Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Promises of Divine Mercy Never Fail

Advent and Christmas Message by Dr. Walter A. Maier (Lutheran Hour Speaker)

Christian News, Vol. 50, No. 48
December 17, 2012

 Thank God, divine mercy triumphs over divine warning! Thank God, we can exult, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Though “heaven and earth shall pass away,” God’s promises remain the unshaken, eternal truth itself. Doubt any fact of secular history that you will. Put a question-mark behind any of the axiom truths of science if you must. Contradict your own experience if you care to. But do not question this supreme verity, that God loves us with that everlasting affection which makes His pledges the sure word of unchanging grace.

Now, if an inquiring soul demands, “How can I be sure that God loves me?” “How can I come to the immovable faith that the sins which separate me from God have been removed?” What better can we do, particularly in these weeks commemorating our Savior’s advent into the flesh, than point to the sure prophetic word of love and its fulfillment in the Christ-child of Bethlehem? Here, in the majestic train of Old Testament prophecies and in the marvels of New Testament fulfillment concerning the Savior’s birth, life, death, and resurrection, we have, the most awe-inspiring, faith-instilling truth of all history. Go back with me to that tragic day when the gates of Paradise were to swing closed upon the outcast parents of the race. Hardly had sin entered the world, when a Redeemer was promised – human because He was the woman’s seed, yet divine because He was to perform the superhuman task of destroying sin. Ages roll on, and to Abraham and the Hebrew nation is given the pledged assurance that in his seed “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” Of Abraham’s descendants Jacob, and of Jacob’s Judah, is chosen. Centuries are heaped upon centuries, and David is told that the promised Deliverer will be of his royal house and lineage. The prophet Micah foresees Bethlehem as the royal birthplace. Isaiah speaks of the virgin mother. Even more sharply does prophecy portray the great chapters of His world moving career. Although He will heal the sick and prove Himself the Friend of friends, the Preacher of righteousness, He will be “despised and rejected.” Blasphemous men are to take Him captive. He is to be numbered with criminals. His holy hands and feet are to be bored through. He is to die a felon’s death; and, strangely, instead of being buried obscurely in a potter’s field, His body is to repose in the tomb of a rich man. Yet, marvel of marvels, He cannot be held in the grip of death. His body will not see corruption; He IS to be resurrected; and palsied Job rejoices: “I know that my Redeemer liveth.“ He is to ascend on high and, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, will maintain His Kingdom and Power and strengthen His Church for its victorious course through the ages. And why this life of humility, this death of deaths? Inspired Isaiah, beholding in prophetic vision the suffering Messiah, answers eleven times in eight verses of his peerless fifty-third chapter and foretells: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.”

Since all these promises of the coming Redeemer were fulfilled to the letter in the redemptive career of Christ I ask you, in the words of our text; to “take heed” to the sure Word of Prophecy that is sealed in the Savior’s blood, certified by His resurrection, demonstrated daily by His almighty power. If the love of God “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all”; if Christ so mightily proved His divine power that He changed the world and we date our calendar from His birth; if all history pays its tribute, willingly or reluctantly, to His truth, shall we not especially in this Advent season prepare to welcome Him? Shall we not gain unbounded strength from the fact that, if every prophecy concerning the past has been fulfilled, every prediction of the future will likewise be verified? Shall we not with penitent and prayerful hearts, trusting only in Christ, acknowledge that “all the promises of God in Him are yea and in Him amen”?

There may be many sorrows that surround you in these heavy days. But when Jesus says: “Let not your heart be troubled ... believe in Me,” then believe that He who gives this comfort is the almighty, ever faithful God, that He can and will banish grief from your heart and fulfill His pledge: “Your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” Fears may encircle you in timid, apprehensive moments; yet when Jesus calms your heart and tells you, as He once told His wavering disciples: “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid,” remember this promise will be fulfilled even though Christ shake the earth and move its mountains. You may be overtaken by the dread loneliness which besets those who lead solitary lives, bereft, through death, of their nearest and dearest; but when Jesus speaks to your hearts and promises: “La, I am with you alway,” trust this promise; say to Christ:

“Take Thou my hand and lead me O’er life’s rough way,” and His unfailing companionship will put a new meaning into your hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus!”

Below all gnawing, disquieting cares of life there may be the deeper fears voiced in some of your letters, the hesitancy that makes you wonder whether you are saved, whether you will continue in grace, whether some heavy sin hanging over your conscience will keep you from God. As to, these and a thousand other soul problems, let me assure you for all times that, if you truly believe Christ, if you want to trust Him as your Savior, then, in spite of all the deep and terrifying sins that may have crowded into your life, in the face of all temptations that may assail you, in the very shadow of death that may swiftly overtake you, His sure Word of Prophecy comforts: “No man shall pluck you out of My hand.” And when in seeing, rather than in believing, you experience the full truth of these pledges; when “God shall wipe away all tears”; when “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither ... any more pain,” then, in heavenly fulfillment, you will exult: “There hath not failed one word of His good promise.”

I pray this blessing for all in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Ed. Advent and Christmas is a time when faithful pastors in their sermons preach about the comforting assurance of the certainty of historic Christianity the fulfillment of direct messianic prophecy brings to the Christian.

Lutheran Hour speaker Walter A. Maier regularly did this in his sermons during Advent and Christmas. Walter A. Maier Still Speaks – Missouri and the World Should Listen by Herman Otten includes a large section on “Maier, the LCMS and Direct Messianic Prophecy” (pp. 66-70) William Beck, the translator of An American Translation of the Bible was one of the few remaining LCMS theologians in St. Louis who still defended direct messianic prophecy as Maier did. CN has repeatedly shown that the RSV and now the ESV in their translation of key Old Testament passages undermine direct messianic prophecy.

It took the LCMS’s CTCR some eight years to respond to an overture asking for a statement on Bible prophecy. When the CTCR finally came up with a statement after 8 years, Dr. Raymond Surburg of Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne wrote in Christian News that the CTCR statement left the door open for a denial of direct messianic prophecy. Maier, referred to by some as “The Jeremiah of the Twentieth Century”, has become a virtual unknown in the LCMS. Prior to his death in 1950 he was the most widely known Lutheran in the world. This issue includes the foreword by Pastor William Bischoff to Walter Maier Still Speaks. Today the LCMS’s CPH refuses to promote any of some 20 books by Maier formerly published by CPH. Instead CPH promotes books written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who denied direct messianic prophecy along with such Christian doctrines as the virgin birth, deity and resurrection of Christ. Both LCMS seminaries along with CPH, LCMS President Matthew Harrison, and the Lutheran Witness are all highly praising Bonoerffer. They often quote Bonhoeffer but seldom, if ever, do they quote Maier. The St. Louis seminary says Bonhoeffer is the greatest Lutheran since Martin Luther. CN’s Bonhoeffer and King documents Bonhoeffer’s denial of historic Christianity.

The words above are a section of an Advent sermon by Maier from pages 88-91 in his book Christ for the Nation published by CPH in 1936 and quoted in the CN editor’s Baal or God published in 1965.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Why God Became Man"

By Pastor Rolf Preus
From Christian News, December 16, 1985

Christmas is probably the most popular holiday in the world. When cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God refuse to celebrate this holiday, and even attack it as godless and sinful, folks are understandably upset. What? No Christmas? Why, that's terrible! These anti-Christmas cultists are put into the company of Dr. Seuss' famous "Grinch" who "stole" Christmas.

But which is worse: denying the holiday, or denying the reality on which the holiday is based? When it comes to holidays, Scripture clearly makes their observance a matter of Christian freedom. "Therefore let no one judge you ... regarding a festival..." (Col. 2:16). The observance or lack of it of the Christmas holiday is not something Scripture addresses. Christians are free to choose which festivals or holy days (holidays) they want to celebrate. The reality of Christmas, however, is far different. With or without Christmas, this holiday is the observance of an event which every human being must know and consider. God became Man. Beneath all the externals of the holiday season exists this central fact, not only to Christmas, but of Christianity: God became man. I do not reject the religion of the Jehovah's Witness or Armstrongism because they, for whatever reason, reject Christmas. I reject and denounce their damnable religion because they deny that God became man. This is what makes them anti-Christian cults. Their odd pronouncements on things like holiday celebrations, receiving blood transfusions, and the like, are minor details in their overall system. The error which leaves them entirely outside of the Christian fold is their teaching that God did not become man.

We Christians believe, teach and confess that Jesus Christ, the child of Mary, born in Bethlehem, is the eternal God, the second person of the Trinity, begotten of his Father before all time. We believe, teach and confess that when the Virgin Mary conceived a child, that child was God himself. This act, whereby God became man, is called the Incarnation. It may not be possible to understand how this can be, but it is relatively easy to understand that it is. Scripture clearly teaches that God became man. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." (John 1:1,14).

I have talked with various members of anti-Christian cults which deny that God became man. Without exception, I have found that they don't understand why we Christians are so adamant on this. To them, our insistence that God became man, that Jesus Christ is true God and true man, is rather silly. It makes no sense, and besides, what difference does it make? The difference between life and death!

The religions of those false Christians (Moonies, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Armonstrongites, etc.) which deny that God became man are all religions which teach salvation by works. They may strenuously deny this (Mormons and Moonies claim to teach salvation by grace, but they don't), but to them, Jesus did only part of what needs to be done for their salvation. He didn't finish the job. Perhaps he took care of the guilt of original sin, or he made possible their working their way to heaven, or he in some other way made salvation a possibility, but he did not save them. Why? Because he could not. He is not God. If God did not become, man, if Jesus is not God, then we are left without an Almighty Savior. God alone is all-powerful. There was no other possibility for our eternal salvation than by the incarnation of the eternal Son of God. God had to become man if men were to be saved. Only a man could take our place, as our substitute, under the law. Only a man who was like us in every way, except without sin, could be a proper substitute. Only a man could actively obey the law, fulfilling it for us. Only a man could suffer the punishment which we deserved by bearing our sin. Only Almighty God could render an obedience which would be great enough for the entire human race. Only God could pay a sufficient price. Only a man could take our place. If Jesus Christ was not true God and true man, our deliverance from our sin and damnation would not be accomplished. We would still be lost in the guilt of our sin. It is no coincidence that the various cults all teach that God did not become man and that we must add to what Jesus did if we are to be saved. The two errors go together. One reason that cultists cannot understand why we will not budge from our confession that God became man is that they don't really believe that we believe in salvation by grace alone. Salvation by works is so ingrained in their thinking, that they believe there must be a catch somewhere when we Christians claim that our good works have nothing at all to do with salvation.

We have our job cut out for us, don't we? In our own community, there are many Jehovah's Witnesses and an increasing number of Mormons. It is very likely that even among some of the Christian denominations there are many who don't believe that God became man. This is far from a theological detail. This is a matter of eternal life or eternal death. For only the God man can save lost sinners. Only the Gospel of Christ, the God who gave man, is the power into salvation. This Christmas, as we ponder the spirit of giving, let us give the Gospel of eternal life. Tell the cultist (or nominal Christian) why God became man. That sincere and earnest Jehovah's Witness standing on your doorstep is on the way to eternal damnation. Only the God who became man can save him. "God is man, man to deliver; his dear Son now is one with our blood forever!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One Savior for All

Christian News, December 3, 2012

As we come to the time when most of the world will recognize the birth of Christ, though Santa Claus will overshadow this for many, we wish to look at the reason why Christ came to earth.

