Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oktoberfest papers

Dear Mr. Administrator,

Sorry to interrupt this thread but it seems that it has come to its usual end. I was alerted a while back to a thread on the Oktoberfest conference held in Kewaunee, IL last October at which four former, now LCMS, members spoke. They were asked to give presentations on four topics which usually enter into the "differences between the WELS and LCMS" discussion.

The Bailing Water thread was quite entertaining! You might want to reread it. Anyway, two of the papers were just posted on the Motley Magpie web site.

Only those presentations which were given by Motley Magpie editors are posted there as they are the only ones to which we have rights.I thought, since you were looking to post them, that you would give us this plug on your site, especially in light of the calumny which we suffered on this site (which we quite enjoyed, miscreants that we are!)

Of all the comments posted on that thread discussing our motives etc. there were several that actually spoke the truth, the following:"They [the Motley Magpie types] call themselves catholics!""Ditto.

They talk about the Mass and private confession and call themselves 'father.'"

And I might add, so do the Confessors!Pax vobiscum,

Rev. Father John W. Berg


Anonymous said...

You know, I think that there are far more WELS pastors and laymen who see the truth of what the Berg brothers say than they realize. But sadly, the way that they present the truth is unnecessarily and aggressively antagonistic.

Yes, yes, I know, I'm way too sensitive, Lutherans are supposed to be rude, etc., etc., etc. But their style of writing saddens me not because I'm too wimpy to take some heat, but because I see so many people turn away from what they say simply because, rightly or wrongly, "those guys are jerks". If people think you're a jerk for gently and patiently teaching the truth, so be it. But if people think you're a jerk because you go out of your way to be antagonistic, that's a problem.

It's also a bit strange that they are so strident in criticizing the WELS and laughing about their WELS anecdotes, while at the same time overlooking or downplaying the problems in the LCMS. Wanna be brutal with the WELS? Fine. But be fair and be equally brutal with the LCMS--you'll get much more respect from me in doing so.

One more thing, when the theme of the Kewaunee conference was announced, I and others were concerned that this was going to be a "bash the WELS session". We were repeatedly told that this wasn't the case. After reading those papers, though, it would seem that my fears are confirmed. Those papers didn't read as "fair and balanced" presentations of differing theological viewpoints. They read as "Boy, those WELS people are total idiots, let me tell you why so we can all laugh at them together". It betrays a lack of class (as well as a lack of confidence).

Anonymous said...

Anon of 8:17,

I'd be thankful if someone pointed out the error in my beliefs, and I would deal with it. Yes, critcism stings on occasion, I know. Apparently you disagree with WELS teaching on these subjects to the point of characterizing it as "idiotic", what are you doing about it?

You also should get out some more. Have you not read the open discussions about the poor practice that is in Missouri by Missourians? Don't worry about that not happening.

Anonymous said...

First poster,

It appears you agree with the substance of these papers. Are you WELS?

Anonymous said...

>>>I'd be thankful if someone pointed out the error in my beliefs, and I would deal with it.<<<

Yes, pointing out the error in someone's beliefs is a good thing. But there are two ways of doing it: with gentleness or with mockery. The Berg brothers engage in ruthless mockery. Mockery does not "win your brother over". And excusing mockery by saying "deal with it" is just sad.

>>>Apparently you disagree with WELS teaching on these subjects to the point of characterizing it as "idiotic", what are you doing about it?<<<

Huh? When did I say that WELS teaching was idiotic? That was my characterization, not of my beliefs, but of the spirit of those papers.

>>>You also should get out some more. Have you not read the open discussions about the poor practice that is in Missouri by Missourians? Don't worry about that not happening.<<<

Yes, I know there's tons criticism of Missouri out there. My point was that it isn't coming from the Berg brothers. It just strikes me as funny that they portray the WELS as a den of false doctrine, while at the same time glossing over the serious problems in the LCMS and portrayz it as a glorious refuge from false doctrine and practice. Last time I checked, the LCMS had every single problem the WELS has, plus several more (charismatic tongue-speaking anyone?). I guess the Berg brothers don't want to have to go looking for another new synod so soon, so they keep their mouths shut. It smacks of hypocrisy and personal expediency.

Anonymous said...

Great papers! (And I was born and bred WELS.)

RandomDan said...

Fr. Berg,

Will we ever get to see the last three issues of the Motley Magpie on the internet?

jonathan part 1 said...

I think a series of comments, the exchange between Lemkeel and Schottey and various anon posters, from the previous thread need to be addressed.

Lemkeel was jumping around in her arguments a little bit and it's a little difficult to pin her down. I think I know what she's trying to assert; I will rephrase her question addressed to the readers of this blog. Oh and to let you know: I go to a confessional (liturgical) Lutheran church (LCMS). My confession of faith is found in the Bible, Book of Concord, 3 creeds and Luther's Sermons.

