Lutherans are encouraged to view synods as competing franchises, but they are really a pyramid of lapdogs. His holiness, the Antichrist, sits on the lap of Satan and serves him night and day. No other religious organization has the resources and doctrinal aberrations to attack the Gospel world-wide, night and day. On the lap of the Antichrist sits the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, panting and grinning, pleased to have been welcomed into such an esteemed position. ELCA is completely apostate, glorying in the shame of killing her own unborn children and grandchildren with funds from the pastors’ health insurance. ELCA has a synod on each knee: the Lutheran-Church Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The Missouri and Wisconsin Synods are allowed to growl and snap every so often, but a few cuffs on the head bring both of them back into line. WELS has the Evangelical Lutheran Synod on one knee and the Church of the Lutheran Confession on the other knee. The ELS thinks it is the top dog because of its position in the pyramid of lapdogs. The CLC needs to be house-trained but loyally waits for a little attention and affection.
Anyone who sees hope for the future in this pyramid of lapdogs is delusional. For almost three decades I have heard various parties speak optimistically about change within their groups, and the synods have only become more corrupt, brutal, self-serving, and dishonest. Their worship of money and pursuit of power is all-consuming.
One of the fundamental errors of this age is the assumption that we are stuck with the established synods. Enjoying the luxury and comfort from estate gifts, the sleek cows of the Lutheran Church shrink from minor sacrifices to proclaim the truth, unmindful of their forefathers, who crossed the ocean in misery, arrived in poverty, labored to bring untilled land into production, and built towering churches glorifying the Means of Grace. We have every luxury imaginable, and they had almost none. Nevertheless, the early Lutherans devoted an inordinate amount of time, money, and effort to publishing the Lutheran classics and making them available to pastors and laity, who scraped together their pennies to buy massive tomes filled with wisdom. When I come across something like Chemnitz Examen in Latin in a book sale from the estates of pastors, I am reminded that ministers once bought and read Chemnitz in Latin. Now we have the same work in English but it is allowed to go out of print.
Below is a modest proposal for applying the lessons of this book. If the Word of God is applied to our current situation, the pyramid of lapdogs will tumble down, snarling and biting. This effort does not require a re-structuring of the Lutheran synods, except for abandoning the shipwreck of ELCA. No faithful minister can serve in ELCA and no believer can participate in good conscience in the Hellish corruption of ELCA. Moreover, the ELCA leaders have learned their lessons well from the Antichrist and know how to deal with dissent. The Church of Rome can turn a bishop into a gas station attendant if the prelate gets out of line. Therefore, except for encouraging believers to leave ELCA, the proposal is entirely one of applying sound doctrine and repudiating the divorce of the Holy Spirit from the Word and Sacraments, whether the heresy goes by the name of Enthusiasm, Pietism, the Church Growth Movement, or Purpose Driven Churches.
"We should not consider the slightest error against the Word of God unimportant."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 637.
KJV 2 Chronicles 20:21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.
A Lutheran congregation has only one responsibility. It is not to grow numerically, to be successful, to balance the budget, or to have a congregation of happy campers. The sole responsibility of the congregation is to worship God in the beauty of His holiness. The marks of the true Church are
1) preaching the Word of God in its truth and purity and
2) administering the Sacraments according to the Scriptures.
The Sunday School is actually a recent invention and the result of the Sunday School Movement, which was largely non-Lutheran in origin.
Consider this comparison of mission congregations. When I was called to A Mighty Fortress Lutheran Church in Phoenix, the Wisconsin Synod began a mission in the same general area at almost the same time. Before we were moved into the house, we had our first regular worship service. From that time on we have had worship services and classes. The WELS mission did not have a name (not approved by the board yet) and did not worship for almost a year, because they had to achieve certain goals first. We worship in a converted garage and the Wisconsin Synod mission is buying property, pending board approval. I do not have a full-time salary. The mission pastor’s princely salary is subsidized by the synod. Obviously the difference in cost for the two missions is enormous, and the expenses become golden chains that bind people together by the force of law with mission loans, mission goals, and mission board meddling. If someone does not agree with the mission board’s Reformed doctrine, his entire congregation can be dissolved before his eyes and restarted with another name and another pastor.
When pastors cared more about the truth than their salaries and benefits, they had the independence of thought to establish congregations free to unite with or separate from ecclesiastical organizations. American synodical history is complicated because of this freedom, so a chart of Lutheran history looks like a map of the Los Angeles freeway system. In the past, ministers have been free to earn an income from secular work, as the Apostle Paul did, and serve a congregation. Today a trained pastor can obtain certification in Microsoft or Cisco, or learn programming, and then earn a handsome salary with benefits while serving an independent congregation. Anyone who has learned Greek and Hebrew will find computer science easy and interesting. Those opportunities do not mean that everyone needs to go out and start an independent congregation, but a pastor today should have the skills needed to support himself if his doctrinal fidelity causes the synod to jettison him. Lacking secular job skills will tend to make a minister timid in the face of synodical disapproval. What we lack in the beginning is not job skills, but faith in God. Count me as one who believed that God would provide but wondered if God would provide until He provided. Beyond all hope, in the midst of many disappointments and betrayals, God has proven this passage true, many times over:
KJV Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. 26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
Our Old Adam does not like to weather the blows of evil men, but we need to realize that the Holy Spirit is so powerful that He can use their worst behavior to drive us forward into blessings we would have never realized without their spitefulness. Four different Lutheran presses refused to publish Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant, in spite of promises from three of them, so I had the unique opportunity to self-publish, a burden and blessing at the same time. I would never have entered book publishing on my own. Someone had to force me. Now I hope the lessons I learned will help others as they become established.
One reason for the many delays of this book is the time I have spent on the phone with distraught pastors and laity. Many times I thought, “Yes. Now I have an evening to write, a pot of coffee, and energy to work.” Then the phone would ring and I would listen and talk for several hours, finally exhausted at the end by the latest examples of disgraceful conduct of conservative Lutheran leaders. My advice has been and continues to be, “Teach the Word and God will take care of the details.” If the caller is a minister, I often say, “Better men than you have been tossed out of the ministry.” That reply is often good for a laugh. A good friend of mine phoned and suggested a different response for me, when I was fired from the CLC for having a pancake supper. His suggestion was: “I have been thrown out of better synods than this!” The worst aspect of all this turmoil is the crushing disappointment of learning how treacherous so-called friends can be, but it also teaches us to rely on the Word of God alone. Many ministers can be bought with a call or threatened into silence. When they do an about face, they are worse than the synod officials who turned them to the dark side.
KJV Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
The Lutheran congregation has only one task, to proclaim God’s grace through worship, with all other activities subordinate to the Means of Grace. Many people have conspired together to ruin Lutheran worship in the name of making it attractive and appealing to the young. The same synods now must face the fact that they are completely hollowed out. The vast majority of their worship attendance and financial support comes from those in retirement, meaning that the synods are teetering on collapse in the next two decades. The Church Growth foxes first argued for entertaining hymnals with feminist language and got them, especially with the Lutheran Book of Worship and its Baptist-like clone, Christian Worship. Then, after getting the wretched hymnals they coveted, the WELS Pietists argued for no hymnals and no liturgy at all. They worshiped with the song lyrics of the Enthusiasts projected on the wall, just like the Assemblies of God. The result has been an embarrassing number of Lutheran clergy who have turned Pentecostal-Baptist, taking away or wrecking huge investments in time and money. In my opinion, this trend is only beginning. The Missouri Synod already has its own Pentecostal non-geographical district, Renewal in Missouri, with 200 tongue-speaking, miracle-working pastors, who have swallowed the Holy Ghost, feathers and all. The current Barry/Otten administration takes this in stride, just as it accepts and promotes joint religious projects with ELCA.
The best hymnal in use today is The Lutheran Hymnal, printed in 1941. It is not perfect, but it is far better than the improvements that followed afterwards. Lutherans should be ashamed that they have had so many years to build a better hymnal than TLH but continue to produce worse versions. However, we know they have made a ton of money forcing their hymnals on their congregations. WELS congregations had no choice, but the Evangelical Lutheran Synod looked at the proposed hymnal and said, “We can do better.” Nevertheless, for all their posing, WELS and the ELS both borrow from the Liberal Book of Weirdness, painfully obvious if the copyright notices are studied carefully. Lutheran Worship is a sanitized version of the ELCA LBW, so all the Lutheran hymnals in print are clones of the ELCA project, which represented the peak of ecumenical and activist fervor in the Lutheran synods in its time.
People argue against TLH because of its old English language and lack of feminist sensitivity. Ironically, droves of feminists and youth have not joined the synods who replaced TLH with pious mirth. The tendency for all the clones has been to make their hymnals less Lutheran, more Reformed, more Roman Catholic, and more Pentecostal-Baptist. There was once a movement toward liturgical consistency along confessional Lutheran principles, but now the Church of Rome and Fuller Seminary dictate worship guidelines for 99% of Lutherans, a frightening prospect.
The essential retrograde action supporting do-your-own-thing worship has been accomplished in the Lutheran synods. Whatever works is good and Lutherans sigh for acceptance by generic Protestant visitors. Gerberding fought against this attitude in the Muhlenberg tradition, disgusted that worship varied from parish to parish, that pastors let out a loud “Haw!” every so often in the sermon in imitation of Reformed preachers. Now Lutherans are caught between the high church (smells and bells) leaders aping the Church of Rome and the Fuller graduates fighting for no worship at all on Sunday, just a Seeker Service.
The following points express my opinion about Lutheran worship, and I believe it rests upon a Scriptural foundation and sound Lutheran practice.
1. The Lutheran Hymnal is the best choice for worship today because it preserves a formal style of English harmonious with dignified praise of the Holy Trinity. The King James Version remains the most precise English translation to use, the best version for reading in a worship service, and the closest to Luther’s translation.
2. When we lack the vocabulary to understand the words of the liturgy, we should lift up our educational level and not bring worship down to the perspective of Beavis and Butthead, Jane Fonda and Marva Dawn.
3. Latin and Greek names should be preserved and used without blushing. Soon the Collect and Kyrie, Septuagesima and Oculi, as well as the Votum and Nunc dimittis will be forgotten terms among the young.
4. The Sunday worship service should be conducted as worship only. It is not a time to recruit new members by trying to hide our Lutheran identity, to rouse the members to higher levels of institutional glory, or to magnify the synod.
5. The historic pericopes should be used instead of the ELCA/Church of Rome three year cycle. The historic pericopes are exactly what we find in the Lenker Sermons of Luther set, Epistles and Gospels. When that treasure trove is exhausted, send me a letter. Luther found it valuable to preach repeatedly on the same text.
6. Close communion is the only genuine Christian form of the Sacrament of the Altar. If visitors are offended, they belong in an inoffensive congregation.
7. The sermon should reflect Luther’s doctrine. Yes, many ministers claim to be Bible-only, but they usually read Reformed works. The text can be studied in Luther’s sermons, in the Book of Concord, and in many great books becoming available through Repristination Press. The only genuine Lutheran sermon is a proclamation of Law and Gospel.
8. The hymns sung during the worship service should reflect the best of Lutheran worship rather than popular trends. The biographical sketches at the end of this book were gathered to facilitate Lutheran hymn singing. In the worship bulletin, I list Lutheran authors of hymns and discuss their backgrounds during certain services.
9. The worship bulletin should not be oriented toward money, budgets, and being busy, but aimed at the spiritual edification of the members. It is an ideal opportunity to list important Lutheran quotations for the consideration of the members and the pastor. I place a different quotation on the back of each bulletin. Pastors need the wisdom of Lutheran authors, too.
