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   CONTEMPORARY THEOLOGICAL ISSUES IN THE BOOK OF CONCORD:

 

                 THE RESURGENCE OF ENTHUSIASM

 

                              by

 

               Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.

        Shepherd of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church

           1950 Hard Road, Worthington, Ohio  43235

 

   Ohio Pastor's Conference, Zion Lutheran Church, Toledo,

                      April 27-28, 1992

 

"Remember your leaders who have spoken the Word of God to

you.  Consider how their lives ended, and imitate their

faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and

forever.  Do not be carried away with different kinds of

strange teachings."  Hebrews 13:7-9a

 

 

"We have no intention of yielding aught of the eternal,

immutable truth of God for the sake of temporal peace,

tranquility, and unity (which, moreover, is not in our power

to do).  Nor would such peace and unity, since it is devised

against the truth and for its suppression, have any

permanency.  Still less are we inclined to adorn and conceal

a corruption of the pure doctrine and manifest, condemned

errors.  But we entertain heartfelt pleasure and love fore,

and are on our part sincerely inclined and anxious to

advance, that unity according to our utmost power, by which

His glory remains to God uninjured, nothing of the divine

truth of the Holy Gospel is surrendered, no room is given to

the least error, poor sinners are brought to true, genuine

repentance, raised up by faith, confirmed in new obedience,

and thus justified and eternally saved alone through the sole

merit of Christ."

  Closing of the Formula of Concord, Concordia Triglotta, p.

  1095.

 

 

                         Introduction

 

When we study the Book of Concord, I hope that the passage

from Hebrews 13:7 is always on our minds.  I attended a

college named Augustana, named for the Augsburg Confession,

in opposition to the brand of Enthusiasm being promoted by

the General Synod in the 1850's.  The revivalists of the

Reformed camp were having great successes, and the General

Synod wanted to emulate their protracted meetings and deny

the Biblical doctrines of baptismal regeneration and the Real

Presence to achieve unity.  The General Synod leaders

supported Pietism and revivalism, suppressing confessional

Lutheranism.  Thus was born the Augustana Synod, Augustana

College and Seminary, and also the General Council.

 

The Augustana Synod had a history much like Wisconsin's,

combining Pietism with orthodoxy, the orthodoxy coming from

traumatic experiences with Enthusiasm.  Augustana leaders

were unionistic until they ran into American Enthusiasm:

  The crudest extravagances of revivalism (Methodism,

  Pentecostalism, Holy Rollerism) have their root in this

  specifically Reformed doctrine of the immediate working of

  the Holy Spirit.  1

A favorite textbook of old ALC pastors stated:

  The Lutheran theologians, in general, had reason to

  illustrate very particularly the doctrine of the operation

  of the Word of God, in order to oppose the Enthusiasts and

  Mystics, who held that the Holy Spirit operated rather

  irrespectively of the Word than through it; and to oppose

  also the Calvinists, who, led by their doctrine of

  predestination, would not grant that the Word possessed

  this power per se, but only in such cases where God

  chose.... 2

 

One Augustana leader of orthodoxy, Eric Norelius, was trained

in Columbus and had an enormous influence, due to the sound

doctrine he learned at Capital.  However, Enthusiasm won out

in the 1930's and Augustana Seminary began teaching,

overnight, the historical-critical method and the Social

Gospel, both examples of Enthusiasm.  One pious young pastor

began his career at a pietistic Lutheran Bible Institute and

now serves as presiding bishop of ELCA: Rev. Herb Chilstrom.

 

It is often held against me that my history is tied to this

history, that I have experienced it first-hand instead of

reading about it in Christian News, that I was trained in

the historical-critical method.  If this disqualifies me for

writing about orthodox Christianity, then I must offer other

examples who appreciated the truth better for having wallowed

in falsehood: Paul, Augustine, Luther, Chemnitz, Krauth,

Walther, and Hoenecke.  In WELS today, they would be judged

by their bloodlines and not by their confession of faith.

 

Much of what is condemned in this paper was once appealing to

me.  In many cases, some of the methods and techniques and

attitudes were offered - word for word - in the Lutheran

Church in America.  More importantly, this battle has always

been waged in Lutheranism, because Enthusiasm attaches itself

to our work the way mercury attaches itself to gold and

silver.  Once we are poisoned by Enthusiasm, orthodox

Lutheranism becomes our worst enemy and her advocates turn

into monsters of rigidity, legalism, and lovelessness.

 

Looking back a few years, we recall Wisconsin Synod leaders

who earned the respect of all Lutherans.  Their scholarly

books are still praised today and used outside our small

circles: John Schaller, Adolph Hoenecke, August Pieper, and

J. P. Koehler.  We should remember our leaders who have

spoken the Word of God to us, considering how their lives

ended.  We should imitate their faith and not be carried away

with different kinds of strange teachings.  (Hebrews 13:7-9a)

R. C. H.  Lenski wrote about this passage:

  They were true leaders indeed.  All our church leaders may

  well look closely at this characterization: speaking the

  Word, the whole Word, and nothing but the Word (Acts 20:26-

  27), and doing this with true personal faith; hence never

  once misleading the Church.  God, ever give us such

  leaders!  All followers may well look at these words.  3

 

                        II. Enthusiasm

 

The battle between the forces of Enthusiasm and the forces of

confessional Lutheranism have been contending for many

centuries, so this topic is current as well as historic.

Lutheranism fell apart months after Luther's death in 1546,

making the Book of Concord an absolute necessity.  The

crypto-Calvinists perjured themselves in claiming to be real

Lutherans while slithering to the Reformed position on the

Lord's Supper.  Lutheran anniversaries, as Prof. Fredrich

wrote, have been occasions for outbursts of apostasy, such as

the Prussian Union of 1817/1830 and the Preusian Union of

the 1980's. 4

 

Enthusiasm is such an inclusive topic that it bears a careful

definition.  We are all by nature Enthusiasts, since it is

part of our fallen state.

  In short, enthusiasm clings to Adam and his descendants

  from the beginning to the end of the world.  It is a poison

  implanted and inoculated in man by the old dragon, and it

  is the source, strength, and power of all heresy, including

  that of the papacy and Mohammedanism.  Accordingly, we

  should and must constantly maintain that God will not deal

  with us except through his external Word and sacrament.

  Whatever is attributed to the Spirit apart from such Word

  and sacrament is of the devil. 5

 

Enthusiasm is opposed to the Means of Grace, so we find

Enthusiasm both in the Protestant constellation of sects and

in Roman Catholicism.

  In these matters, which concern the external, spoken Word,

  we must hold firmly to the conviction that God gives no one

  his Spirit or grace except through or with the external

  Word which comes before.  Thus we shall be protected from

  the enthusiasts--that is, from the spiritualists who boast

  that they possess the Spirit without and before the Word

  and who therefore judge, interpret, and twist the

  Scriptures or spoken Word according to their pleasure...The

  papacy, too, is nothing but enthusiasm, for the pope boasts

  that 'all laws are in the shrine of the heart,' [Corpus

  juris canonici, Book VI, I, 2, c.1.] and he claims that

  whatever he decides and commands in his churches is spirit

  and law, even when it is above and contrary to the

  Scriptures or spoken Word.  All this is the old devil and

  the old serpent who made enthusiasts of Adam and Eve.  6

 

Protestantism and Roman Catholicism alternate between

rationalism and Pentecostalism, sometimes mixing both

together.  Against this is the doctrine of the Means of

Grace, which is the only antidote to Enthusiasm, and the

"peculiar glory of the Lutheran Church."

