19 March 2008

Issues Etc. Testimonials

Friends, I'd invite all of you who have been blessed across the years to write a brief account of what Issues, Etc. has meant to you and post it in response to this. I'd especially love to hear from folks who have been brought into the Lutheran Church by Issues, Etc., but I'd welcome hearing from any and all testimonies to the blessing this shown has been.


Rev. Charles Lehmann said...

Here are two that I've been privileged to share:


Anonymous said...

I referred to myself as a Lutheran for several years before I learned that really was not in practice. My true Lutheran Catechesis came from Issue's Etc.
As a pastor today I am thankful for my seminary education, but also for my Issues Etc. education which fed me before and throughout my time at the seminary, and which (until yesterday) had continued to feed me through my time thus far as a pastor.
I have more than once referred to Todd Wilken as "a pastor's pastor." Having never met the man in person, he is one of the most influential pastors in my life, and no matter what the future holds, I give thanks to God for the great work He has done, in me and many others, through Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz, and all of the many and varied guests who have blessed their program.
I know that our Lord will continue to work through these men. I selfishly hope that it is done in a way through which I might continue to receive the benefits I received through Issues Etc.

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

(previous comment deleted for formatting)

Summaries: Post 1, Post 2

Specific: Keeping Kids in Church

WM Cwirla said...

Though we did not get Issues, Etc by radio broadcast here in southern California (due to the outrageous costs of radio time in our area), there are countless converts in our congregations who were avid listeners of the web broadcast. Together the The White Horse Inn, Issues, Etc. was a leading apologetic voice in Christian broadcasting. We continually referred people to the Issues, Etc. web site and podcasts.

Todd Wilken was and will continue to be a courageous, prophetic voice calling out into the darkness of these gray and latter days when the world is ablaze with unholy fire. He is a reminder that the prophets must never be brought under the control of the institution. (The lcms would have given Amos a desk job.) Our fervent prayer is that this act of institutional terrorism will provide Todd with a greater liberty to do this important work.

Anonymous said...

In 2004, I began listening to Issues while I was at work. This show gave me insights into my Christian faith and the Lutheran Church that I had never understood before. I called in a few times during the open comments programs and last year was a guest on their August 2nd program in the first hour. It was great and I will never forget it.

Both Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz were congenial but also very professional. I will miss their show very much and I pray that they will be able to find other work soon.

Scott Strohkirch

Anonymous said...

Amen to what Cwirla said. Todd's voice on the radio was a beacon calling all of us to the centrality of Christ crucified in our lives and ministries. May Todd's voice be stronger and more effective outside of kfuo than within kfuo. When is the next convention? Wilken for president of synod anyone?

Mutti said...

The closest Lutheran Church is 45 miles from our home. We joined and have made the trip weekly for 11 years. I found Issues Etc. on the web when the church we were members of called a pastor that was less than confessional. As a Lutheran that converted from another denomination, I've always needed to hear the truth of God's word, daily, and could always count on IE to be bold and truthful. I listened to Issues Etc at work regularly via the web. Today, I'm downloading the podcasts from itunes. I'm really going to miss IE and Pastor Wilken.

Jim Basinger said...

I am saddened by the sudden ending of Issues Etc. I am an Anglican minister and I thought Issues Etc was one of the brightest spots on the air waves.

Benjamin Ulledalen said...

I became a Lutheran after listening to Issues, Etc. and reading Lutheran Pastors' sermons online. One of their slogans was "A voice in the wilderness of American Evangelicalism." Very appropriate! I was called out of that same wilderness and was continually refreshed by IE ...

It is a CRYING SHAME that the archives were taken down! They were such a wonderful resource. I am a college student, and often went there to hear programs defending the faith. Whenever certain doubts or difficult questions plagued me, I would often times search for shows in the IE archives that addressed them! I can't count how many programs I "earmarked" in my head to go back and listen too. What a shame! Such a rich repository of information LOST! We have been cheated! So many Christians lost in the wilderness of American religion have been cheated!

I know that I have some IE programs saved on a couple of computers. I would be willing to bet that others out there do too. I think we should set up some sort of underground compendium of IE broadcasts on Wittenberg Trail or some where else.

Kurt Onken said...

Our congregation sponsored the Sunday night edition of Issues, Etc. on a local Seattle radio station for the last 8 years. It reached most of the Puget Sound region. A number of our folks listened in, many downloaded podcasts of the weekday shows, too. Those who did not listen or who were not computer savvy enjoyed reading the journal and taking CD's of the shows home which we received in the mail.

