Thursday, August 30, 2007

Scriptural vs. Unscriptural

A comment ~I will caution you again agaist confusing worship styles with doctrine. I still fail to see how our practice and methods are becoming unscriptural.

You have pointed to some sermons which may have been out of focus, but that is individual preachers who need to be refocussed (sic) and does not represent unscriptural practice nor methods in synod as a whole. Please give examples of what methods are unscriptural.

Ok…here is where you confuse me. You start out with saying that our practice and methods aren’t becoming unscriptural. Next you say, oh sure, some individual preachers need to be refocused in their preaching.

Here is my take. If the preaching is focused on Christ crucified the practice won’t be unscriptural. The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy “to devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching…Keep a close watch on yourself and the teaching.” Later he tells Timothy to preach according to sound doctrine. So I believe that the individual preacher losing focus is the BIG unscriptural problem. I have traveled a bit and visited WELS churches across the country (MN, WI, TX, CA). The problem is that it is not just a stray pastor here or there.

I was at one “contemporary” service sitting near a WELS theologian/professor. After the service? he leaned over and said “if they would have served communion I wouldn’t have taken it. This was not a Lutheran service.” If you need to know the name and location of the place, just let me know. I will say the preacher is an oft contributor to FIC. I would say that smells of unscriptural.

So then you keep coming back and saying you want examples of methods that are unscriptural. I will first start with a Bible study practice. A WELS pastor was holding a Bible study out reach at an independent, senior living apartment complex which is good and noble. As time went on the pastor became too busy to teach the class so he sent his “staff” minister. The staff minister became too busy so the pastor sent a lay woman to teach the Bible study. Now please note that this Bible study was attended by both men and women, and both members and non-members. I did approach the pastor and he stated that she is doing it under his authority. So here is an example…Now you tell me if this is unscriptural or not??? If you follow this line of thinking where does it take us???

No one has yet told me if a young teenage girl giving a children’s message during the divine service is unscriptural

Now concerning “style.”. Paul said to preach and teach. Solid Lutheran Hymns and the “historical” liturgy do teach sound doctrine. Sugar coated lite pop songs in the sanctuary don’t. Yes, WELS churches are using these “pop” songs. Now maybe I don’t attend the churches where “Salvation Unto us Has come” is set to the electric guitar. If the pastor is to preach Christ crucified shouldn’t our music also teach sound doctrine? So putting the Lutheran hymns up against the “pop” songs, I would say the Lutheran hymns are Scriptural. I think that our pastors are trained to put together the divine service. But now we have “worship” lay teams that are making the decisions. Most often the pastor is not involved.

Some have asked about the “goofy” poll I put up. I am no techie and I found the button to set-up a poll and I thought I’d put it up for fun. It was suggested that I should include the issues in the WELS group instead of LPS. But in honor of the original poster of this blog I put up LPS why not. Or should I change it to MLS? :)

Again this is just my view from the pew. So help me out.


Anonymous said...

why dont you post the coments left by others? or is this just a one sided discusion. i have posted at least 2 other coments that were not posted.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're joking about closing LPS as something to stop church growth methods. As a graduate from there, and a person training for the ministry, I can vouch that it was my formative years in religion class there that made me what I am today, a person who vigorously opposes the Church Growth movement. This is also true for many of our friends. So, while I applaud your effort at pointing out the huge CG problem we have in WELS, I hope you understand that solid training in the truth of doctrine and practice from an early age will be the key to overthrowing this current age of fanaticism in WELS.

Rob said...

John, you wrote,
"I was at one “contemporary” service sitting near a WELS theologian/professor. After the service? he leaned over and said “if they would have served communion I wouldn’t have taken it. This was not a Lutheran service.” "

Selective communion is a controversial theological dogma related to the ELS split of last year. Our WELS COP stands firmly behind the ELS Praesidium which declared selective communion to be unScriptural.

John said...

I actually have been trying to post ALL comments there were a few that I deleted that asked to stay private and I guess yours got caught up in those. But please give me your thoughts and I'll put 'em up.

Rob said...

John, I see broad brush condemnation of all church growth ideas going on here. Some might argue that church Yellow Page ads and internet web pages are church growth ideas. Some hymns in CW were written by women, some by non-WELS, and some by still-living musicians. Are they church growth? Rather than condemn all CG, we should study specific examples of alleged church growth and test their doctrinal purity.

