Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Confessional Crusaders - let the pilgrimage begin

It seems that the blogging gauntlet has been thrown down:

Tim – the nutty folk on Bailing Water certainly never back down from a fight, this is especially true when the soldiers of the cross are clinging to the truths of Scripture. As stated in the Formula of Concord, “we believe, teach, and confess that in a time of persecution, when an unequivocal confession of the faith is demanded of us, we dare not yield to the opponents in indifferent matters.”

The Reformation began because a nutty monk was not indifferent but upset about the practices of the church. Bad practice led to false doctrine so the practice was changed. Bad practices in our churches are leading to false doctrine in the pulpits and beyond.

About the false doctrine from the pulpit you say, in reference to the plagiarized Baptists sermons: I'm sure they would have been rather confounded if the same sermon was delivered at a traditional congregation. What now...

This illustrates the point completely. This sermon did not happen at a confessional church with strong Lutheran practices. It happened at a WELS church that has adopted the practices of the Baptists and Methodists.

You also say, “The Liturgy has trancended from being a Christ-centered worship guide to becoming the only acceptable form of worship”

The liturgy is a practice that teaches and points to Christ. There is nothing in scripture that says you have to dress nicely when you go to church, be reverent at church, observe Sunday as the day of worship, or fold your hands and bow your head when you pray. These are practices that I must teach my children. These things become a habit. Habits are hard to break. The liturgy should remain unbroken. The best way to change a doctrine is to break the tradition or practice.

Don’t we love our Lutheran doctrine and practice? I guess it is time to raise the Confessional flag to all the nutty Confessional Crusaders.


Anonymous said...

Where is the Confessional "Rome" or "Mecca"?

John said...

Do you mean where is the crusade off to? Mequon -

Anonymous said...

Yes, John, sorry for the confusion. Are we headed to Mequon or New Ulm or 2929 Mayfair Rd? Who really calls the shots or gives direction?

Anonymous said...

I think Tim seems like a nice guy. And I think I can understand why he views many confessional-seekers as nutty. I've only had little, tiny tastes of Confessional Lutheranism with weak LCMS and now WELS experiences. I can only imagine that there is much more. But even then, here and now is only a whiff of what's to come. But I still desire to have the best of what's available. For me, that's not watered-down, Reformed, modern evangelicalism. I've experienced some of the best of that and it left me hungry and thirsty. Maybe that's the way it's always going to be, I don't know.


Anonymous said...

Here's the latest from dear Tim's blog:

"...the Confessions are clear expositions of scripture and valuable...but only insofar as..."

Tim has a quatenus subscription to the Confessions. He, thus, has admitted that he is not a member of the Lutheran Church. I'm glad he admitted it (though I don't he realized he was admitting it).

Anonymous said...

I've learned the hard way that we shouldn't waste our time with people like Tim. He's most likely a small step away from being concerned about our salvation if he is anything like most evangelicals I've encountered. He does not get it. He thinks that we have to do something to save people. That is not pure Lutheran theology.

I once heard a Lutheran pastor say that we need to get over the idea that we're responsible if anyone goes to hell. It is not our fault. We won't be judged for someone else going to eternal damnation, so we need to get over that. When we do, we're free from the bondage that someone like Tim is trying to place us under. We don't get anyone into heaven nor do we send anyone to hell. That's the Gospel. Just like Lutheran liturgy. Tim is giving law though he most likely doesn't recognize it.

As nice of a guy as he seems to be, it's a waste of time to try to convince him otherwise. But the Holy Spirit can.

My thoughts.


Anonymous said...

"I once heard a Lutheran pastor say that we need to get over the idea that we're responsible if anyone goes to hell. It is not our fault. We won't be judged for someone else going to eternal damnation, so we need to get over that. When we do, we're free from the bondage that someone like Tim is trying to place us under. We don't get anyone into heaven nor do we send anyone to hell. That's the Gospel."

Rob, that's an amazingly insightful point, one I don't think I've ever heard stated so clearly.

Almost all encouragements we hear, even (especially?) in the WELS, are law-based. "Look at all the people who are dying in unbelief! We need to do something to save them!" That's pure law, trying to use our guilt to force us to act.

That's the same thing that motivates people to adopt CG worship. "If we don't change our worship, people will be uncomfortable, and if they are, then they won't come, and then they won't hear the gospel, and then we'll have failed." See? The base motivator is fear of failure and guilt.

