Thursday, July 18, 2013

Some Documentation for CN’s Comments on Cwirla and on Sacerdotalism in LCMS

Christian News, July 15, 2009

From the article CN published by Jack Cascione:

"The Rev. William Cwirla is scheduled to be an essayist at the 2013 Convention.  In 2001 Pastor Cwirla testified before Committee 7 that adopting Walther’s 'Church and Ministry' was against the Gospel.  He and many other pastors condemned Walther’s book from the Convention floor."

A comment from Cwirla on Facebook on CN's blog:

"This is a complete misrepresentation of my testimony before Committee 7 at the 2001 synodical convention and my remarks on the floor of the convention. At no time did I 'condemn Walther's book' or imply that adopting his book would be 'contrary to the Gospel.' This is patently false and slanderous. I demand an immediate an public retraction of this statement....

"This article and its insinuations are utterly false and reprehensible. "

Later comment from Cwirla on CN's blog:

"I recognize, of course, that Mr. Cascione does not actually refer to me as a 'sacerdotalist' in this article."

Quotes from Cwirla on Facebook cited by Rick Strickert on CN's blog:

"In response to Pres. Harrison's November 6, 2010, 1:57 PM, Facebook comment, 'Just finished the first pass revision of the first half of JT Mueller's translation of Walther's Kirche und Amt. VERY interesting" Rev. William M. Cwirla stated at 2:02 PM, 'I'm not sure a revision can completely repair it.'

"In response to a November 13, 2010, 7:49PM Facebook comment by Pres. Harrison, Rev. Cwirla stated at 8:14 PM:
"'Here's the even more amazing thing: The synod in convention reaffirmed this as doctrine in the LCMS in 2001. Since most of the delegates can't read German, this is the text they adopted. Hehehehehhe. Gotta love it.'

'Even in German, K&A isn't too hot. Sub-confessional in my estimation.'"

Cwirla responded on CN's blog:
"Yup. I wrote all of that. And more."

(Cwirla complains that CN's article was totally wrong and Cwirla demands a retraction and yet he admits he called Walther's book "sub-confessional," etc.  There was not really a problem or error in what CN published about Cwirla.)

LCMS pastor Lincoln Winter wrote on his blog:
"The synod’s unofficial newspaper (the one that no one reads, but everyone knows what’s in it) arrived today. As I was throwing it in the circular file (goodness knows *I* never read it), I noticed the headline:

Sacerdotalists Taking Over the LCMS.

"To which I say:

"We’ve been working so hard for such a long time, I’m glad someone is finally recognizing our efforts."

From the article CN published by Jack Cascione:

"In three successive Symposium banquets at Fort Wayne, this writer was the primary subject of derision and humorous ridicule for publicly defending Walther’s 'Church and Ministry.'  They were led in song by the current LCMS President and current President of the Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne."

Numerous writers did the same thing in 2013 in reaction to CN's article on July 1, 2013 sacerdotalism on Cwirla's Facebook page.  They were a horrible witness.

Cwirla commented on CN's blog:

"Obviously, this article is nothing more than a cheap shot against Pres. Harrison. My name is included just because I'm a convention essayist. The tactic is guilt by association."

Yup, Cwirla's right about the fact that Harrison has said nothing in criticism of Cwirla does not speak well of Harrison.
From the article CN published by Jack Cascione:

"The Convention Chaplain Rev. William Weedon, who once considered joining the Greek Orthodox Church, wrote a glowing review of LCMS Sacerdotalist, Rev. Berthold Von Schenk. He also likes the title Father Weedon."

Weedon commented on Cwirla's Facebook page:

"Weedon has publicly stated more than once he preferred pastor not father. Weedon did seriously consider becoming Orthodox, never Greek though, and years ago recognized that he would believe, confess, and die a Lutheran. Weedon does enjoy Von Schenk's autobiography. Weedon has always been blessed by the writings of Walther (a frequent old Lutheran cited on his blog)."