Outside our congregation, a number of people have called over the years after hearing our ads during the broadcast. Some visited, others I directed to nearby congregations that were closer to their particular location. I know of one congregation to the south of us that received two families as a result of hearing the Issues, Etc. broadcast.

Even the sales manager whom I dealt with at the radio station, which has all kinds of "Christian" broadcasting on it, said that they love having Issues, Etc. in their lineup.

Mutti said...

The archives are back up.

Andrew Packer said...

I am new to Lutheranism (about a year or so) and just found Issues Etc. about a month or so ago. For the last month I have been dowloading listening to the show every day at work on my iPod. It has been a huge blessing in a variety of ways. I have been listening to Christian radio virtually my whole life and this was by far the best show that I have ever heard.

I will miss it greatly and my days at work will be much longer now.

Bryce Hedstrom said...

I am a confessional Lutheran because of Issues, Etc. I converted from a non-denominational/pop evangelical background. The daily catechesis has of the porgram in computer downloads kept me grounded in the message of Christ crucified. My children are strong in the Lord and hearty church attenders because I have had the words and the concepts from this program at my disposal to help them when they neeeded it.

I am upset at the forest fire raging through the synod and the arsonist that started it, and I am outraged that he has razed Issues, Etc. becuase it did not fit his purpose.

Consecutive Odds said...

My husband, Josh, and I had been attending an LCMS church for a couple of years before we discovered Issues, Etc. through downloads and we converted to confessional Lutheran theology through its influence. As an aside, while my husband was deployed in Iraq, he couldn't talk much about what he was doing, he didn't want to hear about "the news" because it was always about Iraq, and my life is boring. So, we talked about Issues, Etc. when we ran out of personal and family news. And when he returned, while he was going through culture shock and we were starting to feel out what it was like to have an in-person relationship again, we spent time listening to Issues, Etc and talking about it. I wouldn't say, "Issues, Etc. saved our marriage" because we were on solid footing. But, it gave us a common interest to share in together to establish daily conversations around.

SJB said...

I first heard Todd Wilken on The White Horse Inn while he was filling in for Rod Rosenbladt. He was terrific so I began to listen to Issues Etc. After about a year of listening to IE and the IE archives (such a wealth of riches), I started a 12 week catechism and then joined a confessional Lutheran church. I will always be grateful for IE, Jeff, and Todd. Many, many, many thanks to you.

pcdwhit said...

What has IE meant to me?

Solid, Biblical teaching. Confessional Lutheran thought.

Truth and the Gospel in the noise that is Christian talk radio.

One poster put it this way, and I agree, "Issues, Etc was the Layman's Seminary."

I learned a lot about preaching, Scripture, Christian truth, my own faith, because of Issues, Etc.

The church is poorer. The LCMS has negatively impacted its role in the commission of Christ because of this cancellation.

sim said...

Im a listener from New Zealand.
I sat in church for years and thought I knew what it was all about.
Some time in 2004 I downloaded a show called Issues Etc.....
Now I dont think I was even a Christian before that.
This show helped me understand the difference between the law and the gospel.
I thank God I was able to hear it. And a huge thanks to the guys and the guests involved.

I put up a few of my fave soundbites from the show at my blog theologybites.blogspot.com

Grasshopper said...

I became a Lutheran (LCMS) about 12 years ago, but did not hunger for "the way" until about 2 years ago. I searched for resources but never came up with the "right" resource. While I love my church, I'm finding that my district and my church may be Kieschnick-ite. Sigh...

Finally, a new friend of mine who has been a voice of orthodoxy and confessionalism in my church pointed me to IE.

My first bit of listening came on a long trip I had alone...about 24 hours worth of traveling over a 3 day period. I returned home a changed man. I had burned a CD with the shows and spent the whole trip listening to Todd and guests. I could not have found better treasure! Yes, the Bible is a better treasure, but IE actually kicked my butt to actually read the Scriptures and not just read "about" them.

