Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rusch: "Encouraged" to Take Your Name Down


I've just been proverbially "called into the principal's office" for my contributing to this blog. (Cue dramatic music.) Beforehand, I had only a vague idea of what or why I was being called in, and therefore had no defense prepared.

The French call it L'esprit de l'escalier -- the spirit of the staircase. It is the flood of retorts and rebuttals that arrive in your mind after you've already exited the argument. The term comes from Diderot when he wrote: "a sensitive man, such as myself, overwhelmed by the argument leveled against him, becomes confused and can only think clearly again when he reaches the bottom of the stairs on his way out." It is my privilege to voice my L'esprit de l'escalier below.

"Do you think it is a good thing to associate with such people on this blog?"

Association is a powerful device. If one associates with heavy drinkers, can he be expected to sympathize with excessive drinking? If one associates with heretics, can he be expected to sympathize with heretical doctrine? If one associates with Lutherans, can he be expected to sympathize with Lutheran doctrine? The correct answer is: "it does not necessarily follow."

But is it a good thing to associate with such people? This begs the question: Who are "such people?" This blog has its purpose statement in its very first post, which, I will concede, is not at all well publicized:
At the same time, this blog will not present itself as more than it is.  It is a platform for a group of laymen to opine concerning the state of Confessional Lutheranism in America and abroad.  We do not pretend to be esteemed theologians or learned academics.  We have no fancy degrees or extensive doctrinal training.  We come armed only with Sacred Scripture, the Confessions, the writings of the Church Fathers, and our Liturgical heritage.  We welcome constructive criticism and diversity of thought.  We hope you will join us in struggling with the difficult questions we attempt to face. (emphasis mine)
Note the emphases. My first post, on Holy Baptism, although it was in its original form a somewhat scholarly treatment, I deliberately removed much scholar-talk. I don't want to confuse/alienate a large part of blog readers with such thick stuff. I merely commentated using what mere undergrad skills I had, not attempting to stand upon the shoulders of theological giants in order that I see more than they, but rather I attempt to stand up at all, supported by quotes and paraphrases of theological giants. I'm writing more about theology and reading more Lutheran church fathers than I have ever before in my life. Yes, my association here is so far a very "good thing". Potential "bad things" will be addressed below.

"You have not taken serious theological classes yet. It would be better if you were to wait before you attach your name to anything that this."

Does that negate private study? Does that negate your very own undergrad classroom theological instruction? Does that negate the exegesis class I am currently taking? Am I incompetent in Lutheran dogma if I am young and not yet in seminary? But, ah, "we do not pretend to be esteemed theologians", so let us assume for the moment that I am incompetent. "We welcome constructive criticism" would therefore be my stance as an author here.  The truth is, I have received no negative criticism about my theology yet, even though my colleagues have received plenty, especially concerning Universal Objective Justification (a subject on which I have not published anything yet). Besides, here, I am able to collaborate with and be curbed by other professing confessional Lutherans (both authors and visitors) should I ever write heresy.

I am not expected to agree entirely with my co-authors on this blog, either. For example, there are posts of a deliberately inflammatory nature, and posts containing sensationalist language. Even though using some sensationalism can be very effective in capturing attention, I dislike using it to excess. Polemic has its place, and I am no polemicist.

"Since I don't agree entirely either, what if I wanted to write articles against Ecclesia Augustana?"

This absurd question has no place in whether or not I ought to be able to write for Ecclesia Augustana. It seems more like a question to trap me into acknowledging that the blog is heretical. To treat a blog as an apple barrel with one bad apple is not an applicable comparison. You're welcome to join the discussion, although if you are actively publishing against other author's theology, I would be prepared for a barrage of criticism (although criticism, it seems, is unable to deter many Lutheran bloggers.)

"What if I were a lay member of yours looking at this, and I discover Pastor/Vicar Rusch had been a contributor on this blog?"

If that is the case: Hooray! I have a lay member who is interested in theology! I can have an intelligent conversation with him about Lutheran dogmatics!

If Mr. Theoretical Lay Member is concerned about my association with certain theological stances, I'd be delighted to talk to him, as well as recommend that he read my own posts in the context of this blog's statement of purpose (quoted near the beginning of this post.) Were there one intelligent enough to be so interested in theology, would he immediately and rashly brand me a heretic for such a petty grievance?

"That doesn't really answer my question. What if this were the average lay member, not well-versed in theology?"

Alright, you've got me there. First off, such a person I would be delighted to chat with, too. I hope you can tell by my presence on this blog, and my choice of career path, I love to talk about Christianity.

What I'm confused about is: if he were not theologically strong, how would he detect heterodoxy in this blog in the first place? A lay member going to this blog would find: the authors here call themselves confessional Lutheran laymen, and he would be a bit intimidated by the Latin quotation at the top of the page. Would he only be perturbed by posts objecting to [current] Lutheran pastors' theology, or posts questioning Holy Mother Synod (please pardon the borrowed term) -- neither of which any of my posts here have done? At the moment, the only way I can think such a man would be offended is if there were some absurd public synodical declaration that "this blog is heterodox. Mark and avoid!"

