C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, (St. Louis: CPH, 1986) 332-333.
photo credit: Hamed Parham
Think about how the Scriptures describe the movement from unbeliever to believer. You know nowadays we just have this category “unchurched” and “churched.” How barren, how empty, how hollow a way of thinking about the move from what Scripture says is “death to life,” “enemy of God” to “friend of God,” “sons of wrath” to “those who have been shown mercy,” “kingdom of darkness” to “kingdom of light,” and we in the modern Church say “churched” and “unchurched?” How vacuous. Maybe that’s part of the problem.photo credit: monkeyc 2
We’ve lost the vocabulary of Scripture when it comes to the difference between the Church and the world. And having forfeited the vocabulary of Scripture in these things we think more like the world about these things. Well, it’s just a sociological category, you’re unchurched or your churched. And we are poorer for it. And in fact, we may be through our empty ways of bringing people into quote unquote membership or attendance into the twenty-first century Church not so much making Christians, or disciples, but simply making members, associates. What’s another term that they might use, clients? Who knows. When the Scripture speaks of it as going from death to life, from being an enemy to God to being reconciled to God, sons of wrath to sons of mercy, darkness to light, it means that these are not just metaphors, these are the truth of what it means to go from unbelief to belief, from the world to the Church and the body of Christ. Do we need it? Of course we need it. And if we lose it, what we lose is perhaps the Church itself.
We know quite well that it is the duty of every individual Christian to be faithful to the truth, but thousands of simple Christians cannot see through the lies of false teachers. They simply cling to Christ in faith. Even though, by the grace of God, we have the full truth, yet we do not consider ourselves one whit better than others, we claim no better heaven, instead we rejoice over the fact that someday we will be saved together with them. But we cannot depart from pure doctrine. Woe to us, if we do not firmly cling to it! "To whom much is given, of him shall much be required." With great joy we can bear the insults that our opponents may heap upon us because of this.
March 7, 2009
Rev. Dr. Gerald R. Kieschnick, President
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7295
Dear President Kieschnick:
We represent the 2000+ signatories of the Issues, Etc. trademark petition, a copy of which is attached, along with the signatures themselves.
While it appears that the immediate threat of continued legal action against Pastor Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz has ceased, and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has dropped its objection to the trademark application for the Issues, Etc. name filed by Mr. Harry Madsen, there is more work that needs to be done before this matter is resolved.
To better explain, we would appreciate it if you would first read through the following comments, which are a representative sampling of comments taken from the petition:
- President Kieschnick and the LCMS Board... I have tried to put the best construction on everything as I try to understand why you would pursue this action. It seems to give the wrong impression of your intensions. I can think of no good reason, no purposeful or meaningful reason that this action is in the best interest of your neighbor or even yourself. Just let it go.
- I find myself being more ashamed of my beloved LC-MS each passing month. This use of lawyers to "handle" Christian issues is unforgivable and the synodical president is personally responsible by virtue of his office.
- This action by the LCMS Synod saddens me. It runs contrary to the interest of serving our neighbor. This action leads me to think LCMS is only concerned with the preservation of self rather than the Gospel.
- Dear Bishop Kieschnick, Although I am a Catholic, I believe that Issuesetc and its staff do wonderful work in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all while also presenting a very favorable picture of the LCMS. I would request that you withdraw any attempts to interfere with the programming of the group. It makes you appear petty and vindicative. Sincerely, Steve Griffin
“Well gentlemen, I’ll get right to the point. The purpose of the meeting is to let you know that after --believe me-- a great deal of consideration, it’s my decision to discontinue the Issues, Etc. radio show, meaning the elimination of both your positions.
“‘Terminate’ is a harsh word, but that’s the meaning of ‘eliminate the positions.’
“And it’s a very difficult thing to do. At times it almost makes you sick, but that’s the decision that’s been arrived at.”
I see congregations who are packing the pews, to use your words. As congregations who take seriously their responsibility to communicate the Gospel in a language that people in our country can understand, and to which they can relate. Some of them use so-called contemporary worship, some of them use so-called traditional worship. All of those congregations who are packing the pews are doing worship and other activities, other ministries in the congregation and in the community in a way which is well done. Quality. They pay special attention to the details that go into a worship service, planning and actually implementing. And that takes time. That takes energy. That takes effort. That takes expertise. So the congregations that are packing the pews, to use your words, are those congregations that take seriously their responsibility, and the privilege they have to reach people, and to impact people with the Gospel...