10. The Holy Spirit calls the pastor through the congregation. This call is a unique role based upon his responsibility to God for the souls of the congregation. The members should feel free to ask questions about doctrine and practice, but they should also avoid usurping authority, especially when they simply do not like something, like close communion. Members should never allow an outsider to usurp the role of the divinely called pastor by interfering with the congregation.
No one should be surprised that the same ecclesiastical leaders who want to worship with every denomination—except their own—would also like to sing every hymn that is not Lutheran. Whatever is sung in church, including weddings and special services, should be appropriate to read from the pulpit during a sermon. Can anyone imagine a pastor reciting the first Fanny Crosby song ever to appear in a Lutheran hymnal: “Take the World but Give Me Jesus”? After decades of improvement in the language and style of Lutheran worship, attendance is at an all time low, especially among those younger members whose tender years were offered as the reason for ruining Lutheran worship.
Those who love the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures also appreciate the doctrinal hymns of The Lutheran Hymnal. As Luther said, singing is praying with the soul, so singing a hymn is praying twice over. Hymns are also confessions of faith, often composed during times of doctrinal crisis. False teachers recognize this proclamation of God’s Word by dropping verses that apply to them, fuzzing up clear statements of faith, and favoring cheap sentiment over the objective truths of the Bible. In addition, we can memorize something we sing more easily than a statement. Elevator music is fine for bookstores and, well, elevators, but believers would rather have hymns of comfort and faith to hum and sing.
"We are not free from blame if we have a wrong faith and follow false teachers. The fact that we did not know will be of no help to us, for we were warned beforehand. Besides God has told us to judge what this or that person teaches and to give an account. If we fail to do this, we are lost. Therefore the soul's salvation of each person depends on his knowing what is God's Word and what is false teaching."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 636.
One person said to me, “Lutheran hymns? What do you mean, Lutheran hymns?” I pointed out that many favorite hymns of Lutherans were Methodist in origin, while those written by Lutherans were ignored. From that time on, I made a point of listing Lutheran authors of hymns and talking about them in the service (when appropriate). When I decided to compare the existing hymnals and list the best doctrinal hymns, I found that many great hymns were by Lutherans I did not know. I judged the hymn first by the words and then discovered that the author was a Lutheran. When I select hymns for the worship service, I try to use two hymns that are very familiar and two that will eventually be favorites. I also try to use every verse of long hymns on a Sunday, singing half the hymn as one hymn selection, then the other half as another selection. Many people have said, “I never sang that hymn before in my life.” I remind them of the old rule, “If you don’t know it at first, you will know it by the eighth verse.”
Attributes of a great Lutheran hymn are worth listing:
1. The hymn is God-centered rather than me-centered, emphasizing what God has done, not what I have felt.
2. The melody is majestic rather than snappy and toe-tapping.
3. The hymn teaches important doctrines of the Bible, clearly and succinctly.
4. It does not hesitate to mention and praise the Word and sacraments, instead of “making a decision for Christ.”
5. The hymn teaches the efficacy of the Word. Look up missionary hymns in a non-Lutheran hymnal and you will find them vague about how the Gospel converts unbelievers. The Lutheran Hymnal is quite clear.
6. The words confess that believers must bear the cross, undergo trials, and be refined and strengthened through the Word.
7. A great hymn transcends culture. Apostates would have us believe that great Lutheran chorales are only for Germans, but the following is recorded about Paul Gerhardt’s “O Sacred Head” in the mission field: “When the great Lutheran missionary C. F. W. Schwartz, in 1798, lay dying in India, where he had labored for half a century, his native pupils gathered around him, and sang in their own tongue the last stanzas of this hymn, Schwartz himself joining in until his breath failed in death.”
“My Savior, be Thou near me
When death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me,
Forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish,
Oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish
By virtue of Thine own!
Be Thou my Consolation,
My Shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy Passion
When my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee,
Upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfold Thee,
Who dieth thus dies well!”\
Paul Gerhard, “O Sacred Head,” The Lutheran Hymnal, #172, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.
Any congregation can increase the confessional awareness of the members by introducing Lutheran hymns to the worship service, including brief biographies in the worship bulletin or information about the author during the sermon. The gradual introduction of false doctrine has worked well for Lutheran Pietists, and the Fabian method can also work well for Lutheran doctrine. Following is a sketch of how to introduce Lutheran hymns to Lutheran congregations.
We need to know who stood up for the Scriptures and what they wrote in their hymns. Martin Luther was one of the great hymn writers, so his lesser known hymns should be used throughout the year. All numbers are for The Lutheran Hymnal. Their biographical sketches can be found at the end of this book.
1. “Flung to the heedless winds,” #259, was the first hymn written by Luther, inspired by the martyrdom of two young Lutherans burned at the stake.
2. “Isaiah mighty seer,” #249, can be substituted for the Gloria in excelsis. It is a powerful hymn of praise.
3. “O Lord, look down from heaven behold,” #260, like many hymns, can be sung to another tune. This bellicose hymn emphasizes the efficacy of the Word and the evil of false teachers. Compare this version of the hymn with other hymnals.
4. “Dear Christians one and all rejoice,” #387, outlines the entire story of salvation, from despair under the Law to conversion through the Gospel, a beautiful portrayal of the work of Christ.
5. “We all believe in one true God,” #251, can be sung as a hymn version of the Creed.
6. “Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord!” #224, teaches the efficacy of the Word, reminding us that the Bible interchanges the terms Holy Spirit and the Word.
Paul Gerhardt is probably the greatest of all hymn writers, if we judge according to the use of his hymns throughout Christendom. Perhaps Lutherans should embrace him as much as non-Lutherans.
1. “Come, Your Hearts and Voices Raising,” #90, begins one famous Episcopalian Christmas service in England each year. A young boy’s voice rings out with these thrilling words of hope and joy.
2. “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth,” #142, is based upon John 1:29, telling the Passion story in simple, child-like words that are cloaked somewhat by the translation. One vivid image is that of sitting in the little boat rocking back and forth, with Christ as the anchor, being able to sleep “serenely as on pillows.”
3. “Upon the Cross Extended,” #171, has only 12 of the 16 verses written about the Passion. This hymn may be overlooked in favor of “O Sacred Head,” but it should also be featured during Lent.
4. “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadows,” #554, is one of the finest evening hymns ever written.
5. “Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me,” #523, reminds us that Christian Worship no longer has the Cross and Comfort category.
6. “If God Himself Be For Me,” #528, is his second great hymn in the Cross and Comfort section. These hymns are good to sing on Sunday and to read as devotions, since they strengthen faith and deal honestly with the problems of life.
7. “Awake, My Heart, with Gladness,” #192, joyfully announces the meaning of Easter in the midst of trials and misfortunes.
He brings me to the portal
That leads to bliss untold
Whereon this rime immortal
Is found in script of gold:
Who there My cross hath shared
Finds here a crown prepared;
Who there with Me has died
Shall here be glorified.”
Paul Gerhardt, “Awake, My Heart, with Gladness,”. The Lutheran Hymnal, #192, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.
Nikolaus Selnecker deserves special attention because he was somewhat weak in doctrine as a follower of Melanchthon and then drew strength from Martin Chemnitz, joining him later in writing the Formula of Concord.
1. “O Lord, My God, I Cry to Thee,” #600, is a funeral hymn sung to “Vater unser.”
2. “Let Me Be Thine Forever,” #334, is a confirmation hymn, with the first verse written by Selnecker.
3. “Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide,” #292, is an exceptional hymn about the pure Word of God and the rage of Satan against it. TLH has nine verses, but Christian Worship has only seven. Compare them and see what is missing. Answer: verse 8 on the efficacy of the Word alone and verse 6 –
“The haughty spirits, Lord, restrain
Who o’er Thy Church with might would reign
And always set forth something new,
Devised to change Thy doctrine true.”
Nikolaus Selnecker, “Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide,” The Lutheran Hymnal, #292, verse 6, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.
Matthias Loy contributed in many ways to the Lutheran Church as a church leader, writer, and journalist. He also translated ten and wrote three hymns.
1. “The Law of God Is Good and Wise,” #295, distinguishes between Law and Gospel clearly, showing the limitations of the Law and the blessings of the Gospel.
2. “The Gospel Shows the Father’s Grace,” #297, emphasizes the efficacy of the Gospel. It is no wonder that Concordia Seminary in St. Louis gave him a call to teach.
“It is the power of God to save
From sin and Satan and the grave;
It works the faith, which firmly clings
To all the treasures which it brings.”
Matthias Loy, “The Gospel Shows the Father’s Grace, , The Lutheran Hymnal, #297, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.
Thomas Hansen Kingo wrote many fine hymns extolling the Means of Grace, and he remains a favorite among Scandinavians.
1. “Like the Golden Sun Ascending,” #207, is a jubilant Easter hymn that should be sung throughout the year, since every Sunday marks the resurrection of Christ. The last verse expresses thanks: “For Thy holy, precious Word; For Thy Baptism, which doth save me, For Thy blest Communion board…”
2. “He That Believes And Is Baptized,” #301, is a fine Baptism hymn appropriate for many Sundays, since it describes the sacrament and not the act of baptizing infants.
3. “O Jesus, Blessed Lord, To Thee,” #309, serves well as a post-communion hymn.
Ulrik Koren was a pioneering pastor among the Norwegians in Iowa and Minnesota. He has one hymn in The Lutheran Hymnal, “Ye Lands, to the Lord Make a Jubilant Noise, #44, a glorious hymn for any worship service, proving that we do not need to run to the Pentecostals for a bone-rattling hymn of praise.
“Ye lands, to the Lord make a jubilant noise;
Glory be to God!
Oh, serve Him with joy, in His presence now rejoice;
Sing praise unto God out of Zion!”
Ulrik V. Koren, “Ye Lands, to the Lord Make a Jubilant Noise,” The Lutheran Hymnal, #44, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.
Hans Brorson wrote two of the best hymns of all time.
1. “I Walk in Danger All the Way,” #413, begins with three verses describing the trials and mortality of this earthly life in terms of danger, Satan, sin, and the cross. The mood shifts in the last three verses. Verse 4 – I walk with angels all the way. Verse 5 – I walk with Jesus all the way. Verse 6 – My walk is heavenward all the way.
2. “Behold a Host Arrayed in White,” #656, extols the triumph of eternal life over sin, death, and Satan. The ethereal beauty of this hymn and its captivating melody combine to make it comforting, inspiring, and uplifting.
“Behold a host, arrayed in white, Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright,
With palms they stand. Who is this band, God’s throne forever near.
Lo, these are they of glorious fame Who from the great affliction came
And in the flood of Jesus’ blood Are cleansed from guilt and blame.
Now gathered in the holy place, Their voices they in worship raise,
Their anthems swell where God doth dwell, Mid angel’s songs of praise.”
Hans A. Brorson, “Behod a Host, Arrayed in White,”, The Lutheran Hymnal, #656, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.
"Observe, God and men proceed in contrary ways. Men set on first that which is best, afterward that which is worse. God first gives the cross and affliction, then honor and blessedness. This is because men seek to preserve the old man; on which account they instruct us to keep the Law by works, and offer promises great and sweet...But God first of all terrifies the conscience, sets on miserable wine, in fact nothing but water; then, however, He consoles us with the promises of the Gospel which endure forever."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 69. John 2:1-11.
