Friday, October 31, 2008

Reformation and Restoration

On this Reformation Day I though it would be fitting to meditate on an article that sought to begin a Reformation in the WELS..
http://www.a rag journal/

The Mass is the Heart and Life of the Church

A dedication by Peter M. Berg

+ In the Name of Jesus +

The Mass is the heart and life of the Church, and the Holy Supper is the heart and life of the Evangelical Mass. For centuries the Mass, and its apex, the Supper, have been the center of Christian life, for the Supper is Jesus and he is the Life of the Church. All of God's graces are poured out in the preaching and in the Supper, because Jesus, who is Grace, is Word and Meal. All Christian verity and all heresy are revealed in one's understanding of the Supper. All ecclesiastical structures, church programs, and cutting-edge ideas may cease to be, but as long as the Church has the Mass with its Supper it has Jesus, and Jesus is the heart and life of the Church. Jesus, the Incarnate God, is truly and really present with His Church in the Mass. Preaching and the Sacrament are the new "signs and wonders" of the New Testament, and how wondrous they are! The incarnation of the Son of God was so stunning to the ancient world, and the Real Presence so mystical, that the pagan Romans accused the early Christians of secretly devouring their deity. There is often a bit of truth in every calumny. The Mass is the heart and life of the church because here the incarnate Son of God comes to his mortal - flesh and blood - people, giving them his immortal flesh and blood to eat and to drink, saving them, body and soul. We know of no other Son of God than the incarnate Jesus, and apart from him, God is an unknown horror. No flesh and blood Jesus, no God. In the Mass this God comes in all his humanity and sinful human beings can approach him without fear. "The glory and mystery of the incarnation combine there (in the Supper) as they combine nowhere else."¹ Therefore the Mass is finally all that matters. Indeed, all other sacred things, whether Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, preaching, catechesis, the daily office, the occasional services, etc. only have their full relevance in their relation to the Mass. This is the conviction of those who publish this modest journal, and this is what we teach. However, before this conviction is brushed aside as the ramblings of some fussy high-church types well on their way to crossing the Tiber, we would ask you, dear reader, to give us a hearing. Before you write off what is written in these pages, please read what is written.

The Manner of our Lord's Coming

The Mass is not important because it happens to be a part of our Lutheran culture, just one culture among many other equally valid Christian cultures. The Mass is important because it is the way in which God comes to his people. How does he come? It goes in the way of incarnation and it follows the pattern of speak and eat. It is the visible Lord visiting and eating with Abraham as he reaffirmed the Promise of the Savior and announced his intentions for the Sodomites. It is the Passover meal with its annual rehearsal of God's saving presence and act. It is the Lord speaking and eating with the elders of Israel on the mountaintop. It is Jesus teaching and miraculously feeding the multitudes. It is the Savior eating at table in fellowship with tax collectors and sinners. It is the institution and celebration of the Supper on the night of the Lord's betrayal. It is the revelation of the Lord as he opened the scriptures and broke bread at Emmaus. It is the early Christians devoting themselves to the apostles' didache and the breaking of bread (the koinwniva). The Mass is speak and eat, the only two things that matter - the words of the Word Incarnate poured into our ears and the pouring of the Incarnate Word into our mouths. As the Son of God was conceived in the hearing of the Virgin Mary, and the finite contained the infinite, so through their hearing and their eating the Incarnate One dwells within the entire being of his people in a way beyond comprehension. Christ's Christians become His body, and they are nourished by his body.

These two things - speaking and eating - are bound together in the Mass and one without the other leaves something missing. The Supper without preaching can lead to mindless mysticism. The preaching without the Supper can lead to pedantic moralism. Without the Supper, Herman Sasse once observed, "the proclamation of the Gospel could be understood as just one of the many religious messages in the world." And all we preachers can claim a mea culpa when it comes to short-changing our listeners. The Supper must, at times, save the preacher's neck, just as it saves the communicant in body and soul. Yet, astonishingly, the "dry mass" is still the common practice in all too many churches of the Augsburg Confession, in spite of the confessors' steadfast assertion that the Mass was retained for the consolation of troubled souls (AC XXIV.7). "We have preaching, that's the Gospel, that's enough. We'll have the Supper another time." But isn't that our very own version of concomitance - If you have one thing (e.g. preaching) you pretty much have the rest. Yet the Lord did not come only in word, but in word and deed. He came not only in water, but in water and blood (1 Jn. 5:6). Word and deed. Promise and Body and Blood. The mysteries of God - preaching, Absolution, Baptism, the Eucharist - share things in common, but they also have things unique to each. To omit one is to omit what is unique to it.

The Mass is Heaven on Earth

Preaching is many things, and some of these things are what the Supper is and some are what it is not. Unlike the Supper, preaching is Law, it must be. The sinner is to be convicted. Like the Supper preaching is Gospel, it must be. The sinner is to be consoled with the forgiveness of sins. Preaching is didactic, it must be. Christians are to be instructed in true doctrine, warned about heresy, and urged to be helpful to their neighbors in every need. But most of all, the preacher preaches his people to Heaven; therefore, he preaches to the Supper, he preaches sacramentally (not just about the sacraments, but sacramentally), for the Supper is Heaven on earth. The Supper is the parousia of our Lord now - just as it shall be - only then with the scales fallen from our eyes. Therefore, the Supper is the apex of the Mass, for Heaven is the consummation of the believer's life. We confess this, not because the Holy Communion conveys a better Gospel than preaching, but because preaching is not only about the things to come, but also about the things that are passing. "And now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Co. 13:13). Preaching, and the faith and hope which it instills, will one day pass away, but Jesus (who is Love) and His feast of love will never pass away.