Fact: We believe that the Bible is the only inspired, inerrant revelation of God, penned by men of God's choosing.

Fact: We believe that the Book of Concord and the 3 creeds are a correct exposition of the Bible.

If we believe the Bible is the ONLY revelation of God, wouldn't we have to recognize that the BOC and the Creeds, written solely by men, are not inspired and therefore not inerrant? Do you see what I'm getting at?

I'm not about to judge any individual's heart, but if a person were to claim that the Creeds or the BOC have the same authority as the Bible then they are doing what Revelation 22:18 warns against doing.

Luther and the other Confessors were knowledgeable, faithful teachers of God's Word and Truth, and they, above anyone would not want their words to be put on the same plane as Scripture--even though they would fight for the correctness of what they wrote. Even facing torture, imprisonment or death they would not recant, but if Luther heard his Words were being placed on the same plane as Scripture he'd tear his robes like Paul did in Lystra. (When he was mistaken for Hermes.)

The Bible is the ONLY book above criticism, and the only part of the Christian Church which may not be scrapped, because it IS God (John 1) and therefore has power (1 Tim 3:15) 'to make you wise for salvation..."

Mind you, I wouldn't dream of 'scrapping' the BOC or the Creeds and I find that those who do are usually teaching error. I also recognize that Liberal Lutherans who scrap the Confessions use the same argument that I've outlined, but do so for the purpose of their own heterodoxical whims--Enthusiasm, pietism etc. But the Bible is clear about it's assertion that it is the ONLY (and infallible) communication between God and man. The whole of Scripture supports my argument, no matter how false teachers use it.

jonathan part 2 said...

But here's my question:

How do you, general readers of Bailing Water, justify the logical problem that I pose above? Are you saying that the BOC is a perfect paraphrase of the Bible? and is the Holy Spirit present in that paraphrasing? Is it a Perfect reflection of the Bible or what? Since it's not the exact Words in the Bible do the BOC and Creeds carry the same Efficacy that the Bible possesses?

This is what I don't understand about what people here have called a "quia" subscription to the Lutheran Confessions. Are you saying that a 'Quia' subscription means that the BOC is more or less Scripture? This is what some posters seem to assert, but I want to make sure I’m not hearing you wrongly. How can the BOC be a perfectly correct (errorless) exposition of Scripture if it is not, in fact Scripture, and not part of the Canon?

I also don't understand Quatenus. Any book not verbally inspired by God, (i.e., all books but the Bible) must carry with it the curse of sin since it was written by sinful humans. Therefore it must contain errors, though they be small and hard to detect. It would seem to me that Luther himself would more likely approve of a Quatenus Subscription. (You know, as in "Sola Scriptura" Scripture Alone...) I think Luther would agree that every man made book must at some point fail and therefore everything must be believed in-so-far as it agrees with Scripture.

I hope I haven’t misconstrued what appears to be the belief of many on this site. Please explain. Thank you.

Look, having seen other conversations on this site I know people can get pretty heated, especially when someone is seen as questioning the Lutheran Confessions. Bear in mind that I'm not tearing down the BOC (I teach the book to my kids) I'm just trying to nail down the issues. I've been respectful and concise and asked fair questions. I'd really appreciate it if people would follow suit. It would very helpful for the integrity of the conversation if people would not post anonymously, at least leaving a pseudonym. This will increase the integrity of the conversation too; Although I am afraid that some will be spiteful and angry and anonymous. Please don’t do that.

In Christ,


Anonymous said...


Soon, I hope. Thank you for asking.

Fr. J. W. Berg

Anonymous said...

Anon #1,

When you come out of your cowardly hiding from behind your anonymity I will engage you. I'm not holding my breath. My vicarage bishop, Rev. Thomas Pfotenhauer, taught me many things, among them, don't waste your breath on those who remain in darkness.

Fr. J.W. Berg

Anonymous said...

It seems that the bitter critic of the authors of these papers forgot one thing, to read the papers in which both authors critique issues in the Missouri Synod thus rendering her charge of hypocrisy quite, well, hypocritcal, if not downright silly. (His ignorance of the purpose of the conference and papers, included in the papers, shows how fatuous her charge is.)

An aside, I guess this is what makes these blogs useful in which anyone can say anything they like, even foolish assertions (of course never with substantiations) but that simply exposes the author of such.

I suggest this angry critic address the substance of these papers, but again, she should read them first.


Anonymous said...

Jonathan, one way to demonstrate that we do not put the BoC on the same plane as the Bible is to remember that our subscription to the confessions is a doctrinal subscription. Example: If the Bible said that garlic juice diminished the power of magnets we would believe it because it was God's Word. The confessions can say that and we can dismiss it as the thinking of the times. However the doctrinal point that the confessors were making (our sinful nature does not merely diminish the natural man's spiritual powers, but is a complete corruption) with the example of the garlic juice is absolutely correct and a right exposition of Scripture.
I hope this helps.
In Him,

Michael Schottey said...


