April 1, 2010
The Sermon on the Mount, The Museum of National History on Frederiksborg Castle
Baptize and Teach
The first installment of this essay, "The LCMS and Its Future," posted April 1, 2010, begins on this page.
For the second installment,
"What Is To Be Done,"
posted May 12, 2010
Immediately after the second installment was posted, comments began to return. To see "Mad As Hell and We Are not Taking This Anymore: (appended at the bottom of the second installment):
The Emerging LCMS Music Paradigm and Elvis Presley's Hit, "Fools Rush In"
House Speaker Polosi and LCMS Conventions:
A Striking Similarity
The following essay is an evaluation of the current direction of the LCMS, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and a call for a decisive change in course. If you are reading this essay online and come to words highlighted in blue, simply click on them for more critical information. If you are reading this in hard copy, but prefer the more extensive online copy, go to www.connectthedotslcms.com.
As is true for most mainline churches, the St. Louis-headquartered Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has experienced serious membership loss in recent years. The purpose of this essay is to show that the programs put in place in the LCMS for the past 10 years have not only been totally ineffective, numerically, but these programs, borrowed from other denominations, are undermining the Biblical foundation of the LCMS.
The first part of this essay has frequent reference to LCEF, the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. This “fund” is a type of “bank” where people and congregations invest their money and receive interest. The LCEF, in turn, loans the same money to churches to build buildings and to do other mission work
lcef promotes A BAPTIST Consultant and a Non-denominational pastor WITH “GREAT VISION”
The January 2010 LCMS Reporter front-page lead article stated: “LCEF [Lutheran Church Extension Fund] Conference Emphasizes ‘Critical Targets.’” The article included a picture of 650-plus participants at the November 20-22, 2009, Tampa, Florida event. Keynote speakers were: Dr. Bob Roberts of Keller, Texas; Keith Ogorek of Indianapolis; and American Baptist Dr. Paul Borden of San Ramon, California. LCMS President Jerry Kieschnick and LCEF President Merle Freitag, a member of St. John’s, Ellisville, Missouri, also addressed the group. The front-page, attention-grabbing story emphasized that Bob Roberts of Keller, Texas, has started 117 congregations and “adopted” an entire nation!!!
Imagine what it would be like to have some 600 LCEF attendees (many of them frustrated because their churches are not growing as fast as LCEF delegates would like) listening to individuals like Bob Roberts. Here is a man with real vision! Here is a man who claims he is able to perform what might be called “miracles” in LCMS circles. This Tampa presentation was surely engaging, gripping, and compelling. No one could possibly deny this!
but why WERE these specific speakers at lcef?
Question: Why were a Baptist (Paul Borden) and a pastor of Baptist persuasion (Rev. Bob Roberts), brought before 600 Lutherans at the November 2009 LCEF conference held in Tampa? Answer: Because, as some LCMS leaders vigorously maintain, Baptists and “non-denoms” are Bible-based; because Baptists and “non-denoms” have great vision; because they know how to get things done; because they take Christ’s Great Commission seriously!
top lcms leaders vigorously promote baptist theology!
With LCEF President Freitag saying, “The Great Commission is all we need,” and with LCMS President Kieschnick present to provide unqualified endorsement, there is no doubt that scores of LCEF participants believed they were seeing the “new” Lutheran church, a “sleeping giant” finally awakened to a new vision. Consequently, if the 600 participants came to the convention with any concerns, their minds were surely changed! After all, how can you argue against what you heard with your own ears? Strong impressions must surely have been imbedded deep in the hearts of many of these 600: Baptists like Bob Roberts are getting results. He is fulfilling the Great Commission. That supposedly is all Jesus is concerned about! The Reporter article stressed LCEF President Merle Freitag’s statement: “You and I have been sent—the Great Commission is all we need.”
what lcef attendees most likely did following the november 2009 gathering
So, what was the response of 600 Lutherans to the presentation of Baptist evangelism? Is it not reasonable to assume that a good number of these attendees went home to tell their pastor and other people the exciting program they had just seen? Many also surely followed up with the inevitable: “Pastor, why don’t we do this? What’s the matter, don’t you want to grow? Pastor, maybe we can’t start 117 congregations and even adopt a whole country, like Bob Roberts did. But, could we just use his approach to start 17 churches, or 7 churches, or, Pastor, maybe even just one church? Please! Please!! Maybe this man’s theology is not perfect, but at least he is getting people saved, isn’t he??”
The great offense!
Is it not also safe to say that the LCEF program worked just as those who had arranged it hoped it would? Pastors throughout the LCMS, from the entire range of the LCMS political and theological spectrum, would now be put on the defensive and shamed, or even blackmailed, into responding. Apparently this is how you wake up the LCMS “sleeping giant.” If LCMS pastors aren’t at least minimally positive toward the Baptist approach, one could only conclude they must surely, deep down, secretly be against evangelism and missionary outreach. Yes! What else could one conclude?
