Ichabod explores the Age of Apostasy, predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, with an emphasis on UOJ, Church Growth, and Emergent Church heresies. The antidote to these poisons is trusting the efficacious Word in the Means of Grace. John 16:8. Most readers are WELS, LCMS, ELS, or ELCA. This blog also covers the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the mainline denominations.
Joe JewellRik Krahn and Noah Bater--since you asked--just to give one very (extraordinarily, in fact) well-documented and analagous WELS example in which the "official" disciplinary/review panel from the district/synod structure reached an unjust and harmful conclusion, that is absolutely *crying out* for President Schroeder to stand up and use his "bully pulpit" take leadership on, I submit:
I think, quite frankly, that this is a WORSE case of injustice, in terms of the pastoral consequences and implications, than the LCMS case, because it involves 1) the endorsement by the District of the pastoral sheep-flaying of a simple layman--this is spiritual abuse of the most wretched order; and 2) the conviction and expulsion of a demonstrably innocent man.
It's been over three years of the status quo, now. Time for someone, somewhere in the synod to take a public stand for the right.
They said in a certified letter that they removed me as a persistent errorist because in those letters I publicly disagreed with Pastor Glende and the Northern Wisconsin District Presidium on three doctrinal issues:
I said that plagiarism was a sin, and that Pastor Glende was guilty of plagiarism.
I said that God does not need our service: in other words, the means of grace are sufficient.
I said that in the light of faith Christians cannot choose to believe God’s Word: in other words, from beginning to end, faith is 100% the gift of God.
Because I believed that these positions were not doctrinal error, I appealed. However, the Northern Wisconsin District Appeal Board denied my appeal without explanation. (Because the Appeal Board’s written decision contained no explanation, I believe their decision was based on politics, not principle). Now, I have three choices:
Sin against my conscience by renouncing the above true Christian doctrine, and then presumably rejoin St. Peter Congregation.
Refuse to publicly recant the true Christian doctrine, and remain excluded from the WELS forever. (The WELS Constitution §§ 8.30(c) and 8.50(e) would forbid my return).
Disregard the District Appeal Board’s ruling and the WELS Constitution(§§ 8.30(c) and 8.50(e)), and continue indefinitely in triangular fellowship with other WELS congregations who agree with me in doctrine. (Currently, this is where I am).
In summary, the leadership of St. Peter Congregation terminated my fellowship with the WELS because I questioned the methodology and doctrine of Pastors Glende and Skorzewski and the Northern Wisconsin District Presidium’s defense of their false doctrine and practice.
I did my best to resolve these issues in a brotherly way by spending years attempting to meet privately, and then after years of private effort, by ultimately bringing these concerns to the Church. In return, the leadership of St. Peter Congregation terminated my fellowship with the WELS as a persistent errorist.
On April 11, 2011 St. Peter congregation terminated my fellowship with the WELS as a persistent errorist, and also removed my brother from membership in the congregation. (Minutes from April 11, 2011 meeting. As part of this citation, I need to say that my dad gave me the minutes from this meeting. This needs to be said because other members of St. Peter have expressed concern that Pastor Glende will call them in to question them about where I got a copy of these minutes, and I want to spare them additional church discipline).
Since my fellowship with the WELS was terminated wrongfully, I appealed. On June 23, 2011, I received the following letter:
June 17, 2011
Dear Mr. Techlin,
We thank you for the material you provided to our Board of Appeals and for the time you spent with us. After prayerfully considering the evidence in the matter of your appeal, we, the members of the Northern Wisconsin District Board of Appeals have determined that St. Peter Lutheran congregation had Scriptural reasons for removing you from membership and, in doing so, acted in the spirit of Christian love. We are therefore, denying your appeal.
We commend you to the care of our gracious God, trusting that he will be at work in you “… to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
Sincerely, Pastor David Wenzel NWD Board of Appeals
It is hard to accept this because the Board of Appeals offered no reasons to support their decision. Left unanswered are the following questions:
What are the “Scriptural reasons” for my termination of fellowship?
Of what false doctrine am I guilty?
Of what do I need to repent before I can commune?
In order to commune, am I supposed to say that God needs our service? Am I supposed to say that Christians can choose to believe God’s Word? Am I supposed to say that the deceit and false doctrine involved with plagiarizing false teachers is not a sin?
How can an ambush termination of fellowship be construed as acting “in the spirit of Christian love”? Where am I supposed to receive the Lord’s Supper? What denomination am I supposed to join? Am I supposed to become an unaffiliated lone Lutheran Christian who never communes? Or should I join a denomination that actually serves the Lord’s Supper more than twice a month, and just forget about agreeing with anyone on doctrine?
The Board of Appeals was supposed to determine “whether the process leading to the disciplinary action and the doctrinal basis of the disciplinary action were scriptural.” (WELS Constitution, Section 8.50; Appeals by Laypersons. Emphasis added). However, the Board of Appeals told me they were not going to consider the doctrine. They told me that the District Presidium was in charge of doctrine, not them. So whatever the District President said the doctrine was, the Board of Appeals was going to agree with him. Therefore, since my doctrinal disagreement was not only with Pastors Glende and Skorzewski, but also with District President Engelbrecht, by the rules of this appeal, I had no chance to win on the doctrine.
Furthermore, I have no idea how the Board of Appeals ruled against me on procedure. I had no notice that St. Peter congregation was going to terminate my fellowship with the WELS. I had no opportunity to speak on my own behalf and defend myself. I had no opportunity to face my accusers and answer their charges directly. They still have not told me of what false doctrine I am supposed to be guilty. Procedurally, I was treated worse than our secular society treats accused criminals.
As part of the appeal, I was still not allowed to face my accusers, and no pastors were allowed to help me or speak on my behalf, even though I had numerous WELS pastors who were willing to help.
All the accusations made against me were made behind my back, and I was given no chance to understand the charges or to directly confront my accusers face to face. This is not how a church should operate.
This fact remains: I caught Pastor Glende red-handed in the sin of plagiarism: he was plagiarizing false teachers. I documented the evidence, and followed every procedure that was required of me. As a result, Pastor Glende received no discipline, and I had my fellowship in the WELS terminated as a persistent errorist (without an allegation of a specific error). Again I ask: what is my doctrinal error?
For now, I belong to no earthly congregation. Still, I am grateful to the WELS pastors who have told me that they will continue to commune me until District President Engelbrecht satisfactorily explains to them why I am guilty of false doctrine and why I should be excluded from their fellowship.
Shepherds are supposed to defend the sheep, not kill them. (John 10:1-19).