Since that trip, I ditched all other podcasts (all scientific in nature) and focused on theology. Commuting, trips in the car, doing laundry, mowing the yard...I almost always had my Ipod going with Todd, Jeff and guests. I had downloaded as much of the past episodes as I could find on Itunes and it took me a YEAR AND A HALF to catch up to current episodes. That was last week. And now it's gone. >8-(

Now, when I listen to a sermon, I'm doing the diagnostic that Todd used. I also listen critically in Bible class and other times. I'm still learning. I'm still not good at repeating back and answering tough questions, but I'm light years ahead of where I'd be without IE. In fact, I've helped a friend of mine, who I met because both my and his daughter went to our parochial school. At a Christmas show at church one night, he asked me about our church and our view on some things. I'm sure my answers were not pastoral in quality, but...now he's in Adult Confirmation class and coming to Bible class and church. I would not have been able to point him to Christ effectively if not for IE. A saved soul is worth more than being Ablaze.

Another thing about this that is so sad is that there have been many men who have gone to seminary to be pastors alone on the influence of IE. That loss of influence is so sad.

Todd, Jeff, staff and guests were sent by God. No question.

I pray that those two are able to use their talents on a new show.

Future Church said...

As I was moving toward the Lutheran Church I struggled mightily with the issue of infant baptism. There were two sources that showed me the truth on this issue. The first was Andrew Das' book Baptized Into God's Family. The second was an interview that Pastor Wilken conducted with Pastor Norman Nagel. I don't recall precisely what was said during the interview, but I remember about half way through the interview when everything finally clicked for me. Somehow, Pastor Wilken asked the questions that needed to be asked and Pastor Nagel answered in the way that I needed them answered. It's no stretch to say that Issues, Etc. played a huge role in bringing me to the LCMS, and has played a continued role in my catechesis. I'm absolutely heartsick over the show's cancellation. It feels like losing a dear friend and teacher.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

The magazine accompaniment was by far the best theological piece of literature I would get in my mailbox. It will be missed.

Tina said...

I have listened to Issues, Etc. on the internet almost everyday for 10 years. My entire family (save one brother) including 15 souls are all active members of confessional LCMS congregations, largely due to this program. We all converted from various Evangelical and Reformed churches. My family and I have gained an unsurpassed love for Lutheranism from the guests on this show as well as Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz. Pastor Weedon's Liturgy series is one of our favorites. I burned that one to a CD and shared it with my sister's family, who subsequently became Lutheran. I never really grasped what was going on in the Lord's supper until I listened to Dr. Nagel and the Lord's Supper hymn. Also the Evangelical proof text series was quickly becoming another favorite. Pr. Lehmann's sermons are awesome! I am very disappointed, indeed heartsick to learn of the tragic events of yesterday.

Ibanez Eric said...

I'm going to miss this program. It definately gave me a higher view of identity in Christ, and Lutheranism. The question "What makes this Christian?" seems to be a crucial question that no one seems to ask, whether it be message or song or anything else we do. It wasn't afraid to expose the gimmicks of watered down Christianity, and the threat of Rick Warren, Joel Osteen and their "gospel" messages, and the direction they're taking Christianity. I like hearing their discussions and message, but also the passion that came out when they talk about it.

Anonymous said...

I am a member of really the only English speaking LCMS church on the island of Manhattan. My church basically consists of mostly 20-somethings. I listened to Issues Etc. podcast every day on the subway to and from work. I quote the show so much, people ask me - what would Pastor Todd say? they know the sermon diagnostic - and they understand terms like Christ-centered and Cross-focused. We had all just decided to start a weekday discussion group - with our Pastor - based on the topics and shows of Issues Etc. Now it is gone and will will no longer have cutting edge topical discussions. Issues Etc. touched my life. Thank You Pastor Todd and Jeff. Please find a way to make your voice heard again. I'm a reformation club member and would be happy to support you wherever you end up. Grace and peace to you.
Lisa Williams - New York, NY

mvretro said...

This was the single most powerful and convincing Lutheran outreach. I gladly referred it to non-Lutherans because of it quality and content. Now it is gone. Nice work LCMS, your denominational leadership is on its way to become irrelevant. Your best gospel voice in the wilderness of American Evangelicalism is now on some church bureaucrats’ silver platter. I'm a recent convert to Lutheranism; I guess the honeymoon is over!

roland said...

Wir fordern Wiedereinstellung!

ptben said...

Issues Etc tore me away from raunchy sports talk radio.

Issues Etc taught me to listen in church and pay more attention during the sermon. I was able to see poor sermons when I wasn't at my home church. The sermon diagnostic tool should be used by all church goers.

Issues kept us up on the latest events while keeping me focused on Christ and Him Crucified. NO matter the story it always came back to Christ.

