Sunday, September 2, 2007

Lukewarm Water of Apathy

While I was thinking about the testing the water post below, I thought that maybe some would call the water lukewarm. I think that the church militant has become lukewarm.

Jesus commanded us to fight against the powers of darkness in this world. Darkness can appear within the heads of churches and synodical offices. During the time of the reformation Luther fought the powers of the office the papacy of Rome. The pope was misleading the Church he was supposed to serve. In fact the powers put a bounty on Luther’s head.

The hooded bounty hunters were sent out to silence this writer from Wittenberg. The Devil continues to work within in our midst today. The Devil tries to silence those that speak the truth. So the church militant must rise up for the sake of Christ crucified. Yet the issues are silenced. Keep your head low and be safe is the mantra.

The Church and papacy even fought the use of the printing press because then the mass would know. So too today suspend the authors of the journal and shut down the discussion on the blogs.

The lukewarm apathy towards doctrine, practice, and double standards should be rooted out. Questionable practices must be questioned. Yet the fear for each pastor has become if I remain Confessional those in charge won’t approve.

It was suggested that I look at Prof. Brenner’s recent essay. He does an excellent job of outlining how the church militant has struggled for truth and purity through its history.

He concludes his thoughts by recognizing that the church is struggling with theological issues involving fellowship, church and ministry, and the role of men and women. These are the very same items I have brought forth with specific examples.

Strength lies in teaching and preaching Christ crucified. Not turning a blind eye while a wing nut spins out of control.

The word of the day in the world is “tolerance.” We must tolerate the alternative lifestyle. We must tolerate that stray pastor and that wing nut of ideas. Yet the rank and file in the pew want and need to hear Christ crucified. Tell me when has the rank and file ask for the blended approach to worship or when did they say stop using the creeds? We must tolerate pure doctrine and practice!

So what is the answer? The church must gather around the Word and holy sacraments. We should look to the Confessions rather than Leonard Sweet. Those in the preaching office must realize their calling and take hold of this office. Carrying the cross is difficult and painful. But we can rest assured that our Lord says a remnant shall remain. We have the confidence to stay vigil. With that then the lukewarm tide waters of apathy can be turned.

Matthew 10:34 Jesus said "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. NKJ

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1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. NKJ

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2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. NKJ

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Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. NKJ

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi:

You wrote: "Tell me when has the rank and file ask for the blended approach to worship or when did they say stop using the creeds? We must tolerate pure doctrine and practice!"

The ranki and file in my congregation has expressed often their desire for blended worship--keeping the historic liturgies, but singing them to new musical arrangements with different instruments other than the organ. I don't know about other places, but in my congregation the Word that's proclaimed is the same that I proclaimed 25 years ago, faithful to God's Word and the Lutheran Confessions. The Word is the same, but we are looking at different ways to share it--e.g., using PowerPoint during worship. Is Power;oint bad? Is Powerpoint Church Growth? It is simply another tool God has blessed us to communicate his law and gospel to people in the visual age. You cannot equate blended worship or the use of tools like Powerpoint with unfaithfulness to the Word.

RandomDan said...

PowerPoint is the bane of my existence and my father's existence, if you want to know the truth. I absolutely hate it. If you want to communicate something visual, buy some nice prints of Cranach paintings or (gasp) add a crucifix or some other statues and art to your sanctuary. Don't put a screen up in the front of the sanctuary and ruin the sanctity of the place. As to your want to have a "blended" service, what normally gets watered down is the Word. The "contemporary" (what a waste of a word) music your church so longs for is theologically illiterate, not spiritually uplifting, and me-centered. Give me a good hymn over singing a crappy chorus 100x.

Anonymous said...

Well said randomdan,

When congregations begin to desire things like contemporary worship and PowerPoint sermon, it's not because they think those things can communicate the Word better than the the liturgy (which is incomparable in that regard).