There is something more. Consider how wonderfully the Holy Liturgy on each Lord's Day tells the story of how our Lord came to us in Word and deed. Whether by Divine providence or happy coincidence, the western rite tells the story of Jesus. In the Gloria in Excelsis we have the song of the Christmas angels, "God incarnate! Peace on earth!" Through the reading and preaching of the scriptures, the Liturgy of the Catechumens tells us about Jesus' ministry of spoken word and miraculous deed as he journeyed to his destiny in Jerusalem. To this we say, Credo. As the gospels are Passion narratives with long prologues (thus, Martin Koehler), so the Liturgy of the Faithful takes us to Holy Week. In the Sanctus/Benedictus we join the Palm Sunday throng and sing, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."² As He came upon a lowly donkey, so He also comes now in the lowly species of bread and wine. The Words of Institution take us to Maundy Thursday, and the Agnus Dei to Good Friday. In the elevation, the Son of Man is lifted up as Moses lifted the serpent in the wilderness and all who behold him in faith are healed. In the consumption, doubting Thomases and weeping Marys actually get to touch their risen, flesh and blood Lord, for the Mass is the continuation of our Lord's post-resurrection appearances. And then, together with aged Simeon, the faithful are ready to "depart in peace." Listen to old Simeon, he's got it right. In the Mass, we achieve the hope of all Christians: We go to heaven. For the Mass is heaven on earth - and not just a foretaste of the Feast to come - but the Feast itself right here on earth! Here, the whole Christian Church on earth and the saints of Heaven are joined together spiritually, sacramentally, Christologically, and mystically. In the Lamb's high feast, the grateful dead, your grateful dead (!), are in communion with those yet on earth. Indeed, we become the "one bread" of which the Apostle Paul speaks (1 Co 10.17). If you don't have the Supper, you can't attend the Feast, for the Body and the Blood of our Lord are the Feast. He is host and meal.

The glory of the Supper is that it is purest Gospel, the very forgiveness of sins. Here, as noted above, preaching and the Supper differ. Preaching must be Law and Gospel. Yet, how many times haven't we preachers slighted our people with one or the other, or even both. It must be noted that Law and Gospel are not on even footing. Both are the Word of God and are to be believed as such, but the Law is God's alien work, the Gospel is His proprium. Even in the best-crafted sermon, with the proper distinction between Law and Gospel observed, there is no guarantee that our hearers will hear it that way. No matter how clearly we preach the Gospel, some weary saints will hear only the Law on any given Sunday. The Supper is the safety net, which catches them before they leave church, and before they fall into despair. The Supper (like the liturgy and pericope) is the layman's protection against his own poor hearing and against the preacher, in spite of the preacher's best intentions.

"We must never regard the sacrament as a harmful thing from which we should flee, but as pure, wholesome, soothing medicine that aids you and gives life in both soul and body."³ Here is our "daily food and sustenance,"4 our "Tree of Life," our "divine Armory,"5 and "the medicine of immortality, the remedy against having to die." (Ignatius of Antioch) Until we end our earthly trek and join in the Feast of the Lamb in heaven (Rev 19), this Supper is our viaticum, our provision along the way. With St. Ambrose we say, "Because I always sin, I ought always to take the medicine."6 Here also is our guarantee of "the resurrection of our entire frame."7 In the Supper, the Savior comes to his own in the manner in which He came to earth: Incarnate, in flesh and blood. And now he gives that divine flesh and blood to His own to eat and to drink, vivifying them in body and soul. Whatever role we give John 6 in the discussion of the Eucharist, it still remains true that Christ's "flesh is food indeed, and (Christ's) blood is drink indeed." (v 55) No Supper, no holy flesh and blood to eat and to drink. Then with Zwingli, we must by faith fly up into the "fiery heavens" and somehow apprehend Jesus, seated on his throne. "No!" the earth-bound, sin-laden, flesh and blood Christian cries out, "Come from on high to me; I cannot rise to Thee" (CW 34).

The Current State of Affairs

In view of this great gift, how do we account for the current state of affairs? The truncated service continues to claim half of the Sundays during the year in a majority of our churches; also serving to truncate the Holy Ministry. One can give a historical explanation for the situation. The list of suspects is well known: Melancthonianism, Pietism, Rationalism, Prussianism, the frontier experience of North America, etc. However, permit this author to propose another idea. There seems to be a concern within our clerical ranks that preaching in our midst is not what it could be. The publication Preach seems to be directed to this need. There have been murmurs for some time now, that there is too much emphasis on sanctification in WELS preaching, on the pages of Forward in Christ, and in our educational materials. The editors of this journal believe that this is definitely the case, and they also believe that the heart of the problem is the status given the so-called Third Use of the Law, or to state it in a slightly different way, the problem lies in the goal which we have established for preaching. It seems to us that our shared goal has become growth: growth in Bible knowledge, growth in holiness of living, growth in stewardship, and quantifiable, numerical growth of new members. The means to attain this goal? Is it an over-simplification to say that the way to attain this goal is revealed in this paradigm: Law/Gospel/Law. The Third Use of the Law in the minds of some, in one way or another, seems to be key to this growth, and the final step in the process of preaching.8 Many will cry foul, but listen carefully to our preaching and to what we publish. The result of all this is that an almost imperceptible transformation takes place, with up-beat exhortations to busyness around the church and the affirmation of everybody's ministries to the church are now seen as the proclamation of the Gospel, when in reality, it is the Law. However, this goal and these means to attain the goal are wrong. We must never forget that the "Law always accuses." The preacher may think that he is using only the Third Use of the Law, but lex semper accusat, and some, even many, may be crushed, and without the Supper, may remain so. We must also remember that the Christian's goal is not the well-ordered life, but to go to heaven, period. The forgiveness of sins, distributed in Gospel and Sacrament, assure him of his salvation, and they are powerful pardons which move him to help his neighbor in every bodily need. Indeed, the believer consumes the Supper that he might be consumed in service to his fellow man. Good deeds follow as a matter of course, for faith is a living and active thing, and the Christ, who lives within, continues to carry out his ministry of compassion here on earth through His believers.