While all this Baptist evangelism sounds good to the ears, keep in mind the words of Jesus. First, Christ would have been greatly incensed and offended had He been a “participant” at the LCEF conference. He would have angrily denounced what was shown and endorsed by LCMS leaders at this gathering. Ever since the Reformation (in which many Lutherans became martyrs), Bible-based and Christ-centered Lutheran leaders have fought against the truncated and abbreviated Reformed and Baptist teachings, teachings which strip Christ’s Great Commission of some of our blessed Savior’s key teachings and commands. LCMS leaders who are now bringing promoters of Baptist theology into the LCMS will try to argue that they have done this to borrow Baptist methodology, and not their theology. THIS IS TOTALLY, 100% IMPOSSIBLE! Why? Lutheran Bible scholar RCH Lenski, and others, with great care note that, in the original Greek, Jesus’ Great Commission says we are to make disciples “by means of” baptizing and teaching. Since this is true, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God states clearly that Baptism of infants and adults is not an optional “add-on,” but a key and indispensable part of evangelism, then we in the LCMS have a crisis. A widely-read and respected authority on Baptist theology—himself a Baptist—Stanley Grenz states, straight out, the official Baptist teaching: It is “DANGEROUS,” and even “HARMFUL” to teach that Christ’s command to baptize has any saving power. Now comes the inevitable question: Why are top LCMS officials now being allowed to bring this false teaching, this heresy, into the LCMS? Even worse, they are not only permitting this Baptist heresy, they are promoting it!
In Baptist teaching, Christ’s Great Commission is changed into man’s “great omission!” What was spoon-fed to the LCEF participants was crass, hardcore, Baptist, anti-sacramental teaching. Luther called this type of teaching “blasphemy.” Why? Because it goes directly against the teachings, not merely of Luther, but especially of Jesus Christ the Son of God! In the Old Testament, blasphemy was punishable by death. The understanding that Baptists and Lutherans have of what it means to “make disciples” is not only different. The two “understandings” are actually in opposition to each other. Thus, current LCMS leaders are either in denial that a difference exists; or, they simply say this difference is not that important and thus ignore the difference. From a Scriptural point of view, the difference is so wide and deep it cannot be bridged. And, when you proclaim a so-called gospel that is "stripped" of its miracle-producing Sacraments which Christ Himself instituted and commanded us to practice, you are then proclaiming "another" Gospel (Galatians 1:8–9).
How does jesus fit into the lcef fiasco?
To get a clearer picture of what is now being promoted by the LCMS leadership, let’s begin probing a bit deeper, using the words of Jesus. In Luke 18:8, Jesus states: “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” What did Jesus mean by these words? When He returns, some argue that Jesus will try to determine whether or not “religion is still a part of our culture.” Others say “No, Jesus will not be looking for religion in general, rather, He will be seeking specific types of Christianity.” But the truth is this: Neither of these opinions clearly explains Jesus’ words.
Here is Luther’s correct explanation: When He returns, Jesus will be looking neither for religion, nor will He be looking for anyone who calls himself Christian. Rather, when Jesus returns He will be looking for churches that practice His Word and Sacraments as He Himself instituted them and as He has commanded them to be practiced, including God’s miracles of Baptism, Holy Communion, and Absolution (Luther’s Works 2:84; 40:192). “When the church baptizes and is baptized, when the church administers the sacraments, absolves and is absolved from sin, hears the Word of God, receives and administers absolution, then all is right. There the true churches are to be found” (Luther’s Works 22:269–270).
The “jesus tour” of texas
To help sort things out and to understand the question Jesus asks in Luke 18:8: "Will He find faith upon His return?"—and how this applies to the LCEF conference—let’s try this. Let's use a somewhat surreal example. Jesus returns. Upon arrival at the Dallas airport, Jesus rents a car. He takes a “tour” of Texas. Jesus first stops at some of the churches established by Rev. Bob Roberts, the primary speaker at the LCEF conference—the one who has established 117 congregations and adopted an entire country! As He visits these congregations established by Roberts, Jesus notices that they do not practice Baptism as He explained it to Nicodemus. Jesus told Nicodemus that Baptism is a miraculous power of God by which an individual is immediately born again, or, “born from above,” justified, and declared holy in God’s sight. Jesus’ apostle Peter echoes His teaching when he says: “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). Although on his web site Roberts claims to be excited about Baptism, and even re-baptism, Roberts does not teach or practice Baptism as God describes His miracle of Baptism in His Word. Secondly, as Jesus continues His "Texas tour," He also notes there is no Absolution in any of the services at the “Bob Roberts” congregations. And, when they provide Communion in the "Roberts" congregations, it is not Communion as Jesus has prescribed. This is to say, when the people in “Bob Roberts” congregations receive the bread and grape juice, the recipients are not assured they actually receive the body and blood of Christ and the “forgiveness of sins,” as Jesus promises in Matthew 26:28. Baptist, Reformed, and all non-denom groups wrongly teach that when you go to Holy Communion you don’t actually receive Christ’s body and blood, but that what you eat and drink only symbolizes Jesus’ body and blood. This would be like going to a restaurant and not actually eating the food, but only eating the pictures on the menu, pictures that "symbolize" the food.
After His tour of the Texas “Bob Roberts” Baptist churches, Jesus then gets back in His rental car and takes a tour of several of the smaller LCMS Lutheran churches in Texas. He finds Baptisms taking place in two of the congregations. In one, the Baptism of a newborn and, in the second, the Baptism of an adult. The Lutheran pastors in these congregations emphasize that Baptism is a miracle of God. In Baptism, an “act from above,” the newborn is reborn of the water and the Spirit (John 3:5), through water and the Word of God (Ephesians 5:26). At that moment, the Baptized person—newborn or adult—is fully forgiven, justified, and declared holy in God’s sight. Furthermore, Jesus is thrilled to hear, in these LCMS churches, His Absolution—His guarantee of forgiveness (Matthew 18:18; John 20:23). Where Holy Communion is celebrated, the LCMS pastors administer this Holy Supper just as Christ Himself commanded it to be done, emphasizing that the people are actually receiving, through His body and blood (the bread and wine), the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).