The quia (because) subscription is (as David said) contextually fitted with "because it is a correct exposition of scripture."

The quatenus (insofar as) subscription leaves the door open for debate about the BoC as incorrect about doctrinal matters.

The question then becomes (as I posed to Lemkeel) "Where is the BoC wrong about doctrinal matters?"

We lean so heavily on the work of Luther and the Concordians not because we believe it to be inspired, but we believe it to be correct.

To question its correctness is not blasphemous, but it does beg the question I asked above.

Therefore, I do not wish to judge Lemkeel's faith on his claim because I'm not sure where he would like it improved.

However, I can judge the validity of his church membership. Calling yourself Lutheran and not subscribing to the confessions is foolish.

It's like pretending you love McDonalds as a restaurant but dislike all the food they serve and the people who work there.

Again, I fail to imagine a point where the confessions could be improved. If Lemkeel finds a biblical manner to disagree with a BoC doctrine...he can start the next reformation. I'll follow.

Jonathan said...

Hi David,

I'm a bit mystified by the garlic juice analogy. I read it a few times and I'm sure that I do not get it. Do you mind explaining your point more thoroughly?

Thank you


Anonymous said...

Good email Jonathan

i dont no if any pastors are out there, ones who took a Quia oath, but it would be interesting to hear "What that oath meant to you."

It definately seems like Luther would take a Quatenus stand, considering the Scripture alone thing. I dont think Luther would be cool with some of the 'tude displayed by folks in the Quia camp. I've read some of the bitterest angriness ever coming from people who say the Book of Concord is error free. the book of Concord is a human book--a good one but a human book. So really it can be editted, modified, or use it's pages to wipe my arse if i'm short of toilet paper. Those are the people also who scorn the C&C people because their style--but who are actually exchanging the efficiacy of the word for their own set of new laws. i condem them for saying "the confessions! the confessions!" in the same way that in the book of jeremiah says the jews were saying "The temple of the Lord! the temple of the Lord".

Anonymous said...

>>>It seems that the bitter critic of the authors of these papers forgot one thing, to read the papers in which both authors critique issues in the Missouri Synod thus rendering her charge of hypocrisy quite, well, hypocritcal, if not downright silly.<<<

Whoa, wait a second here. Who's bitter? I went out of my way to state that I agree with much of what the Berg brothers write and wish that more WELS people could see the truth through the snark.

But I can assure you that I read both papers very carefully. And yes, the Bergs do mention some problems in the LCMS, but only in passing and with a wholly different attitude.

When speaking of the WELS, their tone sounds like this: "Man, those WELS people are total buffoons. Their synod is riddled with serious false doctrines. Can you believe what idiots they are?"

When speaking of the LCMS, however, their tone sounds like this, "Ah shucks, the LCMS has some little problems, but it's no big deal. In fact, it's almost endearing. But let's get back to laughing at the WELS some more."

Given the fact that the LCMS has all of the problems that the WELS has, plus several more, you'd expect that the criticism would be about 50/50, but that's not the case. Believe me, both synods have lots of problems. It's disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

>>>(His ignorance of the purpose of the conference and papers, included in the papers, shows how fatuous her charge is.)<<<

I had hoped that the conference would be an honest presentation of the doctrinal positions of both synods and a Scriptural examination of each. In other words, I hoped it would be: "Here's what the LCMS teaches and practices; here's what the WELS teaches and practices; here's the Scripture that each use to support their position; here's a respectful discussion of both viewpoints." Instead, though, it was: "The LCMS is obviously right, the WELS is ridiculously wrong, now let's make fun of the WELS".

To be perfectly honest, it betrays a certain lack of confidence that LCMS pastors would feel the need to get together to bash the WELS. I've never, ever heard of WELS pastors holding a special conference to bash the LCMS.

Personally, I don't think that conservative LCMS pastors and conservative WELS pastors are all that far apart, especially when it comes to practice. (Sadly many leaders in both synods have spoken and written poorly about some of these issues--which the Berg brothers are happy to latch onto form the WELS leaders.) I think an honest and respectful discussion between the two would be very fruitful and might serve to erase some of the caricatures that have been painted of both sides.

Michael Schottey said...

All WELS/ELS Pastors and pastors since the days of pietism have taken a "Quia" subscription.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan, I apologize for not being clear. Let me try again.
In the Formula of Concord, Art. I, the confessions state: [We reject and condemn] Also, that original sin is only an external impediment to the good spiritual powers, and not a despoliation or want of the same, as when a magnet is smeared with garlic-juice, its natural power is not thereby removed, but only impeded; or that this stain can be easily wiped away like a spot from the face or pigment from the wall.

If that statement were made in the Bible, we would believe that garlic juice impedes or hinders the power of magnets.
The confessors were explaining what original sin is and does. One side said that original sin is just a little thing that hinders natural man in spiritual matters, like (so they thought) garlic juice hinders the power of a magnet. The confessors were rejecting that position.

