Gobble Up God's Grace: Let's Talk Turkey On This Thanksgiving Day...

Thanksgiving Day 2014.

Let's start with last year's commentary from Chad Bird who always seems to do a fantastic job of getting us to look at things a little differently than we probably have ever looked at them before (yes, even as Bible-believing Christians).


God Doesn't Celebrate Thanksgiving: A Turkey Day Reflection 
It seems a bit strange that many of us will stuff our mouths this week with a bird whose life preaches against us. For consider the turkeys, which neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Turkeys don’t worry, don’t horde, don’t complain. 
The eyes of all turkeys wait upon You, O Lord, for You give them their food in due season; You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Yet here we are – our eyes waiting upon the next paycheck, waiting upon the next promotion, waiting upon Wall Street to rise and fall, waiting upon everything but You, O Lord. So before you swallow that bite of turkey, remember that you eat a creature that surpasses you in piety. Eat, yes, but season your turkey with the ashes of repentance as it preaches just how little your faith is, just how little you trust God, just how little you believe the Father is good to you. 
And if that isn’t enough to call you to repentance, think of how not only does an animal with the pea-sized brain show you how utterly sinful you are, even brainless flowers are closer to how God intends them to be than you are. For “consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Roses are red, violets are blue, colored by God, preaching to you. Preaching – that you might confess that, at heart, you really don’t believe God wants nothing but the best for you; that daily you doubt His goodness; and that when, push comes to shove, you fear, love, and trust in just about everything more than God. Heed those preaching flowers; heed, confess, and believe. 
Believe, O sinner, that the mercies of almighty God, our heavenly Father, are new unto us every morning; believe that though we have in no wise deserved His goodness, He abundantly provides for all our wants of body and soul. For He does, and He has, and He will. 
God doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. He has no one to thank for the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains. He receives nothing as gift. Rather, He is gift. He is Giver. God gives, we receive, and that is the sum of all reality.  
Without being asked, certainly without being pressured, He floods every individual, every city, every nation of this world with gifts beyond telling. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all this is within me, bless His holy Name,” for all that is within me is a gift. My body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses. Food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, family, and on and on it goes, ever millionth of a second a million gifts received. 
Do you doubt it? Do you think that He who has given you His own Son will now withhold anything from you that you need, that is good for you? He who delivered up His own Son to pay for your unbelief, will He do bad things to you now that He has made you a believer? He who found you when you sought Him not, who saved you when you wanted Him not, who embraced you when you fled from His arms, will He now roll you up in a ball and cast you away as unwanted garbage? No, a thousand times no, for He rejoices over you as a groom over His bride, He loves you as a father loves His child, He tenderly cares for you as a mother does her nursing infant. 
If God so cares for turkeys, and if your Father so beautifully clothes flowers, He will most certainly clothe you with the garments of salvation and cover you with the robe of righteousness. Indeed, He has. He has wrapped around your body and soul the coat of His Son. The robe of His faithful life and bloody death has been made your own. If Joseph had his coat of many colors, then you have the coat of only two colors – white for the purity of Jesus and red for His blood. And no jealous brothers will steal it from you. No Potiphar’s wife will rip it from you. He who hung naked on the cross for you will let no man or woman, no devil or false prophet, no temptation or trial, not even death with all its fury – none of them will remove from you the red and white coat of Jesus’ blood and righteousness, the robe that gives you access to the wedding feast of the King of kings. 
It is truly meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places gives thanks to the Father, but today we do so quite intentionally and nationally. We give thanks to the Father that He cares enough for us to use even a turkey and flowers to call us to repentance, to teach us faith, and to say once again, “Lo, I am with you always, and I love you always, and always and forever you are my beloved, my own, mine, all mine.” Yes, thanks be to God!


"So before you swallow that bite of turkey, remember that you eat a creature that surpasses you in piety. Eat, yes, but season your turkey with the ashes of repentance as it preaches just how little your faith is, just how little you trust God, just how little you believe the Father is good to you." Boy, I just love that! Don't you?

But why stop there? Let's look back at our entry from last year too.

As Pastor Charles Henrickson noted in a 2012 sermon...




The purpose of this holiday is for all Americans to gather in their churches and give thanks to God for his many blessings on our land. That’s the reason this holiday exists. Other things have latched themselves onto Thanksgiving -- football and Christmas shopping, for example -- so that by now the actual purpose of this day has gotten lost in the shuffle. But the reason we have the day off is to go to church and give thanks to God for how he has blessed our nation.

Besides giving thanks to God for how he has blessed us, we also gather to pray to God, that he would continue to bless our country and to amend it where it has gone astray. We pray for the people of our land, that our culture and our way of life would be more honorable and upright. We pray for our country's leaders, that they would govern well, in conformity with God's laws. There is much to pray for.

Thanksgiving and prayer, both. That's why we're here today.

Now some of you may be thinking: "Are you kidding me? Thank God for the mess our country has become? I mean, the economy is stuck in the mud. People are out of work. The national debt continues to skyrocket. We're told we're about to head over a fiscal cliff. Our culture continues to deteriorate. A significant portion of our population is OK with detestable things like abortion and homosexuality, which are abominations in God's sight. On top of that, some of the elections didn't go the way I wanted, and I'm still bummed out about that. And you’re telling me to give thanks!?!"

