I’m going to reprint here, word for word, a post from Steadfastlutherans.org. It is a letter from a layman to former LCMS President Kieschnick about his blog post regarding Newtown. I believe this it is a summary of our position at DearChristianFriends.com and an adequate response to the words of President Kieschnick.
A Layman’s Response to President Emeritus Kieschnick’s Position on Newtown, by Pr. Rossow
LCMS President Emeritus Kieschnick had some interesting comments on the Newtown incident in his Perspectives column. Curtis Christiansen, the Head Elder from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Lincoln Nebraska; Pastor Clint Poppe) took exception to many things President Kieschnick said and sent him the following letter.
The letter was written exclusively by Mr. Christiansen. The first his pastor heard of it was when he was copied on it. We have held on to it for several days to assure that President Kieschnick would have received it in the mail before seeing it here. (He probably doesn’t read Steadfast anyway. It is a common cry among district presidents and synod officials that they don’t have time to read the blogs. If only it was because they were too busy visiting their parishes and holding them to our stated synodical standards such as Article VI. B of the Synod Constitution on unionism and syncretism.)
It is a popularly held opinion that the strong LCMS laity of the 1970′s saved the synod in convention from the liberal, higher critical theology of the seminary professors. I believe it is true. My father was one of them. Mr. Christiansen’s letter to President Kieschnick suggests there is at least one laymen in the 2010′s who is equipped and courageous enough to rescue the synod once again. If you are a like-minded layman you may want to drop a comment on this post and show Mr. Christiansen your support. For that matter, Pastors are welcome to join in the edification as well.
Dear Pastor Kieschnick,
Recently you responded on your blog to the events in Newtown, Connecticut and the media’s response to events within our Synod. In that article you stated “For them the image of our church becomes one of isolationism, sectarianism, and legalism.” As a Christian by faith in Jesus Christ and a Lutheran Christian in doctrine and practice, I would have to answer your statement with a “YES”
Yes we are isolationist. We believe that God has chosen us from the foundation of the earth, that he has called us out of darkness to his eternal light. We believe in the words of St. Peter that we are “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” ( I Peter 2:9) . So yes we are isolationists as those separated unto God.
We are isolationists, as said by St. Paul “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God: as God said I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty. Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2Corinthinans 6: 14 – 7:1) So, yes, we are isolationists, as a temple of the living God. Isolated in Christ, who as the light of the world, has isolated us from darkness, that we be the salt and light of the world.
Yes we are legalists. We believe that the law curbs sin, shows us our sin, and is a guide in righteousness. With the Psalmist we believe “The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”(Psalm 119:69-72). Yes we are legalists for we believe we are to have no other Gods before Him.
Yes we are sectarian. For we believe we are one body, as the apostle Paul taught us; “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22). So I guess we are sectarians as well.
What was saddening to me upon reading your article was what you implied with your statement; for it seems that you were implying that we are Monastics, Aesthetics, and Pharisees. As a Christian by faith in Jesus Christ and a Lutheran in doctrine and practice, I would have to answer your implications with a “NO”.
No, we are not monastics. We do not hide out in monasteries. We serve God in our vocations as parent or children, as employee or employer, as citizen, as church member, to whatever vocation God has called us, we serve Him. In our synod we bring comfort to the hurting through our World Relief Mission, through our Lutheran Laymen League and Lutheran Women in Mission. And we do all this as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, as the mask of God bringing the mercies of God to a troubled and hurting world.
No neither are we aesthetics. We do not hold back from the world because we are afraid that it might defile us. We understand the apostle Paul when he teaches us; “Therefore, let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations – “Do not handle, Do not taste, …… according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2: 16-23). So No we are not ascetics.
No, nor are we are Pharisees. We do not believe we are better than others, rather we have the humility of Christ to teach us as the apostle Paul said; “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8). We do not seek public displays of our righteousness as Christ says of the Pharisees, “Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” (Luke 11:43). Nor do we elevate bylaws and ecclesiastical supervision over the Word of God as Christ says of the Pharisees, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23: 23)
Pastor Kieschnick, I have been a Christian for many years now and have learned that Christianity involves more than just telling people that Jesus loves them. When we say publically, NO to things like adultery, abortion, and homosexuality we are doing this out of love for our neighbor. For we know that these things are sin and death. As the apostle Paul says, “You were dead in your trespasses and sin.” (Ephesians 2). We do not say NO because we are pursuing righteousness through keeping the law, for we believe Christ is our righteousness, but rather out of love for our fellow man. Even though these sins are the things of death; out of love for our neighbor, we proclaim another death, not a death in sin, but a death that unites us with Christ as Romans 6 teaches; “for all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the Glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. “
But I also know that when we say NO (either individually as a Christian or corporately as a church body) to things like adultery, abortion, homosexuality and even syncretic worship, we will be reviled by the public and other religious bodies, as unloving, uncaring, and intolerant. But as a Christian, we understand these things. For our Lord has instructed us; “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19). But with both the apostle Paul and apostle Peter we consider it a joy to share in Christ’s sufferings, that we may also rejoice in His second coming.
