Thursday, April 30, 2009

Called Worker reductions

Massive budget slashing occurred last weekend. One has to wonder if all the grants to the Rock and Roll missions will be cut.

The Synodical Council (SC) met last Friday and Saturday to adopt a proposed budget that will be recommended to the synod convention in July.

President Schroeder

The WELS constitution requires the SC to submit a budget proposal that is balanced and in line with the anticipated financial support from all sources. A budget that would call for spending greater than anticipated support is not an option. The projected support for the next two years made it necessary for the SC to reduce the synod's ministry program by more than $8 million (from $38.4 million to just under $30 million). As it considered this situation, the SC was very much aware of the painful and difficult choices confronting us. It was clear that significant budgetary reductions in all areas of ministry will be necessary. Recognizing that, the SC made every effort to find ways to limit the size and scope of the reductions that will need to be made.

Some of these reductions will involve the loss of called and hired positions in our mission fields, at our schools, and at the Synod Administration Building. Since the boards and groups that oversee these ministries will be responsible for communicating with the called workers, congregations, and mission fields that will potentially be affected, the budget information in this communication is in summary form only; details will be released in the coming weeks. This will give those responsible the time to speak personally to those that will be affected. Complete financial information will be included in the Book of Reports and Memorials and will also be posted online.


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Anonymous said...

"I've got a little list..." (From Mikaido)


Anonymous said...

In 20 years the WELS will be no larger than the Laestadian Lutheran Church, in 50, a footnote.


Anonymous said...

Largeness is meaningless.
Faithfulness is meaningful.

Lemkeel said...

Yes, anonymous comment @ 4:05. However, there's something to be said for shrinking numbers. Why is it that most other religions (usually the more liberal ones) are growing, some might say at significant rates? When times are tough ignoring the numbers boils down to... ignorance. It can be the "easy way out." The LDS/Mormon church would say the exact same thing as you do, that faithfulness is the most important thing - and their church is in the 50 million range... and not a saving faith.......

Anonymous said...

I don't believe MLS will make it through this time....


Anonymous said...

A leading C&Cer says don't worry about disputes:

no disputes

Anonymous said...

I don't believe MLS will make it through this time....

Why do you say that SW?
MLS is not even on the chopping block, at least according to the official WELS web site...

Anonymous said...

They are jumping ship already at MLS.


Anonymous said...

What's all the baloney about MLS. This is the first time in years that NO ONE is talking about closing MLS. They're talking about cuts ACROSS THE BOARD (Read, they're NOT singling out MLS as before.) Even if we mothballed half the buildings at MLS and kept it for the day when we need its full capacity, that is FAR BETTER than taking on the costs (financial and theological) of losing this precious gem in our system. Schroeder is WISE. "Do what we have to, to accomplish what we have to--namely securing the future of our ministerial education system. Painful, yes. But FAR better than the alternative.

Lemkeel said...

Both prep schools should close. They are officially "old fashioned." The vital questions to ask are: (1) "what is the purpose and utility of prep schools?" and (2) "does the cost to attend and keep it running outweigh the benefits of attending a school that basically tries to brainwash young impressionable minds and lead them to believe they should devote their lives to the Lord by being a pastor or a teacher?"

Anonymous said...


Who do you mean by "they"?

I know the Prez of MLS is taking a new position; he indicated part of his decision to do so was to help preserve MLS.

Does anyone know what enrollments are predicted to be at MLS for 2009-2010 school year?

Has MLS's student population fallen below 200?

Benjamin Tomczak said...

1 -- MLS enrollment is currently at 197.

2 -- Applications for next year are over 50; I'm not exactly sure of the specific number at the moment. (LPS has over 120 applicants for the class of 2013)

3 -- There is an upward trend in the pool of grade school students in the Michigan District over the next few years, which, Lord willing, coupled with a lower tuition (10% lower for the 2009-2010 year) should encourage increased enrollment.

4 -- The first call for a new MLS President will be issued this Saturday after a meeting of the Governing Board. The list of nominees can be viewed at

5 -- The purpose of prep schools is to train students for
the public ministry of the Gospel and to enroll them upon
graduation at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota for continued training to be public ministers of the Gospel.

This fulfills the second object of our being gathered together as a Synod: "establishing and maintaining theological seminaries, colleges, academies, schools, and other institutions of learning" (WELS Constitution, Article IV: Object, b).

Additionally, MLS is actively working to become the international prep school of the WELS. An international student enrollment of about 25 is expected for next year (from six of our sister churches around the world).

MLS has been and is developing ways to coordinate with our sister churches to aid in training the future lay leaders, pastors, and teachers of these fledgling church bodies.

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak

Lemkeel said...

What about ALHS's? Can't the grade school students in the Michigan District go to one of the two ALHS's? If that's not enough, convert MLS into some form of ALHS-- maybe not on the same campus but if the need is there make it an ALHS.

Can the WELS constitution be changed or amended as needed? To reflect changing times/cultures/peoples?

25 international students is an interesting number, however are the students children of current called workers? It would be different if they were completely separate from the WELS ministry...

Again, a cost/benefit analysis is important to at least consider during economic difficulties. Aside from the economic perspective, there's a bunch of other issues to consider such as the quality of education at the prep schools. Is it competitive with other, cheaper forms of education (public)? Competitiveness aside, how are the prep schools actually "preparing" students in today's day? Are graduates really prepared or are the education and experiences they receive nominal?

Benjamin Tomczak said...

So far the ALHS's have not proved able to provide the number of candidates we need, by their own admission. Consistently the two prep schools send to MLC as many candidates as all the ALHS's combined.

That's not a slam, that's a reflection on the different purposes of the schools. As currently structured, the ALHS's operate to provide Christian education. The prep's exist to provide ministry-specific training and encouragement.

I would love to see the ALHS's shifted in a more prep-like direction. The reality there is that it will cost Synod dollars. How could we, with a good conscience, not spend money on the training of pastors and teachers, a training in which we have a vested interest? It'd be great to have 25 prep schools, not just two.

The international students are not missionary's children. They are students from our mission fields in Korea, Germany, Ukraine, and other places. They are, as I noted above, the next generation of leaders in those national church bodies.

For example, at the Seminary of the ELFK (our sister church in Germany), all but one of the students attended MLS as part of the exchange program we've set up.

As to the quality of education...I can't speak for LPS, but MLS consistently outscores all the schools in its region in most or all areas of testing, her students qualify for awards in German and Latin testing, the National Merit scholarship, and about 10% of the graduates are prepared to play organ in worship already by graduation, etc.

It isn't just competitive with public education, it blows it out of the water, if only for one reason -- Jesus is in the classroom!

I'll direct you to the soon to be appearing report in the Book of Reports and Memorials which will describe some of the ways that MLS is preparing young men and women for their lives of service in the Church. Look for it later this month.

Grace and peace,
Pr. Benjamin Tomczak

Tim Niedfeldt said...

Lemke, I'm not sure what you are ultimately getting at, but it would certainly seem you have a particular bias against the synod prep schools. I'm not sure why we would ever want to revise our synod constitution. What do we need to adjust? The synod has always existed for two reasons: Missions and Education. What other modern thing of the day do we need to "walk together" on, that is more important than these two things? I think you should consider a few things though.

Despite whatever the future may hold for the ministerial education system of the synod, you have to consider that the two prep schools are THE prime producer of our pastors and teachers. MLS alone has an extraordinary per capita rate of pastors coming from it at a rate of around 40% of our current seminary graduates (the number I have heard is about 20ish per year from MLS). I have heard numbers that say almost 75% of our synods called workers are coming from the prep schools.

Now take that in contrast to Wisconsin Lutheran HS where my children attend. If this ALHS produced as well as MLS there should be approximately 180 seminarians at Mequon claiming Wisco as their alma mater whereas I'm not even sure there are 3 right now. If my high school alma mater, Lakeside Lutheran HS, were as good, there would be another 80 seminarians. Alas in my of the larger of the school only 3 of us went to DMLC and 1 to Northwestern. If you want the numbers they won't lie. ALHS's are not the answer to supporting our ministerial education system.

If you do not support our ministerial education system then there is no purpose in being in the synod. It produces some of the most well-trained biblical scholars in a world filled with weak, inadequate, bible colleges, where they can't even get into the Word in the original languages. I appreciate that whenever I sit down at my Pastor's computer that I ALWAYS have to close Logos that has up a Hebrew or Greek text for the sermon that week. That is very unlike my cousin who is using his 4 year degree in "recreation mgmt" as a youth "Pastor" at a community church. He is completing his seminary training through the mail at a two year Baptist Bible College. Basically an excercise in deciding which "theologian's" commentary you most agree with.

So do we need a prep school system that is "competive". I hope not. The missions of these schools are to prepare synod called workers. Are they "prepared"? Yes they are...and in particular they are very well prepared for ministry. If they don't choose ministry and instead go to some other college...they are still very well prepared. If they decide they wanted to be a carpenter of an auto mechanic, they may be a bit behind the curve ball...but then perhaps their choice of schools wasn't a good choice after all.

Now I admit despite this good news in prep schools that I remain flexible for the future. There are ways to maintain our ministerial education system and yet streamline and economize. Having one large prep school that has the results of MLS can be accomplished. Running one WLC type college as a university with the addition of a ministerial education track, a staff minister track, and a seminary track or post graduate program might save on overhead of duplicate classes and resources. It could save on real estate costs and administration. Yet it would be a great cultural shift for the synod. It means giving up the love of bricks and mortar. It means jumping in and maintaining the integrity, traditions and vigilance of the current individual institutions in a new shared environment. I don't actually think that the synod could be that flexible and open-minded anytime soon.

There are other things that could/should be done anyways. Pastors should be mentoring boys of the congregation who show gifts for the ministry. This could be quite the addition to the workload in having an active ministry mentoring programs but working with kids at an early age might produce results that as of yet are unknown. Wisco has hired a full-time school pastor to do just this thing to try and encourage more students to join the ministry. ALHS's should step up to and actually encourage ministry more.

I do not underestimate the power of God to protect and produce our future called workers with the continuing quality we experience today. Schools may close..real estate may become vacant. traditions may pass away but Jesus's church will continue.

If you want your "competitive" and "prepared" send your kids to The St. Paul School or Brooks Academy out east. Maybe here in Milwaukee you can go to Brookfield Academy or University School. Maybe you just need to move to the suburbs and find that nice public school that is sucking up the suburban tax dollars. But if you want prepared called workers, then our prep schools are the place to be for now.


Anonymous said...

RE: "What's all the baloney about MLS. This is the first time in years that NO ONE is talking about closing MLS."

Actually, that's not true. The Synodical Council has presented two budgets to the Synod Convention. The first budget gives the lion's share of the budget to Ministerial Education, while Home and World Missions take the hit, meaning the recall of dozens (if not hundreds) of missionaries. The second budget takes 1 million dollars from the Ministerial Ed budget and splits it between Home and World Missions. This budget is the de facto "close MLS" budget, even if it doesn't specifically say so.

Anonymous said...

You and I quite often do not see eye to eye...but I always read your posts with an open mind. I often go back and re-read your words days and weeks later. I think about what you post.
I have to tell you this post of yours is one of the BEST posts I have ever seen from you or anyone else.

WLHS Alum said...

Reading over your post you seem to espouse a double-standard:

You support the prep schools due to their undivided focus on ministerial education. As you say, sure they may behind the curve for other occupations, but for their purpose (unswerving focus on ministry) they serve very well.

Then you go on to suggest the idea of having a "WLC type college" (general liberal arts?) with the addition of ministerial education. This follows the same line of thinking as the ALHS - something for all Christians - and not the single-minded focus of the prep schools.

Which side are you on?

Tim Niedfeldt said...

I would say that I don't believe that prep schools are the only way our called workers SHOULD be produced. It is just a fact and testament that they are THE way they are mostly produced now (to which they should be commended). There are many things that lead to the success of the prep schools. Their size, their focus, the boarding nature of the schools that immerses the students in ministry focused environment, even the makeup of their staff.

However I think much like Pastor Tomzcak above mentioned that this success is something that COULD and should be duplicated by ALHS's if they had the wherewithall and resources to try it. It would take an immense amount of work. IT would be a culture shift. I think it would be a fallacy and might presumptious for someone to suggest that we could never replace a prep school in some other fashion.

In a similar vein I think that we could run a ministerial education system in a combined university format and consolidate all our resources in one place to be more efficient. I perhaps glossed over how daunting a challenge this would be. It would be no less of a challenge than having ALHS's putting up prep school numbers for ministry.

There are many debates to be had. Is it the cloistering of our ministerial education system what makes it successful? Is the mentoring and closeness of small institutions what makes it successful? If those things are the keys...then how do we make it work because running redundant facilities for small numbers of people is expensive and woops...all the money is going away? and the list of debates to be had could go on and on....much longer than a convention or a single budget discussion of course.

However when it is said and done the issue to resolve is... "How do we provide and preserve the same quality of ministerial education with the resources we have?"

The hard choices come up when we have decisions to make about how the old ideal way, which preserved this standard, can no longer be paid for.

So people can revive their giving or they can work hard to create the alternatives that will make it happen (Ohhh that means all of us...we can't just foist the responsibility to the prep schools anymore). Personally, if money were no object I'd say keep it all how it is...*sigh*

So maybe the short answer is...I like the current system and its probably best. In light of what needs to be done for the future I am not close-minded to changes and the very many challenges they would present to the WELS to provide called workers. I stay optimistic that in the midst of what can be apparent devastating blows to the current system that The Holy Spirit will lead his people to do his bidding in creating equally effective means to provide ministers.


Anonymous said...

The problem with the current prep school system is that it is expensive. At the last synod convention Todd Poppe stated that the cost of education at LPS was ~$22,000 and at MLS ~$17,000 per student. Teachers at prep schools have low teaching loads compared to ALHS. Their facilities are upgraded without any thought for the future. We are not frugle with how we fund them.

As to the issue of ALHS's producing enough candidates for the ministry. They currently do not but that is not to say that they couldn't be viable or even better suppliers of quality candidates. If MLS were closed and half of its budget (just to throw an amount out there) was used to enhance the curriculum, staff, recruiting, focus, etc... of some ALHS's I believe it would be both a money savings and could help draw candidates out of ALHS's. I don't believe that the prep school education is a better one than an ALHS.

We have yet to look at any alternatives to our expensive current prep school system. We just consistently defend the current way of doing things because of a lack of wanting to change and dismiss other viable options. We only come up with reasons why we can't change, not reasons why we should and can change for the better.

Rick Johnson said...


The 2008 RttTD indicates that MLS since 1910 has sent on less than half of MLS students to the appropriate college (DMLC, NWC or MLC) to continue their training for the ministry.

Of the grads for "last year" (according to the 2008 RttTD) who continued in the pastor track, the number was 11 and not 20s. Given attrition, I would guess that the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary graduates from that class will be in the single digits. Other years may be different but I don't have those numbers at my fingertips.

I cannot find the documentation now but I recall a report by MLC that over 50% of their teacher grads come from ALHS.

Given that MLS stated purpose for existing is to prepare young men and women for ministry and given the fact that MLS isn't paying its own expenses but is on synod subsidy, is 50% a high enough number to warrant it's continued funding at the expense of withdrawing world and home missionaries from the front lines of the gospel work with unbelievers?

I've heard via the infamous grapevine that ME will be faced with reducing 40 positions system-wide. Does it make sense to hamper all the schools or does it make more sense to close one in order to more adequately staff the others? A very tough decision.

Also I don't think this is a "are you for missions or are you for worker training" issue? This is "we can't afford to do it the same way anymore so now what do we do" issue. This Synod convention will be faced with hard decisions and I am praying that they don't dodge those decisions like the last convention did, in my opinion. The schools exist to provide workers for the fields so closing the fields to keep the schools doesn't make sense to me.

Rick Johnson

Anonymous said...

Why should we be surprised that ALHSs don't seem to provide as many called worker candidates as prep schools when the ALHSs are constantly told that they can't do it and when ALHS students are told that they are second-class candidates? It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I wonder what would happen if ALHSs were encouraged to produce candidates instead of disparaged or if ALHS students were valued instead of looked down upon.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 2:04 PM said...
"We have yet to look at any alternatives to our expensive current prep school system. We just consistently defend the current way of doing things because of a lack of wanting to change and dismiss other viable options."

A: There were at least two recent, very thorough prep school study committee reports" submitted and voted on at synod conventions.

"Have yet to" is inaccurate.

"consistently" is a loaded and inaccurate word not conducive to true debate.

"We only come up with reasons why we can't change, not reasons why we should and can change for the better."

A: Again, this is an inaccurate statement. See above.

Intelligent, well-read, non-loaded comments are useful for discussion and debate. It would be nice if the author read up recent convention reports for the last 15 years before assuming such study and discussion has not taken place, when it has, very publicly, in the highest form, namely leading up to and in the synod convention--the governing body for our church.

Furthermore, as relates to costs, keep in mind that MLS cannot be sold in the current economic chaos of today's Saginaw. Nor would closing the school result in savings in the short term due to severance packages, maintaining the unsaleable campus, etc.

On the contrary, even mothballing half of it, but preserving the school for the day when people again have offerings to give and have awakened to the realization that western Christian civilization as we know it is ending with our nation's public education system leading the charge, continues to be, in my opinion, the prudent option, and is being pursued by the Hon. Schroeder administration.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

I'm not sure if anything has changed in the last 25 years but I don't think ALHS students were ever disparaged back in the day, unless I missed something going on around me.

However there also were no real organized ministry tracks or ministry development programs in the ALHS's either. I see that several ALHS's have now made some inroads into this. History has said it did not need to be a priority in the past...there are always the prep schools. We can't do that anymore.

What Rick said above is true. "This is "we can't afford to do it the same way anymore so now what do we do" issue." and I concur that I hope this next convention digs in and deals with it. I know in the last one I felt the big issues were avoided. It also was emotional (My best friend and I were on opposite sides of the debate about MLS ...and yes I would have painfully voted to close it despite how many friends I have that went to school there.)

However this seems to be the year for "change" (uggh I now hate that word as much as "This economy") and hopefully with the current pain and the need for immediate action plainly evident, people will approach the issues at hand and dig in and know there will be no easy solution and somewhere there will be cuts in ministry that NO ONE really wants to make.


WLHS Alum said...

Do prep schools produce more candidates because of their existence, or because kids that were planning for the ministry anyway tend to go to them rather than the ALHS?

As an aside, at WLHS I was strongly encouraged to go into the ministry regularly by several teachers. And so I went to MLC.

Anonymous said...

MLS, 1892 - 2010.


Anonymous said...

Some facts to consider:

Currently, about 12% of Martin Lutheran College come from MLS. That isn't a small number. But it isn't the world. Certainly, some of those individuals would have gone to MLC even if they hadn't gone to MLS (pastor's kids, for example).

Contrary to what Ben reports, LEM enrollment in Michigan is falling through the floor. At least three schools closed last year.

MLS can't claim to be a "single purpose school" anymore. When they started taking in dozens of foreign students (primarily for the tuition income generated) they also became a mission school. That isn't necessarily wrong or bad. But it undermines the claim that we dare not do anything which would threaten the "single purpose" of the school.

MLS is heavily staffed. There are teachers who work 4 days out of a 6 day teaching rotation. There has been little effort made to trim costs substantially.

I believe that enrollment in the 190's that Pastor Tomcazk cited is erronious. I think it's in the 170's.

Tim's suggestion of having one prep school needs to be considered. The line MUST be drawn there.

Lemkeel said...

What a busy day at work-- Pastor Tomczak-- as other anonymous people have commented, ALHS's could provide the needed future called workers if there were no prep schools. If future pastors/teachers live near an ALHS, they can attend it, then attend MLC. If they don't live near an ALHS, they can attend a public high school, then attend MLC. If the desire is there, the gifts, the motivation to serve God, they will do it. And the best part is, they'll do it without being brainwashed. They'll have a genuine heart/desire, which will show through in their work, and they'll do a better job working with people. Make sense? There will still be called workers, perhaps a somewhat smaller number, but there will still be, and they'll be better than ever.

The solution is not more prep schools, it's no more prep schools. The time has come for pastors/teachers to receive more well-rounded educations (probably in public school) where they receive not only book education that's better but they learn about the people who they one day will try to convert/preach the Gospel to. What's the point of having an awesome Bible-based education if you can't reach out to the people who need the Gospel? Unfortunately, that's what's happening. The prep school system has been dwindled down to a brainwashing system. That's the truth - as a graduate of LPS (started out at MLPS before it closed) - I can speak to what I'm saying. If you want to know the technical def. of brainwashing, google it and see what Wikipedia brings up. The international students - what do they want to do? Become future called workers in the WELS?

Having higher test scores doesn't mean that much. If you based quality on mere test scores alone, you will find much disappointment all over the place. Test scores say little more than the test taker tested well on the items tested. There's much bias in standardized test scores, and a careful eye should be used when reading and interpreting those scores. I'm talking about the other experiences/education that are much more important than what a test can measure. These are often the most important things that a simple test cannot measure. For instance, how do you relate to others? is not an item measured on these tests. In the public ministry, this is a critical interpersonal skill to have. I'm not trying to take Jesus out of the equation, but the current system of Jesus only is not working.

Lemkeel said...


I'm saying that prep schools should close. They're too expensive and the millions of dollars spent on them can be diverted to ALHS's, MLC, SEM, and missions. I have a bias against them like you have one towards them. What's the diff? Are you saying that the WELS constitution is perfect? Even the politicians and Presidents of the US have recognized the need to make "amendments" to the US Constitution. But, the WELS' constitution might be perfect cause it may be blessed by God? The Synod's reasons for existence may have to change or it will cease to exist. Prove to me that the Synod "walks together" besides examples from your congregation. The WELS is one of the most clique-based organizations I've ever seen. You're either in or out, a "little person" or a "big wig."

As I addressed to Pastor Tomczak, if there's no prep schools, there will still be future called workers, they just didn't go to a prep school. They'll go to an ALHS or a public school. Currently, as other writers have commented, ALHS's are looked down upon. If there's no prep schools, and money is diverted to ALHS's to help encourage future called workers in addition to everything else, there will be future called workers coming out of these places.

I do support MLC and Sem, they are necessary. Of course, I've thought about MLC joining with WLC so future called workers receive a more well-rounded education that they must have in order to be competitive in today's day. The prep schools are "old fashioned" and the purpose is lost to the cost of keeping them thriving. In addition, as a graduate of LPS (started out at MLPS before it closed) I can state from personal experiences that the education ain't that great. People going to public high schools (and possibly some ALHS's) are receiving much better educations. Why go to the "no purpose of being in the synod" statement? Is that your answer to anyone who disagrees with you? In the WELS you can try threats and intimidation, but that really shows more about your character and that of the WELS than anything else. As far as the WELS producing "well-trained biblical scholars" what are you comparing that to other than "weak, inadequate, bible colleges?" Have you ever looked at BYU? It is rated as one of the best undergraduate institutions in the world (like under prestigious Harvard and Yale) and they would claim to have the "most well-trained biblical scholars" as well. YOU think the WELS is the "best at the Bible" but so do the other religions. Prove to me that the WELS education is better than the others. Your experience at your congregation with your pastor is not the same as my experience with my pastor.

The Synod's school system is falling by the wayside. They are not progressing along with other schools that can afford new technology, hire teachers with expertise in their areas of study, etc. Consequently, you have people graduating from a school that literally looks like they came off a farm in some Amish territory and the rest of the world, the ones they're supposed to try to preach the Gospel to, are laughing at them. In order to be competitive, the WELS schools need more money and higher quality of educators. Currently, the system is producing candidates that are becoming more and more less qualified even as I type. How are they prepared for ministry of people that laugh and scoff at them? Or are they supposed to teach already WELS people? I didn't realize that preaching to the choir is the main concern...

The WELS needs to make some major changes or it will desist. Pastors should mentor future pastors when fitting and necessary. If not done this way, it's basically unethical and ungodly. Don't know which schools you were referring to, I'm one of those minority who don't live in WI. Again, what are the called workers prepared for? Preaching to the choir? I didn't know you had to receive an expensive education in the WELS to come out exactly the same as you did before you began paying thousands of dollars...

Anonymous said...

A lot of good points have been made on this post. I would like to reaffirm some of the points already made as well as possibly make some new ones.

