Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Confessional Crusaders...update

I have decided that the Confessional Crusaders (my name for the Bailing Water blog folk) are just a little nutty. I was at first interested in their positions as perhaps an indicator of a larger pervasive movement within the WELS. Maybe I had missed something? Maybe we should address these concerns?

No, thats not it. They are just nutty and localized. Most hold views that are just plain not scriptural. They take practice and make it doctrine. They are taking church tradition and the confessions and raising them to a level higher than Scripture. I read a comment about how contemporary worshippers only rely on scripture and don't rely on church tradition....and this was a bad thing. It sheds light on where they come from though.

Its pretty clear that their personal style, taste and sensibilities have been mortally offended by the change in worship style of some churches. The Liturgy has trancended from being a Christ-centered worship guide to becoming the only acceptable form of worship. They latch onto about the same 5-10 specific examples of contemporary worship that might be "reviewable" and claim that the WELS is diseased and infested with "Church Growth".

One example oft repeated is one where a WELS pastor used a pre-written sermon by a Baptist minister one Sunday. It is possible that using a sermon first produced by a baptist minister and delivering it might be construed as poor practice. However without seeing the sermon who knows, it might have been a pretty good one. Is every sermon written by a Baptist minister a bad one? If a sermon conveys a perfectly good Biblical message does it matter who wrote it? Does its origin automatically make it false doctrine? Hardly. These kinds of things are not considered by the crusaders. They just want to find ways to link contemporary to false doctrine. I'm sure they would have been rather confounded if the same sermon was delivered at a traditional congregation. What now...

Well anyways I am still observing these folk as a novelty. I'm quite convinced a few of them probably also believe stories of Area 51 and have many theories on the moon landing and the grassy knoll.


Anonymous said...

You note,

"They are taking church tradition and the confessions and raising them to a level higher than Scripture."

Could you give an example or two of this (as someone once said, "no generalization is worth a d*mn, especially this one.")


El Gigante

Tim Niedfeldt said...

Here are a few. I need to go pick up the youngin' from school right now so I will dig for more later.


"Many contempos (especially WELS contempos) are Biblicistic to the core. They believe that everything we do or say has to be specifically delineated in Scripture. They deny that the Church has produced any wisdom or wise teachers in the two millennia since the Bible was written. If only such people would do some reading and research in church history. They might come to honor and respect the great men who have come before us, and not be so eager to discard everything they lived for and worked for (and sometimes died for)."

My comments:
Although I would disagree that everything needs to be delineated in Scripture.... rather I would say that if it is not delineated in scripture It is not wise to delineate it ourselves. I'm an ardent fan of having the biblical principles and making wise applications of those principles without the legalistic approach of prescribing applications. That is what the value of 2000 years of history provide us...tons of examples to make decisions in a current age on the dangers of different types of applications. Luther himself was disappointed in how those in his day misused their recently found Christian Freedom (peasant revolts etc..) I don't deny the wisdom of the ages but I do doubt that every application made by those who have gone before us is applicable to today. Every biblical principle is timeless....not every application is.


"Thus, if you want to be Lutheran, if you want to be Christ-centered, valuing Word and Sacrament, Law and Gospel, you must follow the liturgy. Not because this is a Scriptural law, but because there is no other option out there which does the same thing."

My Comments:

Wow..Thats like a gimme. Mighty presumptuous. I can't even handle the legalism there.


"..either you like our historical, traditional, liturgical WORSHIP SERVICE, or you either join a reformed church, another lutheran synod who does allow this celebration form of worship program, or start your own church and make it any way you'd like. please leave our church the way luther and the founding lutheran fathers intended."

My comments:
The statement above seems to place more emphasis on Luther and Lutheran fathers and that there is only one acceptable form of worship. My church is founded on Christ and I'm more interested in making sure it is as He intended it. He gave the principles and applications have been made ever since. Luther made his application and it was relevant to his day. The value of what Luther established is of course excellent still to this day but hardly mandatory, exclusive, or what he intended for Lutheranism for all time.


"To quote the Confessions is to quote what the Scriptures mean. This is a given among Lutherans. Those who argue with the Lutheran Confessions are arguing with the Scriptures."

