|Robes and incense are a big deal for the Eastern Orthodox/Roman wing of LCMS. But at least they agree on UOJ and doctrinal indifference.|
One exception - do not criticize UOJ on Beane's watch.
| Every Ft. Wayne graduate's dream is to have his own|
crosier, fish-hat (mitre), cope, and chasuble.
Question that, and they are incensed.
Year after year, he and his congregation generously hosted the St. Michel's Liturgical Conference, bringing in LCMS speakers from around the country to allow LCMS pastors to continue their ongoing education as stewards of the mysteries. He served as an editor of Gottesdienst and of Bride of Christ - and wrote articles for both. He was also published in Logia. John also served on the synod's Board for Black Ministry Services, as well as serving on one of the LSB hymnal committees. Zion had numerous guest celebrants, officiants, and preachers during Fenton's pastorate - including at least one synodical president, several district presidents, synodical bureaucrats, and seminary professors.
I don't know John very well, but when I have spoken with him, I found him to be devout, genuine, and always open to listen and to answer questions. I know a lot of guys who are very close with him, and I can think of very few men who have served on the clergy roster of the LCMS who are held in such high regard and affection.
Perhaps this explains the reactions of hurt on the part of many when John made the etxremely (sic) heart-wrenching and difficult decision to resign his ministry at Zion and in the LCMS and to convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church. This was indeed a difficult blow to many of us who benefitted by his work with us and with our synod.
Almost immediately, shocking accusations sprang up attacking John's character (although, he did the right thing that any pastor should do if he no longer confesses the Lutheran confessions), digging and delving for information along the lines of "what did he confess and when did he confess it?" Several people have expressed their opinion that John is now going to hell for becoming Eastern Orthodox. Venomous articles have now suddenly been written about Eastern Christians, almost labeling them a Satanic cult. John's reputation has been utterly trashed in a sad disregard not only of chivalry and honor, but of the 8th commandment as well. I'm embarrassed by much of what I have read. I'm shocked at the things Christians will not only say, but commit to print. [GJ - Nothing like Larry Beane's attack against me on his Facebook page, which he quickly erased - after I copied it for posterity.]
John's many years of faithful service to his flock and to our synod are now forgotten, and even now, weeks after he has been released from LCMS membership and from the clergy roster, the barrage continues. The interest in trashing John Fenton's reputation has become nearly as hysterical as a spurned teenage girl. The ongoing chatter and buzz about John's obviously difficult decision borders on cyber-stalking.
I find a lot of the blogging and chatter to be disgraceful and nothing more than self-righteous posturing by men who sound terribly unsure of their own faith. They come across like the guy who wants to put a huge spoiler and shiny wheels on his car in a lame effort to bolster his self-image of virility (perhaps compensating for a lack thereof).
John has left our confession. It saddens me. I don't agree with him. I would rejoice if he came back. But the last thing we in the LCMS ought to be is self-rightoues. In fact, perhaps we should listen to what men like Fenton have to say, really listen to what it is that first made them question why they were in the LCMS in the first place. We have no grounds for self-righteousness. Even before President Kieschnick (with whom I disagree about much), the highest levels of the LCMS tolerated "the charismatic movement." How many high ranking LCMS officials will denounce "contemporary worship"? We denounce unionism and syncretism out of one side of our mouths, and then exonerate (and celebrate) those who pray with non-Christians (who also claim those who deny the divinity of Jesus actually worship the same God as Christians). Evolution is taught in our universities. We have lay preachers and vicars and other laymen "consecrating" elements - all with the blessing of our synodical and district officials. We have churches that openly violate our confessions by hard-heartedly refusing to allow the pastor to offer the Lord's Supper every Sunday - and spineless bureaucrats who refuse to stand up for our confessions by teaching and catechizing the laity when they complain about their pastor for simply doing what he has been called to do. Time after time we have seen faithful pastors being thrown to the dogs and/or being cleverly manipulated out of their God-given - *God-given* - divine calls by political and bureaucratic shenanigans. We have the Lord's Blood routinely thrown in the garbage and the Lord's Body routinely mixed with unconsecrated bread. We also have pastors who openly advocate for women's ordination, and not one of them has ever been disciplined for this heresy. We allow matters of doctrine to be voted on at conventions that operate under Robert's Rules. We seem to have more discussions among ourselves about bylaws than about Scripture. Our new hymnal (which I endorse because the good far outweighs the bad) includes ditties by Twila Paris and Amy Grant, but doesn't have room for all of the Psalms! Our synod defines asking a person if they have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior to be a "critical event," but doesn't extend this status to Holy Baptism! Much more could be said.
And then we wonder why pastors and laymen alike begin to have their doubts about being where they are, "walking together" with the aforementioned.