Thanks be to Christ! He has freed us from such guilt and fear.

Too bad Tim insists in living the law.

Anonymous said...

Wow, from what I have read, y'all are a bunch of hypocrites. You talk of not following "law" but you live with your man made rules and expect everyone to follow them or they are wrong. You don't read the Bible, as can be noted on one of Tim's visitor comments where someone said "so much for the 5th commandment" when referring to copyrighted articles, but instead keep your nose in man written books like the Book of Concord. I have never read anywhere in the Bible "follow the Book of Concord". I started reading the preface of the Book of Concord (no I have not read the book - yes I am a simpleton) and found y'all sound just like the Papacy. The one line that says the "Papacy had been horribly obscured by human teachings and ordinances". And you say, and then applaud, its not our responsibility to share and get the word of God to all people??? We should not be concerned about other peoples salvation??? What BIBLE do you read????

"1 Corinthians 9:19-23
19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

so... now that I have started this blog commenting, I have become like you.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

I don't know how you take a desire to do evangelism and make it the law. I say the same thing you do that we need to preach the Word and sacraments and only the holy spirit will work faith in people's hearts. Its only our job to preach and teach the gospel. I can go to sleep each night knowing we've been faithful doing that and the rest is up to God. So somehow you've turned evangelism and outreach into Law. I can't even figure out how you do that. That is what is so confounding with this crowd. How can you just sit there and have no desire to share the Word with others. Not because you "need" to save people but because the love of God compells you to share the message. I think it was illuminating when someone mentioned about guilt compelling them. What a shame! those people should stay home and not even try to share the gospel.

I think this shows a lack of sanctification in their lives. I'm guessing that is why there is an outcry against those who do because it makes those who are afraid to witness feel guilty. I will participate in many efforts to do that because God's love causes joy in my heart that I want to share with others. I don't know what the outcome will be of sharing the message with anyone but I don't worry about it either. I let that up to God. It may mean that my Lesbian neighbors or Agnostic UU barbershop bass singer will go to hell but it won't be because I didn't share the message with them.

See I don't worry about the faith of any person on this site. They all have the gospel down. Their witness on this site shows this. (well obviously it appears that the sanctification in many people's lives here is suspect)Someone like me can respect those who like their traditional and liturgical because I appreciate it too. I just appreciate a few additional modern things as well.

Your mistake is that you think I do what I do because I feel obligated to cause some sort of altar call or decision for Christ. Thats just not true. If someone here can honestly tell me how I should not be sharing the gospel with those around me and belonging to a church that gives me the opportunity to share the gospel in my community then I shall know where your heart lies...right back with the pharisees...another bunch of people who didn't like the message being preached among them ..probably because they felt a little guilty.

I'm sorry I've placed you under a burden to share the gospel. I'm sorry the love of God does not compell you to share the gospel. But I leave that up to God too...I don't need to compell you.

By the way..That statement from the Lutheran pastor...probably was mine. He's said it no less than 7 times during our bible study of Acts.

These have probably been the most illuminating posts on this site so far. Thank you for that.


Anonymous said...

Quatenus subscription from a CG WELS church? Who woulda thought?

Thirsty For Grapejuice

Anonymous said...

I heard it from an LCMS pastor online from one of his sermons, not in my WELS congregation. But I had never heard it before either. It was an excellent example of how the Gospel frees.

I'm sure the law-bound among us struggle with that. The trickery of false teachers turn the Gospel into the Law and the Law into the Gospel. Typical sermons might be Law, Gospel, Law instead of stopping after the first two. But that's nothing new to most here.

It's sad. We are so bound when we should be so free. The Gospel is so wonderful - in Word and Sacrament. God is so merciful.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:09,

You referred to yourself as a simpleton. I won't disagree. I won't even argue with each of the points you tried to make. You lack even a simple grasp on the issues. If you haven't read the Book of Concord, you have no business talking about it. By the way, that passage you quoted from 1 Corinthians 9 doesn't at all mean what you think it does.


You said, "I think this shows a lack of sanctification in their lives. I'm guessing that is why there is an outcry against those who do because it makes those who are afraid to witness feel guilty."

Do you realize you have made the exact same argument as the Pietists did? You're picking certain fruits of sanctification and then judging faith based on the supposed lack of such fruits.