__________________________________

I was explicitly "encouraged" to think about my association with this blog, out of concern for my future. Do not be mistaken: I am genuinely grateful for that. "Out of concern for my future," though, touches on a culture problem (and harmful doctrine), detected by many, many people, that makes Lutherans very defensive. When there is a witchhunt for heretics (for me, in this episode, a theoretical future witchhunt), I believe it is at least partially because of pietism. But, interestingly, my own theology was never brought up, just my mere association with this blog! How petty! I wanted to explore theology. That is the reason I began to write for this blog. Other faculty members praise my interest in Lutheran systematic theology. But here I was scolded with weak "what if" arguments (which might be perceived as intimidation).

The unspoken suggestion is that I remove my name from the blog. I contend that it is foolishness to attempt to remove my name from the list of authors. This blog is powered by Blogger -- Google has already read and cached my posts for all posterity. Oops. I guess my Christian stance at this point in time cannot be erased now. 

Am I young? Yes. Am I inexperienced? Yes. Am I not widely trained in systematic theology? Yes. Am I hateful of instruction and unwilling to be corrected? Absolutely not! Should this episode stop discussion and study? Not at all! 

I am not yet at the terminus of my education, and in my meeting it was implied that I may yet remain a contributor, so that is what I intend to do for now, unless otherwise convinced.


--------
My name is Benjamin Rusch, and I am currently a senior at Martin Luther College who plans on attending Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary this coming school year.

(And, no. I don't necessarily agree 100% with every contributor to this blog.)

41 comments:

  1. I'm glad that these young men want to discuss theology. If we had more like these men coming from the Seminary instead of pastors like Glende who want a coffee bar in their narthex and a garage band concert instead of a divine service, perhaps we wouldn't need these blogs.

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  2. Bold, I like it. Although I'm afraid you've disturbed the bees' nest with this response. I think they're right, it will affect you in the future, but I don't think it will come from a layman.

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  3. What do we think of pastors who speak bold things as young men, but come to see errors in their words as they grow more learned? Do we condemn them for their passion as a young man? And would a pastor who turned from other sinful ways be treated the same?

    And should pastors-in-training be Christians who keep conversation secret and limited to closed-door meetings with like-minded men?

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  4. Mr. Rusch,

    Should you find yourself so sufficiently "encouraged" that you find it necessary to no longer contribute here... and thus find yourself without a regular publishing venue...; or, if you have "extra time and energy" to contribute in additional forums... you are always welcome to become either a regular or even a guest author for Intrepid Lutherans.

    :)

    I'm sure that would solve all of your problems!

    I do have a project in limbo, should you be interested, requiring no small amount of Greek exegetical talent, and Rev. Rydecki being pre-occupied with other projects, would appreciate assistance. If you're not interested, or don't have the time, do you know anyone who would (be)?

    I realize that I just mentioned Rev. Rydecki's name on this blog -- twice now. Hopefully y'all don't get into more trouble for that.

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  5. Thank ye kindly, Mr. Lindee. Time will tell.

    I'll shoot you an email for more info, to see if I'm suited for it. As for folks with language/exegetical talent, I would definitely look at the contributors to Studium Excitare. I just can't seem to find any online contact information for the current Studium Excitare student president.

    If I say Rev. Rydecki's name three times now, do I invoke an angry spirit like Betelgeuse? :)

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  6. Why would you go to a WELS seminary? Why would you go for a one sided education?
    After that MLC experience, you would be asking for it won't you?

    If I were you I would go to a university that grants divinity degrees; at least in that environment you know what the teachers stand for, liberal protestantism. You know your enemies.

    You need to go to the jungle and get your battle experience there. Iron sharpens iron. You need live bullets fired at you. Stay out of places where it is theologically safe and fenced, like your denominational seminaries. I tell you, you will never feel inadequate after you graduate.

    My encounters with UOJ people allowed me to observe the type of scholarship they received and taught me a lesson, do not study where they did.

    LPC


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    1. Lito, as much as I would love getting all worked up over education, I must disagree with your brazen wide sweeping judgement of the WELS seminary. Courses of any caliber are only as good as the effort you put into them (especially graduate-level).

      Your advice seems sound (Other than the live bullets. That sounds painful), and I'm sure I could do well at places like BIOLA Theological, but, in short, that is not the path I'm interested in. Call me timid.

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  7. Ben,

    BIOLA would not be the kind of place I would go to study, that would be another fenced in seminary. I would not go to a community type denominational seminary.

    I am talking about a university which offers divinity degrees. Have a degree that is valuable not only to your denomination but of value to others professionally and academically.

    This is the reason I suspect most pastors after being installed become politically minded, they can not be hired anywhere so they resort to soft tactics which eventually undermine their integrity. It is for job security.

    My brazen sweeping judgement is not limited to WELS seminary, it extends to LC-MS ones too ;-)


    Well if you must stick to a denominational seminary, extend yourself by being a wide (and wild) reader.


    LPC

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    1. Dr. Cruz -

      Your advice to Ben is spot on! I would go further than you in suggesting that Ben's choice of a Lutheran synodical school would be self-defeating in that his theological thinking would then be"incestuously" driven. Stay independent of the synodical inbred system. Be more like the early Christians.

      The goal is Christ; His Cross; His suffering; His pruning - the Christ, the [sure] hope of glory!

      Acts 4:13 - "......Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."

      Many are they which have the academics; but fewer are they who have Jesus........