They begin to desire those things because they've lost confidence in the Means of Grace. They see a congregation that doesn't seem to be growing numerically, and look for gimmicks and quick fixes that will work better than the Word and Sacraments.

They excuse it by claiming that they are only looking for better ways to share the gospel. What they really mean is that they are looking for better ways than the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote: "They see a congregation that doesn't seem to be growing numerically, and look for gimmicks and quick fixes that will work better than the Word and Sacraments."

You don't even know my congregation. We are the second or third fasting growing one in our metro area. We have more visitors we can't keep up with the follow-up like we should. Word and sacrament have worked just fine. But don't pit Word and sacrament vs. the tools we use to share the Word. I wonder how many people spoke like you when it came to putting PA systems in sanctuaries, or even air conditioning systems? Law and gospel are proclaimed loud and clear here. That's the reason we're growing.

Anonymous said...

Air conditioning has nothing to do with the means of grace.

Contemporary worship is based on false theology about the means of grace.

BIG difference.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "Contemporary worship is based on false theology about the means of grace."

Easy statement to make. Prove it.

Anonymous said...

Prove it?

Where did contemporary worship come from? It came from churches that reject the means of grace in favor of decision theology.

Contemporary music is designed to create an emotional atmosphere in which people can make their decision.

It's completely foolish and naive to think that worship and theology have nothing to do with each other.

They always have been linked and always will be.

Anonymous said...

I think its highly ironic that now confessional Lutherans have to prove that contemporary worship might have something to do with bad theology.

The way I see it, the people that want to throw away a worship form that has served the church for 2 millenia are the ones who should be forced to prove that they have something better.

Jared said...

So are you saying that the WELS is like the Papacy of Luthers Day? If so can we expect you to nail(or tape) your theses to the door in milwaukee anytime soon?

Rob said...

Someone wrote,
". . . throw away a worship form that has served the church for 2 millenia . . ."

Our congregation just finished an adult Bible study on worship using a DVD video series by WLS Prof Tiefel. Good series. I don't think that Prof Tiefel would agree with your words "2 millenia" and "throw away." Some aspects of WELS CW appeared in the 16th, 19th, and 20th centuries; forms of worship have not remained unchanged for 2,000 years. And no matter what form worship takes, every WELS pastor I know is careful to include traditional essential elements of worship.

Anonymous said...

Rob,

Take a look at the "Morning Praise" service--no confession, no Creed, no communion. Some would include those among the "essential elements of worship."

Rob said...

John, in 2006 Charis published a study that analyzed WELS data and concluded that congregations led by "Issues in WELS" pastors were losing members markedly faster than congregations led by pastors affiliated with other WELS factions.

http://www.charis.wlc.edu/publications/charis5-1/ResearchUpdate.pdf

Anonymous said...

For anonymous who responded to Rob:

I used the Order of Matins and Vespers in TLH up until just five years ago. Those services from the 1941 hymnal did not include a confession, creed or communion either. Were those services church growth?

Anonymous said...

Rob:

I also saw the study done in Charis. I don't think the Issues in WELS folks are less interested in outreach than the Church and Change group. I do think, however, more of the Issues in WELS churches are in rural areas with declining populations.

Anonymous said...

Rob,

I'm familiar with that particular study in Charis. When I read it, it made me sick. What was the purpose of that study? What did it prove? The Church Growth/Church and Change/Charis churches are growing and the Issues in WELS churches are not. So what? Since when do we use growth statistics to validate or invalidate our methods?

If Charis was around in Jesus' day, they would have published a report about how Jesus' ministry was a failure because his "congregation" went from 5,000 to 72 to 12 to 11 to 0 when even the apostles fled on Maundy Thursday.

A growing congregation is not necessarily a good thing--many preachers gain popularity by saying what itching ears want to hear. A shrinking congregation is not necessarily a bad thing--God's Word divides and causes persecution.

To hell with using outward growth statistics to judge the success or failure of God's Word and his Church.

John said...

