18 March 2008

Holy Tuesday Treachery

Today's a black day in the LCMS. Today the Synod ordered the cancellation of the popular radio show Issues, Etc. without stating a reason why, and terminated the employment of Pastor Todd Wilken, the show's host, and Mr. Jeff Schwarz, the show's producer. Folks, I don't know about you, but I do not think we can sit by and let this happen.

54 comments:

Karen Stubelt said...

Pastor Weedon;

Very upsetting news

Please keep us informed of the why's and what for's


Thanks for letting us know
Karen

Anonymous said...

I am unable to track down any other news on this... any links?

cmf

RevRuesch said...

Will,

This really, really upsets me. Please keep us regularly updated with any information you can find.

I see KFUO.org still has today's program listed as streaming at 3:05 like usual. Does "immediately" mean "right now, today?"

Matt

Brian P Westgate said...

As we would say at my former school, "OUTRAGE!!!!!!!!!"

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Very, very sad if true. I wouldn't have cared nearly so much about Lutheranism, or the Gospel in general, if it weren't for Wilken and Schwarz. I wouldn't have fought for keeping my kids in church if I hadn't learned from Issues, Etc., that it was so important. I wouldn't know about the importance of Christ-centered, cross-focused preaching.

I am in denial.

Aaron D. Wolf said...

Whoever attempts to dim the light of the Gospel will have to answer to the One Who set His face like a flint toward Jerusalem. Let the sweet incense arise before the Holy of Holies!

elephantschild said...

NO! NO!

How many have come to faith, or rediscovered their faith, through Issues, Etc?

Just tell us where to send the letters.

William Weedon said...

I'd suggest both phone calls AND letters AND emails.

Synod: 888-843-5267
KFUO: 314-725-0099

David Strand:
David.Strand@lcms.org

Synod's address:
1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7295

infocenter@lcms.org

mamajuliana said...

I'm callin'! They pulled the archive, too!!!!

I have learned SO MUCH from listening to Issues, ETC.

No fair....!!!

I'll go calm down now...

Anonymous said...

Methinks the Arch-duke Ferdinand has just been assassinated.

I echo what other's have said - including the fact that I wouldn't be a Lutheran had it not been for Issues, Etc.

Father Hollywood said...

I called KFUO and the LCMS number they are giving out (888-843-5267) and got a lot of bureaucratese and buck passing. Please keep calling until the bureaucrats decide on a story.

I can't wait to hear it.

Ryan said...

Fittingly, the "Streaming Live" advertisement now being advertised at the top of the kfuoam.org homepages is titled "Judas hangs himself."

KFUO may have just hung itself with this move. Or more accurately, KFUO may have been hung by the higher ups.

Although there are other great shows on the station, The Bible Study and Law and Gospel come to mind, Issues Etc. was the flagship, the heart and soul of the station.

I hope (but sincerely doubt) an equal replacement can be found.

I also wonder if on the air phone calls will be censored, or eliminated, for now to avoid irate listeners complaining on the air.

Kelly said...

What is David Strand's official title? Pastor? Mr.? Director of anything? I don't want to mis-address him in the email I plan to send.

Ryan said...

Also, as we all lament our loss, don't forget to include Pastor Wilken, and Jeff Schwarz in our prayers as their time is undoubtedly harder than ours.

BLDavis said...

Hi folks. This following quote is from the LCMS news section, found on its website. I'm not positing a direct link between the two but it does look like the Board of Directors, in their Feb. meeting, did in fact resolve to review the future of KFUO. Are the two related? I don't know. Here's the quote:

"Also adopted were two communications-related resolutions. One calls for a study on the future of KFUO-AM and -FM — the Synod's radio ministry, and the other for a review of Board for Communication Services responsibilities in light of Synod Bylaws, to aim toward achieving “more efficient and effective communication services for the Synod.”

William Weedon said...

Kelly,

Pastor.

William Weedon said...

Thank you, Ryan. Absolutely. Maybe we can encourage folks who would have given money toward KFUO or Issues or Synod to direct that money toward the support of these two families. It's very, very sad.

BLDavis said...