 

  The doctrine of the means of grace is a peculiar glory of

  Lutheran theology.  To this central teaching it owes its

  sanity and strong appeal, its freedom from sectarian

  tendencies and morbid fanaticism, its coherence and

  practicalness, and its adaptation to men of every race and

  every degree of culture.  The Lutheran Confessions bring

  out with great clearness the thought of the Reformers upon

  this subject.  7

 

For Roman Catholics, assurance of salvation comes from the

visible unity of the Roman church and the infallible

authority of the pope and those who teach infallibly in

concert with him.  They use the term "Means of Grace" for the

seven sacraments, but they mean something else:

 

  Therefore the media gratiae in the papistic sense are not

  means through which God offers to faith the complete

  forgiveness of sins and the salvation merited by Christ,

  and through that offer also works faith in man or

  strengthens the faith already present, but they are means

  to incite and aid him to such virtuous endeavors, under

  Roman direction, as can gradually and in constantly

  increasing measure (Trent, Session VI, chapter 16, canon

  32) win God's grace for him. 8

 

For Protestants, assurance of salvation comes from knowing

the moment of conversion, whether as an adult "born-again"

experience or, on a higher or deeper plane, the experience of

the Holy Spirit's baptism.  However, both confessions

introduce a monster of uncertainty, which robs the believer

of certainty by placing certain demands of the Law upon him,

in both cases adding works to faith.  Many of us have

experienced the testimony of Pentecostals, who invest their

dreams and visions with authority above and beyond the

Scriptures, a state which makes them despise the

Means of Grace and those who minister the Means.  Therefore,

the Book of Concord states:

  It is good to extol the ministry of the Word with every

  possible kind of praise in opposition to the fanatics who

  dream that the Holy Spirit does not come through the Word

  but because of their own preparations.  They sit in a dark

  corner doing and saying nothing, but only waiting for

  illumination, as the enthusiasts taught formerly and the

  Anabaptists teach now.  9

 

Schmidt warned:

  We are not, then, in any way to represent to ourselves the

  relation of the Word and the Spirit as though the Word were

  merely the lifeless instrument which the Holy Ghost

  employed, or as thought the Spirit, when he wished to

  operate through the Word, must always first unite himself

  with it, as if he were ordinarily separated from it. 10

 

Lutheran pastors seem to have forgotten that Protestants and

Roman Catholics must deny huge portions of Scripture to

maintain their dogmatic statements.  Simply put, as Hoenecke

stated:

  Aus dem allen folgt die Verwerflichkeit des

  schwarmgeistlichen Grundsatzes, dass der Geist wirke ohne

  die Schrift.  Geist nicht ohne Schrift, Schrift nicht ohne

  Geist, das is gesunde Lehre.  (From this follows the

  repudiation of Enthusiastic principles, that the Spirit

  works without the Scriptures.  Spirit not without the

  Scripture, Scripture not without the Spirit - that is sound

  doctrine.) 11

 

Although we are often subjected to the sanctimonious

testimonies of Enthusiasts, who dominate the airwaves, the

Book of Concord points out how they destroy sanctification

while posing as defenders of holiness.  That is why Jim and

Tammie Bakker still attract media coverage.

 

  Both enthusiasts and Epicureans have in an unchristian

  fashion misused he doctrine of the impotence and the

  wickedness of our natural free will, as well as the

  doctrine that our conversion and regeneration are

  exclusively the work of God and not of our own powers. As a

  result of their statements many people have become

  dissolute and disorderly, lazy and indifferent to such

  Christian exercises as prayer, reading, and Christian

  meditation. 12

 

But we are told by the current leaders of Lutheranism (ELCA,

LCMS, and WELS; 99% of Lutherans in America) that the

Enthusiasts have something to teach us about evangelism,

worship, and the Church.  However, the Formula of Concord

expresses no tolerance whatsoever:

  6.  On the other hand, we must condemn with all seriousness

  and zeal, and in no wise tolerate in the church of God, the

  enthusiasts who imagine that without means, without hearing

  of the divine Word and without the use of the holy

  sacraments, God draws man to himself, illuminates,

  justifies, and saves him.  13

 

We are given a hundred reasons why the Enthusiasts of today

are wiser than the orthodox fathers of the last generation,

but the Book of Concord made a point of emphasizing Luther's

last words on the subject.  As Edmund Schlink has noted, it

is one thing to write a theological book or opinion, but

quite another to have the Church endorse that statement and

to have men sign their names confessing that point. 14

Luther wrote an enormous amount of excellent material, but

this was selected by the Concordists as part of the remedy

for the collapse of Lutheranism, a debacle which is being

repeated today:

  Dr. Luther, who understood the true intention of the

  Augsburg Confession better than any one else, remained by

  it steadfastly and defended it constantly until he died.

  Shortly before his death, in his last confession, he

  repeated his faith in this article with great fervor and

  wrote as follows: 'I reckon them all as belonging together

  (that is, as Sacramentarians and enthusiasts), for that is

  what they are who will not believe that the Lord's bread in

  the Supper is his true, natural body, which the godless or

  Judas receive orally as well as St.  Peter and all the

  saints.  Whoever, I say, will not believe this, will please

  let me alone and expect no fellowship from me.  This is

  final.  15

 

                 III. Gray Areas of Scripture

 

A few years ago, we began reading that Ralph Bohlmann

considered the role of man and woman a gray area of

Scripture.  Recently, this same claim has appeared in our

synod as well.  A layman recently said, "I'm glad WELS is

clear on most doctrinal issues."  If it is true that we are

going to make progress by arguing for the shortness,

incompleteness, insufficiency, ambiguity, and obscurity of

the canonical Scriptures, then we are adopting Roman Catholic

exegetical methods, which will certainly destroy Lutheranism.

Note what Martin Chemnitz said about how this line of attack

developed among the papalists:

  The method of debate on the part of the papalists is far

  different now than it was at the time of Eck, Emser, and

  others like them.  These men did not refuse to fight with

  us with the weapons of the Scripture.  Pighius, however,

  has perceived that this arrangement has done the papal

  kingdom more harm than good.  Therefore he has shown a

  different and shorter way by which, provided they stuck to

  it, they could obtain practically anything without trouble.

  It consists in this that they bring together every

  oratorical device and then declaim loudly about the

  shortness, the incompleteness, the insufficiency,

  ambiguity, and obscurity of the Scripture and strenuously

  fight for the necessity, authority, perfection, certainty,

  and clarity of the unwritten traditions. 16

 

If anything, the Book of Concord is a tribute to the

completeness, sufficiency, and clarity of the Scriptures.

The following statements indicate no confusion by the

Confessors about the meaning of Holy Writ:

  ...far from having disproved our contentions from the

  Scriptures, they have condemned several articles in

  opposition to the clear Scripture of the Holy Spirit.  17

 

  This is plain and clear, the faithful can grasp it, and it

  has the testimony of the church.  Nowhere can our opponents

  say how the Holy Spirit is given.  18

 

  It is surely amazing that our opponents are unmoved by the

  many passages in the Scriptures that clearly attribute

  justification to faith and specifically deny it to works.

  Do they suppose that this is repeated so often for no

  reason?  19

 

  Yet there are clear passage of divine Scripture which

  forbid the establishment of such regulations for the

  purpose of earning God's grace or as if they were necessary

  for salvation.  20

 

Those who would like to find in the Book of Concord a debate

about the normative force of Scripture or the inerrancy of

Scripture will be disappointed.  This did not become a major

Lutheran conflict until Enthusiasm brought the historical-

critical method into American Lutheranism in the name of

scholarship.  Then the Scriptures could be bent and shaped

like a wax nose, expressing everything except their clear,

plain message.  The Book of Concord clearly supports the

Scriptures as the ruling norm of faith, infallible in all

respects.  "Because we know that God does not lie.  My

neighbor and I--in short, all men--may err and deceive, but

God's Word cannot err." 21

 

  ...Firmly Founded on the Word of God as the Only Norm 22

 

  ...we have in what follows purposed to commit ourselves

  exclusively and only, in accordance with the pure,

  infallible, and unalterable Word of God, to that Augsburg

  Confession which was submitted to Emperor Charles V at the

  great imperial assembly in Augsburg in the year 1530... 23

 

Norm is a word seldom found in the Book of Concord, since the

battle lines were drawn around that article of faith, but two

more citations are worth studying.

  1.  We believe, teach, and confess that the prophetic and

  apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments are the

  only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and

  teachers alike must be appraised and judged, as it is

  written in Ps.  119:105, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and

  a light to my path. 24

 

  Other writings of ancient and modern teachers, whatever

  their names, should not be put on a par with Holy

  Scripture.  Every single one of them should be subordinated

  to the Scriptures and should be received in no other way

  and no further than as witnesses to the fashion in which

  the doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved in

  post-apostolic times.  25

 

Not only is this the best approach to doctrinal matters, but

this is the method which we have confessed as Lutheran

pastors, affirming our loyalty to the Book of Concord,

because (quia) it is a proper interpretation of Scripture.

In studying the Book of Concord, however, we do not find an

anti-intellectual, anti-historical attitude of "nothing

outside of the Bible."  The Confessors clearly saw the value

of knowing the patristic fathers and using their testimony to

show that this is indeed the orthodox Christian faith and not

a new denomination.  When we study the orthodox contributions

of our fathers and imitate their faith, we are not abandoning

the Scriptures but upholding the Word of God as confessed by

faithful warriors who now rest from their labors.  Selnecker,

a Concordist, (who wrote "Ach, bleib bei uns") was bitterly

attacked, severely persecuted by the Reformed, deposed when

Augustus died, reduced to poverty, and not allowed to remain

in Leipzig as a private citizen.  26  If they had not stood

their ground and paid the price--jail, exile, humiliation,

execution--we would be the SWELS today, Schwaermer

Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

 

               IV.  Efficacy of the Means of Grace

 

The weakest area of Lutheranism today concerns the efficacy

of the Means of Grace, once the glory of Lutheranism and now

fading quickly into obscurity.