I am an alumni of MLS; I graduated over 3 decades ago. How time flies!

Back in those days, the number of Area Lutheran High Schools (ALHS) was MUCH less than today. There was no Huron Valley Lutheran High in Westland; there was no Michigan Lutheran High School in St. Joseph. MLS in Saginaw was the ONLY WELS high school in the area. At the time I attended MLS, the school population was well over 300, and probably closer to 400. I was amazed when someone posted that there were only 197 students this past year, and that 20+ were actually foreign students.

Undoubtedly, a lot of potential students for MLS from the metro Detroit area were lost to Huron Valley.

The curriculum at MLS was (is ?) heavily weighted towards the humanities, music, and language arts. Natural science was also represented, although not as strongly as the aforementioned subjects. One of the natural sciences in particular was presented fairly weakly at MLS. For the sake of the former instructor, I will remain silent as to which natural science course was definitely lacking.

After graduating from MLS, the real weakness I found in its curriculum was in the area of mathematics. I did not continue on to either DMLC or NWC. While at MLS, I was in the "pastor track" and only had one year of algebra in my freshman year, and one year of geometry in my sophmore year. There were many times in college I would have really benefited from a more rigorous mathematical background.

A few points I would like to make.

#1. Don't merely send a young person to MLS simply to "get a college prep education in a Christian environment". Remember, the prep schools are for those students who SERIOUSLY are intending to enter the ministery. If your son/daughter wants to be a doctor, lawyer, or Indian chief, consider another school ESPECIALLY if it would mean your child would have to be a dormer student during high school.
Remember, if your child is NOT going on to a WELS institution, there is no "college days" where universities come in to the school, and there is no guidance counseling outside of being a pastor or teacher, and there is no help in obtaining particular scholarships to secular universities.

#2. Don't send you child to MLS to "straighten him/her out". MLS is not a reformatory. I once had a talk with someone about prep school, and they said how it must have been like a prison and how prep kids "couldn't get away with stuff like he was able to". I asked this person how many children were in his household when he was growing up. He was one of 3 kids, and both his parents were in that household. I told him that was a ratio of 2 "guards" to 3 "inmates". I dormed in Saginaw with over 100 other male students. We had 2 tutors in the boys' dormitory. That ratio is 2 "guards" to over a 100 "inmates". Now, IF YOU HAD THE TEMPERMENT TO BREAK THE RULES, IN WHAT ENVIRONMENT WOULD IT BE EASIER TO DO SO?"
Moral of the story: Don't send your kids to prep school (if they will be dorm kids) if they do NOT have the responsibility and maturity necessary to make their own decisions outside of direct parental control.

Ancient MLS Alumni

Anonymous said...

Regarding whether to keep MLS open or not...that is a very emotionally charged topic.

Would there be a large enough student population within commuting distance of Saginaw to maintain MLS as an Area Lutheran High School?

Then the WELS could possibly keep Luther Prep in Watertown open as a boarding school. At least some of those currently attending MLS as boarding students would be able to transfer to the larger Luther Prep.

There was a time when there were many boarding schools within the WELS, such as MLS, high school academies at both NWC and DMLC, and I think there was one in South Dakota also (name escapes me).

As noted before, however, this was before the proliferation of ALHS.

I am not sure in this era of the increasing popularity of home schooling as to how attractive boarding schools are to the average lay person when considering their young peoples' education.

Speaking for myself, it is nearly impossible for me to talk about my high school years as a boarding student with any outsider from the WELS (and even some within the WELS) without getting really curious looks. I am sure I am not the only one that has had that uncomfortable experience.

Ancient MLS Alumni

Tim Niedfeldt said...

My comments regarding the synod and its purpose were aimed at finding out what you think the synod's purpose is. What is it in the constitution that you think needs to be changed in "The Synod's reasons for existence.." ? My personal opinion over-simplifies that down to ministerial education and missions. You can't walk together in missions if you don't have workers. You don't need workers if you don't do missions.

I'd say that the current synod crisis is about a lot more than whether we're clique-based organization and I fail to see the relevancy of that. I'm not sure how you can say the synod doesn't walk together in missions and education. We've walked so far in debt on these two items alone we've plumb wore out our shoes.

I actually am dying to know what you think the WELS schools are for? Competitive?...for what? You want the WELS to be competitive with BYU? It doesn't matter if you went to Notre Dame or Yale...or BYU...If your theology is wrong you might as well have gotten your theology degree from the University of Phoenix and saved yourself the money. It will do you just as much good serving the Kingdom. I've come across people with many degrees in theology and often they are the most ignorant. Technology? for what? Does Rosetta Stone have a Greek and Hebrew edition that could give our pastors the edge over the Mormons?

My sarcastic point is that if you're argument is that our synod schools reason for existance is to be some hoity toity academic powerhouses where we churn out doctors, ceo's, and scientists, I think you're missing the point and perhaps that is why you're so disappointed in your own educational experience.

Lastly, as to why I go to the "why stay in the synod." It's not about intimidation or threats. Its about..if the synod isn't walking together for you and you have been let down by your pastors, the schools, the leadership, and even the very reason for the existance of the synod...why would anyone bother to stay. For example if I say to you that a synod is for missions and education and you are Joe Synod and you synods are for Social activism and education...I will not walk together with you. It's that simple. I walk with the synod because I believe that it's mission is correct and that it educates my pastors in the truth.

Sure there are some who foul things up like a pastor I had awhile ago who got booted from my church..went to the Ukraine did mission work got booted from Thoughts of Faith...joined the ELCA and got a call to a church here in WI and 6 months later left his wife and kid for his mistress back in the Ukraine. Did the WELS educational system fail him or was he just a royal putz?

On the other hand I have had 31 pastors in 40 years and except for the one I've mentioned they have all been great in their own way. I know many others as well and their uniformity and doctrinal knowledge have never disappointed.

Despite what actually happens in the synod its these core values we need to maintain.


Anonymous said...

The two missionaries currently in Portugal who were supposed to go to Mozambique, are both heading home. There will be no WELS mission in Mozambique.

As for MLS, I heard that from a returning missionary from oversees--they were told it was either cut MLS or slash a large number of our missionaries. So, someone is talking about it. Given the hysteria before the last Synod convention, I have a feeling they will be trying to sneak this in at the last minute....

Personally, I favor closing MLS over removing missionaries from the field.

Lemkeel said...


I'm thinking "big picture" and not "details" when it comes to the Synod constitution. Getting caught up in the details causes more confusion because I am not invested in it as a "called worker." I spose you could say I'm in the "out" group. Missions and workers for the missions is purposeless if you're not doing it right or well or even in a God-pleasing manner. How are you certain that the WELS is even doing it right in the first place?

The current synod crisis has evolved due to a number of factors. One of them is almost certainly due to the fact that the primary emphasis in the WELS has always been on called workers; the lay people who pay for the called workers belong to a different group. In actuality, they're not royalty like the called workers. This division has been going on for years; have you not ever spoken to someone who feels less important or even ignored cause they're not a pastor/teacher/important person? This is one of the reasons for the current crisis, to ignore it is ignorance. I doubt some of the laypeople (i.e., funders for called workers) would have "walked together" had they been made aware of the financial situation as it was in shambles.

LES's had served a purpose at one time being a viable alternative to public education where God's word was not shared. Let's be honest, during the 70s and 80s there was no such thing as technology. Scholarly intellect was also limited. Times have changed since as they should, and LES's are not able to keep up with the changing times. I don't need to get into a rant about examples of technology; I should say though that being exposed to at least good quality education and experiences is something that is happening less and less at many LES's due to the fact that their teachers are coming from MLC. I also went to MLC for a while and can speak of the education there as well. Compared to what I received after I transferred to a public university, the difference is mind-blowing. I tried to explain in my previous note that competitiveness is important to be able to reach out to others. How does this not make sense? If you think someone "challenging" you doesn't stand a chance of beating you do you stick with it or walk away? I'd walk away in that instance. Maybe my definition of competitiveness is different than yours... Idk. Did I say that I want the WELS to be competitive with BYU? No, I simply used that school as an example. The point I was trying to make is how do you know their theology is wrong? They think it's right and so do about 50 million other people. They must be doing something right, or wrong as it may be. Maybe someone could check out what other "successful" religious bodies are doing right that makes them have higher numbers and more money. But that would take swallowing pride and not being so stubborn. I don't know about the theology program at University of Phoenix so I can't speak of it (if there is one). Of course, if worse comes to worse, the seminary could close and the future pastors could study at other seminary's which might not be a bad thing either. How do you know that the people with many degrees in theology are ignorant? What are you basing their ignorance from? What good does knowing Hebrew and Greek if you are unable to appropriately apply it to people. Bragging rights means nothing to a person who lost their entire home and family in a fire. Do you think the skill of reading/translating Hebrew is more important or knowing how to relate to that individual and showing empathy (what Jesus was going around trying to teach everyone) in this instance?

Did I state anywhere in my last message about synod schools becoming "hoity toity academic powerhouses? producing doctors, ceo's, and scientists?" No, of course not. There's obviously a time and place. What I am saying, however, is that if called workers want to be taken seriously, they might want to have at least an academic background that exposes them to topics that they are almost guaranteed to run into in the field so the "deer in the headlights look" doesn't become the new WELS logo. Don't put words in my mouth (i.e., lay your assumptions on me) that I've had a disappointing educational experience. I've actually enjoyed many aspects of it and have had a few excellent teachers.

The "why stay in the synod" statement is about intimidation and threats. Changing the name of something is denial in it's most superficial form. If that's your solution (as it is most peoples' in the WELS) to someone who disagrees or has different thoughts than yours, good luck. Not only is this unchristian, but it's embarrassing. Denial works wonderfully, you get so caught up in something that you fail to see even the most obvious. I am not talking about social activism and education, but if you want to think I am go ahead. Don't care if you're not walking with me. Continue to do as you choose and what fits best with your conscience.

Your example of the pastor you had who "fouled things up" is not impressive to me. What is impressive to me is how you, like all most other WELS people are quick to judge, with no empathy. 31/40 pastors/years is a lot. Wow. That's wonderful that they've been great in their own way. That's great that you know many others as well and they've never disappointed you in their uniformity and doctrinal knowledge. You, are one person. Core values to you? What are they and who determines them? Any value can be a value if someone running the show says it is. Have you been told what core values you have and how you need to maintain them?

Tim Niedfeldt said...

I'd walk away...

Benjamin Tomczak said...

Responding to Anonymous on May 5 at 6:04 pm:

1) Enrollment at MLS is 197. This is based on the current information from President Prange and is reported on the call information sheets for candidates for MLS president.

I don't know where you heard the 170s number but it is flat out wrong.

2) While enrollment has been dropping in Michigan schools, according to the recruitment director at MLS, Prof. Norv Kock, who has done the math, called around, asked the questions, etc., there is an increasing number of students in future grade years in the next couple of years. It's not an overwhelming increase, but an increase none the less.

3) Of course MLS is a mission school, so are all our schools. You're not either a mission school or a doctrine school.

But, again, the international students are not "prospects," that is, unchurched students. They are students from our sister church bodies around the world.

In one case, that of the South Korean students, we are practicing a little more flexibility because of the youth of the church there. The students receive some catechetical instruction in South Korea, and continue that catechetical instruction in their first year at MLS.

Obviously, the administration is monitoring this situation because we don't want it to simply be, "Hey, we can get tons of students who pay tons of money and pad our enrollment and revenue." MLS honestly wants to serve our sister churches in whatever way we can in raising up the next generation of leaders.

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak

Anonymous said...

It's like that hiker who cut off his own arm which became stuck in a crack in a rock. We have to be brave enough to cut off MLS to live, after all it isn't the MLS Synod, but the Wisconsin Synod!

Anonymous said...

You wrote: "Maybe someone could check out what other "successful" religious bodies are doing right that makes them have higher numbers and more money."

"Successful" has nothing to do with "higher numbers and more money".

Faithfulness to God's Word equals successful. Read President Schroeder's article on the definition of success. I would much rather belong to a congregation or synod that has a handful of members and is dirt poor but is faithful to God's Word than to belong to a congregation or synod that has growth in numbers and lots of money but is not faithful to God's Word.

My own pastor knows how to "get the numbers up", "fill the church" and get lots of money for my congregation. But he is not doing that. He would prefer that we lose members and shut the doors than to grow and get money without being faithful to God's Word. There is no compromising God's Word.

You mention about other churches "doing right". There is no need to check out other churches. We are "doing right" if we are proclaiming God's Word faithfully.

Anonymous said...

"MLS honestly wants to serve our sister churches in whatever way we can in raising up the next generation of leaders."

Hmm, that sounds suspiciously like the mission statement of an ALHS, doesn't it?

Pastor Tomczak, you never addressed the original point. The point was that MLS cannot claim to be a single purpose school if it is allowing international students for a wholly other purpose. MLS cannot justify its existence by talking about how it exists only to train WELS students to be public ministers in the WELS if it allows non-WELS students who have no interest in serving in the public ministry to attend.

To be blunt, by allowing international students, MLS has transformed itself into a glorified ALHS, with one track for those who are planning on the ministry and another track for those who aren't. It's as simple as that.

Why should you expect the synod as a whole to subsidize an ALHS in Saginaw?

Anonymous said...

How does MLC students and teachers receive/treat students who did not come from the prep schools? Are the students from an ALHS or public school treated differently? If so how and why? What sort of effort does MLC make to make sure that the kids who have not known each other since the 9th grade (or even earlier) feel welcome and included. Is it OK for public schools to be degraded with comments like "Heathen High"? What efforts does the synod make to teach the students who do not attend a WELS school (either Prep or ALHS) how to handle the issues that arise in public schools ... like evolution? These are the same issues that our adults must handle in the work place.


Just Asking

Tim Niedfeldt said...

When I was there the first day and my parents were gone for maybe 2 hours, the prep kids grabbed me and took me to the sand pit for a bon fire and beer. It was much like a synod convention. It took approximately 3-4 hours for that class to bond.



Anonymous said...

The prep schools are like two overweight piglets suckling at mother sow's breasts and not allowing any others in, so that the others will grow weak and die.

Benjamin Tomczak said...

Anonymous, May 6, 10:02 am ~

This is what I wrote earlier:

"Additionally, MLS is actively working to become the international prep school of the WELS. An international student enrollment of about 25 is expected for next year (from six of our sister churches around the world).

MLS has been and is developing ways to coordinate with our sister churches to aid in training the future lay leaders, pastors, and teachers of these fledgling church bodies."

This is not enrolling students for a "wholly different purpose." It's enrolling them for the same purpose we enroll American students -- to prepare young men and women to be public ministers of the Gospel here and abroad.

Some of these students end up enrolling at MLC or Bethany. Some return home and continue in their local worker training programs. Some return home and become strong lay leaders in their congregation.

MLS's goal in enrolling international students is not to boost enrollment. It is not to increase revenue. It is not to provide American educational experiences. It is not to simply provide Christian, Lutheran education. (Though all those things happen as happy side-effects). MLS's goal in enrolling international students is, as noted in MLS's mission statement:

"To carry out its mission, the school trains international students for service either in the U.S. or in their native lands."

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak

Anonymous said...


Was the legal drinking age 18 at that time?

Just Asking.

Anonymous said...

"This is not enrolling students for a "wholly different purpose." It's enrolling them for the same purpose we enroll American students -- to prepare young men and women to be public ministers of the Gospel here and abroad."

I'm quite familiar with the Korean program at MLS and other ALHSs, and I can say with confidence that the Koreans who enroll at MLS have no serious interest in serving in the public ministry. They come to MLS (and other ALHSs) because their parents are willing to pay big bucks to give their children an American education. Many of these students are given a very brief introduction to Lutheranism and then confirmed on the fly so that they can qualify to come to MLS. It's pathetic and wrong and destroys any credibility that MLS might have in claiming to have a narrowly focused purpose.

""To carry out its mission, the school trains international students for service either in the U.S. or in their native lands.""

Ah, notice it says "service", not public ministry. That was always the prep schools' knock against the ALHSs--that they trained students for service, not public ministry. Now it seems that MLS is doing the same thing.

Lemkeel said...


Walking away? Cause then you won't receive any hindrance from "Lemkeel?" That would make your life much easier, wouldn't it? That's what I like to call the easiest of all easiest ways out. There's names for people like that but I won't name them. But let's all remember that walking away somehow solves the problem. I'll try to remember to tell that to the people I work with, "when the going gets tough, just walk away."

I read your comment about bonding at MLC with the "prepsters." Hah, let's be sure to share that aspect of how non-prepsters bond with prepsters with those who need are in need of the Gospel. It's funny how people who went through the synod's school system can always reminisce about the good 'ole days drinking some beer. In case you think I wasn't one of those, I was.

To Anonymous at 9:59 am May 6th, successful does not fully nor always equate to higher numbers and more money. However, as a general rule, success can be marked by such factors. In other words, success can be partially determined by having higher numbers and more money. Regardless of the issue at hand (right, wrong, legal, illegal, etc.), the fact that there's lots of people and lots of money says something. What degree and how meaningful is not known however. The point I was trying to make is that those things do say something, and maybe looking at why would be beneficial. Being faithful to God's word is important yes, but how do you know you're being faithful to God's word? Just because the "President of the Synod" says so doesn't mean it is so. To use a really extreme example, lots of people listened to Hitler and then killed lots of people because he told them to. A large problem is that laypeople look to the "leaders" of the church for all the answers, and don't use their own intellect and experiences, and then bad things often happen. Just because someone in the power seat says something does not mean you should listen and do as s/he says with eyes and ears closed. I hope and pray that the WELS tries to interpret the scripture and is faithful to it as best as they can. The critical point is that we're all sinful, and to have perfect knowledge and understanding of the Bible would mean we're perfect like God. Faith then plays a large role. We must be careful not to mix faith with "perfect knowledge and understanding." As I've pointed out in earlier posts, every religion thinks they're doing the "right thing" and are "faithful to God's word." As far as checking out other churches, that only makes you less prepared to talk to other people who belong to those churches. It makes you more disadvantaged. That's your choice, however.

Anonymous said...

Tim wrote:

"...maybe 2 hours, the prep kids grabbed me and took me to the sand pit for a bon fire and beer"

Underage drinking at the prep schools was quite suprise that it would continue at MLC..unless the age of legal drinking was 18 years old when you attended MLC ????

No suprise there.

Anonymous said...

>>>In other words, success can be partially determined by having higher numbers

>>>lots of people listened to Hitler and then killed lots of people because he told them to

So you're saying that Hitler must have been a successful Christian since he got such high numbers?

Your post was fantastic to read for the sheer fact that you contradicted your own point so powerfully.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

Lemkeel...You said:

"If you think someone "challenging" you doesn't stand a chance of beating you do you stick with it or walk away? I'd walk away in that instance."

I was just concurring with you. There is so much to address in your postings that not even I, the most verbose poster in BW land, could spend the time disecting all the unwise and uninformed ideas you've posted. So I "walked away"

to others...

I attended DMLC. ;-) MLC is for pups. Yes it was 18 at the time. However it was the year they switched to 19 and I was grandfathered in (whereas my roomate who was 2 weeks younger did not make the September 1st cutoff date). It made for odd situations as I was grandfathered in all the way to 21 while others who were only weeks away in age were underage.

The point was...everybody hung out with everybody. Nobody paid attention to what school you came from. There were only 100 guys and 300 girls at the time. The guys were all in Centennial Hall which was a Senior girls dorm at one time and Summit hall was closed up and in disrepair.


Lemkeel said...

To anonymous at 12:34 pm, in my experience as a student at MLC and former prep those from ALHS's were not ostensibly treated differently. At the same time, those from Prep were automatically favored, particularly if they were sons/daughters of prominent current/past WELS leaders. Those who attended MLS were second in line of being shown favoritism, but the same thing occurred if they were sons/daughters of prominent current/past WELS leaders. The next line of course was ALHS students. I would say those coming from ALHS's had to work harder to be "known" and to show they were of worthy substance of being future called workers (unless they were sons/daughters of current/past WELS leaders). The favoritism arises from factors such as the professors simply know the students from prep, either from their parents, brothers/sisters, or other related reasons. Knowing someone automatically puts you in a favorable/unfavorable place. The thing is, if you know someone's father/mother/uncle/aunt/grandparents and had a good relationship with them, then well you don't want to disappoint them by not treating their relative favorably, right? Association in WELS is huge. A problem that would disappear in time if there were no longer prep schools. You can't even break the bond easily of Prep versus MLS. These groups are even separate.

From my experiences at MLC (nearly a decade ago) there were no efforts in place to make those who did not know each other from Adam and Eve feel welcomed and included. They had to do that on their own, and due to the small/cliquey atmosphere, it usually never happened unless they were willing to compromise themselves to "kiss butt" to those who were in the "in crowd."

Of course it's not right for those who came from public schools to be degraded to "heathen high" students, but because they know almost no one they're automatically "on the outside." Those who came from Prep/MLS are so close already, you basically can't even think about trying to break that bond.

As far as WELS teaching students how to handle issues that arise in public education such as evolution, the efforts are not valid and worthwhile for many of the reasons stated in earlier posts. This is precisely one of the main issues I was raising. Total and complete unpreparedness, which is ironic since one of the goals of the mission of WELS is to reach out to "unchurched" others...

Anonymous said...

As Lemkeel said, it's not so much that ALHS kids are degraded, it's that prep kids are favored at MLC. They have all of the advantages. The profs know their families and usually know them. Thus, profs tend (perhaps subconsciously) to favor them.

Let's say that there's a smart prep kid and a smart ALHS kid. The smart prep kid is already known by the time he gets on campus, the profs say, "Oh, I was in class with your dad, he was smart, you must be smart too..." and so on. On the other hand, the smart ALHS kid isn't known by the profs. He has to work twice as hard with the same gifts to be noticed by the profs. In that way, the prep kids come in with a built-in advantage.

Also, prep kids come in with the biggest numbers. When elections are held the first week of classes, who do you think gets all of the votes? The kids from the preps who have built-in voting bases. There might be a natural leader in the class from an ALHS, but because he isn't already known that first week, he is essentially shut-out from leadership by the first week. Those freshman leaders are then seen as leaders for the rest of the 4 years. This then translates into them being seen as leaders out in the ministry. There's a reason why so many of our leaders come from prep schools. It's not because of their education or preparation. It's because they've always had the built-in advantage.

I say the prep schools do more harm than good. Get rid of them. Put everyone on a level playing field. Let natural gifts rise to the top instead of being satisfied with prep mediocrity.

Lemkeel said...

To anonymous at 6:03 May 6, how did I contradict myself so powerfully? Success is success, Christianity is Christianity, I was not trying to make a connection between what successful Christianity is. You may have misunderstood me, perceived what I said differently, or perhaps I didn't make myself clear. It's also possible you're trying to read what you want to read regardless of what I say, and am looking for ways to falsify what I'm saying cause it's so contrary to your worldview. People do that all the time, esp. if they feel attacked. This sort of sounds like "Confirmation Bias" where you look to find what you're looking for and when you find it, that's all that's there, what you were looking to find. I guess that's better than ignoring the whole thing.


how is what I've been saying more unwise and uninformed than what you're saying? If you say so... whatever you say must be right cause you are informed and wise and I am uninformed and unwise. Got it. Okay. You can walk away if you choose; I'm not surprised at all. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my 3 year old niece. Same logic at least.

Anonymous said...

>>>To anonymous at 6:03 May 6, how did I contradict myself so powerfully?

First you stated that numbers prove that something is good and God-pleasing.

Then you stated that Hitler attracted big numbers.

You can connect the dots from there.

Anonymous said...

Lemkeel, you come across to me as the epitome of the post-modernist; a modern day Pilate, "What is truth?" Here's what I hear you saying: "How do you know what you say is right?" "The mormons and others must be doing something right." "Since we can't know for sure if we are right or wrong, we might as well go learn from others who might be right or wrong."

Am I missing something? If this is truly how you feel, you "walked away" from WELS and more importantly the truth of God's Word a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you all should give more to the synod.