Martin Schalling wrote Spener’s favorite hymn, but it also found a place in Bach, the greatest of orthodox Lutheran composers. The hymn teaches the basics of Christian doctrine in three verses. The first verse expresses joy in redemption and resolve to remain faithful: “And should my heart for sorrow break, My trust in Thee no one could shake. Thou art the Portion I have sought; Thy precious blood my soul has bought.” The second verse expresses the blessings of Creation and how we glorify God through good works. The verse also declares: “Let no false doctrine me beguile, Let Satan not my soul defile. Give strength and patience unto me to bear my cross and follow Thee.” The third verse describes death and eternal life in a remarkable series of phrases and praise, as quoted below.
“Lord, let at last Thine angels come, To Abram’s bosom bear me home,
That I may die unfearing;
And in it narrow chamber keep My body safe in peaceful sleep
Until Thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me That these mine eyes with joy may see,
O Son of God, Thy glorious face,
My Savior and my Fount of grace.
Lord Jesus Christ, My prayer attend, my prayer attend,
And I will praise Thee without end.”
Martin Schalling, “Lord, Thee I Love,”, The Lutheran Hymnal, #429, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.
"But wine is sharp and signifies the holy cross that immediately follows. A Christian need not look for his cross, it is always on his back. For he thinks as St. Paul says, 2 Timothy 3:12: 'All that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.' This is the court-color in this kingdom. Whoever is ashamed of the color, does not belong to this king."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 30.
"But the Lord refutes this and says: Go ye there and preach what does it matter if it is against you? You will find there what I say. We should now do likewise. Although the masses storm against the Gospel and there is no hope that they will be better, yet we must preach, there will yet be found those who listen and become converted."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 48.
The sermon is God’s chosen means to teach the Law and the Gospel to His flock. The congregation belongs to Christ, the Good Shepherd, not to the minister, members, or synod. Therefore, the sermon must be God’s Word and not the word of man.
KJV 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
The listeners also need to realize that they must listen attentively and judge according to the work of the Holy Spirit. The congregation should not be ashamed of a sermon from someone who is less than an oratorical star. Many churches have pounded a minister because his voice was weak or his delivery was halting. Accustomed to the cocaine-fueled energy of TV, the congregations demand a star. Luther did not agree.
"He who speaks poorly is speaking God's Word just as certainly as he who is able to speak well. A father speaks the Word just as certainly as God does, and your neighbor speaks God's Word just as certainly as the angel Gabriel. It is the same Word that the schoolboy and the angel Gabriel speak; one can merely express it better than another. Let the dishes be unequal. Some are of silver; others are of tin or of glazed clay, earthen vessels. But one and the same food is prepared in silver, tin, etc.; and venison, well seasoned and prepared, tastes as good from a wooden bowl as from one of silver. Think the same of Baptism and absolution. Let this be your comfort. But people do not recognize the person of God; they gape only at the person of the man as when one who is tired and hungry refuses to eat unless the food is set before him in a silver bowl. So people select many ministers nowadays."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House 1959 III, p. 1119. John 4:9-10.
Preaching belongs to God, so God’s work will be rejected, abused, and scorned by unbelievers.
"Were I a preacher, what difference would it make to me if the world called me a devil, since I know that God calls me His angel? Let the world call me a deceiver as long as it pleases. God meanwhile calls me His faithful servant; the angels call me their companion; the saints call me their brother; the believers call me their father; distressed souls call me their savior; the ignorant call me their light. And God says: Yes, it is so. The angels and all creatures agree with Him."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 925.
"I certainly hope you will have enough Christian understanding to know that the ministry of the Gospel is neither our property nor the property of any human being, not even of an angel. It belongs to God, our Lord, who has purchased it with His blood, has given and instituted it for our salvation. Therefore He severely condemns those who despise it. He says, 'He that despiseth you despiseth Me' (Luke 10:16)...You are not lords over preachers and the ministry; you have not established the office. God's Son alone has done so. Nor have you contributed anything to it...You should not lord it over the ministry or give it directions. Nor should you keep it from rebuking. For its rebuke is not of men but of God, who does not want the rebuke hindered. He has commanded it.”
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 926.
One can see how the sermon has been wrecked by the joint work of congregations and synods. Certain zones become forbidden. The son of one pro-life activist was forbidden to speak against abortion when he was serving as a vicar in the Missouri Synod. The president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis commands that his vicars never object to anything in the congregations they serve: women leaders in worship, open communion, Pentecostalism, and so forth. A few people will organize themselves and call a synod official—behind the pastor’s back—whining that they object to certain aspects of a pastor’s sermon. The official phones or visits the pastor and tells him to lay off. The church official welcomes back door criticism but demands that anyone who disagrees with him tell him so face to face. Why does he not apply this rule to disruptive members?
The process reminds me of a python, who does not actually squeeze his victim to death. Instead, the clever snake waits for each exhale and then clamps down a little tighter. Soon the victim can no longer expand his chest to inhale and he expires from lack of oxygen, not from being juiced like an orange. The Church Growth salesmen have insinuated themselves into this role by advocating non-sermons, which are how-to or fix it messages. They slither into the synod and say that people do not want to hear the Law, which they call negative. They claim the congregations want practical messages, such as how to deal with stress or how to have a happy marriage. The result is a message of man-made law, free of God’s Law and God’s Gospel. One WELS pastor, Martin Spriggs, bought tapes of Willow Creek sermons and gave them verbatim—with the same inflections as the speaker. According to his mentors in the synod, if one could replicate the essence of Willow Creek, one could also have the success of Willow Creek. But this technique has only led to spectacular failures and the exit of pastors, teachers, and congregations from the Lutheran Church.
"He [Paul] thus extols co-laborers that they [the Corinthians] may not despise the external Word as if they were not in need of it or knew it well enough. For although God might accomplish all things inwardly by the Spirit, without the external Word, He has no intention of doing so. He wants to employ preachers as assistants and co-laborers and to accomplish His purposes through their word when and where it pleases Him. Since, then, preachers have the office, name, and honor of being God's assistants, no man is so learned or holy that he may neglect or despise the poorest preaching; for he does not know when the hour will come in which God will perform His work in him through the preachers."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House 1959 III, p. 1118.
For three years I was not a pastor, but a self-employed businessman in insurance. I suddenly had a new perspective on the sermon, since I gave perhaps three sermons in as many years, otherwise listening every Sunday. I never went to a service thinking I had heard too much Gospel and no longer needed it. Each week was full of failure and rejection. That experience is the essence of being in sales. Even the best experiences can turn bad in a hurry. Like everyone else, I had an easy sale that netted me $1500 in one evening. Unfortunately, the sale was lost right after I received my commission, so I had to earn another $1500 just to get even again. We called those empty commission days Passover events. The company would pass over us, since we were still in the red. I was not alone. The top salesmen had reverses of $10,000 and more. In addition, every good month ended with almost no income for the next month. Until one is very well established, the first years are very hard. Besides the difficulties of working, we also had to deal with my wife’s medical and insurance needs and my mother’s growing infirmity. So when I went to church, I felt as dry as the desert. I felt the wounds of rejection and the panic of a good month facing a new month with no income. At least a bad month could be improved by thinking, “It can’t get any worse than this.”
I try to remember my experiences when I write a sermon. In addition, I also get a perspective on problems and religious questions from visiting people and from reading email messages. Sermon books are almost useless for writing sermons. I rely on other aids. Ideally, the following happens each week with the goal of having a sermon written and sent on email by Thursday.
1. I look up the texts in The Lutheran Hymnal and decide whether I will use the Gospel or Epistle from the historic pericopes.
2. I read Luther’s sermon on the text or do a search of the Megatron database. I can either search for the text or for a key doctrinal term. The results are spewed into Word and fixed up, saved as a document, then copied, and sent around the world. If I do these things on Wednesday, I have plenty to think about before I write on Thursday. If I have nothing appropriate in the database, I copy quotations from Luther, the Book of Concord, Gerhard, Chemnitz, Walther, or another Lutheran author. I also use verbatim quotations of false doctrine as a contrast.
3. In the past I have printed up to two pages of quotations for the worship bulletin. Now I pick the two or three best quotations to use, since every member gets the larger group of quotations in their email. One woman said, “I always read the back of the bulletin,” so I put a new quotation on the back almost every Sunday.
4. I almost always write out the sermon, beginning with a brief statement about the meaning of the text, following Luther’s example. The printed sermons are mailed to some people. Many sermons are posted on my publications site.
5. I try to show the unity of the Bible when I focus on one aspect of the text. For instance, the First Gospel (Genesis 3:15) and the Virgin Birth prophesy (Isaiah 7:14) both reveal the extraordinary oneness of the Book of the Holy Spirit. Gerhard, Luther, and Chemnitz are outstanding resources to use in this respect.
6. I never, never, never use any Reformed commentary or book, unless I have reason to point out their errors. I have as much contempt for their doctrine and exegesis as they have for the Means of Grace. ELCA books are also pure poison and should be avoided, even if bought at book sales for a dime.
7. If I have questions about the Greek text, and I often do, I first use BibleWorks to search for identical or similar Greek words. I also use Lenski often, as well as various reference works, such as Moulton-Milliken’s Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament and Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament. The Arndt Gingrich lexicon is also quite useful at times.
"Lord God, Thou hast placed me in Thy church as a bishop and pastor. Thou seest how unfit I am to administer this great and difficult office. Had I hitherto been without help from Thee, I would have ruined everything long ago. Therefore I call on Thee. I gladly offer my mouth and heart to Thy service. I would teach the people and I myself would continue to learn. To this end I shall meditate diligently on Thy Word. Use me, dear Lord, as Thy instrument. Only do not forsake me; for if I were to continue alone, I would quickly ruin everything."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 926.
"Now, all who wish to be saved ought to hear this preaching [of God's Word]. For the preaching and hearing of God's Word are instruments of the Holy Ghost, by, with, and through which He desires to work efficaciously, and to convert men to God, and to work in them both to will and to do. This Word man can externally hear and read, even though he is not yet converted to God and regenerate; for in these external things, as said above, man even since the Fall has to a certain extent a free will, so that he can go to church and hear or not hear the sermon."
Formula of Concord, SD, II, #52. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 901f. Tappert, p. 531. Heiser, p. 246.
"Likewise those fastidious spirits are to be reproved who, when they have heard a sermon or two, find it tedious and dull, thinking that they know all that well enough, and need no more instruction. For just that is the sin which has been hitherto reckoned among mortal sins, and is called akedia, i. e., torpor or satiety, a malignant, dangerous plague with which the devil bewitches and deceives the hearts of many, that he may surprise us and secretly withdraw God's Word from us."
The Large Catechism, #99, The Third Commandment, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 609. Tappert, p. 378. Heiser, p. 175. Exodus 20:8-11. Akedia: Aristotle's Ethics, IV.
"Against both these parties the pure teachers of the Augsburg Confession have taught and contended that by the fall of our first parents man was so corrupted that in divine things pertaining to our conversion and the salvation of our souls he is by nature blind, that, when the Word of God is preached, he neither does nor can understand it, but regards it as foolishness; also, that he does not of himself draw nigh to God, but is and remains an enemy of God, until he is converted, becomes a believer [is endowed with faith], is regenerated and renewed, by the power of the Holy Ghost through the Word when preached and heard, out of pure grace, without any cooperation of his own."
Formula of Concord, SD II. #5. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 881. Tappert, p. 520f. Heiser, p. 241.
"All this is the old devil and old serpent, who also converted Adam and Eve into enthusiasts, and led them from the outward Word of God to spiritualizing and self-conceit, and nevertheless he accomplished this through other outward words. Just as also our enthusiasts [at the present day] condemn the outward Word, and nevertheless they themselves are not silent, but they fill the world with their pratings and writings, as though, indeed, the Spirit could not come through the writings and spoken word of the apostles, but [first] through their writings and words he must come. Why [then] do not they also omit their own sermons and writings, until the Spirit Himself come to men, without their writings and before them, as they boast that He has come into them without the preaching of the Scriptures?"