 

  For Christ wants to assure us, as was necessary, that the

  Word is efficacious when it is delivered by men and that we

  should not look for another word from heaven.  27

 

  In his Word he has revealed to us as much as we need to

  know in this life, and wherever the Scriptures in this case

  give us clear, certain testimony, we shall simply believe

  it and not argue that the human nature in Christ is not

  capable of it.  28

 

  For the Word through which we are called is a ministry of

  the Spirit--"which gives the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:8) and a

  "power of God" to save (Rom.  1:16).  And because the Holy

  Spirit wills to be efficacious through the Word, to

  strengthen us, and to give us power and ability, it is

  God's will that we should accept the Word, believe and obey

  it.  29

 

  Every poor sinner must therefore attend on it, hear it with

  diligence, and in no way doubt the drawing of the Father

  because the Holy Spirit wills to be present in the Word and

  to be efficacious with his power through it.  And this is

  the drawing of the Father.  30

 

  The reason for such contempt of the Word is not God's

  foreknowledge but man's own perverse will, which rejects or

  perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Spirit which

  God offers to him through the call and resists the Holy

  Spirit who wills to be efficaciously active through the

  Word, as Christ says, "How often would I have gathered you

  together and you would not!" (Matt. 23:37) 31

 

Anyone who has tried to carry out mission work in an area

dominated by groups which despise Lutheran orthodoxy may well

succumb to the temptation of looking for guaranteed results

delivered for a specific cost.  The Book of Concord, echoing

the Bible, reminds us again and again to trust in the Word

and remain faithful to the Word.  Only the external Word,

preached and taught, and the visible Word, administered in

the Sacraments, will bring about justification and salvation.

This goes against the Enthusiasm of Old Adam and the venom of

the Old Serpent, but it is consistent with God's promises

throughout His Word.  His Word never returns fruitless but

always accomplishes His will. (Is. 55)  One may plant and one

may water, but God alone provides the growth.  The seed falls

everywhere, so our task is not to judge the soil, but

to sow with reckless abandon, following the example of the

inept sower (Mark 4).

 

Unfortunately, we have in our midst a group of pastors who

have adopted the Reformed perspective on the Word.  They

try to Lutheranize what they have learned from the

Enthusiasts of Pasadena, but their published writings reveal

their lack of trust in the efficacy of the Means of Grace.

This is also reflected in the Board of Home Missions (BoRaM,

1991) wondering in print what to do about "ineffective"

pastors.   The use of effective and ineffective is prima

facie evidence of Reformed doctrine.  We find it quite often

in WELS materials and Fuller Seminary materials.

 

Those who promote Enthusiasm in our midst claim that it is a

sin to disagree about doctrine, calling it slander and a

violation of the 8th Commandment.  They also object to naming

names.  They seem to forget that St. Paul confronted Peter in

public (Gal. 2:14) for Peter's public undermining of the

Gospel, that St. Paul named names in his apostolic letters,

(2 Tim. 2:17), that the Book of Concord identified people

with false doctrines--denouncing those doctrines, and Prof.

J. P.  Meyer in Our Great Heritage, vol. I, supports dealing

with the doctrine itself:

  We must bear in mind that we are not dealing with the

  person of these errorists.  We are not called to

  investigate their personal character...We are dealing with

  their confession, with the doctrine which they publicly

  proclaimed before the whole church, for which they stood,

  which they defended.  32

On the other hand, those of us who have tried to deal

directly with doctrinal matters, going through channels, have

met with personal attacks, puerile name calling, and attempts

to meddle in our congregations and remove us (in violation of

Scripture) from our calls.  It appears that some attempts

have been successful.

 

                           Nonsense

"While only the Word is efficacious, the methods we use to

minister to people with that Word may vary in their

effectiveness."

Pastor Lawrence O. Olson, Peace, Love's Park, Ill.,

"See How It Grows: Perspectives on Growth and the Church,"

EVANGELISM, February, 1991, p. 2.  Olson is a Parish

Consultant for the WELS Board of Parish Services  and his

district's Coordinator of Evangelism.  [Emphasis added.]

 

"We cannot add anything to the Word, but we may be able to

remove the human barriers which might be in the way of the

Word."

Pastor Lawrence O. Olson, ibid., p. 3.  [Emphasis added]

 

"What do people mean when they talk about effective church

growth principles?  Do we make God's kingdom come?  'God's

kingdom certainly comes by itself,' Luther wrote.  Ours is to

sow the seed.  We hamper the kingdom if we sow carelessly or

if we do not sow at all.  But we do not make it grow."

Mark Braun, "The Growing Seed, What Do People Mean When They

Talk about Effective Church Growth Principles?" The

Norwestern Lutheran, September 1, 1991, p. 300.  [Emphasis

added]

 

"We can't do a thing to make his Word more effective.  But

surely we can detract from its effectiveness by careless

errors and poor judgment.  It just makes good sense to

utilize all of our God-given talents, to scour the field for

appropriate ideas, concepts, and material, to implement

programs, methods, and techniques so that we do not detract

from the effectiveness of the gospel we proclaim.  Church

growth articles, books, seminars, and conferences can offer

such ideas and programs."

Pastor James Huebner, Spiritual Renewal Consultant,

Notebook, School of Outreach IV, p. 178. [Emphasis added]

"THE CHURCH ORGANIZED FOR ACTION.

1.  THEOLOGY - The Word of God...unchanging.  The Word of God

    is efficacious.  We are more or less effective

    administrators of the Word.  Steps 2 through 6 (below)

    assure that our theology is put into practice as ministry

    in the most effective way possible.

Outline of Pastor Paul Kelm's paper, reprinted in WELS

Mission Counselors' NEWSLETTER, Pastor Jim Radloff, editor,

April, '92, p. 16.  [Emphasis added; as mission counselor in

Texas, Pastor Radloff carried around a briefcase of C. Peter

Wagner's, Your Church Can Grow, to give away.  Wagner was

required reading for world mission pastors as well.]

 

The preceding selections from published WELS materials

represent the concept that the Word of God is efficacious,

but...  That is the same as claiming that the Word of God

becomes efficacious when we use the proper man-centered

methods.  One thing is worth noting: we seldom find the

word "faithful," but we often find the word "effective" in

current WELS materials.  The word "effective" is normative

in the publications of Enthusiasts, as noted in the Catalog

of Testimonies at the end of the paper.  Lutherans stress

faithfulness, and Enthusiasts emphasize effectiveness,

because Lutherans trust God's activity through the Means of

Grace, while Enthusiasts consider God's Word a dead letter

unless it is made attractive and relevant.  note

 

V. Women's Suffrage, Women in Authority over Men, Women

   Teaching Men

 

The ferment for women taking over spiritual leadership in the

Church has moved from the ALC and LCA to members of the

former Synodical Conference.  In recent years we have seen

many new approaches taken: a woman in charge of OWLS, a woman

in charge of lay ministry, and a woman as assistant editor of

The Northwestern Lutheran.  Women vote in the Twin Cities and

in Columbus, as well as other areas.  Women serve on boards,

in authority over men, and women teach men.  When I discussed

women teaching men with a former synodical official, he said,

"What's wrong with that?"  I started to quote what St. Paul

said in 1 Timothy 2:12, but he interjected, "What about

Priscilla?"  (He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When

Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their

home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

Acts 18:26)  I started to answer, but he changed the subject.

Many think that the role of man and woman will be reversed

through the influence of church leaders, the promotion of

suffragette pastors, and the lack of discipline.

 

WELS is the first Lutheran church body, to the best of my

knowledge, to have a woman write the editorial page for the

national magazine.  It was the Reformation issue of The

Northwestern Lutheran, 11-1-91.  Therefore, we have passed

ELCA in trendiness.  Our new hymnal will bow to the feminist

language demands, which is what the Lutheran Book of Worship

did in 1978.  Some think it is being written with Church

Growth Eyes.

 

The Book of Concord does not deal with these issues,

indicating to us that no one was trying to overturn Biblical

teaching at that time.  The upsurge of studies and special

commissions to deal with an issue is an indication of a

change in direction, which we are seeing - in WELS, in the

Ohio Conference, and in the Michigan District.  The promotion

of Enthusiast cell groups will complete the feminization of

the WELS.  Those of you who want your wives on church boards

and voting at the voters' meeting cannot possibly fathom what

this will mean in another generation.  Remember, much of your

required reading at Mequon was from ELCA pioneers.