Well, yes, I am. In spite of all that is wrong with this country -- and believe me, I am well aware there is a lot wrong -- we still have much to be thankful for.


At this time of year, there are two primary texts from Scripture that always come to mind.




Psalm 100:1-5 (ESV) 1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

1 Timothy 2:1-7 (ESV) 1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

[emphasis mine]


Beautiful, aren't they?

One of the things I absolutely love about Psalm 100 is that it tells us that thanksgiving is not limited to God's chosen people, but that all creation is to praise Him. Nor is praise limited to singing, but includes joyfully serving Him (Psalm 100:2).

One of the things I love best about that passage from 1 Timothy 2 is how Paul uses four synonyms for prayer, each with a difference nuance. There are "supplications" offered for specific benefits or needs; "prayers" a common New Testament term denoting a wide array of petitions; "intercessions" or appeals for others made to God with boldness and childlike trust; "thanksgivings" or expressions of gratitude for mercies received.

Thanksgiving is a funny thing though, isn't it? I like the observation Pastor Shawn Stafford made in a sermon published at Steadfast Lutherans last year...




"Thanksgiving" is an unnatural activity. "Giving thanks" has to be taught and learned. Parents know that. One of the first things you teach children is to say "thank you" when they receive something. "Now what do you say?" you remind them. "Thank you." Saying "thank you" is a piece of good manners, a small but significant sign that we are higher than the animals. We say "thank you."


Thankfulness -- precisely the type of heart condition and mindset we need to be praying for, which comes not by own our efforts and self-will, but by the Root Himself that we are abiding in as believers (Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12; Ephesians 5:4; Galatians 5:22-23).

Now, here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving Day quotes that I've come across over the years...




"For the Glory of God and the Advancement of the Christian faith, and the honour of our King and Country."
*- The Mayflower Compact


"To All Ye Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with sh and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I...do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather...to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."
*- William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony


"This one is so simple that we miss it. Why aren't we more grateful? There are many answers to that question, but this one is central: we aren't grateful because we've never asked God to give us a grateful heart. By nature we are covetous, greedy, grasping and unhappy. Left to ourselves, we will be just like that rich fool. Generosity isn't our natural impulse. We aren't born giving; we're born getting. Gratitude is not the inborn language of the heart."
*- Ray Pritchard

I actually need to backtrack a little though, because I just remembered that there are several passages of Scripture that exhort us to always be thankful...





Psalms 68:19 (ESV) Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah

Hebrews 12:28 (ESV) Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us o er to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,

Colossians 2:6-7 (ESV) 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Colossians 3:15 (ESV) And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 4:2 (ESV)
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


...just to name a few.

I know I referenced it earlier, but I thoroughly enjoyed Pastor Shawn Stafford's 2013 Thanksgiving Day sermon and was blessed mightily by it (I encourage you to read it too). It destroys the "Idol of Self" that we have all erected to varying degrees in our lives with the truth from the Word of God (Revelation 3:17).

Today is Thanksgiving Day. Remember, if you feel "poor" it's only because you want more in this life than you've been blessed with already. The problem today is that we're constantly told we need things we never really wanted in the first place, or that our lives are incomplete without them. The problem with these so-called "needs" is that there's never any satisfaction even when you meet them. That's because only Jesus Christ truly satisfies!

Yes, EVERY DAY should be a day of thanksgiving once you realize who Jesus is and what He has done for you. In that sense, Thanksgiving Day should be a day of confession, repentance, and renewal too.

Despite all the sins, through all the anxieties, arguments, disagreements, emotional distress, family issues, fear, heartache, sickness, unemployment, and the general ups-and-downs that are a part of life, He has BLESSED US RICHLY with His grace and mercies daily and continues to do so!

Be content. Be thankful. Thank God.

I heard someone say that "everyone lives in one of two tents -- contentment or discontentment" and thought that such a statement was (sadly) a perfect description of our culture today. Which "tent" do you spend most of your time living in?

Yes, times are tough, but this Thanksgiving Day let's all be thankful for our blessings that are both material and spiritual thanks be to Christ alone. Give thanks for the many blessings you have been given this past year.

What is there to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day? I'll let Pastor Charles Henrickson answer that question for us.


You see, we were on the outs with God. Our sins had separated us from our Creator. Every one of us -- you and I and all the people who have ever lived -- each of us has broken God's law and come under his righteous judgment. On our own, we all would come under condemnation and the sentence of death.

But then Christ came. God is merciful. Christ came, the very Son of God, come in the flesh, true God and true man, sent to reconcile us back to God, to remove the barrier of our sin and to atone for it. This Christ did by his death on the cross. Think of Christ hanging there on that cross, suspended between heaven and earth, dying there in your place, for your sins. He is the mediator, the man in the middle, the one who makes peace in his body on the cross. Now risen and ascended into heaven, this same God-man Savior, Jesus Christ, now ever lives to intercede on our behalf. His holy blood pleads for us before the throne of grace.

Isn't this wonderful good news? It sure is! And God wants everyone to hear it.


Of course, those words merely underscore what the divinely inspired apostle Paul wrote for us in his epistle to Timothy.