      Nathan M. Bickel
      www.thechristianmessage.org
      www.moralmatters.org

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  8. Mr. Rusch,

    You are an adult and can make your own decisions. You are also a Christian and should use your Spirit given judgement accordingly.

    That being said, fair or unfair, people will judge you by the company you keep. It is not a violation of fellowship or a breaking of God's command to share a blog. However, when that blog is pretty obviously shared with people who disagree with you and the rest of us in the WELS it will affect others thoughts about you. You may say the question is absurd but I assure you it is and will be the question of your fellow ministers of the Gospel, "Why do you share a blog with someone who denies the Biblical teaching of justification when you do believe the Biblical teaching of justification? And if you do believe in Biblical justification why don't you oppose him publicly on this blog? Or if you don't believe it why are you WELS?" It seems to me like you would either want to oppose your fellow bloggers or leave the WELS. To appear to be so comfortable with those who would deny Biblical Justification, believe a liberal university divinity degree is better than a degree from WLS, and as a commentator on another article said, believe that the WELS has been secretly trying to get back St. John's church in Milwaukee by planting fake members, seems foolish. By not opposing these types of comments and articles on your blog you seem to be giving approval to them. I know that you see this blog as a marketplace of ideas but when the marketplace becomes dominated by one set of ideas (i.e. those in the WELS are wrong about everything from justification to grand conspiracies to take property.) that argument will be believed by fewer and fewer people. I think you must publicly oppose those who write such foolishness or find a different venue.

    You seem like a good, intelligent young man and I do believe your heart is in the right place. However, I would encourage you to find different company and a new place to publish and study. I don't know how it is now, but I would encourage you to try Studium Excitare as you mentioned in a comment above. Remain a student of God's Word but do so with those at MLC who share a common faith and belief with you.

    Blessings,
    Paul

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    1. Intriguing questions -- thank you, Paul. I'm going to be writing a follow-up to this post. I'll keep your thoughts in mind as I continue to prayerfully consider my situation.

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    2. The same questions "Paul" asks could be redirected toward many in our synod. Why do many pastors engage in free conferences with individuals who deny the "biblical doctrine" of fellowship? Ditto the "biblical doctrine" of men and women's roles? President Schroeder himself has participated in a number of free conferences toward that end (namely the Emmaus conference, among others).

      The answer, it seems to me, is that all parties involved share a professed confession of the Lutheran Symbols. The point of venues such as free conferences and this blog is to hash out the similarities and differences among those claiming the "Confessional Lutheran" moniker.

      In the end, as Mr. Rusch so aptly points out in quoting our manifesto (which is linked right at the top of the site, right hand side), this blog "is a platform for a group of laymen to opine concerning the state of Confessional Lutheranism in America and abroad." Nothing more, nothing less.

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    3. Woah, now, hold on there. That doesn't even address his questions.
      https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/tu-quoque

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  9. Mr. Rusch,
    A couple more thoughts for you if you don't mind. I would avoid LPC's advice to read widely and wildly. This is not in line with God's commands or the practice of the church Catholic. It may sound good to read widely and wildly in academic circles but it is spiritual poison. Consider Christ's command to stay away from those who cause divisions. The early church condemned the writings of the Gnostics and other heretics. They didn't tell people to read widely and wildly and decide for themselves. Avoid writers like Karl Barth. Stick to Scripture, the confessions and good Lutheran writings. (Do they still recommend reading Law & Gospel annually?) These things are what will make you a sharp theologian, not being exposed to many different beliefs as LPC would have you believe. Many a Christian has thought that he would be strong enough to read false teaching and not be affected by it but some of those Christians then became false teachers. LPC calls it a fence and that may be so but it is exactly the practice of the Church Catholic and what Christ commands us to do with those who would bring a different message, put up a fence of seperation.
    If you disagree with Rydecki, Jackson, (who on an unrelated note, has posted on this blog that the WELS is behind the St. John's affair. It is pretty clear what happened and the truth doesn't involve a three year homosexual WELS sleeper cell. The very thought that someone who claims to be intelligent thinks that boggles the mind. Jackson gets more bonkers by the day. Even more amazing, I can't believe none of the authors of this blog have taken down that post by him.) LPC, and Schultz you should avoid them.
    If you do agree with them, and I pray you don't, you should at the very least not continue on to WLS. There is much pain for all parties when someone changes their confession while they serve as a pastor. Just look at Pastors Hastings or Jackson. Or wait a decade and see what happens to Rydecki and Schulz. (Or even now talk to Rydecki's members who had to come up with $20,000 or on the other hand the WELS members who decided to stay WELS in Las Cruces and now have no church. They have been silent in this but they are heart broken.) I pray this isn't the case, but if you do disagree with the WELS, you should take some time away after MLC. This is the most honest thing to do both before the church and God. Otherwise, I would add my encouragement to shake the dust off your feet from this blog.