 

The feminist pastors should not gloat that the Book of

Concord is silent on these issues and does not deal with

the Biblical texts which are at the center of the current

debate (1 Cor 11:1ff; 1 Tim 2:12f.)  The Confessors never

suggested that the Bible had gray areas which left doctrinal

issues open.  The false charge of Biblical vagueness was a

claim of the liberal Lutherans in the last century (General

Council and General Synod), who were content to leave as open

questions the issues of altar and pulpit exchange with

Enthusiasts, the Masonic Lodge, and millennialism.

 

                        Entertainment

The loss of trust in the Means of Grace is underlined by the

current WELS enthusiasm for imitating the Willow Creek seeker

service, for eliminating the liturgy, and for using "felt

needs" to draw people to church.  Those of us who read the

material printed by WELS about Willow Creek are horrified

that Pastor Robert Hartman and Pastor James Huebner would

endorse the seeker service--especially Pastor Dan Kelm's

version of it--on the evangelism training tape.  (The last

time I spoke to Bob Hartman, he began quoting Donald McGavran

to me.  I pointed out that The Donald should have studied

Isaiah 55.)

 

In their exegesis of 2 Corinthians 4:1ff.(Catalog of

Testimonies), Prof.  J.  P.  Meyer and R. C. H. Lenski have

both pointed out that the use of bait, lures, and

entertainment is equivalent to being ashamed of the Gospel,

adulterating the Word of God, and using devious methods to

achieve a supposedly worthwhile end.  We should not be

surprised, then, to learn that the chief theologian for

Fuller Theological Seminary is Karl Barth, an apostate who

moved his girlfriend, Charlotte Kirschbaum, into his house,

against the expressed wishes of Frau Barth, and spent every

summer with Charlotte in a mountain cottage, writing.

Barth's influence upon Fuller theolgians changed the modified

inerrancy stance of Fuller Seminary into a defiant errancy

position, before Donald McGavran moved there.  As Lenski

pointed out (see Catalog), those who are not trustworthy with

the Word are not trustworthy with anything else.  When we

read The World's 20 Largest Churches, Church Growth

Principles in Action, (written with Church Growth Eyes,

according to C. Peter Wagner), we can count a large number of

notorious anti-Christian teachers and a recently exposed

adulterer and anti-Christian teacher, Jack Hyles.  All of the

20 largest churches are centers of Enthusiasm, mostly of the

Pentecostal style.  The largest, Paul Y. Cho's, is occultic

and works closely with C. Peter Wagner and Robert Schuller.

 

In the Book of Concord, in Luther's writings, and in the

study of church history, we can find many examples of

Enthusiasts leading people astray and then falling into the

snare themselves.  Luther wrote:

  The peacock is an image of heretics and fanatical spirits.

  For on the order of the peacock they, too, show themselves

  and strut about in their gifts, which never are

  outstanding.  But if they could see their feet, that is the

  foundation of their doctrine, they would be stricken with

  terror, lower their crests, and humble themselves.  To be

  sure, they, too, suffer from jealousy, because they cannot

  bear honest and true teachers.  They want to be the whole

  show and want to put up with no one next to them.  And they

  are immeasurably envious, as peacocks are.  Finally, they

  have a raucous and unpleasant voice, that is, their

  doctrine is bitter and sad for afflicted and godly minds;

  for it casts consciences down more than it lifts them up

  and strengthens them. 33

 

The wonderful unity of false doctrine is concisely

illustrated in Sasse's comment on Karl Barth and the Means of

Grace, showing what a rotten foundation Enthusiasm offers:

  The means of grace are thus limited for Barth.  The

  preacher descending from the pulpit can never quote Luther

  and say with joyful assurance that he has preached the Word

  of God.  Of course, he can hope and pray; but he can never

  know whether the Holy Spirit has accompanied the preached

  Word, and hence whether his words were the Word of God.  To

  know this, or even to wish to know it, would be a

  presumptuous encroachment of man upon the sovereign freedom

  of God.  34

 

     VI.  Cell (Affinity, Koinonia, Share, Prayer) Groups

 

The lust for cell groups, which are the heart and soul of

Enthusiasm, is waxing in our synod.  The extensive support of

cell groups in WELS is shown in the Catalog of Testimonies.

Intelligent pastors, bombarded with propaganda about the

effectiveness of cell groups, are starting to explain how

they can Lutheranize this form of denying the Means of Grace.

 

Some points worth considering:

1.  Halle University was very successful as the center of

    Lutheran Pietism, which grew through the promotion of

    lay-led cell groups.  Halle Pietism was unionistic and

    therefore denied basic Lutheran doctrines.  Spener

    rejected the Real Presence and baptismal regeneration. 35

    The visible success of Halle and its charitable

    institutions is still worthy of note today.  In one

    generation, Halle became the center of rationalism.

    Pieper stated:  "Furthermore, it must be admitted that

    the Reformed teaching of the means of grace filtered,

    particularly through Pietism, also into the Lutheran

    Church." 36  Krauth showed how Enthusiasm turned into

    pure rationalism:  "...it is exceedingly difficult to

    prevent this low view from running out into Socinianism,

    as, indeed, it actually has run in Calvinistic lands, so

    that it became a proverb, often met with in the older

    theological writers--'A young Calvinist, an old

    Socinian.'  This peril is confessed and mourned over by

    great Calvinistic divines.  New England is an

    illustration of it on an immense scale, in our own

    land." 37

 

2.  The lay-led cell group creates a division between the

    disciples (or soul-winners) who go to a group and those

    who merely worship on Sunday.  When Enthusiasts use the

    term "disciple," they mean those who have reached a

    higher level of sanctification.  Have you noticed how

    often disciple is being used in WELS?  C. F. W. Walther

    had to work very hard at escaping the toxins of Pietism

    which clung to him and affected his sermons. This

    distinction of levels of Christianity led to the

    Pentecostal movement.  Pietism is cured by the large

    doses of the Book of Concord, rather than by large

    amounts of alcohol.  Pieper concluded about Pietism:

    "In so far as Pietism did not point poor sinners directly

    to the means of grace, but led them to reflect on their

    own inward state to determine whether their contrition

    was profound enough and their faith of the right caliber,

    it actually denied the complete reconciliation by Christ

    (the satisfactio vicaria), robbed justifying faith of its

    true object, and thus injured personal Christianity in

    its foundation and Christian piety in its very

    essence." 38

 

3.  The spiritual nature of women will lead to women teaching

    men, which has already happened at two churches in

    Columbus.  From that point we will move rapidly to

    women's ordination, which is de facto a practical reality

    today in the LCMS, with women preaching and consecrating

    Holy Communion.

 

4.  Pentecostals love to take over cell groups and teach

    people how to become "real Christians" by speaking in

    tongues and healing people.  President Robert Mueller, I

    believe, mentioned some time ago that the charismatic

    movement has popped up in WELS churches with cell groups.

5.  The Church Growth Enthusiasts in WELS are promoting cell

    groups and a repudiation of the Biblical role of man and

    woman.  The suffragette centers in WELS are also hotbeds

    of Church Growth.

 

6.  Because Enthusiasm is by nature unionistic, cell groups

    promote doctrinal indifference and persecute orthodox

    Christianity.  Cell group members adopt the sanctimony of

    the Enthusiasts, confronting and praying for orthodox

    pastors who "quench the Spirit."  Hell is paradise,

    compared to a Lutheran church split by Pentecostal

    Enthusiasts.  WELS pastors: do not ask to be baptized in

    this baptism and drink from this cup.

 

Those who enjoy saying that I am being extreme and rejecting

any use of anything outside Lutheranism should pay attention

to the following.  I think, under certain circumstances, a

layman may teach others, as long as he is directly

responsible to the pastor and held to the doctrinal standards

of orthodoxy.  Women may teach women and usually do a fine

job of expressing the Christian faith.  However, I am

disgusted and alarmed by the promotion of Schwaermer training

materials and cell group resources by WELS leaders.  If we

think we are going to have legitimate, orthodox, lay-led

groups which use Serendipity, Navigators, Intervarsity, and

Paul Y. Cho, then we are no better than wolves ourselves.

 

When I attended Paul Kelm's School of Outreach in 1987, Larry

Olson praised Cho and Schuller during the panel discussion on

Church Growth.  I stood up and said, "What are we doing, here

at Mequon, praising two false teachers, one who got his butt

kicked out of the Assemblies of God, which is not noted for

doctrinal discipline, and the other, who is in fellowship

with non-Christians?"  (This was during the Bakker and

Swaggert scandals, which the Assemblies of God allowed to

develop, even though certain top leaders knew all about the

allegations of adultery.)  No one said anything, although

Olson talked with me briefly afterwards.