I'm not sure if this is the spot for anecdotal stories, but several years ago my father was very ill with a serious heart ailment at a hospital adjacent to the Concordia campus. After long periods of sitting in the waiting room I decided to wander over to the seminary bookstore and the radio station. Todd W. and Jeff S. loaded me up with reading material to replace the old and expired hospital Newsweek mags. They also gave me a nice little tour of the studio.

As one who listened locally during Don Matzat's early afternoon slot and now remotely with Wilken on the web, it's a shame that this worthwhile show might be gone (even if some of the discussion did make me want to slam my fist on my steering wheel every now and again).

Anonymous said...

If you set up a fund through a church the donations would still be tax deductible. I for one would gladly send my monthly donation to help support Todd during this time.

Ryan said...

Interesting, as of 4:00 (Eastern Time) http://www.kfuoam.org is completely inaccessible.

Any thoughts? Anyone listening locally? What's on the air now?

RevRuesch said...

I'm listening to the live stream over the web (I ran it before the site shut down) and they were running a re-air of "The Bible Study."

elephantschild said...

And pray. We must not forget to pray.

William Weedon said...

That above all. "Thy will be done."

Anonymous said...

Called. They said that the program was cancelled and the staff no longer worked there.

Sounds like a consistent story to me.

After reading some of the journal material at http://www.issuesetc.org/journals.htm I have to wonder why.

But, I am not going to put much more effort into it. LCMS and KFUO wouldn't ever do anything that wouldn't be in our best interest. I trust that they are basing all their decisions about the mission of LCMS and KFUO on scripture.

It is not our place to judge. And, if anything isn't above board, God will sort it out.

Anonymous said...

David Strand did not make this decision. In fact, the Board for Communication Services did not authorize this decision. David Strand simply delivered the decision. We need to contact David Strand to find out who actually made this decision and directed him to deliver it.

I think I can deduce who has authority to make such a decision apart from the BCS. But it would be good to hear the person directly involved give that name over so the proper people can be held accountable.

Pastor Dale, CrossFeed Religious News said...

This saddens me as well. I always pointed to Issues, etc. as a prime example of what makes the LCMS so great: that our theology is there where the rubber hits the road.

At this time, I see conspiracy theories are already flying. Let's put the best construction on everything and wait for official info before jumping to any conclusions. I don't see those negative assumptions here, but I see them already in other places.

Mason said...

"LCMS and KFUO wouldn't ever do anything that wouldn't be in our best interest. I trust that they are basing all their decisions about the mission of LCMS and KFUO on scripture."

There is a significant difference between the structures of the faith instituted by Christ for His enduring sacramental presence to create/sustain faith and the human organizations of the church. The former can always be trusted. The latter are filled with the machinations of sinful men. A suggestion-don't drink the Kool-Aid.
+Mason

Anonymous said...

Hey, Pastor Dale, wake up and smell the java, buddy.

Very reliable source just reported that the decision to terminate was made by the Exec. Dir. of the Board for Communication Services, David Strand, in consultation with his board chairman, Kieschnick appointee.

And the order to "do something about KFUO, Issues, Etc" came from the very top of the IC: Kieschnick himself.

They had been "getting complaints" from Kieschnick's political base, the JesusFirst supporters.

When you elected by only a three point margin, you do dance to the tune your base plays. They are calling in their chips now.

Issues, etc. was cancelled because the Synod's JesusFirst liberals and church growthers hated the show.

So, Pastor Dale, get a clue!

Anonymous said...

Will St. Paul Hamel be setting up a fund to help Jeff and his family?

Karl

Scott Larkins said...

The future of the LCMS.

http://www.jhchurch.org

J.G. Fleischmann said...

So sad....

Anonymous said...

"The future of the LCMS.

http://www.jhchurch.org"

Let God not allow it.

Come Lord Jesus....Quickly.

J.G. Fleischmann said...

... and to think that one of the Long Island Churches just got a *huge* Ablaze grant this month to start a non-liturgical congregation in a recently closed church...the new Church won't even have "Lutheran" as a part of its name. Makes one wonder where their priorities are. I'm with the rest of you, this is a shot over the bow of Confessional Lutheranism.

