|Banned in Malone, Texas|
I am used to the duplicity of clergy. I am their best buddy when they want something from me, but quite the opposite at other times. Like the WELS leaders, ELDONA clergy think it is a sin to discuss issues in public, but no problem when they bite and devour to preserve the sanctity of Holy Mother Sect. We would all like to be as perfect as they pretend to be.
More troubling than losing the sale of five or six books a year is the way they treat their own members.
A little history of The Faith of Jesus. As readers know, I decided to publish an answer to the odious Jay Webber essay delivered at the last Emmaus Conference, 2015. I began publishing drafts of the book soon after the conference, so everyone had access to it on the blog and could react to it.
ELDONA pastors Rydecki and Bishop James Heiser had the draft of the entire book sent to them by one of their members, who was considering attending their new seminary with one (1) student in it so far. This aspirant left WELS and I suggested an ELDONA parish, as I have several times before when an individual wanted a local congregation without the UOJ.
This aspirant shared various posts from Ichabod with ELDONA clergy. Nothing was said against that apparent sin. He was also the channel for the files from the book as it was finished. Besides that, I communicated with Rydecki via FB from time to time.
Their aspirant decided to donate books to various people, to many ELDONA pastors and directly to the Texas Vatican. Therefore, Rydecki and Heiser and others received free copies as they came out in March of 2016. This ELDONA member also sent KJV21 and Third Millennium Bibles to various people, including Heiser.
When the aspirant set out copies of The Faith of Jesus - free for the taking at the Malone conference- this is what happened. ELDONA pastor Oncken interrupted him for a talk during the meal, took him away privately, and told him "Make these books go away." He added this threat - "You have to learn to be more discreet if you want to attend our seminary."
The aspirant did as ordered and found the reaction troubling. He tried to talk to Heiser, who became "livid" when talking about "the 2008 Eastern Orthodox" post on Ichabod. He added such standard accusations, typical of WELS - liar, slanderer, and crazy. Heiser even ranted against my practice of promoting his Gerhard/Chystraeus books as "violating copyright laws." As I wrote before, the Fair Use Doctrine allows for the quotation of copyrighted books for scholarly and review purposes. That someone involved in publishing could be so deceptive and manipulative - or just plain stupid - is beyond my imagination.
People who write books want them reviewed and quoted, even when they are savagely rebuked, because attention creates visibility and sales. (One of my students fell among thieves, old-fashioned vanity publishers who wanted $7,000 to print and promote his book. I told him how little that would work and how it was all available for almost free at Lulu and Amazon.)
The excuse offered by Rydecki was lame. The Faith of Jesus "was not vetted." That was unconvincing, since everyone had drafts of the book for over six months, copies of the actual Word file, and printed copies as they came out in March, three months before the Malone.
Rydecki has done editing work for me and I asked a Bethany follower to fund an extra copy of MS Office so he could do his work at two locations. I once got Office for $10, so that opened up a conversation about low-cost copies. I found it strange to hide all this ELDONish hostility.
I encouraged Heiser and Rydecki as they were leaving their denominations, LCMS and WELS. Since I went through the same - and more - with God's help, I have a few insights about the experience. In fact, I left the LCA, the WELS, and the CLC (sic).
I do not have a single solution for any person, including those who stay, except for this - trust in the Word of God and keep teaching the truth. Those who plan for max salary and benefits have not remembered this verse -
Psalm 37 25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
So I consider it swinish behavior to accept all these gifts from one of their own members, all these communications about Ichabod (Heiser does not answer emails), and then treat those book donations as the worst possible sin, with excuses for this behavior so paper thin as to be laughable.
When Steve Spencer was asked by SP Mark Schroeder to organize something, I suggested a group blog to discuss what was happening in WELS. Spencer and the others asked for names and I listed the ones in WELS who wanted to discuss doctrine.
Rydecki was an early participant and he advocated OJ at the time. Discussions brought him around to the Biblical, Book of Concord view, and he became an able advocate of Justification by Faith. For that, DP Buchholz kicked him out, removed his congregation from the sect, and began foreclosure proceddings.
|Another reader, with some contacts in ELDONA,|
asked me to write about "making disciples" error
of modern Pietism. ELDONA received free copies -
another sin too grievous to discuss with me?
Heiser wanted to come to our independent parish conferences, even though he was still in the LCMS. It looked like it would take a SWAT team to get him to give up his membership, but eventually he did. I gave him a tip on how to defeat a Kieschnick witch-hunt, so he did exactly what a Roman Catholic priest did under the same circumstances. On the day of the visit, lots of clergy friends were at the church and even more stopped by to say hello. This short-circuited the Star Chamber agenda and nothing happened. They referenced the group of clergy friends in their report, which Heiser read to me, gleefully, on the phone.
Heiser originally reacted against criticism of Objective Justification at one of our conferences that he attended - I believe in Norfolk, Nebraska. When Thy Strong Word was completed, Heiser learned what OJ really meant. I had been similarly misled, so I understood that. He sold copies of Thy Strong Word and listed it on his website, as I wrote before.
Heiser came to Phoenix for a conference at our church, too, in the modest chapel we fashioned from the garage.
When the aforementioned reader was considering what to do, I had nothing bad to say about ELDONA - quite the opposite. I was pleased they rejected OJ and championed the Chief Article of Christianity - Justification by Faith. I had no reason to believe from years of communicating with Rydecki that they harbored such feelings of resentment. I published about 25 posts related specifically to ELDONA and Justification by Faith - see the tag list.