 

All Enthusiasts have cell groups, so we find them in Reformed

denominations, in Pentecostal groups, in the Roman Catholic

charismatic movement, in all mainline charismatic movements,

and in anti-Christian cults.  We find the Means of Grace only

in Lutheranism, so the Book of Concord has much to say about

how we receive God's grace and how we are nurtured by the

Word.  Subsequent Lutheran leaders, until now, always taught

against the Reformed concept of prayer as a means of

grace.  39  They based their doctrine on the Book of Concord:

  It is indeed correct and true what Scripture states, that

  no one comes to Christ unless the Father draw him. [John

  6:44] But the Father will not do this without means, and he

  has ordained Word and sacraments as the ordinary means or

  instruments to accomplish this end.  It is not the will of

  either the Father or the Son that any one should refuse to

  hear or should despise the preaching of his Word and should

  wait for the Father to draw him without Word and

  sacraments." [See SD, II, 4, 80] 40

 

WELS leaders want to pretend that cell group Enthusiasts,

like C. Peter Wagner and his friend Waldo Werning, are in

our camp.  They should read Francis Pieper, who began his

ministry as a Wisconsin Synod pastor:

  Moreover, the advocates of this error [Reformed advocates,

  against the Means of Grace] are by no means always irenic

  people.  Rather, they go on the warpath and malign the

  Biblical truth in many ways. 41

 

               VII. Unionism and Open Communion

 

Fellowship principles are Biblical and well known to WELS

pastors, but fellowship now seems to be defined in terms of

what we can get away with and what we can excuse with

Pharisaic alibis and outright falsehood.  An orthodox

Christian simply does not want to participate in formal

religious activities with false teachers, due to his love for

the pure Word of God.  An orthodox pastor does not want to

support publicly any religious activity which suggests that

he condones false doctrine or is indifferent to it.  Prof.

Reu has wisely written that unionism creates doctrinal

indifference, doctrinal indifference leads to unionism. 42

They are inseparable, as we have seen already in cell groups

and Pietism, a predicament summarized by Bill Moyers as, "You

lie down with dawgs, you get up with fleas."

 

Yes, I do think we should study textbooks and journals by

false teachers, but we should, like Ulysses, be bound to the

mast of the Scriptures and have our ears treated with the

Book of Concord, to guard against listening to the Sirens of

Enthusiasm.  I think some pastors, like Robert Koester,

should attend Fuller to write a thesis against Church Growth.

But we have a large number of WELS leaders who have trained

at Fuller and endorse Fuller's doctrines and methods.  The

mission board pastors have trained at Win Arn's Church Growth

Institute in Monrovia, near Fuller.  Our district mission

board even sends pastors to D. James Kennedy to be trained in

Reformed decision theology.  When I was at Mequon in 1987, a

poster from Paul Kelm was outside the president's office,

inviting seminary students to attend Billy Graham's School of

Enthusiasm.  I had been at Wheaton 5 times (before colloquy)

and thought it very odd that WELS talked fellowship

principles and rushed to learn from those opposed to infant

baptism and Holy Communion.

 

The excuse is:  "We are so orthodox, we can separate the

wheat from the chaff."  The Catalog of Testimonies shows that

we are building on chaff, sowing chaff, and reaping

Enthusiasm.

Open communion belongs with fellowship questions, because

communion is the clearest sign of unity, a factor recognized

by the April 27, 1992 issue of Christian News, in the story

about "Four Protestant Sects" working toward joint communion:

ELCA and 3 Reformed groups.  In order to do this, the

Lutherans had to give up the Real Presence, which has always

filled Enthusiasts with wrath.

 

Schmauck, who worked against Enthusiasm in the Muhlenberg

tradition (ULCA), wrote:

  Is the Lord's Supper the place to display my toleration, my

  Christian sympathy, or my fellowship with another

  Christian, when that is the very point in which most of all

  we differ; and in which the difference means for me

  everything--means for me, the reception of my Savior's

  atonement?  Is this the point to be selected for the

  display of Christian union, when in fact it is the very

  point in which Christian union does not exist? 43

 

The Augsburg Confession makes doctrinal unity the basis for

peace in the Church.  Luther told the Evangelical

participants at Augsburg to go home rather than compromise

about the truth.  The Confessors wrote, risking their lives:

  The desire was expressed for deliberation on what might be

  done about the dissension concerning our holy faith and the

  Christian religion, and to this end it was proposed...to

  have all of us embrace and adhere to a single, true

  religion and live together in unity and in one fellowship

  and church, even as we are all enlisted under one

  Christ. 44

 

Fifty years later, after wars and persecutions, the

Concordists were not in a mood to explain under what

circumstances they could associate with false teachers:

  To dissent from the consensus of so many nations and to be

  called schismatics is a serious matter.  But divine

  authority commands us all not be associated with and not to

  support impiety and unjust cruelty.  45

 

Martin Luther clearly advocated closed communion when he

wrote the following, which is now our confession as well:

"So everyone who wishes to be a Christian and go to the

sacrament should be familiar with them [the benefits of the

sacraments].  For we do not intend to admit to the sacrament

and administer it to those who do not know what they seek or

why they come." 46

 

Pastor Paul T. McCain, LCMS, the editor of Kurt Marquart's

latest book, has written a fine booklet on Communion

Fellowship, A Resource for Understanding, Implementing, and

Retaining the Practice of Closed Communion in the Lutheran

Parish, (R. R. 3, Box 79, Waverly, IA, 50677-9517).  Some do

not practice closed communion in Columbus.  A Missouri pastor

told my friend in the ELS, "I went to a WELS church in

Columbus, and nothing was printed in the bulletin or said

during the service about closed communion.  You are in

fellowship with them.  How can you say we are liberal?"

 

Open communion is not simply a matter of bad practice but of

doctrinal indifference.  Refusing someone communion is not

loveless, but loving.  I gave one man a blessing instead of

communion and he is now an active member.  Someone asked,

"Would you refuse your own mother communion?"  I did, and she

is now an active member of WELS and a supporter of Lutherans

For Life.  Closed communion not a ball and chain for Lutheran

churches but a banner which says, "We place sound doctrine

above everything else: family ties, friendship, cell groups,

a balanced budget, and unity based on compromise and

deception."  When a Unitarian minister came to my Christmas

Eve communion service, in the LCA, I knew that I could not

practice open communion.  I did not have to refuse her, since

her principles prevented her from saying the Lord's Prayer,

singing certain hymns, and coming to the altar.  Liberals are

much better at doctrinal discipline than conservatives are.

The Unitarians would never let a Trinitarian speak at their

national convention, but we invite someone at war with our

doctrinal stance to be the preacher at our national youth

conference and national LFL convention - Pastor Richard

Stadler.

 

"Ephesians appears to be a circular letter, originally

written for a number of different congregations, and thus it

is addressed to a diverse audience.  So it is more likely to

express general principles that deserve wide application.

But a letter like I Timothy which is addressed to an

individual - or even I Corinthians which is addressed to one

specific congregation - is more like to apply such general

principles to a particular time, place, and situation.  We

who live in a different time and place will then have to

adjust the application accordingly - obviously without

compromising the general principles." ("Heirs Together of the

Gracious Gift of Life," by Richard H. Stadler, Michael J.

Albrecht, Iver C. Johnson, December, 1991, p.  3)

 

At the Snowbird Ecumenical Conference, the best ever,

according to Rev. James Schaefer, our council of presidents

and other leaders, 25 in all, were taught how to manage the

church by a woman.  They were taught what St. Paul says about

ministry by a Trinity Seminary professor, an advocate of the

historical-critical method.  They were told by a liberal

Reformed theologian that the radical left mainline

denominations were not becoming "sideline" denominations.

George Barna, Who's Who in Church Growth, also taught our

leaders at Snowbird, but they seem to know Barna's work quite

well already.  When Columbus WELS pastors invited ELCA to

discuss inerrancy, no one from Trinity Seminary showed up.

They understand fellowship.  But our synodical president

posed for photos with Rev. Herb Chilstrom, former Pietist,

who advanced himself by promoting the cause of homosexuality

and pornography-as-sex-offender therapy as bishop of the

LCA's Minnesota Synod.  A Lutheran troubled by false doctrine

in Missouri and ELCA would have to say, reading The Lutheran,

"They are all in it together."  Knowing the ELCA quota

system, I have to conclude that the very large ELCA

contingent included homosexual and lesbian pastors, certainly

a large group of women pastors and women executives.  Did we

not express our approval of this violation of Scripture, not

to mention the blasphemies of Braaten Jenson's Christian

Dogmatics, which is the standard ELCA dogmatics text?  47

 

Another insurance sponsored ecumenical endeavor, the Joy

radio show, put together by ELCA, LCMS, and WELS, has 3

versions about its development.  The one published in

Christian News, 12-9-91, p. 2) claimed it was the first joint

ministry among the three groups.  The synod office denied in

writing that we were involved at all and claimed that the

ELCA pastor had been corrected.  Another version, from ELCA,

is that John Barber was involved from the beginning and WELS

supported the joint religious program.  As of 1-10-92, no one

had informed the ELCA pastor who wrote the release that WELS

was not part of the program.  I spoke with him and with his

secretary at length.  ELCA sent out various publicity flyers

identifying our participation in a classic case of rank

unionism.  A third version of events came from the synod

office - that John Barber was sharing his great talents with

ELCA and LCMS.  Is that so bad?  The NWL denied WELS was part

of the program itself.  Since I was once part of the LCA's

enormous media program, as a writer and stringer for The

Lutheran, as chairman of the district committee, and as a

participant in a national conference with the LCA media

people, I was amused to learn that ELCA needed our man at

all. (Worthy of note: we are following Missouri and ELCA in

spending bundles of public relations and advertising - and

getting the same results.)