William Weedon said...

John, my friend, I'm afraid it's more. It's a direct attack ON confessional Lutheranism in the Synod.

J.G. Fleischmann said...

You're right, Bill. Maranatha....

J.G. Fleischmann said...

Not to derail the comments or this topic, but here is a link to the Newday (Long Island's leading rag) article from last Friday concerning the situation to which I referred:

www.clcem.org/Newsday.pdf

Anonymous said...

I am completely discouraged by this action. I am an ELS Lutheran who has his children in a LCMS school in part because of the public face that Issues put on the LCMS. If being a confessional Lutheran in the LCMS is this dangerous I am saddened beyond words. I will certainly have Pastor Todd and Mr. Schwartz in my prayers this evening. God Bless

Anonymous said...

All this hand-wring is fine and good, but now is the time for action.

For too many years confessional pastors have played this little game of, "Oh,things are so bad" and then sat back, checked out of decision making processes, isolated themselves to their little groups and blogs and mailing lists and e-mail clubs and mutually bewailed Synod's woes.

Now is the time for ACTION. Deeds, not merely creeds.

Our Synod has a process by which we can, and must,remove the elected leadership that is doing us all such a tremendous disservice and instead put men into office who will support, not harm, the cause of the Gospel in our Synod.

This incident should help underscore our vital it is to make a change in Synodical leadership.

It is time for a change!
Time to get busy.
Time to get 'er done!!

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Anonymous "ACTION" man,

Such brave words would carry more value if you came out from behind the cowardly anonymous cloak.

Jim Huffman said...

Good point, Dr. Heidenreich.

Another worth pondering is to ask ourselves what concrete things have been accomplished through synodical political action. It's been going on for decades. What do folks have to show for it?

In the meantime, pray. Pray the Psalms for this sad situation. Teach faithfully wherever we're given to teach. Encourage folks in their vocations. And remember that God will bring His people through this time, too.

Father Hollywood said...

Also to the Anonymous Action man:

Your assumption is that the solution is political and lies within the synod. If we just organize. If we just "get out the vote." If we just take over this board and that committee. If we just...

Perhaps an appeal to Matt 26:52 is in order. Placing oneself at the mercy of synodical officials is fine when your party is in power, but...

In this day and age, technology is enabling people to bypass the middle man. Issues, Etc. can re-emerge as a web-based podcast - even with video via YouTube - all supported by private money. Then, there is no synodical control. Of course, it also means that there is no synodical $$$ going into the project either.

Unfortunately, if any entity or person is on the money trail of the synod, there is a risk that this kind of thing will happen. You simply can't have it both ways. We should have seen this coming long ago. I'm embarrassed that I didn't. Was it reasonable to assume that this was not in the works?

The solution is not synodo-political (Psalm 146:3). To protect Issues, Etc. from its enemies, the first step should have been to make it synod-proof, to give it some insulation from the bureaucrats and independence from synodical money.

Finally, an appeal to democracy will not work. Though the coalition of "conservative" and "confessional" members of synod is not by any means insignificant, we are in the minority. How many more conventions will be necessary to figure that out? And even winning a convention is no guarantee of winning the next one. That's the fickle nature of politics.

We need to use technology (and our own money) apart from synod for the sake of the Gospel and quit trying to relive the "Glory Days" of the 1970s when "we won." Those days are as long gone as black-and-white TV, gents.

If we continue to fight on our opponent's turf, we will continue to see the same results. We need to use the technological gifts God has given us, and any congregations that are financially supporting synod, either directly or indirectly (e.g. by giving money to their districts) need to declare a moratorium and put that money somewhere else.

Don't pay the boa to wrap his coils around you, and then get angry at the snake for simply following his nature and the behavior you are encouraging!