Again, I don't agree with John for leaving - nor with others of our brightest and best theologians who have felt compelled to break communion with us. I pray they do come back some day - and I believe we are the poorer without these men. But even if they don't, there is comfort in our confession that there is, and will always be, only *one* holy catholic and apostolic Church. Our Lutheran confessions nowhere confess that there are no Christians in the Eastern or Western Catholic Churches. In fact, our confessions many times praise our Eastern brethren on matters of doctrine. If you think your salvation is based on synodical membership or because you are right about some matter of doctrine or the other, you need to think again. The reality of the matter is that we Lutherans will actually be a numerical minority in heaven. In the Throneroom of our Lord, all Christians will once more be in full communion. We are saved by grace alone, not by our self-righteousness at being right about everything - even when we're not (which is the way theological discourse too often seems to go in our circles). Sometimes I think it's a dead heat which group has more pompous, arrogant, blow-hard, know-it-alls: Eastern Orthodoxy, or LCMS Lutheranism. There's another thing we actually do have in common with the East! ;-)
John Fenton is no longer one of our brethren in the ministry of the Church of the Augsburg Confession. Believe me, we have enough wayward brethren IN the LCMS to worry about without having to look to those outside our communion to go after. Let us resolve to work on fixing *our own* heretodoxy before we start telling every other church body how to fix theirs. It seems our blessed Lord addressed this in the Sermon on the Mount with some ophalmological advice that we would do well to heed. A little more humility wouldn't hurt any of us.
How about praying for John Fenton, for the LCMS, for Eastern Orthodoxy, for yourslef, for me, and for every other sinner and imperfect group of people for whom Christ died? I'm finding this to be a more felicitous use of time than reading a lot of blogs. I'm finding blogs to be like friends: a faithful few is better than a great many that are fickle. I'm finding myself no longer posting comments to others' blogs, and find myself actually reading (and writing) very few - and I think this is probably a good thing.
Meanwhile, if John Fenton is restored to holy orders within the communion of the East, there will be a great many Eastern Christians who will benefit from John's pastoral care and grasp of the Gospel. Just as when he served as a Lutheran pastor, if it is the Lord's will that John resume his pastoral work, he will once again preach, baptize, and absolve sins, and give out the medicine of immortality. In other words, he will be dispensing grace and eternal life - that is, unless you want to deny the Lord's power in water and the Word.
As sojourners in this broken world and as members of the Body of Christ that bears the battle scars of many an encounter with the devil - let us pray for the *one* holy Catholic Church, let us pray for the Bishop of Rome, the Patriarch of Constantinople, for the President of the Missouri Synod, and for every Christian pastor who gives everlasting life by applying water and the salvific words of Jesus.
On the other side of the grave, our schisms and scars will be healed. Not one of us will stand in the awesome presence of the Lord eager to seek out a fellow believer to say "See, I told you so, I was right! I was right! My doctrine was right, and yours was wrong! I was right, right, righty-right!" For our vindication doesn't come that way, but only by the blood of the Lamb who covers our faults, our own faults, our own most grievous faults. Being forgiven is far better than being right about everything. Just ask the breast-beating tax collector who stood in the shadow of the always-right-about-everything Pharisee who thanked God for not making him a tax collector.
Soli *Deo* gloria - sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
|Does this look Eastern Orthodox, ELDONUTs?|
GJ - Fenton left the LCMS ministerium and became Eastern Orthodox, denouncing Justification by Faith, because EO teaches justification plus works.
What would you say are the biggest differences between the Book of Concord and Eastern Orthodoxy?
As I visit supposedly Confessional Lutheran churches here, I'm seeing things in the worship which seem to be more than adiaphora. But I could be wrong in my discomfort. Are there any particular things to look for you might suggest as "tell-tale signs"?
I wrote back to him and a few others:
Here are the earlier Larry Beane witticisms:
Update - Beane kept the original Scalia post but erased almost everything else, including his cowardly ad hominem attacks.
The discussion began about Scalia's funeral and whether it was a Gospel service or not. Since Father Scalia referred several times to Purgatorial devotion in the Church of Rome, I added this graphic to Larry Beane's initial thread. (See below)
Someone posted a David Scaer graphic, so I posted my graphic about his UOJ quote.
Someone asked what was wrong with Scaer's statement, so I linked my new book. He was asking me, after all.
He wanted a free book - and also a CliffNotes version, so I linked the free one and also a summary post that involved Robert Preus quotations from his last book.
The person who asked finished by saying -
Kenneth Bomberger Thanks for the link! I'll read it at my earliest convenience.
So what did Larry Beane write? Oh my. He went full Paul McCain on me for responding to questions, something we do on discussions, no?
Here is Father Larry Beane - responding to the thank you from Kenneth Bomberger -
Pater Larry Beane Gregory, please use your own Facebook page for self-promotion. I charge $100 for ads.
You're getting to be like the embarrassing relative that drinks too much at Thanksgiving and passes out on the bed with all the coats on it.
Every family has members who want to hijack every expression of gratitude and joy, every real discussion and lighthearted banter, and even obvious humor, into a self-serving and dour political or doctrinal argument.
Gregory, you need to display better behavior from now on, or you won't be invited back.
To my other guests, I apologize. Hopefully your coats will not require dry cleaning.
I was surprised by his vulgar, gratuitous response, so I naturally wrote -
You should order your friends not to ask questions that deserve an answer. If you read the posts, you will see that.
Father Larry Beane, LCMS Pastor responded -
Pater Larry Beane Gregory, the way to save face is not to urinate in the kitchen.