Smalcald Articles, Part III, VIII. #5-6. Confession. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 495. Tappert, p. 312f. Heiser, p. 147.
"Moreover [On the other side], both the ancient and modern enthusiasts have taught that God converts men, and leads them to the saving knowledge of Christ through His Spirit, without any created means and instrument, that is, without the external preaching and hearing of God's Word."
Formula of Concord, SD II. #4. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 881. Tappert, p. 520. Heiser, p. 241.
Gerhard: "The more purely the Word of God is preached in a Church, and the nearer the preaching and doctrine comes to the norm of the Holy Scripture, the purer will be the Church; the further it recedes from the rule of the Word, the more impure and corrupt will be the Church."
Cited in Henry Eyster Jacobs, A Summary of the Christian Faith, Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1913, p. 383f.
"Since the Word of God is this weapon [sword], it behooves us to make use of it at all times and to this end become acquainted with it both by means of public preaching and by earnest Bible study at home. Cursory reading must be supplemented by careful memorizing of proof-texts and strong passages. Only in this way shall we be able to make the proper use of the Word of God as a true weapon of offense at all times."
Paul E. Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the New Testament, 2 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, II, p. 292. Ephesians 6:17.
"So much, we see, depends on the kind of men who preach the gospel. Let all preachers keep this in mind! In the last analysis, however, the decisive assurance for all believers is the Word itself with its divine effects. See Galatians 1:8. In Thessalonians, too, the ultimate ground of assurance is the Word."
R. C. H. Lenski, Thessalonians, Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1937, p. 259. 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Galatians 1:8.
"So it goes in the spiritual government of the Church, as specially indicated in the narrative now before us. Where I have preached and taught during the past ten or twenty years, there another could perhaps, have done more in one year; and one sermon may bring forth more fruit than many others. Here, also, it is true that our labor, diligence and effort can accomplish nothing These two things must go together, namely, that each one does his duty, and that he, nevertheless, acknowledges with Peter: 'My labor cannot bring forth anything, if thou dost not give the increase.'"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, IV, p. 153. Luke 5:1-11.
"God has chosen despised and frail human beings for the ministry of the Word that the divine power of the Word might become apparent—a power impossible to suppress even in the weakest of persons. Moreover, if the mighty of the world were to preach the Gospel, people would be captivated more by the authority of the person preaching than by the Word itself."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1118.
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables..."That is, we preach not the nonsense of men, but we are sure that what we preach is of God and has become so through our eyes and ears. That is to say, When we were with Christ upon the mountain, we saw and heard his glory."
Martin Luther, Commentary on Peter and Jude, ed. John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1990, p. 245. 2 Peter 1:16-18.
"That is the reason why our Church from the very beginning declared that it requires its preachers 'not to depart an inch' from its confessions, not to turn aside from the doctrines laid down in them, non tantum in rebus, sed etiam in phrasibus, that is, both as regards the matter offered in their sermons and the manner of their teaching."
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 277.
"The Gospel ministry should spare no one, no matter how high the position may be which he occupies, but should rebuke wrong in everybody. This is why ministers and preachers exist. A very heavy burden is placed on them. They should so conduct their office that they stand ready to answer for it on Judgment Day. If they do not speak to you and rebuke in you what their office requires them to speak and to rebuke, God will require your blood from their hand. Tell me, why should we preachers burden ourselves still more by preaching to you as you desire? It is not our word. Nor do we live for your sake, as though you had ordered us, and we had to preach what you like. Preachers can, will, and should not do this. Therefore he who will not listen is free in God's name to walk out through the church door and let our Lord God keep His ministry unhindered."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1114.
Lack of trust in the efficacy of the Word has led to a scornful attitude toward Lutheran pastors. Synodical leaders have no love for the Word of God, so they also despise the divinely called pastors under their oppressive and corrupt regimes. Synodical leaders effectively convey their contempt toward the Word and the clergy in dealing with congregations. Even if the congregation shares this contempt for the Word and deals with the pastor in the most evil and underhanded way possible, the minister is still obligated by his call to teach the Word in its truth and purity, regardless of the consequences. If the congregational leaders engage in adultery and have to be taken to court to pay support for the children of their previous marriages, they will not likely endure the pure Word of God. If the treasurer is a man who lives with and assaults his girlfriend and then damages the police car when he is arrested, he is only going to like corrupt pastors who flatter him. If the minister cuts a deal with the synod or the congregation to preserve his comfort through doctrinal compromise, he is no longer a shepherd, but a wolf with a shepherd’s crook, all the more dangerous for his disguise. Wolves love to run in packs, so the other wolves welcome him, especially if he has the sniveling, groveling attitude they crave.
Strangely, pastors have abandoned those who love the Gospel in favor of those who hate the Word and only see it in terms of benefiting themselves. The pan-Lutheran effort to promote unionism has created several generations of those who are completely indifferent to sound doctrine. Nevertheless, some remain who have not bowed the knee to Baal. The Word and Sacraments gather the congregation, so if the Gospel cannot be tolerated by one group of people, then there will be another who will listen and appreciate.
Now we are at the lowest point in Lutheran history, worse than the days before the Book of Concord was published. Pastors and congregations have the opportunity of re-discovering orthodox Lutheran doctrine. Many old Lutheran books are still circulating through book sales, so it is possible to gather a fine library in spite of what the synods are failing to do. When people read the Lutheran classics for the first time and discover names they have never known before, such as Loy, Jacobs, and Krauth, they are amazed that men could live in another century and deal with the same problems we are facing today. Even more exotic are the famous but obscure theologians of Europe. When I became a Lutheran, I could find their books in the college library in Latin, but nowhere else. Now I can at least own a selection of Gerhard, Chemnitz, Chytraeus, and Quensted, who are no longer just names in a Lutheran encyclopedia but clear, Gospel teachers, honored in the past for their great learning but scorned in the present for not marketing the Gospel with gimmicks and graphs.
Pastors, whether they are in a synod or independent, have the greatest flexibility in their use of time. They can control how to spend their time more easily than most professionals, or they can make themselves into victims of busy-work. Sometimes they are just lazy. A pastor’s time should be consumed with preparation for the sermon, adult classes, catechism, and visitation. He can and should ignore almost everything else. He is not the social director of the Love Boat. At meetings he should invoke the famous Kiwanis rule, “If you are in favor of this activity, you must also support it by helping out. Otherwise, do not talk in favor of something you have no intention of supporting or attending.” Pastors do not need to dither about social events, taking care of the property, or where to take the youth group on the next outing. Congregations have cleverly pushed their responsibilities onto the pastor by abandoning their own duties, then insisting that these non-essential jobs be done by him or his wife. One congregation railed at the previous pastor for taking too long on the production of the newsletter, then copied and assembled it themselves for two or three months. Suddenly they concluded that the newsletter was not needed at all. “No one reads it,” claimed the woman who had grown weary of xeroxing, stapling, and addressing.
"Your first desire will be that all men may obtain the same knowledge of divine grace. Hence your love will not be restrained from serving all to the fullest extent, preaching and proclaiming the divine truth wherever possible, and rejecting all doctrine and life not in harmony with this teaching. But take note, the devil and the world, unwilling that their devices be rejected, cannot endure the knowledge of what you do. They will oppose you with everything great, learned, wealthy and powerful, and represent you as a heretic and insane."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VI, p. 147.
I am quite sure that Luther did not have a Sunday School program, a baseball team, a flower chart, worship bulletins, or a coffee hour. If a congregation cannot get these going with their own labor, they should abandon them and not tell the pastor, “We refuse to do this on our own. It is now up to you to motivate us.” I was always impressed that members thought it was a good idea for me to deliver flowers to the shut-ins, whom I saw all the time. My idea was that shut-ins would love to see their own members every so often. Many times I organized an effort where all the members visited one another, and this was very beneficial for the entire congregation. It also frustrated those who loved being unhappy.
The lack of pastoral visitation today speaks eloquently about the lack of trust in the Word. If ministers believe in the power of the Word, they naturally take this power to people’s homes, to nursing homes, and to hospitals. They do not make appointments for people to see them in their offices. Hospital stays and family emergencies are so important that the minister should clear his schedule to be with his members when needed. In my opinion, one of the best uses of time is to sit with a family during an operation, to visit daily in the hospital, to spend extra time with a family during and after a funeral. Visiting with families in times of difficulty and in normal times will establish trust and build an interest in God’s Word.
Many skeptics will say, “This preaching, teaching, and visiting will consume all of a pastor’s time. There will be no more time left.” That is true. We all have 168 hours per week given to us by the Creator. It is best spent on important matters. Lutherans need to abandon the Methodist model of having special interest groups (Word War II discussion groups, stamp collectors), special Sundays to bring out the crowds (girl scout, boy scout, Masonic Lodge recognition day, Civil Air Patrol, favorite cookie day), and ecclesiastical intramurals. Some people think that the ideal church has a gym, although few gyms have chapels. Of course people are free to organize sports through the congregation, but they should see all social activities as fruit of the Gospel and not as Gospel. One evangelism expert ran all around the Michigan Synod, LCA, telling pastors how to organize baseball teams in their congregations. That’s how he built up his congregation, with baseball teams. He was no longer serving a congregation or married to his wife, but he wanted to make a baseball game into the Means of Grace. Even the most jaded ministers were shocked by his devotion to gimmicks.
"Infinite and unutterable is the majesty of the Word of God, and we can never thank God enough for it. Human reason, however, thinks: Ah, if I could hear the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, I would run to the end of the world! Listen, brother, God, the Creator of heaven and earth, does speak with you through His preachers; it is He who baptizes, instructs, and absolves you through the ministry of His Sacraments. These words of God are not words of Plato or Aristotle, but God Himself is speaking. And those preachers are the most suitable who very simply and plainly, without any airs and subtlety, teach the common people and youth, just as Christ taught the people with homespun parables. And those are the best and most suitable hearers who listen to the Word and do not doubt its teaching. They may be weak in faith; but as long as they do not doubt the doctrine, it is possible to help them."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House 1959 III, p. 1118.
Fads can be successful in bringing in members for a period of time. In the long run they leave behind large buildings devoted to social events and suppers, an apathetic congregation indifferent to doctrine and tired of being busy. Trying to turn an activity- oriented congregation into one which honors the Word is very difficult. The fun and games members will leave in droves. In contrast, a congregation devoted primarily to the Means of Grace will generate enjoyable activities without the pressure of trying to get something from it. One woman argued against having a voting booth in the congregation this way, “We have done that for several years and we did not get one member from it. So I say let’s stop.” The voting booth was a convenience for the neighborhood, but it seemed odd to me that one would expect people to say, “While we are voting, let’s join that church.” Similarly, members have been angry when people did not join after they built a new building or after they installed pews for the first time.
Pastors, no less than anyone else, tend to think in terms of material success. They would also like to see droves of people, a treasurer exasperated by having too much money, respectful handshakes at the Kiwanis’ luncheon, and hymns of praise from synodical officials. However, this pattern of thought must be constantly countered with the reality of the cross always being attached to the Word. We can easily give up the cross, as Willow Creek Community Church has done, but we must also give up the Word of God with it and be ashamed of the Gospel, as all the creek jumpers are. It does not take very long for a shift in mentality to take place in a minister, to become a man-pleaser, to resent the cross, to think only in terms of the unbelievers, to forsake the spiritual needs of the congregation in favor of keeping a worldly peace. Doctrinal turmoil and family crises can shake this Old Adam and Old Nick attitude loose, but family and friends will often make that response burdensome by scorning the difficulties involved in taking up the cross daily.