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Fr. H. makes some good points. One that has been rolling around in my head is that this is a very public statement by whoever made this decision in our synod that the truth Issues, Etc. was broadcasting is no longer tolerated publicly in the LCMS. I see some parallels to the bull excommunicating Luther. When many were considering leaving the LCMS a few years ago, the commendable argument was made that we stay until the truth is no longer tolerated. Is this Holy Tuesday Treachery relevant to the argument? I think so. The truth is still tolerated at my congregation, but this advent of events makes me wonder how long my pastor's preaching and teaching will be allowed to exist inside the LCMS. So, following the argument, do you stay in the LCMS until you're the last man standing? If not, where's the line?

Darth Nemoyer said...

Here is all sorts of contact information to tell people what you think about this, let them know how important Issues, Etc. was to us, and ask why the show was cancelled:

Rev. David L. Strand
Executive Director
Board for Communication
(314) 996-1200
(314) 822-0000
david.strand@lcms.org

Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7295
(888) 843-5267
(314) 965-9000
FAX: (314) 996-1016
infocenter@lcms.org

KFUO Radio Station
(314) 725-0099
(314) 725-3030‎
(314) 721-2969

Rev. Dr. Gerald Kieschnick
Synod President
(314) 996-1402
(314) 842-7110
president@lcms.org

LC-MS Board of Directors
(314) 996-1350



Financial help for the Schwarz and Wilken families can be sent to the following address. Just put in the memo line that it’s for the “Schwartz/Wilken Fund”. The Schwarzes especially need the help and Rev. Jack Schwarz's wife Beth has been recently diagnosed with small fiber neuropathy and they need to go to Mayo Clinic to try figuring out what can be done.

"Schwartz/Wilken Fund"
Saint Paul Lutheran Church
P.O. Box 247
Hamel, IL 62046

All help and all prayers are appreciated.



Finally, for anyone who comes across this and has Facebook, the most discussion it seems is going on at the "Bring ack Issues ETC!!!" Facebook group.
http://facebook.com/group.php?gid=11679316089

BLDavis said...

I just got off of the phone with Tim Townsend, religion reporter for the StL Post-Dispatch, and he is very aware of the story and is planning on getting to it asap. He's a bit busy at the moment with it being Holy Week, but he assured me that it is definitely on his news radar.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

To the leadership of LCMS

Dear Sirs:

I am writing this in reference to the sudden termination of Pastor Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, along with the Issues Etc radio program on KFUO. My wife and I are former Catholic and Seeker-Friendly Evangelicals who have become very disillusioned of what we’re being taught. So we began to search for a church that made sense, if there was such a thing. We stumbled across Issues Etc on a Sunday night national broadcast and learned of their website. Through their web cast and their broadcast archives, we learned more of the dangers of the folly of the church at large and of the value of proper Christian doctrine. Issues Etc for us was like stumbling into an oasis in the midst of Aaron’s Desert.

Gentlemen, are you sure you understand the seriousness of what’s going on in the American church today? Are you sure you are aware of the devices of the evil one? Multitudes are being seduced by the siren’s song of the evangelical church and many souls hang in the balance. For those of us who have been seduced by her song, it is imperative that we are led to understand the folly of it. If not, then we will surely perish! But Issues Etc has done more than just to expose the underbelly of the serpent. They have also led our way to the understanding of the infinite sweetness of the Cross. Their way of combining the exposition of the errors of the American church at large, along with the proper teaching of the pure Christian doctrine which saves, is absolutely brilliant and has been a godsend for my wife and I, and all the others that we know of. Issues Etc has inserted the wax of proper doctrine in our ears and as a result, the siren has no longer power over us. May God truly bless those responsible for Issues Etc.

Now, on Saturday, March 22nd, I am to be baptized at St John’s Lutheran Church in Topeka KS. After my baptism, my wife and I are to be confirmed as members of St John’s Church. After our confirmation, we are to partake of the sweetness of the Cross through our first communion. I cannot express to you what a historic event this will was to be for my wife and I. But now, we are asking ourselves a couple of questions which are very troubling. The way you, the leadership of the LCMS have treated your fellow brothers in Christ, Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, seems inexcusable. They have given many years of their lives in loyal service to the LCMS and have exposed themselves to much public criticism and ridicule as a result. They have almost daily posted the 95 theses on the doors of the American church at large. And you, the leadership meet on Monday and discard them like a piece of trash in the waste bin on Tuesday!