Yes, Pastor Kieschnick, Elijah did pray in the presence of hundreds of prophets of false gods. In fact Elijah said there were exactly 450 prophets of Baal. And here is what Elijah prayed, “And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is Go.” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.” (1 Kings 18:36-40).
And, yes, Paul preached in synagogues and taught in the presence of people who rejected Jesus; and, what did he say “….And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.” Therefore he says also in another psalm, “You will not let your Holy One see corruption.” For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about; “Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.” (Acts 13:34-41)
When a pastor is invited to pray at an interfaith worship, are you saying they should pray as Elijah and preach as Paul?
With the upcoming synodical convention in a few months, I assume many will see the recent media attention and public outcry, as an opportunity for political expediency. It provides an opportunity to question some in our synod, to promote tension and discord. Our convention will probably be filled with overtures on unionism and syncretism, there will be calls for investigations, there will be outrage and disgust, new bylaws will need to be adopted, new administrators will need to be elected, and all these trappings of political intrigue will swirl through our convention.
But before we as a church body get sidetracked with all this business of unionism, syncretism, and try to answer all these questions of legalism, isolationism, and sectarianism; I recommend our church body ask a much simpler question of itself. Are we going to serve God or mammon? For too long our church body has been deceiving ourselves into thinking we can do both. We have been too worried about whether other denominations accept us, whether society considers us relevant or outdated or isolationists or sectarians, we have worried about how many members we have and how big of a synod we are or are not, how fast we are or are not growing, about lack of money, about how we can dress up ourselves so that we are inviting, entertaining, and attractive. But our savior instructs us that we cannot love both God and mammon, for ultimately we end up hating one and loving the other. And, so, if we decide we want to serve mammon let’s do it whole heartedly. Let’s join the Lutheran World Federation and the Ecumenical Council of Churches. Let’s pray to Allah or the great spirit. Let’s bless each other in the name of the feminine trinity and let’s sanction abortion, marry homosexuals, and allow everyone to the communion rail. Let’s draw the masses in with our entertainment and take as much money as they will give us. For surely this will increase our wealth, our status, our relevance.
And if we decide we want to serve God, let’s just softly and simply say NO, I’m sorry but I can’t do that , I must obey God rather than men.
Peace be with you.
There’s been a lot of rumbling around the media and the Internet as of late regarding the ability of a retail food outlet’s president to state, very plainly, his beliefs on the family and homosexual relationships. The backlash to his statements, and subsequent support for them, has been tremendous in both quantity and volume. After all this discussion, it makes me wonder about this debate, and who should be protected by the law for what they say versus who have the “correct” viewpoint and the reasoned approach.
Dan Cathy, the President of Chick-fil-a, which is for all purposes a chicken sandwich shop, decided to make public on a Baptist media program his opinion about homosexuals and their desire to be married under the laws of the U.S. Cathy spoke not out of turn, nor did he speak out to a media that would be less supportive of his comments in order to by antagonistic. Instead, he answered a question about his financial support for organizations that work to keep marriage between a man and a woman, and then explained the position he and his family-owned company hold on the subject.
As word of his comments spread, the community supporting gay marriage under the law stepped in and decried his comments as anger-mongering, evil (or, at least, the opposite of good), and discriminatory. Supporters of Cathy have claimed he was under his First Amendment rights, according to the U.S. Constitution, to make these statement. Detractors have decided to protest his stores and push to block their expansion into markets across the country.
At this blog, the biblical definition of marriage is the belief of record, whether the United States decides to allow the marriage of two men or two women to exist legally. And that belief is held knowing full well that two things can result from it: 1) People may choose not to read this blog because it preaches Jesus Christ and Him crucified; that is the choice of any reader of any blog; 2) People may choose to argue, attack, threaten, decry, hack, or abuse this blog, and it will continue to preach about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
Because, at the end of it all, we are all sinners (Romans 5:12). We have all done the evil we do not want to do (Romans 7:15). And yet, Christ comes for all, to die on the cross for the sins of the world. He died for all, that all might live (Romans 6:10). We need only to listen to His Word, and by doing so, receive the Holy Spirit and the faith the Spirit brings to us.