 

WELS has acquired a well-deserved reputation for rudeness to

outsiders over the years, but I do not think that public

relations and unionistic efforts will change anyone's

attitude toward us.  If we want to be loved and respected by

false teachers, then we must wallow in Enthusiasm with them.

If we want love, a fruit of faith, to flourish among us, then

we must believe, teach, and confess the true Christian faith.

As Lenski wrote, we cannot pick apples where there are no

trees.  Schwaermer trees will only produce large, wormy

apples.

 

                       VIII. Adiaphora

 

When I hear WELS leaders speak about adiaphora, I wonder if

they understand the meaning of Article X. of the Formula of

Concord.  Briefly, the section on "matters of indifference"

became necessary because of the compromises which Melanchthon

accepted under duress from the papal forces, claiming that

certain practices could be acceptable since they did not

involve the central doctrines of the faith.  First,

Melanchthon remained silent during the imposition--by force--

of the Augsburg Interim.  Pastors were deposed and jailed and

driven into exile.  Some pastors were killed.  48

"In Swabia and along the Rhine about four hundred ministers

were willing to suffer imprisonment and banishment rather

than conform to the Interim." 49  Then Maurice had the

Wittenberg and Leipzig theologians draw up the slightly

improved Leipzig Interim.  F. Bente explained reasons for

Melanchthon's treason, apart from his natural timidity:

"Evidently, then, Melanchthon consented to write the Interim

because he still believed in the possibility of arriving at

an understanding with the Romanists and tried to persuade

himself that the Emperor seriously sought to abolish

prevailing errors and abuses, and because the theological

views he entertained were not as far apart from those of the

Leipzig compromise as is frequently assumed." 50

 

The best summary of the Adiaphora article is found in a brief

paragraph:

  We believe, teach, and confess that at a time of

  confession, as when enemies of the Word of God desire to

  suppress the pure doctrine of the holy Gospel, the entire

  community of God, yes, every individual Christian, and

  especially the ministers of the Word as the leaders of the

  community of God are obligated to confess openly, not only

  by words but also through their deeds and actions, the true

  doctrine and all that pertains to it, according to the Word

  of God.  In such a case we should not yield to adversaries

  even in matters of indifference, not should we tolerate the

  imposition of such ceremonies on us by adversaries in order

  to undermine the genuine worship of God and to introduce

  and confirm their idolatry by force or chicanery.  It is

  written, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast

  therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

  (Gal. 5:1) 51

 

The Formula of Concord is clear why this is so:

"Hence yielding or conforming in external things, where

Christian agreement in doctrine has not previously been

achieved, will support the idolaters in their idolatry, and

on the other hand, it will sadden and scandalize true

believers and weaken them in their faith." 52

 

Getting rid of our Lutheran name, which has happened twice in

the Michigan District (Pilgrim Community Church, Columbus;

Crossroads Community Church, Livonia) and also out west, is

excused as an adiaphoron.  The advocates forget to say that

they are following the sage advice of Robert Schuller and

Lyle Schaller, two Church Growth Enthusiasts.  The Michigan

District praesidium which approved Pilgrim Community Church

ignored the objections of pastors and laity, including

members from Beautiful Savior, Grove City, the sponsor.  For

many, it was a case of dishonesty, using bait to lure people

into Lutheranism (dolow, 2 Cor. 4:2).  For others, it

included the whole doctrinal stew of the Enthusiasts.

 

Examine for yourselves the bulletin for Crossroads, A

Contemporary Christian Church, January 12, 1992:

             Welcome

             Exaltation

             Announcements and Prayer

             Gifts

             Scripture Reading

             Song of Praise

             Drama

             Message "Honoring Relationships"

             Closing Prayer and Blessing

             Closing Song

 

The message, not sermon, is outlined thus:

             Philippians 2:1-5

             Honoring Relationships

             I.  Honor Received (v. 1)

             a.  Encouragement from________

             b.  Comfort from______________

             c.  Fellowship with___________

            II. Honor Returned (vs. 2-5)

             a.  Self-_____________________

             b.  Self-_____________________

             c.  Self-_____________________.

 

The expressed intent of Crossroads Community Church and

Pastor Dan Kelm's Divinity Lutheran Church is to imitate

Willow Creek Community Church, the Church Growth showpiece

which has no cross or religious symbols to offend the

unchurched.  Floyd Stolzenburg's plan for Pilgrim Community

Church was to abstain from ever using the name Lutheran.

Lutheran finally appeared in microscopic print.

 

Must we have Reformed entertainment services, with puppets

and drama in order to lure people into the Kingdom of God?

We are not ashamed to sit with ELCA at the feet of

Enthusiasts at Snowbird, but our praesidium claims that ELCA

has ruined the name Lutheran, so we are ashamed to use it in

Columbus.  (A thientific survey in Columbus showed nobody

cared.) The Book of Concord does not support our identifying

with the Enthusiasts in order to trick them into attendance.

The adiaphora article also forbids, in my opinion, our

coziness with ELCA and Missouri, where the Gospel is truly

persecuted.

 

 

 

                  IX. Optimistic Conclusion

 

The doctrinal crisis is so great in the old Synodical

Conference that pastors and laity are being aroused from

their self-satisfied slumbers.  The Ohio Conference refused

to receive my last paper "with thanks," although it was good

enough for the conclusion of Liberalism and was checked twice

over for doctrinal errors by NPH.  The "Cure" chapter, which

compares the Means of Grace to Enthusiasm, has been favorably

reviewed by everyone, including Dr. John Brug in the WLQ.

Clearly something is amiss.

 

Each new issue of The Northwestern Lutheran and the Mission

Counselors' NEWSLETTER proves that I have understated the

case here.  The Evangelical Lutheran Synod is declaring

itself against Church Growth, in the latest issues of the

Lutheran Sentinel and Lutheran Synod Quarterly.  The

Northwestern College faculty is teaching against the Church

Growth Movement in the classrooms and in the chapel services.

Missouri has a clear example papalism in the Robert Preus

case, which is directly related to Waldo Werning's work at

Ft. Wayne, and Preus' resistance to Church Growth Enthusiasm.

In addition, ELCA is being thrown into turmoil by their

mission board's open espousal of Church Growth tactics,

visions, and marketing techniques.

 

In my opinion, the vast majority of WELS pastors are faithful

to the Scriptures, sincere in their faith, and eager to serve

the cause of orthodoxy.  This is based upon hundreds of phone

calls and letters, from laity and pastors, encouraging me to

defend the Means of Grace against the Enthusiasts.  Our

leaders--the Council of Presidents, the synod administration,

and the seminary--have not guarded the sheep and kept away

the wolves.  I am optimistic because we have the polity to

work at this problem, parish by parish, circuit by circuit,

conference by conference.  The conventions themselves mean

nothing if we cannot deal with these matters as they occur

around us.  But this will not happen, if we continue to

ignore the safeguards against apostasy.  My circuit, for

instance, has two district officials in it, but has seldom

met in the last decade.  The constitution mandates regular

circuit meetings.  Church history shows than decline into

Enthusiasm begins with a lax attitude toward doctrinal

discipline.  False teaching, left alone, will flourish, while

sound doctrine needs constant attention and nourishment from

the Scriptures and Confession. Do we want to grow roses or

ragweed?

 

Many blessings will result from the defeat of Enthusiasm in

WELS, although it will always be in our bones and ready to

strike out in another form against the Means of Grace.  Some

obvious blessings from defeating Enthusiasm are:

1.   Pastors will be encouraged to be faithful to the

     Scriptures and Confessions and trust in the power of

     the Word and Sacraments to accomplish God's will.

2.   Worship services and sermons will improve by glorifying

     God and showing people the way to eternal life.

3.   Those who love orthodoxy will more than make up for

     those who run away to Schwaermer churches.

4.   We will stop recruiting pastors and teachers and instead

     begin culling from the masses who want to share in this

     wholesome and salvific work of God.