Since the BoC is not the inspired Word of God, we can reject the notion that garlic juice does that.
The quia subscription means however that we agree with the doctrinal position of the BoC, rejecting that original sin is just a little problem, which the confessors compared to garlic juice on a magnet.

I fear I wasn't much clearer this time, but again, I hope this helps.
In Him,

Anonymous said...

Some comments on quatenus/quia:

The problem with a quatenus subscription is that it can be made about anything and therefore it means nothing.

Example: I subscribe to the Quran in so far as it agrees with the Word of God.

Any of us could say that, could we not?

The quia subscription is the only one that means anything.

How did the quia/quatenus distinction come about?

The BoC has been the plumb line of Lutheranism for over 400 years. Yet there are different groups of "Lutherans" who preach, teach, and practice different things. Those who deviate from the BoC can still claim to be Lutheran by adhering to it with a quatenus subscription. (Or sometimes you might hear about an "historical subscription" to the confessions, which is just a weasel way of saying, "Those guys back then gave it a good shot and if I had lived back then I would have said the same thing. But now we are much more smarterer and sophistimicated than they were and so we know better.")

Because of this we get a little defensive about the quia/quatenus subscription. When we hear people wanting to make a quatenus subscription we know why people have done it in the past and what it has meant in the past.

If you want a quatenus subscription to begin to mean anything you have to qualify it (as Schottey has asked for): I agree with the BoC in so far as it agrees with the Bible, but it deviates from the Word of God when it says __________________.

Unless your willing to fill in the blank a quatenus subscription can mean anything.

As far as Luther taking a quatenus stand, I find that unlikely. Think about when he was asked to recant all of his writings. He demanded to be shown, from Scripture, what specifically he said that was wrong. Unless that happened he would not recant. There he stood.

If you want us to take a quatenus subscription you need to show us specifically, from Scripture, what is wrong with the BoC.

In Him,

LutherRocks said...

I do not and have never condemned the BOC. There are however inconsistencies between what it says and what Confessional Lutheran Church bodies practice. Does this make them non-confessional? Where do you draw the line? In the Apology to the AC, it clearly states three sacraments. And yet I know of only two that any WELS Lutheran church body recognizes. In Luther's Large Catechism, Luther says 'you shall' bless yourself with the sign of the cross when you pray. How many of you do what Luther commands? Since what is contained in the BOC was written under certain circumstances and along certain cultural lines, maybe it would be a good idea to do a revision; What applies to us today as it did back then and what does not. The Bible is timeless, however I don't hold the BOC in the same regard.


Michael Schottey said...

<~~~blesses himself with the sign of the cross while praying and after receiving the sacrament.

Anonymous said...

"...or use it's [BOC] pages to wipe my arse if i'm short of toilet paper" - anon 4:10

"The Bible is timeless, however I don't hold the BOC in the same regard." - JK

It's little wonder many have no qualms with dropping "Lutheran" from the names of their brand identity, nor should they be stopped from doing so.

And the division within is also unsurprising given such views of the Confessions from amidst our brethren. But place some blame on the teachers who have minimized or marginalized the Confessions, if they've even mentioned them, and instead chosen Reformed theology. And place some blame on us for justifying ourselves with our post-modern way of "doing what is right in our own eyes." Or just our general indifference.


Jonathan said...

Thank you for the clarification David (and Schottey). Now that I have clearer understanding, I am sure you are wrong to hold a Quia acceptance of the BOC.

One very important point that nobody touched on: As I wrote previously: "...we have to recognize that the BOC and the Creeds, written solely by men, are not inspired and therefore not inerrant?"

David asked to fill in the _________ where the Confessions deviate from God's Word. The fact that the BOC is not infallible means it is fallible. Is this a good enough fill-in-the-blank?

I get an impression that many here will not think this is a good answer. So I will point out a few things that ARE extraBiblical--that, interestingly, most 'Confessional Christians' usually ignore anyway. Like JK wrote (AKA Lutherrocks) Absolution, in Article XI of the Apology to the AC is listed as a Sacrament. This idea doesn't come from the Bible. Or bowing and crossing yourself--it just isn't in the Bible. Or private confession--It's not in the Bible.

Article XVI of the Augsburg Confession:" Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called. "

um...Bible reference please. And if Paul does say it as plainly as this in Timothy (or Elsewhere) then I wonder why so called 'Confessionals' ignore this.Sunday School Teachers in the most Confessionally rigorous churches are not issued a divine call.

Little extraBiblical things like this can be found everywhere in the BOC. These things don't bother me. I expect that they would be there BECAUSE it is a book written by people. Most of the deviations from the Word are good ideas like Confession and Absolution, or Calling and ordaining Pastors. Saying something is a good practice is far different from saying it's Biblical.