What is their crime? Have they gone the way of a Ted Haggard or perhaps violated some essential point of doctrine? If so, then let them and us know! If not, then treat them with the respect they have earned! If you in the LCMS leadership have determined that KFUO’s programming needs to move in another direction, then that is your prerogative. But you don’t just drop two loyal warriors of the Christian faith as if they were a toilet seat. These men deserve more than that, wouldn’t you agree? Yet when we called KFUO’s office and explained to them that we were monthly contributors to Issues Etc and also frequent listeners and callers to the program, all your people would tell us was what they read from a prepared statement that you have evidently given them. We knew that it was a prepared statement because I spoke to several different people at KFUO and the statement was always identical. It emphasized that Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz were no longer employed by KFUO, as if they had committed some sort of heinous act which the LCMS wishes to separate themselves from. If this is the case, then let us, those who are regular supporters of KFUO, know of it!

Now, my wife and I are asking ourselves this final question. We have submitted ourselves to the authority of foolish church leaders in the past. Gentlemen, I beg of you, please tell us that we are not on Saturday, March 22nd, about to submit ourselves to the authority of equally foolish leadership. Should we rethink our decision to become members of LCMS? That is my question to you.

Gentlemen, I don’t know who you are in particular, so I will be sending this email to several leaders of the LCMS, in the hopes that this will reach the ones who are responsible for the termination of Issues Etc on KFUO and also for the disrespectful treatment of Jeff Schwarz and Todd Wilken, whom I consider to be Christian heroes and fellow brothers.

I do expect a reply.

Sincerely,

Mike from Kansas City
mrmike1998@hotmail.com

Darth Nemoyer said...

Mike:
Thank you very much for sharing your letter with us. It is very well written and covered all the needed points well. If you get a response, please share some of that with us as well. I'm curious how Synod will address your personal concerns.

Paul said...

Mike, you wrote a powerful statement, and I agree with Darth's response, and thanks for sharing you thoughts in this regard with the LCMS leadership. You wrote a very thought provoking statement of concern that the leadership of our chruch needs to hear from new converts such as yourselves, and hopefully, you have joined St. John's, Topeka, KS, such as you announced in your letter.

Have you received a response, and if you have, please post it on Rev. Weedon's "Issues, etc." blog for all of us to read?

I'm sharing your letter with many of my LCMS friends all over the country, because many do not know what has happened regarding this matter and they should be informed....so you may hear from them too.

Thanks again, and blessings to you as new LCMS members,

Paul and Ruth Walther
Belleville, Illinois
pgwpaul@charter.net

Anonymous said...

March 30, 2008

Dr Kieschnick and other leaders of the LCMS

Dear Sirs:

I sent you a letter last week concerning the removal of Issues Etc from KFUO’s programming and also asking you several questions concerning my wife and I’s confirmation as Missouri Synod Lutherans. I hope you were not offended by some of the phrases I used in the letter as it was a very emotional time for both of us because Issues Etc was responsible for leading us to the LCMS and our specific church of membership in Topeka KS. My wife and I meant nothing personally against you or the LCMS leadership. We believe that you and the LCMS leadership are sincerely concerned about your church body and all believers in Christ. However, as you have not responded to my last letter, and then I was able to listen to your interview on KFUO’s morning show last week, I have become extremely concerned about the leadership of the LCMS. I would ask that you would please do me the honor of taking this letter seriously. It addresses concerns that are of the utmost importance.

On last week’s KFUO’s The Morning Show with Paul Clayton, you were interviewed about Evangelism. You said several very troubling things in your interview concerning your “Ablaze” Program. You said that the main focus of your “Ablaze” program is to reach 100 million people and start 2,000 congregations by 2017, the 500th year anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation. You also stated that the congregations which are “packing the pews” (your phrasing) are congregations that “take seriously their responsibility to communicate the Gospel in a language that people in our country can understand. All of those churches who are packing the pews are doing worship in a way that is well done - quality.” You also said that the church must meet the need that the community is experiencing right now, whatever that need might be. You went on to say that our message must always be that Jesus Christ said I have come to give life and life in all its fullness and that means life while we’re here on earth and also life in heaven. Then you said that this message should never be diluted; we should continue to preach this message of Christ.