Still, the Savior suffered just as much for our righteousnesses as He did for our sins. When the true goal of the Christian faith and the means to attain the goal are not properly understood, then the life of the church is fundamentally affected, and this is especially true of the Mass. When the goal is wrong, the Sunday service easily becomes a quasi Bible class, a casual, warm, friendly time for sharing, caring, and dealing with "managerial and therapeutic concerns" which become the new sacraments by default. In this environment, preaching and imparting information will be seen as the most "effective" tools and the Supper will continue to be a bi-monthly addendum and incongruities will abound. When the sacred Body and Blood are not on the altar and in the minister's hands, because it is a "non-communion Sunday", and when the goal is information for godly living, then, I suppose, some won't see it as an incongruity when the power point screen scrolls down from the ceiling at the end of the service (or in the middle!) and strains of "Come to the WELS" begin to meddle into Divinum Mysterium (CW 35) or Herzlich Lieb Hab' Ich Dich, O Herr (CW 434). If the sermon is seen as an inspirational talk, then there is no incongruity between it and the upbeat "WELS Connection" piece on the success stories of other franchises of McChurch. However, there are those who see the incongruity and they cry out, Kyrie elieson!

It is the Real Presence which sets the stage on Sunday morning. When Christ is upon the Lord's Table, which incidentally assures that bread will be on our tables at home, then the entire atmosphere is changed. This is sensed even by those who never seem to tire of creating new "liturgies," which bring their people something new (and mediocre) every Sunday. Yet, even these folks have never been known to insert the "children's application" or the WELS Connection between the Sanctus and Verba. At least here they demonstrate a measure of propriety. Why they can't demonstrate it elsewhere is a mystery. The Real Presence carries the freight. It is the Gospel. It is the manner in which the Savior came and comes to His own.

Reformation and Restoration

With this in mind, one is compelled to ask is there an appreciable difference on a "non-communion Sunday" between the average WELS church (or any Lutheran church for that matter) and the conservative Presbyterian church down the block when it comes to what is heard in the way of preaching and hymnody and what is seen with the eye? If they are not appreciably different (granted, that's an "if"), then why should visitors "come to the WELS", especially when the minister down the block probably does the children's sermon and the power point presentation better? There is much hand-wringing in our circles today about growth; a kind of Arminian angst fills our hearts when it comes to assessing how we're doing in "sharing the Gospel." If evangelism techniques are all the rage, then let us consider the winsome force of the Holy Liturgy and the Real Presence of Christ in the Supper. When the conduct of the Holy Liturgy transcends the mundane of everyday life and the pallid commonness of Protestantism, when Sunday morning is an encounter with the divine, then those we seek to reach will say, "I've never witnessed anything like this before, I've truly entered the House of God." Unless we reconsider the Real Presence of the Incarnate Son of God in the Mass and see the Mass as the heart and life of the Church, I'm afraid that we will continue to morph into a general kind of Protestantism. We have noted and eschewed our Pietist roots, or at least we think we have. Could it be that we've taken more with us from the past into the present than we would care to admit? Could it be that we are the way that we are, because we were the way that we were? From the time of the Lutheranism's betrayal by Philippism, to this day, the drift of the Lutheran Church has not been toward Rome, but to Geneva, with side trips to Herrnhut and Gettysburg. The solution to our problem has been under our noses since the night our Lord was betrayed: Gospel, Mass, Real Presence, Jesus.

What is the point of all this? This: The Mass is the heart and life of the Church, for Jesus is the Mass and He is the Church's Breath and Life-Blood. This is the reformation of the Church. The reformation of our little bit of Holy Church will not come about by a top-down edict, but with a bottom-up reformation of Sunday morning. The restoration of the Supper to the weekly life of the Church, and the appropriate ceremonia which support it, will not be accomplished by legalistic dictates, or appeals to historic Apostolic and Lutheran practice, or to matters pertaining to liturgical aesthetics, but rather to what the Lord Himself has said about His Supper and what He has said about His people. When we see our great need, and the Savior's great aid in preaching and the Supper, then the unfortunate discussions which have attended this issue will be moot. There will be no more talk about our "glorious gospel freedom" to withhold the Supper, which is purest Gospel, from our people. Every Sunday there will be those in attendance who are "weak and heavy laden" (which is everyone) and who are in need of preaching and Jesus' true Body and Blood. These people do not schedule their guilt, woes, fears, and hopes for heaven to align with the off-and-on again schedule of "communion Sundays" and "non-communion Sundays." As the old rule goes: Where there are communicants, there is the Mass, there is the Supper, and there is the Heart and Life of the Church. And there will be communicants if our preachers preach about the Blessed Supper and preach their people to the Supper. Then the dream of Doctor Luther will come true for the people of God: ".they would come on their own, rushing and running to it; they would compel themselves to come and would insist that you give them the sacrament."9 §

The Reverend Peter M. Berg is senior pastor of Saint Peter Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Michigan. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Lutheran Liturgical Renewal, Inc. which publishes The Bride of Christ: The Journal of Lutheran Liturgical Renewal. He has also contributed to the journals Gottesdienst and Logia.