At the end of the day, the BOC can be just as strong a weapon of Enthusiasm as 'relationship driven' Christianity. God does not approach you or reach you through the Book of Concord or the Creeds because they are not among the Means of Grace.

Anonymous said...

When my statement is taken out of context as you just did with it, you are right. But that is not what I said. When have I ever said to drop Luther? Never. Luther encouraged it, however.

Since you chose to 'quote' me I will address you directly. Please do not infer that I am a part of a group you described in your last paragraph. You have no idea who I am or what I think much less of where I am in all of this. My quote hardly stands along the awful quote you also chose pull.


Anonymous said...


You use words like "amidst" and "brethren".

I think you think that you're good at thinking. I think you're not. Your use of high falootin terminology really obfuscated your pith. Fie for ye who tries to be staid.

Really, some of these high church brats are quite ostentatious. Did anyone else see Sceleratissimus Lutheranus' picture of himself in his surplus Cassock? He took it down off his blog now, but it was quite a hoot to see him. You could just tell that he thought a great deal of himself. His "holy" expression on his face made me want to wretch. What really blew my mind is that he probably paid 100 bucks for that ugly thing when he could've had his mom sew one for 12 bucks. (Or just get a Casper the friendly ghost costume from the local Halloween Shop.

Okay I'd better go order a hair shirt and some sackcloth to do penance for voicing my opinions.

Anonymous said...

Financial Report

The Schwan Foundation contribution, published in the BORAM as a 35-50 percent reduction, may be an even greater reduction. CFO Poppe learned in conversation with Schwan representatives that a reduction of 50-75 percent seem more likely.

This doesn't really belong on this thread....

Does anyone have an idea on what this means for the current Convention?

Does anyone know whether the Convention is leaning for Option A (recall missionaries) versus Option B (defunding MLS) ?

Anonymous said...

JK - apologies for the misquote. The point I was trying to make was that my experience within WELS has revealed a certain view of the Lutheran Symbols which has led to an identity crisis of sorts. In placing your "quote" next to the one written a bit more crassly, I felt the conclusion was similar if not the same. Which seems to strengthen my point that things are more often than not misinterpreted. That's why BOC is valuable because it helps us understand what the Bible says and what Lutherans believe. And I, for one, would welcome greater in-depth instruction about it.

Anon 2:26 - you are probably right about me.


Anonymous said...

>>>Sunday School Teachers in the most Confessionally rigorous churches are not issued a divine call.<<<

Are you kidding? Of course they are issued calls! You don't need to have a call meeting or a call document to make a call. When the pastor or SS superintendent asks the person to serve as a teacher, they have been called. You seem to be confused about what a call is, and what it isn't.

>>>God does not approach you or reach you through the Book of Concord or the Creeds because they are not among the Means of Grace.<<<

Surely you can't be serious. The Concordia and the Creeds proclaim God's Word. And God's Word is a Means of Grace. Thus, they are most certainly Means of Grace. You seem to be saying that anything which isn't a direct quotation from the Bible isn't God's Word. This would mean that a pastor's sermon isn't the Word of God and thus is completely ineffectual.

If I were you, I would take some time to study God's Word and the Confessions before posting anymore. Your comments are getting more and more embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Gee kids,

Perhaps the Bergs were focused more on the WELS in their presentations because they were presenting to a largely LCMS audience already very familiar with and concerned about the problems of the LCMS (trust me, they are, I was actually there). What the audience didn't know much of anything about was the WELS' history and doctrinal stances which were presented. This is why the presenters were asked to present what they did.

Continue on with your idiotic Quia/Quatenus discussion!

Peace Out

Anonymous said...

Peace Out,

You are correct. The Bergs were asked to give an unvarnished presentation of the WELS doctrine on the topics asked of them, not to try to broker a reunification of the Synodical Conference.


Jonathan said...

Hi Anon 9:19

You are sadly mistaken, I think.

The power of the Word is actually retained only in The Word. The reason is because "The Word was with God and the Word was God". (John 1) So yes,

"...anything which isn't a direct quotation from the Bible isn't God's Word."

The danger of believing the opposite, that something outside of the Bible could be God's Word, is the old and dangerous statement 'all truth is God's truth. This is what liberal academic Christians preach and teach. It gives them credence to read Buddha and Gandhi and Mohammad, DesCartes, Hegel, Sarte, Kelm, Parlow, Ski and claim that we can pull truths out of their writings, using them for the benefit of the Christian Church.

I know you aren't promoting Buddha et al. but you certainly are saying that God's Word can be found outside of God's Word. What IS and what ISN'T God's Word is very clear cut. The 66 canonical books of the Bible are God's Word ( and therefore God himself) and that is the total revelation of God to man. Anything else is periphery.

