MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS
A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
Glendale, Arizona 85304-2419
Tuesday, December 26, 2000
THY STRONG WORD:
THE EFFICACY OF THE WORD
IN THE SCRIPTURES
Gregory L. Jackson, Thy Strong Word: The Efficacy of the Word in the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, Glendale: Martin Chemnitz Press, 2000. Hardback. 650 pages. $65.00 including shipping. Order from MCP, 6421 W. Poinsettia Drive, Glendale, AZ 85304.
I wrote Thy Strong Word to destroy the doctrinal foundation of the Church Growth Movement and to restore the Biblical and Lutheran doctrine of the efficacy of the Word alone. Background research began around 1988 with establishing a database of quotations about the Holy Spirit and conversion. That led to the paper that made the Columbus WELS pastors, Wally Oelhaven, and Fred Adrian go ballistic at a conference. Their hostility toward Lutheran doctrine made the decision easy – the paper became the “Cure” chapter of Liberalism: Its Cause and Cure.
The database grew rapidly when WELS Church Growth leader Wayne Mueller claimed in Forward (nee The Northwestern Lutheran) that
Suddenly variously people began donating their WELS notebooks and workshop materials where the Church Growth Movement was lavishly praised and promoted. My database grew by 500 quotations, including gems from Fuller Seminary and its many cancerous clones. Strangely, the quotations from Fuller Seminary were almost the same as the prophetic utterances of WELS, LCMS, ELS, ELCA, and CLC leaders.
A new area of study added 750 quotations to the database in order to support the writing of Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant. I named the database Megatron after the powerful car battery in our Aerostar van.
Since the Wisconsin Synod would not deal with its doctrinal problems and its support of clergy adultery, I resigned from my call in Columbus, Ohio, in 1992. Eight years later, the Wisconsin Synod, the ELS, and Thoughts of Faith are still supporting the Church Growth Movement and Floyd Stolzenburg. My old boss on the district mission board has since been successfully sued for $400,000 for allowing his vicar to carry on an affair with a minor girl in his church. No wonder he supported Stolzenburg!
I decided to work toward a definitive book on the efficacy of the Word, so I began adding as many quotations as possible from every Lutheran book I could find. Soon Megatron grew to 2,000 and then 3,000 quotations.
Writing Thy Strong Word began in 1995 when I was serving in the so-called Church of the Lutheran Confession. For some reason, the project made CLC Church Growth leaders Paul Tiefel and David Koenig extremely hostile and vindictive. They recruited Steve Kurtzahn and Dan Fleischer into their cell. That eventually made possible Bethany Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. But it also slowed down the book.
I really expected the Church Growth leaders to praise my work as a pastor, because I have had the privilege of doing what they write about from their MacIntosh computers: starting congregations from scratch. In addition, I have had the honor of working with other independent congregations and pastors:
We have all had to work without big mission grants and the expertise of mission board executives.
Although work progressed on the book, more progress was made after our move to Glendale, Arizona. More and more people asked for the project to be finished, so the deadline of June, 2000 was finally achieved. Unfortunately, a software problem and lack of quality control at the book company lead to some missing pages in one chapter, but those pages are being reproduced and inserted in the proper places. Those who ordered books at the pre-publication price will receive the five missing pages from Chapter Six.
Why Are the Synodical Puppets Raging Against TSW?
Certain parties began a ham-fisted assault against Thy Strong Word before they had copies of the book. Gentlemen normally read a book first before they criticize it. Sadly, these Lutheran pastors and laity have published their ill-considered remarks for everyone to see. Perhaps they will behave better when they have read the work.
The book is arranged in ten chapters with a lengthy introduction. The book ends with brief biographies of Lutheran hymn writers and theologians. The Table of Contents is extremely detailed, making it possible to find sections easily. God willing, an index volume will be prepared within a year. It will include a complete Scripture and name index, as well as supplemental information.
The book was designed to be a reference work and study tool for pastors and lay leaders. For that reason, all Biblical citations are quoted in full, often in lengthy passages rather than one verse alone. Verbatim quotations and Lutheran hymn verses are also used in the text with complete references to facilitate copying and use in the congregation.
Footnotes are often at the end of a book or the end of the chapter in scholarly books. This makes using the material very difficult. In Thy Strong Word, the 500 footnotes are at the bottom of the page. In many cases the Biblical citations mentioned in the text are given completely in the footnote. That was done to make copying for adult classes more practical.