Gentlemen, I find this approach to interpreting Christ’s Gospel and “doing church” extremely problematic.

First, this primary focus on numbers i.e. 100 M people, 2,000 congregations, packing the pews, etc, is an absolutely corrupting approach to proper Christian doctrine. Historically, any time, any church body has put their emphasis on numbers, doctrine has always been corrupted, almost without fail. This is true especially in the American culture where felt needs rule. Proper Christian doctrine is a sharp edge which cuts to the heart and then drives people to the redeemer. In that sense, it is the very thing which truly exposes Christ for who He is and saves us from eternal damnation. The American culture at large simply will not allow for themselves to be cut because their primary focus is overwhelmingly on their felt needs, not their eternal needs. So in order to pack the pews with large numbers of people, the church’s primary focus must be to cater to the culture’s felt needs.

And what about proper Christian doctrine? Well first, you will need to conceal much of it as it is extremely offensive to the American culture at large. Examples would be prohibiting female ordination; the culture at large will not stand for this type of bias against women. And closed communion, the culture at large will respond with “What, I’m not good enough?”. How about the doctrine of original sin? The culture at large will not listen to a message that tells them they are corrupt at the heart and that their children are guilty even before they reach the age of accountability and that includes infants. They want to hear that they are doing the best they can and God appreciates them for that. And let’s not forget the means of grace, the culture at large will not accept any way of coming to Christ other than their own decision (decision theology). We want to know that we are in control of our eternal destiny. Gentlemen, I would submit to you that overwhelmingly the number of churches in America that are “packing their pews” have already thrown out or at least concealed these essential points of doctrine. And concealing them is merely an expressway to the landfill as they will most certainly be thrown out within a generation. The evidence of this is virtually on every religious radio and television broadcast, and in every mega-church I have visited personally, which are many. So evidence of a focus on numbers and using numbers as a gauge of success, as always being corruptive of proper Christian doctrine, is everywhere!

Second, your emphasis on the church meeting the felt needs, which people are experiencing right now, is equally troubling. Please do not misunderstand my point here. I do believe that every one of us should be involved in service to our neighbor. However, care must be taken to always understand that our “eternal” needs are paramount! One of the greatest follies I have lived and witnessed within the American church at large has been a focus on meeting people’s felt needs (deeds) over the doctrine which truly saves (creeds). And within your entire interview last week, I did not hear you say anything about how the Ablaze program might effectively communicate saving doctrine.

Dr. Kieschnick, let me tell you of my wife and I’s experience finding a doctrinally sound church. We interviewed approximately 20 church pastors within the KC metro area over the course of 2 years for the sole purpose of our membership into a church. I called and made appointments with these church leaders telling them that we were searching for a church home and asking them if they could spare at least 1 hour of their time to answer questions for me concerning their church. Denominations included LCMS, PCA, and even one Baptist Church. As our background had been from Catholicism, charismatic evangelical, and seeker-friendly evangelical, we were aware of many of the red flags to watch for. I had a list of questions, all of which related to proper essential Christian doctrine. Our goal was to find a pastor who understood and valued proper Christian doctrine, at least as much as we did and regularly communicated that doctrine to his congregants.

My questions related to the difference and purpose of Law & Gospel, the differences between the 2 kingdoms, assurance of salvation, the concept of original sin, age of accountability, and popular church programs such as the Prayer of Jabez and the Purpose Driven Life. I tried to ask these questions in a manner which would not give away my position on these topics.