Finally, issues etc made me think. Made me apply my catechises to all parts of life and realize the message is the mission

Issues Etc was my partner when I worked out, commuted, did yard work at home or at church.

The Death of issues is like the death of a close friend.

Anonymous said...

I'm grateful for the excellent work done by Todd and Jeff at Issues Etc and grieved by its cancellation. It is hard to see why, in an age when the gospel is so ill understood and in a time when this program is so necessary, Issues Etc would be silenced. I hope and pray that the program will be restored and that these men will be allowed to continue doing their excellent work.

R. Scott Clark
Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology
Westminster Seminary California

Anonymous said...

Many years ago Pr. Don Matzat, then host of Issues, Etc., interviewed a young pastor to discuss his research on baby-boomers and their effect on the church. That was the first time I heard Pr. Todd Wilken. How impressed I was by his knowledge and verbal skills. And I'm still impressed. His theology continues to be as solid as the Rock on which it is built. I've invited Pr. Wilken and Jeff Schwarz into my home every day for as long as they've been on KFUO. In fact, they've been in my home so often that they're no longer guests but beloved members of my family.

Edwaresville, IL

Kelly Klages said...

I would credit Issues, Etc. with much of my grasping of the Lutheran faith. Being a new convert to Lutheranism, I needed these resources. The show also helped prove to me that Lutheranism was a faith that was deep, intellectual, biblical, and relevant, unlike a lot of other fluff on Christian radio that would downplay the issues I cared about in the name of some sort of lightweight ecumenism or political correctness.

Anonymous said...

Issues, Etc. brought everything Lutheran to me: music, liturgy, theology, history, the great minds still on earth and those in Heaven.
Issues, Etc. brought me Christ. Talk radio for the thinking Christian--that made her think on Christ, and realize where to find Him when listening to sermons or reading scripture or singing a hymn orreading a book.
And it brought us all together as sheep into one, worldwide sheepfold, under the best and surest of banners.
There seemed almost nothing Wilken and Schwarz wouldn't do to make the Word available, with a radio broadcast and a webcast and extensive archives and even the ability to phone or email during a show. I never had a question not addressed.
Nothing like it ever. Not just a favorite radio show, but a necessary one, for me, for everyone who listened. As necessary as my own church. Talk about someone being where he was called by God to be, there were Wilken and Schwarz.
It was like backup for my own Pastor and his fine catechesis--the Lutheran Help Line, available 24/7.
It's a shame what they've done. A sinful shameful shame. Couldn't be any more shameful than if Wilken and Schwarz had been tarred and feathered.
I guess that's what happens when you cast pearls before swine.
Susan R.

Zecryphon said...

I have been a fan of Issues, Etc. for only a few years. I found them soon after I got my first iPod. At that time I was a member of a Non-Denominational church, but considered myself to be Evangelical Free, because that's the type of church I was at when I got saved. I became dissatisfied with the ND church for a number of reasons and started looking for a church that was more Christ-centered and cross-focused. I checked out the Lutheran church because of all I had heard on Issues, Etc. and another Lutheran podcast that is still on KFUO, Wrestling with the Basics with Rev. John Lukomski and Paul Clayton.

Those two programs were instrumental in my decision to seek out LCMS and WELS churches and see what was up with Lutheranism. I did become an LCMS Lutheran last year and it was because of the teachings of the LCMS church that I heard on Issues, Etc. The Luther movie did play a big role too. I don't know where I'm going to go now to find good solid Lutheran teaching. This is a sad day for Lutherans everywhere. I was very blessed by Issues, Etc. and learned a great deal from that program. I would like to know why the show was cancelled, and why Todd and Jeff were not given a chance to say goodbye to their audience. Also, why cancel this show during Holy Week? This is all very confusing and sad. The worst part is, we may never know why this has happened. All things work together for God's glory, but I just can't imagine how this will glorify God.

Anonymous said...

I originally came across Issues, Etc. on a Christian radio station in Philadelphia that broadcast the Sunday night edition of the program back when Don Matzat was the host. It is not an overstatement to say that this program is an oasis in a Christian media awash in triviality and outright heresy. This program has under the care of Pastor Wilkins and Mr. Schwartz only grown better over the years and they have tackled every important issue facing the Church with fairness and integrity.