First of all, we must recognize that the virgin conception and birth, which is denied by many “Christians,” was not the beginning of the life of Jesus. He, along with the Father, had no beginning but was and is from everlasting to everlasting. (John 1:1).

Jesus Christ came to earth to save mankind from their sins. (Matthew 1:25) Today there are many “saviors” represented by various religions. The universalism taught in many of today’s churches claims that there are many ways to Heaven. But the Bible declares that there is only one way to eternal life with the Father. Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). Just previous to this statement he gave the assurance of a real Heaven.

The Fundamentalists are pretty well in agreement that there are two salvation plans, though most are reluctant to call it that. One is for the Jews and one is for the Gentiles. They correctly teach that the Jews were God’s chosen people in the old covenant. They also correctly teach that the plan of salvation was offered first to the Jews. But they then declare with no biblical support that when the Jews refused this offer God came up with an “alternative plan.”

This delusion is called “the parenthetical church age” or “the time of the Gentiles.” It is based on one misconstrued New Testament verse (Romans 11:26) and wrongly interpret Old Testament passages. From this comes the mythical earthly millennial kingdom which is mainly Jewish in nature. Here such nonsensical things as resurrected bodies and natural bodies living side by side is proclaimed. Prior to this is when Christ is supposed to return than the living Jews will all repent and be saved. Paul makes it plain that this is not necessary or even possible. (Romans 10:12, 13).

This masterminded deception has caused some to declare that modern day Jews do not need to be evangelized. This is not love for the Jewish people. Another associated tragedy is the events taking place in modern day Israel. The truth has been hidden from the minds of most individuals through false teaching and the media. We are told that God gave Israel the right to steal from, kill and destroy property of the Palestinians. That the land was unoccupied prior to 1948 when Israel was declared a state by the United Nations. Nehemiah 9:7,8 declares that the land promise God gave was fulfilled.

Perhaps the greatest lie of all is that the Palestinians were all terrorists who wanted to destroy all the Jews. The truth is that many of the Palestinians were Christians. They were Christians that believed in peace. Though opposed to both Christianity and Judaism, even the Moslem Arabs did not want war with the Jews at this point. The violence all began when the Jews from Germany, called Zionists, were sent to Israel to live. There were already Orthodox Jews, Reformed Jews and secular Jews living in Israel at this time. All of these wanted to live in peace with the Palestinians. The Zionists came with the belief that God gave them all of Israel as an inheritance and that they had the divine right to take it by force. Eventually they and the Reconstructionists, though differing greatly in theology, joined together and started a plan to “save” Israel. Their “miraculous” success in their first war gave them international fame. It was some time after this that some Palestinians decided that they needed to defend themselves. From this came the feared terrorists.

Some Christians have turned the joyful coming of Christ to earth to a time of sadness for innocent people. The fact that many use it as a time for drunkenness and debauchery is terrible. But taking innocent lives in the name of seeking Christ’s second coming in downright sickening!

James M. Hite
Palmyra, PA

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Challenging “The Great Scholars and Brains” CN’s 65 Year Battle for True Scholarship

Christian News, November 19, 2012

Last week CN reported that the latest issue of the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly said that when the liberals, often referred to as “moderates,” left Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and formed Seminex, taking more than a 100,000 with them, the LCMS suffered a great “brain drain.” The liberals such as Martin Marty and Jaroslav Pelikan were hailed as the brains the LCMS lost. CN challenged this notion in a long editorial “NO BRAIN DRAIN.”

CN’s battle with “The Great Scholars” began during the editor’s prep school days at the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia, Bronxville Prep School and Jr. College (1947-1952) when he got into difficulty for disagreeing with a professor who was a strong defender of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The future CN editor was sent to the principal to get straightened out for suggesting that FDR, contrary to his public promise, wanted war and refused to inform Admiral Kimmel and General Short in Hawaii about the coming Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor he had been told was coming. One of the books the editor informed the professors he had read was The Crime of the Ages by Ludwig A. Fritsch, PhD., D.D. endorsed by Lutheran Hour Speaker Walter Maier. (Walter A. Maier Still Speaks – Missouri and the World Should Listen, pp. 199, 218). The editor soon found out that some of the “Great Scholars” were not always so well informed and at times simply refused to study the evidence when they were uninformed.

When he entered Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in 1952 he was not impressed with the scholarship of some of the “Great Scholars” who refused to consider the evidence refuting the J-E-D-P source hypothesis and the translation of Almah in Isaiah 7:14 as “young woman” rather than virgin.

He was not impressed with the ridicule by some professors of Senator Joe McCarthy and those concerned about the infiltration of communism exposed by the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities and U.S. Senate Security Committee. Later he was not impressed with the scholarship of those who refused to consider the evidence for the number of Jews exterminated by the Germans during WWII and the existence of gas chambers to exterminate millions.

Here is a section on “Sound Scholarship” in the editor’s Baal or God published in 1965: While the testimony of Scripture settles this issue for the Christian, there is absolutely no scholarly reason why we must reject the Mosaic authorship of the first five books of the Bible. Some of the latest and finest scholarship on this subject is found in The Composition of the Pentateuch, A Fresh Examination, by M. Segal, Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, pages 68-114 in Scripta Hierosolymitana, v. VIII, Studies in The Bible, ed. by Chaim Rabin.

Concerning the documentary J-E-D-P source hypothesis, this work says: The reader cannot but be forcibly impressed by the highly artificial character of this complicated process of authorship spread over the centuries. Hebrew literature, or any other literature all the world over, cannot show another example of the production of a literary work by such a succession of recurring amalgamations and such a succession of compilers and redactors centuries apart, all working by one and the same method, as attributed by the Theory to the formation of the Pentateuch. But beside this striking artificiality, the Theory also puts forward highly improbable assumptions without offering any evidence for their veracity. Two disparate authors removed from each other by centuries both agreed to avoid in a large portion of their work the divine name YHWH, which no doubt they constantly used in their daily life, because of some antiquarian theory concerning the time of its revelation. Such avoidance strikes us as pure pedantry quite foreign to the characteristic simplicity of ancient Hebrew writers (p.71).

The preceding pages have made it clear why we must reject the Documentary Theory as an explanation of the composition of the Pentateuch. The theory is complicated, artificial, and anomalous. It is based on unproved assumptions. It uses unreliable criteria for the separation of the text into component documents (p. 95).

[On Genesis] A careful reading of the contents of the book shows clearly that the book is the work of an author with a definite and preconceived purpose, and not a compilation of disconnected fragments put together by late redactors. The narratives in the book are all related - directly or indirectly to its main subject, viz. the story of the covenant with the Patriarchs and the selection of Israel” (p. 98).

[On Leviticus] Such an inspired teacher, who presented a legislation in successive addresses to the people, could only have been Moses in the wilderness. The hypothetical pseudonymous legislators of the critics, working in exilic and post-exilic times, who ascribed their legal composition to Moses, would have written their laws as written and complete compositions, and not as oral and incomplete addresses; (p. 108). It may be surmised that the bulk of the work was composed in the long leisurely years spent at Kadesh (Deut. i, 46), and that the last chapters of Numbers and the whole of Deuteronomy were added in the plains of Moab (Num. xxxvi, 13; Deut. 15; xxviii, 69). The finishing touches were added to the work after the death of the author by his disciples like Joshua and the priests Eleazer and Phineas” (p. 113). The entire J-E-D-P documentary theory, now being advanced in Protestant Sunday School curriculums, has also been discredited by M. Segal "El, Elohim, and YHWH in the Bible" in the Jewish Quarterly Review, 1956, pp. 85-115, and by U. Cassuto, The Documentary Hypothesis, 1961. Orthodox theologians have always accepted the Mosaic authorship of the first five books. Walter A. Maier, first International Lutheran Hour speaker and Old Testament professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, lists the following reasons for rejecting the documentary hypothesis, the view that Moses did not write the Pentateuch:

A. It contradicts the plain statements of the Old Testament and of the New Testament that Moses is the author of the Pentateuch. B. It contradicts the internal linguistic evidence of the Pentateuch. . . . .E. It is a theory that has been built up by arbitrary and high-handed procedures.... F. It is a theory that leads to absurdities. . . . G. It is a theory which is built up on a vicious and impossible principle, the evolution of religion, according to which the religion of the Israelites has been a gradual and natural growth from the lower to the higher, and which leaves no room or reason for the supernatural, the divine, the revealed. Such premises are repudiated by every conception of Bibliology and of God which the Scriptures contain.

Reprinted in this issue from the January 28, 1974 Christian News is “Who Are the Scholars?” and “An Open Letter to the Great Scholars at the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.” This letter quotes from Robert Dick Wilson’s “Is the Higher Criticism Scholarly?” It appears on pages 526-533 of A Christian Handbook on Vital Issues which CN sent to all delegates to the LCMS’s 1973 convention. This convention adopted resolution 3-09 condemning the false doctrine in “Faithful to Our Calling – Faithful to Our Lord” adopted by the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Dr. Eugene Klug, chief author of 3-09, told CN how helpful his committee found A Christian Handbook on Vital Issues. It helped prepare the convention to take a strong stand vs. the St. Louis seminary. Of course, none of this is mentioned in the LCMS’s CPH published A Seminary in Crisis which credits LCMS President Jacob Preus for the LCMS’s great victory in its battle for the Bible. Unlike many of the organized conservatives, who preferred to work in secrecy behind the scenes, CN regularly tackled the actual theological issues involved and always championed real scholarship while it exposed the anti-scriptural and unscientific scholarship of the liberals. Footnote one to The Twenty-First Century Formula of Concord published last week in CN lists some of the many articles CN has published promoting true biblical scholarship and opposing the anti-scriptural and unscientific scholarship of the liberals. CN opposed the church politics of LCMS President Jacob Preus and the organized conservatives who supported him. When Preus wanted to get rid of Richard Neuhaus, CN urged him not to use any underhanded political means but to remove him for his false doctrine after an open and fair trial. CN then filed formal charges of false doctrine vs. Neuhaus. CN did the same when an LCMS churchman publicly supported abortion. In each case Preus and his supporters refused to deal with these charges in an open and fair matter. Newsweek was correct when it said Christian News called for heresy trials. CN wanted such a trial to expose the scholarship of the liberals as contrary to scripture and the best scholarly evidence.