Here's the deal: faith will always produce good works, but each Christian will not produce the same good works. Some have the spiritual gifts to be evangelists, some don't. And so when most WELS pastors, end every single sermon by saying, "So now we have to go and tell everyone we meet about Jesus," they are prescribing certain good works and burdening the consciences of those who serve the Lord in other ways.

The mom who spends all day taking care of her children, the factory worker who works faithfully, the farmer who tends to his fields all day, all of these people please God with their fruits of faith just as much as those who are knocking on doors telling people about Jesus.

There isn't one fruit of faith that is better than another. To claim that there is is pure Pietism and Legalism.

Anonymous said...

Tim, I'm violating my advice. I know I can't change your mind. I'm sure my motivations are impure. I've had very similar discussions with two evangelical friends. Who is saying you shouldn't share the Gospel? Not anyone here. Certainly not me. Your efforts to do such are well documented in your posts and on your personal blog. You don't know what others are or are not doing as you judge our "sanctification."

I think you would find most of the nutty folk very much in support of proclaiming the Gospel out of love and not obligation. Most are very supportive of mission work, catechizing, sharing the Gospel in line with our vocations, training pastors, printing magazines, etc.

What is being discussed here is about the historic liturgy and why it doesn't need to be changed to preach that Gospel, because it preaches the Gospel more sweetly and purely than any of the creative, modern ways of CG. And that's not just a subjective statement. You might not believe that, but many do and that is why we are so adamantly against CG infiltration and modification. Your justification for CG is to reach the lost. We argue that God reaches the lost and he doesn't need our creativity, programs, intitiatives or emotions to get His work done. He works through Word and Sacrament. We are privileged to share in His work based on our vocation and our relationships.

I pray you receive this well as it is intended.


Tim Niedfeldt said...

Certainly its true that the fruits of faith are not the same...but if evangelism and outreach are someone's fruit of faith and it is done out of joy for what God has done in their lives and not because a pastor says "So now we have to go and tell everyone we meet about Jesus," Then rejoice with that person. How is it any better to judge a person's desire to do outreach as being law based or motivated by good works or compulsion. Just because an exhortation to preach the good news may burden your conscience it may not burden another's so lets not assume that is why some go out and share the message.

Honestly where are these pastors who talk this way anyways? I have had many pastors (20 I believe is the count not counting my DMLC professors and such) of all ages and backgrounds and different parts of the country and I have never heard a pastor not properly illustrate spiritual gifts, vocation, or command people to go out and witness beyond their gifts or conscience. I understand this kind of preaching, I understand the improper focus on sanctification and that it happens in other denominations (The church attached to the non-denominational school my kids went to in NH could be a case study) But where do you find them in the WELS?


Tim Niedfeldt said...


My point actually is not about defending CG at all. I believe CG is totally wrong. I have found a great concise analysis of CG and I'm pretty sure everyone here would go "Amen!!" to it. Everyone here thinks I am defending CG but I don't.

My only goal is to show that what I/we do is NOT CG. I would like to show that contemporary as a whole does not mean CG. That CG is being used inappropriately as a catch all. That there are options that are fitting with our traditional liturgical heritage that are not CG based. I want to show there is something out there that is contemporary and NOT CG.

If people can't accept or get past that one thing then there is nothing I can do..and I guess I won't worry about it but that won't make them any more correct.

I am making a little chart that takes the specific elements of CG and compares them to what I am calling WELS contemporary worship. You may not be convinced on the differences but at least you will see my perspective. I will post it later


Anonymous said...

"I understand this kind of preaching, I understand the improper focus on sanctification and that it happens in other denominations"

Then why in the world would you want to use a worship form which was created by other denominations specifically for the purpose of creating a focus on sanctification?

Texas Pastor said...

I don't know if it speaks directly to this discussion, but while doing research for a conference paper I was led to reread Luther's exhortation to some Christians in Livonia (Europe, not Michigan).

It's too long to post here. I didn't find it on the "Project Wittenberg" website, nor from a brief use of my search engine. That doesn't mean it isn't somewhere on the Internet.

It's found in volume 53 of Luther's Works, pages 41-49 an entiled: "A CHRISTIAN EXHORTATION TO THE LIVONIANS CONCERNING PUBLIC WORSHIP AND CONCORD."