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous at 10:34 pm May 6, you're right, I might have been confusing and thus easier for you to connect the dots. I was trying to show that success, any success, can be shown by having higher numbers and more money (e.g., car companies, businesses, banks, religious bodies) from the objective view, success also has a subjective component that I think you are referring to. Success to you in the WELS means being faithful to God's word, regardless of money and numbers. So, I think the bulk of this confusion stems from different point of views of success, yours being subjective and mine objective. I would agree that subjective success to me can be quite varied from others' subjective definition of success... the Hitler example was meant to be a completely mutually exclusive example (from religion) about how his plan was fairly successful and he did have large numbers. I think though that you were a little too quick to make connections that weren't there, trying to discredit what I was saying.

Anonymous at 10:36 pm May 6, that's interesting, never considered myself a post-modernist, but I did just google it and noticed the word: "Critical theory" which is directly related to what you've probably been seeing in my posts: "critical thinking." Are you familiar with it? It's something that, admittedly, I had literally no idea what it was until I went to, yep, a public university where they don't let you pass a single course without doing some sort of critical thinking. That sounds like they are a controlling one-way only institution, what I'm trying to say is it's all over the place and to not have critical thinking on campus they wouldn't be the learning institution that they are.

With regard to "how do you know what you say is right?" I'm simply trying to elicit some form of critical thinking. This skill, critical thinking, is basically what I've been criticizing WELS schools for and their lack of competitiveness to other educations (mostly public). A lack of being able to think about something meaningful usually causes the other person, one who does, to not even consider what you're saying or trying to say. I'm not saying you should abandon your faith and beliefs, but I am saying how do you know that what you're saying is right? The LDS/Mormon example was just an example, of a religion that is very large and successful by objective (and they would say subjective) measures. Again, don't abandon your faith and beliefs, but what the heck is wrong with examining other religions? What harm could really happen besides, learning more?

What does my current status with the WELS matter? Is this another WELS intimidation and threat that Tim tried using earlier? Sounds like it, when helpless, scared, and unsure, let's use intimidations and threats........

Anonymous said...

Trust your leaders.

Anonymous said...

Though I've just briefly skimmed over all these posts, I am not sure how it all pertains to the subject. Regardless, I am confused by Lemkeel's last post. What threat and intimidation did Tim try using? I can't find what you are talking about.

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous at 8:54 pm on May 7, the words "threats and intimidation" don't have to be taken literally in this context. I was trying to call him out on his actions- instead of trying to respond appropriately to me, he decided he didn't want to by basically saying if I want to leave the synod go ahead. To fervent followers in the WELS, this means you're probably going to hell. I don't believe this, but I know he and most others in WELS do.

Anonymous said...

but I know he and most others in WELS do.If you want to have a reasoned conversation with "critical thinking," you can't throw out baseless and crass accusations.

It is not what we believe, it is not what we teach.

timm said...


I urge you to think through your arguments and to sleep on your comments before posting.

I agree with Anonymous (May 6, 2009 10:36 PM) that your comments are riddled with a post-modernist pragmatism that really has no place when discussing ecclesiastical affairs.

Second, you promote many contradictions: "in my experience as a student at MLC and former prep those from ALHS's were not ostensibly treated differently. At the same time, those from Prep were automatically favored..."

Well, which is it?

For a graduate of such a prestigious institution as "public university," I'm shocked that you are compelled to resort to Wikipedia for your definition of post-modernism. FYI, "Critical Thinking" is NOT synonymous with "Critical Theory." You conflate the two and assume that being associated with the latter is a compliment. It might be a compliment if you're writing a thesis on feminist literary criticism. When discussing matters of faith, particularly in most WELS circles, it's best to leave such Gnostic practices at the door. Don't be so proud as to suggest you are the only one on this board capable of "critical thinking."

Finally, your obsession with objective measures of success and your desire to study the ways of false prophets is truly disheartening:
"Again, don't abandon your faith and beliefs, but what the heck is wrong with examining other religions? What harm could really happen besides, learning more?"

There is nothing wrong with examining other religions (or other denominations). It is important for all Christians to be able to identify differences in both other religions and denominations. This helps us become better witnesses to others and strengthens our own faith. It also proves valuable when we attempt to refute the false doctrine we learn during "Ecumenicism 101" at "public university."

The danger lies in your desire to sit at their feet and learn what to do from them. Nothing can be learned from false prophets except what NOT do to, such as the skill to lead others off the narrow path which leads to salvation.

If you want to learn how to "improve" the church then I suggest two valuable resources:

1) Holy Bible (by God)
2) Book of Concord

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous at 8:20 am May 8, you're right, the WELS does not teach that, and they would say it does not believe it either. At the same time, I don't think the WELS does much to stop that sort of thinking/believing/teaching from happening or being an end result. There's a certain amount of "fear" in lots of WELS people that anything contrary to WELS beliefs/teachings is somehow forbidden by God. While the WELS may have a higher intent to not let this happen, I don't think they do much to prevent it from happening. There's lots of people out there in the WELS world that don't know what to do or think about a lot of things. Thus, I was not purely throwing out some "baseless" - "having no base; without foundation; groundless" or "crass" - "without refinement, delicacy, or sensitivity; gross; obtuse; stupid" accusation.

If this is not what you believe nor teach, then show it!!

Anonymous said...

Lemkeel your writing is a bit hard to follow. I think I am in agreement with you by saying there are of a lot of people in the WELS that are afraid to speak up, in fear of having any thought that might be considered "different", lest they be judged and smartly told they are wrong. This is clear in Bible study classes when no one wants to speak up unless they know the exact wording to the correct answer (possibly quoted directly from the Book of Concord) or can give the fit all answer: "Jesus loves me". The pastor is usually the only speaking, and no real deep soul searching discussion is made. This may be why there are so few in these classes, too.

I do think Lemkeel, your accusation to Tim specifically IS baseless, though, unless do you know him personally? Even then, only God knows what is in his heart so to make such broad statements saying Tim is judging anyone to hell IS crass.

Anonymous said...


"If this is not what you believe nor teach, then show it!!"

YOU made the accusation ergo the burden of proof falls on YOU.

Re-read timm's comment...sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Lemkeel said:
"You can't even break the bond easily of Prep versus MLS. These groups are even separate."

MLS is a prep school; or were you referring to Luther Prep in the above statement?

I never attended DMLC (or MLC), but it was very apparent at MLS that students who came from prominent called worker families had a greater edge in student elections.

When I attended MLS, "spots" on the student newspaper and other non-sports extracurricular activities were filled by elections in the freshman year. Once a spot was filled, a person held that spot ALL 4 YEARS unless he/she voluntarily quit or left school. In the junior year, another spot on each organization became available; again, that person would hold that spot in BOTH Junior and Senior years.

Those chosen to be on the ballot during these elections were actually made by those members ALREADY on the various extra-curricular committees. Naturally, the friends of those already on the committees were those whose names "magically" appeared on the ballot.

Being fairly unpopular, I was never able to join any of the extra-curricular activities despite signing up for several committees in both my Freshman and Junior years.

After high school when I once was talking to a public high school friend, I mentioned that I never was able to get elected to the school paper. He looked at me like I was from Mars..."What do you mean get ELECTED? We just volunteered at our school".

As an aside, it was often noted that it increased a potential cheerleaders chances of making the cheerleading or pom pom squad dramatically if she was a daughter of one of the professors.

Glory Days (Not!)

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous at 2:08 pm May 8, my writing in these posts is filled with a bunch of information that hasn't been given enough time and space for the type of content I'm speaking of. Thus, it may seem confusing. As a general rule, however I try to write as clear as possible which is generally a strength of mine. Sorry if it's hard for you to follow.

I would agree about what you have to say about Bible study, from what I am aware of, they could be improved.

You guys are taking what I've said to Tim and others personal. I do not know him personally, but why would that matter? You're standing up for him (which I have no problem with) but what you do for him you'd want to do for others to be fair. You're right, only God knows what is in his and our hearts, but at the same time words (and actions) do give you an idea. I hope that Tim does not think that I was attacking him, and that I wish ill will on him. I was just trying to make a point that was contrary to his which obviously he didn't like. At that point there's nothing I can do, I can't and won't pamper Tim so he'll like me and we'll "agree."

Anonymous at 2:19 on May 8, honestly I don't know what you're talking about. Re-read which Tim comment, there's more than one. Also, he thinks what I have to say is uninformed and unwise, so why would I listen to what he has to say?

Lemkeel said...

Timm 9:59 am May 8, is this Tim Niedfeldt? I'm a little confused as to which person I'm talking to. I urge you as well to "think through your arguments and to sleep on your comments before posting." I would have commented sooner but this post missed me, this has been a busy week for me yet I still would like to comment on this post. Honestly, if you want to call my comments post-modernist pragmatism that is fine with me, afterall your perspective and worldview is going to be different than mine. I am not a literary expert, in fact I don't read literature, only research articles (e.g., psychology, counseling) laden with empirical findings, and case studies laden with real life situations. That, and I consider myself a "people person," maybe one day a "people scientist" who enjoys working with, helping, and studying people on a regular basis. I am in the profession to "help" people, going after a MA in counseling, and will likely go on for a PhD in clinical or counseling psychology and/or a JD/PhD in law/psychology.

Since when does "critical thinking" have no place in "ecclesiastical affairs?" Peraphs Martin Luther would disagree. (Hence Reformation). Ahh, I promote "contradiction." I love that word, it causes so much grief for everyone. Problem is, no one experiences the exact same thing the exact same way. Yes there's similarities which is why we all freak out when we've found our "twin" or our "soul mate." How is "ostensibly - apparent, evident, or conspicuous" the same as "favored - regarded or treated with preference or partiality"? They are similar, but ostensible indicates obvious actions, whereas favoritism can connote more subtle actions. There is a subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Wikipedia - that is MY choice for a quick reference that is not infallible but that DOES put together enough facts (usually over 50% accuracy) which is good enough for me. Would I ever utilize Wikipedia for a research paper? Nope, but I would refer to it to see what they had to say about something and then compare it to other credible resources (i.e., empirical research). It's a handy tool that while not always accurate does display a "quick and dirty" viewpoint that I'm at least willing to consider. Would any of my professors in both undergrad or grad school accept Wikipedia as a source? No they would not. Critical thinking is an off-shoot of critical theory, I'm not going to try to explain why. What's wrong with feminism? Do I need to mention the names "Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott?" If I'm trying to show WELS they need to change why would I sit there and try to agree with them? Are you capable of critical thinking? Am I proud? I think I am one of the most humble creatures on this earth trying to follow Jesus' example. Am I really obsessed with objective measures of success or am I trying to stand behind something I believe in? With a little passion? Whoops, sorry, let me calm down and strip myself of emotions. Is that better? Blah, I am boring with no opposition to you and your friends. Is that better? I study all sorts of things because it makes me stronger. Does my faith get weaker through all of this? No it does not, but thanks for assuming that it does. Good to mention witnessing, as it is also one of my strong points. Actually, I've found the exact opposite of what you're saying, my studying and learning of others' religions and beliefs has made me a better witness. Interesting, the word "Ecumenicism," never thought of it till you brought it up. I do think that religions can all be boiled down to one critical (the only really critical point), John 3:16. I disagree, cause you can listen (to "false teachers") with discretion. That's what I do. You honestly speak of something that you don't really know of, it's obvious cause I do know what I'm doing, and you're almost dead wrong.

"Holy Bible" interesting how you use the word "Holy," is that the same as "Perfect?" This may surprise you or not, but I actually think the "Book of Concord" needs a revision......

Anonymous said...

""Holy Bible" interesting how you use the word "Holy," is that the same as "Perfect?" This may surprise you or not, but I actually think the "Book of Concord" needs a revision......"

Well, I think that this pretty much says it all. Lemkeel does not think that the Bible is perfect and has rejected the Book of Concord.

Knowing that, there's no need to listen to his/her post-modernist ravings any longer.

I would advise everyone simply to ignore Lemkeel. Those who reject Scripture and the Concordia are not worth listening to.

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous at 3:42 on May 9, you are telling people what to believe, which has been one of the main sources of my frustration from the get-go. What you've told them is an ideal example of an intimidation and threat. Thanks for fulfilling that for me. That, and your assuming that you know what I believe. Did I say I reject the "Scripture?" Since when is the "Concordia" at the same level as "Scripture?" You found what you were "looking for" whatever that was, and it's not even there. The word assumption here is used in it's most fitting and appropriate sense here.

Anonymous said...

>>>"What you've told them is an ideal example of an intimidation and threat. Thanks for fulfilling that for me."

Oh please.

>>>"Did I say I reject the "Scripture?""

You questioned someone who called the Bible holy, implying that it shouldn't be called holy because it isn't perfect. If you think that the Bible isn't perfect, then you reject the Bible.

>>>Since when is the "Concordia" at the same level as "Scripture?"

When did I say that the Concordia was on the same level as Scripture? Methinks you're the one finding what you want to see. The Concordia, though, is a norm of the Lutheran church. If you think it is in error, or in need of revision, then, by definition, you are not a Lutheran.

(By the way, I can't help but find it somewhat ironic that your constant screeds about how poor the WELS educational system is and how superior your public education is are filled with numerous spelling and grammatical errors. Perhaps your education was not as wonderful as you think.)

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous at 5:56 am, May 10, you are fulfilling the intimidation and threat discussion that I have been referring to, if there's one thing that you can count on WELS people to do it's to not change!

Here again we have a word/definition disagreement. Is "Holy" used in the same sense as "Perfect" in the Bible? From my understanding, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. So, this would really depend on which definition you're referring to. says that holy is "specially recognized as or declared sacred by religious use or authority; consecrated." As far as my thoughts on the Bible, this is not the time nor place for such a discussion. At the same time, the fact that you told everyone to "ignore" me is proof yet again that you (in the WELS) are ill-equipped to actually "preach the word of God" to people who are different than you in thoughts and actions. You should try to rally for the theme song of the "WELS Connection" videos to say something about "here we are again, same as ever, nothing's changed!"

You said "If you want to learn how to "improve" the church then I suggest two valuable resources: (1) Holy Bible (God) and (2) Book of Concord." This suggests to me that you are placing the Concordia at the same level of Scripture because to you, it's "right with God" and the church. This is not a stretch nor me "finding what I want to see." Obviously I have learned to be more discriminate over the years. Oh, that big blue book on my book shelf that looks like a bible that says "Book of Concord" on it that we studied at MLC in our "Lutheran Confessions" course taught by Prof. Hartwig is the "norm of the Lutheran church?" Of course I realize that. I also realize that it probably should be looked at again instead of referring to the work of men in the 1500's or so A.D. It seems to me that church bodies such as these are basically lazy and don't want to make any adjustments. Am I necessarily referring to a full revision, of course not, but reflection of cultural times and people is something I am referring to. Again, your little insert of "by definition you are not a Lutheran" what's the point? Don't get it and I think it's unnecessary.

Irony? You want to look at me and find irony? Spend a little time in the mirror to try to find irony. Another interesting word, "screed," I didn't think my posts were all that monotonous but again, we're all different and will experience the same thing differently. Apparently I need to REITERATE that I am not an english or literature expert and grammar is not my best strength. On the other hand, I can possibly attribute that to my "education" in WELS gradeschools. Spelling is actually a strength of mine but in the haste of writing on here there may be spelling errors. If I use the wrong you're or the wrong it's who cares these are small errors to say the least. As the GRE writing assessment would say, "minor errors that do not interfere with meaning." No need to speculate on my educational experience at public university, it was and continues to be wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you feel like a cat playing with a toy. I sense that in your arrogance. For someone who blasts others for their inability to think critically about things, your desire not to sweat the details is appalling. Anyone who thinks critically has learned to pay attention to the small things, as that is often where people who claim to possess truth have gone off the bubble. You react to people who do not welcome your tone by chiding them for their opinion. Again, hardly someone who thinks on a level of debate. You are someone with an agenda that wants to push buttons. Play on! As you play though, remember what you studied at one time, and understand you have left it behind. You are making the same mistake as Calvin by holding God hostage to your reasoning. Luther would have chided you for claiming to be able to make God fit into your size of hat band. Someone else once asked, "What is truth?" Too bad he didn't listen to the one who could have answered and was standing before him. I hope in life's meandering you come back to the truth of Scripture, echoed in the Lutheran Confessions you once studied. Times change, but timeless truth does not. God's truth is not relative. And... you haven't pushed my buttons, as I talk to many different folks of many different stripes. My goal is not to win any contests, but simply to preach Christ as the only "Way, truth and life." If that is intimidating to you, so be it. As you remember, the Law is very intimidating. It has the smell of death about it. But only through the Law, can the sweetness of forgiveness in Christ be tasted.

Lemkeel said...

Sorry, I do not intend to appear arrogant. Don't get the cat analogy. You may feel "blasted" for lack of thinking critically, but just to clear something up, people can learn to think critically, I obviously did. It's not something that you either have or don't have. As far sweating the small stuff, again you are assuming something of me that is inaccurate. You have not asked me about details and I have not expounded. As stated previously, this is not the time nor place for many things, as misunderstandings and assumptions can be more of a deterrent than anything else. In actuality, I am just as much a "detail" person as I am a "big picture" person. Trying to find that balance. You improperly assumed that I do not pay attention to small things and thus am not thinking critically. Assumption again. I do not chide people for their opinion, again, that is false interpretation. I actually encourage people to raise their thoughts, concerns, issues to the table. I do, however, have issue with old/current WELS thinkers that themselves are afraid to venture off into unknown territory and instead resort to the same old same old. That I do take issue with, which is perhaps what you've been seeing in reference to a few of the posts. I may have an agenda, sorry if having one somehow offends you. However, I do not simply wish to "push buttons." If you feel your buttons being pushed, then you may be one of those that that I am trying to reach. Some people however may feel that their buttons are not being pushed.

"As you play though, remember what you studied at one time, and understand you have left it behind." This is a threat and it makes no sense to me as you are making a judgment that is so far from the table that I choose to not expound on it here in this blog. There is a time and place for this accusation, and if you would like my e-mail address let me know, I can send it to you and we can talk in another, private format. Who is Calvin? I'm not a die-hard WELS-er who clings to ancient history. That's another fascinating accusation, however. Why/how do you say I'm "holding God hostage to my reasoning?" Is this based on your education and experience? Or your faith? Aren't you holding me hostage to your beliefs or reasoning cause it's not the same as yours and yours is the only right way?

Glad you can speak to what Luther would have done. Awesome! Tell me, did he tell you this personally in a dream, a vision, or through your thoughts that are sacred? The truth of scripture may be for YOU found in your Lutheran Confessions. The truth of scripture may be for me something entirely different. I don't expect you or anyone to understand this point right away, but it is clear to me that you are not understanding that "what it is for you is not necessarily what it is for someone else." You sound so nonsensical for hoping that I'll one day go back to the "truth of Scripture, echoed in the Lutheran Confessions you once studied."

Times do change, but that is because we are sinful. We change, but God, the only perfect person/being, does not. He's changeless. I'm not sure what "timeless truth" is that you're referring to. Is it that "timeless truth" that my uncle told me about not stepping on a crack in the sidewalk?" Whoa, who's talking about God's truth being relative? Again, which truth are you referring to? Some "truth" is quite relative like where men will sweat while they work and women will have pain during childbirth.

I do think I've pushed your buttons, quite ostensibly so. You probably haven't talked to someone quite like me, as we are all unique individuals, no two people are alike in every imaginable way.

You are making an accusation here that somehow I am in disagreement about Christ being the only "way, truth, and life." Let's turn that word I just used, accusation, to another more preferable word, assumption. This statement is not intimidating, rather ridiculous. You can figure why all on your own. I have a really clear understanding about law and gospel. If you want to talk with me about it sometime, another time and place such as more private than this would be acceptable to me. You are making again an assumption about me that is so off key that I am not intimidated by you but rather, I am somewhat embarrassed for you.

Let me know if you'd like to talk further in a different format.

Anonymous said...

>>>As far as my thoughts on the Bible, this is not the time nor place for such a discussion.

Hmm, why don't you want to discuss your thoughts on the Bible in public? You seem perfectly willing to discuss everything else. Is it because you know that you would be forced to admit that you don't believe that the Bible is God's perfect, holy, inspired Word, completely inerrant in every detail? I think so.

>>>The truth of scripture may be for YOU found in your Lutheran Confessions. The truth of scripture may be for me something entirely different.

Yup, that's what I thought. You feel that the truth of Scripture is relative. The vaunted public university you attend has poisoned your mind with post-modernist relativism under the guise of critical thinking. I pray that you realize this before it's too late.

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous at 7:49 pm, you are being so unrealistic and unwilling to bend your own frame of mind or thoughts that I actually pray for you. Since God is the only one who doesn't change, I expect you to be changing (or at least trying to change) all the time. You're finding that I'm not changing to what you think and/or want, but the difference is you're trying (in vain) to condemn me for my lack of bending. Do you not see this?

As I've reiterated before, this is not the time nor place for that kind of discussion. Why is it that you do not respect my wishes? Because you have no idea what my thoughts actually are, you're left to your own devices (so far they're assumptions and other "inane" accusations) and you need to be more respectful. You can assume all that you want; at this time, my wish is to not discuss such things in an open, public forum. I can say now however that you are wrong in your assumption. At some point I do intend to speak openly and publicly, but not now. Does this make sense?

First of all, you have failed to discuss what "truth of Scripture" even is. There can be no discussion/debate without knowing what you're supposed to be discussing/debating. You may have an idea (honestly, I hope you do) but because you have not shared that with me, your argument truly is empty.

You think I'm praising some public university, how foolish. You are so biased and indiscriminate in your thinking that I'm going to stop that argument. You think it's poisoned my mind. Thanks for your opinion. I do have one suggestion for you if you're interested, try stepping outside yourself and try looking in at or within you and ask yourself if you yourself are behaving in a God-pleasing manner. Please do not pray for me, I don't want someone who is so unwilling and/or unable to see things from different perspectives to be asking something on my behalf to God. Thank you for respecting my wish. I could say something as inane as what you've said "I pray that you realize this before it's too late" but my experiences (that I feel have been blessed by God) have helped me be a better person and I refuse to walk backwards with those who are so ridiculously stubborn and calcitrant and obviously making "wrong moves."

Anonymous said...

Lemkeel -
The Lutheran Confessions (Book of Concord) will NOT be changed or revised...unless Scripture (God's Word) is changed (and it is unchanging).

This is the WELS Constitution:

Article II
Section 1. The synod accepts the canonical books of the Old and New Testament as the divinely
inspired and inerrant Word of God and submits to this Word of God as the only infallible
authority in all matters of doctrine, faith, and life.
Section 2. The synod also accepts the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church embodied in the
Book of Concord of 1580, not insofar as, but because they are a correct presentation and
exposition of the pure doctrine of the Word of God.

Anonymous said...

This blog cracks me up. Everyone here is talking in circles.

For example, Lemkeel, you say:

"I do, however, have issue with old/current WELS thinkers that themselves are afraid to venture off into unknown territory and instead resort to the same old same old."

From all previous blogs I have read in the past there are persons on here that are FAR from "same old same old". Tim N for example, since your argument started with him here, has been at odds with many others on here for what has been perceived as "wanting to change" things.

HAHAHA you guys are all talking about the same things, and yet nothing at all, and you are all trying to be so important.

Just my opinion. hehe.

Anonymous said...

I'm finding this analyzation of prep schools interesting. I'm a MLS grad and the remembrances about MLS posted above are correct.

I remember the first week of class as a freshman. Each professor went through the class roster and said "yes, I was with your father at Northwestern" or "I served with your grandfather at such and such church." Students from synod families immediately established a hierarchy above students from lowly lay families.

I attended DMLC, graduated from a public college, married a Northwestern Prep grad, and together with our children are proudly one of those "lowly" lay families.

Our children all attended an AHLS. As parents, it's been interesting to compare their high school experience with ours. My husband and I both feel our kids got the better end of the deal. Here's why:

Our kids received an education more suited to college-prep, especially in the areas of math and science. Here is where it's important to note the purposes of schools. My children's skills and career goals were in these fields of studies, that's why they chose the ALHS.

Also, the ALHS offered a fuller extra-curricular experience with more opportunities and options. While sports were still an unproportionately large focus, there were more things offered to the non-athlete than were in my high school days. I'm sure that's now changed in prep schools as well. Hopefully.

An ALHS offers a greater family life during extremely critical years for young adults. I lived in the dorm at MLS and, at the time, I thought it was great. My peers were my family and I didn't have to deal with parents, pain-in-the-neck siblings, and everyday family life. Now, as a parent, I observe my own children's relationship with the family and I realize I missed something very important.