CN’s battle for true scholarship and opposition to scholars who refuse to consider solid evidence continues after 65 years.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly - THE LCMS’s GREAT “BRAIN DRAIN”

Christian News, Vol. 50, No. 44; Nov. 12, 2012
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod experienced a great “brain drain” when Seminex was formed and many liberal professors, pastors, and seminarians left the LCMS says Mike Doyle in a 34 page article on Dr. Paul Manz in the Fall, 2012 Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly. When Manz died on October 28, 2009, the November 9, 2009 Christian News published “Paul Manz, Distinguished Lutheran Organist, Composer and Teacher, Dies,” a long report from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on the great work of Manz. CN’s editorial on Manz was titled: “Paul Manz – 1919-2009 – Belonged with the LCMS – Not ELCA – One of the World’s Greatest Organists.” Manz championed Bach. However, he left the LCMS and became a leading fund raiser for Seminex. The 1973 convention of the LCMS said in resolution 3-09 that the professors who formed Seminex were guilty of false doctrine which was not to be tolerated in the LCMS.

The November 9, 2009 Christian News said: Dr. Manz should have followed the example of another great musician who champions Bach, Dr. Robert Bergt. Bergt now is the conductor of Bach at the Sem, at the LCMS’s Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Both the theology and music of Bach does not fit with the theology of ELCA and Seminex. Bergt in his younger years did sign Seminex’s Faithful to Our Calling—Faithful to Our Lord but since then he made it clear that he is with the confessional Lutheran theology promoted by Bach and officially still in the LCMS.

Hopefully, at the funeral of Dr. Paul Manz it was made clear that he like Martin Luther, Johan Sebastian Bach, and all great Lutheran musicians and organists trusted not in all his great achievements, but only in the saving merits of Jesus Christ for his eternal salvation. To God Alone The Glory.

The CHIQ says that “Mr. Doyle has authored numerous articles in the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly. He is the author of seven books, of which four have received awards from Concordia Historical Institute.” The CHIQ has highly praised such defenders of Seminex as Dr. John Strietelmeyer of Valparaiso University in a cover story. Doyle writes in the CHIQ:

“In July of 1969 Paul (Manz) was invited to be the organist for the 48th Regular convention of the Missouri Synod conducted in Denver, Colorado. He also presented concerts at the Air Force Academy and St. John's Lutheran Church in Denver. Unfortunately, the beauty of these programs was overshadowed by the events at the convention, which would cause turmoil for many in Synod, including Paul. At this convention, Rev. Dr. Jacob Preus was elevated from the presidency of Concordia Seminary in Springfield to the presidency of the LCMS in 1969. He soon embarked on a conservative agenda that had far-reaching conse­quences within the Synod. The advancement toward fellowship with the ALC (American Lutheran Church) was terminated. Members of the LCMS mission staff and faculty members at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis who were regarded as too liberal were removed. He appointed a fact-finding committee to investigate what he saw as liberalism at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. In 1973, as a result of the committee's report, the majority of the faculty was accused of false teaching, in effect, heresy.

“In 1974 the seminary's moderate president, Rev. John H. Tietjen, was removed, with the majority of the faculty boycotting class­es to protest his removal. After Synod ousted Concordia's president, the seminary faculty walked out, along with the majority of the students, causing a ‘brain drain’ among theologians that cost the Synod the ser­vices of some of its most prominent spokesmen, including Dr. Martin Marty and Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan. A rebel seminary was established at Eden Seminary and Saint Louis University, ultimately called Christ Seminary-Seminex; among the first students to graduate from Christ Seminary was John Manz. His decision put his father in a very awk­ward position at Concordia College in St. Paul, making it difficult for Paul to stay at the college. Dr. Marty said: "Church musicians aren't usually rebels, and Paul was not a rebel. But what was happening in the Missouri Synod reached his artistic integrity and his sense of fair­ness."

“In response to actions against the Concordia Seminary faculty, Evangelical Lutherans in Mission (ELIM) was organized within Synod after the New Orleans Convention.

President J. A. O. Preus made ev­ery effort to stop the group, including implementation of disciplinary actions against the clergy, congregations, and the Synod's colleges that actively supported or participated in ELIM. Since Paul became an active member after the convention and played hymn festivals at some of ELIM's events, he became suspect. “At the 1975 LCMS Convention in Anaheim, a resolution was passed that declared ELIM to be schismatic and offensive to the Synod, warning supporters that action would be taken against them if they continued to support this group.” Christian News has long insisted that when Seminex was formed and such liberals as Martin Marty and Jaroslov Pelikan left the LCMS, contrary to what Doyle writes in the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, there was no “brain drain” in the LCMS. When the press reported that the entire controversy in the LCMS and at Concordia Seminary was a struggle between power and scholarship. According to the liberals and the press, the liberals and moderates had the scholarship while the conservatives had the power, money and enough convention votes to get their men elected.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

WELS Reviewers Blast ESV’s Readability

By David Becker

Christian News, November 5, 2012


The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod came out with extensive reviews of three Bible translations. The Translation Evaluation Committee of the WELS "decided to limit the review to...the English Standard Version (ESV), the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), and the NIV11. All three of these translations were prepared by cross-denominational teams of evangelical Christians, with all translators holding to the inerrancy of the Bible. All three use the same Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, following the best practices of contemporary scholarship. All three are readily available in print and digital formats. All three are overseen by cross-denominational oversight committees that intend to improve the translations periodically." 102 members of the WELS, all male, participated in the review of the three translations.    
The ESV received much criticisms in the reviews. Here is just one example. "In my opinion, the ESV is not really a literal translation, it is an exercise in nostalgia. Some people want something that sounds more like the KJV. If that’s what they want, that’s ok, but I am not a fan of the recurring theme that it is 'in the great tradition of English Bible translation.' I think it is more honest to say that the ESV is a revision of a revision (the RSV) that few people really like to begin with." Many other ESV reviewers said pretty much the same thing. Just check the attached file. There is a huge number of similar comments that could be cited.

I'm attaching two files recently released by the WELS TEC: the introduction and the ESV review document. The complete set of files released by the WELS TEC is at

* * * * * *

A Challenge to the ELS, CLC, and AFLC

“WELS Reviewers Blast ESV’s Readability” on page one by David Becker comments on a 139 page report on Bible translations just released by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. How many will read this report?

CN has shown for years in issues of Christian News sent to almost all WELS, ELS, and LCMS schools that confessional Lutherans should publish a Bible translation which is the work of true Lutheran scholars rather than a mixture from evangelical, charismatic, fundamentalist and liberal churches. It should use William Beck’s An American Translation. The AAT is primarily Beck’s work but incorporates helpful suggestions made for some 35 years by some of the best confessional Lutheran scholars in the LCMS, WELS, and ELS.

However, it is simply not politically correct in the LCMS and WELS to recognize anything coming from Christian News, referred to by various critics as racist, anti-Semitic, fundamentalist, reptilian, hatemonger, Nazi, liar, etc.

Perhaps the Church of the Lutheran Confessions, Evangelical Lutheran Synod, or Association of Free Lutheran Churches should publish the translation by confessional Lutheran scholars using Beck’s AAT as a basis to get the Bible done in a short time, leaving it open for valid changes in future printings.

Beck’s New Testament (AAT) was first published by the LCMS’s CPH in 1962. Several LCMS conventions asked CPH to publish Beck’s entire AAT. CPH said it would but then declined. Now under Paul McCain, with the financial support of the Schwan Foundation, the LCMS promotes the ESV, which is 91% the work of the RSV translators. Almost all of the RSV translators denied the deity of Christ. The RSV, which McCain says is reliable, is copyrighted by the liberal National Council of Churches.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The current debate in the WELS concerning universal, objective Justification

Christian News, October 29, 2012, Vol. 50, No. 42

The conference of presidents, on the recent call list, Oct. 2012, reports that Paul Rydecki has been suspended from ministry of the WELS. No further information is given, and one is left to wonder what did he do????

On the Intrepid Lutherans web page there appeared the announcement that one of its contributors, Rev. Paul Rydecki, has been suspended from the WELS. Following articles and an explanation from Rydecki explained that the reason was because of Rydecki’s views concerning objective, universal, justification. He stated and defended his position in a paper given last June in Oshkosh, “Are You A Dresden Lutheran?” A copy of the DP letter of suspension to Rydecki was also posted.

One wonders why more information concerning suspensions for doctrinal reasons cannot be given. It seems that in order to understand what is going on in the Synod one must go to unofficial sources.

What Paul Rydecki (also the egocentric synergist Greg Jackson) is teaching on justification is nothing new to the Lutheran Church and something which Confessional Lutherans have always rejected.

The position that Rydecki is promoting has its origin back in Melanchthon’s teachings on the three causes of conversion — the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the will of man. In the discussions in the 50s between the old American Lutheran Church and the LCMS concerning justification, the ALC wanted to teach that God had secured and provided salvation for all people. This is objective or universal redemption, not objective justification. The LCMS along with the WELS insisted on the words, that God has not only secured and provided salvation for all, but that God has declared the whole world righteous in Christ Jesus. This they called objective Justification. (A term that is preferred over universal justification, which can cause some misunderstandings.) By only saying “secured and provided salvation” the door is open for some cooperation or contributions on the part on man. Good, God has provided it, how do I get it? But by insisting on the term God has DECLARED the whole world righteous, all works or cooperation on man’s part are removed.

The men in the ALC, from the old Ohio Synod, wanted to teach “Erst muss der Mensch glauben, dann wird er gerechtfertigt (first must the man believe, then he becomes justified). This old error taught that first one must believe that Christ died for all, then he will be justified. This puts the cart before the horse, my faith before my justification. Against this old heresy Walther and others maintained the formula – Justificatio non post fidem, sed per fidem (Justification not after faith, but through faith). This is the position of Lutheran Orthodoxy. Today we use the term objective justification to teach this truth. God has declared the whole world righteous in Christ Jesus (God so loved the world, John 3:16; The Lutheran church sings, “Christ thou Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on me.”)

Of course now, the other side, the Holy Spirit working through the means of Grace must now change the hard and disobedient will of man which is dead in sin and an enemy of God. The Holy Spirit moves the will of man to accept and believe this objective justification. This we call subjective justification. The two must go together; — and you can’t have one without the other!!! If one rejects the objective, universal justification, he cannot be saved. He is lost. We do not believe in universalism, everyone is going to heaven.

The Bible connects universal redemption and universal, objective, justifi- cation and treats them as the same.For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:5-7. Christ died for all. This Rydecki does not reject. But in the same book, a chapter earlier, Paul writes, But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, Romans 4:4-6

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many (i.e., all) were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many (i.e., all) will be made righteous. (Rom 5:18,19)

The Lutheran Confessions, although not using the term objective justification, teach this concept.

But when the Lord Jesus Christ came, He forgave to all people the sin, which no one could avoid. … Christ took away the sin of the whole world, as John testified saying in John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Apology, Art IV, Justification, 103 Concordia, page 99

Just as the preaching of repentance is universal, so also the promise of the Gospel is universal, that is, it belongs to all people. Formula of Concord, Art XI, 28, Concordia, p. 606

All have sinned and (all) are justified freely. Smalcald Articles, second part, Art. I,3, Concordia, page 263.

By way of illustration: A man pays my entire debt, gives me a check, and declares me debt free. But I must believe this, cash the check. It does me no good until I cash it. But I cannot cash it before he declares me debt free.