Of course, you can ignore the critical question Jesus raises: “When He returns, will He find faith?” Or you can just dismiss and “blow off” Luther’s interpretation as outdated or unqualified. But, to dismiss Luther’s “full counsel” interpretation, while providing no other interpretation, is simply to reject the words of Jesus. So, no matter what side of this question you are on, be careful! Avoid becoming involved in what Dr. Martin Franzmann frequently calls “selective reading” of the Bible: using only those parts of God’s Word that fit your own ideas. Jesus severely denounced and condemned the Pharisees for practicing this very thing (Matthew 23:13–33; Franzmann, Follow Me, p. 102).
putting the shoe on the other foot
To clarify the LCEF issue even more, let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Suppose that, at the close of the convention, President Kieschnick would have summed up, in one paragraph, his advice and admonishment for the delegates to take home. Suppose he hoped to give the LCEF delegates some direction, sort of like “Kieschnick’s Great Commission!” However, when LCEF participants took Kieschnick’s one-paragraph summary home, they didn’t follow through! Instead, they stripped it down and used only a small part of what President Kieschnick said. Would President Kieschnick be comfortable with that? Absolutely not! He would be furious! How then do we think Jesus feels when we strip out part of His Great Commission and change it to the Great Omission? This is why Jesus’ warning Luke 18:8 is so crucial. What will He find when He returns, a church that preaches and practices His “whole counsel” (Acts 20:27), or one where people took what Jesus commanded, stripped out what they did not like, and used only what they personally preferred. This would be killing the sleeping giant!
WHAT IS CHRIST’S GREAT COMMISSION? WHAT PARTS HAVE THE BAPTISTS STRIPPED OUT? WHAT TYPE OF “STRIPPED OUT” VERSION OF CHRIST’S GREAT COMMISSION IS THE CURRENT LCMS PRESIDENT AND THE LCEF TRYING TO FOIST ON THE LCMS CONGREGATIONS AND PEOPLE?
First, let's point out from the Bible what we are speaking about when we are talking about the Great Commission. Jesus said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).
The front page article of the January 2010 LCMS Reporter article quotes LCEF President Freitag as saying: “You and I have been sent—the Great Commission is all we need.” Frietag is nearly correct, but not quite. Why “not quite”? Because he commits a sin quite serious for spiritual leaders in the Christian world, that of quoting out of context, or quoting only part of God’s Word. In doing so, he does what the devil tried to do to Jesus in the wilderness, thereby changed the meaning of the passage. Mr. Freitag quoted only the first part of Christ’s words and conveniently leaves off the remaining words: “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20). Bible scholar Lenski explains: “Two participles of means [baptizing and teaching] then state HOW all nations are to be made into disciples: BY BAPTIZING THEM AND TEACHING THEM” (Lenski, RCH, The Interpretation St Matthew’s Gospel, page 1173. Emphasis added). It is precisely here where the LCMS is at the crossroads. Are Baptism and clear Lutheran teaching an indispensible part of what Jesus commanded in His Great Commission? Now the President of the LCMS, the President of LCEF and their staffs have a real conundrum on their hands. Not only were the LCEF participants presented with a distorted version of Jesus’ Great Commission, but that which was presented was not Scripture-based, Christ-centered, and Reformation-driven, aggressive outreach missiology.
At this point some readers may be thinking of demanding the head of this writer on a platter. But, before you do, let me invite you to read some first hand evidence that might surprise you, or even shock you!
THE BAPTIST POSITION—A SHOCK TO MANY LUTHERANS!!
Consider the following. Dr. Dale Meyer is now President of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. In a 1991 Lutheran Hour sermon, Meyer spoke about “regenerative,” miracle-producing, and life-giving Baptism, just as Jesus taught and commanded Baptism. The Baptist-oriented Moody Broadcasting at 820 La Salle Drive in Chicago went ballistic. On October 21, 1991 the Baptist orientated Moody Broadcasting immediately sent a letter to the Lutheran Hour office on 2185 Hampton Ave., Saint Louis.
In a brief letter, a letter so pointed no reader could misunderstand, the Baptist-based Moody Broadcasting said—regarding Lutheran Hour sermons: “The doctrine of Baptismal regeneration has surfaced, making us extremely uncomfortable.” They continued: “We will draw the line on doctrine that is significantly different from our own.” Baptist Moody Broadcasting concluded, with no discussion: “We feel . . . the issue of Baptismal regeneration is significantly different enough to warrant our decision to cancel the Lutheran Hour on all stations that air it” [emphasis added]. The Baptist actions were immediate and decisive! To reject Baptismal regeneration is not to reject an idea invented by Lutherans, but to reject a doctrine clearly taught by God’s Word. St. Paul writes: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5–7).
Of this section of Scripture, Luther writes: “You have here a commendation of Baptism such as I can hardly find anywhere else in the New Testament. The enemies of the grace of God [those who deny the saving power of Baptism, such as Baptists and other Protestants], under the pretext of love, have preceded us and distorted all these other passages. Therefore this passage summarizes those” (Luther’s Works 29:81). Those interested in reading Luther’s powerful arguments against all who deny the saving power of Baptism, see Luther’s Works 40:229–262.