I’ve never actually eaten at a Chick-fil-a. Will Dan Cathy’s comments make me more likely to do so? Probably not if I’m not in the mood to eat chicken. Cathy can says whatever he likes. He will have to deal with the response society brings on him and his business. He will also have to deal with the judgement of the Lord when Cathy stands before him in his death. And then, his actions, his words, his thoughts will not save him. Only faith in Christ alone and His atoning death and suffering on the cross and resurrection on the third day will bring Dan Cathy, and all of us, to eternal life in Christ Jesus.
He is Risen! Hallelujah!
Let’s face it, sex is fun. It feels good. Really good. No one who has, can, or does partake of sex will deny that is one of the most enjoyable activities for humans.
It’s important to note that sex creates people. That’s what it does. Having sex makes more people. Again, this isn’t news to those of us who have had, or will have, sex.
What do more people create? The answer to that is much more complicated. So let’s talk about this not as “more people”, rather a person. Because sex creates just one person (well, most of the time, but we’ll leave twins or more out of this).
The first thing sex creates is another mouth to feed, not just our own. Sex also creates a relationship with the other person who is biologically part of the mouth to feed, whether you like that person or not. Although, if you’re willing to have sex with someone, I would hope you like them a little bit. Sex creates dirty diapers, sleepless nights, field trips, college tuition, brothers, sisters, and/or grandchildren (because sex creates more sex, no one will deny THAT statement). Sex creates borrowed cars, boyfriends, sporting events, school pictures, punishments, cell phone bills, and trips to DisneyWorld. Simply stated, sex creates responsibility. Responsibility is a consequence.
How does contraception fit in to this responsibility and consequence? Contraception allows for the removal of responsibility and consequence while leaving the capacity to feel good. Perhaps that’s over simplifying the discussion. But contraception means that one doesn’t have to consider what will happen after having sex. Instead, one can just think about having more sex. Without the risk of responsibility.
Because no one wants to be responsible, right?
Christopher Hitchens, prodigious author, raging atheist, and one of those for whom Christ suffered and died on the cross, has passed away from cancer. His life was full of choices and challenges. Heavy drinking and smoking, failed marriages, cancer of the esophagus, anger and bitterness to all major world religions, one must wonder why I would choose to memorialize him in this blog.
Mr. Hitchens, for all his faults and failures, worldly successes and fame, was a sinner, just as I am, and just as you are. His life was an example of the hold that sin can have on someone, and the power of the temptation of the devil.
He is not, however, an example of the vengeance of the Lord. Christopher Hitchens didn’t get cancer because God decided to punish him for the book God is not Great in 2007. He is not dead because the Lord turned His wrath on this “evil man.” Not at all. Instead, the Lord allowed Mr. Hitchens a long life, 62 years worth, and had him cross paths with many different Christians throughout his time on earth. I dare to say that Christopher Hitchens was preached the Gospel more than most men.
Our God is a merciful God, as the psalmist says in Psalm 86:15, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” The Lord is so merciful, He sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be crucified for Christopher Hitchens. That is not a God of vengeance, or a God of raging anger. If the Lord had chosen to punish Christopher Hitchens, He would have destroyed him in 2007, or when he left his wife, or renounced his Christian upbringing as a youth.
Instead, the Lord gave Mr. Hitchens a long life, filled with struggle and temptation, the life He gives us all. It is a life which knows sin, and all the pain that comes with it. And through that pain and sin Jesus stands waiting, and we cling to the cross, and receive the salvation our God gives us through the faith He brings us in baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and hearing His Word.
I am sad for the death of Christopher Hitchens. Death is not the natural, created state of man. It is the result of sin. His death reminds me that we all will die. But in our earthly death, our faith brings us to new life in Christ Jesus for those who believe. I hope that Mr. Hitchens was able to remember that Gospel he heard so many times, and that the Holy Spirit was able to work in his heart. May God have mercy.
I attend a church made up of three congregations. There’s the 5:30 Saturday night congregation, the 8 AM Sunday morning congregation, and the 10:30 AM Sunday morning congregation. Some of the 8 AM people pass through the 5:30 service occasionally, and the 8 and 10:30 people cross paths in the airlock of the 9:15 Bible classes, but even there, it’s less about the congregations coming together and more about a whole different group who happens to attend Bible study at the same time. A house divided…
At what point does it become OK for a congregation to be this way? We are there together to make up the Body of Christ, yet we can’t be together because we won’t sit in the other’s service. We are divided not by time (although some have chosen when to go and make it a point to follow that choice), or because of a propensity to attend Bible class before/after the church service. We are divided because of music and liturgy.