    Blessings,
    Paul

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    1. Well, since I've been named, despite the misspelling, I'll just say, Benjamin, if you decide to come out on the side of this Paul commentator and affirm that you agree with Huberianism -- that all sinners have been justified by God without the Word, Sacraments, Spirit, and the gift of faith -- then so be it. But just know you'll be professing the heresy of Huberianism which has already been condemned by the Lutheran Church and which *some,* not all, hardened characters in all 3 main synods continue to defend despite the Lutheran Church's stance. I hope, in your consideration, you read Fr. Rydecki's latest post on his blog and consider reading the first hand accounts of the Huberian heresy as found linked on the right side of the following page: http://www.faithalonejustifies.com/a-hunnius-on-the-truly-confessional-lutheran-teaching-of-romans-518/

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    2. I get what you're saying but there's an awful lot of overstatement. If I want to become a better exegete, using your logic, ought I mark and avoid Bishop Lightfoot because he leans Anglican, or C.K. Barrett because he leans Methodist, or Gordon Fee because he leans Neopentecostal, or Fitzmyer because he's Roman Catholic? Hardly.

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    3. Perhaps there would be wisdom in limiting some of the wilder accusations and theories that find place in the comment sections of this blog. I'm just hesitant to give the impression that we are "stifling the opposition," as it were. Besides, people are entitled to their opinions, as absurd as they may be. And if you find them absurd, you are more than welcome to correct them with a more sensical opinion.

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    4. As for you, Mr. Schulz, I hope I don't have to mention the thick irony of your assertion.

      I'm glad you mentioned Rydecki's translation of Aeginius Hunnius on Romans 5:18. But in the spirit of good scholarship I'm also wrestling with Stoeckhardt's stance on Romans 5.

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    5. I would say that there is a difference between learning Greek from an Anglican and reading "widely and wildly."
      Learn Greek Exegesis from Anne Groton, Lenski, Fee or Lighfoot. Learn Math from a Presbyterian. Learn Phy Ed from a Morman.
      However I stand by my statement and don't believe it is an overstatement to limit learning theology from Scripture, the Confessions, and those who share a confession with you and that matches what the Scripture says. Again, I think this honors what Scripture says about staying away from those who would cause divisions in the church.

      And Schulz my contention in the post wasn't the substance of what you preach (though I disagree with that also and your repeated efforts at misrepresenting the views on justification of others.) But rather that it seems highly suspicious and one might say almost dastardly that you suddenly had this great "revelation." Preach and teach what your conscience tells you but why it didn't tell you until after you were a WELS pastor seems suspicious (and hurtful to those you drove out of your church.) If you are so confident that the WELS is heterodox it surprises many that you would have agreed to be a WELS pastor just a few short years earlier. (Were you unaware of the WELS stance on justification or your own stance on justification that you would agree to do serve in a church body you now consider heterodox? I've never heard you answer that question.) Some might see the timing of your "new" public confession to be not theologically minded but a simple power grab.

      My advice to Mr Rusch is to not do what Schulz has done. If you disagree with the WELS be bold in your confession. Do not hide your confession in the tall grass, saying you agree with the WELS, only to get a congregation, remove those who disagree with you, and take the congregation from the WELS. This temptation has obviously seized people before. Again, I give you Jackson and Hastings as examples. Wait a decade and see Schulz and Rydecki. Few, if any at all, will ever take these men seriously because of the way they have gone about "revealing" their beliefs. If you have another confession, be honest and don't wait for a "big reveal" only in a situation that suits you. Again, that is dishonest to God and dishonest to the church which you will serve.

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    6. You must have me confused with someone else. I'm not a pastor nor do I shepherd any flock.

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    7. Paul,

      You are probably mistaking me for my dad. If you would like to get the story about what happened at Divine Savior and his decision to leave the WELS, please call him. He would be willing to tell his side of the story to you so that you don’t have “suspicions” about his motives. Then, taking his words and actions in the kindest possible way, you can also speak in a more Christian way about him to others.

      Pr. Jim Schulz
      317.849.9692

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    8. My apologies. I am new to this blog and just now have seen you as one of the blog owners. When I referenced Schulz in my original post I meant a different one. I did not realize that there was a Schulz who was an owner of the blog. That was very unclear on my part.
      My reference to Schulz was to a pastor by the same last name who recently left the WELS. When I saw the last name appear in response I falsely assumed you were the Schulz I referenced previously. I was not referencing you in my second post and then I obviously didn't know who I was responding to in my third. Again my apologies. The reference to a Schulz in the second of my three posts was not meant to be you. (That was a difficult explanation.)
      My point to Mr. Rusch remains the same. Do not be like Pastor Schulz (different from the blog owner) who did as I mentioned. Be bold in your confession or at the very least take some time off to study. Do not profess to agree that the WELS agrees with Scripture and the Confessions only to change your mind at a convenient later date. That will hurt you and the church.

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    9. Also, please make sure to sign in some form so we know to whom to respond to. I'd say, in general to all, to use your real name as it helps keep the conversation Christian and more civil because your reputation is out there. But, since anyone can use a fake name it's impossible to enforce, so at least use a consistent title.

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    10. Apparently we crossed posts.
      And apparently you also know what I was referencing.
      I am a former member of DS many, many years ago and had friends there until the split when they left to go to another WELS church.
      I have spoken to your Father, not about theology but about how the event was handled by him. Obviously we don't agree and I won't air that laundry in front of his son.
      I will remind Mr. Rusch that there are many who were unnecessarily hurt by the timing and lack of either honesty or perceived honesty (depending on your side) of that event. All of which could have been avoided by Schulz stating his beliefs before he was called. This is both my encouragement and the encouragement found in Scripture.
      Paul
      (my real name. no last name since there is obviously a connection and I don't want anyone to go after my friends.)