This clear teaching that God has declared all people righteous, Objective Justification (WELS catechism, question 253) Rydecki refuses to accept and teach. Thus he is rightly to be removed from the ministry of the WELS!

Pastor M.F. Bartling
Onalaska, WI, Oct. 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vote Your Faith Not Your Fear

by Dr. Laurence L. White

Christian News, October 22, 2012; Vol. 50, No. 41

  Houston - Texas It’s that time again. In the midst of a heated presidential campaign - portrayed, as always, as the most important election in the history of the republic -pro-life voters are confronted with a choice between an ambivalent Republican and a pro-abortion Democrat. I, for one, believe that it is high time we stopped settling for “the lesser of two evils.” I believe the time has finally come for us to vote our faith and not our fear. My vote for president on this Election Day will be a write in.

As we debate support for the current moderate Republican nominee, abortion is already a well-established part of American culture. We have gradually grown accustomed to the killing of 4,000 babies every day. The 40th birthday (how’s that for irony) of Roe vs Wade is just a few months away. We talk about nearly 60 million murdered children.

What we don’t often consider is that also means is that there are nearly 60 million women out there who have had abortions and nearly sixty million men who fathered a child in a one night stand without ever knowing it or helped to arrange for the removal of an inconvenient pregnancy. Those awful numbers mean that there are very few families left in America which have not been directly touched by the slaughter. The spiritual degradation and damage which these numbers represent is terrifying. The sad truth is that after forty years we are farther away from stopping abortion today than we have ever been. With every year that passes it becomes less likely that we will ever be able to end the killing. Most Americans today, especially the younger ones, have come to view sex as just another form of casual recreation. They are convinced that anyone who believes that sex should be the expression of love between a husband and wife within the lifelong commitment of marriage is a judgmental hypocrite who wants to impose his own repressive hang-ups on everybody else. As that perspective becomes increasingly dominant, the practical necessity of abortion will become ever more compelling.

I am convinced that Bible Christians – especially those of us who have been actively involved in politics as citizens –have failed to stop abortion because we have failed to consistently put our faith into practice and be true to our convictions. We have known from the beginning what God says about the precious life of the unborn. Our pro-life rhetoric has proclaimed over and over again for forty long years that the death of every one of these defenseless babies breaks God’s heart. And yet we have gone on about our business as usual throughout those forty years as though we were not in the middle of a life and death catastrophe. We have been gradually conditioned to co-exist with abortion. “Sure, we are pro-life,” we have assured ourselves, but then we have realistically hastened to add, “but we really can’t expect abortion to end anytime soon.”

Our patient willingness to allow this abomination to continue year after year is a contradiction and a denial of everything we say we believe about the God of love and life whom we profess to serve.

We got involved in the political process with good intentions for the best reasons –the unborn were being slaughtered, marriage and family were being devastated. But politics changed us more than we changed politics. We rightly rejected the devil’s lie of the absolute separation of church and state and recognized our God given responsibility to fight for Biblical values in the public square. But our persistent Adversary didn’t give up and go away. Instead, as usual, he found a different point of vulnerability. He tempted us to confuse our own political opinions with the absolute truth of God. We failed to maintain a clear consistent distinction between – “This is what I think” and “Thus saith the Lord.” By so doing we have allowed God to be reduced to the status of a mascot for the Republican Party. All too often we have bowed down before the pagan altar of the GOP when we should have been standing steadfastly for GOD. We seem to have forgotten that abortion is unlike any other issue. This single issue is a direct confrontation between life and death, God and Satan. Any Christian who will not stand boldly for life is guilty of betraying and denying the Lord Jesus Christ. Thousands of babies die with every delay and every concession. Politics is the art of the possible, the world told us. We were endlessly reminded that in order to accomplish anything in politics you have to be practical and realistic. There are no perfect candidates, the experts have advised us. In politics we have to settle for what we can get. Bit by bit our politics have been seduced by worldly games of power and success, politics as usual, and all the while the babies have gone on dying.

We’ve compromised, we’ve adjusted, we’ve settled. We’ve supported candidate after candidate who was–at best–ambivalent about abortion. We’ve settled for the lesser of two evils over and over again, even though deep in our hearts, we’ve always known that these guys didn’t understand the horror of abortion and would never be willing to take any personal or political risk to actually try stopping it. We should learn from our enemies. Can you imagine the Democrats ever nominating a presidential candidate who was not passionately committed to a woman’s right to choose? Can you image Obama, or any other Democrat president, ever nominating a Supreme Court justice who was not unequivocally, absolutely pro-abortion? It could never happen. Unfortunately those who are pro-death understand the crucial importance of this single issue to their world-view much more clearly than those who are pro-life. The Republican Party establishment views pro-life voters with scornful contempt. Based on our past cowardice, they confidently assume that we “have nowhere else to go” and will continue to vote Republican because the Democrat will always be worse. They deride us as useful fools who will settle for vague promises and an occasional scrap tossed their way. As long as we continue to submit to their cynical manipulation, and to allow fear, not faith, to determine our vote, the killing of the unborn will continue.

We have got to finally deal with reality. The sad fact is that anyone who is only nominally pro-life, uncommitted or indifferent on this issue is, in effect, pro-abortion. This is true because the challenge that confronts pro-lifers is infinitely greater than that which confronts abortion supporters. Pro-aborts don’t have to change anything. All they have to do is leave things the way they are, maintaining a well-established status quo. Pro-lifers, on the other hand, have to bring about a cultural revolution. They have to challenge what has come to be defined by all of our cultural elites - media, entertainment and academia - as “reproductive freedom” and then overturn forty years of history. Pro-lifers have to transform a culture of death back into a culture of life. The Republican establishment and their moderate stalking horses are determined to avoid this issue, whenever possible. Their strategy has been the same for decades and it works! They say as much as they have to during the primaries in order to placate Christian voters while they eliminate real pro-life candidates. Once the primaries are over, they immediately run for the center, studiously avoiding the dreaded social issues. When they do manage to win an election that same craven pattern continues - minimal talk and no action. The consequence of these sad facts is that the same number of babies will die during the administration of a nominally pro-life Republican coward, as during the administration of a radical pro-abortion Democrat.

We’ve made these expedient choices over forty year because we wanted to win elections. We’ve made these choices because we were afraid of what would happen to the country if our personal conservative views on government, taxes, the economy, foreign policy, etc, etc. did not prevail. We have soothed our consciences with the thought that at least with a Republican president we have the possibility of moderate/conservative Supreme Court appointments. The record of Republican court appointments contradicts that hope. But more basically, we have allowed so much ground to be lost in the battle for the soul of America, that we are well beyond the point where the Supreme Court can solve this problem for us. We need a president who is passionately committed to life; a president who hates abortion and recognizes the dire threat that it poses to the survival of America. We need a president who will fearlessly articulate his own firm convictions on this issue again and again, to rally the nation, and recall America to its most basic belief – “that all men are created equal and have been endowed by their Creator” with an unalienable right to life. All long as we are content to settle for the docile servants of the party establishment as the lesser of two evils that will never happen. As long as we allow ourselves to be used and manipulated by cynical party bosses we will never succeed in rousing the people of God who sense the lack of spiritual integrity in our efforts. We’ve been practical and realistic for forty years and every single day of those forty years 4,000 more babies have died. It ought to be plain to anyone by now that our lesser of two evils strategy has failed. We must finally stop being practical and realistic. The time is long past due for us to be faithful, to stand for truth and life without compromise or concession, come what may, and entrust the outcome to God.

I will never entrust the lives of unborn children into the hands of another milk-toast weathervane Republican again. On this Election Day I am going to vote my faith not my fear.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

CN's Disgusting Political Opinions

Christian News, Vol. 50, No. 40, October 15, 2012

Former First Things editor, Anthony Sacramone, comments on Dr. Martin Noland’s review of Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod – A Conflict That Changed American Christianity (Fortress Press, 2011, Foreword by Martin Marty) in Logia. Note “Former First Things Editor – Anthony Sacromone Says That Herman Otten Is a ‘Crank’“, “CN’s Response to Blogger Praised by McCain, Wilken, and Veith”, and “Differences Between Neuhaus and Otten” in the October 8, 2012 CN.
CN has not yet received a response to the questions CN asked the former First Things editor and defender of Father Neuhaus who is being praised by LCMS conservatives critical of CN. (CN, October 8, 2012, p. 13).

Dr. Noland wrote in his Logia review of the Burkee book:
“When Herman Otten saw what the Lutheran Witness was doing, he replied with his own political opinions. Most LCMS conservatives found Otten’s journalistic ethics and political opinions noisome, and his opinions on the Jewish people particularly reprehensible. That is the reason that the synod’s conservatives formed other organizations and other news sources, beginning in 1964.”

Noisom – Disgusting
The unabridged edition of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language” defines noisome: “1. offensive or disgusting, as an odor. 2. Harmful, injurious, or noxious.”

CN wrote to Logia and Dr. Noland on October 8:

An LCMS theologian during his liberal days wrote a graduate thesis for the Lutheran School of Theology to show that Otten began Christian News to get Barry Goldwater elected U.S. President. “Politics and Religion?”, a front page editorial in the October 19, 1964 Lutheran News (now Christian News), said at the height of this election: “Which candidate does Lutheran News endorse for election. Neither one. This is a Lutheran newspaper, and we intend to keep it that way. We do not publish with the intention of influencing the election.”

CN has for fifty years published many articles opposing communism and socialism and supporting what the Bible says about private property. CN did no more than what C.F.W. Walther did with his Communism and Socialism. CN sold thousands of copies of this Walther booklet. Could you tell me what “journalistic ethics and political opinions” most LCMS conservatives found “noisome?”’

What are “the opinions on the Jewish people” expressed in Christian News which “most LCMS conservatives” found “particularly reprehensible” and for that reason formed other organizations and news sources beginning in 1964? What organizations and news sources did they form?

Here CN broke no new ground. It simply defended what Article XVII of the Augsburg Confession says about “Certain Jewish opinions which are even now making an appearance.” CN has repeatedly offered to publish a statement from anyone who can show where CN has not told the truth about anything including the Jewish people, Israel, war, Millennialism, the Holocaust, Communism, Islam, Mormons, Joseph Barbour, who was defended by Affirm, etc.”

Note CN’s Statement of Policy on page 4 of each issue of CN. It was written by Kurt Marquart. Point 5 says: “The writers of Christian News claim no sort of infallibility for themselves, they therefore invite readers to notify them of any errors of fact, judgment, or theology, which may occur from time to time so that suitable corrections may be made.’

Hopefully, Logia will publish CN’s entire letter and answer CN’s questions.

Journalistic Ethics
What were CN’s “noisome, disgusting” opinions which most conservatives opposed beginning in 1964 found in CN and therefore found it necessary to avoid any association or promotion of Christian News. Check the record. What were the “disgusting” journalistic ethics? CN photographed articles written by liberals for purposes of evidence only and not to make money but simply to show CN was not quoting out of context. CN wrote to many liberals to ask them just where they stood on the theological issues in controversy. CN sent a copy of CN to any liberal theologian mentioned in CN and gave him an opportunity to show where CN had not told the truth.