Rob,

Thanks for providing the link. I hadn't seen that article. I do want you to know that I have no connection to the issue in WELS organization. Although, I do communicate with several pastors that have attended the conferences.
I also have sat in several service run by the Changers.

Concerning the article, I too don't see the point. I think Mark Twain said it best about numbers: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

I appreciate the discussion and hope to find time to respond to the other comments.

John said...

Rob,

Your wrote -- and no matter what form worship takes, every WELS pastor I know is careful to include traditional essential elements of worship.
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But Rob you don’t know every WELS pastor because some churches I have been to are by no means careful to include the essential elements of worship. A recent “service” I attended had the “worship” (aka) praise team leader greet the “audience.” After the first pop song the congregation was asked to turn and great the people around them. Then a few more songs by the band with the lyrics on the screen, next the reverend Joe came out and delivered the message. There was, of course, the offering and some prays and that was it.

Remember the Church Growth buzz words are relevant, casual, practical, and etc. So Rob I am thankful that you are leading a Lutheran service, but be aware or be warned not All pastors are careful to include the essential elements.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, tbh, the idea that Charis had to spend so much time to "prove" they were bigger and better was beyond pathetic. It's a pissing match to see who is the "big man on top" and quite honestly that article made me sick to my stomach when I read it. There was NO Christian love found in that article....it was clearly written with an axe to grind...I expect more from people who claim PhD-level education quite honestly.

FWIW, I am not a fan of the Issues of the WELS either.....to think we are so segregated by "factions" is beyond disturbing....egos abide on both sides imo--neither side is "spot on" all of the time.

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??

I am frustrated...I'm not sure we belong in the WELS anymore....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous on September 3, 2007 5:53 PM...

You are spot on when you talk about being fed the lie that we are unified. Our synod is crumbling into factions quicker than we realize.

Yet our synod administration continues to force feed us about how wonderfully united we supposedly are. At least Gurgel's administration allowed some of the dissent and discussion to take place out in the open. It seems that the new Schroeder administration is intent on silencing all discussion.

I personally asked a question on the WELS Q&A about a certain decision made at the convention. Several days later I received an email from President Schroeder himself, informing me that for the sake of "unity," discussion of synodical matters would no longer be allowed on Q&A or on Imprint. He didn't even bother to answer the question--he just skirted around it.

The message has been sent--you had better be unified or else we'll force you to be unified.

We'll see how that works out.

Anonymous said...

Re: the Matins/Morning praise order of service.

Anon said:

"I used the Order of Matins and Vespers in TLH up until just five years ago. Those services from the 1941 hymnal did not include a confession, creed or communion either. Were those services church growth?"

No. But that wasn't the point I was making. I was responding to a statement made by Rob. Rob said that every WELS pastor he knows, regardless of the order of service used, makes sure that all esential elements of worship are present. I know that some WELS churches use the Morning Priase service on non-communion Sundays.

Yes, I know the Morning Praise is based on an ancient order of service (I also know that it dates to well before 1941.) But how was the matins order of service originally used? Was it employed as the weekly, Sunday morning, non-communion order of service?

Anonymous said...

Two things. First of all, synod communication was a mess with Gurgel. While a lot of people think Schroeder is silencing debate, let me just say this. He is committed to restoring good communication. Naturally, a corporate organization needs to distance itself (in a sense) from blogs and what not, since, they are unofficial. That does not mean, however, that they are not listening. Those who voice concerns over Schroeder should write to him. He is responsive and caring, and let me tell you, he is a far cry theologically from Gurgel. So, Schroeder is not the enemy here. There is a new spirit at 2929. E.g., I hear he has declared a moratorium on new administration positions, keeping the burgeoning administration in check while the synod's resources go toward more suitable things, things that the convention has mandated. So again, Schroeder is going to be part of the solution to what faces us. The other part will be responsible lay people really communicating with their pastors about their concerns about Church and Change, church growth, etc. Do that! Let's not just sit here and gripe about administrations. Theological change happens from the ground up, from laymen and pastors. Schroeder is willing to listen, but remember, he's not the only one who has power to do anything about stuff. The COP is responsible for doctrine and practice, and the president is just one person on the COP... Keep that in mind.