5.   The synod will send out reprints of John Schaller for

     free instead of Lyle Schaller for a license fee.

6.   Pastors will no longer resign in disgust and

     discouragement, thinking they are not handsome, clever,

     or political enough to be ministers.

7.   Teachers will be respected for their special calling.

8.   Parochial schools will flourish.

9.   People will give in proportion to their blessings,

     motivated by the Gospel.

10.  District presidents and mission boards will stop trying

     to get rid of pastors and will instead respect the

     divine call and the work of God through faithful

     pastors.

11.  Apostate pastors and teachers will be given the left

     foot of fellowship.

12.  The Northwestern Lutheran will be viewed as a godsend

     for parish work and evangelism.

 

Finally, Luther's words to Major should be framed and placed

above our desks, because they are aimed at us as well.  When

Major insisted that he was not addicted to false doctrine,

Luther replied:

  It is by your silence and cloaking that you cast suspicion

  upon yourself.  If you believe as you declare in my

  presence, then speak so also in the church, in public

  lectures, in sermons, and in private conversations, and

  strengthen your brethren, and lead the erring back to the

  right path, and contradict the contumacious spirits;

  otherwise your confession is sham pure and simple, and

  worth nothing.  Whoever really regards his doctrine, faith

  and confession as true, right, and certain cannot remain in

  the same stall with such as teach, or adhere to, false

  doctrine; nor can he keep on giving friendly words to Satan

  and his minions.  A teacher who remains silent when errors

  are taught, and nevertheless pretends to be a true teacher,

  is worse than an open fanatic and by his hypocrisy does

  greater damage than a heretic.  Nor can he be trusted.  He

  is a wolf and a fox, a hireling and a servant of his belly,

  and ready to despise and to sacrifice doctrine, Word,

  faith, Sacrament, churches, and schools.  He is either a

  secret bedfellow of the enemies or a skeptic and a

  weathervane, waiting to see whether Christ or the devil

  will prove victorious; or he has no convictions of his own

  whatever, and is not worthy to be called a pupil, let alone

  a teacher; nor does he want to offend anybody, or say a

  word in favor of Christ, or hurt the devil and the

  world.  53

 

Perhaps this is why the District Mission Board and the

Michigan District praesidium have criticized my extensive

quotations of Luther.  May God help us to lose our shame of

Luther and learn to take the strong medicine he offers our

ailing synod.

 

Thank you, brothers, for your encouragement.  May Christ be

glorified in our work.  Amen.  54

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                            NOTES

1   "Grace, Means of," The Concordia Cyclopedia, ed. L.

Fuerbringer, Th. Engelder, P. E. Kretzmann, St. Louis:

Concordia Publishing House,  1927, p. 299.

 

2   Heinrich Schmid, The Doctrinal Theology of the Ev. Luth.

Church, trans. Charles A. Hay, Henry E. Jacobs, Philadelphia:

Lutheran Publication Society,  1889, p. 511.

 

3   Hebrews, James, Columbus: Lutheran Book Concern, 1938, p.

483.

 

4   That was the nickname for Bishop David Preus' declaration

of altar fellowship with the Reformed, affirmed by the ALC,

denied by the LCA, but now actively pursued, using the same

words ("the only difference is the mode of His presence," by

ELCA).

 

5   Smalcald Articles, VIII. Confession, 9-10.  The Book of

Concord, ed. Theodore G. Tappert, Philadelphia:  Fortress

Press,  1959 p. 313; hereafter cited as Tappert.

 

6   Formula of Concord, Smalcald Articles, VIII., Confession,

3-5, Tappert, p. 312.

 

7   "Grace, Means of," ibid.

"From these it is evident how unjustly and poisonously the

Sacramentarian enthusiasts [Sakramentschwaermer] ridicule the

Lord Christ, St.  Paul, and the entire church when they call

oral eating and eating on the part of the unworthy 'two hairs

of a horse's tail and an invention of which even Satan

himself would be ashamed,' just as they describe the majesty

of Christ as 'Satan's dung, by which the devil amuses himself

and deceives men.' These expressions are so terrible that a

pious Christian should be ashamed to translate them."

[phrases used by Theodore Beza and Peter Martyr Vermigli]

Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 67,

Tappert, p. 581f.

 

8   Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vol., St. Louis:

Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III,  p. 117.  Hereafter

cited as Pieper.

 

9   Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIII, The

Sacraments, 13, Tappert, p. 213.

 

10  Heinrich Schmid, ibid., p.  505.

 

11  Adolf Hoenecke, Evangelische-Lutherische Dogmatik, 4

vols., ed. Walter and Otto Hoenecke, Milwaukee: Northwestern

Publishing House, 1912.  "6.  Likewise we reject and condemn

the error of the Enthusiasts who imagine that God draws men

to himself, enlightens them, justifies them, and saves them

without means, without the hearing of God's Word and without

the use of the holy sacraments."  Formula of Concord,

Epitome, Article II, Free Will, 10, Tappert, p. 471.

 

12  Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article II, Free Will, 46,

Tappert, p. 530.

 

13  Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article II, Free Will, 80,

Tappert, p. 536.  Dr. Luther: "Let a hundred thousand devils

and all the enthusiasts come along and ask, 'How can bread

and win be the body and blood of Christ?' I know that all the

enthusiasts and scholars put together have less wisdom than

the divine Majesty has in his little finger.  Here we have

Christ's word, 'Take, eat, this is my body...'" [Large

Catechism] Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's

Supper, 22, Tappert, p. 573.

 

14  Theology of the Lutheran Confessions.

 

15  [WA 54:155, 156] Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article

VII, Lord's Supper, 33, Tappert, p. 575.  The Enthusiasts

called "crass fools" by Luther, Formula of Concord, Epitome,

Article VII, Lord's Supper, 103, Tappert, p. 587.

 

16  Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent,  4

vols., trans. Fred Kramer, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing

House, 1971, I, p. 71.  Pastor David Jay Webber has

excellent, concise articles on Reformed and Roman Catholic

exegesis in Lutheran Synod Quarterly, March, 1989.

 

17  Apology of the Augsburg Confession, preface, The Book of

Concord, Tappert, p. 99.

 

18  Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV., 63,

Justification, Tappert, p. 115.

 

19  Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV.,

Justification, Tappert, p. 122.

 

20  Augsburg Confession, XXVIII, 43, German, Tappert, p. 88.

 

21  Large Catechism, Infant Baptism, 57, Tappert, p. 444.

 

22  Concordia preface, 1580 Tappert, p. 1.

 

23  Ibid., p. 8.

 

24  Formula of Concord, Epitome, Part I, 1, Tappert, p. 464.

 

25  Formula of Concord, Epitome, Part I, 2, Tappert, p. 465.

 

26  Schmauk p. 726.  "And where the preacher does not consent

to the confessions of the church, by whose servants he has

been ordained, he is no fellow-confessor, and certainly

cannot be a preacher of a confession which he does not

acknowledge.  In no event is the preacher individually any

more a witness to the truth than the common testimony of the

church in the symbols.  He is not above the symbols, nor

under the symbols, but a joint witness with them."  p. 86,

quoting Sartorius.

 

27  Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII,

Eccles. Power, Tappert, p. 284.

 

28  Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article VIII.,

Person of Christ, Tappert, p. 601.

 

29  Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article XI.,

Election, Tappert, p. 621.

 

30  Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article XI.,

Election, Tappert, p. 629.

 

31  Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article XI,

Election, 41, Tappert, p. 623.

 

32  Lyle W. Lange, ed., Our Great Heritage, 3 vols.,

John P. Meyer, "Ancient Errors about God," from The

Northwestern Lutheran, 1940, Milwaukee:  Northwestern

Publishing House, 1991, I, p. 551.

 

33  What Luther Says, II,  p. 642 (W-T 2, No. 2152; SL 22,

1842).

 

34  Hermann Sasse, Here We Stand, trans. Theodore G.

Tappert, Minneapolis:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1946,

p. 161.  Can you imagine an ELCA leader translating Sasse

today?

 

35  Gregory L. Jackson, Liberalism:  Its Cause and Cure,

Milwaukee:  Northwestern Publishing House, 1991, p. 25.

 

36  Pieper, III, p. 143.

 

37  Charles P. Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its

Theology, Philadelphia:  The United Lutheran Publication

House,  1871, p. 489.

 

38  Pieper, III, p. 175.

 

39  "The Christian's faith trusts in the ordinary means.

Prayer is not a means of grace.  Means of grace are divine

appointments through which God uniformly offers blessings to

all who use them.  Faith is the means by which the blessings

are received and appropriated.  God gives us bread, when we

ask it, not through the channel of prayer, but through the

ordinary channels of His providence.  He gives us grace when

we ask it, not through prayer, but through the ordinary means

appointed for this end, namely the Word and Sacraments.  He

who despises these will as little have grace as he who

refuses to accept bread produced in the ordinary way of

nature.  Faith asks with confidence, and trusts in the

ordinary means of God's appointment for the blessings asked."