The Book of Concord truly is good book and it is useful. But not useful on the same level of authority as the Scriptures. The reason for this, which I stated before, is that the Book of Concord is fallible because it isn't Inspired; I noticed that you didn't adress my proofs that the BOC promotes extra Scriptural ideas and practices. Defense please! The whole weight of the Scriptures back up my argument. Please quote chapter and verse that gives you the right to equate a uninspired noncanonical book with Scripture--What Bible passage gives you the confidence to insist upon extra Scriptural ideas and practices as your litmus test for a 'right' Christian. You chastise me and tell me to read the Bible more? Therefore I want the above questions proven with Bible verses.

I would really like to see Conservative Confessional Lutherans abstain from treating the BOC as if they were Scripture. The middle ground--recognizing that the BOC is a blessing but not canon is proper. It only distracts--AND it gives the Enthusiasts ammo.

The WELS Enthusiasts accuse the Confessionals of being Legalistic. The more guys we have going around equating the BOC with the Holy Word of God, the more that accusation holds water. We need to make certain we do not swing too far into legalism and Enthusiasm of the conservative persuasion.

The narrow road is in between.

I want everyone to notice that I used clarity and sharpness of language without being rude, offensive or antagonistic. I can't say the say for anon 9:19. I haven't made any derogatory comments but have been firm in my questions and assertions. Anon 9:19, I think we could have this discussion without nasty comments and look forward to continuing talking with you.
In Christ,


Anonymous said...


I assume then at your church there is no sermon (since that is not God's Word in your estimation), but you just read the Bible since every thing else is, in your word, "periphery." I assume Sunday School is simply the children listening to someone reading the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Anything that isn't a direct quotation from the Bible isn't God's Word? I have to admit I've never heard that idea before. I'm not sure where you would get such such a silly idea. If it's true, are translations of Scripture God's Word, or only the original Hebrew and Greek? I hope you know those languages! Or why bother with sermons? Or Bible classes? Or Sunday school? Or singing hymns? I hope you can see that what you are saying is simply absurd.

Here's the truth. Anything that communicates the truth of God's Word is God's Word and has the power of God's Word. So, for example, if I say to an unbeliever "Jesus died on the cross to take away your sins", that statement has the power to create faith in that person's heart, even though it isn't a direct quotation from any book or chapter of the Bible.

Jonathan said...

There's a difference between God's (W)ord and God's (w)ord.

A few of the commentors seem not to understand that there is something unique, singular and powerful about the 66 canonical books of the Bible, which were verbally inspired by God. God the Holy Spirit chose men to write those scriptures and put the exact words in their minds.

You chide me by asking "Oh your church must not have sermons..."
Some say "Boy, I haven't heard that before..." I will explain this for you.

God's Word, which IS Christ can be passed along accurately through a multiple of media--Sermons, hymns, art AND a Christian's actions(good works). However, these human re-tellings of the Word (that is, anything that's not a direct Biblical quote) seem to me more as God's word (small w) because they were not inspired directly by God.

This ties into John telling us to "Test the Spirits" (1 John 4:1). We can 100% confident of everything we read in the Bible, but we must test everything else. Truly, many faithful Christians have 'tested' the Lutheran Confessions and found them to be Biblically accurate. But this does not make them God's Word (big W).

The first chapter of the Gospel of John tells us that the Word (big W) is God. There is no Biblical proof supporting the claim that every time a faithful Christian faithfully proclaims the Gospel (be it a sermon or the Augsburg Confession) it becomes (or is in anyway) God's Word (big W). That's why faithful pastors' sermons are so heavily filled with Scripture--because they realize that their writing and retelling will always be corrupted. This is also what make our historic Liturgy so powerful: Much of it (if not all) is direct Bible quotations. (Psalms, Song of Simeon, etc.)

We need to recognize that God has indeed blessed us with faithful re-tellers of the Gospel: Luther and the confessors for example. But we also need to recognize that we cannot trust in those re-tellers because their words are not inspired by God. The Holy Spirit works ONLY through the Word (big W) and the Sacraments. The view that I'm arguing against (what some of the commentors have espoused) is Enthusiasm: Reliance on something besides the Word and Sacrament for real spiritual edification; reliance on words (small w) by human beings.

Michael Schottey said...


I understand your words entirely. However, again I will ask: have you tested the spirits in the BoC? If you disagree, then tell us where.

If you can't disagree, then why not trust it?

We rely on the BoC for guidance and edification BECAUSE it is a faithful exposition of God's Word.

We find it trustworthy, not out of blind trust, but because we have tested them.

Anonymous said...

Would you please show me IN SCRIPTURE where you find the upper case "W" and where you find the lower case "w."

Anonymous said...

Hmm, if the Word of God is limited so strictly to the 66 canonical books of the Bible, I wonder how those before Moses could possibly have been saved. It's too bad that the spoken Word passed down from Adam to Moses was completely ineffectual and hopelessly ruined by sin.

Jonathan said...

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your courtesy and good question.