I don’t think anyone would accuse the Baptists of speaking unclearly! Thus, the question to the President of the LCMS and other LCEF leaders now would be: “Just what part of this Baptist theological position (as decisively stated by Moody) do you not understand?” Why is it that Baptists vigorously oppose Lutheran Bible-based theology of Word and Sacrament, while our own LCMS leaders not only permit but actually vigorously promote Baptist theology and methodology among our unaware people? Does God not command shepherds to protect His sheep from such false teachers? (Acts 20:28).
Here is something else to ponder: It is totally inconceivable that a pastor of one of our traditional and liturgical LCMS growing congregations—and they do exist—would ever be invited to one of the highest levels of the Southern Baptist’s church meetings to tell the Baptists how to use the full, non-stripped-out, Great Commission (including Baptism, Holy Communion and Absolution) as “the” approach to evangelism and missions! Don’t be misled about the current Baptist, Reformed, Pentecostal and non-denom teaching on baptism! Upon hearing the saving Words of Jesus and the words of the apostle Peter, “Baptism saves you” (1 Peter 3:21), Baptists would tear their clothes and shout: “We will not have this man’s theological approach rule over us” (Luke 19:14).
This is all extremely interesting! While the Baptists—as evidenced by the 1991 Moody Radio letter—warn their people to avoid Lutheran teaching, and even do all they can to prevent their people from hearing it, our current top LCMS leaders not only invite Baptist to teach our people, our leaders actually pay their way, and then give the Baptist promoters a handsome stipend for their erroneous teaching! Not only do our LCMS leaders do nothing to keep Baptist teaching from sowing their seeds among us, our leaders actually build bridges to bring them in!
lcef board and staff “skating on thin ice”
I am sure everyone realizes that a significant number of well-trained LCMS pastors throughout the United States will say little or nothing about the promotion of Baptist theology at LCEF. Yet, in their own way, you can be sure they will defend their sheep from Baptist theology with as great a vigor, if not greater, than the Baptists defend their people from Lutheran theology. “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Now, here is something to ponder. What if pastors throughout the United States, and congregations, and LCMS members who give their hard-earned money to LCEF, wake up to the fact that their own money is being used to infiltrate Lutheran churches with erring Baptist theology? Who is going to answer for this? What kind of explanation is going to be acceptable? I would say there could well be the anger similar to what the American public felt toward the U.S. government when Congress used taxpayers’ money to bail out banks. There is a similarity here that cannot be avoided. When you take money from people, pastors, and congregations, you don’t have the license to simply “use it” in whatever way you want, including importing false doctrine into the church!
I am not suggesting anything specific should happen. I am simply saying there is going to come a point when people are not only going to start asking questions, they are going to start voting with their pocketbook. You might find LCMS “tea parties” asking how their mission monies are being used by top LCMS officials. LCMS pastors and people may also start withdrawing funds from the LCEF. That would be a tragedy, because it is one of the last few “gold mines” the LCMS has for funding missions.
ONE THING LEADS TO THE NEXT: FROM LCEF TO ABLAZE!
The January 2010 Reporter trumpeted numbers. LCEF conference attendees witnessed a man who had started an incredible 117 churches. He had a real vision! This was topped by the statement that the same man had adopted an entire country! Not even St. Paul could claim those bragging rights!
The trumpeting of “numbers” and “claims of success” leads automatically to another endlessly controversial LCMS topic: Ablaze! Like a virus which reinvents itself when it is attacked by medicine, so also have the creators and handlers of Ablaze! constantly redefined Ablaze! to fend off any critics. It would be far easier to read a U.S. congressional health bill than to try to make sense out of all that has been written on Ablaze! in the last ten years. Or, to use words of St. John, if all the details about Ablaze! were kept and cataloged, “I suppose that even the world itself could contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25)!
So, what to do? The most fair, honest and objective thing is to do this: Look at the original intended goal of Ablaze! This is to say, we must examine the promised end result of Ablaze! to see whether or not, after a decade of application and activity, the Ablaze! medicine has accomplished what its promoters and handlers said it would do, that is, whether the Ablaze! medicine has stopped the downward spiraling of LCMS membership statistics.
Let’s begin the examination. In July 2001, Gerald Kieschnick was elected President of the LCMS. In his inaugural address in the St. Louis seminary chapel, where I was in attendance, Rev. Kieschnick emphatically cited statistics sounding the alarm on the downward spiral of LCMS communicant membership. That was in order. Some of us may not like to hear statistics in the church, but in this case it was not only appropriate, but necessary. NOW COMES THE FORK IN THE ROAD, the place where you need to have your eyes and ears wide open. The second thing Rev Kieschnick said about the declining statistics is that they had to be turned around (again a noble idea) and that he planned to stop this downward membership spiral and turn it around. In other words, as the newly-elected LCMS physician, Rev. Kieschnick said he would prescribe the medicine which would then be administered to the ailing LCMS. For the past decade, this new Kieschnick prescription—Ablaze!, Fan into Flame, Transforming Congregations Network—has been spoon-fed, tube-fed, and intravenously injected into the LCMS bloodstream, whether or not pastors and congregations desire it.
