Monday, September 24, 2007

Throw me a bucket

Through this blog I have highlighted a few “observations” that I have witnessed in the WELS including a pastor allowing a woman to lead a co-ed Bible Study and a young girl giving a children’s sermon. As well as a perceived double standard on how a few on the cop choose to treat or discipline some clergy. The “officials” choose to exercise doctrinal discipline on some yet allow questionable and unscriptural practices to go unchecked and the cry is to put the best construction on his case (cause he’s got a synod name) while someone else gets the boot.

I have also continually brought up the divisive nature of the Church and Change group. I believe, divisive in nature by its very name and its history of inviting heterodox Unitarian speakers.

There have been many comments on the blog about how the WELS perspective on the OHM has shifted (or not). We float along as "every member is a minister" becomes the slogan of the day and then no one is left to shepherd the people.

Some posters have commented about the struggling school system. Is it because of a lack of support from the church? or are the educational standards not high enough? Lutheran schools are struggling.

I have said that maybe the struggles financially are a call to repentance.

So the good ship WELS continues to drift along. The layman is left to bail water. Maybe a Confessional clergy will throw a bucket now and again.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you want to see a true example of Church Growth "success," look no further than Pastor Parlow's church in Green Bay. Some may say, "but look at all those people that now hear the Gospel every Sunday." Yet a close look at a sermon or two by Pr. Parlow will quickly dispel that myth. Of course, that assumes you can even find his sermon in written form. They were taken down from his church website shortly after he was caught plagiarizing them. I suppose Pr. Parlow's church is a good example of something else John mentions in this Blog: The double standard ala selective discipline. They were taken down from his church website shortly after he was caught plagiarising them. I suppose Pr. Parlow's church is a good example of something else John mentions in this Blog: The double standard ala selective discipline.

Anonymous said...

I have been visiting this site for awhile but would like to jump in as a concerned layman. I think that the laypeople in the WELS have the highest regard for the pastors. However, as John has pointed out I strongly believe that Pastors are continually looking to borrow from the reformed practices.

There was a time in the past when you could go to any WELS church and find uniformity. Today it seems that every minister does as he pleases.

I don't agree with everything John has posted but I commend him for fighting the fight. We do need a Confessional form for discussion.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how the Church and Changers run the show on the synodical level.

Oh, don't question the Church and Change pastor because it's just the style we're changing.

What a joke. The we?s has become a sect. If you don't tow the synod line out you go.

Anonymous said...

These are very isolated incidents that have been brought up or they may have not even happened. The WELS is solidly confessional. Just look over to the LC-MS if you want to see heterodox.

Anonymous said...

Until the WELS can figure out who is in control of the aynod -- the synod will flounder. I know that Gurgel let many things go unchecked and didn't keep the house in order. Which is exactly why he stepped aside and didn't run again. Hopefully, Schroeder can figure out what is going on and get the Synodical council on the same page as he is.

Anonymous said...

"The WELS is solidly confessional."


This made my day. "Solidly confessional," yet with a tendency to use scripture to interpret the confessions, rather than the other way around. Good stuff.

rlschultz said...

"There was a time in the past when you could go to any WELS church and find uniformity. Today it seems that every minister does as he pleases."

This is correct. I do remember that time. If you want to see the round about way in which synod officials would address this concern, look at the October 2007 issue of Forward in Christ. On page 12, the article is entitled "Forms: Old, New, and Revised". Read it and weep.

Anonymous said...

"These are very isolated incidents that have been brought up or they may have not even happened. The WELS is solidly confessional. Just look over to the LC-MS if you want to see heterodox."

If you'd take a break from your navel gazing, you'd see that most (if not all) of the errors in the LCMS are also in the WELS. If the LCMS is heterodox, then so is the WELS. While we're comparing the two synods, the LCMS, with all its problems, has many more confessional pastors than the WELS. And I write this as someone who has been a WELS member for almost three decades.

If John or anyone else is writing about things they have witnessed, why do you not believe them? Wake up! The synod is in serious trouble. Reciting over and over again "The WELS is solidly confessional" or "We all are one in mission" don't make it so.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should have only one sermon written each week in the entire WELS. Then every pastor could just read that sermon instead of preaching his own. Then we'd really be uniform and God-pleasing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should have only one sermon written each week in the entire WELS.

Maybe this would stop the plagiarized sermons that have taken place ..like the gooey oatmeal sermon by Parlow.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe we should have only one sermon written each week in the entire WELS."

I observed something like this during Lent. I did a Google search of a Lenten sermon preached by a WELS pastor that I had previously known to plagiarize sermons. I discovered that the same sermon had been preached on the same day by a number of WELS preachers. Further research (ie. more Google searches) revealed that the Sermons came from a book of Lenten sermons/sermon ideas published by NPH. So, add the sentiment quoted above to the list of things "actually seen and heard in the WELS..."

Rick said...