1 Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1871, p. 655.

2 This nuance is lost in the treatment of the Sanctus in the "Service of Word and Sacrament" (Christian Worship, p. 34) where the Benedictus has been replaced with the work of the communicants. This, together with the loss of the Gloria in Excelsis and the misplacement of the Kyrie and the Lord's Prayer, lessens the appeal of this liturgy.

3 Large Catechism, V 68, The Book of Concord, Kolb-Wengert, Augsburg Press, 2000, p. 474.

4 Ibid, V.24, p. 469.

5 C.F.W. Walther, Gnadenjahr Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1890, pp. 209f; quoted in Marquart, "The Word As Life," pp. 51-52.

6 Augsburg Confession XXIV.33, The Book of Concord, Kolb-Wengert, Augsburg Press, 2000, p. 71.

7 Coxe, Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries, p. 566.

8 We would be better served if we remained with Luther's two-fold use of the Law.

9 Small Catechism, Introduction, The Book of Concord, Kolb-Wengert, Augsburg Press, 2000, p. 351.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A commenter, a self-identified journalist, posted about journalism. I believe his intention is to shut down this blog. Yet he doesn't share his own writing or his own blog.

The blogger format has opened a whole new journalistic perspective. This journalist is looking for facts and proof. Who - what - where - when - how - and why. Yet this journalist didn't tell me who he was.

Yes the readers of this blog need to read with discernment. More importantly, the WELS laity need to apply critical discernment to the wisdom of novelties that are introduced into their church. The journalist begs for us to use discernment according to God's command. Yet this same journalist will scream adiaphora at me when I use God commands.

I would ask this journalist to continue to read FIC for a somewhat filtered view of what is happening in the synod. However, many are interested in what is happening to our churches. Why are we losing our Lutheran identity? Mr. journalist reveal your identity. No, more importantly, help me to reveal the identity of our WELS churches.

Are we ashamed of our Lutheran identity? I fear so. (opinion) New mission churches are not identifying themselves as being Lutheran (fact). We are not proud of our sacraments (opinion). The Lord's supper is hidden from the visitors (fact). Our Lutheran heritage is not being studied by many WELS pastors (opinion). A group of WELS pastors venture off to see Ed Stetzer (fact). More WELS pastors want to hear what Stetzer has to say (opinion). Church and Change has invited Ed Stetzer to be the keynote speaker at the '09 conference (fact).

Mr. Journalist I hope that you can see the facts and opinions clearly presented. Drop me your email and I will fill you in more clearly on the details.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fundamental - non-fundamental

Freddy said...

Years ago, I read an essay by Dr. P.E. Kretzmann: Fundamental and Non-fundamental Doctrines — and Church Fellowship. In this article, Dr. Kretzmann quotes from Dr. C.P. Krauth regarding the "Course of Error in the Church." It was this quote that inspired me to find a copy of Krauth's Conservative Reformation and it's Theology, and read it (this was before CPH started reprinting it). This is the quote:

"When error is admitted into the Church, it will be found that the stages in its progress are always three. It begins by asking toleration. Its friends say to the majority: 'You need not be afraid of us; we are few and weak; let us alone, we shall not disturb the faith of others. The Church has her standards of doctrine; of course we shall never interfere with them; we only ask for ourselves to be spared interference with our private opinions.' Indulged in for this time, error goes on to assert equal rights. Truth and error are balancing forces. The Church shall do nothing which looks like deciding between them; that would be partiality. It is bigotry to assert any superior right for the truth. We are to agree to differ, and any favoring of the truth, because it is truth, is partisanship. What the friends of truth and error hold in common is fundamental. Anything on which they differ is ipso facto non-essential. Anybody who makes account of such a thing is a disturber of the peace of the Church. Truth and error are two coordinate powers, and the great secret of church-statesmanship is to preserve the balance between them. From this point error soon goes on to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy. Truth started with tolerating; it comes to be merely tolerated, and that only for a time. Error claims a preference for its judgments on all disputed points. It puts men into positions, not as at first in spite of their departure from the Church’s faith, but in consequence of it. Their repudiation is that they repudiate that faith, and position is given them to teach others to repudiate it, and to make them skillful in combating it. (p. 195 f.)."

This is wise insight from a man who witnessed the decline of Lutheranism first hand, who had the courage to publicly fight against the error which was causing it, and to work toward unity. His effort not only made him a celebrated figure of his time, but a largely credible one as well.

Making application to our own time, Rev. Paul Kelm and company were asking for toleration two decades ago, and, using much the same “gee, they're so full of evangelical zeal, and such good Christian men” reasoning displayed by “WELS Pastor,” they were granted it. Some in our midst are still asking for toleration. Strident agents of "change," such as "WELS Pastor," it seems, are long past asking for toleration, however. They are demanding equivalency. It's obvious they intend to run a parallel church before moving to Krauth's final step of asserting supremacy. This is, after all, the objective of “change.”

But, while Krauth was addressing doctrine, are we not, in our case, looking at Lutheran practice? Yes and no. We are rightly concerned with practice as it is a reflection of what we Confess, and we see evidence of doctrinal error in the practice of the C&C crowd. When those who confess doctrinal unity with us engage in practice that is confusing or offensive, we have every right to demand of them an explanation, and they have every obligation to render one. Drawing the C&C or CG crowd into explanation of their practice, more and more, it seems, exposes their divergence from us and their disregard for anything more then rhetorical unity. So, while we take our queue from confusing and offensive practices endorsed by the C&C church-growthers, our concern is Confessional integrity.