What I find most interesting though is the difference in spiritual openness. Hopefully, this too is just a difference of the times.

At MLS, I can only remember being taught WHAT to believe (brainwash could be an applicable word). There was little self examination of our spiritual relationship with God. I remember graduating and experiencing a great culture shock going into the real world - not because I found the world so terribly evil, but because I learned there were others whose faith in God was just as strong as mine. What was disturbing was that they had a much greater understanding of their faith, a more mature faith, and believe it or not, they weren't even WELS Lutherans! Can you imagine that?!!

At the ALHS, our children have been taught what, why and how they believe. They've had to practice telling their faith to others and they've had to practice living it. Through their school, they've volunteered serving the community or doing charitable work in a hospital. Teachers seem much more accessible to students and approachable with questions. My kids seemed more spiritually prepared for the real world when they graduated from the ALHS than I did from a prep school - in fact, even after I attended DMLC.

As for the distinction between a prep student and an ALHS student: I agree, when I got to DMLC, it didn't take long before we all integrated one big partying class. However, even to this day, I can tell you from which high school each of my classmates graduated. This is definitely something that's noted.

And today, with Luther Prep centered between Lakeside Lutheran, WISCO and KMLHS, there is still a noted distinction. To the ALHS student, Luther Prep appears to act aloof and with superiority. Playing Prep in sports can be an exercise of the well-bitten tongue.

There is the mistaken notion that the gifted 8th grade student should go to Prep rather than the ALHS, and that to study languages over math, science, art or shop is somehow more intelligent. Personally, in retrospect, I feel some of the education I received from MLS was lacking, not because I studied languages and missed out on other subjects, but because the teachers were not very good. Believe it or not, pastors do not always make good teachers! I found this to be especially true at DMLC, where the lack of creative teaching became blatantly obvious after I began studying at a public college.

I don't necessarily have an opinion whether or not we should continue with prep schools. I do feel, however, that our systems truly needs some self-examination. It's not working as best it should be.

First and foremost, whether prep school, ALHS, called worker, lay person - we're all striving toward the same goal: God's mission. None of us are better than the other, have more important roles, or are more chosen by God. We have to get over that thinking. We have to recognize each other's qualities and strengths. We have to work together.

Secondly, times change. We have to be willing to at least EXAMINE both sides of change vs. no-change. To blindly continue status quo, just because that's our comfort zone, is detrimental. By looking at how other, more successful synods (using someone else's term), operate isn't necessarily adopting their theology. It isn't even saying numbers are better than faith. What it's doing, however, is opening our minds in regards to the practical, administrative end of things and perhaps improving the physical way we work to fulfill God's mission.

Anonymous said...

>>This blog cracks me up. Everyone here is talking in circles.<<

Yeah, that about sums up this blog correctly. And when they can no longer intelligently argue their point, they resort to condemning their opponents faith.

Supposedly, called workers are trained in eloquence and the written word. Instead I see constant unaccountable accusations (which, yes, I'm partaking of right now) and defamation of character. If you're looking for an example of God's love, don't come here. I only come when I'm feeling argumentative and want a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

>>>As I've reiterated before, this is not the time nor place for that kind of discussion.<<<

Why not? Why are you so unwilling to discuss your view of Scripture? What's wrong with this time and place to discuss Scripture? I've never known a Christian who was so unwilling to discuss God's Word. If you truly believe that God's Word is the perfect, holy, inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God, then why wouldn't you just say that's what you believe?

>>>Because you have no idea what my thoughts actually are, you're left to your own devices<<<

Well of course I have no idea what your thoughts are! You won't tell us what your thoughts are! How can we have an open dialogue if you are hiding what you think and believe?

>>>First of all, you have failed to discuss what "truth of Scripture" even is.<<<

See, it's comments like these that cause me, based on my "own devices", to conclude that you don't believe that the Bible is God's inspired Word. What need is there to discuss "what truth of Scripture even is"? Scripture is truth; and truth is Scripture. You statement sounds like the statement made by many liberal Christians: "The Bible contains God's Word." In other words, it sounds like you are saying, "The Bible contains truths". This is nothing but heresy. The Bible doesn't contain God's Word, it IS God's Word, every syllable. The Bible doesn't contain truths, it IS truth, every syllable.

But of course, these are just my conclusions based on my own devices. Feel free to clear this entire matter up by clearly and decisively telling us what you believe.

Anonymous said...

I think folks set up these blogs with the best of intentions and they degenerate quickly. Since when was Jesus ever argumentative about anything? There was nothing up for debate and yet what are we arguing about? What will be accomplished?

We are human beings and will never get it right on our own. These blogs are evidence of it. They do not build up nor do they put the best construction on things. And they are divisive.

I would encourage this blogs author and any other author of a similar blog to just shut it down. Get into the Word. Get involved in all levels of the Synod and your local church. Make a difference because it ain't gonna happen here. Above all, love God and love your neighbor.

Joe Krohn

timm said...


"The truth of scripture may be for YOU found in your Lutheran Confessions. The truth of scripture may be for me something entirely different."

Thanks for substantiating my earlier claim that your post-modern pragmatism has arrived at its logical conclusion: ecumenicism. (I'm sure you can look up that word on or wikipedia, but since those sources are, according to you, only 50% reliable, please do yourself a favor and talk to your pastor about this term).

I am not attacking you personally, but you must know that what you advocate (and I don't think you do this intentionally) is theological relativism. There is a grave danger in supporting such a worldview, and again I suggest you talk about this with your pastor.

I do take issue with your rejection of anything that smells old. You correctly state that God doesn't change, yet you repeatedly suggest that old ways of thinking need to be updated. Here is a small sample of your own words:

"...try stepping outside yourself and try looking in at or within you and ask yourself..."

"I don't want someone who is so unwilling and/or unable to see things from different perspectives..."

" are being so unrealistic and unwilling to bend your own frame of mind or thoughts..."

"I do, however, have issue with old/current WELS thinkers that themselves are afraid to venture off into unknown territory and instead resort to the same old same old."

The real challenge isn't to "venture off into unknown territory." The challenge lies in testing the spirits and holding fast to the fundaments of the faith. The fact that the roots of Christian and Lutheran scholarship are over 1500 years old doesn't mean that they need to be updated. Sin has not changed since Satan first tempted Adam and Eve, and Man's response to sin and need for salvation is the same as well.

I used to entertain similar notions as you but the more I studied and considered, the more I realized the need to return to the original sources of our faith: namely the Holy Bible and the Confessions.

I am not some fuddy-duddy (my apologies to those that are, I don't consider that a pejorative term). I am a twenty-something that was raised WELS but not in the WELS school system. I hold an advanced degree in social sciences from a major university where I too witnessed first hand the ecumenical urges of my classmates. I was always within earshot of the refrain "what works for you doesn't necessarily work for someone else." The "timeless truth" which Anonymous was referring to refutes that. In God, we have a singular and entirely knowable truth: it is by Grace we have been saved, through Faith, and this is the work of God.

Finally, your ignorance of Christianity precedes you and your comments. To wit:

"Who is Calvin? I'm not a die-hard WELS-er who clings to ancient history."

""Holy Bible" interesting how you use the word "Holy," is that the same as "Perfect?" This may surprise you or not, but I actually think the "Book of Concord" needs a revision......"

I reiterate; please sleep on your comments before posting.

ps. I am not Tim N, but am the poster formerly known as TIMiAM

Anonymous said...

Back to the original question: will the rock and roll churches have their grants cut...

There are no "rock and roll churches" receiving grants directly from WELS. They tend to be supported from organizations that agree with their methods. That probably won't change much. For all the talk on this blog about WELS' "rock and roll" ways, it is actually a very traditional church body.

Also, to the post that suggested that "most other religions (usually the more liberal ones) are growing, some might say at significant rates..." if you are referring to the liberal mainline denominations, almost all of them are actually losing members faster than anyone else. Could you please clarify?

Anonymous said...

Lars wrote:

"In 20 years the WELS will be no larger than the Laestadian Lutheran Church, in 50, a footnote."

Yep, and that's probably true of every other denomination in America as well -- aside from the Charismatics and the RCC. By then, the raincloud of the gospel will have moved to the southern and eastern hemispheres. It's happening already. But have no fear, little flock.

Anonymous said...

>>>Since when was Jesus ever argumentative about anything?<<<

Hmm, I seem to remember quite a few argumentative run-ins with the Pharisees. Something about "Woe to you...woe to you..."

>>>These blogs are evidence of it. They do not build up nor do they put the best construction on things. And they are divisive.
I would encourage this blogs author and any other author of a similar blog to just shut it down.<<<

Ironic words from someone who operated an extremely argumentative and division blog himself.

Anonymous said...

Timiam wrote to lemkeel:

"Thanks for substantiating my earlier claim that your post-modern pragmatism has arrived at its logical conclusion: ecumenicism."

Timm, you must know that that's a leap. Don't undermine your argumant with lazy logic.

Anonymous said...

>>>Timm, you must know that that's a leap. Don't undermine your argumant with lazy logic.<<<

Timm didn't use lazy logic at all. On more than one occasion, lemkeel has clearly stated that he/she believes that truth is relative, that opposing viewpoints are equally valid, that we should learn from Mormons, etc.

If that isn't ecumenism, I don't know what is.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

As a reference example for Anon 11:38am. Victory received $20K from WELS BHM...$15K the 1st year and $5k the 2nd. That accounts for all our WELS money as a level two mission. Most "R&R" churches are level 1's or level 2's only... meaning minimal or NO synod money.

These churches exist mostly as a daughter effort of a larger mother congregation and have a very short time to become self-sufficient. We are currently at 85% self-supporting and should be 100% by January 1st. (3 years time to achieve)

I think if the people here dug into the details they would be disappointed in what kinds and what congregations were really sucking up synod home mission money.

As to the independent groups of foundations and grant giver's out there. I guess I don't understand the issue. Do people not understand how these groups work or so they think they are all part of the synod somehow? Perhaps they are jealous of the money flowing from them directly to organizations and missions and would rather it goes to synod?? Perhaps in the spirit of today's socialistic mentality they just want the synod to be distributing the cash instead of individuals. I'm not sure. The resentment of missions started with grant money...why?

Tim Niedfeldt

Anonymous said...

A better turn of the phrase, to quote a WLS professor who now is in the Church triumphant: Ecumaniacs! :) Ah, good old Professor Habeck!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:57 you said: "Ironic words from someone who operated an extremely argumentative and division blog himself."

CASE IN POINT to the paragraph before it: >>>These blogs are evidence of it. They do not build up nor do they put the best construction on things. And they are divisive. I would encourage this blogs author and any other author of a similar blog to just shut it down.<<<

Wow, you really are reaching. You took two paragraphs, left out important parts, put the two together and used them as you willed. The blog Mr Krohn ran was nothing of the sort until the likes of you and other bloggers such as yourselves discovered it and tried to tear into him for not fitting into your mold. You destroyed his blog with your angry words and in turn he CLOSED it. Just as you all should!

Anonymous said...


Lemkeel said...

Anonymous at 9:17 pm May 10, not changing or revising the Book of Concord will only eventually work to the detriment of the WELS; basically the statement is that it is deemed somehow someway to be inspired by God, and as such should not be altered anyway.

As stated in earlier posts, perhaps the WELS constitution needs to be revised; why is it that it is perfect even though it was written by imperfect people? With regard to the WELS constitution on the Book of Concord, you write "Book of Concord of 1580, not insofar as, but because they are a correct presentation and
exposition of the pure doctrine of the Word of God" again how is that you are certain that they are a "correct presentation and exposition of the pure doctrine of the Word of God?"

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous 9:17 pm May 10, I am meeting the most resistance on this blog from people who are appearing to be "resistant to change."

It does appear that we're all talking about the same thing and yet nothing at all, eh? At the same time, sitting back and doing nothing is how nothing gets done or changed or improved for the better.

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous May 11, 2009 7:56 AM, thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous May 11, 2009 8:17 AM, yes it's unfortunate that some have resorted to condemning others (me it seems) faith. It only reflects poorly on that person so I try to ignore it.

Called workers in the WELS (most) are some of the most unrefined, inarticulate individuals when it comes to talking to people with differing viewpoints, frame of minds, world views, and the biggest one, differing faiths. Unfortunately, the greatest command of God/Jesus, to "Love one another" is completely disregarded in many interactions which can have devastating consequences.

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous May 11, 2009 9:00 AM, your post cracks me up. Did I not say that I am intending to discuss openly my thoughts/views but just not now, especially on this blog? Do you not see how this is an inappropriate setting but that I would be willing to discuss in private? Problem is, you don't know me, you know very little of me and if you did know me, you'd know that I'm one of the most vocal, fearless Christians to discuss God's Word when the time and place is appropriate. For me this has even meant "inappropriate" times/places, but for now, please respect my wishes and be respectful.

Btw, I'm not "hiding what I think/believe," I'm choosing right now not to discuss them.

So what if I am a liberal Christian? Are not liberal Christians going to end up in Heaven or is Heaven reserved for conservative, WELS Lutherans? As another blogger advised me, perhaps you should think through some of your thoughts before you ask me for mine. There are alternatives to your thoughts/beliefs and trying to figure out how/why might be a nice exercise for you.

Lemkeel said...

Joe Krohn,

You're right in many ways, Jesus was not argumentative and we humans will never get "it" right cause we're sinful and our wheels will literally be spinning until we enter glory. At the same time, we've been given amazing brains and bodies with amazing capabilities, and to not use them to the best of our abilities is like telling God, "thanks, but no thanks, didn't need these things you've given to me out of undeserved love." We can improve and should try to improve whenever possible. Because we are sinful humans, trying to get better should be a daily activity. I think blogs can be used for positive things, and if negative occurs, we can also learn from that, usually in how not to act/think/behave. I would think of this blog as one part (small it may be) of the effort to help build God's kingdom. Getting involved in the church is good, of course, but there's other ways to get involved in addition, and the Internet can be one of those ways, if done constructively.

Lemkeel said...


I have looked up "ecumenicism" and I briefly referred to that in an earlier post. I think I said something like, "John 3:16 is the only thing that truly does matter in the end," so ecumenicism does make sense to some degree. All the WELS pastors I've talked to throughout my education in synod schools have all called John 3:16 the "Gospel in a nutshell" because, from what I understand, in the end, this is all that matters. Don't assume that talking to my pastor will resolve any sort of issue, I've come to realize over the years that there are many people, esp. in the WELS, in positions of power that are incompetent in many facets in life and to go to them just cause they're a "man of the cloth" is not going to offer the wisest solutions. Some people in the WELS are good at what they do, but not all.

I am not advocating for "theological relativism." I do know what it is, have already talked with my father about it (a former WELS pastor) and while I see the cause for concern, at the same time I am looking at these things from the standpoint of a counselor/psychologist/perhaps one day lawyer who sees and understands the complexity of human beings, in particular that we all have individual differences that while may contain similarities with one another result in the fact that no two people are alike and to be effective, we must deal with each person on a "case by case" basis. Of course since there are similarities you can do things in groups, but ideally, people need to be understood as unique individuals. I have not discussed much about theology in my posts, rather I've tried sticking to secular topics. I do not intend at this time to discuss theological topics. I do have thoughts however, but right now I do not wish to discuss them. I do think, however, that John 3:16 is all that matters in the end, and it's a pretty powerful thing.

Yes! God is changeless! We are ever-changing. How are "old ways of thinking" God-related? Esp. the ones you listed (e.g., try stepping outside yourself and try looking in at or within you and ask yourself..."

"I don't want someone who is so unwilling and/or unable to see things from different perspectives..."

" are being so unrealistic and unwilling to bend your own frame of mind or thoughts..."

"I do, however, have issue with old/current WELS thinkers that themselves are afraid to venture off into unknown territory and instead resort to the same old same old

You state that "The fact that the roots of Christian and Lutheran scholarship are over 1500 years old doesn't mean that they need to be updated." Why is this? When does "Christian and Lutheran scholarship" equate to God? I'm also coming at this from a perspective of science/research that believes in testing and retesting and when facts are no longer facts, the theory is revised to reflect it. Also, I'm coming at this from a person-centered perspective that puts people, their families and communities, cultural heritage, race and ethnicity, and other societal and psychological factors in the forefront, and thus I see that certain aspects of the Book of Concord could use some revision.

Perhaps you could be more specific when you state that "sin has not changed since Satan first tempted Adam and Eve." At the very core of the change/changeless argument, the fact that God/perfect does not change, anything less than that will and does change. Whether it's the forms of sin, the different acts, or other variations, sin does change, by virtue of the fact that it is not God/perfect. If it puts on a new costume or changes it's hairdo, it still changes.

You are not the same person as I, in fact no two people are alike. So, for you and your experiences, I'm not surprised that they're different than mine. I am also a 20-something, almost 30-something that was raised in a WELS household, my father was a WELS preacher for 19 years, and I have uncles/aunts/cousins who are currently "called workers" as well as in the WELS school system. I am seeking an advanced degree (and probably more) in a public university, however, I do not have classmates that are urging me to be more ecumenical. This is something that I've thought of more on my own. I am getting these ideas from my own studies and experiences, esp. experiences in research labs where testing, evidence, and individual differences were constantly at play. I don't deny for a second that Grace is universal, nor the Doctrine of Justification. You've just reiterated what I've been saying, John 3:16. Please do not say I have ignorance of Christianity. Did I not say I've been schooled in the WELS system up until and almost graduating from MLC? Are not half my family members WELS? Do I not have an inquisitive mind that has asked my father millions of questions? Do I seek the truth/knowledge or pretend I already have it? The former. I think I am one of the most educated Christians on the Bible that you have potentially come across. Assumptions, they can really bite you in the butt huh? I actually do know who Calvin is, but I was not allowing myself to get caught up in that argument cause I don't see the point of it. Instead of coping/pasting my comments, why don't you comment on them besides telling me to sleep on them? Is holy the same as perfect?

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous May 11, 2009 11:38 AM, I guess posting data would help clear this up. I do not have particular knowledge of membership of other, more liberal religions, other than in my graduate program, half of my classmates, self included, are Lutheran. One was even WELS Lutheran. One classmate went from LCMS to ELCA, another is already an ELCA, the one who was WELS is currently nothing but she does not want to talk about WELS, and I am the other one who am choosing to not discuss my views on that right now. So, taken together, according to my classmates (people chose to enter a grad program, not knowing one another beforehand) there's a trend to more liberal religions. Of course, this is one small, isolated group, but this could also be a sign of things that are happening elsewhere. I do not have the data on other religions, but could look them up.

Lemkeel said...

Anonymous May 11, 2009 1:51 PM, let me clear this up a little. Timm did use lazy logic, in that he's not really thinking through himself his own thoughts, he's just assuming he's right and I'm wrong. It shouldn't matter what sex I am, so I'm not going to state it. The relative argument, again, is from my worldview that incorporates a counselor/psychologist/lawyer one day maybe and is also person-centered. We all have individual differences and working with people demands an understanding of this. I disagree, some truth is relative. What happens is that truth, whatever it is, ends up inevitably being relative because as I've been stating, everyone is different and unique and will experience, process, retell the same thing differently. I do not think that opposing viewpoints are equally valid. That's an assumption from outta nowhere. I do not think WELS should learn from LDS/Mormons, I was simply using that faith as an example of a religion that works. Talk about not thinking, here's a good example.

Anonymous said...

I wish the moderator would just not post the nasty stuff. I'd REALLY like to discuss the whole prep-school vs. missions choice that has been proposed in the Synodical Council budget. But that can't be done well amidst all the other nonesense that goes on here.

Montana said...

I hate to see MLS go, but I'd rather see that than lose any of our missionaries. Although doctrinally I can't agree with the Baptist churches, I'm filled with admiration at the way even in the midst of the economic downturn, they're putting so much emphasis and money behind overseas missions.

I think the prep schools are good, and it's nice to have a place that prepares people considering the ministry. But I think there's an attitude there that if you decide not to go on to MLC, you're a second class citizen- and I would love for that to change.

Anonymous said...

I see mission fields being closed as opposed to prep schools (MLS or Luther Prep) being closed.

Most of the administration has direct ties to the prep school systems; few have direct ties to the mission fields.

Anonymous said...

Anon845 mentions the administration has ties to the prep schools. I suppose that's true, as the synod president was LPS's president not long ago. So how do we, as laypeople, make it known that we think it shows a lack of kindgom balance to keep two prep schools open by shutting down mission fields. I do not find it convincing to say that the synod will go down the toilet if we have only one prepschool. I'm not sure I buy the argument that we'll be greatly hurt if we have no prep schools, and ask the ALHS's to stress the ministry more. So how do we make "the administration" realize - on a wide scale, not just one or two people writing an e-mail - that we can't see the synod justifying keeping two prep schools while pulling out of foreign fields and shutting down home missions?

Anonymous said...


Because it is not quite so black and white. Not everyone agrees with your viewpoint.

Encourage your delegates to educate themselves and then speak up and offer informed opinions at convention.

Montana said...

I don't really feel like the delegates actually care that much what the individual lay people, especially the women of the church who aren't represented at all feel about these situations (though I may be judging them too harshly) I've answered part of that in my own conscience by giving some of my free will offerings to non denominational Christian groups doing ministry overseas, but I'd love to see the day when I can give through my own synod to support missionaries in Tibet, Jordan, Uzbekistan...

Anonymous said...

Lemkeel, thanks for posting -- we could use an outsider's perspective (though I'm sure I'll get flamed for saying that).

Anyway, you wanted some stats on membership trends:

A few recent statistics on membership loss, gleaned from "Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches." (Compiled in 2007 and reported in 2008, so the most recent figured currently available):

"Meanwhile, every large mainline Protestant church reported losses. The United Church of Christ… suffered the deepest drop percentage-wise, with a 6 percent decline to 1.1 million.

"After the UCC, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church posted the largest percentage of members lost (down 3 percent to 1.4 million), followed by the Presbyterian Church (USA) (down 2.8 percent to 2.9 million); the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (down 1.4 percent to 2.4 million); and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (down 1.4 percent to 4.7 million)."

UCC, PCUSA, ELCA are considered mainline, liberal denominations. Not sure about AMEZC. Of course LCMS is relatively conservative.

The report also states that of the largest denominations, only four are growing:
Mormons, Assemblies of God, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Church of God of Cleveland, Tenn.

These stats surprise no one -- this is in line with trends that go back at least half a century. According to statistics cited in "What Americans Really Believe" by Rodney Stark of Baylor:

"traditional, theologically conservative churches, in fact, grew rapidly between 1960 and 2000... For example, during that 40-year period the Church of God in Christ grew to 5.7 million members – an increase of 800%."

During that same time period... "the denominations where ‘demythologized modernism’ had made substantial headway all suffered catastrophic declines... the liberal United Church of Christ declined in membership by 60%, along with the Episcopalians (55%), Methodists (UMC) (49%), Presbyterians (PCUSA) (45%) and Lutherans (ELCA)(39%)."

The real news in the latest Yearbook is that the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention have both reported losses -- albeit relatively small losses compared to the mainlines.

Are those the kinds of stats you are looking for?


Greg Jackson

Anonymous said...

>>>I've answered part of that in my own conscience by giving some of my free will offerings to non denominational Christian groups doing ministry overseas<<<

Hmm, interesting. So you're using your money to support the proclamation of false doctrine around the world? And somehow that comforts your conscience?

Anonymous said...


It would be great if WELS could send missionaries to every nation, but that's never going to happen --the believer within WELS are but one small family of within the Body of Christ. Probably makes more sense to concentrate dollars in several fields than to try to set up isolated and undersupported missionaries everywhere.

Also, please remember that a large percentage of synod delegates are laymen, so they do bring a lay perspective.

You do raise a good point though regarding many congregations' failure to seek the counsel of women members. Then again, maybe some churches are now presenting crucial synodical issues to their members via open forums (not limited to voters). It would be a great development.

It's good that you are following the issues, and I hope you're reading more than just this blog -- to call it a skewed would be an understatement. (It is entertaining though, and the occasional comment even makes sense!)


Benjamin Tomczak said...


Not that those countries aren't vital places for Gospel outreach, but what about supporting a church with missions or Gospel outreach efforts in:

almost every state in the United States, Canada, Nepal, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, China, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Bulgaria, Albania, Siberia, Thailand, Cameroon, Nigeria, Malawi, Zambia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Japan, Columbia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Apache reservations in Arizona...?