I have tested the spirits of the BOC and in doctrine they are right on the money--in most cases. In terms of practice the Book of Concord is a little more distracted. The Confessors would never have thought of having a service that didn't follow the tradition Rite. They believed that the Roman Catholic Mass, in terms of outward modus operandi , was the "correct" way to worship God. Beyond these beliefs, the Lutheran Fathers also had political motivation to retain the physical structure and style of worship. If the Lutheran Fathers had thrown out everything done by the Roman Catholic Church perhaps the political powers of the time would've have been less inclined to permit the theological corrections that Luther and friends promoted.

With this in consideration, we find in the Book of Concord promotes a fairly rigid code of conduct for Christian Lutheran worship practice. In many cases, this promotion is implied and in others it is quite plain. I mentioned a few examples in a previous comment.

The notion that only "regularly called" men should publicly preach or teach is one such practical matter that disagrees with (or adds to) Scripture. Remember this story from Luke 9:(49-50)?

"And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. "

This short story confounds the modern (or historic) Confessional Lutheran Church's ideas of the Divine Call/Ordination. The "regular call" mentioned in article 14 of the Augsburg Confession takes shape as an official sanction from a church--The book of Concord and Churches subscribing to it forbid public ministry without such a mandate. But Jesus says in essence "no, this guy isn't one of the 12 disciples, but his faith makes him one of the good guys. Let him do his thing." (That was a paraphrase...not God's Word.)

Do I think it's good for a Lutheran Church to issue official calls and promote official ordinations? Very much yes! But the Book of Concord insists upon something that is not insisted upon in Scripture. This doesn't make me think the BOC is a bad book; Rather it's a good book, written by sinful humans.

Secondly, read Augsburg Confession and the apology, article XI, Of Confession. Read also Article VI of the Apology. The Lutheran Father's say in no uncertain terms that private confession and absolution cannot be removed from Church practice. Here's one little snippet. (But you really oughta read it all yourself)

"Therefore it would be wicked to remove private absolution from the Church"

Jonathan said...

"Therefore it would be wicked to remove private absolution from the Church"

I will not dignify that notion with more than this: Not in Scripture.

Then there is the Sacrament issue. The defense of the AC lists three Sacraments:
"Therefore Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments" Art. XIII.

Scripture is clear as a bell about the rites Christ instituted. Holy Communion and Baptism. Plain and simple.

Need I go on? These and more are examples of Extra Biblical teachings found in the BOC. Again, I do not say these errors make it a bad book. It's a great book and we're blessed to have such an index of sound exegetical writing. That does not mean it is more-or-less Scripture. The BOC is a fallible book written by sinful men. Remembering that the BOC is a non Canonical writings is essential to retain the belief in the Efficacy of the Word. This attitude will drive us to respect the Confessions, but not to rely on them. Reliance on the Word ALONE is vital!

To those who believe that paraphrasing God's Word is actually God's Word---If I took Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and rewrote every sentence would it be the same book? No--and it would be much worse a book. My rendition would no longer be Mark Twain, it would be crap. We appreciate Mark Twain for what he said and how he said it.

How much more amplified is the meaning of that simile when we're talking about the sole revelation of the Almighty God! God VERBALLY inspired men to write the Bible. That means every word was given to the authors-- and the authors were faithful recorders of what the Holy Spirit gave them. Human paraphrase usually leads to disaster. (Which is why you should stick to as many Bible verses as possible when Evangelizing) This is not to say that a Pastor's words are not wholesome or not God pleasing if he writes them himself. God has blessed many men with the clarity of thought to advance his Truth by means of their own power of reason. But if you notice, great pastors usually lead their congregation through the Bible, using their own wit and semantic sparingly, only as a connection between verses of God's Word.

Sorry I wrote so much. Schottey, I'd be curious to hear your response.

Anonymous said...

Mexicans can be saved. Nope, not in Scripture, right Jonathan?

Anonymous said...

Acts 8:30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. 31"How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" ... 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

Ps 78:5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, 6so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.

Acts 17:2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ...

Prov. 13:10 Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.


Anonymous said...

Mexicans can be saved?

How foolish you are. Christ was called "a light to the gentiles" by Simeon. Mexicans are gentiles. Ergo...never mind.

Think before you speak, moron

Anonymous said...

You write,

"How foolish you are. Christ was called "a light to the gentiles" by Simeon. Mexicans are gentiles. Ergo...never mind. Think before you speak, moron"

Let me remind you of our Lord's words, "But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire." (That's in the Bible, by the way.)

But, of course, with your logic, though moron and fool are synonyms, since the "Bible" says "fool" and you use the epithet "moron" you are not in danger of hell fire.

No, it this your logic, since the salvation of "Mexicans" is not mentioned in any of the 66 canonical books, ergo, not to be relied upon.