1 Timothy 2:5-6 (ESV) 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.


Here's Pastor Shawn Stafford again with the exclamation point...


We live in a rapidly changing world. At the same time, we live in a perishing world. In this world of very few, if any constants, in which we know that we ourselves are perishing, is there anything we can depend on to stay the same? Thankfully, there is, God's enduring truth, His faithfulness. This truth is made known to us in God's Word. Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." At the center of God's Word is Jesus Christ, the embodiment of the truth. He said of Himself, that He is "the way, the truth, and the life." He is the only way to the Father and the "Truth that sets us free."

By nature, we do not of ourselves know this truth or believe in it. We "cannot by [our] own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, [our] Lord, or come to Him." Yet God our Savior "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4). How we come to know this truth? Through His Word and Sacrament, the Holy Spirit "calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith."

God will remain faithful to us, even when we doubt or falter in our faith. As the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:13). We can rest securely, placing our trust in God’s enduring truth and faithfulness.

Thanksgiving is the result of right Christian thinking. Joy and gladness, thanksgiving and praise flow naturally from hearts and lips that know the Lord’s goodness. Let us come before Him with joyful songs and pray, "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Psalm 136:1).


So, take comfort, my dear friends! There is hope; hope in Jesus Christ! There is much to be thankful for indeed!

Finally, what's the antidote to a "bland thankfulness" at the dinner table today when asked "What are you thankful for?" instead of a response born of genuine humility and thankfulness to our Sovereign Lord?

As always, it's to simply proclaim the glorious truth of Christ crucified for all our sins.


"I am truly thankful that God bought me with the precious, priceless blood of His Son, the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!"


So, gobble up God's grace today and every day!

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, and from my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!



NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Evangelizing The Evangelical: 'Give And It Will Be Given To You' (Luke 6:38)

As a former Evangelical, I wanted to start a new series called "Evangelizing The Evangelical" to help confess "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) to those who believe the things that I once believed.

After all, the thought of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering from a lack of assurance due to a conscience that is never really comforted by their good works "In Jesus' Name!" let alone their own perceived "stage of sanctification" brings back far too many bad memories.

It makes me think about how I wish I would've been exposed to the Lutheran faith a lot earlier in life (the complete Lutheran confession of the faith and not some cheap imitation Lutheran-In-Name-Only substitute) and how that would've made all the difference given the Biblical, Christ-centered focus.

In other words, it would've been great to have been taught not just who Martin Luther was and what he did, but what makes being a Lutheran different from all the other confessions and denominations of the Christian faith so that I knew why it is we believe, teach, and confess what we believe, teach, and confess.

Without being anchored to anything historical and orthodox, I was left to drift off on my own toward what I thought was the "True Jesus Christ" and the related "True Christian Life" as portrayed by contemporary American Evangelicalism, but in reality was anything but (Matthew 15:14; Ephesians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

So, that's a quick explanation about why this series was born. I can't think of a better entry for our next installment in such a series than to take a closer look at something Evangelicals completely misinterpret and burden hearts and minds with.


 
AUDIO: Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller Responding To Evangelical Proof Texts 
"Give And It Will Be Given To You" (Luke 6:38) 
Luke 6:38 (ESV) give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.



It's so sad how often this one single verse is so often used to justify the Televangelist's so-called "ministry" in support of a "Name It, Claim It" and "Word of Faith" false doctrine (a.k.a the perverted "Prosperity Gospel").

Plus, like the good Pastors have said, it turns God into Santa Claus and teaches that His good gifts for you are dependent on how "good" you are in your life as a "new creation in Christ" in response to Him now that you're living as a Christian.

The problem is that "Pop American Churchianity" has used this verse to also preach and teach that your own personal happiness is what's most important in life and that God desires for you to be happy at any cost and above all else.

The problem is that the only ones hearing the Gospel these days are the non-believers while the converted Christians hear nothing of the Gospel, but only the Law once they become baptized, saved believers in Christ Jesus.

As my Lutheran Study Bible notes...


We can never outgrow our good teacher, who by grace judged and declared us not guilty while we were yet dead in our sins. His grace in our lives -- measured, pressed, and shaken -- always runs over.


This is the true "better life" promised to us by the Gospel and marked more often by pain and suffering and not puppy dogs and ice cream.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, this is the kind of Bible study that I wish I had been exposed to some 10 years ago, because perhaps then I would've been able to avoid sailing the "Works Righteousness Waters of American Evangelicalism" for as long as I did (almost making a shipwreck of my faith; 1 Timothy 1:19) before I came to rest upon the "Saved By Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, In Christ Alone Shores" of the catholic, historic, traditional Confessional Lutheran (a.k.a. orthodox Christian) faith.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Harrison: 'The Problems This Nation Faces Are Deep And Humanly Unsolvable'

Looking for an appropriate and truly "Christian" response to what's been going on in Ferguson, Missouri this week?

LCMS President, Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, released this official statement that I saw on his Facebook page today.



