Monday, July 26, 2010

“This Is Slippery, and It’s Wrong”

During the LCMS convention I posted a brief comment on the devotion that was currently underway, led by Rev. Terry Tieman, the head of the Transforming Churches Network. Rev. Tieman’s message on Matthew 14:22-32 presented three simple steps on how to walk on water, the result of which was to motivate by using the Law (when it should be the Gospel that motivates). Someone suggested that this particular sermon would be a good candidate for a sermon review by Chris Rosebrough on his internet radio show Fighting for the Faith. I thought that was a great idea as well, and emailed Chris, who did just that on his July 19th show.

The response to Rev. Tieman’s homily is a perfect illustration of “group think.” At one point during his homily he said “Go ahead and say to your neighbor right now ‘If you want to walk on the water, you have got to get out of the boat.’ Go ahead and do that.” At that point you could hear the delegates dutifully murmuring what he told them to say. Putting the best construction on it, I’m sure this huge group of LCMS pastors and laymen were saying to each other “I’m not saying that! It’s nothing but Law and will turn us all into Pharisees.” It’s certainly a living testament to the phrase “Don’t believe [or repeat] everything you hear.”

Chris’s review was rather “robust.” Here’s a few of his comments:

…This is some bad, bad preaching.

…It’s very clear in listening to this sermon or devotional homily that this guy has been drinking heavily from the seeker-driven purpose-driven well.

This is slippery, and it’s wrong.

…This is not Gospel preaching, this is manipulation. There’s a difference.

This is supreme Bible twisting and manipulation of the worst kind.

Chris does an excellent job in his review of pointing out the confusion of Law and Gospel, and also plays a sermon preached by Rev. Ron Hodel on the same text which properly distinguishes the two.

I marvel at how this devotion could have been allowed to have been taught at the LCMS convention, with the entire world peering in through the window. There’s a lot of talk at the convention on how we’ve got great theology and wonderful seminaries, and then there’s a devotion that completely butchers the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, which is the centerpiece of Lutheran theology. The speakers, and what they’re going to say, needs to be vetted, lest we lose our credibility entirely.

Chris initially discusses Rev. Tieman's homily from 17:43 to 22:18, and then the actual review begins at 1:17:52 and runs to the end of the show.


Anonymous said...

Chris' review is very perceptive, and right on the money. For those who haven't listened yet, the sermon review starts at one hour and 18 minutes into the program.

Tiemann challenges us to "make a difference", meanwhile ignoring that Jesus made and makes all the difference. "Jesus died for you, so get to work!"


Scott Diekmann said...

Thanks for your comment Johannes. And thanks for reminding me - I meant to put the start time in the post!

jim the lutheran said...

"At one point during his homily he said “Go ahead and say to your neighbor right now ‘If you want to walk on the water, you have got to get out of the boat.’"

It was at this point that I left my seat and left the convention hall. I mumbled something as I was leaving so that those seated near me knew that I was leaving as a protest, not because I needed a bathroom break!

When I saw who was leading the afternoon "devotion" based on what I had read from Scott and Johannes about TCN, I considered coming in late after lunch that day, but I thought that I would give him the chance to prove the reports wrong. It felt creepy from the beginning, but when the "invitation" came, I knew that I could listen no more!

Thanks Scott and Johannes for exposing this process for what it is - LAW, LAW and more LAW.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, Jim. You'll be glad to know that the "battle" goes on. I have suggested this before, but I'll do it again: check out what the Indiana District is doing under the leaderhsip of Pr. Geoff Robinson.
True revitalization, IMHO.


Dennis Peskey said...

Scott - This "sermon" could be very helpful as a demonstration of how not to preach the Gospel. This TCN material is all about "you"; your faith, your actions, your work. Lost in all this is Christ for you - the real Gospel. I would suggest this as a good starting point to congregations and members who are unsure what is causing disunity in our Synod - read, mark, learn and spit out this sermon as anathema to the Lord.

jim the lutheran said...


I did talk to Pr Robinson at the IN district convention. I wasn't completely comfortable with the program, but it is much more Biblical than TCN.


You commented that the speakers should have been vetted. I'm sure that he was and that is why he spoke! TCN is a RSO and is being pushed by the Ablaze/missional types - hence it fit right into the current administration convention program planning.

Scott Diekmann said...

Yeah, I know Rev. Tieman's speach fit right in with current thinking and they were aware of what he would say, at least in a general sense. I was trying to put the best construction on it, which still isn't saying much.

Anonymous said...

Scott-did you do that on purpose: "speach"? Or was it a Freudian slip. Whether intentional or not, I'd suggest modifying that term to reflect the reality: a sermon that is really a speech--so he was really "spreaching" or "spreeching" if you prefer.


Scott Diekmann said...

LOL! No, I didn't mean to do that. I should send my posts to you first for proofing Johannes!

Anonymous said...

Scott--your posts are just fine. I just couldn't resist that one. I suppose if the speaker, shouts, he's "screaching," eh? Or how about "pscreaching"?

I am still in wonderment about that "homily."

BTW, I can understand why jim the lutheran might be a bit uncomfortable with the Indiana program. But it deals with the real issues, is not a cookie-cutter approach, does not lay a load of guilt on folks, and is grounded in Biblical/Lutheran theology, and no Baptist stuff.
But if you spoke with Pr. Robinson, I'm sure he filled you in on his background.


Jim Pierce said...

Here is a picture of a fellow after listening to Rev. Tieman's pep-talk. But apparently the lizard didn't have enough faith as we see in this picture. Poor little "faithless" lizard, he should have stayed in the boat.

Scott Diekmann said...

The lizard, when seeing the threat, should have run back to the boat and jumped back in, and then rededicated himself. I'm thinking he just needed a little more committment. Gettin' better every day. Why is it that in the entire LCMS, as far as I know, only a handfull of people seem to have noticed this false teaching?

Anonymous said...

"Why is it that in the entire LCMS, as far as I know, only a handfull of people seem to have noticed this false teaching?"

Scott, it may be more than a handful. A pastor friend of mine who was there said he was appalled, and made that clear to his table-mates. Another, who was not there, said he almost cried. One person contacted our DP, complaining. I would think this subject would make it to BJS ultimately (no offense). I think the F4F link is getting around. Note also that, in just a day, you have quite a few postings.

As far as the lizard/gecko thing is concerned, I believe that he is, to quote Terry Tiemann, "making a difference," don't you? What he really needs is some spiritual Geico insurance--Word and Sacrament--period!