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    11. Paul,

      Here’s what you said about my dad:

      “But rather that it seems *highly suspicious* and *one might say almost dastardly* that you suddenly had this great "revelation."”

      and:

      “why it didn't tell you until after you were a WELS pastor *seems suspicious* (and hurtful to those *you drove out* of your church.)”

      and:

      *Some might see the timing* of your "new" public confession to be not theologically minded but *a simple power grab*.

      and:

      “*remove those* who disagree with you, and *take the congregation* from the WELS.”

      and:

      “don't wait for a "big reveal" only in a situation *that suits you*.”

      and:

      “Do not profess to agree that the WELS agrees with Scripture and the Confessions only to change your mind *at a convenient later date*.”

      and:

      “*lack of either honesty* or *perceived* honesty”

      Then you conclude by saying:

      “I won't air that laundry.”

      Well, Paul, you just threw up a lot of mud at my dad’s laundry. I hear you judging motives and drawing conclusions based on “suspicions.” Reread the 8th Commandment and take it to heart. OR prove those points that I’ve highlighted by the asterisks.

      Also, How does a pastor “take” his congregation out of the WELS?

      At Divine Savior, the voters made the decision to leave WELS at a properly called voters meeting. And they decided to leave EVEN AFTER the circuit pastor, the Southeastern Wisconsin District President, and the 1st Vice President of the WELS met together with the congregation to try to defend the WELS.

      "no last name since there is obviously a connection and I don't want anyone to go after my friends."

      But they can go after him, can’t they? He doesn’t operate that way. But you can remain anonymous. That sounds fair.

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    12. I owe you an apology Mr. Schulz. I do wish I would have looked to see who the owners of this blog are and made the connection between you and your father. If I had, I would not have said those things here. As it stands, those words of mine which you quote were written before I knew you were Schulz's son. I don't believe in involving you when the dispute occurred between your father and I.
      I also owe you an apology because I was not clear about your Father "taking" a church out of the WELS. I did not mean he did anything illegal. A proper and binding vote was taken. What I meant was that your Father was leading the congregation during this decision. Perhaps I should have said "led" his congregation out of WELS.
      As for that "anyone" who would go after my friends. I apologize a third time because I did not mean your Father and I didn't make that clear. I meant the Mr. Jackson who has made quite a "ministry" out of posting peoples personal information on the internet and making insulting photoshops. It is common knowledge he is not afraid to attack the friends and family of those whom he disagrees with. Again, I didn't mean you father but the troll know as Jackson.
      As to the change in my ID, blogspot said I was blocked. Not sure what that means but perhaps I will try again with my previous account later. If you want to look into the cause I would appreciate it. (Might be on my end)
      Paul

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  10. I would like to make an observation about your posts, Paul. I'm not sure you've noticed, but somehow my defense against heretic-by-association has now turned into a further heretic-by-association-with-Rydecki-and-Schulz-and-Jackson -- despite my words calling instead for correction and instruction.

    I'd prefer you offer advice on any of the assertions made in my post. You have given relevant advice ("If you disagree...you should avoid" etc.) but it is peppered with toxins. I hate hyperanalyzing, but your "do not be like" implies "you are already like [this heretic]". "Do not hide your confession in the tall grass" implies that I am already an apostate hiding in tall grass. "You seem to approve" is an argument-from-silence fallacy. You are fabricating omens like "wait a decade and see what happens." All inappropriate assertions to make. All types of things I was denouncing or defending myself against in the first place.

    The result: You are inadvertently leading me into a false dichotomy -- boldly confess or begone! One does not merely manufacture a brand-new Lutheran confession of faith just for one's own person, an enormously difficult thing for any man to do.

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    1. You are right Mr. Rusch.
      The DS account does not bring up pleasant memories for me. I should not and did not mean to lump you in with others I have disagreed with in the past. You are my brother in the WELS.
      I will continue to offer this simple advice to you as a lay person whom you may someday serve. Be a lifelong learner. Be a constant student of God's Word. But do not take a call unless you are certain of the chief doctrine of the church. When my church calls a graduate we expect him to teach us Scripture. Furthermore, we expect him to teach us in line with the confessions because those agree with Scripture. Futhermore, we expect him to teach us in line with the WELS public teachings because those also agree with the Confessions and Scripture. If you cannot graduate and be absolutely certain of these things, please do not take a call. It will bring pain and heartache to us all. I don't wish to lead you into a false dichotomy of confess or be gone. But do have a confession that agrees with the WELS before you take a call into the WELS.
      As for keeping your name on this blog, you have my original advice somewhere near the top of this thread. Join Studium Excitare. Study with those who share a confession of faith with you. Stay away from those who don't. I hope you will heed this advice and if so, maybe you will be my pastor some day.
      Blessings,
      Paul

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    2. Apology more than accepted, Paul, for my part. I didn't mean for you to have to write your own defense. :)

      But, do you see now the knee-jerk reaction that we synodical folks get? I forgot to include it in the post, but the jealously guarding doctrinal unity is kinda a good thing. It's just a shame that it's sometimes a sudden harsh reaction which turns into legalism.