My Comments:

As I always will say, I agree to this, however, The confessions do not cover all of scripture. They speak of and deal with the issues in Luther's day. For instance there is no mention of the inerrancy of scripture in the confessions...he didn't need to address it...nobody doubted it then. Scripture is the only thing that covers it all. Taking out the historical context around the confessions or using them as narrow legalistic rule book was not the intention of the confessions.

RandomDan said...


The reason that example was used is because that pastor was caught with his hand in the cookie jar TWICE. I was so perplexed, I ran the sermon by my pastor. He treaded lightly on the subject, but yet he said he would never even try doing this.

If you would like a copy of the sermon he preached and the original from which he stole, please let me know. I'll be more than happy to send the craptacular sermon to you.

You'll also get to see the sermon is copyrighted. So much for the Fifth Commandment.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

I can appreciate that perhaps the sermons were poor sermons. Clearly we don't want poor sermons whether they are homegrown or assembled from the electronic ether. Point well taken by any pastor anywhere.

But for me the issue is not that he took poor sermons in whatever fashion. It is unfortunate that the circumstances are that the pastor is preaching at a contemporary church because it lends credence to the argument that contemporary worship is the gateway to evangelical false doctrine.

But just because he preaches at a contemporary church this is still not a valid argument. It certainly is not enough of a sampling to warrant blanket condemnation of contemporary in the WELS. It isn't enough of a sampling to warrant even blanket condemnation of the congregation. It might warrant a reproach for the pastor on the given Sundays that his choices were poor or at least questionable.

Last April I helped my son do a project for his senior religion class (A study of other religions) at Wisco . He had to find 10 Sermons from other denominations and highlight the law and gospel in each one. It was actually quite saddening. We found many sermons online. We certainly could have just grabbed the first ten we found but they were so lacking in Law and Gospel that the highlighting was so lopsided on the Law side that we kept trying to find sermons that were more balanced so it didn't seem like he just grabbed 10 that were all the same. Out of the 40 or so sermons we read we found one that could've been square out of Luther's handbook (I believe it was from an Episcopal pastor no less...must not have been from the liberal side of that house.) My point to this is that I do indeed appreciate that if you're in the habit of stealing sermons that the ratio's are not stacked in your favor that you will find well balanced law and gospel sermons.

However perhaps my largest point is this. I know many pastors...most who don't do contemporary (actually of the ones I know who do this none of them do contemporary). Not that it happens every week but I know plenty who have dug out into the internet late on a Saturday in a tight week to either find a sermon online at sermons.com or something similar or assemble one that is hopefully balanced from pieces of various sermons. It happens...and its more pervasive than I think some would believe.

So for me sermon stealing is not shocking or limited to contemporary. I agree that I would rather WELS sermons came from in-house at least. There are a number of WELS pastor "study groups" which can be spread out over the country even where a group of pastors create a series of sermons focusing on themes. I think each pastor writes their own variation on the theme but it is bassed on common bible study so similar elements are going to come out no doubt. Our pastor does this and we have just finished a series on The Kings of Israel from II Kings and will shortly be doing a sermon series on Ephesians. These series are being used by multiple churches at times. I think this is a fine way to not only spread the load across a group of brothers but must serve as an excellent peer review of the content you are preaching on.

Anyways those are my thoughts.


Anonymous said...

"As I always will say, I agree to this, however..."

This is the telltale sign of a CG lover. Yes, the Means of Grace are effective, but... Yes, the Confessions are valuable, but... Yes, only God can grow the Church, but...

The CGers need to get their "buts" out of the Lutheran church.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

Actually that's interesting. I think that Lutherans need to get their "buts" back in church.

Because the Means of Grace are effective...but only if there are people to present them to or people come to church. (but how do we get them there?)

Because the Confessions are clear expositions of scripture and valuable...but only insofar as the information they cover and the issues they were intended to address. (but how do we evaluate that which is not covered or even make sure we understand what the basis is of what is covered)

Because only God can grow the church...but only if those in the church spread the gospel message to those who don't know it.(but how does one spread the gospel?)