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak

By the by, half the delegates to Synod Conventions are lay people, whom I hope would bring that perspective to the table and desire to represent them, just as much as pastors and teachers would desire to represent their congregations, their districts, and their Synod.

Anonymous said...

Then it is agreed, close the prep schools, at least MLS.

Anonymous said...

To anon: May 13, 2009: 6:41 pm

"Then it is agreed, close the prep schools, at least MLS."

Nope, not going to least during this conveniton.

Missionaries will be called home, the number of vacant pulpits in the US will decline significantly, even those congregations which can no longer afford to compensate a pastor at the synodical code.

Educational institutions: MLS, Luther Prep, MLC, and the seminary at Mequon will remain open, although a few positions may be cut.

Wake up and smell the coffee....

Lemkeel said...

Hi Greg,

Nice to talk to you. Perspective is always a good thing! Glad you're willing to take a risk.

Those are some interesting stats, I would be curious to know more about the data, how it was taken, when, and the methods they used. From the data you've shown, it is interesting that 3 large liberal religions (e.g., UCC, PCUSA, ELCA) are on the decline, even LCMS (though they may be moving to the more liberal side?). Even more interesting is that "traditional theological conservative churches have been increasing from 1960 to 2000." I think when I stated that more liberal churches are growing, I was referring to Assembly of God and Pentacostal religions. Of course, in my mind, "more liberal religions" can literally be any religion that falls below the level or status of WELS (in that WELS is typically listed as one of the most theologically conservative religions). Thus, in my mind, that could literally be any religion basically. For me then, members moving from a more conservative church to a more liberal one is movement.

At the same time, I do think membership in churches as a whole (other than the current booming religions) is on the decline. I did google 'religion statistics' and found the "Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life" ( and have found some interesting data that does appear to have less detail than the data you've presented. This study was done on 35,000 American adults, and it shows a break down of individual religions as well as a bunch of other data. Under "Evangelical Protestant Churches" (26.3%) of all religions, if you click on the arrow and then see the heading for "Lutheran, Evangelical Traditional" (1.8%) and click on that arrow, it shows the "Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Synod" as a decline of .3%, whereas the "Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod," is holding at 1.4%.

Additionally, if you click on the "Mainline Protestant Churches" arrow (18.1%) of all religions, then click on "Lutheran, Mainline Traditional" you'll see ELCA holding at 2%.

I'm not sure how these data were compiled, but given the Pews reputation I'm not overly concerned. I think the data you've presented is probably correct to a degree, but more generally these data are more along the lines of what I was talking about, if it is indeed accurate. Of course, "more liberal" to me is again anything other than WELS (as long as it heads in the downward direction) so data such as these would fit such a broad, general statement such as the one I presented.

Lemkeel said...

Noticed a mistake, the Pew research does not show WELS to have a decline of .3%, rather the total membership is <.3%. Sorry for the confusion if there was any.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the prep schools, redundancies, need to be closed. Additionally, close MLC and put their operations under and at WLC. More students will go to a school in Milwaukee than East Podunk. You could even move the seminary to WLC. Nothing would change but a lot of money would be saved.

Former Preppie

Anonymous said...

We need only turn to God's Holy Word (yes Lemkeel, it is Holy) to explain these declining numbers:

(I Timothy 4:1) "Now the Spirit says clearly that in the last times some people will abandon the faith by following deceitful spirits, the teachings of demons,..."

Greg, I'm surprised that you:
1) are so concerned with numbers. I thought only Church Shrinkers did that.
2) support Lemkeel's position. For someone so learned and allegedly concerned with dogma I'm surprised that you of all people don't try to blast his/her mindless drivel out of the water.


Anonymous said...

Greg Jackson is as Greg Jackson does.

Lemkeel said...

Anon 8:46 or "AKA," which is it, AKA or Anon? Did you read my last comment that the .3% decline is in error? What I meant to say was that of the 1.8% Lutheran Evangelical Traditional churches in America, .3% of them are WELS, not a decline. I really think you should look at this website, and click on the tab for affiliations. What you're saying is something like, "only .3% of all Christians/believers in the US (and those in the world missions until they close) are the only ones staying faithful to their faith and not following deceitful spirits and teachings of demons? Please explain that logic to me, I'm honestly curious where it's coming from.

Anytime someone likes to make quotes or phrases about these being the "end times" and that judgment day is around the corner, I like to use this passage (yes, turning to God's Holy Word is something I do as well, and btw my question was not is God's Word "Holy," it was "is holy the same as perfect?" but you don't need to read anything other than what you want to read I guess), anyway, here's a passage from God's Holy Word: Ecclesiastes 1:9
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

Why is it that these days are the last days exactly?

Way to chastise Greg, you are paragon of WELS intimidation and ignorance. Thanks for showing that so well. To ignore numbers (not even consider and look at) is of course ignorance. It only makes you, well, ignorant. How do you know he's supporting my position? And what if he is? Are you going to turn your back on him now? What a great friend! Listen to your words, "... try to blast his/her mindless drivel out of the water." Kind words from a "Christian" that is supposedly God-pleasing.

John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Romans 12:10 "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."

Romans 13:8 "[Love, for the Day is Near] Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law."

Galatians 5:13 "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love."

Ephesians 4:2 "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

Hebrews 10:24 "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

1 Peter 1:22 "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart."

1 Peter 3:8 "[Suffering for Doing Good] Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble."

1 Peter 5:14 "Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ."

1 John 3:11 "[Love one another] This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another."

1 John 3:23 "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us."

1 John 4:7 "[God's Love and Ours] Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."

1 John 4:11 "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

1 John 4:12 "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

2 John 1:5 "And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another."


Wowsers, this writer John really liked the word love, I wonder why? What could he have possibly been getting at? "Hmm, it's easier to "hate" so I'm gonna ignore these passages."

Benjamin Tomczak said...

Why is it that these days are the last days?

Because what Jesus described as the labor pains of the end are those things that have happened and are happening since his ministry on earth (esp. Matthew 24-25, see excerpts below).

The challenge is that while, on the one hand, Jesus' words convince us that everything necessary for the end to come has happened (and is happening) and so we are prepared for the end to be at any moment, on the other hand, up until that point, it will be as everything has been from the beginning, as you pointed out from Ecclesiastes (and Jesus also points out, making reference to the time of Noah, see below).

The question Christians wrestle with (and will wrestle with until Jesus returns in the sky in all His glory to let us know the answer for sure) is if this is the End of the End times (the short season when the Devil is loosed in a unique way to wreak havoc one last time, cf. Revelation 20).

The apostles and Jesus certainly spoke in terms of "this generation." So do we. Each generation views its as the culmination of those signs Jesus referred to -- war, destruction, apostasy, and gospel proclamation. Hence, we live by faith, confident in the words of our Savior who simply ways, "Watch, be ready! The end is near!"

Matthew 24:4-14: 4Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,[a]' and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (NIV)

And also Matthew 24:36-44 : 36"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (NIV)

Anonymous said...

I cast another vote for closing the prep schools. Could we start a petition here? (I would sign my real name.)


Anonymous said...

But if we close the prep schools, where will we experience our wedgies, melvins, ZEX calls, pink bellies, "Cardinals", pole mels, etc....

Prep schools MUST stay open !!!

Benjamin Tomczak said...

Ah, yes, that's right, I forgot, none of those things (wedgies, melvins, etc....) happen on the campuses of area Lutheran high schools, public schools, private and public colleges. They only happen at WELS prep schools.

That's certainly not to excuse such behavior. There is no excuse for it. And for each instance of harassment, assault, and favoritism displayed in past, present, and future, we must humbly beg forgiveness of our Savior. But it's not the argument for the closing of a school. If it were, then every one of our schools where a sin occurs among the student body must be closed.

The question is why do we have prep schools, and even more cosmically, why do we have an organized worker training system at all?

Because, as Matthew reports, "Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. " (Matthew 9:35-38).

I'm not saying the only right way to get pastors and teachers is by sending them to a prep high school, MLC, and Seminary. Certainly the Church has had faithful shepherds before this system came around and will continue to receive faithful shepherds well after a system like this is dismantled. We can be sure of that because those shepherds are gifts from God to the Church, as Paul teaches in Ephesians 4, Acts 20, and 1 Corinthians 12.

The divine institution of the Holy Ministry assures us of workmen. If needs be, God will raise up shepherds as He raised up judges and prophets in the Old Testament. For the gates of hell shall never overcome this Church of His.

That being said, much like the argument made in defense of the use of the Liturgy, I would like to be shown a way to get faithful, reliable workers for the harvest. If it's not from the system we have, what will it be? Where will they come from (in human terms)? How will they be prepared for the work they have to do -- preach the Gospel in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2), watch life and doctrine closely (1 Tim. 4:16), administer the sacraments (Matt. 28, 1 Cor. 11), feed the sheep and lambs (John 21), offer confession and absolution (Matthew 16, 18, and John 20)?

That's my wish. Rather than railing, like politicians against each other ("You suck!" "No, you suck!"), rather than eating our own children, rather than making the false argument that it's EITHER missions or worker training, when the two go so hand-in-glove that they cannot be separated, could we perhaps offer reasonable alternatives if we have them?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I am not only a product of the Christian education system and worker training system of the WELS (LES in Michigan, MLS, MLC, WLS), but I am a convinced supporter of the system.

I believe that what we have follows the command of our Lord to raise up our children in the training and instructing of the LORD (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Eph. 6:4) as well as preparing workers for the harvest field (Matthew 9). I'm not in any way convinced that it's the only right way and that there are no others. Nor am I convinced that we, sinful as we are, have reached the pinnacle and peak of the possibilities with the system we have.

But I have yet to be presented with a viable alternative for training our children and preparing workers for the fields.

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak

Benjamin Tomczak said...

And reaching way back into the past of this discussion, as graduation looms ahead, the first Korean students are graduating from MLS.

Of the two graduating students, one is planning to attend MLC and prepare for public ministry.

The other, who had listed Bethany and MLC as options, "only" received four years of Christian, Lutheran education, spent that time being encouraged to consider and considering serving in the ministry. What a waste...It's time to close the school.

Take it for what it's worth.

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak

Lemkeel said...

Hi Ben,

I understand that these are the "last days," in fact, we're currently living out the rest of the New Testament and will do so until Jesus comes again. I'm a Christian and do not wrestle with whether these are the "End" of the "End times." Rather, I leave these things up to God and put my fears, worries, and concerns about the "end times" on his shoulders (or Jesus' to be exact). Afterall, he knows when he'll come again, and so for me to speculate and worry is basically a waste of my time and energy. I do, on the other hand, understand cause for concern. But, as I would suggest, 1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

It is neat that Jesus told his disciples to be ready, the time is near, and he said that 5000 years ago or something? I also use the "... there will be wars and rumors of wars" reference, but more so when people freak out about the current wars in the Middle East. Of course, these latest wars are down the list of a long line of wars since Jesus spoke of them happening, not only in this country but across the world.

With regard to Matthew 24:9-14, Jesus is appropriately and perfectly prophesying of things that will happen (and are currently happening), but just because he said those things will happen, does not excuse us (all people, Christians included) to simply sit back and do nothing. Imagine if you were given a diagnosis of terminal colon cancer, with 3 weeks to live. Would you sit back and let the cancer kill you or enjoy and fulfill the rest of your days of Grace here on earth to the best of your ability (which in turn becomes God-pleasing)? To just sit back and kick it sounds a little like "fatalism" to me.

Interesting, Matthew 24:36-44, as it sounds a little like the very fact that people here on earth are speculating about the end of days means precisely that they are not near, for if they were you would "prepare for them." Obviously we want to be prepared, but that's just it, be prepared.

As someone coming from the thick of things deep in the WELS, I understand that there's a belief that's fostered that all your time and talents should be devoted to being a "called worker." This is precisely one of the reasons there's such a division between called workers and lay people. The WELS does not know how to "cater" to other skills and abilities other than preaching and teaching the word of God, which, basically anyone can and should do.

Lemkeel said...

Hi Ben,

I think we went to school together for a time at MLC; don't think we talked much but look what we're doing now!

"Humbly begging for forgiveness of our Savior..." and then what? Keep doing and/or allowing it to happen? Sounds a little hypocritical to me and also, unrepentant. You're right, that's not an excuse to close a school, but when you have a school open in the name of Jesus and then do these things, there's a little irony there.

Having an organized worker training system I think no one would truly argue against. However, prep schools are not something Jesus commanded and in fact, as times and people are realizing, they are no longer necessary and are currently acting as an impediment to true growth and preparedness in the body of Christ. Not to mention they are too much money for a synod that obviously cannot afford them cause missions are being shut down. An honest-to-goodness needs-based assessment as well as a cost-benefit analysis needs to happen. Wait a minute, all the synod leaders went through the worker trainer system and thus are unprepared and incompetent to do these things...... now there's a problem.

Yes, called workers will arise from places other than prep schools. Mainly cause if there's no prep schools, there will be called workers coming from somewhere (God knows where, eh?) It's rather difficult to show you "where" they'll come from when the current system that's in place is all that's been in place since the genesis of the WELS, right? I guess MLC or WLC or wherever they come from will have to work to instill their abilities for the ministry, like all other professions, college and then graduate or professional school does that stuff. Of course, the things you've mentioned are more along the lines of work that pastors do, so maybe future WELS pastors can go to other colleges/seminaries that will do that and that probably will prepare them better in the end?

It is actually NOT a false argument to "close missions or prep schools," as that's what the President of the WELS said are the two current options that Synodical Council will be voting on. If you wish to think of alternatives to the plan the "President of the WELS" and therefore "favorite step-son of God" put forth, let us all know cause right now it seems to be these two options.

Thank you for stating you're a product of the synod's worker training system!! That at least explains some or most of the bias you have in favor of keeping the current system as it is regardless of other thoughts/opinions/suggestions!!

Everyone in the WELS likes to refer to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 regarding training a child in the way... problem is, what exactly is that passage in reference to? Strict adherence to WELS teaching/beliefs? Or does it only work for called workers and their children who will become future called workers?

You've been presented with "viable" alternatives in this blog, if you've been reading them. Maybe they're not "viable" if you don't agree with them? Or do you just want everyone to donate/give more money to the church to support the current worker training system?

Gregory L. Jackson said...

Someone posted using my name. I find that cowardly and deceitful, as most of you do. You might have noticed that the person did not use a blog ID. So do not jump to the conclusion that I am posting if someone uses my name.

Lemkeel said...

Hi Ben,

Just to reflect on this post about the first Korean students graduating, numbers again, do they account for something? Is this number significant, or as researchers/statisticians would say, statistically significant? Cause if not, then the results are essentially without meaning. Not to say that having someone want to become a called worker is meaningless, but of course, this person could do it from not going to a prep school. In the (dare I say, real world) one person going to MLC from 2 (or 25 of all foreign students) is not a really significant number at all. What you're saying is, you're willing to keep the synod's budget at 2.5 million or whatever per year to be able to provide an experience to one student who decides to enter the ministry? Not very convincing. Try, for example, to think from a small business owner's perspective. S/he's got this one faithful customer that comes in everyday for a gallon of milk, but unfortunately the business has been declining over the years and is quickly sinking into debt. Does this small business owner keep the business open (that they've had for say 40 years) or decide, even though times were good at one time, they no longer are and we are no longer competitive and must shut down?

Anonymous said...

Time for change. Our country was able to do it by electing Barack Obama. Time for the WELS to do the same.

Lemkeel said...

Who's the genius who posted under Greg Jackson's name? Common, admit to it! Well, if you don't do it here on this blog, there's one person who does know who did it and that's all that truly matters anyway.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Tomczak writes, "I have yet to be presented with a viable alternative for training our children and preparing workers for the fields."

I've heard that argument a lot. I'm not sure I buy it. Are you saying that having only one prep-school, as opposed to two, means we won't be able to prepare future workers? Is MLS that vital? (There's NO WAY they'd close both prep schools in one convention, so I'm not even going to discuss that option. But I think there is a real chance MLS might go.)

It's impossible to counter-argue what you are saying - that we need two prep schools to train future workers - since that cannot be proven or disproven. I've heard it said, "If we close MLS, we won't have enough pastors." But the same thing was said when they closed MLPS. And yet currently, we are looking at having dozens of pastors without places to serve. And if we place all our graduates this year, I'd speculate there's no way we will do so next year. So the, "We won't have enough pastors" argument, besides being impossible to counter, doesn't even seem to hold up to casual observation.

The same holds true with the notion that we can't adequately prepare called workers without a prep school system. I know we can look at the LC-MS, and see some time-line coorelation between the closing of their prep schools and their decline theologically. But can't a lot of that be linked also to the fact that they had multiple seminaries? If we have one seminary and have good men teaching there, I don't see how a prep school is an absolute necessity. Have we noticed that the pastors who came out of ALHS's or public schools are less theologically sound than prep-school-trained pastors? You have to say "yes" if you are going to make a compelling case for the absolute need for prep schools. If you aren't willing to say yes to that statement, I don't see how you can say we don't have a "viable alternative"!!!! If you don't think that the ALHS pastors or public school pastors are of lower quality, then THAT is a viable alternative. It might not be ideal. But it's at least viable. And in light of the economic conditions, it might be more than a viable option. It might be wise. For we can have adequately trained pastors AND keep our missions going.

Now... back off from everything I just said. I am NOT suggesting we close LPS. As I mentioned, I don't see that happening. BUT, in light of what I said, how can closing MLS be THAT big a deal? If nothing else, it gives us an opportunity to test the need for prepschools. Instead of just posturing the notion - "Without at least two prep schools we can't have a viable worker training system!" - we can observe what happens when one is shut down. Do we, in a decade, have a massive shortage of pastors? OK. Then we deal with that situation when we come to it. But right now, that is NOT the situation. The situation is we have more pastors than we need, and to train yet more, we are going to fund a school which has declining enrollment, and to do so we are going to bring back world missionaries.

To me, that is not a very "viable" option to Gospel ministry.

(a concerned layman)

Anonymous said...

Not to excuse the impostor, but Greg Jackson is upset that someone is slandering his name? The irony is almost too obvious to require comment (but not quite). Looks like repentance is called for on all sides.

Then again, if everyone saw the plank in his own eye, blogs like this would not exist.

Off to confessional...

Anonymous said...

>>>Have we noticed that the pastors who came out of ALHS's or public schools are less theologically sound than prep-school-trained pastors? You have to say "yes" if you are going to make a compelling case for the absolute need for prep schools. If you aren't willing to say yes to that statement, I don't see how you can say we don't have a "viable alternative"!!!! If you don't think that the ALHS pastors or public school pastors are of lower quality, then THAT is a viable alternative.<<<

Yes, exactly! Much of what Pastor Tomczak and other prep supporters say smacks of elitism. Saying that our pastors will somehow be less orthodox or of lower quality is an insult to everyone who goes or has gone to an ALHS, especially to those pastors who went to an ALHS. The standard assumption from prep school kids from the moment they get to MLC until they die, is that they are just a little bit better than their colleagues. I definitely get that sense from what Pastor Tomczak says. If he really thought that ALHS graduates were just as qualified as prep graduates, then he wouldn't have such a big problem with closing the prep schools.

But as it stands now, we are going to be telling thousands of people in dozens of countries: "Sorry, you don't get to have God's Word anymore because we need not just one expensive prep school, but two of them." It would seem that a hundred kids in Saginaw are more important than thousands, millions even, of people around the world.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 622,

Your take on the current financial dilemma is, I think, very realistic and balanced. Is the prep system too expensive for the current and forseeable economic climate? Maybe so. Two preps? Probably so. If the alternative is to continue to cannibalize our world missions and hamstring our already severely underfunded home missions, I would find it hard to support that. Two high schools just seems too great a luxury in times like these.

But here's a thought -- if, as previous posters have noted, the "rock and roll missions"* have been so creative at operating without funds from our synod, and have quickly gone self-supporting, might this not be possible for a prep school as well? Perhaps we should simply "remove life support" so to speak, and if it is the Lord's will, it will continue.

What say ye?


*Ha! Funny name that! What does it mean? (I'm a bit new to this discussion.) Should I assume that these are churches with rock bands accompanying the hymns instead of an organ? I've heard that some churches use them to good effect to retain attendance by young people. Not my preference really, but if it keeps the kids in the pews, let them have it, I say!

Lemkeel said...

I've been meaning to bring MLC into the argument, instead of just focusing on missions. Having MLC join WLC would probably work out, but for now, MLC stands along and needs a lot of help:

"This week, MLC President Mark Zarling reported to both faculty and staff, "In the next biennium, MLC´s synodical subsidy will decrease from $4.48M in 2008-9 to $3.8M in 2009-10 and $3.75M in 2010-11. Currently, 10 faculty and staff positions at MLC that had been authorized or are presently vacant have not been filled. It appears that 10-15 additional positions will need to be eliminated to meet our lowered budget. Various ideas are being considered, such as semi-retired positions, temporary sabbaticals, hourly staff working fewer hours/week, etc. Like all areas of ministry, MLC seeks to demonstrate careful and prayerful stewardship of the resources entrusted to us. We ask that all of God´s people pray for God´s guidance for every aspect of our synod´s work. We ask that you also join us in seeking God´s blessing upon MLC so that we can continue to provide world-class training for ministry in the WELS at the highest level of fiscal responsibility. May we glorify our Savior God through our careful planning and stewardship."


This to me, again, makes no sense. Keep the preps running while the college is struggling in a major way.

Anonymous said...


Prep schools, MLC and the Seminary at Mequon are NOT academically elite institutions.

I have known a lot of average students at prep. Although I did not attend a WELS training college, I knew many people who did who were definitely NOT academic stars.

It's really NOT the purpose of the prep schools or WELS training colleges to produce research scholars.

The seminary in Mequon does not even offer a Doctorate in Divinity.

The purpose is to train ministers and teachers. Often those of average intelligence are more well suited to these "people oriented" positions than those with greater academic gifts.

Just an observation....

Lemkeel said...

Anon 8:38, my argument about synod schools not being competitive is not about producing research scholars. I recognize a time and place. What I am saying is that the current curriculum's are so basic (and perhaps so out-dated) that the graduates of these schools are not able to even have an intelligent conversation with those who did go to other schools. Not that the Gospel needs intelligent conversation to make an impact, but I don't think anyone would say it hurts. Average intelligence is fine, most of us have it (e.g., the "bell curve" indicates that most people are of average intelligence) but again, my point is not to train future called workers to be scholarly intellects. It's to be as prepared as they can be to do their work.

Anonymous said...

"What I am saying is that the current curriculum's are so basic (and perhaps so out-dated) that the graduates of these schools are not able to even have an intelligent conversation with those who did go to other schools."

Oh my... CYA my friend!

Anonymous said...

Wow. "intelligent conversation"? How many WELS caled workers do you know? Must be a very small sample.

Anonymous said...

Anon749, I had the same thought you had two years ago when they talked about closing MLS the first time. Why is it so costly? The per student cost at a prep-school seems to be much higher than an ALH. Someone will say, "Well, of course. They have dorms at a prep school." That makes 1 million dollars worth of difference? I don't think so.

I don't see that MLS or LPS have done much to make themselves cost efficient. There hasn't been that many staff members let go at MLS, in spite of the fact that enrollment has plummeted. They haven't done that much to make themselves lean and mean, sort of bringing the calamity upon themselves.

I say defund at least one of them. If it were one, logically it would be MLS, with the much lower enrollment. See how it does on it's own. Two years ago, there was talk about making it a ALH/prep school hybrid. President Prange brought on a ton of Koren kids, primarily to provide tuition income I think. Bring on more, and make it a mission school too. Do something creative to keep it going. But don't say, "Let's shut down our world missions, so we can keep two prep schools going." That makes no sense.

That creativity won't happen unless it's forced. Defunding one or both schools would force it.

Anonymous said...

It will take either a large number of recent MLC and Mequoun graduates NOT receiving calls, or true financial distress, before there is serious talk about closing one (or both preps), combining MLC and WLC, or moving the seminary at Mequon to the WLC campus.

"Just ain't gonna happen..."

I know many people who send their kids to prep school simply because they themselves attended in their youth (regardless of whether their child is intending to enter the called worker profession or even desires to go away to school).
It has a very strong nostalgia/emotional component that is just not the same as some far away mission field.