(The Antiochian Orthodox Church, which some LCMS pastors have left the LCMS for, is in full fellowship with the Greek Orthodox Church.)

In a glowing review of Berthold von Schenk's biography posted on Weedon's blog in 2007, Weedon wrote in part, quoting von Schenk.

“According to St. Paul it is the Eucharistic Community, under the direction of the ordained minister of the church, to manifest the total presence of Christ.”

Weedon commented, "Yes!"

von Schenk was a Sacerdotalist and von Schenk's statement approvingly quoted by Weedon was Sacerdotal.  Nobody has really denied this.

CN also provided documentation that von Schenk from von Schenk's own writings was a theological liberal who did not support biblical inerrancy and other essential doctrines.  von Schenk didn't even agree with Martin Luther in his stand with Zwingli on the Lord's Supper.  Ironically, the concept that von Schenk promoted some correct doctrine and practice on the Lord's Supper is widely accepted.  The facts do not show that that is the case.   Nobody has really denied that von Schenk was a liberal.

On Cwirla's Facebook page, Cwirla likened CN to a fart, unrepentant sinner, etc.  Numerous writers on Cwirla's Facebook page floated the idea of suing CN with the purpose of shutting down CN.  (There would be no basis for it.)  Cwirla has not been similarly critical of the theological liberalism of von Schenk.  There are also numerous LCMS voices supporting Roman Catholics (Richard Neuhaus is the most visible example) and Cwirla has not been critical of that (Cwirla himself has favorably eulogized Neuhaus,, "Richard John Neuhaus fell asleep in Jesus today.  He was among America’s most provocative thinkers, writers, theologians, and pastors." William M. Cwirla).  The first executive director (Dan Woodring) of the Higher Things youth organization, which Cwirla is also on the Board of Directors of and has been a leader of, converted to Roman Catholicism.  Higher Things has sometimes said and done published some good things, but a major thrust of the group is to constantly warn against Evangelicals and thus it's hardly that surprising that a leader of HT became Roman Catholic.  Roman Catholicism advocates an openly Sacerdotal view of the ministry. as well as other false teachings, i.e., indulgences (this does not mean that Christians within the Roman Catholic Church who truly believe in Jesus Christ are not saved in spite of errors to be found in the Roman Church).

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia comments, correctly, "Lutherans reject sacerdotalism. They hold that the New Testament presents only one atoning sacrifice, the Body of Christ offered once for all on the cross by Christ himself, who is both the sinless offering and the sinless priest."


  1. Here what we have learned so far. "Sacerdotalism" means:

    1. Questioning whether Kirche und Amt should be elevated to the level of dogma in the LCMS.

    2. Being associated with William Weedon and Lincoln Winter.

    3. Writing about the positive contributions of Richard John Neuhaus on the occasion of his death.

    4. Being associated with an organization one of the founders of which eventually became a Roman Catholic after he had left the organization.

    Guilt by association, hearsay, innuendo, out of context quotations, straw man arguments. Far be it from this "publication" to engage in anything remotely resembling a logical argument.

    Still awaiting a retraction....

  2. Oh, but wait. There's more. Sacerdotalism also appears to mean:

    5. Not writing something critical of Berthold von Schenk. Let the records show that I have also not written anything critical of Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, or Francis I.

    6. Likening CN to a fart and unrepentant sinner. Hey, give me a break! I was trying to put the best construction on things here. I think I also used the term "birdcage lining."

  3. For an interview with Jack Cascione on this topic, listen to our podcast here:

    We look forward to the agreed upon discussion in August.

  4. In the above article you quote: The online encyclopedia Wikipedia comments, correctly, "Lutherans reject sacerdotalism. They hold that the New Testament presents only one atoning sacrifice, the Body of Christ offered once for all on the cross by Christ himself, who is both the sinless offering and the sinless priest."