And I heard a sermon once that was about an unloving son who wanted his father's belongings before he died, a gracious and loving Father and a jealous older brother and I think Jesus told that story once too.

NPH publishes a Lenten sermon series with sermon outlines, notes and maybe even some illustrations. The Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly presents an Advent sermon series each year for pastors. It's not plagiarizing to use materials published for the purpose of assisting in sermon preparation. And the repeating of a good sermon illustration doesn't constitute plagiarizing either.

Come on, brothers, this is petty whining and complaining. If you think your pastor or any other pastor has sinned, you have a responsibility according to Mt 18 to talk with him, just the two of you. If you haven't worked the steps of Mt 18 and you truly think that sin is involved, then you should not put it up on a blog.

Anonymous said...

"It's not plagiarizing to use materials published for the purpose of assisting in sermon preparation."

You're right. But it is plagiarism to read a sermon, nearly verbatim, without disclosing that you did not write it.

"And the repeating of a good sermon illustration doesn't constitute plagiarizing either."

What if the repeated illustration is presented in the first person? If not plagiarism, wouldn't you at least consider it dishonest? Hmm…“good sermon illustration.” I don’t know if I’ve ever put those three words together before.

"If you think your pastor or any other pastor has sinned, you have a responsibility according to Mt 18 to talk with him, just the two of you. If you haven't worked the steps of Mt 18 and you truly think that sin is involved, then you should not put it up on a blog."

You're confusing public and secret sins. But don't take my word for it--read the Large Catechism's explanation of the 8th Commandment. After discussing Matthew 18, it states:

"All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it."

Anonymous said...

In Galatians 2, Peter was guilty of a public doctrinal offense. Peter knew that we are saved by faith in Christ alone, and not by keeping the Old Testament ceremonial laws. But when certain Jews came up to Antioch in Syria from Jerusalem, Peter’s public actions gave the impression that keeping certain Old Testament laws was still essential to their relationship with God.

Paul, who was also in Antioch at the time, saw what Peter was doing and understood its implications. Paul’s chief concern at that moment was not for Peter but for the Christians of Antioch who were being misled by his actions. Paul was concerned that Peter's actions might undermine the correct understanding of the Gospel among them.

Paul’s concerns led to action that was immediate and very public. In Galatians 2:11 Paul writes, “When Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed.” Then in 2:14 he adds, “When I saw that they [Peter and certain others] were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all….”

Peter’s actions were public, and his actions misled others. In order to set the matter straight and clear up the confusion, Paul had to deal with the matter publicly – “before them all.”

This is a public blog and a place to see beyond the glossy pages of FIC.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the better audience then be the group that was actually affected - as in those congregations in which this sin occurred? I really doubt this blog is representative of those specific groups.

Anonymous said...

What we need is a synod info blog that is not filtered by synodical officials but offers an accurate picture of what is going on in the WELS. If a minister is removed for cause (doctrine) shouldn't the lay people have access the reason why to help them understand the heresy so that they can learn and grow in the truth faith. For example, what was the heresy being taught by Rev. John Berg?

Anonymous said...

Dont you mean the Reverend Father Berg? read the motley magpie alot of crap on that site

Rick said...

To the Luther quote...I don't think that equating what any WELS pastor does is the equivalent of the pope's work. To the Peter and Paul situation...the rebuke was public but it was to Peter's face and not behind Peter's back. I think that at times it can be convenient to declare "public sin" and take away the responsibility to talk with a brother Christian face to face.

As to the other comments: reading someone else's sermon would, I think, be plagiarizing and using someone else's illustration in the first person would at the very least be misleading. However, that isn't the case with the NPH and Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly materials that the previous poster mentioned.

Finally, every church has elders whose job it is to watch over the doctrine and practice of that church. I very much doubt that somebody who's been told by somebody else who knows someone who heard something might have happened is in a better position to sit in judgment than the elders of that particular church.

Anonymous said...

Rick,

I assume you are familiar with the suspension and expulsion of Rev. Berg from the AZ/CA district and from the wels. So are you in support of that decision?

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg said...

"Crap," "false teaching"? Yikes! If someone would be so kind as to let me and my co-editors know, we'd appreciate it, you know, so we can stop that nonsense.

Pax,
Reverend Father* John W. Berg

*For the name spiritual father belongs only to those who govern and guide us by the Word of God. St. Paul boasts that he is such a father in 1 Corinthians 4:[15], where he says, "In Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel." Because they are fathers, they are entitled to honor, even above all others.

Rick said...

No, I am not familiar with Pastor Berg's case and I don't know anything about it so I have no opinion about it whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

"reading someone else's sermon would, I think, be plagiarizing and using someone else's illustration in the first person would at the very least be misleading. However, that isn't the case with the NPH and Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly materials that the previous poster mentioned."

I'm the "previous poster," and yes, that is exactly what happened.

And I think you are misreading the "Luther quote," which is quite clear. A general principle is given (Mt. 18 only applies to secret sins), then an application of that principle (signified by the words: "as, when we now...").

