Monday, October 22, 2007

The Church and Change group is not divisive – Dr. Mark Braun

In his closing sermon at the Church and Change conference Dr. Mark Braun jokes about Rev. Mark Bartling’s understanding of the Church and Change group.
(if this link doesn't work go the churchandchange site and follow the audio link to the sermon)

In his sermon, Dr. Braun says that he recognizes that over the last decade groups in the WELS have become polarized. He even says that “Birds of a feather flock together” (there you go again..oh those Magpies). He further says that these organized groups could be called an ecclesiastical version of political action groups.

Rev. Braun then quotes Rev. Mark Bartling’s article from the Christian News in which Rev. Bartling said “we now have an official group in the WELS entitled Church and Change. The name itself should tell you something is wrong here.”

Dr. Braun pauses in his sermon and the Church and Change congregation erupts in laughter (at the expense of a nameless WELS pastor)

Dr. Braun goes on with his sermon and says he would like to ask this (nameless) pastor (who we know as the Rev. Bartling), “what is wrong here? Is it that we can’t put church and change in the same sentence? or the same title? Is it that if it is the church it can not change and if there is change it better not be in the church!?”

I wonder why he didn’t ask Rev. Bartling these questions directly instead of in a Conference sermon…hmmm.

Dr. Braun’s sermon goes on to emphasis the changeless Gospel in a changing church. I would invite you to listen to this quote and the entire sermon in context and post your responses.


RandomDan said...

Has Church and Change even made it into the late 90s? That audio file is huge. Do these people not know how to use mp3's?

Anonymous said...

randomdan brings up a really interesting point. The Church and Changers see themselves as cutting-edge innovators within the WELS, but compared to the church and the world at large, they're really far, far behind the times. The audio file is an example of this. They think they're making their churches seem cutting edge and innovative, but when a visitor compares the WELS praise band to the megachurch praise band or the WELS PowerPoint to the PowerPoint they saw last week at work, the WELS church seems cheesy and behind the times. Let's be honest, praise bands and PowerPoint aren't the strong points of the Lutheran church. Why not focus on what are our strong points--the liturgy and Scriptural doctrine? Those are the things that we can do excellently. Those are the things that can set us apart from the Evangelical churches. And yet those are the very things that C&C seek to eliminate.

Anonymous said...

Here's my reaction to the sermon:

It sounded more like a defense for the existence of C&C than a sermon proclaiming law and gospel.

There wasn't really any law. Instead of calling the congregation to repentance for the times when they have lost confidence in the power of the gospel, he sought to justify their opinion that we can make the gospel more effective.

There wasn't really any gospel. He talked a lot about the gospel, but never actually proclaimed the gospel itself. He spent more time talking about old TV characters than Christ.

The sermon was filled with little jabs at those silly, unenlightened WELS pastors and people who aren't a part of their special little group. The condescending laughter after each jab revealed exactly how C&C people view the rest of us poor WELS people. (The laughter of the Pietistic cell groups in Spener's day toward the rest of the Lutheran church probably sounded quite similar.)

In short, it was a propaganda piece, not a proclamation of law and gospel.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to agree with the person who mentioned that compared to "evangelical" Christianity...our "efforts" at praise bands and what not is pretty laughable.

Plus, they can't so any live streaming nor do they seem to be able to condense their audio odd.

I hate when things get nasty--snarky and "tit for tat"'s all very high schoolish. It is really saddening to hear it being utilized in a sermon...revolting.

Thanks for the link. I'm off to listen to the "sermon" (is that truly what it was?).

rlschultz said...

The WELS is always a day late and a dollar short in jumping on the latest fads. Yes, the sermon is a .wav file instead of the compressed, .mpg file. Most teenagers who are computer savvy know that .wav files are too big, even with broadband access. That was a really cheap shot by Dr. Braun against Rev. Bartling. Furthermore, if the tables were turned, Rev. Bartling would be getting flogged with the "8 & 18 switch" (8th commandment & Matthew Chapter 18) by not approaching the offender on an individual basis. Even though, neither admonition applies when the sin is public.

A WELS Pastor said...

I don't know if Pastor Bartling is still in the active ministry or not. But he needs to pursue this through his DP and Synod President if need be.

Anonymous said...