Many did at least at first consider CN’s anti-communist position along with CN’s position that no supporter of abortion, evolution, or higher criticism of the Bible should be permitted to remain on the LCMS clergy “politics”.
The facts show that the conservatives Noland defends were worried about their careers in the LCMS and did not want to name liberals as CN was doing.

When the International Council of Churches held a world congress in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1965, the ICCC placed a copy of CN’s Baal or God in the registration packet of all delegates. They came from scores of nations and denominations around the world. CN soon had readers in more than 60 nations. After the editor spoke at other ICCC congresses on justification, Luther’s theology, the papacy, a Twentieth Century Reformation and Formula of Concord, etc., he was invited to speak in Australia, the Philippine’s, Chile, Holland, Germany, India and throughout the U.S. Unfortunately, he had to refuse most invitations since he was the fulltime pastor of a congregations and also thought it was more important to have a family of children faithful to God’s Word. He noted that the family life of at least some Christian leaders constantly on the road had suffered. While they were trying to save the world they were losing their own children.

Major Foundations
Unfortunately, major foundations which helped others send Christian literature overseas were not interested in helping CN fulfill all the requests CN received from overseas for subscriptions and books CN published. The foundations kept their distance from any editor who dared challenge the liberalism at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and elsewhere in the LCMS. Anyone who supported Luther’s scriptural position against birth control was considered “noisome.” CN’s stand on unscriptural divorce and womanizing did not help.

When CN was opposing abortion during the 1960s and insisted that pro-abortionists should be removed from the LCMS clergy roster, few conservatives joined CN. Hardly any complained when CPH published a book supporting abortion, when the LCMS’s Lutheran Family Services of Illinois allowed for the murder of unborn infants, when Lutheran hospitals were performing abortions, and when Jesus First listed a prominent LCMS pro-abortion clergyman as one of its supporters. When CN filed charges of false doctrine vs. a prominent LCMS clergyman who publicly promoted abortion, CN received no support.

In 1977 the editor was invited by the Lutheran Editor’s and Manager’s Association to a meeting at Concordia Publishing House to speak on “Why Christian News?” He concluded: “Why Christian News? If you Lutheran journalists on the staff of official Lutheran publications continue to support abortion or remain silent about this tremendous sin, Lutherans surely need an independent publication which warns that abortion is sinful and which exposes the fact that thousands of unborn infants are being killed in ‘Lutheran hospitals.’”

CN’s position that abortionists among the LCMS clergy should be removed was a “noisome” political opinion.

Bonhoeffer and the Holocaust
During the 1960’s CN said no more about the Holocaust than Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower did in all of their voluminous writing about WWII. The myth of the 6 million along with the Bonhoeffer myth among non-thinking churchmen, who blindly follow the crowd and refuse to study the evidence, came in later years. The index to the Concordia Theological Monthly from 1930-1959 shows that nothing in the journal edited by the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and published by the LCMS said anything about the Holocaust, Bonhoeffer, or any of his writings.

Now the seminary, the LCMS administration, the conservatives who blast Christian News for its “noisome” views claim Bonhoeffer as the greatest Lutheran theologian since Martin Luther. Was the faculty formerly so ignorant that it failed to recognize this?

The “noisome – disgusting” views expressed in CN in the 1960s was what CN was writing about communism, socialism, the captive nations, Christian martyrs suffering under communism. Some of the hundreds of articles CN published on these matters are in The Christian News Encyclopedia and a Christian Handbook on Vital Issues. A footnote at the end of “The Forgotten People – Stand With Persecuted Christians” lists a few of the CN “noisome” articles on communism (p. 13).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Scriptural View of Creation - Sex - Marriage Taught at Camp Trinity

Dr. Pamela Moehl – Cedar Hill, Missouri, Lutheran Church

Christian News, October 8, 2012; Vol. 50, No 39      
What the Bible teaches about creation, sex, and marriage was emphasized at a retreat held at Camp Trinity, New Haven, Missouri, September 28-30. Educational Consultant Dr. Pamela Moehl was the primary speaker at the gathering.(

Some 50 youth and their leaders from Cedar Hill, Missouri Lutheran Church attended the gathering. Dr. David A. Bilgreen is the pastor of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church congregation. LCMS’s 2012 Lutheran Annual reports that the congregation has 278 baptized members, 213 confirmed members and an average attendance of 205.

Dr. Moehl’s lectures are summarized in a 26 page booklet she distributed at Camp Trinity. It is titled “Sanctification 2012” and shows a youth with these words on his shirt: Psalm 119:9: “How shall a young man keep his way pure. By living according to your Word.

The cover has this prayer: “Give me one pure and holy passion, And give me one magnificent obsession. Give me one glorious ambition for my life, To know and follow hard after you. To grow as your disciple in the truth. This world is empty, pale, and poor compared to knowing you my Lord. Lead me on and I will run after you.”

Dr. Moehl begins with the “7 C’s of History” promoted at the Answers In Genesis Museum in St. Petersburg, Kentucky. They are:
Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation.

In a section on “God’s Design” Moehl says:
“The Bible portrays healthy sexuality as more than just purity. There is a beauty, a joy and a God-centeredness to sex in marriage according to Scripture. Whether single or married, healthy sexuality grows out of an understanding of God’s perspective on sex as described in His Word.

“The first two chapters of Genesis describe God’s perfect purposes for humankind and positive view of human sexuality” (7).

Moehl comments on healthy and unhealthy relationships. Moehl made it clear that for Christians there is to be no sex outside of marriage. She noted:

“Myth: If you’re still a virgin, there must be something wrong with you!

“Truth: Studies show that virgins have better life outcomes in the areas of high school graduation, college attendance, marriage, finances, and general health” (11).

She quoted Tom Lickona: “Not long after the sexual revolution was underway, clinicians observed that the new sexual freedom was creating a psychological disaster. We began to study Harvard students who complained of emptiness and despondency. There was a gap between their social conscience and the morality they were practicing in their personal lives. The new sexual permissiveness was leading to empathy relationships and feelings of self-contempt. When some of them moved away from moral relativism to a system of clear values – typically embracing a drug-free lifestyle and a strict sexual code – their relationships with the opposite sex improved, as did relations with peers in general, relationships with parents, and their academic performance.” – Tom Lickona (12).

Moehl said: “Satan’s plot was to divorce sex from the intimacy of marriage. What was created to be both a physical and relational expression of oneness became an act of mere physical pleasure – devoid of God and focused on self. To be sure, the physical pleasure of sex is alluring and even addiction. But sex outside of God’s boundaries has destructive spiritual, relational and physical repercussions” (13).

Moehl continues: “This passage describes the progressive sexual perversion of humanity. Paul’s reflection on sexual immorality underscores one crucial forgotten factor in most discussions on the subject. Sexual immorality starts with a wrong view of God. Idolatry is the root of sexual immorality.

“This sexually perverse environment has confronted the people of God throughout history. From the homosexuality of Sodom and Gomorrah, to the sexually degrading fertility rites of the Canaanites in the Old Testament, to the temple prostitutes of Corinth in the New Testament, God’s people have always been bombarded with sexual temptation. What we face in today’s world is nothing new” (13).

In a section on “Sex and the Brain” Moehl said:

Medical educator and physician Dr. Gary Rose has a lot to say about the neurochemistry of sex, and how it enables the permanent “warping” of young minds by exposure to a hyper-sexualized culture. In a recent interview, Dr. Rose explains the mechanism by which the damage is done.

Dr. Rose: “This is so important because in young people their brains are still being molded. If they are getting the wrong flood of chemicals— if their neural pathways are being developed in an abnormal way, those parts of the brain will be superhighways that can’t be changed when they come into adult life. People who have multiple sexual partners at a young age are likely going to continue to have multiple partners all their lives. Certain synapses of the brain will be pruned off— and risk avoidance and delayed gratification may be affected” (14).

Mark Kastleman, in his landmark book, The Drug of the New Millennium-The Brain Science Behind Internet Pornography Use, sheds light on the addictive power of porn. His research, with the help of leading neurologists, uncovered the truth about pornography: it alters the brain and is addicting. Pornography addiction is real.

“Here’s what happens - During the sexual process the brain releases neurochemicals that, in a healthy marriage, significantly enhance the couple’s relationship. The same chemicals are released in the brain when viewing pornography, but the effect is anything but positive!

“What is created is an actual chemical dependency on those natural chemicals to provide a ‘high’ or an ‘escape.’ In a healthy marriage, sexual intimacy has the powerful effect of strengthening the bonds of marriage. It makes the couple more equipped to lead happy, healthy, productive lives. Viewing pornography releases the same natural chemicals but in an environment that is completely sterile of anything uplifting or good. Very different from a healthy marriage. A married couple comes together in a warm, mutually beneficial experience. The relationship is bound together in love, sacrifice, and commitment.

Viewing porn is a powerfully negative experience that leaves the viewer less able to cope with life’s stresses, less equipped to lead a happy, healthy, productive life. There is nothing that comes from viewing it that has positive, long lasting value, like peace or strength.

“Until an addiction to porn is stopped, the user only faces a future of more negatives: despair, self-loathing, and a tendency for more deviant material and behavior to satisfy the unbridled urge for more, more, more” (14).

The Reality of Porn
“Exposure to Pornography - The Justice Department estimates that nine of 10 children between the ages of 8 and 16 have been exposed to pornography online. Software company Symantec found that 47 percent of school-age children receive pornographic spam on a daily basis, and representatives from the pornography industry told Congress’ COPA Commission that as much as 20 to 30 percent of the traffic to some pornographic Web sites are children.

“Ralph DiClemente, a behavioral scientist at Emory University, described the danger of this exposure. He said, ‘[Children] can’t just put [porn] into their worldview, because they don’t have one.’ He went on to explain that pornography becomes a building block in a child’s mental and emotional development. When pornography becomes a filter through which the rest of life is understood, serious damage occurs. A 2001 report found that more than half of all sex offenders in Utah were adolescents- and children as young as 8 years old were committing felony sexual assault.

“The porn industry fights laws such as the Child Online Protection Act, which requires pornographers to use age verification systems, because they know this flood of pornographic imagery is creating a new generation of consumers. This increased culture-wide sexualization is generating incredible public health risks. One in five adults in the United States has an STD, and 19 million new STD infections occur annually, almost half of them among youth ages 15 to 24" (15).

Happy Marriage vs. Addiction to Porn
“So, in healthy marriage, sexual intimacy is a gift. You come away from the experience a better person, more committed to your spouse. You are more compassionate and understanding. You are better able to tackle the challenges of life. You’re empowered to be successful in your important roles as an individual, in your family, at work, in the community–everywhere!

“In contrast, with an addiction to porn, viewing it and acting out, leaves you with a mental and emotional hangover that depletes your feelings of self-worth. After the rush that produces the temporary high, there is no one to turn to for love and acceptance. You ultimately feel trapped and depressed.

“Porn narrows the viewer’s perspective of some of the best things in life and greatly limits his ability to appreciate them. This narrowness greatly distorts his view of reality. Truly, the ‘benefits’ of feeling the release of these natural drugs as a result of viewing pornography is a very, very shallow victory.