“From depths of woe I cry to thee.” All of us in St. Louis are in shock and dismay. The President of this great nation called for measured action by protestors. Many in the community responded with mayhem and destruction of businesses and property of people themselves totally committed to the community. We pray for the victims of this mess. We pray for the authorities caught in this struggle. We pray for the peaceful protestors. We condemn the senseless violence and its perpetrators. I feel as Martin Luther once felt in the peasant’s war: Outrage at the marauding thugs creating death and mayhem; and deep frustration with the princes for driving the peasants to such frustration. In the case of Ferguson, on one level it’s about a death and an officer; but it’s much more about what we all have allowed to become of this nation. 
The problems this nation faces are deep and humanly unsolvable. Hundreds of years of institutionalized and then unofficial racial discrimination mean trust is hard to come by, and when found is fleeting. The deterioration of urban families, civil structures and institutions, and lack of personal accountability and responsibility, render us all but hopeless. Our citizens view this matter almost strictly along racial lines. That’s a tragedy in itself. 
The answers to our challenges lay in a two realms: state and church. We have allowed the disintegration of civil society and morality (state), which most deeply affects areas of socio-economic challenge. We have created systems, which have debilitated and destroyed the family, schools, churches, the very institutions, which are the solution to the challenges. Government has discriminated against parochial schools in challenged areas, forcing hundreds of Lutheran schools alone to close, killing the source of good in neighborhood after neighborhood. We have allowed cities to rot. We have allowed whole communities to be plagued by vacant and dilapidated buildings, poor infrastructure, all inviting, multiplying and sustaining negative activity and miss-trust. We have failed to call each other to account. Our nation continues to play racial politics while lives are swallowed into an abyss of hopelessness. We have created systems, which profit from decay and incarceration, treating mere symptoms while spreading disease. Our nation has chosen through court decision and vote, radical unbridled sexual freedom and it has come at the expense of the most vulnerable. Having local police mirror the racial makeup of the communities they serve is good and necessary, but only treats a symptom. 
This nation is sick unto death. The church has the answer: Jesus Christ. Jesus is neither white, or black. Jesus is the eternal answer for Officer Wilson and Michael Brown, and for all of us. What a mess we’ve made in this nation of the greatest national gift of God in the history of the world. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. 
*- Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison 
President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LC-MS)


This statement was even better than the one he issued back in August 2014 when this first gained national attention, IMHO.

Both demonstrate genuine and faithful pastoral leadership in a time of national crisis.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, and as another brother in Christ noted in another forum, it's a very well articulated statement with the very truth that Jesus Christ is the only answer.

Amen!


NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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My Dear Confessional Lutherans, Please Be Careful When Quoting Eugene Peterson In Response To The FiveTwo/Wiki14 Crowd

A humble word of caution to my Confessional Lutheran brethren (specifically, those who have taken to quoting Eugene Peterson in response to the false doctrine being spewed by the FiveTwo/Wiki14 folks that we highlighted just yesterday).

Here's what I wrote to one of them on Facebook recently in response to a widely circulated post that cited Peterson.