Now comes the question. What results have been achieved by the medicine Rev Kieschnick has administered, in large doses, to pastors, congregations, and districts throughout the LCMS? When I began to probe around for reliable statistics of what has happened in the area of LCMS membership statistics during the time Kieschnick has “doctored” the LCMS, I was pointed to another web site which has already done work in this area. For the dramatic and even alarming information, click here. This shows how, after 10 years, the medicine of Ablaze! has done nothing. In spite of what the physician promises through Ablaze!, the patient has not gotten better, but worse! Although when Rev. Kieschnick was elected the LCMS membership was already declining—at which time he promised to turn it around—viewing what has happened since his election shows that LCMS membership has continued to spiral down rapidly. Ten years of Ablaze! has done nothing to slow the hemorrhage of membership.
These statistics are not only alarming. They are shocking! Again, let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Let’s say President Kieschnick goes to the doctor because he is hemorrhaging, not membership, but blood. The doctor begins a full-bore treatment: pills, intravenous medicine, etc., and a new medicine called “Amaze.” The “Amaze” treatment goes on, not for one month, or one year, but for ten years and the LCMS President’s hemorrhaging does not get better, but worse. Then the LCMS President is taken to the Mayo Clinic, where several doctors examine him, after which they demand an immediate stop to the ten-year “Amaze” treatment which made his condition worse.
How long are LCMS pastor/physicians and people going to permit their ailing church to be treated by the ineffective Kieschnick medicine, Ablaze!, even as the statistics show the patient is getting weaker and weaker? One is reminded of the story in the Bible of the “woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years (about the same time Ablaze! has been used on the LCMS), and this poor woman had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had but was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse” (cf. Mark 5:25–26).
THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING IT ALL: THE ABLAZE! “SLEIGHT OF HAND!”
Now, be very, very careful here. Note carefully how Ablaze! works as a “sleight of hand,” similar to the sleight of hand used by magicians. By introducing a gimmick called the “critical event,” the promoters of Ablaze! have propagandized people to believe that if they “witness” to someone, this automatically affects the downward plunge of LCMS communicant statistics. Of course, THIS FACT IS NEVER STATED, BUT IT IS CLEARLY IMPLIED.
Now, let’s see how this gimmick, this critical event, would be handled in every day life of LCMS members in business and industry. Let’s say the head of General Motors addresses the stockholders and says: “Sales are alarmingly down, but I have a plan to change things.” He then continues: “I have instructed all GM salesmen to increase the number of the people they talk to. Each of these encounters will be called a GM “critical event.” Later, this same head of General Motors comes to the next stockholders’ meeting. There he explains that, while sales are still plummeting downward, he has good news: their salesman are talking to a lot more people, many critical events are taking place, thousands of them! Would the stockholders put up with this? Such a situation was actually reported in the Wall Street Journal. It also had a very striking ending! The March 3, 2010 Wall Street Journal carried a front-page article titled “Feeling Heat From Ford, GM Reshuffles Managers.” The second paragraph in the article said: “Hours after the sales results were disclosed Tuesday, GM announced an overhaul of its top managers—the second executive shuffle in three months.” Apparently, the stockholders were smart enough to see the difference between the spin term, “critical event,” and the actual “sale.” The question now is: How long will it to take for LCMS pastors and people to see the same principle driving the Ablaze! movement. 100 billion “critical events” will not affect the Kingdom of God unless there is repentance and faith through God’s miracle-producing Word and Baptism. To imply that these “critical events” are changing the LCMS’ plummeting membership statistics is nothing less than a “sleight of hand.” Jesus is not interested in billions of critical events. Rather, He is interested in people who repent of their self-righteousness and receive His perfect righteousness, even if the numbers are not huge Bob Roberts-numbers. “I tell you that . . . there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
ONLY THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG!
What happened at the 2009 Tampa LCEF conference is only the “tip of the iceberg” of what is now happening in a much broader and much more devious way in the LCMS.
Consider the following. The Ablaze! movement has grown yet another tentacle called TCN—Transforming Churches Network. Through this program, up to 2000 congregations will be force-fed even more heretical Baptist methodology and theology. To see how this is being accomplished, click on one of the following websites. These web sites will show you what LCMS congregations, pastors, and people are being directed to use, and methods they MUST use in order to revitalize their own congregations! www.transformingchurchesnetwork.org
Not only with his permission, but through his actual promotion, as these public websites give evidence, LCMS President Kieschnick is directing LCMS pastors and people to use Baptist theories, literature, and consultants, all approaches that have nothing whatsoever to do with the historic, Biblical, and Lutheran approach to Christ-centered missions and evangelism. In fact, these writers, promoters, and the literature they write, actually undermine the historic Lutheran understanding of Christ’s saving Gospel. One of the books promoted by LCMS leaders, Church 3.0 by Neil Cole, explains how to handle and disarm discussions about Baptism. Although Cole’s comments sound almost Lutheran because he says Baptism is important, his explanation of Baptism is a rehash of the old Calvinist-Reformed position, which rejects the very words of Christ through the apostle Peter, the Lutheran position: the miraculous, saving power of Baptism (John 3:3–8; 1 Peter 3:21). To see a few crucial comments of the LCMS-promoted book by Cole, click here.
If you take the time to look at these websites you will clearly see that we in the LCMS are now being flooded with Baptist/Protestant/Pentecostal methods to gain new members. The Baptist-oriented outreach model now being foisted on the LCMS congregations is anything but the historic, Scripture-based, Christ-centered, Reformation-driven approach to evangelism and missions.
