Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fractured WELS

A commenter wrote….

Though, even with the factions that seem to become more polarized with each passing day, we are being fed the lie that we are a "unified" body and everyone not on the "bandwagon" is "divisive"...."sigh"....for those of us caught in the middle...what are we to do??
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A DP told me not long ago that the WELS is usually about a decade behind Missouri. It seems to me about a decade ago the LC-MS began to become even more splintered from the Jesus First group to the move by some out of Missouri to the Orthodox Church.

I sense that the splintering in the WELS has happened. I believe that the Church and Change group ran ahead like loose cannons and many methods and choices went unchecked. Even today you can register on the official WELS website for the latest Changer conference. https://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/WELSForms.pl?&dir=churchChange So maybe it is officially sanctioned and we’ll never catch up to them.

Then you look across the aisle to the issue group which according to their statement arose because of strange things going on in the WELS. I see meetings have been held and issues discussed but what has been accomplished? I still see strange things happening in the WELS.

I noticed on the issues website a letter from Pres. Schroeder to the Issues group.

Has he written a letter to the Changers? I would assume so but I can’t find it on their website.

I’m told now that the young men coming out of the LC-MS seminaries are much more confessional than the veterans. So maybe there is hope that in a decade the young WELS seminary grads will dust off the Book of Concord and take hold of the Confessions.

I guess we are caught. Keep on Bailing Water..with a view from the pew.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dust off the Book of Concord? Your commment is offensive to us who have been in the ministry for several years who still read, study and digest the Book of Concord on a regular basis. You need to be much more careful how you speak, or you will alienate the very people who stand where you do, but who are concerned about the divisiveness of the way you write.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am offended at your "Dust off the Book of Concord" comment. But before I continue, a disclaimer: I am in no way a proponent of Church Growth methods. Do I think they have some worthwhile ideas? Yes. But I am convinced that the best effective way to serve our people and the unchurched is by using the means of grace, the Word and Sacraments, Law and Gospel. That is what changes hearts of stone to hearts filled with the love of Jesus.

Now to my main point...It is easy for people not closely associated with the daily activities of our Seminary and worker training school to make broad generalizations and scathing judgments of pastors and teachers, most of whom they've never met.

As a recent seminary graduate, I can confidently tell you that our professors strongly encouraged us to study the confessions in our own personal study. So it's a bit disconcerting that you make such a bold claim without even seemingly knowing the full story.

I understand that you have a certain viewpoint of how things are going, and where our synod may be heading. But to allow your strong bias against Church Growth lead you to make the claim that our Seminary graduates are neglecting the confessions is uncalled for. It's not only a bold claim to make, it is a condemnation of our Seminary training and our pastors.

Considering the seriousness of your claim, I urge you to make a concerted effort to speak to those who you know for a fact fail to study the confessions. That is your duty as a Christian. It's one thing to make those claims on a blog...it's another thing to do what Christian love requires and talk to those with whom you are accusing.









Please Post this.

John said...

Your commment is offensive to us who have been in the ministry for several years who still read, study and digest the Book of Concord on a regular basis.

I, too, am offended at your "Dust off the Book of Concord" comment. But before I continue, a disclaimer: I am in no way a proponent of Church Growth methods. Do I think they have some worthwhile ideas?
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I believe you can sense the frustration behind my statement. I do want to say that a few years ago I asked my former WELS pastor (I have since moved) to do a Bible study on the Lutheran Confessions. This was shortly after the new CPH Lutheran Confession: A Readers Edition came out. I purchased this book. However, the minister didn’t feel that this type of study would be relevant to the members. So that is the background to my frustration. I apologize for the sweeping generalization.

What came to my mind was the book of 2 Kings when Hilkiah found the scroll containing the book of the Law. The book had been tossed aside and the word of the Lord was not being followed. My fear is that the members are being encouraged to read the Purpose Driven Dribble or other “pop” Christian authors without encouraging a reading and study of the Confessions; the lenses through which we view Scripture and the world.

So the comment was wrongly worded and was directed out a way to guide the members to the Confessions.

Anonymous said...

"Your commment (sic) is offensive to us who have been in the ministry for several years who still read, study and digest the Book of Concord on a regular basis."

If you are one of those who "still read, study and digest the Book of Concord" then John's statement was not directed toward you. You’re still free to be offended I suppose, but that subjective emotional reaction seems at odds with our Catechism’s instruction to put the best construction on the words of others.

You also wrote:

"You need to be much more careful how you speak, or you will alienate the very people who stand where you do, but who are concerned about the divisiveness of the way you write."