 
Let me start by admitting that I am a wretched sinner (Romans 7:24). I'm a sinner who has been wrong before. In fact, I have been so wrong when it comes to doctrine/theology many times in my short life! I'm not proud of that and have certainly repented for those sins. So, it's quite possible that I am completely wrong when it comes to what I'm about to write. If so, then please let me know since I am open to being corrected so that I can repent for my sinful belief, confession, and claims against another Christian. 
Today, I’m seeing a lot of the Confessional Lutheran acquaintances, friends, and Pastors I’m connected to here on Facebook and Twitter (who I greatly respect) referencing a quote by Eugene Peterson that’s, admittedly, an excellent response to the “FiveTwo/Wiki14” group, which we all know by now is one that's made up of our erring brothers and sisters. Yes, we should all rejoice whenever different denominations/confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) can agree on matters of doctrine and practice and thus find true unity of faith (Ephesians 4). I'm down with that. 
However, I feel I would be a hypocrite of the worst kind if, after all we’ve said and written in recent days, I didn’t also warn you to please be very careful when it comes to Mr. Eugene Peterson. I get that I’m probably flirting with breaking the 8th Commandment and ignoring Matthew 18 here (at least, according to some), but what is a mere laymen like me to do? I mean, it’s not like I have Mr. Peterson on speed dial or anything. 
To reiterate, and just so that there’s absolutely no misunderstanding, it’s certainly an appropriate quote in regards to the FiveTwo/Wiki14 crowd, but a little disingenuous/hypocritical coming from a man who himself has also perverted God's Word when he wrote and published The Message (one man’s "paraphrase" as opposed to a "translation"), and then somehow seduced congregations -- across all denominations -- to use it as a Bible (if not their Bible of preference). 
In my humble opinion, Mr. Peterson is guilty of doing THE VERY SAME THINGS that we all saw our erring brothers and sisters doing in TX (brothers and sisters in Christ who we’re now calling to repent so they can be forgiven and restored), and we need to be very careful when it comes to positioning Peterson as some kind of "Biblical authority" in response to the current doctrinal crises within the LCMS or we risk losing credibility when it comes to this necessary debate within the LCMS. 
Again, as previously mentioned, it's definitely an appropriate quote in regards to the "FiveTwo/Wiki14" crowd. Still, I just want to urge a little caution here b/c we're all (rightfully) criticizing FiveTwo/Wiki14 for their "sacramental entrepreneurs" nonsense (as well as all the other cases where they've decided to make up new words, new phrases, and new definitions that don't appear anywhere in Scripture), and yet, Peterson himself has also played fast-and-loose with the text when he wrote his paraphrase of the Holy Bible published as The Message
Issues, Etc even featured a segment on this: http://issuesetc.org/2012/08/06/3-a-reviewcritique-of-eugene-petersons-bible-paraphrase-the-message-dr-andrew-steinmann-8612/  
Criticism of The Message aside, Peterson has also called U2 a "prophetic voice" and even came right out and said that U2's frontman, Bono, is like John The Baptist! In the foreword to Raewynne J. Whiteley and Beth Maynard’s "Get Up Off Your Knees, Preaching The U2 Catalog" Peterson wrote: "Is U2 a prophetic voice? I rather think so. And many of my friends think so. If they do not explicitly proclaim the Kingdom, they certainly prepare the way for that proclamation in much the same way that John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus ... Amos crafted poems, Jeremiah wept sermons, Isaiah alternately rebuked and comforted, Ezekiel did street theater. U2 writes songs and goes on tour, singing them." Now, I don't know about you, but that seems DANGEROUSLY CLOSE to this whole "sacramental entrepreneurship" mentality that we've all been criticizing for days now, and that's precisely why I just want to issue a little word of caution here, because I know how easy it is to give the appearance to others that because we're all liking and sharing a quote from Eugene Peterson (again, admittedly a good one in relation to the current controversy), then that must mean we agree with anything and everything he's ever believed, taught, and confessed himself...which is completely at odds with our Confessional Lutheran faith. 
So, not so much a "criticism" from me about the many Confessional Lutheran acquaintances, friends, and Pastors I’m connected to who likely may not even know any of this stuff about Mr. Peterson (people who I love dearly, and who I have been blessed by, and who I have learned a lot from, by the way!), and I'm sorry if this comes across that way b/c it’s not my intention at all. 
No, this is mainly intended to be a friendly reminder for us to be consistent in our "calling a spade a spade" and a friendly word of "caution" from an ex-Evangelical who's now a "Newtheran" or from someone who knows firsthand how someone like Eugene Peterson and something like The Message can potentially lead one to make "shipwreck of their faith" (1 Timothy 1:19) if one’s not careful and not rooted in the TRUE Word of God. 
I know what you fine, faithful folks are all about, but I also don’t want to be a hypocrite by not saying anything in this case, let alone allow anyone else to assume that you yourselves are hypocrites by perhaps making it seem like you tacitly approve of someone who did the very same things you’re criticizing, but you’re willing to ignore that only because a quote from him serves your purposes in rebuking others who are actually guilty of the very same thing. 
Ok I'm done now. Sorry, this was much longer than I anticipated. I hope this rant of mine was received in the very same spirit with which it was written ("truth in love" Ephesians 4:15). Grace and peace, my dear friends!


Is such a warning warranted? Well, I'll let you be the judge.


This post is a great quote from a Presbyterian pastor admired by many clergy and pastors around the world. Eugene Peterson is one of the best writers who comes at the that task from the perspective of a working pastor. You can read just about any of his books and learn something from them -- even though he is Presbyterian. Watching his literacy gifts at work reminds us that our Lord distributed his gifts not only to Lutherans. The quote definitely hits the target of the mega-church-growth-crowd, no matter what denomination. I don’t know how many of those folks are in the LCMS, but there are enough to make life miserable. I don’t think that we have had the mass "sell-out" in the LCMS to this way of thinking and "doing church" as is found in American Evangelicalism. 
*- Pastor Martin R. Noland


I don't mean to pick on Pastor Noland here (it's certainly not just him), but his words are a great example of what I'm talking about.

I agree with his entire response, but I'm concerned that there was absolutely no mention whatsoever of our need to be careful not to think that Eugene Peterson is a voice of orthodoxy that we should now turn to for advice on how to deal with the FiveTwo/Wiki14 shenanigans.

Yes, I also realize that it was made quite clear that Eugene Peterson is a Presbyterian, and that we all agree that a person can be saved even if you're not a Lutheran, but I worry that many Confessional Lutherans (primarily the more popular Confessional Lutheran Pastors who we've come to rely on for their steadfast discernment) are dropping the ball whenever they reference Peterson as an appropriate rebuttal in this circumstance with our erring brothers and sisters within the Synod.

Trust me, I've had in-depth conversations with others over the years and performed extensive research on the man, his ministry, and his beliefs, and I can tell you that Biblically sound quotes like this widely circulated one from Peterson are the exception, not the norm.

I'm sorry, but "this is most certainly true" and we must not run from it.

With that in mind, "here I stand" by my original assertion and warning -- Eugene Peterson’s The Message DOES NOT revere God’s Word enough to leave it alone, and DOES NOT acknowledge that the Word is the heart and mind of God Himself that we are supposed to leave alone and to believe, teach, and confess.

Instead, he often decides to play god himself and CHANGES and MISINTERPRETS things so dramatically to say whatever it is that he would rather it say.

How is that any different from what the FiveTwo/Wiki14 folks are doing when they create new definitions, words, phrases, and terminology with their "Sacramental Entrepreneurs" nonsense?