"If only the preachers remain orthodox and the doctrine is preserved, God will grant grace that among the multitude there will always be some who will accept the Word; for where the Word is pure and unadulterated, it cannot be without fruit."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1125. 1 Corinthians 15. Letter to town council and congregation, Creuzburg, 1543.
Opponents of independent congregations used to say, “Where will you get pastors?” Now they are saying, “Where will we get pastors?” The Missouri Synod has projected a collapse of clergy vocations in the next 20 years, as much as 77%.
“If the downward trend in the number of clergy continues as it did during the 1988-1997 period, the study suggests, there could be only 2,220 parish pastors in the Synod (compared with the 5,187 reported for the end of 1998) by 2017.”
LCMS News, January 24, 2000.
The Wisconsin Synod has closed down half of its seminary, graduating 60 seniors in 1987 and about 30 now. The shortage is already so noticeable now in WELS that they have more requests for assignments than they have graduates, both among pastors and teachers. In the 1980s, when I was trolling for orthodox books at Trinity Seminary (ELCA) in Columbus, a bookstore employee said the school had turned into a ghost-town. ELCA has the advantage of ordaining both sexes and the undecided as well.
What has caused this incredible shortage? It is pan-denominational and beyond hope of an easy fix. I believe Martin Marty and Richard Jungkuntz, starting their careers in the Synodical Conference and retiring in ELCA, both identified the problem when they retired. Both made the observation that their fathers were impoverished church workers when they were growing up. Each man pointed out that his father was respected, both in the church and in the community. Neither son admitted his role in tearing apart his denomination in the name of promoting Unitarian doctrine. But we seldom get a cure from the people who identify the disease. That requires a different doctor.
In the past, all denominations respected the Word of God to a great degree. Yale University once taught the historical accuracy of John’s Gospel and accepted Adam and Eve as individuals rather than symbols. The shift away from the authority and inerrancy of the Bible was subtle, beginning in the early 1900s and accelerating after the Depression, when cost reductions centralized denominational power and leveraged the mischief caused by key figures. The efficacy of the Word did not fade away overnight. As many Lutherans know, the Seminex crisis in the 1970s galvanized the Missouri Synod to such an extent that conservative leaders could pack a huge church just by announcing a meeting about the issues. Previously, the Wisconsin Synod and Evangelical Lutheran Synod had many special meetings about the doctrinal issues going back to the 1950s. During those decades, many held their heads about the pain and suffering caused by the doctrinal conflict. They remind me of the pastors who used to complain about how many packed the church for confirmation day, how many suddenly showed up for Christmas and Easter services, and then longed for the day to return when they saw banks of empty pews that once were filled. The ennui is universal in the Lutheran Church now.
Christian News proposed some answers for the clergy shortage, all dead wrong. Every solution was a Law remedy, including forcing the Missouri Synod district presidents back into the parish. The clergy shortage has been caused by a lack of respect for the Word and therefore a lack of respect for the people who preach and teach the Word. One of the first signs of this lack of respect was the greed of the synods in forcing the cost of seminary onto the students. Seminary tuition was once free but now costs as much as graduate school. Many have taken on crippling debt to become a pastor, but at some point people just say, “I cannot do this.”
"Just so it is also at present: Where true pastors and preachers are so poorly supported that no one donates anything to them, and moreover what they have is snatched out of their mouths by a shameless and unthankful world, by princes, noblemen, townsmen and farmers, so that they with their poor wives and children must suffer need, and when they die leave behind them pitiable, rejected widows and orphans. By this very many good-hearted and very clever people are more and more discouraged from becoming pastors and preachers."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, IV, p. 214. Seventh Sunday after Trinity Mark 8:1-9.
All the large congregations could easily adopt students and pay their tuition, but they are too self-centered to care, for the most part. I interned in a congregation where the highly paid senior pastor took away the annual gift given to seminary students, saying they did not need it. My home congregation asked for a small gift back once, because I began working as an intern for the princely sum of $300 a month. Shepherd of Peace gave $100 a year to prep school students but decided that was too much and took that away. It was roughly two weeks tuition at that time. That behavior would encourage children to rush off to an expensive prep school and become a pastor! A WELS prep school now costs over $5,000 per year. Bethany College (ELS) is $15,000 per year. Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary charges around $6,000 per year. Previously, someone who graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and received a call was given a refund of all his tuition, a tidy nest egg for establishing a home. The refund was canceled at the peak of seminary enrollment because it was “expensive.”
"Who would want to enter the ministry for the sake of money and assume the trouble of bothering with people by comforting or rebuking and excommunicating them? It is a very irksome office. I had rather learn a trade than for the sake of money incur the disfavor that befalls a preacher. For he has to be like an owl, which is picked on by all the other birds."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 951. Matthew 18:18.
The amount of money paid in salaries is not the key issue, since full-time ministers can now earn a decent salary and benefits. The problem is a general lack of respect for the Word being translated into contempt for pastors. (Teachers also feel the brunt of this contempt and many refuse to become parochial school principals, aggravating the pastoral shortage since pastors are often moved into these positions.) The lack of respect is communicated in many different ways, both on the synodical level and at the congregational level. The synods have all signaled their rejection of the divine call by stepping into congregations and meddling, deliberately causing problems and encouraging destructive members to fire their pastors. The old Lutheran Church in America protected pastors against this abuse at first but, just before merger, gave every bishop the power to remove ministers without cause or compensation. This meddling is especially corrupting, because genuine complaints against pastors who are grossly negligent or sexual predators are turned aside by Lutheran church officials if the pastor is their buddy. However, if the pastor has irked these very sensitive church officials, any destructive member, who may be a Pentecostal or an adulterer or an alcoholic, can become the official’s channel into the congregation’s life. I know a number of critics of the Church Growth Movement who have been driven out of the ministry for good by synod officials. They were faithful ministers who did their work, but the synodical Pharisees could not tolerate their astute observations (which were far milder than anything I have written).
"We have the comfort of this victory of Christ—that He maintains His Church against the wrath and power of the devil; but in the meantime we must endure such stabs and cruel wounds from the devil as are necessarily painful to our flesh and blood. The hardest part is that we must see and suffer all these things from those who call themselves the people of God and the Christian Church. We must learn to accept these things calmly, for neither Christ nor the saints have fared better."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 263.
Clergy meddle in congregations where they do not have a call. It even happens among independent congregations, where outsiders see a chance to step in and harvest something for their feeble egos. Nevertheless, if someone tries to interfere, he can get nowhere if he is identified and repudiated for his attempts. When Pastor Gerry Abenth met secretly with members of my LCA congregation and bragged about it in a letter, the council responded by rejecting him as a supply preacher. They regarded his behavior as disgraceful. If this attitude prevailed, there would be more ministers and less meddling by clergy.
"Let the preacher of the Gospel be sure that he has a divine call. Moreover, it is expedient for him to follow the example of Paul and highly praise and exalt his calling before the people (e.g. 1 Corinthians 4:14) so that he may gain the respect of those who hear him, just as a royal ambassador highly commends his embassy. This is not vainglory but a necessary glorying, because he is glorying, not in himself but in the King Who sent him, whose authority he desires to have honored and held in holy respect. And when in the name of the King he wants anything done by the subjects, he does not say: We pray you, but We command; we want this done. But for his own son he says: We pray, etc.”
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 925. W 40 I, 56f.
Remarkably, pastors who have retired from a congregation or accepted another call often sin worse than synod officials in making themselves important, injecting themselves into a situation where they do not belong. This attitude also shows a contempt for the divine call and the Means of Grace. It accelerates the decline of the learned ministry. Many people who would like to attend a congregation drop out when they become sickened by the nastiness created from meddling pastors. Conversely, ugly conflict attracts the worst kind of member and generates a false sense of unity based upon a common love of creating conflict.
District presidents: "A bad situation exists when a pastor retires but stays in the congregation where he served, and then continues to interfere in the ministry of his successor...Some retired pastors do what they should not—conduct funerals, weddings, etc. without the permission of the pastor or the congregation affected...Some retirees keep their nose in the business of their last parish...Some retirees meddle in the parish and undercut...the pastor of the congregation (where they last held membership)."
Kurt Brink, Overcoming Pastoral Pitfalls, Albuquerque: 1992, p. 125.
"But one thing no retired pastor who loves the Lord and his brother pastors will do IS INTERFERE IN THEIR MINISTRY! The retiree must 'let go' altogether of any and all interference in the parish from which he retired; failing or refusing to do this may result in resentment, disunity and bad feelings which can seriously disrupt the progress of a congregation."
Kurt Brink, Overcoming Pastoral Pitfalls, Albuquerque: 1992, p. 126.
"Here are examples, in some cases already alluded to by District Presidents:
1. Performing weddings, funerals and Baptism without first consulting his successor or the pastor of the congregation;
2. Still striving to retain a leadership role in the congregation from which he retired. RX: The retiree is essentially and actually a lay member and must not serve in any pastoral role unless he is requested or directed so to do;
3. Giving counsel or advice to his successor, or the pastor where he is a member in retirement. RX: If the latter wants or seeks counsel or help, let him ask for it.
4. Giving comfort or support to malcontents who are not satisfied with the present pastor. RX: Be courteous and advise the dissatisfied individuals that you are not the pastor and that they need to bring their concerns to the shepherd of the flock."
Kurt Brink, Overcoming Pastoral Pitfalls, Albuquerque: 1992, p. 126.
Lyle Schaller, a liberal Methodist, made some interesting observations in his newsletter. One was that ministers never used to move. They accepted a call and stayed in the same community for life. He also noticed (and this coming from a non-doctrinal writer) that ministers who stay in the same congregation for a long time also accomplish the most and have the strongest lay leadership. Finally, he also observed that the decline in respect for the ministry can be measured by the almost complete absence of ordination anniversaries. Previously, congregations held big celebrations for important anniversaries of a pastor’s ordination, banquets with invited guests and printed booklets. Now this seldom happens at all. Doubtless many a minister and his family felt a lift from having a special day showing gratitude for his work and his family’s share in it. Most ministers and parochial school teachers came from the families of church workers—in the past. Now there is a dramatic decrease in vocations among children who grew up with a parent working for the church.
For those who prevail and remain ministers, this word from Luther is especially encouraging:
"The preaching of this message may be likened to a stone thrown into the water, producing ripples which circle outward from it, the waves rolling always on and on, one driving the other, till they come to the shore. Although the center becomes quiet, the waves do not rest, but move forward. So it is with the preaching of the Word. It was begun by the apostles, and it constantly goes forward, is pushed on farther and farther by the preachers, driven hither and thither into the world, yet always being made known to those who never heard it before, although it be arrested in the midst of its course and is condemned as heresy."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 202. Ascension Day Mark 16:14-20.
The question is no longer whether the established synods will collapse but when people will finally acknowledge that the wonderful one-horse shay of the Lutheran Church has fallen into pieces.
“Have you heard of the wonderful one–hoss shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to the day…
You see, of course, if you’re not a dunce
How it went to pieces all at once,
All at once and nothing first,
Just as bubbles do when they burst,
End of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
Logic is logic. That’s all I say.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, (1809-1894), The Deacon’s Masterpiece, A Logical Story, 1854.
The poem is a humorous description of how Puritanism collapsed in New England all at once in spite of its reliance upon logic. The one-hoss shay was built by the parson to last forever and just fell apart. In New England we can see that the Calvinists soon became Unitarians. Almost at once Yale went from teaching the inerrancy of the Bible to making fun of the Virgin Birth in a student/faculty evening of entertainment, where Benjamin Bacon was put on trial and accused of believing in the ancient doctrine.