Thy Strong Word has 800 quotations, mostly from orthodox Lutheran authors and great Lutheran hymns. The quotations are organized in the body of the text and numbered according to their chapters. Many who communicate through email can point out quotations by their J-numbers, which are then easy to find in the appropriate chapters. J-502 must be in the fifth chapter, justification by faith.
The introduction treats three areas necessary for the proper understanding of the Scriptures.
People often hear about textual problems, but they seldom have a chance to examine the issues. Almost all modern translations follow the capricious UBS (Nestle Aland) edition. The traditional text has been mutilated by the disciples of Wescott and Hort, who decided that the mysterious Vatican and Sinaiticus manuscripts were superior to the Byzantine text. How this affects the ending of Mark’s Gospel is explored with care. Obviously this has an enormous effect upon the authority of the Word of God. Modernists have had four centuries to improve upon the King James Version, but the translations keep getting worse and worse, including the multi-named Beck-AAT-GWN-NET-GW.
Chapter One – the Efficacy Word Group
The first chapter is an extended essay about the Greek word for efficacy and its use in the New Testament. The passages are listed and explained to show that efficacy has a precise meaning, not only in the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word, but also in power of false teaching. Pastor Al Loeschman wrote this about Thy Strong Word: “The Efficacy of the Word is wrung out thoroughly in the first several chapters. This is worth the price of the book in itself.”
Chapter Two – Efficacy Passages
The second chapter is an exegetical treatment of major passages about the efficacy of the Word. The most significant passages are Isaiah 55, the Sower and the Seed (Matthew 13, Mark 4), and the True Vine (John 15). Many other passages are given thorough treatment in relation to the efficacy of the Word.
Chapter Three – Creation and the New Creation
Lutherans capitulated to evolution many years ago, not because science was so strong, but because their trust in the Word was so weak. One cannot separate the power of the Word in the Six Day Creation from the power of the Word in conversion. Trust in Creation by the Word collapsed a long time ago, so it is no wonder that “conservative” Lutheran leaders—like Otten’s favorite Church Growth author, David Valleskey—have rushed to attend seminars at Fuller Seminary. Valleskey’s point man, Paul Kelm, has even urged Lutherans not to argue such troglodyte issues as Creation.
"Don't let the world paint us into a corner of antiquarianism on subjects like a six-day creation or verbal inspiration."
Rev. Paul Kelm, WELS, "How to Make Sound Doctrine Sound Good to Mission Prospects," p. 13.
Not surprisingly, Kelm has also been the most visible proponent of the Church Growth Movement in WELS. His required course at Wisconsin Liberal College is a rehash of all his failed Reformed methods and doctrine.
Creation by the Word is significant—even today—because God also converts through the Word alone. If we scoff at the Six Day Creation (note how Kelm calls it “a” six-day creation, implying his disagreement but remaining ambiguous), then we will also doubt that the Holy Spirit works through the Word alone.
Chapter Four – A Catechism
To provide a brief treatment of the book’s content, a catechism was provided, with questions and answers, concerning the main points in Thy Strong Word. One layman reported that he was using the catechism to train his children. I would like to see the chapter read at meetings of the district presidents in WELS and the LCMS.
Chapter Five – Justification by Faith
I expected that this chapter would be the focus for the bitterest attacks. For that reason I gathered as much material as possible and organized it so everyone would have access to the sources. The issue is the false teaching that grew in the old Synodical Conference and metastasized in recent years (under the influence of Fuller Seminary’s Unitarianism). Briefly stated, the modern error is mixed unevenly in all the synods. WELS is the worst with their Kokomo justification, but the LCMS is no better with their “Theses on Justification” desecrating the anniversary of Luther’s birth.
The erroneous view of justification presents two different justifications. The first one is commonly called Objective Justification and even Universal Justification. According to the Universalists, WELS, and the Missouri Synod (with the ELS and the so-called Church of the Lutheran Confession chiming in), everyone was forgiven all their sins the moment Christ died on the cross. Or was it the moment He rose from the dead? They are not consistent in their presentation of Universal Justification (a favorite doctrine of the Church Growth mavens in WELS, such as Wayne Mueller and David Valleskey). Forget the Holy Spirit working through the Law to bring about contrition for sin. Forget about the Holy Spirit working faith through the Gospel. According to the Universal Justification advocates, everyone is forgiven all sins, without faith, without the Word, without the Means of Grace. All the residents of Hell are guilt-free saints.