To help you understand the magnitude of what the LCMS is facing at this moment, consider the following comparison. In recent years, in order to make more money, thousands of LCMS members, congregations, and even the LCMS Foundation, were lured by Wall Street fast-talking financial charlatans to invest their money in stocks, derivatives, etc. But they were not alone. On its March 20, 2010 front page, the Wall Street Journal published an article about municipalities in California that also lost money on Wall Street. The story simply says, “Elected officials are simply no match for the investment banker that’s selling the deal.” What was the result? The city of Los Angeles and other California municipalities lost billions. What has also happened to our LCMS people who invested in Wall Street? The exact number of millions of dollars LCMS members lost on Wall Street will never be known until the Day of Judgment. Add to that the $40–100 million of our members’ money that was forever lost by the corporate investment department of our own Synod.
Now, note this: To draw a parallel to what is now going to happen, not to our money, but to our membership—as we get “fast-talked” into Baptist-Protestant mission and evangelism theories and approaches—is not a “stretch.” We have already lost millions in financial investments by being duped by fast-talking Wall Street salesmen. We are now poised to lose untold thousands of our members as we adopt the theories of “fast-talking” Protestant mission “experts.” It’s actually impossible to say we will lose “millions,” because we have only 2.4 million LCMS members. LCMS pastors, churches, and members have been duped by the fast talking Wall Street investment brokers. Will they/we now also be duped by fast talking Baptist/Protestant/Pentecostal promoters/consultants of mission theory, individuals who are making untold thousands by selling their books and serving as consultants to the LCMS? Don’t take my word for this. Check out the above websites, made available to you by your current LCMS leadership. Remember the old Latin phrase: Caveat emptor. Translated, it means: “Let the buyer beware!”
Note this also: One of the key speakers at the 2009 Tampa LCEF meeting was self-labeled “American Baptist” Paul T. Borden, author of Direct Hit and Hit the Bullseye. These books gave the LCMS Reporter journalists the headline they used on the January 2010 Reporter detailing the Tampa LCEF conference: “LCEF Conference Emphasizes ‘Critical Targets.’” LCEF and the Reporter were clearly promoting American Baptist Paul Borden. In the above blue “link” about “fast-talking” Protestant mission experts, the Wall Street Journal said that, when it came to investments that led up to the 2009 Wall Street collapse, the California-elected officials were simply no match for the fast-talking investment bankers that were selling the deal. In other words, the city officials were outmaneuvered and conned. Now comes the LCEF-featured fast-talking Baptist speaker, Paul Borden. In his book Direct Hit, p. 105, Borden unashamedly brags that he uses his American Baptist paradigm in other denominational churches. Then he says: “I ask the pastor to introduce me and then [HE MUST] LEAVE.” Borden is no match for the lay people of the congregation. To accomplish his “con” job, he separates the shepherd from the sheep. Then, without the shepherd present, Borden presents his “success story.” The unwitting sheep, like the unwitting California elected officials, buy it. If the pastor then learns of the Baptist plan but does not want to get on board, Borden states that the pastor often sees the handwriting on the wall and resigns. Again, don’t take my word for it. Get a copy of Borden’s book and read it for yourself. Don’t say you were never told. Pastors, read Acts 20:28 prayerfully!
THE LCMS PLOT LINE GETS EVEN MORE INCREDIBLE! LCEF LEADS TO BAPTIST-DRIVEN ABLAZE!; ABLAZE! THEN LEADS TO BAPTIST-DRIVEN TCN—THE NEW LCMS “TRANSFORMING CHURCHES NETWORK”
It may turn your stomach to hear how the Baptist and non-denom con-artists operate in some other denominations. But don’t be too hasty to say: “Not in my backyard!” No need to even think this! These same con-artists have not forced themselves into the LCMS’s backyard. LCMS officials have invited and paid these con-artists to come into our LCMS front yard. If you go to this page on the official LCMS website, you can see this for yourself.
At that official LCMS website, you can read: “The specific goal of the Ablaze! movement includes revitalizing two thousand [LCMS] congregations by 2017. TCN [Transforming Churches Network] is the vehicle through which the LCMS hopes to accomplish that goal. To learn more about TCN, visit www.transformingchurchesnetwork.org." Keep in mind these instructions are taken directly from the official LCMS web site.
People interested in their church, the LCMS, had better start clicking on some of these websites. With their own eyes, they will see that top LCMS officials are already implementing American Baptist Paul Borden’s mission model described above, where the pastor is separated from his flock, the flock who called him. This is to say, I am now repeating what was previously stated to show that Borden’s book is not a model “out there somewhere.” It is now being implemented against pastors and people in the LCMS, once again, as the LCMS website outlines. The con-man consultant meets with the estranged flock. He convinces this unwary flock, on the basis of his track record that, with his leadership, they too can be successful (Borden, Direct Hit, p. 104). The people like what they hear. When the pastor is later permitted to be reunited with his flock, but has serious concerns as to what is going on, he is, in most cases, expected to resign. Now listen to how cleverly Baptist Paul Borden explains what the American Baptist model expects to happen regarding the pastor’s resignation: “This normally works not by actually asking for a resignation once the consultation is completed, but rather by setting goals and deadlines that will lead to resignation if they are not met. I believe firmly in giving pastors a realistic chance to succeed.” Clever on Borden’s part? No! Simply demonic! Why? God calls pastors to guard His flock, not to be separated from the flock by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the Church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Again, is this happening in some other non-LCMS church? No! On the web site http://portal.tcnbackup.com/Resources/PreparingforaConsultation/tabid/177/Default.aspx you will read that your LCMS leaders have now adopted the American Baptist model for “transforming 2000 LCMS congregations,” saying: “The pastor and his family should not attend this event.”
