Ever since the memorial regarding Time of Grace was sent to the Synod Convention two years ago, I have looked at Time of Grace's Facebook page daily. There have been some extremely concerning posts on there. Here's one from September 16:
"Only the love of Christ heals wounds. Only YOU can decide to let Christ calm your spirit and speak gently about what's hurting you.- PMJ"
Here's another from the day before that:
"Today, focus on letting God work in your heart-and don't be so suspicious of his motives.-PMJ"
Yet another one from September 2:
"Guess what? God guides your daily walk. He cares enough about your life to help you deal with life's toughest questions. Do you feel surrounded by darkness and unsure of what to do? Let him speak to you.- PMJ"
Here's another post from August 13:
"God's there for us when we need him. When we trust in him, we give him the chance to make even an illness work for us and his glory.- PMJ"
And here's another post from August 5:
"When we choose to believe Jesus, we release his blessings into our lives and miracles happen all over again. -PJM"
Here is the most recent one, which is from December 10
"Something to focus on this Christmas season-are you one of the INN crowd or one of the STABLE few? Will you make room for Jesus?"
(The emphasis in the quotes above was added by me and the pictures are from Time of Grace's Facebook page, accessed by my iPod)
Augsburg Confession article XVIII. It says that "it (man's free will) has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness." The quotes from Time of Grace seem to say the exact opposite! Martin Luther also says in his explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles' Creed that "I believe that I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him." Since these statements are part of the Confessions with which one must "agree in doctrine and practice" in order to be a member of the WELS, and since Time of Grace's Rev. Mark Jeske is a member of the WELS, shouldn't Time of Grace publications indicate that decision theology is wrong, too?
Another interesting post has been published on Time of Grace's Facebook page today. This is a link to the Time of Grace blog. Pastor Jeske posted a list made by Thom Rainer about the top 10 things church members desire in a pastor. The article seems to insinuate that a pastor's success is measured by how well he is "meeting your needs." The congregation needs to "know" that their pastor "loves" them, otherwise nothing else matters. But what about preaching the Word of God in its truth and purity? The closest the article comes to expressing this truth is saying that members want their pastors to spend time in the Word, but only in the context of "effective preaching." If he teaches the Word truthfully, isn't that effective? What happened to Isaiah 55:11? God said through Isaiah that "so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." What if the purpose God desires through a pastor's preaching is to harden sinful hearts? That probably won't seem very "loving." Does that make the pastor ineffective?
This article pretty much says a pastor should be charismatic, an "effective" preacher, and love the church. That's all well and good, but it's not what really matters. A pastor can love his congregation even when he doesn't seem very "loving" to their sinful, fallen natures. He can be an effective preacher even if he seems to drone on and on, or sticks to the historic Lectionary rather than following the "real, relevant, and relational" sermon series that are today's hits in American Christianity. But this article would have us believe that "loving" the congregation and meeting what members feel are their "needs" are the primary goals of a pastor. That is wrong! The pastor should preach the Word truthfully! It is effective by itself! That is the true and only way that a pastor can be a loving, effective preacher, meeting his congregation's TRUE needs. In this context, I find it disturbing that Time of Grace would publish this article and find it to be "helpful, fair, and evangelical."
Does anybody else find this scary?