In a Lutheran layman's terms, it's not any different, which is why Eugene Peterson is guilty of doing the very same things we're all upset at the FiveTwo/Wiki14 folks for doing, and we must be consistent in our criticism and calls to repentance.


NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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FiveTwo + Wiki14 = False Doctrine (No, It's Not A 'Common Core' Math Problem, But A Problem Nonetheless)

By now, you've likely had plenty of time to form your own opinion on the whole "FiveTwo/Wiki14" fiasco. And, make no mistake, a "fiasco" it certainly was...or should I say "is" instead?

You'll have to forgive me, because I'm having a really tough time reading and writing anything of substance for this blog now that some called and ordained Lutheran Pastors actually think it's ok to go ahead and create new words and phrases for Christianity while redefining others.

Please excuse my confusion. I mean, how can I claim to be writing anything "Lutheran" when our very identity is up for grabs right now?

All kidding aside, this is a very serious matter with eternal implications. More importantly, God's Word is crystal clear.



[NOTE: The picture above was recently shared on Facebook in jest with the following description -- "Amazing discovery in Perry County, MO last year! Now finally available to LCMS members after intensive editing by consultants in Houston. This lost treasure was found hidden in a saddle bag for a mule once ridden by Martin Stephan. Buy one, and we'll give you another version whose pages are filled in by your imagination."]

I’m sorry, but as a “Newtheran” I can’t find any way to “put the best construction” on any of it -- the conference itself, those who participated, those who support all of it, and those who have remained silent when we expect them to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) in this case. St. Paul writes:

Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Truth is, what FiveTwo/Wiki14 participants and proponents think is that we just want to accuse and admonish them. No, no, no! This is a call for repentance that leads to restoration with our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.


Jude 1:17-23 (ESV) But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’ It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

I pray that verses 22-23 stay at the forefront of any rebuke and call for repentance though. Funny how God’s Word is so appropriate in instances like this, isn’t it? Not so funny how LCMS leadership and laity expects us to be in the same room with, pet, and adopt our very own ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing. If it’s up to us to chase the wolves out than so be it! “Here I stand...” Grace and peace, my friends!


That was my initial response to those who shared the stage in Texas a few weeks ago; those who seem to have earned their Deception Degree in Wolfology.

Yes, God's Word is crystal clear for us, and Martin Luther was right to remind us about that very fact over and over again.


UNITY OF FAITH? YES — UNIONISM OF FAITH? NO

The blessing [of the Word] is so great that no human heart can comprehend it. This is why its retention requires a stout, stiff battle. Even then it is easy to lose it forever if we do not hold to the Word with all our might. By no means is the Word to be considered as lightly as the world considers it, and as some foolish spirits, deceived by the devil in regard to the Sacrament or other heresies, represent it to be. They tell us that one is not to quarrel so violently over one article and disrupt Christian love because of it. But, they say, one might well yield and surrender a bit and keep up fraternal and Christian unity and fellowship with those who err in an unimportant point — as long as one agrees with them otherwise. 
No, my good man, for me none of that peace and unity one gains by the loss of God’s Word! For in that case eternal life and everything else would already be lost. In this matter we dare not budge or concede anything to please you or any man; but all things must yield to the Word, be they friendly or hostile. For the Word is given not in order to achieve external or secular unity and peace but life eternal. Word and doctrine are to create unity or fellowship. Where they are one and the same, the rest will naturally follow; if not, no unity will abide anyway. Therefore do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word of the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God’s grace, and all heavenly treasures. We will gladly keep the peace with them in an external way, as we should do with everybody in the world, even with our worst enemies … but in doctrine and Christian fellowship we want to have nothing to do with them. Nor do we want to consider them brethren. They are enemies, because they knowingly insist on their error; and we intend to fight against them in our spiritual struggle. Therefore nothing but a satanic, seductive, and sinister strategy is involved when we are called upon to yield a bit and to connive at an error for the sake of unity. In this way the devil is trying cunningly to lead us away from the Word. For if we adopt this course and get together in this matter, he has already gained ground; and if we were to yield him a fingerbreadth, he would soon have an ell.”


Look, I will be the first to admit that I know I'm flirting with breaking the 8th Commandment and even ignoring Matthew 18 here, but why is the burden always placed on laymen like me who are merely attempting to contend and defend if not also restore our loved ones by calling them to repentance so that they can be forgiven by the grace of God?

I'm sorry, but that seems absurd and utterly ridiculous to me.

Besides, our under-shepherds are supposed to know better. No excuses and no "free passes" should be given...only forgiveness and grace...and only after they've repented for their sins of believing, teaching, and confessing blatant false doctrine.

Remember, they're supposed to be the ones leading the pack against the pack of wolves when it comes to contending and defending -- not the laity.

Sure, we are to help keep them in check whenever the things they say don't square with God's Word and/or our Confessions just as we would expect the same of them since our very souls have been placed into their care.

That's why I think it's the height of hypocrisy for the offenders to claim that we are the ones ignoring holy Scripture when our voices are only being heard because we're merely responding to their willingness to ignore that same holy Scripture.


"But Jeff, 'two wrongs don't make a right' remember!"


Fine, but I refuse to let the secular world's idioms define and frame this necessary debate. I prefer to submit to God's Word when it comes to such things like "beware of false teachers" (Matthew 7:15) and I thought we were in agreement on that, at least.