The "buts" don't undermine the Lutheran church They speak to the "How" that God has chosen to carry out his will and also the limits of how far we can go. We are His tools to do His work. To the people who think that God's work just happens in the world without us doing anything, they are just plain wrong. Once we present the Word it is all God but we are still his tools to share teh word

There ARE things we need to do. These aren't things that work faith in someone's heart, or interfere with the Holy Spirit's work. They are the preaching of the Word and Sacraments, active evangelism and outreach("programs"...ones that share the gospel), Personal witnessing, and any other means that we can be lights in the world. I'm sorry that's "doing something".

If this "doing something" is CG then I'm CG. Because if you're not doing something, eventually only YOUR "butt" will be in the church.

Anonymous said...

"Because the Confessions are clear expositions of scripture and valuable...but only insofar as..."

Well, there you have it folks. Tim has a quatenus subscription to the Confessions. At least he admits it!

You know the difference between a quia and a quatenus subscription, right Tim?

Tim Niedfeldt said...

I do know the difference... with one difference in my personal beliefs. I believe a strict quatenus subscription would allow room for error in a confession in which Scripture would "override" the confession. For what the confessions confess I don't believe there are any errors. The confessions were derived from scripture correctly. I simply believe the confessions are not a one stop shop for all areas of doctrine. They don't cover every single doctrine.

Take the inerrancy of scripture. Find me the confession that specifically handles this topic. What confession deals with the efficacy of music instrumentation in church? (I might say AC VII but its not very specific)

Anonymous said...

"Take the inerrancy of scripture. Find me the confession that specifically handles this topic."

Umm, apparently you haven't read the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord or the Large Catechism (or the Preface to the Concordia). All these specifically talk about the inerrancy of Scripture.

How dare you lecture anyone about the Lutheran Confessions when it is clear that you have never read or studied them?

Tim Niedfeldt said...

Well I actually have been reading them a lot lately. It's mighty presumptious to assume I haven't. However your suggestions were a good reread and I think I will have to stick with my conclusion. It would be quite the stretch to say those references talk about inerrency of scripture specifically. Calling scripture the only source of the divine Word (as compared to the Pope, the Church Fathers, and other Roman errors of the day) is not the same as declaring the bible the inerrant Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit through multiple authors in their own style, etc etc etc.. It would appear to me that back in the day they only needed to clear up that the Divine word is the norm...as opposed to other things of the day. How do those references speak to any of the issues we face today with churches denying the inerrancy of scripture even if they also say the Bible is the only Divine Word.

Maybe you have a good study of these references that can illustrate this more clearly. I'm always willing to study these things.

Anonymous said...

Tim, Tim, Tim,

Do us a favor and read and study the Concordia. Don't write anything else until you do. You're digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole.

This is from Preus' "Getting into the Theology of Concord" (notice I quote my sources unlike the CG pastors you defend):

"Our Lutheran Confessions speak of Scripture as "the eternal truth" (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 13). They urge us to believe the Scriptures, for "they will not lie to you" (LC, V, 76; cf. IV, 57) and cannot be "false or deceitful" (FC SD, VII, 96). And why? Because God, who is eternal Truth, cannot contradict Himself in Scripture (FC SD, XI, 35). It is His "pure, infallible, and unalterable Word" (Preface to the Book of Concord, p. 8)."

I'd say that that's a pretty specific and direct statement on the inerrancy of Scripture.

Anonymous said...

I posted a comment on the Bailing Water site. It has to be approved 1st, so in case it is not, or it is edited in any way, here it is in it's entirety, for any visitors from there to read. To the folks at Bailing Water:

Wow, from what I have read, y'all are a bunch of hypocrites. You talk of not following "law" but you live with your man made rules and expect everyone to follow them or they are wrong. You don't read the Bible, as can be noted on one of Tim's visitor comments where someone said "so much for the 5th commandment" when referring to copyrighted articles, but instead keep your nose in man written books like the Book of Concord. I have never read anywhere in the Bible "follow the Book of Concord". I started reading the preface of the Book of Concord (no I have not read the book - yes I am a simpleton) and found y'all sound just like the Papacy. The one line that says the "Papacy had been horribly obscured by human teachings and ordinances". And you say, and then applaud, its not our responsibility to share and get the word of God to all people??? We should not be concerned about other peoples salvation??? What BIBLE do you read????

"1 Corinthians 9:19-23
19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

so... now that I have started this blog commenting, I have become like you.