Not only is the Baptist Borden’s vision going to happen—it is already happening! I know of congregations where key leaders in the church formed their own group apart from the voters’ assembly. Then these key leaders met with a consultant con-artist. Later, when the pastor expressed concerns, he was rebuffed. He was soon told to resign. The particular case I am speaking about involves a well-trained Lutheran pastor who had a significant number of years of pastoral experience. When he finally resigned, he had to meet with the church’s human resources person. This lady told him to “hand over the keys.” The locks of the entire church property would be changed immediately. This pastor was told to have all his belongings out of the building by 5:00 that evening. He was not to show up again at that church. Here is a pastor I know who has never cheated, never embezzled funds, never preached false doctrine, and in the last year, presided over an increase in church attendance. Names and places are available to responsible people upon request.
I seriously wonder whether LCMS congregations and people, those who fund LCEF, know what the LCMS president and LCEF leaders are doing with their money. Would you give money to a movement that encourages hiring a consultant who will not only introduce false doctrine into your church, but also do all he can to divide your pastor from your people, and even eventually cause your pastor to resign? Don’t be surprised if some “tea party” movements begin forming in the LCMS over this issue!
A CALL FOR CHANGE!
It is now time for congregations throughout the LCMS to make a critical decision. The secular world does not hesitate to react to a crisis. Why must the church delay? General Motors, in the face of falling sales, reshuffled the leadership. After ten years of unchecked communicant membership decline, and after administering Baptist medicine that will only make the patient worse, it is now time for Synod-wide prayer for new leadership. Would this approach be something new? Absolutely not! It would be following a precedent begun during the Kieschnick years. After Kieschnick was reelected in 2004, and just before the election of the vice-presidents, a former Pacific Southwest district president went to the microphone to admonish the delegates to pray with him for God to give Kieschnick vice presidents he could work with, or who would support him. The prayer worked, powerfully! The standing vice-presidents of the LCMS were replaced in a matter of minutes. Just as it was appropriate to pray for change just before an LCMS convention vote, so also I am now calling for all LCMS congregations to pray for change. Or, vote for a continued downward plunge! Like the woman who came to Jesus who had “endured much at the hands of many physicians” and was “not helped at all,” but rather, “had grown worse,” (Luke 5:26), so also it is now time to take the LCMS, not to still another human doctor, but to Jesus and His healing Word.
NOW, ON A PERSONAL NOTE . . .
Why do I write this paper? The apostle Paul says: “[We] believe, therefore [we] speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13).
I write this paper because I also “believe,” not in church politics, but in aggressive worldwide missions. Here is the “seed” of my deep and burning conviction about Jesus Christ and world missions. On the plains of rural South Dakota where I was born, there still stands a white church, high on a hill, on a solid foundation, with a cross on top of a 75 foot high steeple pointing to the heavens. The northwest cornerstone reads: “Evang. Luth. Immanuels Kirche U.A.C. Erbaut 1914.” (Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Church, Unaltered Augsburg Confession, built in 1914.) At the location of the first church built in 1883, this cornerstone continues to have great significance in my home congregation, especially the words, “Unaltered” Augsburg Confession. This church was established by German immigrants who were part of the “fallout” of the Prussian Union of 1817. This “forced union” of different denominations set in motion laws that forced Lutheran pastors and congregations to either embrace Reformed theology or go to jail and have their church padlocked by the government police.
My grandparents and others said boldly: “No way.” As part of the Breslau Synod in Germany, they boarded a ship and headed for the United States. They built a church in rural Dimock, South Dakota. Immanuel, where I was baptized, confirmed, and ordained, does not just stand as a tall symbol in the prairie. Immanuel’s members have a long legacy of not just “talking” missions, but of putting their money where their mouth is in “supporting” missions. At Immanuel I was thoroughly catechized in the Christian faith, confirmed in that faith, and ordained in that faith. From this to missions! In fact, for me, Christ-centered mission talk always produces action. Forty-eight years ago—that’s right, nearly fifty years ago!—I made my first foreign mission trip to Guatemala, where I was greatly impressed and impacted by the work, preaching, and teaching of a veteran missionary, the late Robert Gussick. Gussick taught me the necessity of being extremely flexible and creative in outreach, but also absolutely immovable in doctrine and Christology. Through Gussick the Lord planted deep in my soul a life-long passion for evangelism and outreach. When I returned I made many talks to promote missions in churches in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.