Lemkeel said...

Anon 9:23, didn't know we were friends to begin with. Since I didn't know you before this blog, I guess it won't hurt that we're no longer friends.

Anon 9:28, sorry if you and others are offended. I'm simply basing this from my own experiences at the synod schools compared to what I received at public university. Difference in undergrad education, basic, general differences, were significant. As far as knowing called workers, does the fact that I used to attend the synod schools account for those I currently know who are currently called workers? If so, I know a lot. If not, I can start with my Dad (former called worker), uncle, uncle, aunt, cousin, and cousin.

dmk said...

What I am saying is that the current curriculum's are so basic (and perhaps so out-dated) that the graduates of these schools are not able to even have an intelligent conversation with those who did go to other schools.That is a pretty bold statement to make. Of course, as a recent MLC graduate, I find your comment rather insulting. I felt that I received a fine education from MLC. Because you have shown yourself to be quite interested in data, can you substantiate your point with data?

I know that licensure in Minnesota (which may not have existed when you were there) is fairly stringent. Having the Minnesota teaching license makes it easy to get the license at most other states. Teachers of the public schools at which we did our clinical experiences often commented on how they preferred taking MLC students. I realize those are fairly isolated data points, but I would be interested to know what data you based your comment on.

Anonymous said...

"I can start with my Dad (former called worker), uncle, uncle, aunt, cousin, and cousin."

Just curious, are you saying you can't have intelligent conversation with any of those people? You come off rather pompous.

Anonymous said...

Anon944 writes, "It has a very strong nostalgia/emotional component that is just not the same as some far away mission field."

That is EXACTLY what we need to guard against. As a synod, we can't make a decision based on nostalgia. We can't place love of an alma mater over love of souls. If you can demonstrate that, indeed, the shutting down of MLS would jeopardize souls, then try and make that case. I think it's hard to make, if we keep LPS open, and given the poor state of MLS's enrollment. To think that keeping MLS open would be better for the Kingdom than closing world mission fields... illogical. I know the Lord only knows such things for certain, and will work through all things. But we need to use our God-given human reason. And there is no reasonable reason to keep two prep schools at this time, especially if it means cutting mission fields.

Lemkeel said...

Dmk, thanks for noticing, as most of my comments have been pretty "bold" ... I'm trying to make a point and elicit responses and/or critical thinking. I could be "kind and gentle" but am choosing to go hard. The "intelligent conversation" I had a feeling would cause a stir. Perhaps it was too broad and too critical, I should probably take that back. So, I apologize for making that comment. Intelligent conversation can be many different things to many different people. In my defense and in the haste of responding to the earlier comment, I let my emotions take control. I think what I was getting at with the education at MLC being basic and out-dated is that given the small nature of the college there's a smaller course pool from which to choose electives from. In addition, the profs that teach all courses (gen. ed. & electives) are not necessarily "experts" in that particular field, leaving the education lacking to some degree. So, having a smaller course pool to choose courses from and not having experts teach the courses does hamper the education. Furthermore, in addition to the lack of diversity of courses and experts in the field to teach them, there's a genuine lack of diversity when it comes to the student body. College is not just about learning in the book, but also learning from each other. This is also a component that I'm speaking of when I state that the differences between MLC and public university are significant.

I'm sorry if you feel insulted, again, I think I was too quick to judge. This is something I am working on. I too thought I was receiving a "fine" education at MLC while there, in fact most of us did and would still attest to that now. However, when I transferred to a public university, I noticed such a huge difference that my opinion changed in many ways. I can not show you specific data that compares students' experiences at MLC vs. public universities, cause I doubt a study has been done. This would be an interesting research topic if anyone is interested in doing some research... all I can tell you is from my own personal experiences and how I noticed significant, and in some ways, gigantic differences.

They just started the Minnesota licensure while I was still there and it was just getting underway. That's great if it's helped your guys' experiences at MLC be better. That's also great how teachers of public schools commented on how they'd prefer to take MLC students. To be as polite as possible, it's possible that they were being polite, but since I wasn't there I will not pretend to know. I also know that as a general rule, Christians, esp. WELS Christians, generally are polite, well-mannered people in public situations. Some of this comes from the belief that you should try to witness your beliefs not only in words but actions too. At least that's how I took it to mean and do recall being conscientious of that while a student at MLC (and still am).

Again, since I don't have specific data to show you, I can present my own "case story" and tell you that one of the biggest differences were the options to take courses from the social sciences branch (e.g., psychology, sociology, political science, communications, etc.) at public university that were not options at MLC. This may have changed, but when I was there, I recall wanting to take a Sociology course and an Abnormal Psychology course but since the pastor track guys needed those courses (for their BA) they had first preference and usually there was only 1 or 2 sections and they usually filled them all. This bummed me out; the only psych courses I had at MLC were "Human growth and development" and "Psych of learning." When I transferred to public university, I of course majored in Psych and had minor in Sociology. The university I attended (and still attend) has very good Psych and Sociology Depts. and I found out later that there's usually a sequence that should be followed when taking these courses (like most) with a basic general or elementary course first, and then the more complicated courses later. I think MLC has an Elementary Psych course now, however they did not when I was a student there. I think it's great that MLC is incorporating more social science courses in their curriculum, however, to be ideal they need experts in those fields teaching those courses, something you'd get at public university. A subject like psychology is so complicated yet so critical for people who want to be in professions that work specifically with people. It helps you learn about the people you'll be teaching/working with. Sociology is also an area that would be beneficial for people in "people professions." Of course, at a public university, there will be many other elective options that you can choose from, and at least at this university, all the areas you take courses in are taught by experts in those fields. Furthermore, at public universities, there's usually lots of research going on, which helps facilitate your overall learning experience either by staying on top of things/ideas or participating in research labs with professors and grad students. These things can all be done while you are studying to be a teacher, or even pastor, and will only help you and improve your experiences and make you that much more prepared.

There's good things at MLC, such as the religion courses every semester and the chance to worship with each other every day. At the same time, there's lots of things that could be improved or are lacking, and I think an honest needs-assessment should take place within all synod schools.

Lemkeel said...

Anon 10:33, you or someone else (can't tell) wanted to know how many WELS called workers I know. Thus, I was stating specific family members.

As I addressed to Dmk, I should apologize for making a broad, general, and critical attack. I let my emotions take over for a moment and I apologize.

What I should have said was something like, "some or many graduates of synod schools have difficulty having conversations about things and topics that they do not know much about." For example, topics that would be covered in social science courses. Of course, the list could go on and on, such as knowing about world religions, and the histories and cultures of people of different nations and races. It would be better to look at a catalog of a public university or college at your choosing and see what they offer for academics. Compare what's on that list to what the students at MLC (and those in other synod schools) are currently receiving.

As far as me coming off as pompous, I'm sorry if it's coming off that way, as stated earlier, my emotions sort of took over that comment where I talked about unintelligent conversation. At the same time, it's possible that no matter what I say nor how I say it that you'll always take it a certain way.

dmk said...


In going "hard," it seems you are making some hasty statements that undermine your message. Critical thinking is great, but needlessly insulting people along the way and making sweeping generalizations isn't going to help your cause (and sweeping generalizations isn't critical thinking). I get the sense from several of your posts that you think the WELS is content with status-quo and are "stuck in the mud" and unchangeable. I used to have that opinion as well about certain areas of how things run. I've since come to realize that in many of these things I thought they were "stuck in the mud" about are actually intentional, well-thought-out decisions. You may not agree with them, but don't think that things haven't changed just because people are apathetic. The earlier "Book of Concord revisions" discussion would fall under this category.

You are right that "the small nature of the college" means there are fewer electives to choose from. That's a hard thing to get around and definitely a benefit of a larger school, because offering more courses costs money. But then you have to remember, MLC is a very narrow-focus school by design. If you want to be a psychologist, sociologist, or major in political science or communications -- MLC is NOT the right place for you. As it is, even if there were many more electives, I think it would be hard to take too many of them. With the additional course-load that the religion courses take, together with the regular course-load needed for one getting licensure, I as well as many of my friends averaged about 20 credits per non-clinical semester. I think to accomplish what you want -- offering more depth to some related but ancillary fields, would make MLC more like WLC or Bethany. This is an opinion: I think MLC would lose more than it would gain by dropping their narrow mission-minded focus.

I don't agree with your charge that "profs that teach all courses are not necessarily 'experts' in that particular field." All of the profs at MLC have Master's degrees in their areas. Many of them (30% if I had to guess) have their Doctorates, and most of those without Doctorates are working toward them. Many of these advanced degrees were earned in the public university.

By the way, I have had other college experience than MLC.

Anonymous said...

dmk -

I have also had other college experience than MLC. Much of the hidden curriculum at MLC is one of teaching passive obedience (to the synod) instead of building on individual strengths. Not all MLC profs have their Master's (most do). But professional growth is not encouraged in most congregations so the professor pool is shallow.

MLC continues to hurt itself by not combining efforts with WLC. There is an urban crisis in Lutheranism in both our schools and churches. MLC is far-removed from an urban setting. If MLC and WLC could work together students could be have better access to experiences in urban settings.

I don't think a combined effort between MLC and WLC would hurt the mission efforts of our called workers.

DMLC trained - sw

dmk said...


I agree, collaboration could be useful. In my opinion, it would depend upon exactly what that means. For instance, I think that allowing WLC to produce teacher candidates would not be good. I think that would ultimately lead to the closure of the teacher program at MLC because of WLC's location. But that is not the main problem that I see. WLC is not as mission-minded and is not under synod oversight. There have been things that have gone on there (just read GJ) that a synodically-funded school would not have done. I think having WLC produce all teacher candidates under this scenario would ultimately lead to a decline in doctrine and practice in the synod. [/opinion]

But other types of working together? That's pretty vague, but I think there is definitely potential there. MLC has been trying some new things with urban ministry experience programs and curriculum. But their ability to do this certainly is hampered by their location.

Anonymous said...


Since you have training in Abnormal Psych. and possess a "worldview that incorporates a counselor/psychologist/lawyer one day maybe and is also person-centered," I have a question for you:

How would you diagnose a friend of mine who makes the following contradictory statements?

"Who is Calvin? I'm not a die-hard WELS-er who clings to ancient history."

and then...

"I actually do know who Calvin is, but I was not allowing myself to get caught up in that argument cause I don't see the point of it."


"Why is it that these days are the last days exactly?"

and then...

"I understand that these are the "last days," in fact, we're currently living out the rest of the New Testament and will do so until Jesus comes again."


"It is neat that Jesus told his disciples to be ready, the time is near, and he said that 5000 (sic)years ago or something?"

and then...

"I think I am one of the most educated Christians on the Bible that you have potentially come across."

I am the product of WLC so pardon my ignorance, but in my lay opinion I think my friend has either a multiple personality disorder or a bad case of PWD (posting while drunk).

Should I believe anything my friend has to say or just love him/her and ignore bad logic, bad argumentation, and bad grammar?

Sincerely, AKA

Lemkeel said...


Unfortunately, in my "going hard" there will obviously be emotional reactions (some strong) and so at that point there's nothing I can do. Only you can control yourself and how you act/react. Of course, again, if I'm trying to make a point, I may use extreme examples. Also, where and when have I insulted people? Other than the "intelligent conversation" bit, that was not a direct hit to people. Sweeping generalizations, how are those not examples of critical thinking, just cause they're sweeping doesn't mean they're without thought. How your opinion has changed and why about WELS being stubborn and not changing would be important to know in this situation. Anyone's opinion could change if someone else really wants it to, as well as the person him- or herself allowing it to change. The points I have made about change/changeless should cause a little concern in this regard. Whatever those "intentional well-thought out decisions" are I'd be curious to know why. Is it a brainwashing technique? I do not think WELS/MLC staff are apathetic. There's other words I've used to describe such behavior like "stubborn."

Regarding the more course more money statement, it is actually cheaper to attend an in-state public university than it is to attend MLC. In addition, because it's a state/public school, students have more options for financial aid and scholarships. I'm not so sure MLC is "narrow focused by design." Is that really it, or is it due to the fact that they only have WELS people teaching at the college, and most if not all WELS people at MLC all went through the synod school system which results in a cycle of education (you might say good, I might say bad) that just goes on and on and on. Is that really by design, or cause there's no other alternatives at the moment? Of course if you want to be something else other than pastor/teacher than go somewhere else, yes. That is something I realized thank God. I was trying to point out that having the opportunity to take those courses would be a good thing for future teachers/pastors. At my public university there's a grad program called "school psychology" where people can work in school systems and work with students. My point here is that having psychology courses in undergrad can only help your education and overall preparedness. I do understand the tough course load at MLC, that would just take some rearranging. Believe me it can be done. 20 credits is tough and also something you wouldn't see much at a public university. That's tough. You are in the frame of mind that MLC would lose more, which you're probably correct, they'll lose the close-knit atmosphere and tight teaching and oversight of the synod. These are all things that I think should happen, which is my opinion.

With all due respect, the profs at MLC that do have master's are probably in education. This is not what I was referring to, I was referring to a specialty like "school counseling/psychology, special education, etc.).The doctorates again are likely in general "Education" which is fine, but what are their specialties? I'm talking specifically if at public university you take Western Civilization I and II you take it by people with PhD's in the field of "western history" or something directly related to that course. At my university, each department has a chair, and each chair makes sure that the profs who teach the courses have at least PhD's and are currently doing research in that area. Thus, if you take an algebra course, you're getting exposed to teachers who have their PhD's in math, if you take a science course you're taking it from people who have PhD's in science etc. That's more what I was referring to. The people who teach or are in charge of these topics are all very much engaged in that topic which can be of great service to you the student.

That's great you've had other college experience other than MLC... the more experiences the better!

Lemkeel said...

AKA, didn't know you and I were friends. I wouldn't diagnose me as having "Multiple Personality Disorder" which had changed to a more appropriate title of "Dissociative Identity Disorder" nor do I have a bad case of PWD (posting while drunk). I am, however, human, and can and do make mistakes. Aside from the human argument, as I've stated in earlier posts, I'm trying to elicit reactions that I recognize will be strong in some people, less strong in others. Thus, when I stated that I didn't know who Calvin was and that I wasn't a WELS-er die hard fan of history, I was simply trying to elicit reaction which apparently I did. Why am I trying to elicit strong reaction? I'm trying to make a point. With the last days comment, again, I was trying to see what Pastor Ben had to say regarding the last days which is why I asked. I'm not a history person and do not know precisely when Jesus was on earth preaching/teaching, so I guessed on the 5000 number, is that far off? I know, I should have put A.D., or C.E. (Common Era, you know that right?) My education on the Bible that I was referring to is more along the lines of general teachings and beliefs, not of facts that I could look up if I needed to (but obviously did not with the 5000 number, do you know what it is? What is it? Seriously, I'd like to know!)

Anyone can be ignorant wherever they go to college. If you want to ignore me that's your choice. Do what you think is right for you.

Anonymous said...

More evidence that the C&C heretics have broken ranks and are running scared:
The November 2009 Church and Change Conference is named: "REGAINING MOMENTUM"!
What are the chances that Schroeder and the COP will release their ad hoc report on worship and reigns in the cypto-liberals before their conference even happens? Anyone know the timetable for the report?

Anonymous said...

I think President Schroeder is a great deal more evangelical (in the Lutheran sense of the word) than you are painting him here. Just from my own reading, I sense that he is far more sensitive to the Christian freedom espoused by the reformers than are the editors of this site.

Anonymous said...

You are delusional if you think that President Schroeder, the COP, or some task force is going to move the WELS to take action against churches that have introduced non-traditional worship services. They will not mandate strict adherence to the Western Rite. Instead, I assume that they will simply encourage all WELS churches to uphold the centrality of the Means of Grace in all services, whether traditional or non-traditional. They will encourage discernment in the choice of music used in worship, and especially in the texts of hymns and spiritual songs. WELS churches on both "sides" of this issue, as well as those in the middle (the great majority) will readily accept this brotherly encouragement. No-one will be named a heretic (well, maybe on this blog!), and there will be no mass exodus of non-traditional churches. Instead, most will be thankful that we are continuing to study and discuss this important subject, and everyone will go home happy. (Well, maybe not everyone. :) )

Just out of curiosity, where is the info on the C&C conference posted? Could you please direct us there? I'm sure that many of us would like to attend and enjoy the fellowship of our faithful and confessional brothers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

The Church and Change theme is: Regaining Momentum in WELS Congregations.


dmk said...


The emotional reactions elicited are not so much from your "hitting hard" as from the fact that you are not actually pointing out any specific problems but making generalizations that aren't clearly rooted in fact. I don't deny that there are shortcomings in the WELS, as there is in every man-made institution, but you're not even making fair accusations. By fair, I mean, ones that are backed up by data. Extreme examples? As long as they are true. And, as you've already pointed out, you should check if they are "statistically significant."

I have not regarded many of your sweeping generalizations as critical thinking because you often have not backed them up or shown them to be true. One of your earlier comments made the generalization that most WELS members think non-WELS people go to hell. I don't think that's accurate or fair. I do think that people outside of the WELS often get that impression, more than likely due to our fellowship practices, but I (and most WELS folk) think that ought not be changed because our fellowship principles are biblical. We can work harder to educate and teach about this, but it certainly is an area ripe for misunderstandings.

I think it might be worth discussing some of those "well-thought out decisions" but I feel that this thread is already going in about 8 different directions. Personally I would prefer to focus on one and discuss it. Some that come to mind from this discussion and the blog in general would include:
- Why we hold to the Book of Concord and will not change it
- Why we hold to our fellowship principles and will not change them
- Why so many churches cling to the Western Rite and are opposed to changes

No, I'm not talking about any "brainwashing" techniques. In fact, most of my revelations in this regard came while I was furthest from WELS institutions, reading and soaking up as much as I could on certain theological topics and controversies that particularly interested me, and then seeing if I could find historical documents as to how WELS got to where they are today on those controversies.

Yes, it is cheaper to attend an in-state public university if you don't count tax dollars. I'm not quite sure what you are getting at. MLC, as a small school, cannot offer every course that you'd like it to without having very small class sizes which means very expensive staff requirements. Or pull in more students to pay for it - students that don't plan to be there to go into the ministry. It is an intentional decision to make MLC focused only on the ministry. I don't disagree that one could argue for different models. Personally, I think the model works well this way to keep doctrine in check and produce candidates qualified for ministry. It seems we disagree here. Ok.

I think synod oversight is important for the sake of MLC. You disagreed. Other Lutheran church bodies have less oversight in their ministerial schools. The result today: all sorts of false doctrine, including inviting religion teachers outside of their fellowship. I think it is a slippery slope that will only get worse for them. Sorry that is vague, I can expound on that if interested.

First you made the generalization that profs are not experts in their fields, and then when I pointed out that most of them have advanced degrees, you made another generalization that they probably just have them in education. Give facts not unsubstantiated banter! Looking at the list of faculty on the online course catalog, it is clear that many of their degrees are not education. It is not possible on that list to discern them all, but where are you pulling these random assumptions from?!

What is your point in all this? Dissolve MLC and send everyone to a public university? How do you propose we prepare people to preach and teach the truths of the Bible as we, Lutherans, confess them?

Lemkeel said...


No I'm not up at 4:00 am to write on BW blog, rather I'm working an overnight shift at a homeless shelter... lucky me (and you and everyone else) I have a lot of time right now to respond to your response! I think I've tried to make specific "hits" at least in earlier messages on this blog; check them out if you like and see if you catch my drift. If not, like I stated earlier, I'm trying to find that balance between "big picture" and "details" and am trying to show the trees in the forest as well as the forest in the trees but because so much of that depends on perspective, it really comes down to the reader to try to find meaning for yourself. As far as being rooted in fact, I'd need you to point out specific things I've said so I can properly respond. I can say that some things I say may seem like a stretch and may actually be a stretch, but again, I'm coming at this from a "shock em" approach which will likely get the wheels turning and at this point, that's satisfactory enough for me. Shortcomings in WELS (man-made institutions) exactly! There's not a lot of studies done on WELS (for various reasons as stated previously, mainly since everyone's called workers that went through synod school system, and lay people are not compelled for some reason to contribute). Thus, I cannot show you empirical data but I think it's great that you're looking for it! My extreme examples may not, like the WELS, have studies that have data. But they may, and I will take that into consideration.

Critical thinking doesn't have to always be backed up with empirical evidence. The def. of critical thinking from Wikipedia is "purposeful and reflective judgment about what to believe or what to do[1] in response to observations, experience, verbal or written expressions, or arguments." Granted, a lot of critical thinking arises from doing research as well as research studies and deciphering "truth" from "non-truth," however, critical thinking does not always have to have the "facts" to back it up. It's more a process than a result. The hell belief arises not so much that WELS teaches it, but as I stated earlier, they don't do much to prevent it nor do I think they know how to handle this side-effect. As you said, it likely arises out of fellowship practices/beliefs and outsiders "don't get it," but then the important question is "what are you doing to try to prevent or stop this thinking from happening?" Lawyers or prosecutors might call this "gross negligence." As I've been reiterating throughout this blog, how do you know that your "fellowship principles are biblical?" You're exactly right, it's an area ripe for misunderstandings which is why you should try to educate/teach as well as be prepared to handle the situation after it has occurred (i.e., people think non-Welsers go to hell). It's a fine line, because WELS wants to stand firm in their beliefs, and in doing so those who "fall short" or whatever must not be getting it right and until they do, they're just "not good enough" or whatever. It then becomes a silly, weak argument about who's right and who's doing it "according to scripture" and the result is someone's going to heaven and someone isn't.

I would have to agree that this blog has gone a million different directions but that's what you get for a million different people different in a million different ways. With regard to the Book of Concord, I do understand the need to cling to those teachings, at the same time, I see a need for a balance and to not see that perhaps people could sit down and work through what those men did in the Middle Ages and make changes that reflect different cultures and times will, as I stated earlier, eventually work to the detriment of the WELS. By that I mean, the WELS as a synod is not growing in leaps and bounds, not that it should grow that significantly, but if the message they're trying to convey is that they're "holding true to the truths of God's word," then I see something wrong with their inflexibility in making changes so that people other than white, German heritage people are receiving that "truth of God's word." In other words, how is the WELS really growing and reaching out to people who need the Gospel because as stated earlier, there's a real lack of diversity of people not only at MLC but in WELS as a whole. Yes you can go out into the world and preach the good news, but reaching others who are different is going to be a challenge. What's happening is that not only is it proving to be a challenge to reach out to others of different cultures, races, and ethnicities, but because the education received at synod schools is also lacking depth and diversity, even reaching out to those of the same race, ethnicities, and cultures is proving to be quite challenging. I think it's great that so many MLC graduates are willing and able to work in inner-city Milwaukee, but let's face it, it would be a lot easier if many or all of these called workers working in inner-city Milwaukee were themselves people of color. Where are these people of color and why are they not going to MLC and henceforth "going out into the world?" The apostle Paul would say "be all things to all people" which is more about perspective and worldview, but I think he's making a good point that people will be reached easier with more similarities than differences. Related to what I've just said can be connected to the fellowship principles, although I haven't really gotten into that (I think others on here have), where I'm talking about finding a balance between clinging to your beliefs yet being flexible enough to "allow" differences to happen. There's gotta be a way to find a balance, failing to do so will likely result in the WELS staying a small group of believers all the same (white, German heritage) with no money or shrinking to even smaller numbers. This is my belief, of course I could be proven wrong. The churches clinging to "Western rite" is also related to what I've been saying. Is that currently working for current believers in the system? If so, why not keep it that way right? But if you want to grow and bring in new believers, then that system may not be as effective anymore. As far as changing, again, what is the purpose for existence? To "preach to the choir?" or to preach to the current believers and also bring in new ones? Bringing in new ones may require changes at various levels of the church. I hate to bring in other churches as an example cause I've been criticized for doing so in the past here, but let's be honest, some religions/churches do this quite well and are growing or are quite larger than WELS. There's many reasons for differences, some better than others, but looking at how and why they're bigger (not necessarily better) would be a smart thing to do in my opinion. Many might say, "God's word is all that matters and staying true to it," particularly those in WELS, but then I point those people to the research on religion in America that shows WELS Lutherans at a mere <.3% of all believers in the US. If WELS truly believes that people from other religions or faiths will also go to heaven, then compared to those other religions who are bigger there's something that they're doing better than what WELS is accomplishing. If I were in charge of WELS I'd be busy finding out what the fuss is all about and reexamine things in my own synod. I think it's important to at least consider the very likely possibility that WELS is resorting to "brainwashing techniques" whether they're overtly aware they're using them or not. Think about it, if they weren't using them to some degree, the WELS would be even smaller than it is! They're trying to maintain life right now. That's great you've studied WELS history etc., of course it's good to test things.