Overwhelmingly, these pastors could not effectively communicate to me hardly any essential doctrinal truths. And I’m talking about at least 6 LCMS pastors within the KC area. This includes Bonner Springs, Shawnee Mission, Overland Park, and KCMO. I would expect that a Baptist Pastor would not want to focus on doctrinal issues because their emphasis on age of accountability and decision theology cannot be defended doctrinally. Even within the PCA as they are Calvinist, they have a great deal of trouble with some essential points of doctrine. But I was not expecting that LCMS pastors would not be anything other than giddy over the opportunity to proclaim saving doctrine to someone who calls them out of the clear blue asking for it! But sadly, that was the case. These LCMS pastors that I interviewed within the KC metro area, practically begging for them to communicate saving doctrine to me, always changed the subject as quickly as possible toward their church programs. They would answer my questions with a few sentences which contained no detail whatsoever and led me to believe that either they did not know the answer to these basic doctrinal questions, or at least they had not spoken of these topics regularly enough to learn how to articulate them. Over and over again, these LCMS pastors within the KC metro area kept telling me about their church’s service to the community, their participation in moral protests, their excellent youth and children’s programs, and how socially wonderful their congregants were. I had to keep bringing them back to my original point of doctrine because they were not answering my questions. A couple of them, I remember in particular, became very frustrated and the tone of their voice toward me began to change because they were having problems articulating essential Christian doctrine. What a tragedy!

We have now become members, as of March 22nd, of an LCMS church in Topeka KS because the pastors within this church have a focus and a passion for proper Christian doctrine. We praise God for that!

My point for telling you of our dilemma of trying to find a church home is this - the LCMS leadership through their “Ablaze” program, is making an attempt to multiply the number of their churches and their church congregants when many of their current LCMS pastors are not properly equipped or at least do not have the desire to effectively communicate the Gospel which truly does save. That would be the doctrine which cuts to the heart and drives us to the Gospel of the Cross! Gentlemen, your duty as shepherds of your flock, should be to equip your pastors to properly and regularly articulate essential Christian doctrine. And until this is satisfactorily accomplished, there should not even be a consideration of increasing their congregations.

Gentlemen, also let me address this concept of tailoring your church services to conform to the contemporary culture. Whatever you bring your people to the church with is what you are going to have to use to keep them with. And you must continually trump your own techniques. What I mean is that a praise band and passing out “I love Jesus bracelets” (which are for sale on your Ablaze website) may very well bring people into the church; but in order to keep them there, you are going to have to add some new gimmick every so often otherwise they will move to the church down the street that has a more attractive gimmick. There will never be an end to it. It will drive the local church leaders to a point of insanity or exhaustion trying to maintain this type of entertainment or showmanship. Evidence of this is in virtually every mega-church I have seen.

If you think that these praise bands and “Jesus bracelets” will work as a bait and switch gimmick to bring people in so you can introduce the true Gospel to them, you are sadly mistaken. This type of marketing gimmick doesn’t even work in the marketplace for any product for an extended period of time. For the short-term, it may fill the pews, but you better put a revolving door on the front of the church because in the mega churches today, people are leaving as fast as they are coming. I have personally witnessed this in 3 church bodies within the KC metro area, one that I attended for 7 years. People are initially attracted by the praise bands, Jesus bracelets, bright lights, and charismatic speakers and guests. But what most people don’t see is the tragedy of what lies in the wake of these marketing techniques. Many people genuinely come to these churches seeking a true Gospel message which saves. They seek the water that will quench their thirst eternally, instead, they get self-help, feel-good, motivational concepts which will not satisfy for long. Then, when personal tragedy strikes their lives (as it will eventually to all of us) and they begin to question the core of their faith, they find they have nothing to fall back on. Many of these people end up blaming the fools who instituted these bait-and-switch techniques, and also turn their backs on our Redeemer. I have witnessed this and heard these stories a multiple of times. I, myself was moving towards an atheist perspective as a result of my church leaders not properly communicating to me saving Christian doctrine.

Gentlemen, please consider these techniques of evangelizing. Did Jesus Christ say to the paralytic, “take heart your legs are healed because I want you to have life in all its fullness and that means life here on earth”? No, Jesus Christ said to the paralytic, “take heart your sins are forgiven”. In other words, you will attain the kingdom that is to come. And the paralytic was only healed so others would know that Jesus could grant them a place in the kingdom that is to come through the forgiveness of sins. And how about the ancient Jews, who were expecting a Messiah who would “give them life in all it fullness”. Jesus refused to grant them “life in all its fullness” within their earthly kingdom, and they crucified Him for that. How about Jesus feeding the 5 thousand? He didn’t use a bait and switch technique to bring them in and deliver His message. He delivered His message to them very clearly and even later rebuked most of them because He knew the majority were coming only for the purpose of experiencing “life in all its fullness now.” He informed them that that was not His purpose; His purpose was to grant them life in all its fullness in the kingdom that is to come. And the overwhelming majority deserted Him for that.