Then again, that's not a "new" way of thinking about things, a "new" way of doing things, a "new" way of being a Christian, or a "new" way of being the Church so I guess we rarely do want to prefer to let the secular world's idioms guide us rather than God's Word since it's "Out With The Old, And In With The New" these days.

If our brethren who support FiveTwo/Wiki14 want to talk about a "new" type of church that's somehow determined that its individual believers are "Sacramental Entrepreneurs" who are supposed to be God's means of grace to the world, then they're going to have to engage with us in serious discussion for as long as it takes to review the Word of God and our Lutheran Confessions rather than simply ignoring our questions and deleting our public responses to their public sins.

I guess this really shouldn't be all that surprising to us though. After all, how we arrived at this very moment in our church's history is something that we should've expected if the past several years were any indication.




I could be wrong, but I have the distinct feeling that they have just aroused a sleeping giant when it comes to an LCMS laity that has had enough.

It reminds me of some things we looked at a few weeks ago.


What Are Confessional Lutherans Up Against These Days? 
The Confessional Lutheran 'Sleeping Giant' Is Waking Up!


The irony is that many of the laymen who are leading the charge in voicing their concerns are ex-Emergents, ex-Evangelicals themselves (a.k.a. "Newtherans"), or PRECISELY the kinds of Christians that proponents of FiveTwo/Wiki14 want the LCMS to emulate.

The thing is, we almost made a shipwreck of our faith (1 Timothy 1:19) by arrogantly sailing the Works-Righteousness Waters of American Evangelicalism, and, thankfully, we landed safely upon upon the Justified By Grace Shores of The Confessional Lutheran Church (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Ok, so what is the "FiveTwo Network" and this whole "Wiki14" thing all about? Why is everyone so appalled by it? Pastor Martin Diers summed it up on Facebook recently.


Conference of the FiveTwo network, the latest group in the LCMS trying to convince everyone to abandon the historic worship of the Church, introduce new confusing terminology, reject the institution of the ministry, and abandon the confessions and the historic formulations of the doctrines of the Church. Oh they are doing a lot more than that. I didn't mention the endless stream of heresies being pumped out by their teachers and defenders. Wait till you hear about the small group home communions where they pass around a bottle of wine and a loaf of bread and talk about their issues. Not a joke.


He's absolutely right.

Friends, this is no laughing matter!

As mentioned, there's straight-faced talk of how each believer is a "Sacramental Entrepreneur" in the sense that we -- that's YOU and ME as opposed to JESUS CHRIST! -- are living sacraments with the purpose of delivering the means of grace to other people!

Here's an EXCELLENT analysis and commentary from Rev. Tom Messer.


Haters Gonna Hate (From Their Moms' Basements, In Their Beds, Which Are Lined With Star Wars Sheets) 
Key Excerpt: In the last few days, I've heard from several laypeople in our synod, many of whom came out of Protestant and Reformed traditions, leaving behind all the nonsense promoted by the WikiFolk and approved by several of our District Presidents, because they fell in love with our Lutheran confession of the faith. Contrary to District Presidents and Synod blogs, what upsets them is not the "bickering" over this they see in social media and around the blogosphere, but the fact that this kind of thing goes on in our synod with the approval and endorsement of our Ecclesiastical Supervisors, who should know better. I know how they feel.


To help fill in any remaining blanks (especially if you somehow completely missed this entire controversy since it erupted many weeks ago), here are a few additional short reads on the topic.


One Of These Things Just Doesn’t Belong

Deja Vu...Sort Of...

Talking Sheep: The Role Of The Laity In The Church


Now you can understand why all the fuss from us faithful Confessional types.

Why should any of this be of grave concern to us?

Here's an appropriate, Biblical, Confessional Lutheran response from Trent Demarest.


Hmmm... 
"...Most of the time, our communion is done corporately in public worship. But, probably the most special communion that we have celebrated is in the home setting when one of our house churches and our house leaders decided to celebrate communion together in a small group setting in a home church setting, pass around bread and everybody gets a glass of wine. We just share communion together. While everyone is eating and drinking, we talk about God's grace and what Christ has done and something that's been made real in our lives through our experience. and the way God has blessed us and shown us his grace that week. It's just an amazing experience to do communion in that small group setting. We pass around a good bottle of wine. We have good bread. It's just such a community, family experience." - Mark Junkans from "FiveTwo" 
Let us compare: "But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you meet together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not." - St. Paul from "The Bible" 
Besides the obvious, let's home in on this bit for a minute: "...for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized." 
Selah. 
So, I don't always (or even often) quote John Calvin (and no need to poison the well, or show off your historical or theological knowledge here -- just read the words), but when I do, it's this bit: "Accursed is that peace of which revolt from God is the bond, and blessed are those contentions by which it is necessary to maintain the kingdom of Christ." Just something to consider.


See what I mean? What in the world is going on here!?!

Just when I thought I had seen it all, then I saw this on Facebook!


CLH: Yet another disturbing article from FiveTwo. When I'm in church listening to a sermon, I want the Word. I'm not saying that a funny story or mild self-deprecating joke isn't appreciated or enjoyed but I'd rather not to feel like I'm stuck in an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Lord have mercy. Why Our Preaching Should Be More Like A Sitcom


Again, see what I mean? This is off the rails!