    If that is the working definition of "sacerdotalism," which I agree that it is, then none of the men cited in Jack Cascione's original article are "sacerdotalists." That would include Matthew Harrison, William Weedon, Paul McCain, and myself.

    According to Cascione's distorted and erroneous viewpoint, a "sacerdotalist" is one who denies that the voters assembly of a congregation is the supreme authority instituted by God.

    I call for a full, public, and immediate retraction of the original article.

  5. I call for a full, public, and immediate retraction of the original article.

    Why? Sacerdotalists don't need to be defended. As for any alleged personal insult, Rev. Cwirla noted on July 3 at 6:57 AM: I recognize, of course, that Mr. Cascione does not actually refer to me as a "sacerdotalist" in this article. He simply mentions the fact that I'm a critic of Walther's Kirche und Amt.

    And that fact was conceded by Rev. Cwirla on July 3, 2013 at 6:36 AM, in trying to slice the baloney transparently thin: That is not condemnation of Walther's book, only the recognition that there are things in it that are incorrect or that fail to say what the Confessions say. That's far from "condemnation."

    But it is essentially the same as being a critic.

    I continue to maintain that it is a mistake to elevate this work, which was written for a specific time and place to the level of binding doctrine in the LCMS.

    Walther's Kirche und Amt wasn't elevated. Its official doctrinal position since 1851, well before any pastors today, in becoming members of the Missouri Synod, agreed to teach, honor, and uphold such doctrinal statements, was only re-affirmed.

  6. (From the November 5, 2018 Christian News, p. 23)

    Joshua Scheer Is
    Marking Avoiding
    William Cwirla and
    Craig Donofrio

    Rev. Joshua Scheer announced
    October 26, on Facebook, that he is
    marking and avoiding Rev.
    William Cwirla and Rev. Craig
    Donofrio. The three rostered
    Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
    pastors (Scheer in Wyoming,
    Cwirla in California and Donofrio
    in Ohio) spend massive amounts of
    time on the social network Facebook.

    It is unclear at this time how
    this is going to shake out. Scheer
    has previously announced that he
    is also marking and avoiding the
    1517 Legacy group, largely run by
    folks in the LCMS, and he's also
    been extremely unfavorable toward
    Michael Newman's book
    Gospel DNA, publishing a review
    on the Steadfast Lutherans web
    site that Newman is not a Christian
    (Newman has had books published
    by CPH and was recently
    elected president of the LCMS's
    Texas District). Scheer and his
    Wyoming colleague Rev. Lincoln
    Winter have disclosed that they
    find the LCMS's new catechism
    translation to be unusable even
    though most others in the LCMS
    have not been that critical.
    Scheer's own Steadfast Lutherans
    web site contains at least twenty
    favorable references to Cwirla,
    who had had huge support from
    the "organized conservatives" until
    recently. So Scheer might have to
    mark and avoid his own web site.
    Pastor Scheer seems to be marking
    and avoiding wide
    swaths of the LCMS.
    As far as is known, he
    hasn't marked and
    avoided the LCMS's
    Atlantic District yet,
    though (the Atlantic
    and Wyoming pastors
    had doctrinal discussions
    about which
    there has been no disclosure).
    Nor has Todd
    Wilken been marked
    and avoided yet, even
    though Wilken invited
    two Roman Catholics
    to speak at Wilken's
    upcoming conference
    (Roman Catholics
    often are okay with
    theistic evolution, as
    demonstrated by Matt
    Walsh's recent remarks).

    One may also ask
    why the marking and
    avoiding was done on
    Facebook and whether
    that was the best place
    to do so. The LCMS's
    own process for dealing
    with doctrinal disputes
    seems to bogged
    down in unintelligible
    bylaws, especially
    since 1992.

    Cwirla apparently
    recently addressed
    Scheer's own Wyoming
    pastoral conference
    and Cwirla also reportedly
    expressed nonyoung
    earth creationism
    at Higher Things
    in 2007. Pastor Cwirla
    has been a major figure
    in the LCMS for
    many years.