Healthy Sex in Marriage
Healthy sex in marriage is possible for those who have struggled with pornography addiction. The good news is that you can reverse this problem and find peace as well as appropriate intimacy with your spouse. People are turning from porn every day and working to get their life back. You can too. Believe it can happen for you, and it most assuredly will as you pursue the path that leads to it.

“Pursue the path that leads to new patterns of thought.

“Thoughts of porn and the mental images that are stored in your brain don’t just suddenly disappear. Over many years you have wired your brain to connect to porn as your ‘thought of choice.’ At many different moments throughout the day, particularly when you’re tired, stressed, etc. –moments when you’re not at your best-your brain goes there.

So, the key is to develop new patterns of thought that will replace the old standby thoughts of porn. This way your brain begins to pursue new pathways. Over time, as you continue to pursue them, they become stronger and stronger. New interests begin to take over as old porn habits are replaced with new and positive ones.

“Porn doesn’t just go away. You push it out of your life by replacing it” (16).

What is Secondary Virginity?
“Secondary virginity makes a person emotionally and spiritually whole again. God wants to restore our purity. Even though the physical consequences of premarital sex can be devastating and life threatening, some people underestimate the emotional and spiritual effects of sex outside of marriage. Furthermore, the emotional and spiritual effects of sex can be longer lasting and even more severe than the physical repercussions.

“After having premarital sex, a person may feel lonely, hurt, broken, afraid, guilty, used, unlovable (by God and others), confused, and many other emotions. Although it might seem like these feelings will never go away, eventually they can diminish and sometimes even disappear. Through prayer, counseling, confession, and penance, God has the power heal us. This process doesn’t work like magic. One must be truly sorry, understanding the hurt that has been caused. He or she should sincerely desire forgiveness so they can be made whole again. And, most importantly, one must seriously commit him/herself to a life of chastity (refrain from sexual activity outside of marriage).

“Secondary virginity is a gift from God. It should not be received lightly and it is not something that happens immediately. It takes time for an injured person to heal and it can be a very slow process, but with God’s grace things will get easier. Don’t give up. If you seek out and pray for the gift of secondary virginity, it could be one of the most life-changing experiences of your whole life!” (17).

Choosing a Partner for Life
“Make sure your life partner loves God more than he or she loves you. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV) It is so important to observe your partner’s love for God. Why? Because in time, the way he or she loves and serves Him will be reflected in the way he or she loves and serves you.

“Make sure your life partner is a person of character.’ Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.’ (Psalm 119:1, NIV) Men and women of character are trustworthy in all they do and have an appetite for righteousness. They will keep their word no matter what the cost.

“Make sure your life partner is kind to others: (And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.’ (Ephesians 4:32, NKJV) If you don’t see your partner treat others with kindness and grace, in time he or she will be treating you the same” (21).

“Make sure to note the way your life partner dresses.
“Make sure your life partner is respected by others.
“Make sure your life partner is not flirtatious.
“Make sure you understand the true priorities of your life partner’s life.
“Make sure you know whom your life partner’s close friends are.
“Make sure your life partner is not contentious or violent.
“Make sure you ask the Lord for discernment. (21).

Many of the books and DVD listed in Dr. Moehler’s “Resource on Creation” or from Ken Ham and Answer’s in Genesis. CN sells some of them. Some of the DVD may be watched in the Resource Center at Camp Trinity.

Creationism at Camp Trinity
Dr. David Menton who taught at Washington University for more than thirty years received many awards, including “Teacher of the Year” has lectured at Camp Trinity. Dr. Walter Lammerts, founder of the Creation Research Society; Dr. Walter Lang, founder of the Bible-science Association; Dr. John Mackey, who debated evolutionist John Polkinghorne, in Liverpool Cathedral. Dr. Kurt Marquart, Dr. William Beck, Dr. Menton and other Christian creationist have spoken at Trinity Lutheran Church in New Haven. Change in LCMS Today the books at such evolutionist as John Polkinghorne are recommended at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis while books or DVD’s from Answers in Genesis which Dr. Moelh recommended at Camp Trinity are given the silent treatment. A pastor who files charges of false doctrine against any evolutionist on the LCMS clergy roster is considered an impenitent sinner on the road to hell. Under the LCMS Koinonia project there is plenty of room for evolutionists.

The LCMS’s CPH no longer sells any books by Lutheran Hour Speaker Walter Maier but sells and heavily promotes books by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who promoted evolution and regarded Adam and Eve and the Resurrection of Christ as myths.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jesus Married?

By John Warwick Montgomery
Christian News, October 1, 2012

On 18 September, at the International Congress of Coptic Studies meeting in Rome, a Harvard Divinity School professor (one Karen L. King) dropped a bombshell. She produced a tiny, eight-line papyrus fragment including the partial lines: “deny Mary is worthy of it,” “Jesus said to them, My wife,” “she will be able to be my disciple,” and “As for me, I dwell with her in order to.”

Does this suggest that Jesus was married? Does it say something as to the legitimacy of women’s ordination? The press is typically all a-titter over this, as they were a few years ago when an empty ossuary (bone box) turned up in Israel with the inscription, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” (The jury is still out as to whether this is a forgery—but, in any event, all three names in the inscription were very common in 1st century Palestine and need not refer to the family of our Lord at all.)

And now the Coptic fragment. Does it constitute a bombshell—or just another journalistic fizzle? The easy answer is the latter. Why?

(1) It is impossible to determine the real meaning of the text from so few words. Thus, why not the following reconstruction? “[Should Mary be given 10 denarii to buy lunch? I] deny Mary is worthy of it.” “Jesus said to them, My wife [, if I had one, would never manage the budget].” “[Speaking of women, though budgeting is not their strength,] she will be able to be my disciple.” “As for me, I dwell with her in order to [help her become more responsible in financial matters—but only just before the tax collector is scheduled to arrive].” You see the problem . . .

(2) The fragment is in Coptic, not in Greek or Aramaic, and is apparently of the 4th century. Jesus spoke Aramaic and the New Testament documents—the only firsthand, primary source materials concerning his earthy life—are in Koine Greek, the lingua franca of the Roman Empire in Jesus’ time. Suppose someone were to find a fragment in Hungarian, dated yesterday, which purported to contain an admission by French apologist Blaise Pascal (d. 1662) that he was a secret bigamist; how many reputable historians would accept this?

(3) This papyrus clearly falls into the category of the Gnostic materials that floated on the margins of the church in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries. It is to be classed with the so-called Gnostic Gospels (Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Philip, Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Judas, etc.) attributed by Gnostic heretics to early Christians in Apostolic circles to give them pseudo-authenticity. Only tendentious writers like Elaine Pagels seriously argue that these writings represent a legitimate alternative theology of Jesus to what is found the canonical New Testament.

The issue is really very simple. The Jesus of the New Testament presents himself—and is presented by the eyewitnesses of his ministry—as no less than God-come-to-earth to die for the sins of the world. The Gnostic materials give us a Jesus of mystical, inner experience and esoteric knowledge, much of which contradicts what the New Testament materials say. The authors of the New Testament writings can be identified (Papias and Polycarp, disciples of the Apostle John, learned from John that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were the authors of the first three Gospels) and the Gospel writings are within a generation of the events of Jesus’ life. (See, for example, Charles F. Hill, From the Lost Teaching of Polycarp, and Robert H. Gundry, The Old Is Better—both from Mohr Siebeck in Tuebingen, 2005 and 2006.) The Gnostic stuff, however, is 2nd century at best and without any demonstrable connection with the earthly ministry of Jesus. The choice between them is not, therefore, very difficult.

So don’t lose sleep over the Coptic fragment. Probably next year a Latin fragment will turn up that says “Jesus . . . Roman governor,” which will be taken to mean that Pontius Pilate and Jesus were actually the same person.

John Warwick Montgomery
Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Christian Thought, Patrick Henry College. Professor emeritus, University of Bedfordshire, England. Ph.D. (Chicago), D.Théol. (Strasbourg, France), LL.D. (Cardiff, Wales, U.K.). Member of the California, D.C., Virginia, Washington State and U.S. Supreme Court bars; Barrister-at-Law, England and Wales; Avocat à la Cour, Paris. Websites:;;

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bad Religion

“Back to the Bible, Back to Luther”
Christian News, September 24, 2012, Vol .50, No. 37

Bad Religion – How We Became A Nation of Heretics. By Ross Douthat. Free Press, A Division of Simon and Shuster, Inc. 1230 Avenue of Americas, New York, NY 10020. 337 pages. $26.00.

Christian News received this letter from Father Val J. Peter, JCD, STD, Director, The Catholic Center, Dowd Chapel, just as the editor and his wife began their “Golden Wedding Honeymoon” (below). On the first segment of the trip he read the letter and the chapter “Lost in the Gospels.” August 24, 2012 Dear Pastor Otten, In your July 30 Christian News, you printed some of my material on Bart Ehrman who is an atheist plant in the Great Courses. I am enclosing Chapter V of a very important book. The chapter is entitled “Lost in the Gospels.” The book is: Bad Religion - How We Became A Nation of Heretics.

It is written by Ross Douthat, a New York Times columnist. It has many things that you and I both would agree with. It is very interesting.

All the best to you. You folks are doing good work. You now and then say a bad thing about us Catholics, but many of us like you a lot. We can forget about some of that stuff. God bless you now and always. Father Val J. Peter, JCD, STD Executive Director Emeritus

P. S. Ehrman is prominently featured in this chapter.

The jacket says: As THE YOUNGEST-EVER op-ed columnist for the New York Times, Ross Douthat has emerged as one of the most provocative and influential voices of his generation. In Bad Religion he offers a masterful and hard-hitting account of how American Christianity has gone off the rails-and why it threatens to take American society with it.

Writing for an era dominated by recession, gridlock, and fears of American decline, Douthat exposes the spiritual roots of the nation’s political and economic crises. He argues that America’s problem isn’t too much religion, as a growing chorus of atheists have argued; nor is it an intolerant secularism, as many on the Christian right believe. Rather, it’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional faith and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and encourage our worst impulses.

These faiths speak from many pulpits-conservative and liberal, political and pop cultural, traditionally religious and fashionably “spiritual”–and many of their preachers claim a Christian warrant. But they are increasingly offering distortions of traditional Christianity–not the real thing. Christianity’s place in American life has increasingly been taken over, not by atheism, Douthat argues, but by heresy: debased versions of Christian faith that breed hubris, greed, and self-absorption.

In a story that moves from the 1950s to the age of Obama, he brilliantly charts institutional Christianity’s decline from a vigorous, mainstream, and bipartisan faith–which acted as a “vital center” and the moral force behind the civil rights movement–through the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s to the polarizing debates of the present day. Ranging from Glenn Beck to Barack Obama, Eat Pray Love to Joel Osteen, and Oprah Winfrey to The Da Vinci Code, Douthat explores how the prosperity gospel’s mantra of “pray and grow rich,” a cult of self-esteem that reduces God to a life coach, and the warring political religions of left and right have crippled the country’s ability to confront our most pressing challenges and accelerated American decline.