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  11. Anyone who would like to publicly charge me with error is welcome to demonstrate it. I believe I have written enough that someone should be able to show from my words where I have been unfaithful to the Scriptures or taught inconsistently with Lutheran orthodoxy. Empty assertions do not establish truth. The cowardice of smearing my name under the cover of anonymity reveals the true character of the accuser. If nothing else, Mr. Rusch, I'm sure you're wise enough to figure out that anonymous life advice (much less spiritual advice) is worth about as much as the e-ink that conveys it.

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    1. To charge you with error is a simple thing that anyone can do. Did you not sit in the presidents office at WLS at say that you agreed with the teachings of Scripture, the Confessions, and also the WELS? (Several pastors tell me this is a necessary step to receive a call.) You must have said yes to this question or they would not have given you a call. That leaves us with three possible scenarios.
      1)You were unaware of the WELS teachings regarding justification. I hardly believe you could go through eight years of school and never have once picked up a copy of This We Believe let alone failed to pay attention in doctrine classes.
      2) You have changed and evolved your belief regarding justification. This means at one time you were in error yourself and were so for most of your life. The very things you now condemned would have been your own confession. It also makes one wonder if you are finished evolving your view on justification.
      3) You lied when you told the president you agreed with the teachings of Scripture, the Confessions, and also the WELS. (My personal theory about you.) If you knew these three things weren't in agreement, especially in regard to the central teaching of the church, it would have been the honest thing to speak up at that time. To say you agreed with the WELS, when you really did not, (if this is what happened) was a lie and a sin.
      One of these three things must be true and I have a hard time believing it was the first one. You are too smart to have graduated without at least picking up a copy of This We Believe.
      I know the excuses.
      "I confessed Scripture and the Confessions." Yes you did but you also professed an agreement with the WELS. Agreeing with the first two does not make lying about an agreement with the last not a sin.
      "Luther changed his public confession." Again, yes he did but Luther did not sit in a classroom for eight years and hear about both sanative and forensic justification, profess to believe sanative justification, only to change his mind at a later date and profess forensic justification. Also, Luther only had the Catholic Church. There were plenty of church bodies you could have joined that agreed with you about the chief doctrine of the church.
      Finally, if you weren't lying this whole time, and really did just evolve your confessions, I would never ask someone to go against their conscience. However, if you are/were unsure about the central teaching of Scripture maybe it would be a good time to take some time off. If Paul says recent converts shouldn't be pastors, how much more a Pastor who was wrong about the central teaching of the church for many years and only recently got it right.
      As for my cowardice, as long as troll Jackson prowls the internet I will not give you my last name so that he can mock my pastor, my friends, and my church. Perhaps since you share a common belief with him you can talk him into repenting of this behavior and I will give you my last name. Anything else you would like to know about me I will tell you. I was a DS skyhawk in grade school. I attended MLC for two years before deciding the ministry wasn't right for me. I currently live in NC where I attend a WELS church.
      Paul

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  12. Tarheel Paul,

    LPC calls it a fence and that may be so but it is exactly the practice of the Church Catholic and what Christ commands us to do with those who would bring a different message, put up a fence of seperation

    I think you are confusing the practice of the cults versus the practice of educating ministers. I do not even think you are aware of the Apostles knew what the false teachers of their day were teaching. St. Paul was aware of the false teaching of Judaizers, St John was aware of the Gnostics, St Jude contended with Nicolaitans etc. How can you fight something you do not know?

    I am telling Rusch how to be a thorough scholar and the more educated he is, the more he is of service to his Lord and the people entrusted to him. I am telling him how to be useful in the Lutheran Church but also to the greater body of Christ. Rusch is studying to be a minister, that is serious work and yet you are telling Rusch to stay dumb.

    The whole purpose of seminary education among other things is to spot heresy, not simply on others, but to spot heresy in himself!

    1 Tim 4:16.

    You seem to label yourself as among the Catholic Church (your capitalization). In a way you are indeed a functioning Romanist, except your Magisterium does not sit in the Vatican, they sit somewhere in Wisconsin.

    I can only deduce that your throwing that label (Catholic Church) around must be a way comforting yourself in thinking you are orthodox. Yet by your comments I suspect you are not even aware that after awhile Augustine (himself considered a teacher of the the Church) wrote his Recantations.

    Your questions to Rydecki are exactly applicable to Luther, but your biased critcism of Rydecki fail to go the whole way of comparison. For example Luther attempted to Reform his church without violating his Scriptural conviction, why can you not see the same possibility of that in Rydecki over the WELS?

    Again, yes he did but Luther did not sit in a classroom for eight years and hear about both sanative and forensic justification, profess to believe sanative justification, only to change his mind at a later date and profess forensic justification. Also, Luther only had the Catholic Church. There were plenty of church bodies you could have joined that agreed with you about the chief doctrine of the church.

    This is garbage. This is like telling St. Paul, he was not allowed to convert since he knew all things he needed to know about Judaism, since he was teacher of the Law, he knew what he was getting himself into. As usual fallacy of special pleading typical of UOJers.


    Rev. Rydecki conformed to 1 Tim 4:16 when he abandoned UOJ. He stopped letting his Synod rule over his faith. He was not afraid to follow wherever the Scripture leads him. So should all of us.