A couple of weeks ago Prof John Brenner of WLS presented a paper on the history of WELS to the Issues in WELS Forum in Appleton, WI. {The paper is 31 pages long and a keeper. It's available at the Issues in WELS web site.} Prof Brenner wrote, "In the mid 1800s English speaking Lutherans were much more likely to adopt the techniques of revivalism and the errors of evangelical Protestantism in this country than were those who spoke German."(page 25) So, was English despised as church growth? Should WE revert to German to avoid accusations of CG and errors?

Anonymous said...


I think the important question to ask is this: Why were English speaking Lutherans more likely to adopt the techniques revivalism and Pentecostalism?

It wasn't because of the English language in and of itself, it was because they started reading and studying and using materials written in English (i.e. revivalistic and pentecostal material).

I think it's a good comparison to today. When WELS pastors start reading and studying and using materials from evangelicalism while leaving good solid Lutheran material on the shelf, it's no wonder they begin to err doctrinally.

Anonymous said...

"Should WE revert to German to avoid accusations of CG and errors?"


I don't know you and it would be wrong to give your words anything but the best construction. So, with all due respect, are you really looking for an answer to that question?

Let me explain why I ask. I've often seen this type of logic used in rebutting the arguments of faithful, confessional Lutheran pastors. A good example is those who advocate every service communion. The frequest response to such men is: "We don't have to offer communion every service. You're trying to make a law of it." This, of course, is not true, and therefore, even if unintentional, diverts from the real issue. Some might call it a straw man.

Is John advocating returning to German language services to avoid CG errors? If so, then your question is relevant and fair. If not, then how is it germane to this discussion?


Norman Teigen said...

Hang in there, brother. You've got some good stuff going on here.

As an ELS guy, I'm wondering what WELS COP is. Is it the same as WELS policeman (cop)?

I've felt for some time that ELS policy comes from the fact that big brother WELS is watching and that to stay in fellowship we have to express things exactly as WELS wants us to express them.

Rob said...

LM, we should study specific examples of alleged church growth and test their doctrinal purity. All sanctified Christians should be discerning Bereans capable of measuring in light of Scripture what they read in English, German, or any other language in order to detect false doctrine. Sheltering sanctified pastors and laymen from suspect books does not help our cause in the long run because sooner or later we must confront each idea and evaluate it. If we are incapable of discerning between God-pleasing and anti-Kingdom practice, then perhaps our religious education programs are weak and ineffective.

There may be excesses on the part of extreme elements of so-called pro-CG and anti-CG parties. The majority in the middle are trying to do the right thing. If our congregation sets worship time based on what's convenient for visitors rather than members, is that too CG? If our members conduct cell group Bible studies without a pastor present, is that too CG? If we sing the words of an old hymn to a new melody, is that too CG? We need, but I have not seen, a system for grading CG-ish ideas so we can separate "good" from "bad" ideas.

rak said...

For Mr. T.: Probably equivalent to the ELS Praesidium is the WELS Council of Presidents. (District Presidents.) So the council of Presidents is the COP, much like the Commission on Worship is the COW.

Fun stuff these acronymns!

Norman Teigen said...

Thanks for clearing up the mystery of COP.

The ELS use of the term Praesidium is presumptuous, in my opinion. For years the ELS could be run by the President using only the eight pockets of a mans suit. A red CPH book in one pocket, loose notes in other pockets, committee minutes, names of pastors who wanted a new call, a pocket with some loose change and a package of Life Savers, and a ball point pen. Now we have a Praesidium.

John said...

Norman Teigen

Mr. Teigen is so right about this presidium perspective. It used to be that the synod president ran the synodical business from the office in his house. What is even more ironic is that at that time the synod membership was higher than it is today. But the dream beat goes on as more office space is created. The planned givers keep the administration running. I remember the 90s and the jet set administrators bouncing around the world on their religious junkets while the planned givers supplied the money by preying on the widow’s house. One reverend traveled around the country giving the clergy the Briggs Meyers personality test. Are you like Paul or Moses? The money was finally drained and the fancy trips had to end.

Anonymous said...

"It used to be that the synod president ran the synodical business from the office in his house. What is even more ironic is that at that time the synod membership was higher than it is today."

What fantasy novel does that synodical history come from? That statement is absurd -- which is entirely in keeping with almost everything else that you post on this blog.