Pull it off your shelf, borrow your pastors. It's worth a few minutes reading. It won't solve all the problems, but it helps you see how Luther handled the issue of variety in worship (to use a euphemism). Enjoy!

Of course, don't stop with just that essay, read the whole volume, then go back and read volumes 35-41(the Word and Sacrament, Church and Ministry volumes), then read the Genesis commentary, then read the Career of the Reformer portion (31-34)...heck, read all 55 volumes!!! ;)

Rick said...

Mr. Niedfeldt says the folk on Bailing Water "take practice and make it doctrine." "They are taking church tradition and the confessions and raising them to a level higher than Scripture." In order to prove this point, Mr. Niedfeldt relates that he "read a comment about how contemporary worshippers only rely on scripture and don’t rely on church tradition….and this was a bad thing."

I must ask, what is wrong with tradition? Why not rely on tradition? Without tradition we would not have a delineated doctrine of the Trinity. We would not have a delineated doctrine of infant baptism. We would not have a delineated doctrine of the two natures of Christ. We would still be struggling with countless heresies from the first five centuries.

To reject all tradition (such as the Apostles' Creed) as being without real authority is to deny God’s Word as recorded in Matthew 16:18, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." To throw out all tradition and rely on such a strange definition of "by Scripture alone" would be to claim that we are the first valid Christians after the apostles, that we have nothing to learn from history, and that we as individuals interpret Scripture apart from the Church.

The Formula of Concord does not say that the Scriptures are the only font of doctrine, but rather that the Scriptures are the only pure fount of doctrine. The Scriptures alone are "the pure, clear fountain of Israel. They are the only true standard or norm by which all teachers and doctrines are to be judged." But also in "ancient times the true Christian doctrine, in a pure, sound sense, was collected from God's Word into brief articles" called the Ecumenical Creeds. (FC, Foundation Rule and Norm, 3-4, 1-2).

What do the Scriptures say?

"Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you." [1 Corinthians 11:2].

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter." [2 Thessalonians 2:15].

"Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us." [2 Thessalonians 3:6].

(Translations English Standard Version).

Traditions in general are not wrong, but rather only traditions that void the Word of God. Christians who do not rely on Tradition will not learn from history, and are thus doomed to repeat it: The post-modern resurgence of gnostic heresy and the return of the Christian Arians are perfect examples.

(Even in my own local WELS congregation we often flub the invocation at the beginning of our services, and appear to invoke three gods with three names instead of the one Triune God with one Name. Do you know what that looks like to my Arian friend? Why is it so hard to get the one Name of God correct? Just do it the same way Christians have always done it since the great commission. (Matthew 28:19). Tradition. We also sometimes recite novel wordings of the Ecumenical Creeds. This is all part of our "contemporary worship and outreach efforts," but I think it is as risky as a paraphrase Bible "translation." Does that make me a pharisee?)

The pharisees were very "mission minded." In fact, they would "travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and" then they would "make him twice as much a son of hell as" they were. (Matthew 23:15). Why? Not because they weren't mission minded, but rather because their message was wrong. Because of man's sinful nature, if our message isn't clear, it might as well be wrong.

Mr. Niedfeldt continues to demonstrate how foolish he thinks the people at Bailing Water are with an example:

"One example oft repeated [of bad worship practice] is one where a WELS pastor used a pre-written sermon by a Baptist minister one Sunday. It is possible that using a sermon first produced by a baptist minister and delivering it might be construed as poor practice. However without seeing the sermon who knows, it might have been a pretty good one. Is every sermon written by a Baptist minister a bad one? If a sermon conveys a perfectly good Biblical message does it matter who wrote it? Does its origin automatically make it false doctrine? Hardly. These kinds of things are not considered by the crusaders."

This observation is valid but irrelevant. The practice of using pre-written Baptist sermons is wrong because it teaches that Lutheran pre-written sermons are not good enough, and it muddies the clarity of our joint message. What if President Bush delivered a good patriotic speech that was originally written by Castro? Any problems with that? Any number of dictators have delivered some pretty good speeches, but Bush would be a fool to repeat them as his own. This is just common sense.

I’ve never posted on Bailing Water before, and I am just a layman, but I do believe the WELS has issues with questionable worship practices and doctrine. And my beliefs are based on first hand observation.