With the cheaper public universities, that may have been confusing, cause on the one hand I see a need for MLC but on the other hand I see that if the synod could "let go" of it's "training college" and have future called workers attend a different college, perhaps WLC, that they might be happy with the results. Major problem with that is the new chapel being built. This is a tough one, what to do with the college, cause whatever happens to that will directly impact the seminary. Of course, there's other seminaries future pastors could attend, and many will probably offer better courses and preparation as far as working with and actually "counseling" instead of taking whatever course the current sem students are taking that probably isn't that good. These are just thoughts... As far as MLC offering more courses yet keeping with smaller class sizes, of course big universities pose a difficulty with class size, however, in my experiences yes there were huge lectures with over 300 people, yet with those same courses there were small discussion sections that met weekly and those were small, like 10-20. As you advance to the more difficult course levels, there's a natural shift in class size to a smaller more manageable one. But, class size is a general issue; as I like to point out, students then must make a conscientious effort to get involved and to know the prof/teacher more personally, and this can happen through a variety of ways such as volunteering to help out with his or her research, talking to him or her after class, etc. Doing these things makes you stand out and since it's a large campus you get the opportunity to actually look like you're a good student. Yes, expensive staff clearly is an issue which is why so many of the "good ones" are at colleges and universities that can afford them. At the same time, one of the main reasons MLC cannot bring on outside staff is a general lack of common fellowship/beliefs which is what you were speaking of earlier, and which is what I say is the lack of flexibility that is hurting WELS and will continue to do so until they learn to be more flexible (and if not, they'll stay small and poor or shrink even more). Yes, MLC has intention and focus - and it's hurting them right now. I see them as either having to change and be willing to be more flexible, or they will have real problems staying a stand-alone institution. When I say "they," of course I'm referring more generally to WELS as the synod does have ultimate oversight of MLC and all other synod schools. MLC has worked up until now by keeping focused on doctrine and "qualified candidates for ministry," but as I've been stating earlier, this inflexibility or rigidness is ultimately working against them. Some might say it's karma, some might even say it's God, and others might say "we don't listen to numbers, we listen to God's word" which really doesn't make sense. To reiterate another point I've been trying to make, if preaching to the choir is the main concern, the WELS is doing just fine. If that's not the main or only concern, then the WELS is in big trouble.

You make a good point and your concern is valid about false doctrine and fellowship issues with other Lutheran or religious bodies that are bigger (but not necessarily better). To reiterate another point I've been trying to make, how do you know they're teaching false doctrine? From my perspective, people will experience the same thing differently, that's not post-modernism like some on here are trying to corner me into, rather it's my understanding from my experiences and education that everyone is unique and the result is unique perspectives, world views, frame of minds, etc. There's no way around it, so some method to try to manage it is necessary. Rather than trying to make people fit into "your" box, it's time to try to fit people with different sizes and shapes of boxes into "your" world. That's def. not an easy task, but starting to look for ways to make it happen is now very important (in my opinion). I understand the "slippery slope" argument, at the same time, right now you're working with a wall that's hitting many people in the face. Again, try to find a balance! It's not easy but that doesn't excuse for not making an effort.

I've thought more about the advanced degrees of the profs at MLC, and since it's a teacher training college (and pastor), of course they'll have advanced degrees related to education of some kind. Whether it's music, science, phys. ed. or curriculum and instruction, it's probably appropriate (btw, I just looked at the latest catalog and there's not a lot of descriptors behind the letters). Again, what I was trying to refer to was that those same profs who have advanced degrees in education do not have advanced degrees in specific subject matter such as science (PhD), history (PhD), and def. not psychology (PhD). Having people teach subjects that they themselves are "experts" in and are currently researching will obviously help the students in their own education and experiences. That's the point I was trying to make. Btw, these are not random assumptions. If it's a "teacher training college" than most of the educators (hopefully) will have advanced degrees of some kind related to education instruction.

Again, it's a tough subject about the criticisms I'm making about MLC. On the one hand I see the need for it, on the other hand I see a big need for changes (refer to examples stated above). If students were to go to WLC or some other college, they'd need to take religion courses still, but here again, I'm arguing for an opening up and broadening of students' experiences before they enter the ministry. The current method is not all that beneficial nor effective, so I'm trying to throw out potential alternatives. Once people start to believe or think that a change(s) need to be made, then they'll start to figure out exactly how they can be done. Just like you when you want to make a change, I doubt you sit there and quibble about how you're gonna do it and it never gets done (well, maybe for some things), but if you really want it done you'll find a way to get it done. But you have to believe that it needs to be done in the first place..........

Anonymous said...

I'm a new reader to the few WELS blogs in cyberspace. I am also a lay delegate to the convention. I attended one other one in the past. What frustrated me was that the strongest voice does come from the pastoral delegates. A pastor is the chair of each committee and the lay voice is minimized. I recall standing to ask a questions a few conventions ago to W. Mueller about why the administration's budget was not lined itemized. It was lumped in with another broad category to cover the administration's tracks. Wayne effectively dodged my question and cut me off.

I hope that this convention will allow the lay voice to be heard. It is sad for me to discover that even a few pastors have their hands out for free staff ministers and free vicars while missionaries are being called home. Use those grants to support missions abroad.

I do agree that the prep system is antiquated. Why do we need to continue to help these 2 schools limp along. Look at the unused property at LPS.

Synod office on Mayfair could be sold and the offices could be easily moved to LPS to make use of the office support systems there.

I wonder?

Anonymous said...

>>>"Many of them (30% if I had to guess) have their Doctorates, and most of those without Doctorates are working toward them."<<<

Actually, this percentage is very low for college level education. Most colleges require a doctorate degree just to be hired.

I attended MLC and a public college. I found the public college to be much more current and professional in their manner of teaching and what they taught. I've also talked with several people who studied elementary education at both MLC and WLC. They felt MLC was lacking in many ways, especially in the urban and minority education fields. That doesn't make sense, since so many of our schools are located in urban areas.

I've often felt our schools create a tunneled world for called workers. Of course they feel they got THE best education, they know of nothing else and have nothing to compare it to. We're so afraid of outside influences, we fail to realize that some of them can be very good.

This tunnel will only get narrower and narrower now that MLC has started a graduate program. That's too bad, because if a called worker is to go out into the world, they need to know a little something about what's out there.

Anonymous said...

>>>"Many of them (30% if I had to guess) have their Doctorates, and most of those without Doctorates are working toward them."<<<

The dean of the education program doesn't even have a Master's degree...

Anonymous said...

>>>That doesn't make sense, since so many of our schools are located in urban areas.<<<

Umm, besides the Choice schools in Milwaukee, almost NONE of our WELS schools are in urban areas. Check your facts before making your accusations next time.

Anonymous said...

When I was in prep school, I was always told by the staff and some of the more gung-ho students what a superior education I was getting.

It was always inferred that public high kids were just a bunch of drug addicted degenerates who were getting a third rate education.

Even the Catholic high school system was looked down upon.

Once I graduated from prep (in the upper 10 percent of my class), I actually got to meet many of the college-bound students from public high.

Yes, some were drug addicted degenerates, but most were not.
Most were as well prepared for college as myself. Many had superior math and science backgrounds. Others had foreign language backgrounds were they could actually speak the language. At prep, Latin was merely translated; German was never even taught as a truly spoken language.

Anonymous said...

New Ulm is urban. They even have a stop and go light, an ELECTRIC stop and go light. I seen it.

dmk said...


It is kind of a busy time right now and I can't respond to it all though I would like to; I apologize. Maybe someone else will choose to respond to other portions of your comment.

You seem either unconcerned with or deny the existence of false doctrine. That is troubling to me. You say "Of course, there's other seminaries future pastors could attend, and many will probably offer better courses and preparation as far as working with and actually "counseling" instead of taking whatever course the current sem students are taking that probably isn't that good." However, different seminaries teach different things about the Word of God. False teaching is dangerous to faith! In measuring the worth of a seminary, I would look FIRST to their faithfulness to Scripture, the one thing needful. In regards to counseling, from what I have heard, seminarians are taught to counsel with the law and the Gospel, and recognize that they are not psychologists - that is not their role, but taught to use the tools they have to offer: Scriptural guidance. Whether or not that "course that probably isn't that good" is good psychology or whatever is irrelevant - what they learn about counseling is well-suited to their role: proclaiming Law and Gospel and giving Scriptural guidance. People that are looking for a psychologist should go to a psychologist. People looking for Scriptural guidance can talk to their Pastor.

You say, "how do you know they're teaching false doctrine?" You go on to say (as before) that different people experience the same thing differently. How do you know they are teaching false doctrine? You find out what they say they believe and you compare it to Scripture. This has nothing to do with a person's experience. Scripture is objectively true. God doesn't say, "believe what you want," and "all paths lead to heaven" - no - he very specifically lays out the plan of Salvation in the Bible. Those who believe, having faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior will be saved, and those who do not believe will go to hell. That is truth. All will be judged according to this standard.

But then there are all those finer points of Scripture, right? Does it really all matter whether we all agree exactly? How do you really know it is false doctrine? Well, if you believe, as Lutherans (well, conservative Lutherans at least) do, that all Scripture is God-breathed (inspired) and that the Bible is inerrant, then you will recognize the warnings in the Bible of "watch out for false teachers!" and "do not add or subtract from the Word!" So we strive to diligently study Scripture and understand all of the teachings so that we keep our doctrine pure. When specific controversies come up between church bodies, we confess the truth of the Bible for the world to see - these answers to controversies are recorded in the Book of Concord. All of our pastors are trained in the original languages of Scripture so they can study closer to the original context - something practically unheard of in many church bodies!

So ALL of those who confess false doctrine are going to hell? NO! People who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are going to hell. I'm sure there will be many times more non-WELS people of our generation in heaven than our relatively small group of WELS people. Does that mean I'm cool with all other church bodies where there are also true believers? No. God says in the Bible that false teaching is dangerous and we are to stay away from false teachers. Until we all meet together in heaven, we cannot share that true unity of faith because through our differences in teaching we show we are not united. In heaven, where false doctrine cannot exist, we will all be totally united. How wonderful it will be!

Yes, false doctrine is dangerous to faith. For instance, Roman Catholicism emphasizes good works as being a necessary part of Salvation. This teaching undermines the one thing needful. Many Catholics, trusting in themselves rather than on Christ will go to hell. Thankfully, many other Catholics reject official Roman Catholic teaching and do trust solely on Christ. God will judge according to his good and gracious will. We must be diligent to stay faithful to Scripture lest we be tempted and stray.

In faithfulness to Scripture and in Gospel-centered sanctification we strive to keep God's teachings pure. With eager hearts we look forward to the time when we are truly able to do this, together with all the saints.

Anonymous said...

can everyone who wants to have the lengthy false doctrine discussion with lemkeel perhaps exchange e-mails and do so that way. it's obviously an important discussion, as it pertains to false doctrine. however, blogs are only beneficial if they stay on topic. this blog is supposed to be about called worker reductions. that is a VERY important topic in the WELS right now. i fear that people look at this string, see very, very (tooooooooo) long comments about a side-topic, and just shut it down.

it's akin to going to a town hall meeting about schools, and having a noisy side-conversation about zoning laws. both are important topics. but it's just bad form talking about the side-topic, distracting from the main topic.

Anonymous said...

>>>WLC is not as mission-minded and is not under synod oversight. There have been things that have gone on there (just read GJ) that a synodically-funded school would not have done. <<<

Surely you don't believe anything Gregory Jackson writes. It doesn't take much intelligence to see the guy's a little off base in his claims and accusations. Anyone who has enough time to stalk multiple synods as he does, obviously isn't doing much positive outreach for Christ.

Lemkeel said...

Dmk (and everyone elses),

I would have to agree, if you'd like to talk with me in a different format about false doctrine, feel free to let me know and we'll set something up.

Just to quickly respond to your comment - it's not that I'm unconcerned or deny the existence of false doctrine, I've taken the same courses you have and probably more. The point I'm trying to make is that you and your group believes something different, yet taken from the same source, as people from another religious group, and different yet from another group and so on and so forth. You seem to be denying that simple but very true fact of life. When you can try to address that fact, that's when a real discussion can begin. Until you actually think about the diversity of human kind and how we're all different and apply that to what you're saying, I'll really be impressed. Faithfulness to scripture, again, you're not addressing what I've been saying (repeatedly) about how every religious group thinks they're being faithful to scripture!! Prove to me you're right and they're wrong. As far as other seminaries, it's apparent you don't know this (and don't care much) but there are pastoral seminaries that are accredited by the ACA (American Counseling Association) and even APA (American Psychological Association). Accreditation is good for a variety of reasons, don't need to get into them here, I will say though that without accreditation that says you're qualified to do something leaves the recipient wondering and guessing.

Again, with "finding out what people say and comparing that to scripture," explain to me how you manage to tell them that what they're saying is wrong, and that what you're saying is right. Your blurb on salvation is uncalled for and a waste of time and space, re-read some of my earlier posts where I refer to my belief in universal grace and justification. And then I talked about John 3:16. I honestly feel like I'm holding your hand telling you where to go and I wish for you that you are able to do these things for yourself!

You bring up a good point about conservative Lutherans. Conservative Lutherans take everything (or say they do) word for word in the Bible, but if that were true, I'd like some explanation about passages that those same Conservative Lutherans seems to conveniently ignore. I'm not going to point you to any directly, you can (and should) find out what I'm talking about on your own and at your convenience. I understand the original languages thing, but it's not working out that well cause like I stated earlier, everyone's different and will experience the same thing differently. It comes down more to how well you can relate to someone and develop a relationship than it is telling someone what the original translation of Job 6:8 is. Of course, this is my perspective and belief.

I do appreciate your earnest enthusiasm for teaching pure doctrine as opposed to false doctrine. I've heard this all before (in earlier posts I've referred to my educational background) so if you can tell me something new, or try to respond to what I've said about the diversity of human kind that would be wonderful. In the meantime, there's no need to repeat to me the same old thing, what I've heard before.

Anonymous said...

I believe that it is only WELS that can close 5 synodically owned schools (Wisconsin Lutheran College ["Chicken Little"}, the prep school in Mobridge, the prep school in New Ulm, the prep school in Prairie du Chien, and Northwestern College (amalgamate is the word used, but was to save big bucks like a closure and not cost the budget anything in the transition)and at the same time receive unprecented millions of extra dollars from the Schwann Foundation and receive millions more in special offerings as well as current and planned giving programs and still end up broke.

If history tells us anything, it tells us that closing synod schools has never helped, nor have special offerings, nor have unrealistic mission openings (as far as getting self-supporting on an agreed to timeline).

The synod needs to get realistic on what private education must cost the student, on what portion of that cost the synod can afford to and will subsidize, on what mission work it can afford to conduct in an efficient manner, on what time frame for self-support is both possible and probable, and on which other synodically funded positions are absolutely necessary for crrying out our mission

We need to remember that variables are just that, variables, and not depend on them.

Possibly this enoncomiwe turnback will get us to where our finances say we need to be. History also tells us that God's people will fully fund and grow such a program.

dmk said...


I'll leave it up to the moderator/blogger to decide whether or not to curb the discussion. I am comfortable with this format.

Please do not assume things about me or my education beyond what I have written. Saying that you feel the need to "hold my hand" is rather insulting and will not promote worthwhile discussion. Let's keep it civil please.

In suggesting that seminaries that are accredited by the ACA or APA are preferable, I think you missed the entire point I was making. The pastor's role is not to be an expert counselor or psychologist. It is to be a spiritual Shepherd. Our seminary prepares men well for that task. It does not prepare men to be psychologists. Those needing a psychologist should seek one out, not a pastor. Most pastors will refer in such cases.

I think that much of the variance between different church bodies comes down to their presuppositions about Scripture. We believe that Scripture is inspired and inerrant, and we take the words of Scripture literally in the context they were intended for. As an example, ELCA does not believe that the Bible is inerrant. They use the historical-critical method of interpreting the Bible, which implies that Scripture is not inspired (in the same sense we understand the word). If Scripture is not the very Words of God, then they have the authority to reinterpret Scripture in all sorts of interesting ways, which they do.

You insist that that "everyone is different and will experience the same thing differently." I disagree with the conclusions you make from that statement. Either the Bible has errors or it is inerrant. It can't be one or the other to different people. You seem to suggest that there is no absolute truth in these matters. People, based on their differences and experiences choose to believe different things yes, but that does not negative the objectivity of truth. Another poster mentioned Christ's answer to Pilate affirming the place of truth. If you disagree on this premise, there is no doubt we will not agree on any of the outcomes of it.

How do you know which is right? Keep examining Scripture and learning. Keep reading the Bible. Keep reading about controversies in the church. You took Doctrine at (D)MLC - review the different controversies. Figure out why different church bodies insisted on different explanations and which is truth. To see why Lutherans insisted on their conclusions and the "proof" you seek, you look to the Book of Concord.

You did not provide the passages that particularly bother you, that we "conveniently ignore." I realize there are many passages that can be confusing and difficult; of course I can only guess which ones in particular you are referring to and therefore have no way to comment on them specifically. I'd be happy to go there with you.

You insist that relationships is the most important thing. I have affirmed that proclamation of the Gospel is central. We disagree here. I think this is a key distinction. I'm sorry you felt my writings on Salvation were a waste of space. You have accused, I guess, the WELS as a whole of acting as if all non-WELS people were condemned to hell. I tried to make clear what I believe and teach and try to get across to people about the issue - and what I have heard from other WELS called workers. But still, people will hear what they want to hear.

Anonymous said...


For someone who talks a great talk about understanding others, you haven’t learned anything about not talking down to them. It seems that whenever someone has tried to steer you toward something, your retort is to challenge their intellect and your words sniff of superiority.

Contrary to your complaints about not being unconcerned about false doctrine, you really are (whether you see it or not). How else could you logically explain your promotion of psychology above theology, in the training of those who serve as pastors within the church. As someone said, if I want to talk to a psychiatrist or psychologist I will seek one out. Ministry is not either of those vocations. I don’t want a pastor who is a psychiatrist, but a pastor who knows how to care for my soul and to teach me God’s Word. When seminaries make these vocations their goals, more often than not their theology has wandered widely from the Scriptures - even when their buildings still have crosses displayed.

It has been my experience that often the vocations you say pastors should strive to embrace are, in fact, very anti-christian in the council/help they offer people. (That said, there are some faithful Christians who do serve in these roles, but they are the exception to the rule). Why is this? Perhaps because most of those in these fields have their heads filled with humanistic wisdom that makes no allowance for God (or considers Christianity a crutch for the unenlightened). Reference the woman told to divorce a husband she no longer likes, in contrast to Scripture’s mandate to remain faithful to marriage. Or, a husband/father in a marriage not being able to be seen as the leader in the current model of “family.” Or, a Christian struggling with homosexual desires being told that it is natural and the world around is misguided. Etc and etc. Christian counsel often will stand opposed to the so-called enlightenment of the world.

What is faithful to Scripture? Our church stands on confessions that have been put to ink. Rather than lob undefined accusations, show specifically where the teachings of confessional Lutheranism are at odds with what the Bible says. If you cannot, your argument is not with confessional Lutherans but with the Scripture itself (and the Author of it).

John said...

In moderating this discussion I am certainly comfortable with what ever direction the discussion flows. I have limited the number of blog posts for that reason. However, I appreciate the concern and do want to focus on the important issues at hand as we approach the bi-annual convention.

There are not many, if any, open forums online for WELS members to discuss theology, synodical structure, etc. I hope that this forum can continue to be a venue of discussion for those interested in confessional Lutheranism today.

The current juncture we are at is critical. Numerous missionaries have been called back. Professors will be let go and mission work will be reduced. This economic crisis also comes at a time when the WELS is facing a spiritual identity crisis. The last decade has seen the progressive Church and Change pastors take up leadership roles in the synod and guide the funding direction. C&Cers have shed the Lutheran name and liturgy in the name of "growth" or to be "relevant."

Now if these noisy side conversations are an interruption to the main focus of this thread on the called worker reductions I will begin another topic thread. However, often times in the blog format the topic on the top is the only one that is read.

Please continue on and feel free to put forth another open discussion topic (that I will post as a new blog entry.)

Anonymous said...

Here's a question:

Will the recall of the missionaries as well as the layoffs of the called workers from synodical institutions have an effect on this year's and next year's new crop of Mequon Seminary graduates?

In other words, will there be enough calls to go around?

I assume a lot of the called workers being laid off will want to acquire another position. With some of those being individuals with Master of Divinity degrees, the current economy is not overflowing with job opportunities for those with that background.

I also assume recalled missionaries will want to get another call, even if that is to a domestic congregation.

So, does anyone see any problems with the current Seminarians obtaining calls on graduation?

Anonymous said...

It would appear that there might be somewhat of a stealth movement to close MLS...

Option B of the 2009 proposal in essence says that in the second year funding would no longer be available for MLS, and it would most likely close. Option B shifts money from the ministerial education to the mission fields.

With that in mind, the smart money is on Option A passing over Option B.

So, we will be training a lot of people, but not have anywhere for them to go at the end of their training?

Anonymous said...

anon451 - this year i would think the graduates will be fine. most of the cuts don't happen until june. and while every division will be cutting, until option a or b passes, we don't know exactly how many will be from ministerial ed vs. missions. and i believe there are a decent number of vacancies. so i would think most of this year's graduates will be assigned.

next year will be rough.

Lemkeel said...

Firstly to respond to Dmk and others regarding theological discussion (including John the blog moderator), if this format is acceptable than this is fine with me. I would be fine with starting another discussion thread if need be.

Sorry if you felt insulted, that was not my intent, at the same time, I get frustrated when it appears that you (and others) do not actually read what I've already written and you yourselves appear to assume things (which is frustrating as I've tried to put it out there).

I am not saying that the pastor's role is to be expert counselor or psychologist. What I am saying, is if that is "one" of their roles, which they say it is and which is why other pastoral seminaries have accredited counseling programs, then to be accredited by professional organizations may not be a bad thing. If, however, being a "counselor" is not one of the pastor's roles, then my argument is a wash. It is my understanding, however, that it is one of their roles.

The variance of scripture argument is not as simple as what it appears. As I've been stating, people will interpret things (including scripture) differently, most if not all conservative religious bodies (don't know if there's much left) will say they believe the whole of the Bible is God's holy, inerrant word. You're right though, many religions have veered off into that "not all of scripture is God-breathed" which results in different interpretations altogether. In fact, that would explain why there is so much variation between conservative WELS Lutherans and many other church bodies. Let me throw something out there: if you think that people from other faiths/religions will indeed go to heaven when they die, esp. those from religious bodies that do not interpret scripture word for word, then is it so bad for others to not come from the conservative interpretation of taking words literally "in the context they were intended for?"

Your disagreement about what I've been saying about how people will experience the same thing differently is of course rooted in your belief that the Bible is God's inerrant, inspired word, all of it. Thus, anything short of that belief will inevitably go against your thought process/beliefs. What I am trying to say is to try to think from the perspective of someone who does not think that the Bible is all-inspired, all-inerrant. Try this not forever, but just for a moment. I don't think you've tried to come at this from another angle which again is where we're "butting heads." I do think there is absolute truth, for me the absolute truth is that (a) we're sinful, (b) we need a Savior from sin, (c) we've been sent that Savior, (d) because of Him we have the hope of eternal life, and (e) because He conquered death and the devil and rose from the dead and is sitting at the right hand of God, so will we too. Along these lines, because we've been given the gift of eternal life out of undeserved love, we should try to honor and please God through our actions (which arises from our faith/beliefs) and we should try to do as God would want for us to the best of our ability. We've all been given unique talents and abilities, and we should honor God by using them to the best of our ability (or at least try to use them). This is true thanks and praise. In addition, through all our struggles on earth, good times and bad, we should do our best to fulfill the greatest command of God/Jesus: to love one another as he loved us and to treat others as we would want to be treated. A main point that I've been trying to make through all my discussion posts is that there is one absolute truth for all people, that of John 3:16. This is what I'm referring to when I state the universal attributes of grace and justification. By "universal" I mean "all people" and thus there's no subjectivity, it's objective. It becomes subjective, however, when people choose to believe it or not. Beyond these great universal (absolute and objective) truths, I am less convinced of the objectivity and absolutism of the scriptures. This, again, would be based on my education and experiences (all of it, Christian and public, including the clinical experiences I've been getting with "real people with real problems.") Included in this belief from my education and experiences in Christian education arises from what professors and pastors have called "the Gospel in a nutshell." In the end, John 3:16 is all that matters.