As someone who escaped Evangelicalism and only recently became a Confessional Lutheran within the last year or so, I can assure you that anytime you treat Christianity as a "brand" that people just need to "check out" and "try" for "this" or "that" reason, you ultimately end up cheapening grace since the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is simply reduced to an episode -- either the "Pilot" episode or the season-ending "Cliffhanger"; either way, it's reduced to a mere afterthought -- in a Reality TV series that is appropriately called "My So-Called Christian Life" because it's all about you and never about Him. 

Let's not lose sight of the "big picture" either. The Rev. Michael Schuermann keeps our focus where it needs to be. Here's a brief excerpt...


FiveTwo's Use of Language -- What Does This Mean? 
My greatest concern at the moment regarding FiveTwo and other church-planting networks within the LCMS is that their use of theological language is confusing and not in line with the use of that language in Lutheran theology, or more general Christian theology for that matter. They advocate a purposeful expansion of the meanings of certain key theological terms. Words are repurposed and seem to mean something quite different than they have in the past. Or perhaps not. It is unclear. 
As a case in point, examine FiveTwo’s repeated use of the term sacramental entrepreneur. The term sacrament has some varied meaning depending on which confession of Christianity you look to. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines sacrament as “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.” Lutherans define them this way: “rites that have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added” (Apology XIII, 3). 
FiveTwo advocates for an expansion of the meaning of sacrament beyond its traditional understanding when they define sacramental entrepreneur. As FiveTwo explains, sacramental entrepreneurs are “Men and women who have a deep love for the mysterious work of Jesus in the sacraments AND realize that because He’s really present in them, they are the presence of Jesus—his sacraments—in their communities.” 
First, the use of the term entrepreneur joins FiveTwo to the missional movements’ reappropriation of start-up culture philosophy and technique within the church. This seems to be a mere relabeling of the previous way of doing business. 
More importantly, notice that the sacraments—or at least being sacramental, which is, I suppose, having the qualities of a sacrament—is expanded beyond baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and possibly the absolution, to include in some way every believer. But Scripture and the confession of the Lutheran Church, not to mention historic Christian theology, don’t use the term this way. 
It seems that FiveTwo uses sacramental more along the lines of the Roman Catholic understanding than Lutheran by declaring Christians themselves to be signs and dispensers of Christ’s gracious presence in people’s lives. This is not unlike the idea of a ministry of presence, but expanded by the idea of “everyone a minister.” This expansion, and misuse, of the term sacramental is not helpful. However, it’s not clear that this is even what FiveTwo means; again, note the danger of reappropriating for your own expanded use theological terminology that already had a clear definition in place. 
This raises the question of where does this idea of every person being a sacramental presence of Jesus come from? The Rev. Bill Woolsey, the founding leader of FiveTwo, has multiple videos that go in-depth on this concept. Still it remains unclear why it’s appropriate to coin new terms that seem to find no root in the two thousand-year old history and tradition of the teaching within the Christian church. 
It is troubling to see FiveTwo use terms that the church—of which they are a part—might have trouble understanding. Are they better terms than what has come before? Who knows? It seems best for FiveTwo to be explicitly clear in laying out their case for altering some of the fundamental terminology of the faith for their own purposes. 
At the same time, nowhere in the Scriptures or Lutheran Confessions are Christians deemed to be sacramental or in any sense the presence of Christ’s grace in the lives of other people. Luther expounded on the Christian being a “mask of God” for his neighbors, but that was strictly in regard to the carrying out of the various offices in which a man might find himself. Even if one of those offices was the Office of the Holy Ministry, that man would only find himself to be the one who delivers the word and sacraments to the Lord’s people. He himself is not a means of grace; neither are Christians in general. (See Augsburg Confession V; Smalcald Articles, Third Part, Article IV.) 
To be in Synod means to walk with one another. Would Bill Woolsey or another representative of FiveTwo please take the time to explain the need for reappropriating, or even redefining, commonly held theological language? How does this help the unity of the church? How does this help the people? 
It seems we would do well to heed Luther’s advice that people be taught the faith in a common language that is not changed but instead remains consistent, so that no one is needlessly scandalized and so that we can understand one another. Many theological terms have been worked out over decades and even centuries of difficult discussion and study. Are we doing the same “working out,” for the sake of the Gospel?


To put it another way,


"Most ecclesiastical issues eventually turn out to be AC IV and V issues, and this one is no different. Five Two, PLI, CG, CoWo, etc. all start w/ a heterodox (synergistic) view of justification. They are all basically saying: Word and Sacrament ministry PLUS our whimsy, programs, stylistic decisions etc. save. If this is so, then we can make Word and Sacrament ministry either more or less capable of saving sinners by what we add or subtract from God's means of grace. As Lutherans though, we reject the premise." 
*- Matt Mills, Facebook on 11-18-14


"This is most certainly true."

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in a Lutheran layman's terms, if our trusted leadership will not call the FiveTwo/Wiki14 false teachers to repentance, then we must.

FiveTwo + Wiki14 = False Doctrine. No, its not a "Common Core" math problem, but a problem nonetheless.


NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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