    LPC

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  13. LPC
    I don't care to debate you on education. You think a theological education from liberal protestants is good. I do not. I do not care to debate you on your characterizations of the WELS. You believe that we in the WELS have some how taken the worst of calvinism, Rome, and cult practice and made it our own. I do not believe that. I do not care to debate you concerning justification. You do not believe God forgave the sins of the world. (which, for clarity, I don't believe is the same as Rydecki's teaching) I do believe God forgave the sins of the world. No amount of debating will get us any closer in any of these areas.
    I will debate you in this one area and point to Scriptural truth since you brought up the example. After Paul's conversion he did not immediately get into the pulpit. Years went by where he studied and did not teach. If he had immediately gone to preach something just a year earlier he was condemning it would have probably caused quite a few problems. But as it was, Paul did not publicly preach in the first years after his conversion.
    I never told anyone not to follow what their conscience tells them in regard to the Scriptures. My contention with Rydecki is that he either lied about his confession to get a pulplit or he "converted" or "changed" or "evolved" his confession. In which case he should follow the example of St. Paul and step out of the pulpit for a little while.

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  14. Tarheel Paul,

    St. Paul prior to his conversion did preach the Law. Rydecki prior to his conversion did preach precious UOJ.

    Yet Luther out of force for fear for his life hid, but he did preach justification by faith alone if we go along and see that he wrote his disputations etc., and the things he published against the Pope.

    You keep on moving the goal post of your debate.

    First your contention was that no one should be allowed to convert. When I brought out St. Paul to you, now you say that Rydecki should be like St. Paul who did not preach after his conversion.

    Now I am pointing to you that Luther did preach after his conversion, he published his 95 Theses and wrote tracts against the Papal Church. In fact how else could he be excommunicated if he were silent?

    By your analogy, are we to say that Luther lied about his priestly confession to get a Roman pulpit?

    Perhaps you should take up the argument levied by Romanists against Luther, he should have quietly disappeared and left the Roman Church. This argument, just like yours have been taken up by Roman Apologists before and frankly, if I were you, I would be bothered by the reasoning similarity with Romanists.

    However, precious UOJers have been known to be fallacious in their reasoning abilities as for instance, the comment above is another example of special pleading. The more bothersome should be Romanized Lutheranism you have in your reasoning. Your argument is functionally Roman yet you claim to be Lutheran.

    I am just wondering why is that?

    You see Tarheel Paul, your argument against Rydecki is no longer about doctrine; your criticism is the style he went about in carrying out the effect of his conversion. Yet I tell you the effect would have been the same even if I bring again St. Paul in this discussion. However, style has no bearing on the argument, it just becomes a manner of discomfort or not etc. It has nothing to do whether or not Rydecki's JBFA is wrong or not, in which case you should really debate this area.

    Anyhow,the final effect or outcome would have been the same, St. Paul still would have preached against Judaism whether he stayed silent for 3 years or not.

    His epistles show that he knocked and attacked Judaism wherever he found it even claiming that Christ fulfilled the Law.

    Criticism of one's style really does not make one's doctrine false or true. To think that way is to be dismally like the Romanist Apologists attacking Luther. It is to fall once more to more fallacies and this time, ad hominem.

    If you or the WELS wish to make a dent against Rydecki, you should rebut the doctrine he now finds himself in, JFBA.


    LPC


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  15. LPC,
    I will say this again. I will not debate you concerning WELS, justification, or your thoughts on education. (at least in this thread) You and I are in disagreement. Unless you have something new to add to the argument I don't care to listen just as you obviously don't care to listen to me. I did however, ask for a debate on one Scriptural truth so that we may have an understanding of at least one thing. My contention is not that people should not convert. You can go back and look at a few places in my posts where I said a person should follow their conscience. However, I will ask you again, what does Paul say about new converts being preachers? What example do we see from Paul's own life? As close as I can come to a reply in your response is "whether he stayed silent for three years or not." To move this forward I will assume you believe that he stayed silent for three years. Now, my question to you is how should Rydecki apply this command to himself? Or, how should any pastor apply this command to himself if he changes his belief concerning the central doctrine of the church? I think pretty clearly it means he should step out of the pulpit for a little while. Not that he can't follow his conscience and convert. Not that he can't, like Paul, go back to preaching later. But Scripture teaches that a recent convert should not be a preacher. Therefore, I think if a pastor changes his belief concerning justification, the central teaching of the church, he should take some time away from serving as a pastor. If you care to debate me on this one and only thing I will continue this. Therefor either agree with me and we can move on to the example of Luther (or another area of your choosing). Or show me from Scripture where I am wrong in regards to what the apostle Paul says about recent converts and its specific application to those who change their teaching in regard to justification.
    One more time. Please stick to the issue. Do not ask me why I call myself Lutheran. Do not even bring up the WELS or any set of acronyms. If you really want to talk about this please stick to the one issue: Paul's commands to recent converts in regard to preaching and its application to Rydecki. That is it. If we can settle this we will move on to something else but not before then.
    Paul

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  16. Tarheel states, “Therefore, I think if a pastor changes his belief concerning justification, the central teaching of the church, he should take some time away from serving as a pastor.”