As I continue to read and study, I am growing convinced that earlier discussions on this point are correct: WELS is facing a Confessional crisis.

My thoughts,

Freddy Finkelstein

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Crusaders unite

October 26, 2008 7:42 AM
Anonymous said...
As a WELS pastor, what I'm afraid of is printing my name on your blog and others, and then getting my reputation crucified on a public forum. I have heard the charges and insinuations of your blog and others; but when I talk to the men you have demonized, I realize they are Scriptural, orthodox teachers and preachers of the Word. They may feel there is nothing wrong with blended worship services--they may even utilize contemporary worship forms. They may even (gasp!) administer the Lord's Supper separate from the regular worship service. If you have ever lived outside the friendly confines of the Midwest, you know visitors can get very put out with the practice of closed communion. The early believers celebrated it privately among themselves. All of these things do not make them heterodox. These men have a love for the Word and a love for people, and they want to see their people in heaven someday. I have never attended a Church and Change conference, but there have been several presentations over the years I would have loved to sat in on. C and C offers a great deal when it comes to the nuts and bolts of practical every-day ministry. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! And no, I will not give you my name!
October 26, 2008 6:53 PM

Mr. WELS pastor,

I wonder if Luther had the same fear as you do. I have talked to the men I have listed on my blog (yes I have). How have I demonized these men? I could say you are breaking the 8th commandment. I have listed what is happening at their churches. These are things that I have witnessed. You might have me confused with another blogger..?..?

If you were to talk to Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, and Ed Stetzer you might also find them to be loving and caring men. But misguided and certainly not Lutheran. I have lived almost half my life outside of the friendly confines of the midwest so you can't use that argument. That is one of the reasons I know well what is happening in the far flung regions of the WELS too. Gasp..hiding communion. Does this privilege and treasure need to be hidden? Did the early church do this? Do you want to sit at the feet of Ed Stetzer? Will you? Several of your fellow WELS pastors did and do. So Mr. WELS pastor if I came to you as a member with my concerns about C&C, I take it you would tell me to hit the road.

I guess I am, as Mr. Tim has characterized me, a confessional crusader. As we approach the Reformation hour I wonder what I shall do next. I have used this blog to spark discussion and open some eyes. I will continue to hold the cross high.


Some of you have wondered about the recent conference that was held (where I heard BW got some notice). I will say that I have contacted the Oktoberfest organizer and have not yet been given consent to post their writings. I hope that they can stand tall and share their thoughts.

WELS Pastors on Board - laity continues to bail

Anonymous said...

>>Notice how quiet WELS pastors are as the Church and Change pastors filter back into 2929.<<

Maybe they're quiet because maybe they agree with C&C. Perhaps your outrage with it is a little outrageous?

October 26, 2008 7:42 AM


So is silence golden for the changers? It is my hope that a WELS pastor or pastors will rise up and follow the example of this LCMS Lutheran manifesto:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Issues in WELS ? aren't there still issues?

Anonymous said...

I talked with my pastor who is and has been outraged with what has been going on. He is not strong enough (or perhaps outraged enough) to publicly take a public stand ALONE. He would like to see a large group of pastors take a stand TOGETHER against all this stuff.

The beginnings of taking a stand together was happening in the Issues in WELS group...but they have disbanded or suspended for some reason. It makes it appear that all is well in WELS.Our District President does not seem opposed to the Church and Change stuff.

I will try to talk with him once more.Can we all get our pastors together so they can take a public stand?

QUESTION: If a pastor leaves WELS before retirement age, does he lose his entire pension? Is it $$$ that is preventing some from leaving or taking a chance that taking a firm stand against things will get them ousted?

October 25, 2008 3:11 PM


Most pastors are still afraid to put their neck on the line. Yes it is interesting that since the financial issues in the WELS is no longer a crisis the ISSUES IN THE WELS group has disbanded and is not holding forth on their original concerns.

I don't believe that a pastor will lose the retirement money that has been put away if he does leave (although the pension plan is very small).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Righteous indignation

Anonymous said...

I was wondering how to respond to the blogger who advised we should shut up about C&C and take his word for it that everything is OK and we're wrong for even questioning it. We're causing people to fall away by discussing it. We're creating a bigger problem by asking questions.

Righteous indignation, John? Not bad. Not bad at all.The bloggers comments are not unlike liberalism in any other aspect of society, a kind of gnosticism that aggressively condescends any challenger. Discussion, if it is dissension, must be stifled. He/she showed their cards though, which is honest enough. They are of them. And we should trust this anonymous poster because they have researched it for us, confirmed the commitment of its promoters to Lutheran confessions and we are sinful to oppose it or them. Liberalism feigns tolerance, but is anything but in reality. "Do not worry. Everything is OK here. You can have yours and we'll have ours. We are not affecting anything. It is only to save those who don't know about Lutheranism or are offended by it. You have no love for the lost..."

It reminds me of the scene in The Naked Gun when the fireworks are exploding and all kinds of chaos ensues behind the detective as he shouts, "Move along. There's nothing to see here. Move along."It reeks of deception and hypocrisy. Oh, yes, all are welcome ... as long as you believe as they do. How is that any different than what we confessional crusaders are accused of? C&C is trying to accept everyone, except, of course, you relics. Liberalism hides its intolerance behind crafty words. I don't know what affect C&C is having on WELS, but it is bound to have some.