For the record, I am not Anglican and not Lutheran and so I have no dog in any internal Lutheran political squabble. However, this program was virally important - regardless of denominational affiliation - and its ending removes a needed voice for doctrinal clarity and Christ-centered teaching.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, the above comment should have read "vitally important" in the last sentence. Although one wonders if "virally" might apply to the decision makers at KFUO and LCMS. :)

William Weedon said...

Here's one that came to me by email:

We have been blessed beyond measure by the Issues, etc. broadcasts which we listen to on the internet. By we, I mean our entire family, including our 13- and 14-year old children. The theological integrity of the program is unmatched by any of similar format (at least from this layman's perspective). We will certainly miss the program and will gladly support any efforts to reestablish the same Christ-centered, cross-focused programming from another studio somewhere (hopefully with the same host and producer). Thanks for your bold proclamation of the Gospel in spite of the risks that come with it.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Randy and Robin Muench

E. Rapp said...

I began down loading MP3 files of Issues Etc. while I was still an active member of the Methodist church. I think that was back in 2003. Before listening to Issues, I don't think I actually knew what the gospel meant. I always heard my pastors mention the gospel in some vague way, but actually I think it was in terms of loving your neighbor. Since I didn't think I was actually loving my neighbor enough, I wasn't sure of my salvation. After hearing the gospel clearly proclaimed - Christ's perfect life, death and resurrection in my place - by Todd Wilken and other guests on his program, I knew that my salvation is assured, and I knew that I wanted to be a Lutheran.

Unknown said...

Via the internet Issues etc. (and other KFUO programs) had a worldwide reach. There has not been any significant Lutheran presence in the Caribbean for a long time -- no missionaries,very few parishes etc. And as far as truly confessional congregations are concerned the numbers are, as far as I know, very few.
When I first started investigating Lutheranism, Issues etc. proved to be a valuable asset. The proclamation and serious discussions reached far beyond the shores of the US. I credit the program as one of the reasons I , eventually, understood Lutheranism and now adhere to its tenets.
It's cancellation is a great loss.

May God's will be done.

Omar Pom
Dutch St.Martin

Anonymous said...

I left the Baptist church of my childhood wounded--wounded by a God I couldn't please, by demands I couldn't follow.

I left Willow Creek, the church of my baptism, my home for 15 years, the church that raised me from childhood to college. The evangelism tactics I learned were driving my atheist friends away from Christ. My faith didn't hold up against my first college Intro to Philosophy course. I was "doing it right," and it wasn't working. I had been anchored in evangelism, not in Christ. I left empty, alone, confused--betrayed.

I left the liberal main-line denominations after college arrogant, tolerant, professing process, denying Christ.

I left Christ.

Christ found me.
Christ redeemed me.
Christ created faith in me--faith I did not have to forge of my own will!
Christ taught me--the truth.
Truth that brought me back to life again.

Issues, Etc. proclaimed that truth to me every day at a time when I was weak with doubts and heavy with questions. It was the bandage Christ used to bind up a heart corroded by parallel gospels.

Sometimes, despite my testimony, even I doubt the need to profess the truth and nothing but the truth of Christ and Him crucified (a fragrance of death to death for those who are perishing but for us who are being saved a fragrance of life to life).

Then I remember that truth is all I have. Without it, I cannot stand.

Alan said...

I came to faith through the Gospel proclaimed through Pastor Wilken on Issues Etc. I had been a Baptist who lost Christ in despair, had tried to do it right on my own, never measured up...I never heard the Gospel in it's purity and truth until I heard Christ LIVED, was crucified and risen FOR ME from Pastor Wilken on my radio. The Gospel of Christ's righteousness credited to me and not mine which falls short often is what won me over to confessional Luthernism. Issues Etc. was KFUO's best and longest running "Christ centered cross focused" talk show. I know many others have been touched by Issues and won to Lutheranism. We must know the WHO AND WHY...but nothing should sway us into ever believing the sudden firings and cancellation were justified...I hope and pray Issues with Pastor Wilken and Jeff is brought back soon. God's will be done.

Anonymous said...

The loss of this program is like a death in my family. I am vexed and grieved that the Synod I have always believed was all about spreading the good news and teaching the truth is not. I have been an LCMS lutheran for all 47 years of my life.

If you want to know the worth of the program, read the comments on the petition. It is heart-breaking to believe my Synod is denying the good the Holy Spirit has worked through this program.

I fear our Synod is in for more dark times ahead if it continues to deny the truth. From the outrage that I have read on my searches through the web, I foresee a change in leadership soon at the LCMS...