The established synods are covered in flop-sweat from studying their own statistics. Their worship attendance and regular offerings will plummet in the next two decades, after many previous years of decline. The Tetzels have never done better, holding the feeble hands of elderly widows as they sign irrevocable gifts over to the synod, making their dupes think they are helping their church (as in congregation) when they are dumping treasure on the synod. The estate gifts will increase the arrogance of the synod officials and the decline of the Lutheran Church, similar to giving a wastrel a lump sum of money to improve his life and character. As noted before, the synods also face a precipitous decline in ordinations at a time when all the professions are recruiting the same people. Once, late entry into seminary was looked upon with great skepticism and discouraged in every possible way. One bishop said, “Men who enter the ministry late also tend to leave quickly, because they cannot abide the way they are treated. We do better with young men who have never enjoyed the benefits and efficiency of the business world.” Now the conservative seminaries are filled with older men, who are no less able to serve than younger men. However, the new seminary graduates have far fewer years to serve in the ministry, even if they stay until retirement.
Roman doctrine has taken over the Lutheran synods to such an extent that the pyramid of lapdogs all teach what his excellency, the Antichrist, infallibly declares in Rome. Some of them are a little shy about Marian doctrine and Purgatory, but they emphatically stand for the substance of papal error, as listed below:
1. Each time Lutheran leaders want to assault a Biblical doctrine, they declare that it is suddenly a “gray area of Scripture.” The word “gray” is stretched out, as in g – r – a – y. As Chemnitz noted, this is the tactic used by Rome when clobbered in public debates while using the Scriptures to defend themselves. The Church of Rome originated the historical critical method to dispose of the Word. Indefensible errors are beyond the reach of the clear Word of God, because God has hidden His will in many g – r – a – y passages. Once the clarity (perspicuity) of the Scriptures is jettisoned, all sound doctrine vanishes.
2. The ultimate authority is the visible church, not the Scriptures or the writings of orthodox theologians. Lutherans hide behind the most obnoxious attacks on the Christian faith by saying, “The synod has said,” reminding me of the periodical in the Notre Dame library, The Pope Speaks. In addition, no one can question false doctrine when the synod has established it as true, whether it is justification without faith (LCMS, WELS, ELS) or self-love (Church of the Lutheran Confession, Concordia Lutheran Conference).
3. Tradition is more important than the Word of God, and the pope (synod president) decides what this ever-changing tradition is. The little Antichrists will make ministers and laity pay for questioning their infallible authority. It’s fun to be the pope.
4. Lutherans have pursued the cult of personality as assiduously as the Church of Rome and the Reformed. Instead of extolling the ministry of the Word, discerning the spirits, and judging according to Scriptures, Lutheran leaders cover their foul deeds by assuming a cloak of invulnerability. “He is not a false teacher. He is a nice guy.” That response is no more Scriptural than saying, “I will not discuss doctrine with you, because you are a bad person.” Watch the work of various Lutheran synods and see how the public relations people glory in the person holding the office rather than in the Means of Grace.
5. Lutheran leaders believe in justification according to works. The entire system has been based upon leaders posing as great church builders, politicians, and man-pleasers, devoid of any firm theological convictions ever since the 1930s. Just as the pope rises to his position through a lifetime of deft political moves, so the Lutheran synods have rewarded wily politicians for positioning themselves as pragmatic saviors of the synod. Theologians are pets to be dragged to conferences, not leaders of the synod.
6. Lutheran leaders agree with the Antichrist that no one is really forgiven. Graciousness is gone from the Lutheran Church, especially among the conservative poseurs. The lack of clergy candidates may be based upon years of observing various synod leaders obstruct justice when their pals are criminals, meanwhile crushing faithful men and destroying their capacity to do any meaningful work while driving them from the ministry and slandering them in the process.
7. The Church of Rome has its Opus Dei, a secret society dedicated to accumulating power. Lutheran groups have their own secret groups as well. The pan-Lutheran homosexual network is one. Some in ELCA simply call it the Network. The Church Growth Janissaries are another faction, eager to denounce their opponents while denying their true allegiance. The unfeminine feminists are yet another network, working with other activists to obtain their Beelzebub-given rights.
Once we have a proper understanding of the one-hoss shay, pastors can proceed in one of two directions. The first direction is to stay in the same synod [except ELCA] and withdraw from all political efforts, memorials, resolutions, and elections of synodical saviors. It bears repeating that Lutheran pastors will not accomplish God’s work by using Satan’s methods. The moment Lutherans think they can win by electing the right politician, they have defeated themselves by trusting in men rather than the Word. That is why Christian News has been a spectacular failure. Stop by the office of Pastor Herman Otten and you will realize that it is the switchboard for all synodical political moves. Certain appointed men leak the synod’s version of events to Otten, usually asking that these leaks not be published. Marcus Nitz did this for WELS. Steve Kurtzahn did the spin-doctoring for the Church of the Lutheran Confession. Paul McCain is the back door for Al Barry in the LCMS. The ELS gets its message across, helped by the connection with various Ottens attending Bethany College. Fortunately for all of the designated leakers, Herman believes the last person who talked to him. Therefore, the Lutheran switchboard is constantly buzzing with stories, counter-claims, outraged covert answers, denunciations, plots and strategies. The synods make their points through Otten, and the political circles within those synods counter-thrust through Christian News. It is such jolly fun because the conservatives constantly lose ground while congratulating one another on their astute political moves.
If a car has foundered in the mud, and spinning the tires makes it even more stuck, the driver will eventually stop revving the engine and find another solution. Pastors who think they can switch synods [except for leaving ELCA] for a more conservative one are in a dream world, because all the synods are part of the same pyramid of lapdogs. Leaving a synod means giving up friends and adopting a new set of enemies. Bloodlines cross synodical boundaries, so knowing a Tiefel in the CLC is no improvement over meeting one in the WELS. Someone from another synod is never accepted and can never object to anything, because he is “not one of ours.” The Missouri Synod can absorb ELCA pastors who have seen the light, but the smaller synods are horribly inbred, suspicious, and jealous. As Jake Preus, former governor of Minnesota and founder of Lutheran Brotherhood, warned his sons Jack and Robert, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod was too small and petty for men with ability. Jack and Robert were often panned for leaving the ELS for the LCMS, but it can also be said that the ELS made sure the Preus brothers were not welcome, especially since they came over from the much larger Evangelical Lutheran Church. Worst of all, both men had doctorates in a synod (the ELS) where no one else did. Once Ylvisaker and the Preus brothers were gone, the ELS had no intellectual leadership.
Since changing synods is not a worthwhile option, it is good to redesign one’s life according to faith in the efficacy of the Word. The pastor’s primary concern is the spiritual welfare of his congregation. He can simply spend all his time working on the sermon, the classes he teaches, and visitation. When he teaches the pure Word of God without compromise, people will be drawn to the congregation and others will be outraged. The Word will accomplish God’s will, whether it means staying in the congregation as it grows stronger or leaving under a hail of abuse and beginning an independent congregation. Conflict will draw the pastor closer to the Word. Historical antecedents will become especially interesting to study. The Book of Concord and Bente’s Historical Introductions are not at all boring when they are lifelines to doctrinal sanity and clarity. Every time Robert Mueller, Wally Oelhaven, or Floyd Stolzenburg promoted Reformed doctrine, I went back to my office and studied the classic works of the Lutheran Church.
The typical minister has many different opportunities for broadcasting the Word of God and seeing a harvest.
1. The parish newsletter can be a source of spiritual wisdom and doctrinal teaching rather than a whip to admonish people to greater levels of activity and giving.
2. Sermons can be printed and recorded on audio and video tape.
3. The worship bulletin, as noted previously, provides as many as 64 places to discuss the Scriptures and quote great Lutheran theologians.
4. Many cable television stations must give access to local groups, including churches. At tiny Bethany in New Ulm, we provided weekly doctrinal talks on local cable television for about a year. It is quite a challenge, but worth the effort.
5. Many congregations now have web pages, so their space can be used to broadcast essays, sermons, and links all over the world. Many of us contact each other only through email and the Internet. Using the website wizard, Microsoft Publisher will create a website with art in a few minutes. The Publisher file converts itself to HTML files. The HTML files can then be loaded on many different free sites, including ones with no ads.
6. A congregation can reprint a classic no longer circulating, but needed by Lutherans. The cost is difficult for one person to bear but relatively easy for a congregation. Sales will make the effort pay for itself or at least reduce the loss.
7. The act of supporting newly published classic Lutheran books by buying them will help keep them in print.
8. The congregations owe their children more than passing them through the grades and confirming them in a perfunctory fashion. Every child should reach maturity with a knowledge of the Book of Concord and a love for the Christ-centered hymns of the Lutheran Church.
"The church depends upon the faithful use of this Word both for gathering people into its fold, and for edifying them in the Gospel of Christ. Other means for the accomplishing of these purposes may seem more popular. But nothing can take the place of the Bible, inasmuch as it alone presents the Lord Jesus and is empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is the only effective instrument in reaching and regenerating human souls."
A. A. Zinck, D.D. What a Church Member Should Know, Philadelphia: United Lutheran Pubication House, 1937, p. 20.
"In order to keep your faith pure, do nothing else than stand still, enjoy its blessings, accept Christ's works, and let him bestow His love upon you. You must be blind, lame, deaf, dead, leprous and poor, otherwise you will stumble at Christ. That Gospel which suffers Christ to be seen and to be doing good only among the needy, will not belie you."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 110.
"But all this is portrayed here in order that we might learn that with God nothing is impossible, whether it be misfortune, calamity, anger, or whatever it may be, and that He sometimes allows misfortune to come upon the good as well as upon the wicked."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 143.
"On the other hand, we are outwardly oppressed with the cross and sufferings, and with the persecution and torments of the world and the devil, as with the weight of heavy stone upon us, subduing our old sinful nature and checking us against antagonizing the Spirit and committing other sins."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 145.
"Yet this is also true, that Christ often delays the bestowal of His help, as He did on this occasion, and on another, John 21, when He permitted the disciples to toil all the night without taking anything, and really appeared as if He would forget His own Word and promise."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, IV, p. 154. Luke 5:1-11; John 21.
"For if I perish, no great harm is done; but if I let God's Word perish, and I remain silent, then I do harm to God and to the whole world."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 176.
"Therefore God must lead us to a recognition of the fact that it is He who puts faith in our heart and that we cannot produce it ourselves. Thus the fear of God and trust in Him must not be separated from one another, for we need them both, in order that we may not become presumptuous and overconfident, depending upon ourselves. This is one of the reasons why God leads His saints through such great trials."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 21.
"Again, with truly pious hearts, which in many respects are timid and tender, his [Satan's] practice is just the opposite. He tortures them with everything terrible that can be imagined, martyring and piercing them as with fiery darts, until they may find no good thing nor comfort before God. His object in both cases is to ruin souls by means of his lies and to lead them to eternal death."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 302. Pentecost Sunday John 14:23-31
"Thus you see, that God can deal with His saints in a way to deprive them of happiness and comfort whenever He pleases, and cast them into the greatest fear concerning that in which they have their greatest joy. So, likewise, He can again confer the greatest joy."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 36.
"That temptation occurs before God's Word is heard; this after we hear the Word, namely thus: when we know that God has promised help in the time of any trouble, but are not content with it, go forward and will not abide His promise, but prescribe time, place, and manner for His help; and then if He does not come as we expect and desire, faith vanishes."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 366.
"For the devil will not allow a Christian to have peace; therefore Christ must bestow it in a manner different from that in which the world has and gives, in that he quiets the heart and removes from within fear and terror, although without there remain contention and misfortune."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 380
"Therefore, such a trial of the saints is as necessary or even more necessary than food and drink, in order that they may remain in fear and humility, and learn to adhere alone to the grace of God."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 40.