Yes, in the English language divisive means "creating dissension or discord." However, from the Holy Scriptures we know that the charge of divisiveness is reserved for those teaching false doctrine. Do you contend that John is teaching false doctrine? I do not think that is your point. If I understand you correctly, it seems your charge is that John's "tone" is divisive. Can "tone" teach false doctrine?

LM

A Recent Sem Grad said...

A Recent Sem Grad from above:

John...I cannot begin to understand your frustration since I haven't been in your shoes. My only prayer is that you refrain from broad generalizations. I firmly believe you will do just that.

I, too, have the CPH Lutheran Confession readers edition. I believe it is a valuable resource. If continual study of the confessions are important for called workers, how much more important and relevant it is for our members!

It is clear that there is great emotion behind your viewpoint. And there is nothing wrong with that! Yet, it is my prayer that you think them through and carefully craft the point you are trying to get across without your emotions getting the better of you. It will benefit everyone involved!

Rob said...

John, I am not one of those young WELS seminary grads ,
therefore I was not offended by your comment,
maybe there is hope that in a decade the young WELS seminary grads will dust off the Book of Concord and take hold of the Confessions.

I've been a lay member of WELS churches for 30 adult years and have attended Bible studies regularly in many different congregations, yet only once did I encounter a meaty Bible study on the Book of Concord. It was an eye-opener. Most WELS Bible studies offered to lay people are watered-down milk. Authors of Book of Concord did not mince words worrying about 8th Commandment.

Anonymous said...

I am not offended by his statement either. I am more offended by how he shows that the administration stamped approval on the Church and Change group by allowing a synod link to its registration. Why isn’t registration information concerning the next issueinthewels conference linked to wels.net?

Anonymous said...

It seems obvious to me that the Church and Change group has the upper hand. It will be interesting to see if Schroeder makes any noticeable changes with how this splinter group is promoted.

Anonymous said...

Of course Church and Change is going to show up on the WELS web site, the administrator for the committee on adult discipleship presents at their conferences!!!

What strikes me as so interesting is that I've seen leaders of both groups (C&C and IIW) present and when asked if they ever entered into dialogue with the other group, both answered "We were never asked." I think that says it all.

MB said...

A confessional Lutheran is someone who will maintain to the death the freedom given by the gospel and will resist legalism in all forms. A confesional Lutheran who undertands Law and Gospel will fight for the right for freedom in all things that are adiaphora. A confessional Lutheran does not make something sin which the Bible has not labelled sin.

On the other hand, a confessional Lutheran recognizes with Paul that while all things may be permissible in Christian freedom, not all things are beneficial. Just as Paul did not exercise his Christian freedom when he sensed that the faith of believers would be offended by it, so truly confessional Lutherans will have a keen sense for not using their Christian freedom -- which they do have in Christ -- in a way that will cause either divisions or an offense to the faith of God's people.

In other words, if Scripture is truly our foundation, there will be room for flexibility in worship and evangelism methods (as long as they are scriptural) and, at the same time, a willingness to refrain from using methods and practices which will by their nature, origin, or appearance, cause concern and divisions.

If the "groups" within WELS are to find any meaningful common ground, it will need to be on this scriptural and confessional basis. I would guess that the new synod president will insist that this be done before any more damage is done.

Rob said...

MB, along this same line, . . .

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. (1 Cor 8:9)

Should I moderate my forms of worship out of deference to those weak in faith? Who among us has weak faith?

Anonymous said...

Ten points to whomever knows where this comes from:

"We believe, teach, and confess that the congregation of God of every place and every time has the power, according to its circumstances, to change such ceremonies in such manner as may be most useful and edifying to the congregation of God."

"Nevertheless, that herein all frivolity and offense should be avoided, and special care should be taken to exercise forbearance towards the weak in faith. 1 Cor. 8, 9; Rom. 14, 13."

I don't see anything in the above statement that makes "concern and divisions" the line of demarcation. Rather, it seems that whatever rites or ceremonies we employ in the divine service should "be most useful and edifying" and that "frivolty" should be avoided.

LM

A brother said...

I feel for the commenter you quoted, John, who feels caught in the middle. I too have felt this way many times over the years. Whenever I get discouraged about my congregation or my synod, I have learned to take my eyes off of it for awhile and take a look again at the invisible church of Jesus and all the beautiful things that the Bible says about it. It always makes me feel better and renews my energy to "fight the good fight" for the church I can see each week. Focusing on the invisible church also helps me to keep my perspective when I see all the sin inside myself and others in my church and synod as well.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

Hi, I just found your blog, and find it very good for views and discussion.

(You seem to have attracted quite a bit of it!)

I'm LCMS, but also admire many things about some of the other synods, from what I have learned. I would like to visit a WELS sometime.

There are things in our synod that get under people's skin. I guess we all have to keep an eye on things.

Keep up the good blogging!