Matthias Loy, Sermons on the Gospels, Columbus:  Lutheran

Book Concern,  1888, p. 387.

 

40  Solid Declaration, Article XI, Election, Tappert, p.

628f.  "Our opponents hold that saving faith must be founded

on Christ Himself, not on the means of grace.  This

reasoning, common to the Reformed, the 'enthusiasts' of all

shades, and modern 'experience' theologians, assumes that

faith can and should be based on Christ to the exclusion of

the means of grace." Pieper, III, p. 152.

 

41  Pieper, III,  p.  162.

           Excursus: Calvin and the Means of Grace

"If the Spirit be lacking, the sacraments can accomplish

nothing more in our minds than the splendor of the sun

shining upon blind eyes, or a voice sounding in deaf ears."

John Calvin, Institutes, IV, xiv, 9, Benjamin Milner,

Calvin's Doctrine of the Church, ed. Heicko A.Oberman,

Leiden:  E. J. Brill,  1970, p. 119.  Hereafter cited as

Milner.

 

"...we are touched with some desire for strong doctrine, it

evidently appears that there is some piety in us; we are not

destitute of the Spirit of God, although destitute of the

outward means."

John Calvin, Commentaries, Amos 8:11-12; CO XLIII, 153.

Milner, p. 109.

 

"He also convinced them without the word, for we know how

powerful are the secret instincts of the Spirit (arcani

spiritus instinctus)."

John Calvin, Commentaries, Amos 4:12; CO XLIII, 68.

Milner, p. 108n.

 

"I grant that doctrines ought to be tested by God's word; but

unless the Spirit of wisdom (spiritus prudentiae) is present,

to have God's word in our hands will avail little or nothing,

for its meaning will not appear to us...." John Calvin,

Commentaries, 1 Jn 4:1; CO LV, 347-48.

Milner, p. 105.

 

"The word of God is not set before all men that they return

to soundness of mind; but the external voice sounds in the

ears of many, without the effectual working of the Spirit,

only that they may be made inexcusable."

John Calvin, Commentaries, Acts 28:26; CO XLVIII, 571,

Milner, p. 93n.

 

                    Pieper: On Calvin

"But according to the teaching of Calvinism this 'inner

illumination' is not brought about through the means of

grace; it is worked immediately by the Holy Ghost.  Modern

Reformed, too, teach this very emphatically.  Hodge, for

example, says:  'In the work of regeneration all second

causes are excluded....Nothing intervenes between the

volition of the Spirit and the regeneration of the

soul....The infusion of a new life into the soul is the

immediate work of the Spirit....The truth (in the case of

adults)[that is, the setting forth of the truth of the Gospel

through the external Word] attends the work of regeneration,

but is not the means by which it is effected."  [Hodge,

Systematic Theology, II, 634f.]

Pieper, III, p. 120

 

42 M. Reu, In the Interest of Lutheran Unity, Two Lectures,

Columbus:  The Lutheran Book Concern, 1940.  "In tolerating

divergent doctrines one either denies the perspicuity and

clarity of the Scriptures, or one grants to error the right

to exist alongside of truth, or one evidences indifference

over against Biblical truth by surrendering its absolute

validity; and (b) in allowing two opposite views concerning

one doctrine to exist side by side, one has entered upon an

inclined plane which of necessity leads ever further into

complete doctrinal indifference, as may plainly be seen from

the most calamitous case on record, viz., the Prussian Union.

Doctrinal indifference is at once the root of unionism and

its fruit.  Whoever accepts, in theory as well as in

practice, the absolute authority of the Scriptures and their

unambiguousness with reference to all fundamental doctrines,

must be opposed to every form of unionism." p. 20.

"Rationalism, unionism and nativism, both European and

American, have been the cause of the bulk of the trouble in

the Lutheran Church in America.  Perhaps the most insidious

and treacherous of these ostensible friends has been

unionism."  Schmauk, p. 855.

 

43  Theodore E. Schmauk and C. Theodore Benze, The

Confessional Principle and the Confessions, as Embodying the

Evangelical Confession of the Christian Church, Philadelphia:

General Council Publication Board, 1911, pp. 905ff.  Schmauk

was the president of the (conservative) General Council.

 

44  Preface, Augsburg Confession, 2-3, Tappert,

p. 25.

 

45  Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X. Church

Usages, 23, Tappert, p. 615.

 

46  Large Catechism, Fifth Part, The Sacrament of the Altar,

2, Tappert, p. 447.  "The real question is not what do you

subscribe, but what do you believe and publicly teach, and

what are you transmitting to those who come after?  If it is

the complete Lutheran faith and practice, the name and number

of the standards is less important.  If it is not, the burden

of proof rests upon you to show that your more incomplete

standard does not indicate an incomplete Lutheran faith."

Schmauk, p. 890.

 

47  I have known the editor of The Lutheran since 1978, wrote

for him often, and met with him when he was in the

neighborhood or at the same conference.  When the Snowbird

photo and stories ran in The Lutheran, I could imagine

Trexler saying, "You are in fellowship with us, Gregg, on our

terms."

 

48  Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing

House, 1921, p. 96.

 

49  Ibid.

 

50  Ibid., p. 99.

 

51  Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X, 10-11,

Tappert, p. 612.

 

52  Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X.

Adiaphora, 16, Tappert, p. 613.  "Shall we permit this to be

done! in the name of Christian unity! and by a

latitudinarianism that is our own heritage, which rises ever

anew from the embers of the past to find such veiled support

and strength in the citadel of Zion that Confessionalism is

told to whisper low in Jerusalem lest she be heard on the

streets of Gath." Schmauk, p. 941.

 

"We should not consider as matters of indifference, and we

should avoid as forbidden by God, ceremonies which are

basically contrary to the Word of God, even though they go

under the name and guise of external adiaphora and are given

a different color from their true one."

Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X.  Adiaphora,

5, Tappert, p. 611.

 

"Nor are such rites matters of indifference when these

ceremonies are intended to create the illusion (or are

demanded or agreed to with that intention) that these two

opposing religions have been brought into agreement and

become one body...."

Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X.  Adiaphora,

5, Tappert, p. 611.

 

"4. Likewise we hold it to be a culpable sin when in a period

of persecution anything is done in deed or action to please

enemies of the Gospel contrary and in opposition to the

Christian confession, whether in things indifferent, in

doctrine, or in whatever else pertains to religion."

Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article X.  Adiaphora,

29, Tappert, p. 615.

 

53  Concordia Triglotta, p. 94.

 

54  The extensive quotations were made possible by the

initial work of my wife, Christina, on our first database of

doctrinal material: Ortho-Docs.  Advice and source material

has been provided from all over Lutheranism.  Our son Martin

has helped revise the manuscript and check for factual

errors.

 

      POSSIBLE CONFERENCE PAPERS ON THE BOOK OF CONCORD

 

"The Difference between the Priesthood of All Believers and

the Public Ministry"

 

"Law and Gospel, Contrition and Forgiveness"

 

"Election and Evangelism"

 

"Freedom of the Will and Original Sin"

 

"The Relationship between the Book of Concord and the

Patristic Church Fathers"

 

"The Lives and Contributions of the Concordists"

 

                 Brief Bibliographical Sketch

The most useful book of all is NPH's Concordance to the Book

of Concord.  Bente's historical introduction to the Concordia

Triglotta will put steel in anyone's spine.  Lenski is a

perfect companion to any passage cited, since he knew the

orthodox fathers and always dealt with the history of

doctrine in reference to disputed passages.  The best Luther

sources are the 8 volume sermons, Baker Book House, and

What Luther Says, Concordia.  The best Luther biography is

Ewald Plass, This Is Luther.  Many others could be called

This Is Luther?  Walther's Law and Gospel is a fine laxative

for Enthusiasm, if one section is read carefully at a time.

Our Great Heritage, a best seller at Wisconsin Lutheran

Seminary, reminds us what our fathers taught us.

 

John Brenner and Paul Prange have both written outstanding

papers about Pietism.  James Langebartels (2906 24th Street,

Hopkins, MI  49328) has translated volume I of Timotheus

Verinus, about Pietism's war with Orthodoxy.  Robert Koester

is completing volume II.

 

 

                            NOTE:

This is the second printing of the conference paper, due to

demand from all over the United States.  Letters of

appreciation have arrived from many different readers,

pastors and laity alike.

 

Some typos from the first printing were corrected and two

quotations were added: one from Richard Stadler and another

from Kincaid Smith. Martin H. Jackson provided invaluable

help in proofreading.