That is their goal. I've heard a WELS mission counselor speak the exact same things as C&C. And comments on this blog in support of it are not unlike what is being heard in this current political environment. Maybe it is only a small portion, but the theology of glory spreads like a cancer - slowly and quietly. And before long, it is too late.

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

October 24, 2008 8:34 PM

well said...j

WELS making use of ELCA's faith program

The WELS has formed a quasi-partnership with an ELCA program:

Faith stepping stones: It is a reformed program with a dash of WELS flavor added.

Meet the ELCA leader of the stepping stones:

ELCA churches love it:

WELS pastors and others that have given consent to this program:

And these reformed leaders like it also:

It has evolved from faith inkubators:
Faith Incubators pushes the new Gospel of Social Transformation
“Faith Inkubators” was started by Rev. Rich Melheim (ELCA) who started a mentor-based program at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater, MN. By the Fall of 96 over 1000 congregations were experimenting with the program as living laboratories. “The movement currently involves 2/3 ELCA and 1/3 LCMS congregations and has its first UCC, Presbyterian, Methodist and Catholic test sites.” Yes, “Faith Inkubators” is a pan denominational, globalist, relational, catechism.

“Faith Inkubators” strives for transformation through “PROCESS”. Each child is assigned an adult mentor or “Guide” on their learning, serving, playing, praying, and growing journey. Pastors still teach content but a third of everything is taught through interactive small group learning activities. This writer evaluates the programs as enlisting spiritual guides, values clarification, and spiritual gift assessments. Melheim says he developed the program’s small group structure from Carl George’s Meta Church Model; its philosophy from William Glasser (a secular humanist and an expert in behavior modification); its business sense from MIT’s Peter Senge (author of “The Fifth Discipline”) and his own research. Theological “tips” come from Dr. Pat Keifert of the Leadership Network (

The Leadership Network, who endorses Willow Creek as a model for American Churches of the 21st Century, is also advising the LCMS Council of Presidents on how to restructure congregations and the LCMS.

Seminary training

Awhile ago a WLS alumni wondered about the changes taking place in the Seminary curriculum. The curriculum developers are looking to make sure that the sem and its students are kept current on the cutting edge methods that are being used by "others" are also studied and used by new WELS pastors.

The president of the sem, faculty, students and others sat at the feet of the leading Church and Change promoters to hear what the Baptists are doing and how we should be following their lead.

and I quote:

Seminary faculty, the school presidents, representatives from current students, from pastors, from teachers, from laypeople, from various areas of ministry, from governing board members, and from district presidents will all gather on these two days to discuss these presentations given by Pastor Paul Kelm, President Paul Prange, and Pastor Don Patterson.

If you pal around with Baptists you become Baptists

Anonymous said...
Blogging also inadvertently creates hysteria and this is what I see happening in regards to C&C.

Many readers take the opinion of a few bloggers as fact, when in reality it is just that - an opinion.

It is my opinion that the Church and Changers are using methods that deny the Word and Sacraments because they are stealing ideas from the Baptists (ie Ed Stetzer). I believe that Martin Luther held the same opinion on the importance of the Word and Sacraments.

I have regular dealings with many of those involved in C&C. My pastor has also attended their conference. None of them have separated themselves from our WELS in their actions or their beliefs. I have no doubt of their Lutheranism. I have no doubt of their abidance to God's truth.C&C doesn't seek to abolish our Lutheranism. It encourages additions to it, in the manner in which we present God's true and saving grace. .......I suspect you will not find that.I do support C&C, both in my prayers and my givings.

Mr. Anonymous, ~ I will continue to disparage the Church and Change movement. I have visited a conference and walked out. I have studied it and thrown up. I have visited the C&C churches and I have found them anything but Lutheran. The hysteria should be greater than what it is. The C&Cers have denied the importance of the sacraments. Therefore, by doing this they are denying the word. This is not Lutheran sir. Our worship life is tied to our doctrine and the Word. The changers read this blog and try to quiet the discussion. They didn't want the invitation to Ed to become public knowledge. They don't like to be exposed.

Yet what pastor will stand up to this??? Are there any??? One WELS pastor recently told me that this won't happen because of the confessional witch hunt atmosphere. I will acknowledge that Pres. Schroeder has been working to stop this hunt. But they (C&Cers) are working against him. I hope and pray that some WELS pastor will have the courage to stand up and publically denounce this movement.

Hebrews 13:7-9 -- The author of Hebrews warns us about the Church and Changers. I implore you to study these verses. The liturgy does not reflect 16th century Germany it is our faith from earliest of times. Remember the Augsburg confessions which talks about novelties that did not exist in the ancient church. This is what the changers are doing to the catholic church. Be warned, be aware, and be afraid of what is happening. Do not give your offerings to this movement. This is not your grandfathers church any longer. This is becoming a radical movement. Yes radical. That is how the C&Cers describe themselves on their own website as they shun the historical context of Lutheranism.

October 24, 2008 11:03 AM
Anonymous said...
Well, I have mis-givings about C and C. They tried to stay under the radar for a long time. As soon as this blog exposed the Church and Change invite to that Dunker Stetzer, the C and C began filling their catapaults with mud and firing away. The Confessions are not a tradition. Lutheran doctrine is not a tradition. We follow Lutheran doctrine because it is faithful to the plain meaning of the canonical Scriptures. The non-Lutherans make fun of Biblical, Lutheran doctrine. That is their tradition. Lie down with Baptists, get up with headaches.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Church and Change funding


the cross that doesn't

Anonymous said...

Who foots the bill for C&C, is it independent or supported by synod money?