Our congregation has become the congregation of the Divine Service and the congregation of the Contemporary Service. Those who attend 5:30 PM or 8 AM do so because they want to attend during the worship service from the Lutheran Service Book. They enjoy the hymns and cherish the settings of the Divine Service, and want to go to church when they know they will be comfortable and able to worship in a predictable and reverent manner. The Contemporary Service people go to 10:30 AM because they like the music, and the way the service changes every week, and how it fills them with faith and gives them hope for the week to come.
Both are valid and healthy ways to think about and participate in church. Both services include the key parts of any worship service: Confession and Absolution, the Readings, Songs and Hymns, a Sermon, the Lord’s Supper, and Blessings and Prayers. Each service builds faith and brings the forgiveness of sins. Each strengthens the children of God in the Body of Christ. And it’s tearing us apart.
We are not to seek a church of faithful INDIVIDUALS! We are the whole Body of Christ, His Bride the Church, and yet we would never set foot in the other’s service. And why not? Because we would say, “I don’t worship that way.”
It is a work of the Law to believe that church is only to be done as the Divine Service lays out, rubic by ordinary by proper, start to finish. It is also a sinful heart who would criticize the worship of another because it is “repetitive” or “boring”. We have become the circumcized and the uncircumcized of the early Christian church, divided by practice and by our view of the other’s worship style.
Paul says in Ephesians 2:14ff: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” Christ is the One who gathers us up and brings us together. We are not a church because we share a building. We are a church because we share Jesus and Him Crucified.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” -Ephesians 4:1-6.
We are to love one another, not tear the other down or turn up our noses. We are to worship with one another, not because we have to, but out of love for one another, and because we are the one body, with Christ as our head.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” -Ephesians 4:15-16.
I have sinned greatly in this as well, for I have stated, quite plainly, that I do not like Contemporary worship, and key changes during songs, and sermons from the communion rail rather than the pulpit. I ask for your forgiveness, and the forgiveness of my Lord, for I have torn down the faithful worship of others. I am not proud of my actions regarding the other service, and I will seek to understand and encourage those who would sing to the Lord a new song.
I ask of you the following: attend a service you normally would not. Share Christ with the brothers and sisters in your church, in your one congregation, at the table of the Lord. Seek to build each other up, and understand the faithfulness that comes not from liturgy or from songs, but from the Word of Christ, and the Supper we partake in Him, and the Baptism we have received through Jesus our Lord.
I’m beginning to do some reading on the Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms (aka the Two Realms). This is the concept that God is the ruler over all things, and all He rules over is based in two realms, His left hand (the “civil” realm) and His right hand (the “heavenly” realm). But before I go any further, let me break this doctrine down very quickly (I’ll do a more in-depth post on the Two Kingdoms later…and special thanks to Pastor Joel Biermann and Concordia Seminary’s iTunesU videos as a source for information).
The “civil” realm is not just the government, but also includes the home, the economy, the environment, etc. It is the realm of preservation, such as preserving peace and justice in the world. It is the realm of the Sword, which the government (or those in authority, i.e. parents, teachers, bosses) wield to maintain order over the earth and those over which God has placed them. This is a key point. God rules over both realms, and as such, grants authority to those He wishes to have it.
The “heavenly” realm is the church, but not the little “c” church of this world, necessarily. It is the realm of forgiveness, life, and salvation. It is the realm of the Word, and is the realm of the work to bring salvation to those who believe.
The two realms are not opposed to each other. They are not at odds. Instead, they cross into each other and even compliment each other. The work of the left realm is to maintain order and civility so that the work of the right may continue to save. The right hand will bring peace and comfort to the soul, and allow the left to complete it’s task.
An excellent set of examples is the judge and the murderer. The judge will work in the left realm, dispensing justice from the authority of the government to the murderer. The murderer, who may repent and truly be sorry for his sins, will still be punished for his crime. The judge does not let the repentance of the murderer sway him from his task of judgement, and the murderer does not expect that his repentance and forgiveness from God will remove from him the judgement he faces. The murderer will be forgiven by God, but will receive the Sword of the left hand kingdom. The judge will use the Sword, but may still work to spread the Word of the right hand kingdom outside of his job.
Still, both kingdoms are ruled by God. He grants grace and forgiveness on the right, and sets up any authority He wishes on the left. If God did not want an authority to rule, He would not allow it to be.
So, was the American Revolution against the will of God? Did our forefathers sin as they overthrew the government which ruled them? The answer is a resounding “Yes.”
Romans 13:1-2: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
But God works through the sinfulness of man to fulfill His purposes. Were our forefathers wrong? Yes. Does that mean that our nation is inherently evil? Not necessarily (although THAT’S a discussion for another time). God uses our country to fulfill His purpose. May He grant us the strength to do His will when it is our time to complete it.
Now, ask yourself this: Are the Occupy Wall Street protesters right or wrong? Are they doing God’s will? And is supporting them sinful?