Never in my life have I ever heard one WELS pastor use another as the object of ridicule in a sermon to get some cheap laughs. That's what those of us in the WELS who are still confessional are to the C&Cers--a joke.

How disgusting.

Anonymous said...

After listening, I can't say I am convinced that it was meant to be funny.

Nor does it seem like a cheap shot to me.

He immediately follows up the quote asking the question - what is wrong with change? This follow-up could have been designed to elicit further laughter but did not - it asked some serious questions about change in the church. Then he continued and explained what the bible said about change in the church.

So he challenged some words that were spoken in public. Hmm. Much like goes on here?

Anonymous said...

What bothers me more than the cheap shot is the absolute lack of both law and gospel in the sermon.

Anonymous said...

"Then he continued and explained what the bible said about change in the church."

Not exactly. His defense was very weak. He did quote Scripture but had to add a lot to it to make it agree with him. Any Lutheran pastor quoting Charles Spurgeon favorably doesn't deserve to be in the pulpit.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Braun quoted a part of the Wauwautosa Theology when he said the gospel creates its own forms. This is the same thing the Seminex group in the LCMS said.

See the video below. If this doesn't come through correctly, it's on Google video. Just search for Seminex. The title is "Sent".

Anonymous said...

This all suprises me. I've always known Dr. Braun to be a good man. I don't think I'd ever heard him preach before and I admit that this speech isn't much of a sermon, but I hope this is something that can be resolved without any undue damage to his family, reputation, and career.

Anonymous said...

It looks like the audio has been removed from C&C website. They're on to you John!!! (maybe they are planning to re-post it as an MP3).

RandomDan said...


John said...

Here is what Rev. Ash said awhile back when asked if the conference will be taped:

for a variety of reasons we will not be taping the conference...I believe that one presenter is making arrangements to have his workshop taped on his own.

Rev. Ash

Anonymous said...

I didn't think it was all that bad.

No, he shouldn't have used Pastor Bartling's quote the way he did. That should be pursued by Pastor Bartling, and I would hope there would be an apology forthcoming. He talked a lot about the gospel, but what the gospel actually is came out toward the end, not as clearly as I would have preferred. I don't recall hearing any law.

Overall, I think this would have been better to use for a keynote address or a presentation, rather than a sermon.

Could anyone accuse him of false doctrine with his sermon? No. Could he have proclaimed law and gospel in a clearer way? Yes. should he have used Pastor Bartling's quote for a cheap joke? By no means.

Anonymous said...

"Could anyone accuse him of false doctrine with his sermon? No. "

And this is in a nutshell the problem with the WELS.

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of the sermon, but I just checked and the audio is still up...listening to it right now.

Anonymous said...

"It looks like the audio has been removed from C&C website."

My mistake. When you go to the website you have to choose 2007 and 2007 conference from the scroll down menus before anything shows up. I didn't remember having to do that the first time I looked for it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:

"'Could anyone accuse him of false doctrine with his sermon? No.'

"And this is in a nutshell the problem with the WELS."

Not teaching false doctrine is a "problem?" I think anyone concerned about the WELS would rejoice over this! Where are you coming from with this remark?

Anonymous said...

I didn't write that, but I think the point was that most in the WELS don't see a doctrinal problem with a pastor using a sermon to support his own agenda rather than to preach law and gospel. The way I see it, that's a huge doctrinal problem.

John said...

The sermon audio is still there. However, the sermon author had no knowledge that the sermon was going to be posted online.

Anonymous said...

"Any Lutheran pastor quoting Charles Spurgeon favorably doesn't deserve to be in the pulpit."

Is that a joke, or are you seriously suggesting that pastors should not quote those who are not in 100% doctrinal agreement? If that's the case, then Luther himself (who certainly was not shy about quoting the church fathers favorably, even though many of them were heterodox) should never have been allowed to step into the pulpit.

Anonymous said...

"Never in my life have I ever heard one WELS pastor use another as the object of ridicule in a sermon to get some cheap laughs. That's what those of us in the WELS who are still confessional are to the C&Cers--a joke."

How can you claim to know what motivated Dr. Braun? Can you read a man's heart? And how can you know what persective "the C&Cers" have of their WELS brothers who prefer more conservative methodology? Having attended the C&C conference, I can tell you that all of the WELS pastors I sawe in attendance are all, to my knowledge, confessional men.