Yes I took Christian Doctrine I & II at MLC with Prof. Lange, and Christian Doctrine with the dean at the time of LPS, Pastor Snowden Sims. He was and continues to be one of the most influential teachers I've had, as a good portion of the time spent in class (we had it our entire senior year at LPS) was spent with him playing "devil's advocate" on us, and we had to sit there and think and decide how we would respond to "real life situations." It was so memorable and so educational, to this day my experiences with him and in that class continue to be some of the best I've ever had (and everyone else who had the fortune to be his student) and will have. In fact, you may be surprised to know that much of what you're seeing/hearing/reading on this blog from my writings are inspired by him. As I've stated earlier, I know the controversies, I've read them and already studied them. I'm trying to move forward with forward-thinking. With all due respect, it appears as if instead of telling me your beliefs and how you've come to those conclusions, your resorting to the teachings of the Lutheran Confessions. This is precisely a major criticism I'm charging the WELS with, to stand on your own, even if it takes reviewing the Lutheran Confessions and making adjustments but to be able to state for yourselves what you believe, esp. in light of current times, people, etc.

With regard to the passages argument, find for yourself a passage that you think is confusing or that appears to have been left out. Find one all on your own and bring it here and we'll discuss.

I don't "insist" that relationships are the most important thing, rather I stated that they're critical. In counseling, the "relationship" is the foundation for any effect to occur and really make a difference. Without that mutual trust and understanding, counseling is useless. However, for people to really start to make changes in their lives (including myself) they must decide for themselves that they need/want a change, and the counselor must provide 3 important functions (according to my philosophy of counseling): (1) empathy, (2) unconditional positive regard, and (3) congruence. Without these 3 crucial foundations, the counseling relationship is going to struggle and things will likely not get done. Providing these 3 foundational layers will only help or facilitate the counseling relationship. Of course, this is professional counseling, and not "spreading of the Gospel." Without going into detail here, can you see how there can be some similarities to spreading the Gospel message with a counseling relationship that has these foundational layers? To continue to use the counseling/psychotherapy comparison, there are different models of treatment/counseling. This is one of those models.

I'm not sure where you're getting that I'm "accusing" WELS of condemning non-WELSers to hell. That one really is, with all due respect, out of left field. I am not saying that. I am saying that with the fellowship beliefs/practices, it has a strong tendency for non-WELsers to get that feeling. You've stated that too, in fact you brought it up initially and I simply was responding to your comment. I've stated in previous writings that I don't think the WELS does much to prevent that belief of non-WELSers going to hell. It's not something I'm gung-ho on and have not been overly concerned with this at all.

Lemkeel said...

Anon 2:45 pm, sorry that you feel that way. As I've stated in previous posts, I'm not coming at this with a "kind and gentle approach." I recognize that what I have to say and how I say it is not going to lead to best friend relationships with readers. That is not my intent, however. My intent is to get the wheels spinning. If, at times, I appear to be frustrated, I apologize. I do get frustrated as I am human and still sin on a daily basis. I then look to God, give him thanks and praise for blessing me with his gift of grace, and ask for forgiveness for all sins I've committed and ask for strength and guidance, and to continue to use the time and talents he's given me to the best of my ability. If it appears I'm challenging others intellect, I'm probably showing my frustration with the other person(s) not reading what I've already written, or in their choosing to ignore parts and point out others, and on occasion put forth something that I haven't really said. This is something I need to work on and am asking God right now to help me be more patient and kind. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

I am not promoting psychology above theology. I am thinking of one part of the big picture, a role if you will. Each separate role can contributes to the final product. That is how I'm viewing it. As stated previously, I recognize a time and place for things. I don't know how I can make that belief of mine any more lucid than it is.

Since you speak of and refer to a profession that you think I am trying pastors/teachers to strive for, though I'm not, as stated above, I will briefly explain a little where I'm coming from. In my professional education (accredited master of arts program in both counseling and rehabilitation, 4th in the nation), I've learned so much more about the human condition than I've learned in synod schools. This learning has come from book and practical experiences. The most important thing I've learned in contrast to synod education is that we humans have "agency" that Christians would call "free will." God does not want robots programmed to "do his will" rather he wants us to recognize and do it all on our own (please him). This agency/free will is so wonderful, I couldn't imagine life without it. Did I learn more about how to exercise this "free will" in synod schools or in public education? Public education. Ironic, eh? I've learned more about God's wonderful plan he has for all of us not in synod schools, but in public schools. I've learned this in public schools probably because we're each taught that we all have "agency," and that we should all "use it." At this time I'm choosing not to comment on your references to marriage, divorce, and homosexuality. In my opinion, it's too early to discuss those things. I really think, with all due respect, that you should re-read some of the things I've been saying in this post and see if you can start to make connections and if anything's starting to make sense. Until you've actually thought about what I've been trying to say, listening to outside viewpoints will prove impossible. Just my opinion, of course, you can choose to do what is best for you (as long as it doesn't hurt or harm someone else). (That's part of my professional ethics coming out there... )

You've made some connection that I've been illogical, yet in the last paragraph you state that "Our church stands on confessions that have been put to ink. Rather than lob undefined accusations, show specifically where the teachings of confessional Lutheranism are at odds with what the Bible says. If you cannot, your argument is not with confessional Lutherans but with the Scripture itself (and the Author of it)." Here you are making some claim that the Lutheran Confessions are in full accordance with the scriptures. As I've said to Dmk, you do that first. You show me where you can find what you believe in the Confessions and how it's related to scripture, and I will comment further. You show me your faith and beliefs.

Lemkeel said...

Hi John,

Sounds good, thanks for putting your two cents in. If you think this is an acceptable place to discuss theology and other synodical issues, I am fine with that.

Anonymous said...


Your resistance to defining anything you say is not only frustrating, but bespeaks someone who unsure of himself/herself. You said, to show you what I believe. In all fairness, I have done that. I have not left my convictions undefined. They are faithfully expounded in the Lutheran Confessions and are not blowing in the wind. The Confessions are a reliable presentation of everything I believe to be true. They are the Creedal beliefs of a confessional Lutheran. The Confessions faithfully, totally, rest upon the Scripture from which they have been drawn.

You have said these confessions need to be rewritten. That is a very heavy charge. The burden then is upon you, who have made such a charge, to actually point specifically to where you believe they are inaccurate or in error. I have directed you to something that is defined. If you would be so kind, do the same for me.

Again, I may be wrong, but I have the feeling this conversation is with someone who outwardly may wear Lutheran clothing so to speak, but someone all the same who has left Lutheranism (as defined by the Book of Concord) long ago. I hope I am wrong.

Even very specific applications dealing with marriage, divorce and homosexuality you are loathe to wade into. Sadly, the sense I get of you is someone whom Scripture would remind "in all your wisdom, get understanding."

dmk said...


I too get frustrated about the same things. When we write long responses back and forth, it is inevitable that we do not address all of the points that the other person made, or miss something that the other person felt was critical to their point. It goes both ways. Let's use critical thinking (subject to Scripture) and not get emotions get in the way.

The pastor serves as a counselor, yes, but in a very different capacity than secular counselors. Sure, that is not the case with all pastors and pastoral seminaries - many churches focus on social concern in the world over the Gospel. We, rather, recognize with Jesus in John 17 that we are in the world but not of the world and that the church's mission is on proclamation of the Gospel, not social ills. Individual Christians, however, in love for their neighbor, may seek to give aid in the world. I could expand our rationale from Scripture on this if you'd like, but it'll take a couple more paragraphs.

You say, "if you think that people from other faiths/religions will indeed go to heaven when they die, esp. those from religious bodies that do not interpret scripture word for word, then is it so bad for others to not come from the conservative interpretation of taking words literally "in the context they were intended for?"". Please reread my 5/17 11:51PM response. I repeat several times and give an example as to how false doctrine is dangerous to saving faith.

You have stated you believe in certain truths as absolute, particularly grace and justification. Great; I recognize that. You say, "I am less convinced of the objectivity and absolutism of the scriptures." Do you at least affirm with me that either it is or it isn't - it can't actually be two different things to two different people?

I have a question. If Scripture is not absolute and objective, how can you trust even John 3:16? How do you know it is accurate? How can you put your faith in something that could have been tainted by sinful men? I trust when Jesus said that "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). I believe that the Bible, the Word of God is powerful (Hebrews 4:12). I believe that God can and does preserve his Word. Sure, you can say, well if the Bible is errant, then it throws any and all references into question. But then what faith can be left?? How can you trust even those so-called absolute things??

You say, "it appears as if instead of telling me your beliefs and how you've come to those conclusions, your resorting to the teachings of the Lutheran Confessions" Ask me what my beliefs are on any specific issue and I will tell you. I've told you my core beliefs (centrality of the Gospel). I can't tell you ALL my beliefs in the space of this blog, but I've pointed to you where the summary of them is contained.

You say, "This is precisely a major criticism I'm charging the WELS with, to stand on your own." I have extensively studied the Confessions and I have found to be in full agreement with them. Why should I rewrite them? If you want personally formed responses on specific issues, ask them. If you take issue with something I believe (aka something in the Confessions), state that.

You say, "With regard to the passages argument, find for yourself a passage that you think is confusing or that appears to have been left out. Find one all on your own and bring it here and we'll discuss." YOU made the assertion that we conveniently leave out passages. I did not say that. That's like going to a travel agent and saying, "I'd like to go somewhere, but not anywhere I don't like." He says, "Which places don't you like?" and you respond, "You tell me which places I don't like!" Seriously... just tell me what YOU take issue with in Lutheran theology and we can discuss it. I don't want to guess or assume. I'm not going to waste time or space discussing things we may actually already agree on.

You say (to anonymous), "As I've said to Dmk, you do that first. You show me where you can find what you believe in the Confessions and how it's related to scripture, and I will comment further. You show me your faith and beliefs." To do so -- to show what I believe in the Confessions and how it is related to Scripture -- would take volumes and volumes -- because it ALL is related to Scripture (and this has, in fact, already been done in many books that I'm sure you have read). However, I'm willing to do that for a portion of the Confessions. You name what doctrine you'd like defended from Scripture, and I will defend it. If you'd rather I pick a random paragraph from the Confessions and defend it, I'll do that.

Anonymous said...

It was written,

"Pastor Snowden Sims. He was and continues to be one of the most influential teachers I've had, as a good portion of the time spent in class (we had it our entire senior year at LPS) was spent with him playing "devil's advocate" on us, and we had to sit there and think and decide how we would respond to 'real life situations.'"

Looks like the teacher in question would have better spend time with the Catechism that "what if's."

Lemkeel said...

Anon 7:50am; Dmk; and Anon 8:42 am, thanks for all your great responses and questions. Real quick, to Anon 7:50 am, it is apparent to me that no matter what I say, you will counter that with what you have to say, and we will just continue to go back and forth. At this time, can we "agree to disagree?" No matter what I say, you're not "hearing" me, nor "listening" to me. Did I say the whole Confessions could be revised? No! I said parts! There's no burden on me, because I only suggested it, I'm only putting things out there as suggestions, not declarations of "you must do this..." You may have directed me to something so defined, but you don't want to actually point out to me specific aspects of the Book of Concord, and so I just don't even want to continue this conversation. You can make your judgments on me all you like, as long as it is okay with you and your conscience (and it doesn't hurt or harm others). Of course, I could quote the passage in Matthew about judging others, but then you'll throw some false prophet passage on me. This going back and forth is not useful at this point. As far as "loathing" to get into marriage, divorce, and homosexuality, this is an accusation that is dead wrong. There are people that know me quite well and with whom I've discussed these things with. Good try though! Don't get what you're getting at about "getting wisdom from the scripture." Again, think what you want to think as long as it fits with your conscience and you're not hurting or harming another person.

So, for now, unless you have something new to say, let's agree to disagree and put this back and forth not going anywhere to the side. Sound good?

Dmk, a lot of the same things I've said above - for now, let's agree to disagree. This going back and forth is not making a difference right now and so I see no point in it. I've already responded to your comments in previous writings, and in this most recent one, it's very apparent you're avoiding the issues I've brought forth. There really is no point in going back and forth at the moment. As other anon commenters have commented, perhaps it would be good to "sleep on it" for a while. Perhaps at a later date we can revisit some of these things. Sound good?

Anon 8:42, if that's what you want to believe, go ahead. But, if you're getting the impression that he's not a good person or that he made a mistake from me, please try to forget that I mentioned him. He's one of the most blessed people by God himself and he continues to do many good things (after leaving LPS he went to a congregation in Tempe, AZ for 10 years and is now moving to Ohio), and I don't want you to think poorly of him because of me, okay?

Anonymous said...

>>>Looks like the teacher in question would have better spend time with the Catechism that "what if's."<<<


>>>Again, I may be wrong, but I have the feeling this conversation is with someone who outwardly may wear Lutheran clothing so to speak, but someone all the same who has left Lutheranism (as defined by the Book of Concord) long ago. I hope I am wrong.<<<

Comments such as this are what is so wrong about this blog. These are, in essence, judgments against another's faith and are any of us in position to judge?

Don't forget, Luther's Catechism and the Book of Concord are only as holy as the men who wrote them. In fact, those men weren't holy. They were sinful human beings, as are each of us.

Only God's word is holy. And only God should be judging.

Anonymous said...

"Only God's word is holy. And only God should be judging."

If your name is Jennifer and I say, "Jennifer, I forgive you your sins in the name and in the stead of Christ" is that God's Word and is that His judgment?

Anonymous said...

Someone wrote,

"Only God's word is holy."

How do you know?

Anonymous said...

I think SomeOne said something once about when a brother (or sister) is wandering (and maybe causing others to likewise wobble), to take the time to warn them? HE did, didn't HE? Read Lemkeel's words and you'll discover why he/she is being addressed with a warning tone. "Judging" at times is to be carried out to try to jolt someone back onto the right side of a crossed line. Does anyone here want to defend someone who claims the Lutheran confessions need a rewrite? If we truly believe them to be a correct sounding of TRUTH can we sit silently by and not judge such notions? I believe that to be silent in this discussion would mean not defending the truth of Scripture correctly expressed by the Confessions and at the same time, be loveless toward someone who has seemingly wandered from them. Lemkeel's salvation was not questioned, but his/her Lutheranism and faithfulness to all of God's Word is.

Lemkeel, we can agree to disagree. I still feel you are not being fair in that you have pointed to something (the Confessions) and claimed it is flawed, but do not feel it necessary to specify what in the confessions (according to you) is in error and needs changing. Without clarification, a discussion with you is like trying to grab a shadow.

The words I used above mean this, as you chase wisdom in life, make sure it is tempered with real understanding. (The world's wisdom is often not wisdom at all. For wisdom to be worth anything it must be distilled through the filter of God's revealed truth, the Scriptures) Proverbs 4:4,5.

Anonymous said...

To whomever wrote,

"Comments such as this are what is so wrong about this blog. These are, in essence, judgments against another's faith and are any of us in position to judge?"

Saying someone is a poor teacher because he spends the time in "what ifs" is not a judgment against their faith. It is judging what is open (not secret in the heart), as in this case a poor way of teaching.

Get a grip.


Lemkeel said...

Anon 5:51, you are free as always to make judgments that you feel are right or aligned with God's word. We all are free to follow our conscience as it is aligned with our belief system. The difference between what you've been saying and what I just said, is your belief system is "right," and mine is "in error." This is precisely what I have been trying to say, that somehow what you (WELS) believes and preaches is somehow better than what other religions teach. To bring in another example I've been stressing throughout, you'd think if your religion was the "correct" one, that it would show more in numbers, rather than being a mere <.3% of all believers in the US. You are free though to believe what you want to believe. I'd say, before you try to "warn me" and before I lead others to "wobble," I'd want to make sure that I am definitely in the wrong, something that others have said only God truly knows. But, if you want to judge me, based on what I've said on this blog, go ahead and do so.

I'm sorry that you feel that I've been confusing and not following through on the Confessions arguments. I want YOU to go to the Confessions and find for me where your faith is founded, but since you are unwilling to do that, enough is enough.

About the wisdom in life statement, is it rude to make a comment right now? If not, then LMAO. If it is, I'm sorry. Btw, I just looked up that passage you've cited, and it reads: "Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them." Not sure what you mean when you say "any wisdom must be distilled through the filter of God's revealed truth, the scriptures" but that's because your interpretation of this passage is different than mine. But since you raise the topic of wisdom, a passage that I like is Psalm 111:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise." I may not be the wisest of all creatures and Lord knows I'm still growing and learning, but I can tell you that I do fear the Lord. Uh-oh, does this mean I might have at least a little wisdom? Idk, I'm asking you cause you seem to have all the answers. What do you think?

Lemkeel said...


If you want to call Pastor Sims a "poor teacher" cause he spent time in the "what ifs" I would direct you to one of my favorite passages, Matthew 7:1-5 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

And another one Luke 6:37 "[Judging Others ] "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

But, as you are right and others contrary to your belief are wrong, then you must somehow be doing the Lord's work, eh? You're fulfilling his word? Got it!

Anonymous said...


So what do you do with our Lord's words "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment"? Judgments are called for. What do you do with Paul's injunction that a bishop must be able to teach? Who determines that? Judgments are called for. Watch out for false prophets our Lord said, did he not? We judge the words of a prophet or teacher. This is Catechism 101 and why Sims should have spent his time teaching you that.

We make judgments every day. You, undoubtedly, were a poor student, and you were judged accordingly. Your teachers judged your work and gave you C's and D's (just a guess). Sims, if he taught as you describe, was a poor teacher (perhaps contributing to your poor theology). Judgments forbidden by our Lord are of those things not known to us, the heart. That which is known must be judged.


Lemkeel said...


You, with all due respect, are coming off as quite rude and I'm not even about to guess what kind of relationships you have with people, esp. those different than you. You, as I've been stating previously, are free to make your judgments. In the end of all our judgments, God will judge, and that's the one I'm most concerned about. I'm guessing you didn't go to a synod prep school eh? You have to be confirmed to enroll as a student; that means, according to traditional WELS teachings, that you've spent at least 2 years studying the catechism (blue book), and at least in my congregation, 2 years previous that with the red book. Of course, as understanding and knowledge grows, you get to study upper level, higher intellectual topics. Thus, seniors in high school at LPS studied Christian Doctrine (for the entire year I like to mention), whereas each semester before that it was a "lesser" course. But, you have all the answers, so somehow I'm wrong. Cool. With all due respect, you sound as if you're a little bitter that you didn't attend a synod prep school; that's just a little inference from your angry, bitter words.

I don't want to make any outward judgments on you, but coming from a counselor's perspective, it sounds as if you need some love in your life. The good news is, even if you're not married or don't have a significant other, God still loves you, a whole ton. Despite your words, God is a just god and loves all people, even you.

Anonymous said...


You write to Dango, "But, as you are right and others contrary to your belief are wrong, then you must somehow be doing the Lord's work, eh?"

Obviously your sarcasm indicates that you are feeling quite righteous within yourself.

Rango (Dango's little brother)

Anonymous said...

Snowdem Sims sounds like an EXCELLENT teacher. He sounds like the kind of teacher that forced his students to examine their faith and know what they believed. I'm sure his high school seniors were much more prepared to go out into the world than I was.

I'm an MLS grad from the 70's. I left that sheltered environment feeling superior to everyone else because, after all, that's what we were taught: better education, better faith, better human beings, right?

Imagine my surprise when I met other people out there that knew their BIbles as well, if not better, than I did. They were strong in their beliefs and they knew WHY they believed what they did (not to mention that they were also smart, because, amazingly, schools other than WELS prep schools also provide quality education).

Here's the catch: Back then, we didn't have a Snowden Sims type of teacher at MLS. No one prepared us for the "what-if's" of life. I was unskilled in witnessing for Christ. I knew little of my faith other than what was drilled into me since childhood. I failed terribly at defending what I believed. Looking back, I realize I was totally unprepared for life as a Christian in the real world - a world which doesn't necessarily accept the argument of "because the Lutheran Confessions say so."

Kudos to Pastor Snowden SIms and others like him. We need more of that kind of teaching for our high school students.

Anonymous said...

You can't defend what you don't have or know. "Because the Lutheran confessions say so" is nothing to be sniffed at and dismissed. I agree that it is important not only to teach someone the truth but to help them to learn how to apply God's truth to daily living. Both are important.

At the same time, someone who does not possess truth will wander about in life, making it up as they go, and in the end have nothing. I don't remember who said it, but if you convince yourself you are smart enough to see through everything (trusting in your own wisdom for truth), in the end you will see nothing. Wisdom and understanding about life and eternity begin with God's Word, never apart from it.

I am thankful that our Lutheran ancestors wrote confessions. If they are just old dusty documents, they are worth no more than an old dusty, unused Bible. However, when they are studied and wrestled with, one comes away marveling at the truths of Scripture they help us to grasp and maintain and live, from generation to generation.

AKA said...

Lemkeel (and his/her apologists),

You write:

"This is precisely what I have been trying to say, that somehow what you (WELS) believes and preaches is somehow better than what other religions teach."

Yes, this is most certainly true. This is one of the few instances where I can affirm one of your outrageous and ecumenical claims.

If you believe that other religions are on par with what WELS teaches, you unfortunately are not a Christian and need to repent.

To Lemkeel's apologists: shame on you for not contending for the faith. Shame on you for shunning the more than a handful of posters who have sparred with Lemkeel over the course of this blog entry in an attempt to correct his/her erring ways.

Test the spirits. Point out false doctrine. Attempt to correct our brothers and sister in love.

If all else fails, MARK and AVOID.

Finally, since Lemkeel will invariably grace this posting with yet another ranting diatribe, please answer me this:

You (lemkeel) write:

"Did I say the whole Confessions could be revised? No! I said parts!"

Ok, which parts? The burden of proof lies with you. If you can't produce specific instances where the theological tenets of the Confessions need revision please repent and refrain from making such sweeping generalizations in the future.


Anonymous said...


Your write, "I don't want to make any outward judgments on you, BUT.." You sound quite conflicted, or hypocritical, as you make judgments ("bitter") throughout your silly note.

Luther said he could not exhaust the meaning of the catechism in a life time. You and your prep-mates seem to have mastered it.

One wonders if you are the average product of LPS, if so, closing the school should be a no-brainer. Your lack of understanding of the norma normans v. the norma normata and what a quia subscription is to the Confessions tells us quite plainly, senior religion at LPS was a bust.


Anonymous said...

Boy, Lemke, the LPS preppie, and the bell bottomed 70's MLS grad make a grand case for closing those schools. (It is one thing to be forced to examine what you believe, but one must know what one believes before such an examination.)

Anonymous said...

I just googled this Sims fellow. He isn't a teacher anymore, it seems, but a pastor at some church in Arizona. In his pastor's page he writes, "There are some people who believe and teach that once you are a Christian, all challenges and difficulties cease."

This is what is called a straw man. He sets up this straw man "some people" and then knocks it down. "How smart am I!?" No one teaches that.


Lemkeel said...


Clever, rhyming eh? You are free to believe whatever you want to believe, as long as it fits with your conscience and you're not hurting or harming someone else. With that statement that you've pointed out, I was trying to point out that his beliefs are right and contrary beliefs are wrong, then I was trying to draw the conclusion that he feels that way cause he thinks God does too (why else would you be so stalwart behind your faith/beliefs?)

Sarcasm doesn't necessarily mean I'm feeling "quite righteous within myself," in fact sarcasm often connotes other facets of a personality that do not have to do with feeling adequate. In this instance, however, I was not trying to show that my beliefs are superior to his, rather, I was trying to show that what he says "must be right," and what others say contrary to them "must be wrong." That's all.

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