Some have wondered how ELDONA changed from treating the Universal Objective Justification of Halle, ELCA, and the Unitarians as an adiaphoron, a matter of indifference.
I was a witness to the events, one way or another, and the answer occurred to me late one night. I became independent with Bethany Lutheran Church in 1997.
|Rydecki (above) and Spencer (below)|
hosted the first and last Intrepid Lutherans conference.
Spencer bailed out and apologized several times
for hurting others in WELS!
I had some contact with Jim Heiser when he was running Repristination Press under the banner of the Lutheran Confessional Synod (1994), endorsed by Jay Webber and Kincaid Smith. And no one had more to confess than Randy DeJaynes, the bishop-for-life who was later imprisoned.
Later, Heiser emerged again as the pastor of Salem in Malone, Texas, and still running Repristination Press. He began using the Yankee Stadium pan-religious worship service (9-11 memorial) as a reason to leave the LCMS. Benke was suspended in 2002.
However, Heiser was all hat and no cattle when it came to leaving the LCMS. He had every reason in the world to delay - and also wanted to the LCMS pension plan vested. Missouri was not so bad that he wanted to be without the benefits.
Heiser had his name picked out and a website domain (eldona.org) when I asked him if anything was going on. He said, "No." I almost believed him. Funny how telling a websearch can be. "Heiser Lutheran" brought up the website and a new name - but nothing was going on. Here is a convenient summary of various groups.
ELDONA discloses less than the NSA about its operations, but it finally started in 2006. I met some of them because I was invited to speak in Malone, and Heiser was selling Thy Strong Word - and promoting it.
Heiser clearly found the real meaning of Objective Justification to be disgusting, after reading Thy Strong Word. Imagine my shock when he gloated about partnering with the Rolf Preus Synod, admitting that Rolf was a UOJ fanatic. Rolf came up often, such as when Heiser and others were going to pounce on him about UOJ at a conference. Rolf found out and gave a supposed Justification by Faith paper, but brother Dan gushed UOJ in his paper. I asked why no one said anything to Dan on the same topic. Heiser's excuse was - "Dan is going to be a leader" or some such nonsense. Yes, Dan is Fifth Vice President of Missouri, quite an honor for a false teacher.
|As Luther says, one does not stay in the same stall|
with false teachers. Heiser and the Rolf Preus Synod are
proud of their opportunism and indifference.
Note the Ft. Wayne connections - Bob Preus, Rolf Preus (his son), Jim Heiser, Jay Webber, Kincaid Smith, Paul McCain, and even I - who took summer classes there. Most of ELDONA is Ft. Wayne, which is designed for men with weak Biblical language skills (like Walther). Repristination Press was a good title for these UOJists.
I suggested the now-comatose group blog idea to WELS Pastor Steve Spencer. He resisted but agreed it was good to air issues in WELS - haha - a previous blog killed off by WELS. But Spencer was a friend and classmate (Mordor) of SP Mark Schroeder. Nothing could possibly go wrong. They started in 2010 and stopped by 2014.
The links are a symphony of hypocrisy. They did not like WELS, but promote Northwestern Publish House, home of a hive of NIV promotions, Church Growth fanaticism, and a horrid hymnal - CW.
The Time Out link will take the reader to an Asian erotic site.
They link bad synodical publishers but not Martin Chemnitz Press. Although I had some contact with them, they suffered badly from Icha-phobia, an intense and fatal fear of being accused of knowing me. So they wanted to know how to track down what was going on in WELS, but did not want that to come from the blog. I gave them some hints and excused myself from any planning or organization.
Some early participants were Pastor Paul Rydecki, laymen Doug Lindee and Vernon Knepprath. Rydecki supported Objective Justification at first, and Spencer used that to prove OJ had to be grrrrrreat.
Lindee finally admitted that I was correct about the Halle origins of Objective Justification.
Rydecki came around at some point. Both Rydecki and Knepprath were at the Emmaus Conference attended by our member Brett Meyer and UOJ Stormtrooper/LCS sponsor Jay Webber. We were giving away Justification by Faith books and materials at this "free"conference, really a pre-merger conference. Bret Meyer laughed at Jay Webber hiding behind a pillar and motioning Rydecki to come to lunch with him.
I was often in contact with Rydecki, who eventually had a book to publish. That was another interesting connection. Someone found these Latin sources, Hunnius, dealing with justification. I passed them onto Rydecki, and another friend donated money for him to buy a new version of MS Office.
When Rydecki wanted to publish, we talked over how to get that done. I said I could help but he would be shunned if it was a Martin Chemnitz Press book. Completely alone - that is also a problem. He brought up the fact that he had been orbiting ELDONA for some time.
I ignored ELDONA after Heiser's pursuit of the Rolf Preus Synod and Jim's indifference about UOJ, so I pointed out those problems, plus Heiser's devious ways. Rydecki's mind was made up. Unlike Ft. Wayne graduates, I do not try to order people around.
I did what I could to promote their sudden devotion to Justification by Faith and their rejection of UOJ. The remnants of the Rolf Synod (minus Rolf) rejected them, coached by...Jay Webber.
|Did Knepprath's foundation change Heiser's public position?|
Does Heiser have any convictions at all?
The crucial factor was Knepprath's foundation. He had a core of WELS members leaving their congregation (NIV and UOJ) but without the pastor going along.
Heiser perhaps saw a BOGO offer too tempting to resist. He could have a large property, pastor, and congregation in New Mexico, plus another group of laity on the Left Coast - and a foundation to support them.
All of ELDONA's property has been taken from other synods. No one has built a church building from scratch. Bethany did but that is the hard way. Heiser likes the easy way.
ELDONA also believes in wives supporting their husbands by working. ELDONA does not like the NIV, but uses the Babtist New KJV and the Calvinist ESV.
The last ELDONA conference had the gang complaining about me all the time, sounding like pre-schoolers who needed a nap, a snack, or both. One interesting whine was this, "Rydecki works with people. Jackson does not." That is pretty hilarious, given the help and support our congregation gave Rydecki when Jon-Boy Buchholz was excommunicating him and foreclosing the congregation's mortgage. I wonder, "Did Rydecki tell the brethren about
- The free books I sent him?
- The original link to Hunnius?
- The gift of MS Office?
- The promotion of translations and the ELDONA theses?"
Our congregation does not try to snag or keep people. We encourage others to speak out for sound doctrine.