Anonymous said...

I am a 45 year old lifelong LCMS Lutheran. I come from a confessional congregation in St. Louis County. But I can honestly say I did not have an understanding of the gospel and my faith until a bible study on Galatians with Ken Schurb and heavy doses of IE. It was my resource and constant affirmation. It fed a hungry spirit the Christ centered cross focused message this miserable sinner needed. I shall miss it more than I can say. The following is the body of a letter I sent to David Strand. It's not a great letter by any means, rather I post it because it further reflects my feelings. I'm sorry if the tone is angry--but the flesh is weak and I am angry about this. Thanks Pr. Todd and Jeff--more than you'll ever know.

Dear Mr. Strand:

I truly feel something tragic happened March 18, 2008. You obviously do not understand the value of the asset you had for the LCMS in Issues etc… and Todd Wilken. The fact this show was cancelled is one thing—shows are cancelled all the time. Good shows are never cancelled this way. There is no explanation, no apologies, no farewell, but rather a 12:30 department meeting and a one sentence blurb from the Board? What is a listener supposed to make of this?

If I was a Rush Limbaugh listener and Rush Limbaugh was yanked off the air I could listen to Sean Hannity or Laura Ingram. When Al Franken lost his show to whom could I turn to get his view of the political spectrum? Why, only about 99% of all electronic and print media that wasn’t Limbaugh, Hannity or Ingram, that’s all. But where do I go to listen to even a close approximation of Issues, etc…? Now that’s a tough question, isn’t it?

It’s a tough question, because there is no answer! It was unique! Little AM 850 had a three hour talk show gem which combined politics, theology and intellectual discourse in a way no other show in the country did. It had guts, integrity and spoke the truth. It never spoke down to its listeners. And it had listeners from all over the world—maybe not 20 million—but what was there was quality. The show made me feel special. I felt I was in on something truly unique and wonderful. It made me feel smart. I truly felt I was learning something every time I listened to it. It actually made me want to listen to the station at other times of the day.

Now what do you have? More Bible studies we can get at Church or on our own? That’s wonderful. Hey, maybe you can get fifteen or twenty more ‘By the Way’ installments to fill up more time and keep us loyal Issues listeners glued—oooooh yes, that would be great!! I know I’m on the edge of my seat with every Meyer Minute, so how ‘bout more of that? You cannot be serious.

Wilken’s tagline was radio for the thinking Christian. I really felt that was true. Now you once again have radio for the 85 year old shut-in Mrs. Schmidt standing in the kitchen making what could very well be her last cherry stollen staring out the window thinking wistfully of when she first met dear departed Ufke Schmidt in Walther League.

Just one example because I’m not writing a book, but rather a letter expressing outrage: The biggest issue in the news today is Senator Obama and his Pastor. What show in the US was discussing Liberation Theology and its possible effect on the Senator and his campaign months ago? Not MSNBC or Limbaugh. No it was little Issues etc… out of tiny AM 850 in St. Louis. There are countless examples like this. Who else will have the courage to openly discuss Islam intelligently and truthfully? Who will witness in this type of format for Jesus and true Lutheran Theology and explain unapologetically justification by faith? It makes me simply want to scream that it is gone for apparently no good reason.

This was a priceless resource and you’ve thrown it away. I WANT IT BACK!! If I don’t get it back I will be leaving 850 again. I will also actively discourage any and all I come in contact with from listening. Before finding Issues I wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to 850. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. Please prayerfully reconsider your decision.

Anonymous said...

My journey to Lutheranism was a long one. I found myself in Casper, Wyoming looking for a church that actually taught from scripture. Who knew this was such a daunting task? My wife and I finally settled for a PCUSA church after three years of searching. They finally went too far off the charismatic deep-end and we were in tears we were so frustrated. A friend through work invited us to a LCMS church after seeing our tears and frustration. The only thing we knew of Luther was from the movie (the recent one). We are now members and feel reborn. Issues, etc. was fundamental in turning me from a “closet-Westminster-confession-guy” to a die-hard Lutheran who will only settle for a “Christ-centered, cross-focused” message. Pastor Wilken and Mr. Schwarz gave us that unadulterated message and we were all made the better because of it. I will miss Issues, etc. and I pray that God will bless Pastor Wilken and Me. Schwartz through this tragedy.
Bill Maggard

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.


Mike from Kansas City

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.”


Mike Hillyer

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.