How about the evangelizing techniques of many of the Christian heroes of the faith (Hebrews 11)? Some of them could not even draw flies, yet they continued to proclaim the Gospel clearly and loudly and many were martyred for it. How about the large number of LCMS pastors in the pulpit today who are faithfully proclaiming doctrinally correct messages, yet their pews are not packed! Are you suggesting, Dr Kieschnick, that these Christian heroes, are somehow not accomplishing “well-done, quality” work? And how about King David’s numbering of his army and God basically telling him numbers should not be your concern.

Dr Kieschnick, we had determined that we wanted to become members of the LCMS primarily because we had been previously equipped with proper doctrinal knowledge. A large part of that doctrinal knowledge came from the LCMS via 6 years of listening to Issues Etc. But now, you are taking away the very thing which has fed so many of your people and suggesting that we replace it with a praise band and a Jesus bracelet! Issues Etc through its many guests which are the top theologians in their field world wide has been a saving resource for so many of us. Sir, I am not suggesting that the church be run as a democracy. Certainly not. But I do demand of my shepherds that they properly nourish the members of their flock. And the meat that was being provided to Christiandom in general through Issues Etc should not be replaced by the milk of popular marketing techniques. With all due respect sir, I could not even call the “Ablaze” marketing technique “milk” for I would not feed that to my children! This move by you, Dr. Kieschnick, demonstrates to me that you have been seduced by the felt needs and emotional appeals of the culture at large. Please do not misunderstand me sir, I do not think you are a bad person at all, quite the contrary. My personal opinion is that you are probably a kind-hearted, caring person, and your intentions are sincere. But sir, please, get a backbone and stand up to our culture’s emotional appeals the way Martin Luther did! The tradition of Martin Luther’s Reformation must not be reduced to a mere 500th anniversary celebration!
It must be maintained as a living tradition in order to combat culture’s influence upon the church. Please think carefully about this, sir.

Dr Kieschnick, let me leave you with this: Ephesians 5:11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”

Sincerely,

Mike
Mrmike1998@hotmail.com

P.S. I’ve read on a couple of websites that some pastors and lay people have been forced to remain anonymous in their criticism of the “Ablaze” program as well as the termination of Issues Etc. I want to make it clear that my pastors at my church are not aware that I am writing this and no one in any way has suggested or encouraged me to write this letter.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's time to "Come home to Rome"
As you see ,with no final authority
to bind any doctrine and the firing of two men at the whims of men in "authority" to whom others
may not comment but anonymously
you are sadly in a situation
that is no better for you and much worse. God's blessings.'
Ephesians 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children,That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Anonymous,

You wrote: "you are sadly in a situation that is no better for you."

What? Maybe with regard to persecution. But with regard to the Gospel? What condition could be worse than to be without the pure Gospel as proclaimed in our churches?

You can have your Antichrist. I'll stand by Christ and Him crucified, as preached from the pulpit in the Lutheran church I attend, and as rightly given out bodily under both kinds from the altar at which I eat and drink salvation through the free forgiveness of sins.

Jim Kruta said...

I'm convinced. Strand is right. What fools we have all been. His comments to the St. Louis Post make everything clear as crystal. I'm renewing my giving to KFUO.
If you disagree with the above statements, you obviously haven't been paying attention to the new programming. It's just what the "Dr" ordered.

Jim Kruta, Collinsville

...Sarcasm was never my strength.

Judith Dorantes said...

Pastor Weedon,
Can you get for me an address where I can send a donation to help support Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwarz. I can't seem to find the address.
Judith Dorantes
joaquindorantes@sbcglobal.net

William Weedon said...

Judith,

Donations can now be sent here:

http://www.piratechristianradio.com/