His urgent call for a revival of traditional Christianity is sure to generate controversy, and it will be vital reading for all those concerned about the imperiled American future.

Ross DOUTHAT is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. He is the author of Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class and coauthor of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.
Before joining the Times he was a senior editor for The Atlantic. He is the film critic for National Review, and he has appeared regularly on television, including on Charlie Rose, PBS Newshour, Real Time, and The Colbert Report. Chapter Five, “Lost in the Gospels” begins with a report of the National Geographic Society in 2006 announcing the publication of “The Lost Gospel of Judes.” Ross Douthat writes:

“In the popular press, this was treated as very big news for Christianity—and very bad news for orthodox belief. Having dropped a modest fortune on the project ($1 million to acquire the document, plus the cost of restoration), the National Geographic Society was at pains to tout the newfound gospel’s revolutionary potential. A magazine cover story, a prime-time tele­vision documentary on the text, and multiple critical editions of the gospel soon followed, all of which were shot through with what The New Yorker’s Joan Acocella called ‘sensationalist formulas’ about what the discovery meant for Christian faith. The sensationalism paid off: the Gospel of Judas made front-page news around the world, the documentary earned some of the highest ratings in the history of National Geographic television, and the Society’s official translation swiftly climbed the bestseller lists. Within the year, it was joined by glosses on the text from the University of North Carolina’s Bart Ehrman and Princeton University’s Elaine Pagels, two of the most prominent popularizers of early Christianity’s ‘lost gospels.’ Both had been consultants on the project, and both found it easy to fold the new ‘document into the revisionist story they’d already been telling’ (149-150).

“But if, by ‘real’ and ‘thing,’ one meant that the Gospel of Judas shed light on the actual origins of Christianity, then the answer was a resounding no. The newfound text’s connections to the historical Judas and the historical Jesus of Nazareth were tenuous to nonexistent. Notwithstanding news reports that read (in Bartlett’s words) ‘as if the gospel came straight from Judas’ pen,’ the text could be dated, at the earliest, to the middle of the second century A.D., and there was no evidence that any of its distinctive sayings boasted an earlier provenance. This meant that using the most generous estimates, the Gospel of Judas antedated the New Testament canon by at least fifty years; more likely, it was penned more than a century later. To claim that it threw ‘new light on the historical relationship between Jesus and Judas’, as one early press account put it, was an extraordinary stretch – the equivalent of suggesting that Civil War historians should conduct a critical rereading of Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs in the light of Michael Shaara’s 1974 novel of Gettysburg, The Killer Angels” (150-151).

Fantasy and Folly
“From highbrow scholarship to middlebrow entertainments, from academic figures like Pagels and Ehrman to popularizers like The Da Vinci Code’s Dan Brown, this debate is dominated by the symbiosis that made the Gospel of Judas such a cultural phenomenon. On the one hand you have the American public, disillusioned with traditional Christianity but still religions enough to be eager for alternative portrayals of Jesus. On the other you have a host of scholars, journalists, novelists, and provocateurs eager to supply them—even to the point of fantasy and folly” (152).

Thomas Jefferson
“America’s heretics have taken all of these approaches. In our founding generation, Thomas Jefferson edited the gospel accounts to remove everything supernatural and apocalyptic-producing a gos-pel fit for Deists and a Nazarene tailored to the Age of Enlightenment” (154).

Smith, White, Eddy, Scofield
“Later Americans sought a similar authenticity, but they were more likely to make additions than to prune. Nearly all our famous start-up faiths have kept the New Testament and then added an extra scripture or two, either as a supplement to the gospels or as a key to interpreting the originals. Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon gave his Saints a more American and family-friendly Jesus; Ellen Gould White’s The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan gave Seventh-day Adventists a Christ who vindicated their faith’s apocalyptic origins; Mary Baker Eddy’s, Science and Health with a Key to the Scriptures, reimagined Jesus as the original Christian scientist. Lesser-known spiritualists multiplied gospels prodigiously, as divine voices murmured further revelations in their ears. Even fundamentalism, for all its official emphasis on ‘the Bible alone,’ owes its end-time obsessions to the extracanonical innovations that Cyrus Scofield’s influential Study Bible wove into the scriptures it was supposedly dispassionately interpreting. ‘Unlike most commentators,’ Paul Boyer points out in his history of end­times beliefs, When Time Shall Be No More (1994), ‘Scofield combined his notes and the biblical text on the same page, so the former took on much the same authority as the latter.’

“Both Jefferson and Scofield claimed to be reworking the New Testament based on pure reason and simple common sense, while Smith and White and Eddy and all the various spiritualists claimed to be taking divine dictation. To these tools for recovering the real Jesus, nineteenth-century European academics added a third, the historical-critical method. Their First Quest of the Historical Jesus, as it was later called, flowered in Germany and then spread across the Western world, promising to use the tools of scholarship to excavate the biblical narratives, reveal the layers of inven­tion that lay atop the Jesus of history, and recover the truth about his life. To this end, the First Quest pioneered the use of textual analysis to probe the gospels’ underlying source material, forging the plausible hypothesis that both Matthew and Luke draw on a common proto-gospel-eventually labeled Q from the German Quelle, or ‘source’–whose text has been lost to history. It pioneered, as well, the use of apocryphal literature to reinterpret the early history of the Church. The highly influential ‘Tübingen School’ of biblical criticism propagated an extraordinarily complicated theory, based on noncanonical epistles and forgotten gospels, in which nearly all of the New Testament was composed late in the second century to paper over the dispute between Pauline and Petrine Christianity and to unify the faith under the leadership of Rome. (Subsequent research has not been kind to this hypothesis.) And the First Quest inspired a raft of revision biographies of Christ, which offered differing interpretations of their subject but shared the view that the New Testament accounts were largely mythological, piling on miracle stories to make their merely moral hero seem superhuman.

“These claims were mildly controversial, of course. The English translation of Friedrich Strauss’s The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined (1835) was denounced by a British peer as ‘the most pestilential book ever vomited out of the jaws of hell.’ However, subsequent generations of liberal-minded religious believers came to accept them as practically dispositive. The whole edifice of Protestant modernism in America was founded, in part, on the assumption that biblical scholarship required a new understanding not only of Genesis and Exodus out of Jesus’ life and ministry as well. In his landmark 1922 sermon, ‘Shall the Fundamentalists Win?,’ the modernist minister Henry Emerson Fosdick cited the ‘new knowledge about human history and in particular about the ways in which the ancient peoples used to think in matters of religion’ as his basis for dismissing much of the New Testament’s supernatural passages as little more than pious myth” (154-156). Today even Lutherans who claim to be conservative contend that Harry Emerson Fosdick was a great Christian churchman. Dr. Berthold von Schenk of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in his autobiography, Lively Stone published and highly praised by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, writes that Fosdick was the greatest Christian preacher of his day and Lutheran Hour speaker Walter Maier and Oswald Hoffman the worst. A hymn by Fosdick is included in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s new Lutheran Service Book.

Ehrman and Pagels
“Meanwhile, wherever this narrowing takes us-whether we end up with Jesus the Gnostic mystic, the Cynic philosopher, the proto-feminist, or the apocalyptic prophet-the present-day theological implications of his ‘real’ identity usually turn out to look a lot like the accommodationist Christianity of the Protestant Mainline. And they almost always represent a rebuke to Evangelical Christianity, conservative politics, and the combination thereof.

“Sometimes this is made clear through the authors’ personal flourishes. Ehrman recounts his own ‘up from fundamentalism’ story in most of his bestselling books, returning again and again to the way the biblical literalism of his childhood was shattered by a collegiate encounter with New Testament scholarship. Pagels writes about her teenage flirtation with Evangelicalism – which ended ‘after a close friend was killed in an automobile accident at the age of sixteen, [and] my fellow evangelicals commiserated but declared that, since he was Jewish and not ‘born again,’ he was eternally damned’” (161).

CN has for many years exposed the anti-scriptural theology of Ehrman and Pagels.

Dan Brown
“To say that these kinds of briefs are unpersuasive is to understate the case. They speak the language of the conspiratorial pamphlet, the paranoid chain e-mail-or the paperback thriller. Which is why it’s only fitting that the greatest popularizer by far of lost gospels and alternative Christianities isn’t Pagels or Ehrman–or any of the Jesus Seminar’s academics. It’s the bestselling novelist Dan Brown.

“In fairness, the term bestselling novelist seems too modest to do justice to an author who has outsold almost every other English-language scribbler for the last decade and counting. Certainly it doesn’t do justice to Dan Brown’s intellectual ambitions, which have been crucial to his extraordinary success. If you want to sell a million copies of a potboiler, you need to know how to hook the reader and keep the pages turning. But if you want to sell the nearly 100 million copies that Brown’s The Da Vinci Code has sold, you need to preach as well as entertain-to present fiction that can be read as fact and that promises to unlock the secrets of history, the universe, and God along the way” (173).

Tragedy for American Christianity
“This failure of vision hasn’t been a tragedy just for the Mainline Protestant denominations. It’s a tragedy for American Christianity as a whole. For a generation or more, many of the writers who might have busied themselves exploring and explaining the Christian tradition— to the benefit of the secular world and ordinary believers alike—have been engaged instead in a project that has undercut historic Christianity while building nothing lasting in its place. The cultural impact of figures like Pagels and Ehrman and Borg and Crossan has been almost entirely destabilizing. Rather than propagating an understanding of Jesus’ identity that’s more intellectually compelling than the orthodox portrait, all they’ve succeeded in doing is validating the idea that Jesus’ identity is entirely up for grabs, and that one can be a follower of Christ without having to accept any constraints on what that ‘following’ might mean” (178).

Fundamentalism and Glenn Beck
“At the same time, the way that many fundamentalists actually interpret the Bible-through Cyrus Scofield’s dispensationalist framework-is precisely the sort of do-it-yourself Christianity that real-Jesus ‘scholarship’ implicitly encourages. What are the Left Behind novels if not a ‘new fiction that takes as its starting point the central event in the Judaeo-Christian drama and reconciles that middle with a new story that reaches beyond old beginnings and endings’? Like Funk and Pagels and so many others, fundamentalists have fashioned a Jesus in their own image, and declared that he is good.

“For a more specific example of how this works—how the work of ‘real Jesus’ intellectuals influences American religious culture in ways that they would probably find horrifying—consider the following excerpt from an episode of Glenn Beck’s radio show. This is the last place, in a sense, that one would expect to find echoes of accommodationist Christianity, since Beck is a right-wing Mormon who rather famously urged his Christian listeners to quit their denomination or congregation if it used the leftwardtilting term ‘social justice’ in its literature” (179).

Joel Osteen
“The most influential work of popular theology published this century comes with a glossy gold dust jacket and a slew of celebrity blurbs on the back. Celebrity Texan blurbs, mostly: Chuck Norris loved the book; so did the former NBA coach Rudy Tomjanovich; so did the then-owner of the Houston Astros, Drayton McLane; so did David Carr, the Houston Texans’ quarterback. The author himself gazes out from the front cover: his black hair is piled up and slick with gel; his hands are extended and touching at the fingertips; his smile is enormous, front teeth like piano keys or filed-down tusks. The book’s title hovers like an angel above his left shoulder, promising Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential.