"For if they [great saints] should at all times be strong in spirit, and experience only joy and sweetness, they might finally fall into the fatal pride of the devil, which despises God and trusts in self."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 40.
"Secondly, God permits His saints to suffer these trials as an example for others, both to alarm the carnally secure and to comfort the timid and alarmed...But when we see and hear that God has in like manner dealt with His saints and did not spare even His own mother, we have the knowledge and comfort that we need not despair in our trials, but remain quiet and wait until He helps us, even as He has helped all His saints."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 40f.
"Nor does He send such trial upon you in order to cast you off, but that you may the better learn to know and the more closely cling to His Word, to punish your lack of understanding and that you may experience how earnestly and faithfully He cares for you."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 44.
Ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
"We should take to heart and firmly hold fast to these words and keep them in mind when in sorrow and distress, that it will not last long, then we would also have more constant joy, for as Christ and His elect had their 'a little while,' so you and I and everyone will have his 'a little while.' Pilate and Herod will not crucify you, but in the same manner as the devil used them so he will also use your persecutors. Therefore when your trials come, you must not immediately think how you are to be delivered out of them. God will help you in due time. Only wait. It is only for a little while, He will not delay long."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 77. John 16:16-23.
"Not only is Christ hidden from the world, but a still harder thing is it that in such trials Christ conceals himself even from His church, and acts as if He had forgotten, aye, had entirely forsaken and rejected it, since He permits it to be oppressed under the cross and subjected to all the cruelty of the world, while its enemies boast, glory and rejoice over it, as we shall hear in the next Gospel."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 67.
"This is spoken to all Christians, for every Christian must have temptations, trials, anxieties, adversities, sorrows, come what may. Therefore He mentions here no sorrow nor trial, He simply says they shall weep, lament, and be sorrowful, for the Christian has many persecutions. Some are suffering loss of goods; others there are whose character is suffering ignominy and scorn; some are drowned, others are burned; some are beheaded; one perishes in this manner, and another in that; it is therefore the lot of the Christian constantly to suffer misfortune, persecution, trials and adversity. This is the rod or fox tail with which they are punished. They dare not look for anything better as long as they are here. This is the court color by which the Christian is recognized, and if anyone wants to be a Christian, he dare not be ashamed of his court color or livery."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 79.
"Christians are in far greater anxiety, worry, and tribulation than worldly people. Yet, in spite of all this, the Christian is far happier than worldly men. If God were to come this night and demand his soul from him, he would say, 'Praise God! My race is run; soon I shall be with my Savior.'"
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 55.
"Here in this Gospel we see how the Lord comforts and imparts courage to His children whom He is about to leave behind Him, when they would come in fear and distress on account of His death or of their backsliding. We also notice what induced the evangelist John to use so many words that he indeed repeats one expression four times, which according to our thinking he might have expressed in fewer words."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 73f. Third Sunday after Easter John 16:16-23
"Therefore we must also feel within us this 'a little while' as the dear disciples felt it, for this is written for our example and instruction, so that we may thereby be comforted and be made better. And we should use this as a familiar adage among ourselves; yes, we should feel and experience it, so that we might at all times say, God is at times near and at times He has vanished out of sight. At times I remember how the Word seems neither to move me nor to apply to me. It passes by; I give no heed to it. But to this 'a little while' we must give heed and pay attention, so that we may remain strong and steadfast. We will experience the same as the disciples."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 75f. Third Sunday after Easter John 16:16-23
"And although we do at times depart from the Word, we should not therefore remain altogether away from it, but return again, for He makes good His Word. Even though man cannot believe it, God will nevertheless help him to believe it, and this He does without man's reason or free will and without man adding anything thereto."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 76. Third Sunday after Easter John 16:16-23
"Why does God do this and permit His own to be persecuted and hounded? In order to suppress and subdue the free will, so that it may not seek an expedient in their works; but rather become a fool in God's works and learn thereby to trust and depend upon God alone."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 79f. Third Sunday after Easter John 16:16-23
"The worst of all is, that we must not only suffer shame, persecution and death; but that the world rejoices because of our great loss and misfortunes. This is indeed very hard and bitter. Sure it shall thus come to pass, for the world will rejoice when it goes ill with us; but this comfort we have that their joy shall not last long, and our sorrow shall be turned into eternal joy."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 80. Third Sunday after Easter John 16:16-23.
The Woman in Travail
"The woman is here in such a state of mind that she is fearful of great danger, and yet she knows that the whole work lies in the hands of God; in Him she trusts; upon Him it is she depends; He also helps her and accomplishes the work, which the whole world could not do, and she thinks of nothing but the time that shall follow, when she shall again rejoice; and her heart feels and says, A dangerous hour is at hand, but afterwards it will be well. Courage and the heart press through all obstacles. Thus it will also be with you, when you are in sorrow and adversity, and when you become new creatures. Only quietly wait and permit God to work. He will accomplish everything without your assistance."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 81.
“This parable of the woman is a strong and stubborn argument against free will, that it is entirely powerless and without strength in the things pertaining to the salvation of our souls. The Gospel shows very plainly that divine strength and grace are needed. Man's free will is entirely too weak and insignificant to accomplish anything here. But we have established our own orders and regulations instead of the Gospel and through these we want to free ourselves from sin, from death, from hell, and from all misfortune and finally be saved thereby. A great mistake."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 81.
..."but wait thou patiently and permit God to do with you according to His will. He shall accomplish it; permit Him to work. We shall accomplish nothing ourselves, but at times we shall feel death and hell. This the ungodly shall also feel, but they do not believe that God is present in it and wants to help them. Just as the woman here accomplishes nothing, she only feels pain, distress and misery; but she cannot help herself out of this state."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 82.
"Such people, however, do not understand divine things, they think they will suddenly enter death with Christ, whom they have never learned to know except in words. Thus was Peter also disposed, but he stood before Christ like a rabbit before one beating a drum. Notice, how the old Adam lacks courage when under the cross! The new man, however, can indeed persevere through grace."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 85.
"In suffering pious persons have no aim of their own, but if it be God's will they bear good fruit like the tree planted by streams of water; and that is pleasing to God, and besides all presumption is condemned, all show and every excuse however good they may be. But he who battles heroically will receive for his suffering here joy, the eternal in place of the temporal. Of this Christ says: 'Your joy will be turned into sorrow.'"
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 86.
"Thus too, if our confidence is to begin, and we become strengthened and comforted, we must well learn the voice of our Shepherd, and let all other voices go, who only lead us astray, and chase and drive us hither and thither. We must hear and grasp only that article which presents Christ to us in the most friendly and comforting manner possible. So that we can say with all confidence: My Lord Jesus Christ is truly the only Shepherd, and I, alas, the lost sheep, which has strayed into the wilderness, and I am anxious and fearful, and would gladly be good, and have a gracious God and peace of conscience, but here I am told that He is as anxious for me as I am for Him."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, IV, p. 86.
"Now it is the consolation of Christians, and especially of preachers, to be sure and ponder well that when they present and preach Christ, that they must suffer persecution, and nothing can prevent it; and that it is a very good sign of the preaching being truly Christian, when they are thus persecuted, especially by the great, the saintly, the learned and the wise."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 97.
"Christ's kingdom grows through tribulations and declines in times of peace, ease and luxury, as St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 'My power is made perfect in weakness, etc.' To this end help us God! Amen."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 99.
"One Christian who has been tried is worth a hundred who have not been tried for the blessing of God grows in trials. He who has experienced them can teach, comfort, and advise many in bodily and spiritual matters."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1381. Genesis 27:28-29.
"The ultimate purpose of afflictions is the mortification of the flesh, the expulsion of sins, and the checking of that original evil which is embedded in our nature. And the more you are cleansed, the more you are blessed in the future life. For without a doubt glory will follow upon the calamities and vexations which we endure in this life. But the prime purpose of all these afflictions is the purification, which is extremely necessary and useful, lest we snore and become torpid and lazy because of the lethargy of our flesh. For when we enjoy peace and rest, we do not pray, we do not meditate on the Word but deal coldly with the Scriptures and everything that pertains to God or finally lapse into a shameful and ruinous security."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 18. Genesis 45:3.
"If we would be Christians, therefore, we must surely expect and reckon upon having the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies, who will bring every possible misfortune and grief upon us. For where the Word of God is preached, accepted, or believed, and produces fruit, there the holy cross cannot be wanting. And let no one think that he shall have peace; but he must risk whatever he has upon earth—possessions, honor, house and estate, wife and children, body and life. Now, this hurts our flesh and the old Adam; for the test is to be steadfast and to suffer with patience in whatever way we are assailed, and to let go whatever is taken from us."
Large Catechism, The Lord's Prayer, Third Petition, #65, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 715f. Tappert, p. 429. Heiser, p. 201.
"When the Gospel begins to assert its influence, everybody wants to become a Christian. All seems well, and everybody is pleased. But when a wind or rainstorm of temptation comes on, people fall away in droves Then sectaries arrive, as worms and bugs, gnawing and polluting the fruits of the Gospel, and so much false doctrine arises that few stay with the Gospel."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 37. John 4:46-54.
“Bear the cross, bear the cross.
Zion, till thy latest breath
Bear the cross of scorn and jeering
And be faithful unto death;
See the crown of life appearing,
Zion count all other things as loss.
Bear the cross, bear the cross!”
Johann E. Schmidt, “Zion Rise, Zion, Rise,” The Lutheran Hymnal, #479, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.
"Christendom must have men who are able to floor their adversaries and take armor and equipment from the devil, putting him to shame. But this calls for strong warriors who have complete control of Scripture, can refute a false interpretation, know how to wrest the sword they wield, that is, their Bible passages, from the hands of the adversaries and beat them back with them."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 419. Ephesians 6:10-17.
"We hold to that Defender of our church who says in Mt. 16:18: I shall build My church, not upon length of time, nor upon the great number of people, nor upon 'so it must be,' nor upon the grace or word of the saints, nor, finally, upon John the Baptist or Elijah, Isaiah, or any of the prophets, but upon this sole and solid Rock, Christ, the Son of God."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 863. Matthew 16:18.
"Now it is evident that fruits do not bear the tree, not does the tree grow on the fruit, but the reverse—trees bear fruits, and fruits grow on trees. As there must be trees before there can be fruits, and as the fruits do not make the tree either good or corrupt, but the tree produces the fruits, even so man must first be either good or corrupt before he does good or corrupt works. His works do not make him either good or corrupt, but he does either good or corrupt works." Martin Luther, St. L. XIX, 1003f.
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 306. Matthew 7:18.
Martin Luther, House Postil
"No one is so foolish as to go into a field full of thorns and thistles and look for grapes and figs. Such fruits we seek on a different plant, which is not so full of barbs and prickles. The same thing happens in our gardens. Seeing a tree full of apples or pears, everybody exclaims: Ah, what a fine tree that is! Again, where there is no fruit on a tree or the fruit is worm-eaten, cracked, and misshapen, everybody says the tree is worthless, fit to be cut down and cast into the fire, so that a better tree may be planted in its place. These tests, the Lord says, you must apply to the false prophets, and you will not make a mistake, no matter how good their appearance may be. If a wolf had put on twenty sheepskins, still you must know him to be a wolf and not be deceived by him."
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, trans. W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House 1897, p. 412.