Anonymous said...

"I very much doubt that somebody who's been told by somebody else who knows someone who heard something might have happened is in a better position to sit in judgment than the elders of that particular church."

Then you're very much wrong, Rick. Before Pr. Parlow's sermons were taken off of his church website, his plagiarized, Gospel free sermons were available for anyone to see. I don't need to be an Elder to know that his congregation was being deprived of the Gospel. Oh, and I tried to discuss it with him (despite the instruction that "where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it"), all to no avail.

Expressing concern about pastors stealing reformed sermons and hiding the Gospel is more than just "petty whining and complaining."

Anonymous said...

So Parlow has preached and plagiarized false doctrine yet he remains a leader in the Church which is being guide by a innovative group of Church and Changers.

The Berg brothers were tossed out and I haven't yet read a specific charge of false doctrine. All I've heard is their site is "crap."

Maybe they should have plagiarized Leonard Sweet and then they wouldn't have been tossed.

Anonymous said...

Oh sure...let's put Parlow on trial on an idiotic blog. Parlow is still in the WELS.

Pr. K said...

"Parlow is still in the WELS."

That's the point. He's preaching plagiarized sermons and false doctrine and yet is still in the WELS.

If this blog is idiotic, why are you bothering to read it? Or are you one of the faceless synod enforcers whom some of the other commenters fear? Will you come in the night and snatch the children of WELS dissenters foolish enough to use their real names on "idiotic" blogs to keep them in line?

Anonymous said...

"Oh sure...let's put Parlow on trial on an idiotic blog. Parlow is still in the WELS."

This statement says a lot, both about its author and about the WELS.

1) He (or she) resorts to name calling when he (or she) doesn't have anything substantive to say (at least in this instance.)

2) I'm familiar with the Parlow situation too. That he is still a WELS pastor is an embarasment to the WELS and to me. To say, "Parlow is still in the WELS" says more about the WELS than it does about Parlow--the opposite of the point I believe you were trying to make.

LM

John said...

I have posted almost all comments. I did delete a few brash and personal comments. The charge they bring against me is that the blog is stale (and idiotic) because I haven’t brought up anything new. I opened the blog up for open discussion. For a time I didn’t even bother moderating the comments. The site was quiet as the bashers were lying in the weeds waiting to pop up against any dissenters.

Now I would ask those out in the weeds to stand up and answer the questions that have been posted above.

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for someone to answer the question posed up above: why don't we appoint one pastor to write a single sermon each week and have every other pastor preach that sermon word for word (with full disclosure)?

That would provide for true uniformity, which would seem to be of the utmost importance, based on my reading of this blog.

No one seems to take this seriously? Why not?

Anonymous said...

"...That would provide for true uniformity, which would seem to be of the utmost importance, based on my reading of this blog."

Only two people have mentioned uniformity, one in response to the other. To say that anyone has asserted that uniformity "is of the utmost importance" is an exageration.

"No one seems to take this seriously? Why not?"

Because it sounded like a sarcastic suggestion. Is it?
Oh, and someone did comment on it--apparently it is already happening.

Anonymous said...

"read the motley magpie alot of crap on that site"

You'll pardon me, I hope, if I chose not to believe someone who can't even put a coherent sentence together.

Anonymous said...

In his "Throw me a bucket" entry, John stated that his opinion that Church and Change is:

"divisive in nature by its very name and its history of inviting heterodox Unitarian speakers"

There was a Unitarian speaker at a Church and Change conference? Which speaker was that? Was he a an ordained minister of the Unitarian Universalist Association?

Anonymous said...

To answer the question about one pastor writing one sermon for all WELS churches, let me offer the following.

1. Such an idea would get pastors out of studying the word, doing their studies from the Greek and Hebrew, and taking into consideration the particular needs of this congregation when preparing his sermons.

2. While sections on presenting the text and presenting law and gospel could be uniform, the word pictures to carry the thought and the applications would need to very from congregation to congregation. For example, pictures from modern farm life may make a point in farming country but would probably lose their impact in many urban areas. Such "canned" sermons would also leave out references to local color and personal experiences, which, by the way, can be overdone.

3. Some of the Lenten series of NPH are absolutely horrible. For example, the Lenten series a year ago was a travelogue (something like "From Gethsemane to the High Priest." Yet the text was all Gethsemane, never mentioned the high priest, and did not record in intervening material. The themes did not include a truth, a doctrine, or a statement.) I did not use the series.

4. There is no way to ensure every pastor would use them.

5. They could not fit the natural speaking style of every pastor, and thus would seem out of place or awkward.

6. In preaching the law, one needs to preach specific law, addressing the kinds of sins that the members might finding tempting. This again, can very by age group, location, education, position, economic class, and the like. Then the specific Gospel must be applied following conviction and confession of those specifice sins.

7. This would ultimately lead to recited, stale sermons, rather than sermons preached from the heart based on a conviction of a study of the Word and preached from the mind out of total command of the message prepared.