Second, regarding the Matins service without the confession or absolution, and what not. Matins comes from the daily office, that is, from the time when worship happened several times a day in the monastery. So, in the morning, they had certain things in their worship, but no sacrament, no confession, etc. That was reserved for a longer worship service later in the day. So also Vespers, the last service of the day, did not include such things. It was part of an entire day's worship.

Finally, that has nothing to do with worship practices that stem from foreign theologies, such as the Church Growth movement. Also, many pastors try not to use Matins for Sunday worship, since it is not necessarily suited for what the "main worship service" needs to offer.

I hope that clears things up.

Anonymous said...

Okay...so if we can't talk about synodical matters objectively...how will the WELS ever keep their house in order??

I'm bothered by this....just because we refuse to face reality in regards to our division as a Synod DOESN"T mean it will just magically all disappear if we use the word "unity" enough.

What can we do??

To me, being open and honest with one another in love would go so very far...even if we disagree....why can't we do that (and of course I know the answer is sin...but still...*sigh*)?

The question is...can we overcome this?? And if we can't overcome our division....what is the logical "next" step?

I'm not divisive...truly I am not, but merely realistic....let's face our issues...not pretend they don't exist.

This is why, I think this blog is a good thing...maybe not perfect, but it's better than the resounding silence....it at least allows discussion with both sides being allowed the right to discuss...thank you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said,

"While a lot of people think Schroeder is silencing debate, let me just say this. He is committed to restoring good communication."

Umm, one-way communication is not good communication. Silencing debate does not demonstrate a commitment to communication.

Anonymous said...

"Umm, one-way communication is not good communication. Silencing debate does not demonstrate a commitment to communication."

Cite sources, not veiled criticisms please.

I'd encourage you also to realize that the Synod does not exist to provide a forum for debate. Debate is happening all over the synod, its just not going to necessarily happen on a website or something, which, as much as I love blogs, is severely lacking when compared to face-to-face communication or phone calls, or even a well-written letter.

Speaking from experience, many pastors are thrilled at the new changes that Schroeder is making in many areas. Bear also in mind that Joel Hochmuth is the director of communications, and can control a lot. Also bear in mind the new president has barely been in office. Also, have you read his first letter to pastors? Also, do you realize he hasn't even had time to have his editorial published in the forward in Christ.

Really, a lot of WELS people are going to make the new presidency thing just as bad as with Gurgel through self-fulfilling prophecy. I challenge anyone here who thinks communication is silent or one-way to actually contact the guy. I have. I've gotten a response. Don't tell me Pres. Schroeder doesn't listen.

We need action, not people sitting on the sidelines yelling.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Who is yelling??

And action cannot occur without communication....I agree that the one-way communication is not real communication.

As for this new administration.....the people of the WELS will have to TRUST the administration and that needs to be EARNED...it won't automatically happen.

As for the new prez...not a fan, sorry, but I'm not and it's related directly to how he treated members of my family while prez of LPS.

Also, I know not all pastor's are thrilled by the new prez either...so be careful is using broad brushstroks here...the pastor's that are thrilled are thrilled because they feel he will preserve the prep system.

Anonymous said...

"Cite sources, not veiled criticisms please."

I already cited my "source" in a previous post. My "source" is myself. I'm the one who asked an honest question about the convention on the Q&A only to receive an email from Schroeder himself saying that such discussion was no longer allowed.

So I have first-hand experience with discussion being silenced.

And if you want another example of discussion being silenced, just ask Aaron Peders, if you could find him that is.

Anonymous said...

"As for the new prez...not a fan, sorry, but I'm not and it's related directly to how he treated members of my family while prez of LPS."