Dr. Robert Preus presented the correct view of justification by faith in his last work, Justification and Rome. In this small but valuable work, Preus showed how the orthodox Lutheran theologians presented the atoning death of Christ earning our forgiveness. Nevertheless, Gerhard and Calov did not advocate justification without faith. They all wrote about the benefits of the atonement coming to us through faith. Hence there is only one justification, not two.
Abraham Calov: "Although Christ has acquired for us the remission of sins, justification, and sonship, God just the same does not justify us prior to our faith. Nor do we become God's children in Christ in such a way that justification in the mind of God takes place before we believe." [Apodixis Articulorum Fide, Lueneburg, 1684]
Robert D. Preus, Justification and Rome, St. Louis: Concordia Academic Press 1997, p. 131n.
"But the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the sinner takes place when the Holy Spirit brings him to faith through Baptism and the Word of the Gospel. Our sins were imputed to Christ at His suffering and death, imputed objectively after He, by His active and passive obedience, fulfilled and procured all righteousness for us. But the imputation of His righteousness to us takes place when we are brought to faith." [emphasis in original]
Robert D. Preus, Justification and Rome, St. Louis: Concordia Academic Press 1997, p. 72.
The Kokomo Universalists have shamelessly attacked anyone who believes the correct doctrine of the Bible and the Book of Concord. Watch them piously warn people away from Thy Strong Word in the name of sound doctrine. In reality they do not want their clay feet to show beneath their peacock feathers.
Chapter Six – The Efficacy of False Doctrine
The Scriptures also teach the efficacy of false doctrine, but the Lutheran Church does not acknowledge the problem today. This chapter is an extensive discussion of the nature of false doctrine and the deceptive ways in which heresy is advanced by citing the Eighth Commandment and Matthew 18.
One group of quotations will astonish people – all the ELCA projects in which WELS and the LCMS participates.
Pastor Loeschman wrote: “The overview of the roots of Protestantism and Evangelicalism in Chapter Seven is rich. It sets the stage well for the rest of the topics Jackson will deal with in the latter part of the tome.”
The chapter shows that the current Lutheran leaders praised by Christian News are informed by Zwingli and Pietism, not by Luther and Gerhard. Zwingli, Calvin, and the Pietists agree in presenting the Scriptures as dead without their human aid, their clever methods. The blasphemous opinions of Zwingli, Calvin, and the Pietists are explored at great length. They are very similar to the published errors of David Valleskey and Don Matzat.
Chapter Eight – the Visible Word
One cannot divorce the invisible Word of preaching and teaching from the visible Word of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. Small wonder that the Church Growth Enthusiasts want to hide the Sacrament of the Altar in the basement, to avoid offending or boring the Zwinglians (like themselves). The chapter explores the efficacy of the Word in the sacraments, including Absolution.
Chapter Nine – the Law and Lawless Legalists
Wisconsin Synod Lutherans should NOT read this chapter, because it begins with a vivid description of the shameful secret initiation rite at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary: GA. One pastor from another continent read about GA and suggested shutting down the seminary and disciplining its faculty.
Contrary to the dreams and illusions of the Kokomites, the Holy Spirit does work efficaciously through the Law to bring about contrition. Confusion about the work of the Law has doomed Synodical Conference Lutherans to running in circles. They often make themselves anti-nomians in the name of the Gospel, or they pick each other to death over non-doctrinal issues. But both sides are slaves of legalism, making their man-made law the Ten Commandments while scoffing at the Decalogue.
Chapter Ten – Practical Applications
One pastor wrote, “The last chapter changed my ministry.” If a congregation and a pastor actually believe in the efficacy of the Word alone, their belief must have practical consequences.
The last chapter outlines what can be done in a congregation following the Scriptures and the Confessions, in contrast to the business model (Management by Objective) so popular among the Lutheran synods, fast food chains, and discount department stores. Three areas will be changed by trusting in the efficacious Word – the sermon, the use of Lutheran hymns (a radical concept today), and liturgical worship. A congregation may generate various social and charitable activities, but the essentials of a Lutheran church are preaching, teaching, and pastor visitation.
Lutherans We Should Know
Brief biographies at the end of the book feature the Lutheran hymn writers and theologians everyone should know.