Part of my mission conviction came also from my family upbringing. When I was a child we had no electricity, no running water, no indoor toilet, and no telephone. We never felt deprived. Everyone else in our community at Immanuel lived the same way. Why mention all this? Because, even though growing up without the luxuries of life surely had an impact on me and others, THE IMPACT OUR LOCAL LUTHERAN CHURCH PLAYED IN OUR LIVES WAS A THOUSAND TIMES GREATER THAN THE PHYSICAL CONDITIONS WE FACED. Our home church stood not only tall and physically preeminent, our rural church was the social and spiritual “nerve-center” of our family, the place where we received our faith and where our/my faith was fed. Our God-given faith was always the key ingredient of who we were/are. When the Dakota temperature plunged to 10, 20, 30 degrees and more below zero, instead of forcing the horses to pull the winter sled north six miles to church in the bitter temperature, my grandfather on my father’s side would sit in the living room and sing from the hymnal. My grandfather on my mother’s side read the Augsburg Confession regularly. My parents had only an eighth grade education. My mother served as a church organist. My father served as a Sunday school teacher, and had a lifelong interest in Bible study, choir, and the theology of the LCMS. My parents had six children, five of whom attended Concordias to become pastors and teachers. For our family, and others at Immanuel, our faith was not merely religious talk; it was commitment to Christ, followed by action (Matthew 7:24).
My wife comes from a family of 14 children. Along with her pastor father, this family includes four pastors, three trained as Lutheran teachers, and one deaconess.
Again, why do I rehearse these personal matters? Simply to show that, as the LCMS ship now tosses in troubled waters, along with my entire family, I/WE HAVE MORE THAN JUST A PASSING INTEREST IN THE LCMS’ FUTURE. Although we realize the LCMS is a human institution, throughout our lives we have made a big investment in the LCMS as a structure. A frail human institution, yet, in His mercy God has decided to use the LCMS. Is it the best or only thing available? Probably not! However, my family and I remain convinced that God can continue to use us effectively in the LCMS. There are many other LCMS families like this. Plus, along with the thousands of some of the first Lutherans who were martyred (for no other reason than that they were Lutherans), and their clear, “Lutheran” confession during the Reformation, my family and I will use every fiber of our bodies to make sure that the LCMS does not get “shanghaied” by some group or outside influence, especially sectarian American Protestantism, which would take away our precious Bible-based, Christ-centered, Reformation heritage. Along with my home congregation and surrounding Lutheran congregations, we say with St. Paul: “We believe, therefore we speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13). And, we speak with boldness! Furthermore, what I write is not some simplistic “shtick” about flippant LCMS politics. What I write reflects the very fiber of what I and my family believe, and for which I will contend along with all other Lutheran confessors and martyrs who have gone before us. I am now 65 and in excellent health. I look forward to another twenty to twenty-five years of very active service in the Lord’s kingdom. Will the coming days be tumultuous? Absolutely! But, just as Jesus stilled the storm when His apostles were frightened, so also He promises to give security amidst the storm for all who confess Him (Mark 4:39).
does the lcms have a future? a trustworthy “ballast” for the rough seas ahead? IS THE SHIP OF THE LCMS SEAWORTHY ENOUGH TO CONTINUE TO SAIL AHEAD IN IT?
People who visit companies that manufacture sailboats designed for going out on the open ocean are surprised to find that, deep inside the hull, the manufacturer places either rocks or a huge chunk of cement weighing a ton or more. How does this “ballast” save a ship in rough waters? When a boat enters stormy and dangerous seas, the waves can capsize the boat. However, then when the waves capsize the boat, the heavy “ballast” weight on the bottom of the boat will help keep the vessel right side up.
With the “ballast” image in mind, consider the “ballast” Jesus has given His church in His Great Commission: His ballast of “teaching,” and integral part of his “Great Commission” which you cannot strip out simply to achieve numbers. Thus, when a church or mission group considers opening a “mission field,” and if they intend to launch their boat into difficult waters, they know they need to build into their new vessel Christ’s “ballast,” a key part of Christ’s Great Commission: Teaching. Without this Christ-commanded ballast, even the best-intended mission efforts will ultimately capsize.
The men and women who established the LCMS were fully aware of the need for a Christ commanded teaching seminary, one which would train pastors and provide a Christ commanded ballast for the rough waters the new church would surely encounter. The LCMS forefathers arrived in 1839, and within the same year they had already built a seminary, their ballast. In the coming decades the LCMS forefathers would keep Christ’s Great Commission command to “teach” in the forefront of all they did, expanding and building new seminaries. The importance of this Christ commanded “ballast” for His church was seen in 1926 when so many people came to St. Louis to dedicate the new Concordia Seminary campus that train companies had to put on extra passenger cars to bring in the LCMS pastors and laypeople from Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Texas, and all points throughout the US. Even the secular newspapers were stunned as they announced that the gathering was so large they lost count, between 70 and 90 thousand people were on hand for the dedication! These LCMS people did not gather to drink beer and eat sausage, or to celebrate their ethnicity. They came their to praise God for giving them a formidable institution, a Christ commanded “ballast” that would be used to send pastors and missionaries to every corner of the world, no matter how much turbulence the LCMS would encounter, including the waves of Baptist theology now beating against the LCMS hull, threatening to capsize the historic Christ-centered confession of the LCMS. And the tragedy is that these waves that threaten to capsize our LCMS ship were stirred up by our own top LCMS leadership.
**PLEASE NOTE: As soon as more information is available, it will be added to this site, including commentary on the following topics:
· HOUSE SPEAKER PELoSI AND LCMS Conventions: THE STRIKING SIMILARITY!
· THE EMERGING LCMS WORSHIP STYLE AND ELVIS PRESLEY’S 1970s HIT: “FOOLS RUSH IN”
· WHAT IS TO BE DONE?