I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sure that the power of the Gospel will prevent us all from letting personal conflict between sinners (we are all sinners!) detract from our work of supporting, encouraging, and guiding our leaders. They are in extremely difficult positions, with everyone scrutinizing things as simple as whether or not they get a new paint job in their office!

Anonymous said...

"the pastor's that are thrilled are thrilled because they feel he will preserve the prep system."


Broad brushstrokes anyone?

please post this since you haven't posted anything i've said in the past, talk about one way communication...

Anonymous said...

Let's be reminded that Pres. Schroeder holds a divine call to serve as our synod president. When you tell us you aren't a fan of Pres. Schroeder, or that trust has to be earned, who are you really saying that to?

Please post this

Anonymous said...

The reason these blogs aren't successful and are considered unimportant in broader Synodical discussion is the ability for really silly comments to come out the forefront. People say things they never would say in person, e.g., the insinuations that some kind of WELS gestapo silenced Aaron Peders. Could it be that a pastor spoke to him about it? Americans like to focus on "I" "I" "I" and insist on all their rights. This is a foreign theology when compared to the NT. Thus, these blogs degrade into mudslinging, filled with veiled innuendo to the point that it becomes self-evident to anyone watching that there is no worthwhile discussion going on beyond mere banter about pet issues. Then, after making it so that these blogs are (in some cases rightfully) ignored, those same people complain about "poor communication." Utter irony.

(p.s. this comment is not directed at the author of this blog, who seems to be doing a good job, but to the commenters who make this place a terrible forum for discussion)

Anonymous said...

Speaking of utter irony, if you believe this blog is (among other things) unimportant, silly, and worthless, then why are you reading and commenting here?

Hmm.

Revvin' Rev said...

People say things they never would say in person Perhaps the author of this blog should ask that folks identify themselves, as one attempt to curb the mudslinging and "drive-by" accusations.

Just a thought.
Pastor Dave Ruddat
aka Revvin' Rev

Anonymous said...

I feel that you are missing and confirming my point. I'm not saying it is worthless, in fact, I made a point to say that the author of the blog is doing a good job. It is the prevalence of off-topic, digressing, and otherwise unhelpful comments. That was the issue I was addressing. So, for some people, following a blog is easy because their occupation allows nearly constant access to computers. For others (such as a Synod president, for example) the computer is just a small part of their day, and thus, blogs that might in certain areas be considered less relevant will be knocked off the agenda. That was my point. I like blogs, but it is a young medium that has serious flaws.

Anonymous said...

"Could it be that a pastor spoke to him about it?"

Are you implying that what Aaron did was sinful and in need of rebuke by a pastor?

I surely hope that a pastor didn't intimidate him into stopping his blog by accusing him of sin.

I just can't see how him starting this blog was sinful. I can see, though, how it was inconvenient for synod leaders.

Rob said...

Someone wrote, "I just can't see how him [Aaron] starting this blog was sinful."

There are people in WELS who hold the extreme view that Synodical discussion and debate should be conducted only by pastors on convention floors. Examples of this extreme view may be found published as "letters to the editor" in the Charis Journal. The letters were very intense and directed at Charis about 2 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Starting a blog isn't a sin, just like standing on a street corner and shouting one's opinion isn't a sin. However, one can sin through manner and tone, and by causing offense.

The problem is that the American will take any application of the law that might in some way restrict their "rights" to do whatever they want and reject it.

Again, not saying that Aaron was sinning per se, but there were some questionable things about his tone and manner. I'm merely pointing out that it seems to be the de facto, automatic assumption that if someone is told to watch out for the way he speaks, it is some kind of ecclesiastical gestapo. That's not healthy to think like that, and accusations as such will only serve to discredit one's cause.

I reject Church Growth theology, and I fear that Church and Change is the main proponent for such theology. I agree with most everything on this blog, but I am trying to address the problems that discredit people on blogs. Unfortunately, they are akin to someone standing on the street corner and shouting in many ways.