Board of Directors- Select a name to read a Bio:

Pastor Ron Ash Chairman

Jeff Davis Vice Chairman

Sarah Owens Secretary

Barry Spencer

Caleb Cordes

Pastor Bruce Becker

Pastor John Huebner

James Skorzewski

Innovation in methodology is yesterday's news in the WELS. Pastors, teachers, synod administrators, worker training leaders, home and world missionaries, worship leaders, computer buffs, and countless local laymen and laywomen, have been tweaking (and/or radically changing) ministry methods for years. In every WELS generation God has raised up men and women, for reasons known only to Him, who are interested in pushing the envelope of "gospel delivery systems." And this, long before concepts like "English" or "radio ministry" or "Parish Assistance," or "paradigm" or "long distance learning" entered WELS thinking or culture.
Where do you get these radical ministry methods... This is where the 2008 Exponential Conference was held. This is where your WELS pastors went to soak in these radical ideas. Who do you think paid for this trip?

They must have their own budget. Although I'm sure you will notice that over the years many Synod sponsored grants have been and are given to the innovative thinkers in the WELS
Anonymous said...
Church and Change is not a part of the synod structure and doesn't receive synod funding.
October 23, 2008 11:20 AM

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What is the Year of Jubilee offering? -- How did the debt come about?

Year of Jubilee offering Q&A
From the office of President Mark Schroeder

Last week, the Conference of Presidents held its regular fall meetings in Milwaukee. Among the items on the agenda was the Year of Jubilee thank offering. The presidents are encouraging all congregations within their districts to participate during November and December, the months designated for the celebration.

Many people, including some congregational leaders, still have questions about the offering. Here are answers to some of those common questions:What is the Year of Jubilee offering?The offering was authorized by the 2007 synod convention as a way to address our synod's $22.4 million debt. Every congregation and individual is being encouraged to participate in this offering.

How did the debt come about?Most of the $22.4 million debt is capital debt that has been incurred as a result of various building and improvement projects over the last 12 years:
* building projects at synod schools during the amalgamation of Dr. Martin Luther College and Northwestern College in 1995;
* heating plant at Martin Luther College;
* science wing at Michigan Lutheran Seminary; and
* dormitory addition at Luther Prep.

About one-third of the debt is the result of expenses exceeding support in the 2001-03 biennium.Most of the $22.4 million was borrowed internally (from various synodical funds) and was being repaid in a variety of ways and at different interest rates. In the fall of 2007, the debts were all combined into a single synodical debt. This debt has a single interest rate and is to be fully repaid in ten years. The combining of all these into a single debt enables us to present a clear picture of the debt, and it also enables us to reduce the annual payments required.

Why is it important for us to reduce or eliminate this debt? How will this help?There is nothing inherently wrong with borrowing or with debt. But the fact is that each year $2.7 million is budgeted for the repayment of this debt. The convention believed that this money would be better used if it were spent on opening missions and operating our ministerial education schools. If we can eliminate or significantly reduce the debt, dollars will be available to carry out ministry rather than making debt payments.

What is the timeline on the offering?The offering will take place during November and December of this year, but congregations will have the ability to be flexible in how they carry it out. Some congregations are conducting the offering over four Sundays; others are having a single special celebration. Other congregations will start the offering this fall and continue to encourage and gather gifts over the next six months. The offering itself will end at the time of the synod convention in July 2009.How will the gifts be gathered?Congregations have been furnished with offering envelopes for every member. These can be gathered by the congregation and submitted to the synod. Individuals may also send their offerings directly to the synod or give a gift online.

To access Year of Jubliee resources online, go to: will this offering benefit our shared mission as a synod?We pray that the elimination or reduction of this debt will enable those dollars now being used for debt service to be used to expand our efforts to proclaim the saving good news of Jesus Christ to the world. For every $100,000 saved, a new home mission can be established. Additional funds would enable our world missions efforts to be maintained and expanded. Additional funds would help to stabilize the funding of our ministerial education schools and to keep tuition costs from rising. In short, the less we have to dedicate to repaying our debt, the more we will have available to carry out our shared mission.

Why should I participate in this offering?Our purpose and motivation in this offering is not simply to be free of debt. Our purpose is to unite in the faith and joy that God has given us in Christ, walking and working together to proclaim the gospel to more and more people. We gather this offering as a means of expressing our thanks to a God who has given sinners like us every reason to be joyful. We trust that God will bless these efforts conducted in his name and for his glory.

Serving in Christ,

Mark Schroeder

Stepping into the political realm

WELS politicians speak their mind:

WELS Republican for congress:

WELS Democrat for congress

Ron Kind on Abortion

Monday, October 20, 2008

2009 Church and Change Conference = Exponential conference

You might recall that a group of heavy hitting WELS pastors attended the This past spring.

The pastors that attended this exponential conference are involved in Church and Change.

Drawing upon the wonderful ideas they gained sitting at the feet of these theologians, they have tapped the main conference presenter, Ed Stetzer, as their own:

Follow Ed's WLC link and it takes you right to Will once again provide a registration link to this reformed Church and Change conference? Ed Stetzer thinks so...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Losing my Religion ?

As we wait for author consent on the various Oktoberfest papers, I would like to ask the readers about what you feel are the most pressing issues facing the WELS today. I would hope that this could open up a synod-wide discussion. I also would hope that more of the laity would feel free to discuss these theological issues with WELS pastors.

Here is my short list:

1) Losing our Lutheran identity

a) Contemporary worship - worship gatherings
b) the belief that liturgy usage is behavior modification
c) the use of evangelical methods

2) The public ministry and its forms...?

