Martin Chemnitz Press
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
6421 West Poinsettia Drive
Glendale, Arizona 85304-2419
OTTEN WOULD RATHER SELL CHURCH GROWTH BOOKS
I spoke with Herman Otten today. I thought it would be interesting to ask him if he wanted to distribute “Thy Strong Word.” He did not want to.
I finally got the October 16th issue. It often comes to Phoenix a week late. I saw that LCR Pastor Al Tschopp had his letter published. He has not read TSW, but he did not think anyone else should, either. Tschopp has won the Robert Werhwein award for sheer nerve, since Tschopp just asked our conference to sell his materials for him at the 2001 Virginia gathering. (I wonder, would he allow us to sell TSW at our conference?) Wehrwein is the gold standard for nerve. He published a booklet against me and sent it around to my friends, then asked if he could sell his booklets at our conference.
Add Otten to your list of Universalists. He put the Romnes Kokomo cartoon on the same page as the material he printed from TSW. Otten told me, “The Missouri Synod has always believed in Objective Justification.” That is just plain wrong, but he did not let me answer him. The first Brief Statement and the earlier LCMS catechism are both silent about Universal or Objective Justification (the whole world is free of sin, without the Means of Grace or faith). When I pointed out that Robert Preus’ last book on justification (Justification and Rome) was a repudiation of UOJ, Otten responded, “Daniel and Rolf Preus edited the book.” Sorry, but that does not compute. I quoted Isaiah about people seeing and not seeing. The Preus boys cannot claim to be experts because they edited a book. Obviously, Rolf does not understand justification by faith.
Otten had to get in the latest ad hominem from His Eminence, Jack Cascione. Otten does not realize that his favorite author has alienated all the LCMS conservatives. As I told Jack, “No one takes you seriously.”
Otten does not want his group of writers to be called Universalists. He said, “Jack Cascione does not believe everyone is going to heaven.” As I said to Otten, Cascione is one millimeter from being a Universalist. The background is there but not the obvious application. Luther taught that the forgiveness of sin gives us eternal life. Therefore, if everyone is forgiven, everyone is going to heaven. That is the Universalist position. They consider themselves conservatives in comparison with the Unitarians. But both U’s decided they were pretty close to each other and merged into the Unitarian Universalist Association.
The worst part of the conversation about justification was Otten telling me that it was squabbling over minor matters. And yet, we commonly confess as Lutherans that the article on justification is the one on which the Church stands or falls. If justification is wrongly taught, then everything else will fail in time.
According to Christian News, Otten’s certification is the most important doctrinal issue of the day. According to the Book of Concord, justification is the most important issue. That is why I spend most of my time with Luther and the Book of Concord and very little time with Christian News. In case you are wondering, I canceled my subscription but I still get the paper.
Otten does not remember facts very well, but he is prone to repeat what the synod spin-meisters tell him. He criticized the independent Lutheran churches by saying they were few in number and small in size. I said, “So was the Missouri Synod at first.”
Otten also acted scandalized that most independent Lutheran pastors must have a full-time income. I told him, “Herman, you have always had a second job.” Is it a secret that Christian News has been his second source of family income?
Once again, the worst aspect of his comments came from obvious Reformed influence: health, wealth, and success. Bigger is better. Smaller is bad. I wonder, “What is the magical number?” Otten’s newspaper was criticized for years because his congregation was shockingly small. If the New Ulm congregation were larger, would Otten approve? To this day Otten does not have much of a congregation and he is in LCMS territory. He has never had the responsibility or the enjoyment of starting a congregation from scratch. Like home made bread, it takes longer but it can be much better.
I have one of the largest services around, when measured in distance. When our worship service begins, families in Minnesota and Idaho listen on conference telephones and participate. They worship with us. Once again, the numbers are not great, but it obviously matters, or people would not sit there listening to a phone.
Christ said, “Wherever two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in the midst of them,” not “You have to have a large church or it really isn’t a church.” I hate to tell all these conservative Lutherans a basic truth – it is not the building; it is not whether the pastor has an M.Div. from a seminary; it is not the size of the congregation. According to the Augsburg Confession, the church exists WHEREVER the Gospel is preached in its truth and purity and the Sacraments are distributed according to the Scriptures. The materialistic definition of the church is not derived from the Book of Concord.
A lot of REAL churches do not care if justification is taught correctly or if the seminary is preparing men to be false teachers.
If the synods were so good, no one would be asking me what it took to become independent. As it is, four pastors are talking to me about leaving their synods. Others have also brought it up from time to time.
Otten complained about how Paul McCain was turning on him now. And they were so close! McCain needed Otten to get Al Barry elected the first time. Otten was also the back door contact for subsequent presidential campaigns. I said to Otten, “Remember this when the next conservative candidate is your buddy.”