    As Pastor Rydecki has adequately shown – he has returned to Christ’s true Gospel and Confessional doctrine of Justification in his faithful confession and defense of one Justification solely by faith in Christ alone. You speak as if he departed from Christ’s doctrine but what he did is depart from the (W)ELS false gospel of forgiveness without faith. He has in fact been faithful to Christ and His servant Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:1-4, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. Rydecki, his faithful translations of the Lutheran church fathers and Christ’s Church all stand as a public testament against the anti-Christian official chief doctrine of the Lutheran Synods, Seventh Day Adventists and the Roman Catholic Church – the doctrine of Universal Objective Justification which anathematizes one Justification solely by faith in Christ alone.

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  17. As far as I'm concerned, Paul, prove Fr. Rydecki wrong on his doctrine of justification. Everyone, not only you, seems to deviate from that and go into other irrelevant realms. Again, where is his doctrine on justification wrong? For a third time, so no one misses my question, why is he wrong to say sinners are justified by faith alone? Can you please answer that as you seem to say he is wrong on the biblical doctrine of justification? You brought the charge, now prove it according to Scripture and a consistent testimony of the Fathers of the Christian Church throughout the centuries.

    In addition, I really don't see the "take time off" argument to be valid. Luther, along with all clergy past and present, have been charged with the spiritual care of his parish. He is in charge of the well being of his flock. If he finally realizes that the ministerium he is affiliated with is in bed with false doctrine, should he be silent as a shepherd? If he finally realizes false doctrine in his midst, should he not as a shepherd of the flock guide sheep to the green pasture he was called to guide to? If he realizes wolves are on the horizon should he not warn his flock? I mean he can cast the warning. The congregation is equipped with Scripture and the Confessions, they can make rational choices to see if what the pastor miss teaching is wrong according to the clear Words of Scripture. Yet, they hear the voice of God that calls them, and in at least one (of probably many cases) they've chosen the right way. Away from two justifications, away from sinners being justified with out the holy Spirit, the Sacraments, and faith. So again, prove Pr. Rydecki wrong from Scripture and the consistent testimony of all the Fathers of the Church that all sinners were forgiven of all sin without the gift of faith. Please enlighten us. Otherwise drop your false charge.

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  18. T. Paul.

    So I have a question for you.

    Assume for the sake of argument that Rydecki converted to Romanism. Is it your contention that he should be quiet for 3 years like St. Paul, then he can go and preach against JFBA?



    So your issue is that JBFA is not wrong, or Rydecki's deconversion from UOJ cultism is not wrong but the issue is his ethics?

    So you would not have a problem with Rydecki becoming a Mormon, so long as he be silent for 3 years and then he may preach Mormonism. I take it you are ok with that so long as you claim he obeys St. Paul's injunction of not being a recent convert.

    Is this what you are on about?

    LPC

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  19. I think that it is clear that we disagree about what is Christ's doctrine concerning justification. I think the WELS has made clear their position both from Scripture and the confessions. I think Rydecki has made his position clear from both Scriptures and the confessions. If there is something new to add to the argument I would love to hear it otherwise I am not sure it is productive to repeat ourselves for yet another time. (I also don't believe he is wrong to say that sinners are justified by faith alone and I would ask you where you heard that he was removed from the ministry for saying that. He was removed for saying that is the only way in which the Bible speaks of justification. I think it would be helpful to properly set up the argument if we are honestly concerned about the truth.)
    Something I had hoped we could discuss, because I do believe it is somewhat relevant to Mr. Rusch's situation, is whether a pastor, once he has made a public confession and promise concerning justification, as a Pastor, as Rydecki did, should continue to serve in the pulpit without taking some time off if he changes that public confession and promise concerning justification.
    Unless you have something new to add we are going to disagree about justification. If you honestly don't know the WELS and hence my thoughts on justification I will share them with you but I don't believe that to be the case.
    To continue to say Rydecki is right concerning justification, therefore the way he went about making that confession doesn't matter, isn't helpful to discussion.
    I agree with your thoughts that a Pastor should warn his flock about impending danger and false teaching. In fact, I would add to that argument that it is the responsibility of every Christian to do so. However, I don't believe that should be done from the pulpit based on Paul's words that a pastor should not be a recent convert. He should write, he should speak, he should study and warn other if he believes God's people are in danger. I believe the words of 1 Timothy 4. I don't believe they trump the words of 1 Timothy 3:6
    Paul

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  20. LPC
    I am not sure you understand the phrase "for the sake of argument." What you stated in your first paragraph was a hypothetical, not a point of disagreement that you asked me to move past for the sake of a larger point. (which is what the phrase "for the sake of argument" means) But I will grant you this hypothetical that Rydecki would convert to Romanism. (Who knows? He changed once before, or didn't he? He never answers that question.) Now I will state that I am against Romanism just as I am against Rydecki's current view. I don't think either one is right. All that being said the larger question is should Rydecki be able to convert and under what methods? I think the Scriptural answer is yes he should be able to convert to a stance in line with God's Word but not get up in a pulpit right away.
    In your stated hypothetical - If Romanism is correct (it's not) and Rydecki believes it to be correct (he doesn't) and he can show from Scripture where Romanism is correct (he can't) than he should convert to Romanism. In your hypothetical he should defend Romanism. He should tell his congregation about Romanism. However, based on 1 Timothy 3:6 he should not right away serve as a Catholic priest and step into a Catholic pulpit. Under this hypothetical will you and I not come to this same conclusion? If Romanism is correct (it's not) would you not agree with my assessment of Rydecki taking some time away from the pulpit?
    Paul

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