3) Sacrament of Holy Communion

a) close(d) / open
b) frequency
c) confirmation age requirement

4) Seminary training

5) Promotion of Church and Change leaders throughout the synod

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oktoberfest ?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to interrupt, but did anyone hear about how the LCMS conference in Kewaunee, Illinois for the "Oktoberfest" at which four former WELS pastors gave presentations about the WELS went? (I heard that at least one of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary professors was going to go to defend the WELS.)

October 15, 2008 11:24 AM

He's Back

Rev. Paul Kelm accepts the call to be a full-time consultant for WELS Parish Assistance.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New WELS doctrinal perspective on the role of women in society

It seems that the WELS view on the role of women in society is in an ever-evolving issue:

As has been noted before, the WELS stance on the headship principle extended from the home, church, and into society. Now this answer seems to say that there is the issue of honoring other Christian principles over and above the role of women in society. Therefore, the pastors that were booted out for questioning the WELS position on this issue should be allowed back into the synod.

This WELS pastor puts this issue into the context of the separation of the two kingdoms:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Candidate for President

I thought I would share this latest grassroots effort. This news story demonstrates the power of the internet, blogging, and Bailing Water.


Nominations for VP are being sought!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Year of Jubilee

Anonymous said...

Here's a question that does not really belong in this list, but here goes....With the collapsing financial market and economy, whatever happened to the "Year Of Jubilee" ? In my church, there has not been one mention of this. Also, it seems that the financial crisis of 2 years ago has totally disappeared? Was that all a sham? Does the WELS depend on any endowment that is dependent on stock market performance or other economic factors? Is another crisis looming?

Thank you.

October 6, 2008 7:43 PM

Pres. Schroeder's answer via:

Congregations synodwide are in their own ways embracing the special Year of Jubilee offering—authorized by the 2007 synod convention to eliminate the synod's $22.4 million debt and free up funds for other ministry.

Christ the Lord in Clearwater, Fla., has done the math to calculate a rough goal for its members. "Of course the gospel of our Savior will be the main motivator," says Rev. Jeff Mahnke. "We think that breaking it down this way enables our members to see how reachable this goal is as a congregation and as a synod."

The Ministry of Christian Giving is providing all congregations with resources and promotional materials for the special offering—including instructions for producing a banner. Members at Our Savior's in Zion, Ill., worked with the basic design and took things a step further so that the words "Year of Jubilee" are replaceable and the banner can be used again at future occasions.
Year of Jubilee is designed to be celebrated in consecutive worship services from Nov. 23 through Dec. 14.

A package of resources, including instructions and a special DVD presentation, was mailed to all congregations after district conventions in June. If this package didn't arrive or if it has been misplaced, contact WELS Ministry of Christian Giving by calling 414-256-3218 (toll-free 800-827-5482). Many of the worship planning resources are also available online, including a promotional insert for October worship folders.

To date, WELS members and congregations have given about $693,000 for the offering.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Commenter asks for answers

Anonymous said...

Since Prez Schroeder supposedly reads this blog, let's ask him directly:

  • -President Schroeder, did you have prior knowledge to Kelm's divine call to be a parish consultant?
  • If so, did you approve and rubberstamp it? Are you and Kelm on the same page doctrinally and is he a WELS pastor in good standing?
  • By the way, why are so many parish consultants needed? How many are there and wouldn't another one be excessive?
  • Can't we find a congregation somewhere that needs extra shepharding and better use the talents these men were synodically trained to do?
  • How about cutting back synod agencies at 2929 and making the best use of synod monies by trimming the fat?
  • How about going directly to the good WELS rank and file and asking them what they think?
  • Plan a "survey sunday" for every congregation and ask all members to answer questions and offer suggestions in their sunday bulletins. Maybe direct communication with the people could render some real solutions and put you and others there in the Milwaukee hierarchy in touch with all the members and not just the pastors or DP's. I digress.
  • Back to Kelm, can you investigate this 'call' and see if another consultant is actually necessary? Can you report to the people what all the other consultants are consulting the parishes about? Can't remember the last time my congregation had a consultant or even needed one for that matter. I'm concerned that my offerings are being diverted to pay for padded synodical boards.
  • Can you put my fears to rest?

Thank you for your consideration of these questions and suggestions.

October 5, 2008 12:20 AM

Thursday, October 2, 2008

BPS extended the Call

"...The governing body that extends Parish Assistance consultant calls is the WELS Board for Parish Services. This authoritative board extends calls for all of the units of Parish Services: Evangelism, Worship, Youth Discipleship, Parish Schools, Adult Discipleship, Special Ministries, and Parish Assistance. The board is comprised by parish pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and laymen; all elected by the synod in convention. The actual calling process is similar to that followed in our congregations. We inform the district president (the district in which the chairman of the board resides) of our request and he supplies a call list from which the board extends a call."

Full-time consultant’s responsibilities:

1. Works under the direction of and is accountable to the Parish Assistance director and ultimately responsible to his calling body, the WELS Board for Parish Services
2. Provides comprehensive, fee-based assistance to congregations in planning and carrying out their outreach and nurture ministries
3. Provides or secures appropriate specialized assistance
4. Assists with ongoing development to ensure that Parish Assistance provides the best possible service to God’s people as they pursue God’s purposes
5. Provides training for church leaders throughout the core consulting process and additionally if desired or needed
6. Provides assistance, as requested, with specific needs (e.g. teambuilding, evaluation of staffing needs, mentoring, coaching, etc.)
7. Assists with training current and additional part-time Parish Assistance consultants
8. Serves his Savior through Parish Assistance, the Board for Parish Services, and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in ways appropriate to his gifts