“This is Joel Osteen, a Houston-based preacher who inherited a 7,500 seat megachurch from his late father, John Osteen, in 1999, and parlayed his pastorship into the highest-rated religious television show in America, a trio of #1 New York Times bestsellers, and a home for his congregation, Lakewood Church, in Houston’s 18,000-seat Compaq Center” (180). “Like Graham, Osteen courts a worldwide audience: More than 200 million people around the globe tune in to his broadcasts. And like Graham, he’s been known to sell out Madison Square Garden” (183).

But Osteen and his imitators are the heirs to a particular strain of prosperity preaching, which has its origin in the late-nineteenth-century movement known as New Thought. This was a loosely affiliated collection of ministers, authors, activists, and organizations, united by their belief in the extraordinary potential of the human mind. New Thought’s practitioners argued that mental and spiritual realities shaped material events, that God (or ‘Infinite Intelligence,’ to the more secular minded) pervaded the universe, and that the physical realities that human beings experienced—good health and bad, bankruptcy and success—had their origins in the mental and metaphysical spheres. Thus, prayer could lead to healing, and positive thinking to worldly wealth. The key was to recognize the spark of divinity within yourself and bring it into alignment with the divine spirit of the universe” (184).

Douthat goes on to comment about L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology, Mary Baker Eddy, and Christian Science, E.W. Kenyon, Kenneth Hagin, Paul Crouch and the Trinity Broadcast Network, Tim and Tammy Bakker, Creflow August Dollar, Jr., Fredrick K.C. Price, Benny Hinn, the Copelands, Bruce Wilkenson and the Prayer of Jabez, T.D. Jakes, Larry Burkett, Campus Crusade for Christ, Promise Keepers, the Left Behind Series, Rick Warren, Peter Drucker, James Dobson, the Word Faith Movement, a strong Catholic affinity for wealth redistribution, American Catholics, Michael Novak, Elizabeth Gilbert, Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, Aimee Semple McPherson, Harold Bloom, Richard Dawkins, Karen Armstrong, and much more.

Joyce Meyer
“This is a good description Joyce Meyer, who has emerged as perhaps the most popular and mainstream of TBN’s preachers apart from Osteen. An ex-housewife with a twelfth-grade education, as she often describes herself, Meyer endured childhood sexual abuse and a failed marriage before finding her calling as the author of more than fifty inspirational books, and as the face of the Life in the Word television show, which airs in forty-three states and seventy countries. Her goal, according to a recent slogan, is ‘every nation, every city, every day.’ On the page and in person, she seems less like a celebrity preacherette in the Tammy Faye Bakker or Gloria Copeland mode, and more like the sensible Christian housewife next door. She dresses simply and talks bluntly, offering earthy, self-deprecating pep talks that emphasize emotional well-being and then slip the promise of financial success in between the lines.

“That promise is still crucial to Meyer’s appeal. ‘The whole Bible really has one message: “Obey me and do what I tell you to do, and you’ll be blessed,” she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2004, when it ran a series of stories revealing just how blessed she has been. (These blessings include, yes, a private jet.) But she’s careful not to flaunt her wealth, and she’s more restrained in her pray-and-grow-rich preaching than the earlier generation of prosperity apostles” (188).

Pentecostal and Charismatic Worship
“For many of these celebrity preachers, white as well as black, prosperity theology turns out to be natural fit with Pentecostalist and charismatic styles of worship. When students of religion analyze the rise of Pentecostalism, they usually focus on the ecstastic prayer services, the reports of physical healing, and the insistence that the spiritual gifts of the early Church (such as speaking in tongues and prophecy) are available to present-day believers. But from the moment of its birth, in a famous 1906 outbreak of glossolalia in Los Angeles’s Azusa Street Church, Pentecostalism has been a fertile field for prosperity theology as well. The movement’s emphasis on the extraordinary power of prayer dovetails neatly with the tenets of New Thought. Its demographic base – blacks, immigrants, the white petite bourgeoisie–has an understandable interest in a gospel of upward mobility. Its distance from the institutions and traditions of both Catholicism and Reformation-era Protestantism creates a theological vacuum that the prosperity gospel’s boosters are more than eager to fill. And Pentecostalism’s entrepreneurial structure, in which every church is effectively a start-up, has always attracted ministers prone to the kind of self-aggrandizement that’s more easily justified by prosperity theology than by more orthodox strands of Christian faith.

“Small wonder, then, that from the Jazz Age evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson down to TBN’s nightly lineup of televangelists, Pentecostalist worship and prosperity preaching have been consistently intertwined. Indeed, prosperity theology may actually be eclipsing ecstatic prayer as the defining attribute of modern charismatic Christianity. As Christianity Today’s, Ted Olsen, noted in 2006, only half of American Pentecostalists report having spoken in tongues-but 66 percent agreed with the premise that ‘God grants believers wealth.’

“Crucially, though, it isn’t just Pentecostalists who think this way. The same survey found that 43 percent of ‘other Christians’ – white and black, Catholic, Mainline, and Evangelical alike – concurred that the Almighty showers riches on believers” (193-194).

Marriage and Depression
“Americans are less happy in their marriages than they were thirty years ago; women’s self-reported happiness has dipped downward overall. Our social circles have constricted: declining rates of churchgoing have been accompanied by declining rates of just about every sort of social joining and Americans seem to have fewer and fewer friends whom they genuinely trust. Our familial networks have shrunk as well. More children are raised by a single parent; fewer people marry or have children to begin with; and more and more old people live and die alone. A Duke University study found that Americans reported having an average of three people with whom they discussed important matters in 1985, but only two in 2004; the percentage with exactly zero confidants doubled, and the percentage who talked only to family members rose from 57 percent to about 80 percent. We’re freer than we used to be, but also more isolated, lonelier, and more depressed” (240).

“The result is a nation where gurus and therapists have filled the roles once occupied by spouses and friends, and where professional caregivers minister, like seraphim around the throne, to the needs of people taught from infancy to look inside themselves for God. Therapeutic religion promises contentment, but in many cases it seems to deliver a sort of isolation that’s at once comfortable and terrible-leaving us alone with the universe, alone with the God Within” (241).

In God’s Hands
“This book has been written in a spirit of pessimism, but for both Americans and Christians, pessimism should always be provisional. Even in an era of disarray, Americans can draw confidence from our nation’s remarkable past, with its stories of expectations confounded, obstacles overcome, declines reversed, and better futures attained. Christians have an even stronger source of confidence: the belief that history has an Author and that the destiny of both their country and their creed is in God’s hands” (278).

“My hope throughout has been to persuade even the most skeptical reader that traditional Christian faith might have more to offer this country than either its flawed defenders or its fashionable enemies would lead one to believe” (293).

The Roman Catholic Ross Douthat displays an amazing grasp about what has been happening within Christendom. Yet CN does not share his enthusiasm for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth, Martin Luther King, C.S. Lewis, De Chardin, Richard Neuhaus, Carl Braaten, Billy Graham, Fuller Seminary, Pope John Paul II, Pope Paul VI, and Pope Benedict XVI. During the last 50 years CN has frequently opposed their anti-scriptural theology.

Bonhoeffer, Barth, and King all denied the resurrection of Christ. Neuhaus attacked the inerrancy of the Bible, justification by faith alone and was a pro-homosexual universalist. The Roman Catholic scholar Randy Engel shows in the 1300 page The Rite of Sodomy – Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church, that Pope Paul VI and many other leading Roman Catholics were homosexuals. Roman Catholic Bro. Michael & Brother Peter Dimond in their “The Truth About What Really Happened to the Catholic Church After Vatican II” documents the fact that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI departed from historic Christianity.

Douthat mentions Billy Graham’s 1967 New York crusade. This editor and Martin Scharlemann were there. Their church participated. Scharlemann wrote in the Concordia Theological Monthly that Graham’s chief weakness was a failure to affirm the scriptural doctrine of justification. All this is in CN’s Christian News Encyclopedia.

Barth’s Inerrancy
Douthat writes: “In their haste to defend scriptural authority against scoffing scientists and academic critics, fundamentalists adopted a radical literalism—including the deadly ‘six 24 hour days’ reading of Genesis 1 – that their Protestant forebears had traditionally rejected. (‘He who would learn astronomy’, John Calvin wrote of Genesis 1, ‘let him go elsewhere.’) Meanwhile, their political and cultural anxieties left them prey to millenarian scenarios, chief among them the ‘dispensationalist’ reading of Scripture popularized in the 1910s by Cyrus Scofield’s bestselling Scofield Reference Bible, which claimed to trace, with quasiscientific precision, a series of stages in salvation history that would soon culminate in the Second Coming of Christ. (This was the first time that the now-commonplace idea of a ‘Rapture’ of believers entered Christian thought.)” (34).

The Bible, the Lutheran Confessions, Martin Luther, and the founding fathers of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod all teach the inerrancy of the Bible and a 6 24 hour day creation.

Such heroes of the fundamentalist as Hodge, Warfield, and some authors of The Fundamentals did not. Orthodox Lutherans did not learn from the Fundamentalists. In fact, in a certain sense true Lutherans “out fundamentalize” the Fundamentalists, just as they out-catholicize the Roman Catholics. Lutherans accept scripture just as it reads. When Jesus says “this is my body” and “this is my blood” Lutherans insist “is” means “is.” The Fundamentalists say “is” means represents. Lutherans recognize that the true Christian church began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve believed in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, (Genesis 3:15, 4:1 – Luther and AAT translation) Lutherans reject Scofield and all millenialism as an anti-scriptural Jewish myth.

Rome Today
Douthat does not recognize that today the Roman Catholic Church has become just one more “anything goes” denomination. It is much further from the truth than it was 500 years ago when it did not promote such fiction as the infallibility of the Pope, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary, and the nonsense of Mary appearing to the non-existent Juan Diego, whom the pope declared a saint.

The answer to “Bad Religion” as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaches in 2017 is “Back to the Bible, Back to Luther, Back to the Lutheran Confessions" of 1580 and the formation of a 21st Century Formula of Concord which will reaffirm the Formula of Concord of 1580 and also speak to the issues of our day: evolution, homosexuality, abortion, birth-control, higher criticism, sex outside of marriage, the inerrancy of the Bible in all matters, millennialism, etc.

Lutheran Hour speaker, Walter Maier, wrote in the November 1933 Walther League Messenger at the 450th anniversary of Luther’s birth:

“We repeat the appeal to American Protestantism is: ‘BACK TO LUTHER!’ And if this be a battle cry that is to summon the latent forces of complacent laity to action; if it be the rallying summons to a spiritual crusade for Christ; if it means the splitting of the church into two groups, one liberal and unbelieving, and the other conservative and faithful unto death; if it requires the breaking of conventional ties, the banishment of pulpit Judases, then we will repeat the cry: ‘BACK TO LUTHER?’”