for Intrepid Lutherans to continue, we will need to have "pastoral" oversight of some sort. That is, it cannot purely be a lay-effort. Such efforts reminds me of the Brethren movements of the late-19th and early-20th Century, where open disdain for the clergy resulted in equalization: i.e., everyone is a minister. One significant difference, of course, is that IL is neither Church nor is it Ministry, so we don't claim to be Ministers of any sort, nor do we claim Ministerial Privilege or Authority in connection with IL. But where the doctrine and practice of the Church is concerned, we still ought to have some accountability – a sounding board, if you will – with recognized credentials of some sort. He could be a Professor, a Pastor or a Theologian, either openly associated with IL or not. More than one such person would be even better. Regardless, the laymen officially involved with IL, especially as authors, will need this kind of resource alongside them.

My Thoughts,

Douglas Lindee
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