And lo and behold, you now say that it is God's Word that Mexicans can be saved (I'll sure they will be happy to hear that) since Gentiles include Mexicans, and so the belief that Mexicans can be saved is equal to the Word of God, since, according to you, only God's inscripted word is his word and can be relied upon, right? All else is, in your word, periphery.


You nicely fell into my trap, but we all rejoice that I have converted you to the truth on this matter. Now, you can publicly apologize for your "moron" comment, else you are in danger of hell fire.

Jonathan said...

Anonymous 9:47

Who are you writing to? You seem pretty angry about something--so much so that you address two people treating them as one. (I think)

I don't know who you are trying to trap, or why you are trying to trap them. That doesn't seem very Christian to me. And I shall know them by their fruits.

But I don't think it helped my argument to have a rabid anonymous poster taking my side of the argument. I don't call anyone morons, or idiotic.

I don't want someone else putting words in my mouth--anonymous posters on any side of the argument. It does show your haste and lack of discernment that you mistook an answer from an anonymous poster to be from me.

Stephen Fiedler said...

Ah, the ad hominem ("you anonymous guy!!! your words don't matter if you haven't a name!!"), the last refuge of the illogical. As if his words are any less true.

"What is truth?"

Rick said...

Your words nullify the Scriptures because you insist that the Church cannot be trusted, that only the Scriptures can be trusted. However, if you can understand the Scriptures, then so can other Christians. So what causes you to think that you can understand the Scriptures better than thousands of other Christians? What causes you to conclude that you can understand the Scriptures better than thousands of generations of Christians? What causes you to conclude that you can understand the Scriptures better than the Lutheran Reformers and Church Fathers? Because sola Scriptura teaches that the Scriptures are clear, not just to our generation, but to all generations, it has built within it a great respect for tradition. That is why the Reformers went to such great pains to cite the Church Fathers and others who came before them in the faith.

Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18). Therefore, based on Jesus' promise, the Church can be trusted because the Church has not been overcome, and has never been overcome. Jesus did not say that the gates of Hades would not overcome Jonathan.

Jonathan wrote, "What IS and what ISN'T God's Word is very clear cut. The 66 canonical books of the Bible are God's Word (and therefore God himself) and that is the total revelation of God to man." (July 28, 2009 8:19 PM). But I ask, where is that in the Bible? I've never seen an inspired table of contents. Therefore, your argument self-destructs in your own face.

Paul calls the church "the pillar and foundation of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15). Does that sound like he is saying, "trust in your own private interpretation"? Or does Paul rather teach that we are all members of one body?

"Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (Romans 12:3-5).

Paul wrote that all things should be done in good order. (1 Corinthians 14:40). That is one reason we call and ordain men to speak and preach and teach on our behalf. You do not speak for me, and should not presume to speak for any other Christian unless you have been regularly called and ordained for that purpose. Or do you think everyone is an apostle and a teacher? "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?" (1 Corinthians 12:29-30).

Your false interpretation of sola Scriptura is neither catholic nor reformational. It is radical, non-denominational, and sectarian. You can reject the Book of Concord, but then please be honest and don't call yourself "Lutheran."

Jonathan said...

Rick said:
"Or does Paul rather teach that we are all members of one body?"

Good point Rick. You made my point.

Hearing what you all say, maybe I shouldn't call myself Lutheran--I'm a Christian, a follower of The Way--along with all the other Christians who believe that the Bible is the only Revelantion of God. It's becoming obvious who you are.
I'm more sure by the hour that Lutherans are Lutherans and they follow Luther. Me and my people are Christians and we follow Christ.

You wrote: "You can reject the Book of Concord, but then please be honest and don't call yourself "Lutheran."

If only you were honest you'd see that I didn't reject the Book Of Concord--but that I only revere the Bible. If only the Liturgical pharisees (i.e. Nazis) had more honesty that the Pentecostal wannabes (who they continually condemn, they might actually admit that they're toppling the authority of the Bible by their adoration of the Lutheran Confessions.

I have to ask, what part of NOT INSPIRED don't you understand? Fine, you ask me to be honest and not call myself a Lutheran--I refuse to be a Lutheran if it means elevating Luther and the Confessions to the Status of Holy Scriptures. And judging by the people who've responded to what I've written, it's obvious you've set up a false god for yourselves. (in a cliche way: in the image of yourselves).

IF you cannot publicly admit that the BOC and all of Luther's writing are man made books and therefore uninspired and therefore fallible you are playing with fire and should return to the Word in repentance. If you're faith tells you that the Bible is Codependent with the BOC your faith will eventually become what Jesus criticized on the Pharisees.

I'm Naive. I thought for sure that if the So-called Conservatives (ha ha; joke's on me)
were really put to it they would, in the end, admit that the BOC must take 2nd string to Scriptures.
As I sadly find out, your Bible means nothing to you unless you have a fallible book to interpret it.

The strange beauty of it is this: I would never worship with or associate with Ski Jeske or other errorists in the WELS. But I can respect them.

They, at least are honest.