In all the years I served as a pastor within a synod, I never heard the closing words of Walther’s Law and Gospel—a fitting climax for this work—where Luther is quoted verbatim. Like most pastors, I heard plenty of Law from church officials and certain members, although most of it was not God’s Law but man’s opinion. I have seen many men battered down to the point where they would never serve another congregation, even on a part-time basis. Pastors’ families have been abused as well. Many of the characters named in this book are directly responsible for this shameful outcome. The same Church Growth leaders’ names keep coming up in conversations about men pushed out of the ministry for the flimsiest excuse. One mission board urged one congregation to get rid of their pastor because the parish was not growing fast enough for them. They refused, so the mission board threatened to cut off their support. Certain district presidents and their toadies also figure prominently in the expulsion of good pastors from the ministry. These church leaders have enjoyed their triumphal march through the Lutheran Church, carrying the spoils of their victories: the wealth of the nation from estate gifts…the Lutheran theologians captive in chains. Their raucous celebration in this life will be followed by an eternity of God’s justice.
I would like to leave Lutheran pastors and laity with this thought, that they still have what the false teachers can never take away – the Word of God. No weapon fashioned by man can defeat the work of the Holy Spirit. No matter how weak and flawed we may be, God’s Word remains powerful, effective, active, and filled with eternal-life-giving energy. We should not and cannot judge how successful we are, since God alone is glorified in the ministry of the Word. Who would have guessed that a widowed housemother at a tiny college was raising four sons who would be pastors, three serving as professors at three different Lutheran seminaries, two of them respected authors to this day, one of them a seminary president? Mrs. Pieper lived in the humblest circumstances and probably never imagined she would be mentioned in various books as an example of how God works. Martin Luther expressed this faithfully in his thoughts on Matthew 7, where Jesus compared sound doctrine to false doctrine.
St. Louis edition, XIII, pp. 800ff.
"Now, the Lord in this passage speaks, in particular, of preachers or prophets, whose real and proper fruit is nothing else than this, that they diligently proclaim this will of God to the people and teach them that God is gracious and merciful and has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but wants him to live, moreover, that God has manifested His mercy by having His only-begotten Son become man. Whoever, now, receives Him and believes in Him, that is, whoever takes comfort in the fact that for the sake of His Son, God will be merciful to him, will forgive his sins, and grant him eternal salvation, etc., —whoever is engaged in this preaching of the pure Gospel and thus directs men to Christ, the only Mediator between God and men, he, as a preacher, is doing the will of God. That is the genuine fruit by which no one is deceived or duped. For if it were possible that the devil were to preach this truth, the preaching would not be false or made up of lies and a person believing it would have what it promises.—After this fruit, which is the principal and most reliable one and cannot deceive, there follow in the course of time other fruits, namely, a life in beautiful harmony with this doctrine and in no way contrary to it. But these fruits are to be regarded as genuine fruits only where the first fruit, namely, the doctrine of Christ, already exists."
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 413. Matthew 7:21. [emphasis in original]
 Father Leonard Feeney was banned and excommunicated by Pope Pius XII. As I recall, he pumped gas for a period of time until sufficiently humbled. Then he was taken back into the Church of Rome. The Wisconsin Synod does this routinely, dissolving a congregation and letting a pastor sell aluminum siding or frozen food for two years, then reluctantly letting the dissenter back in. Also, certain calls are reserved for punishment, so receiving a call to a certain parish is a sign of synodical condemnation.
 The purpose driven church is another smokescreen for the Church Growth Movement. Their bible is The Purpose Driven Church, Growth without Compromising Your Message and Mission, by Rick Warren, D.Min. (Fuller Seminary), Saddleback Community Church. Zondervan sells it as a Church Growth book, and indeed, Saddleback has always been known as a Church Growth beehive. Don’t tell anyone, but it is a Southern Baptist congregation. WELS is now promoting the purpose driven church. As I recall, the Church Growth Movement was also doctrinally neutral and safe for Lutherans to consume.
 "Who are you, after all, to search out these things? Do your duty and leave the result to God." What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 928.
 The Microsoft certification (MCSE) now consists of a series of tests based upon their new Windows 2000 operating system. Most people could complete this in a year and earn about $40,000. Cisco certification for the CCNA consists of four one-semester classes, or it may be done in a crash course. Cisco training involves routers and the Internet, so it is more of a hardware certification program while Microsoft is oriented toward software. Cisco CCNA’s can also make $40,000. Dual certification with a college degree means much more income. A programmer can make $50,000 but he will probably start out lower. His salary will depend on his skills and the company where he works. Computer science can be done out of the home and be independent. There are many other fields of computer science with great shortages, such as Unix administration, or web site design, for the artistic.
 My family always supported me, and my wife Chris has been willing to endure the difficulties imposed by synodical thugs. Those who have become independent find it is much easier than they imagined and they do not wish to go back.
 I do not regret any of the time spent talking to people. Many people have encouraged me at various times, and I only hope to repay the investment in some way.
 Erling Teiger had a fit about the truth of this statement, based upon Jay Webber’s report and information from other sources. The ELS was on board to produce a joint hymnal with WELS, but they bowed out when WELS allowed only two of the 200 hymns they wanted. Pastor Gaylin Schmeling often expressed his disgust over the hymnal, especially the pagan feminist Nicene Creed. When he got closer to the position of president of Bethany Seminary, his attitude changed miraculously. It was just like the series of Paris newspapers stories about Napoleon’s escape from Elba. The first one was, “Monster Escapes from Elba!” The last headline, just before Napoleon entered Paris, declared – “Our Glorious Emperor Returns!”
 The New King James Version can also be used, but it tends to agree with the horrid NIV in some places.
 I have produced Lutheran bulletin quotations and emailed them to people for about four years. They are also posted on my publications website.
 I have heard false doctrine defended many times with the excuse that The Lutheran Hymnal has hymns from non-Lutherans, omitting the more important details of hymns were selected or altered based upon agreement with sound doctrine. The Lutheran Hymnal is not perfect in this regard, but it is hardly a showcase for the promotion of false doctrine, as opposed to the evangelism efforts of Missouri and Wisconsin.
 Doubtless the two Crosby hymns were included in Christian Worship to signal approval of the use of all the Baptist-Pentecostal songs in non-liturgical services devoid of a hymnal, especially the notorious Seeker Service. Hymnal “supplements” are very popular in Church Growth congregations. They are a superb way to train people to leave Lutheran doctrine and worship. Lex orandi, lex credendi. We believe and worship the same way.
 Compare Christian Worship hymn verses to The Lutheran Hymnal. Note how the doctrinal war verses are omitted, yet there is room for the sappy and dumb hymns written by worship commission members and their pals. “We Are All One in Mission,” #566, encourages those who write doggerel that they too may publish a hymn one day.
 “Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide.” That was a favorite hymn to use from the LCA/ALC Service Book and Hymnal when a seminarian gave his sermon on church vocations. Compare the pompous and idiotic words of that hymn to “Thy Strong Word,” sung to the same tune.
 W. G. Pollack, The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1975, p. 137. My copy was discarded from Martin Luther College, WELS. The Handbook is invaluable.
 The Fabian socialists, including G. B. Shaw, believed in the slow introduction of their philosophy to England, calling themselves Fabians after Fabius Africanus, who invaded Rome slowly and effectively.
 CLC Pastor Dale Redlin used the hymn during a sermon, but bought Reformed booklets to distribute at a women’s meeting at his church. He also entered the Shrove Tuesday pancake wars by meeting secretly with a member of Faith in Nicollet and communicating his grave concerns to the conference visitor, without bothering to mention any of this to the called pastor of Faith, Nicollet. It is not enough to sing the hymn. One must also believe it and practice it.
 Lutheran Worship has only six verses of this immortal hymn, but spreads the inane “Earth and All Stars” over two pages. The words speak for themselves: loud rustling dry leaves, loud rushing planets, loud praying members.
 Spriggs was removed from the ministry. He was a featured writer in the Mission Counselor’s Newsletter, which featured the favored writers of the Wisconsin Synod. One issue is amusing: authors are - James Woodworth, Disciples of Christ; "Net Results," March, 1991; Roger K. Guy, Disciples of Christ; Arnell P. C. Arn, American Baptist Church; Jane Easter Bahls, Presbyterian; C. Jeff Woods, freelance writer and minister; Lyle Schaller, United Methodist; Pastor Paul Kelm, WELS; Pastor Jim Mumm, WELS; Pastor Peter Panitzke, WELS; Pastor Randall Cutter and Mark Freier, WELS; First Congregational Church, Winchester, MA." Pastor Jim Radloff, editor, WELS Mission Counselors' NEWSLETTER, April, '92, 2929 Mayfair Road Milwaukee, WI 53222. Cutter and Freier both left the Lutheran Church, abandoning their empty mission in Florida with a huge debt on the building.
Some WELS exits include Pastors: Rick Miller, Kelly Voigt, Robert Rhyne, Robert Timmermann, Jon Bendewald, some teachers, and the Taiwanese mission group.
 The Roman three year lectionary introduced by ELCA and adopted by the LCMS, WELS, and others, promotes of the sale of ELCA sermon helper books based on those texts. One WELS pastor said, “Your sermons are not in sync with my texts.” I wrote back, “Go back to the historic pericopes.”
 I know they are not Lutheran, but their devotion to the text keeps them in bounds. Commentaries tend to editorialize a lot.
 If you think I am exaggerating, read One Foot in Heaven, a book turned movie about a Methodist minister. On the appointed day in which the Masonic Lodge came to church in all their finery, he stunned the crowd by taking off his Geneva gown during the sermon to reveal…his Masonic costume! Actually, this would be a fine tradition for Holy Cross Lutheran in Madison, Wisconsin; St. Paul and Emmanuel in Columbus, Ohio.
 One WELS Internet site (California Arizona District) says that Mequon will graduate 34 seniors with more than 50 requests for assignments. Around 37 men will graduate from New Ulm, with more than 50 requests. About 46 women will graduate from New Ulm, with 65 requests. Lawrence Otto Olson’s Staff Ministry program will produce 3 male and 1 female minister. Olson needs help for his heavy load of teaching, so James Pope has been hired to help in Staff Ministry. If Mequon had the same student/professor ratio, the seminary would have 17 professors!
 I thought all of these men were far too mild in their attitude toward their synod, so they were not hellfire critics by any means. Once they were persistent in their questions, their doom was sealed.
 One woman observed, “I am glad that women are not allowed to vote in the CLC. The men have to take the blame for their terrible conduct. They are worse than old ladies.” Several laymen in the Church of the Lutheran Confession, including Dr. David Menton, told me they avoid the synod conventions because of the ugly behavior of the participants. One prospective pastor, who was already preaching in the CLC, observed one CLC gathering and said, “I will never join that group.”
 "For whom the devil cannot overcome with poverty, want, need and misery, he attacks with riches, favor, honor, pleasure, power and the like, and contends on both sides against us; yea, he 'walketh about,' says St. Peter in 1 Pt. 5:8...." Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 145. Money is a notoriously weak god. It cannot cure disease, must be protected, and does not answer prayers, as Luther has said.
 The shortages tell the church officials that they need to recruit (!) more pastors and teachers, after driving the parents of the most likely recruits out of church vocations. The synod leaders do not seem to realize that all businesses want the same young people to fill their positions, and they also recruit.
 The so-called Church of the Lutheran Confession also acknowledged that the Scriptures do not deal with their new pet doctrine, self-love, effectively letting anyone teach anything. The authors of the Formula of Concord wrote eloquently about self-love in their treatment of Original Sin. The Church of the Lutheran Confession never relies on the Lutheran Confessions.
 This is a good illustration of the universal teaching of the efficacy of the Word years ago. The ULCA merged to form the LCA in 1962, and the LCA and ALC merged with the Seminex group to form ELCA in 1987.