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What Luther Says

LCMS Eastern District Response To My Email About Their Use of A Rachel Held Evans Article

Praise the Lord -- the Rachel Held Evans article has been removed from the LCMS Eastern District website as we had hoped and prayed would be the case since discovering it!

Yesterday morning, I received a couple of responses to my email I sent to LCMS Eastern District President, Rev. Chris Wicher, regarding the District's inclusion of an article by apostate and heretic, Rachel Held Evans.

Here are the two responses I received...

A blessed New Year to you and to your family.

I want to thank you for your carefully written note. I can tell you did a lot of digging and searching and probing into the background and writings of Rachel Held Evans. It was a whole lot more than we did because we did none of that. Frankly the article originally caught our eye because it was on a subject that is of critical interest to us, reaching out to Millennials with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As you may know, there is so much being written on the subject that it’s difficult to keep track of it all, but we strongly desire our congregations and workers to be reading this stuff and talking with young adults. The last line in Rachel’s article still catches my attention. The church needs to talk with young adults to find out what they are thinking, etc, no matter who is reminding us of our obligations.

While what you wrote to me about Rachel and about her ideology is not at all reflected in the article we posted, things certainly we would not promote or uphold or endorse in her walk with the Lord, we nevertheless took action on our web site so as not to give our readership the wrong impression. Thanks to your attentiveness, we have created a new point on a pull down tab called “From Around the Web”. That place will feature articles that, while we might not endorse all the ideologies of a particular author or organization surfaced through an aggressive and in depth research, nevertheless these articles are recommended reading for those who desire to understand our culture and society in all its micro aspects. Yes, we need to be reading even those authors we might not agree with completely but who, nevertheless, are reminding us of the audience we seek to communicate the Gospel.

Again, I appreciate the time it must have taken to put together the email you sent to me. I also see you sent a “blind copy” to someone else. I am wondering who that might have been, but still, in the interest of free speech, I respect your decisions.

God grant you a blessed Christmas Season,

Chris Wicher,
President Eastern District, LC-MS
O: 716-634-5111, ex. 12
C: 716-359-2749
"We desire healthy leaders vigorously equipping God's people for Kingdom growth."


Jeff, a very real and recent example of using material that speaks to the needs of our church is a series of postings by the Center for US Missions authored by Joy Skjegstad. As you know, the Center for U.S. Missions is a partnership between Concordia University Irvine, California, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri and the North American Mission Endeavor of the LCMS. Joy Skjegstad is the author of the material that serves as the basis of those posts. Joy is also an active member of the Episcopal Church.

I point this out to you as an example of what others, even in St. Louis, do to assist our church in our Gospel endeavor. Quotes are always made of those who make a very good point or write a very helpful article, even though with whom we might not be in complete agreement. It is wise and good churchmanship to do so.

Chris Wicher,
President Eastern District, LC-MS
O: 716-634-5111, ex. 12
C: 716-359-2749

"We desire healthy leaders vigorously equipping God's people for Kingdom growth."

I must say that I'm encouraged and surprised by these responses.

For starters, although it wasn't my intention, I didn't expect to get a response at all, and if I did, then I was expecting it to come from someone on the Eastern District Staff instead of from Rev. Wicher himself.

Needless to say, I greatly appreciated the fact that he took the time to put together a thoughtful response so quickly and that the Rachel Held Evans article was removed from the LCMS Eastern District website immediately too. Again, praise the Lord!

I wanted to make sure that he knew that I greatly appreciated his quick action and personal response, and that we are actually on the same page when it comes to our concerns about Millennials (even if we disagree about the way in which God builds His Church).

Here's what I wrote back...

Rev. Chris Wicher,

Thank you and Happy New Year to you and yours also!

First and foremost, I want to thank you for your quick yet thorough action and response to my concerns as stated in my email. I'm even more pleased to learn that you have removed the article from the Eastern District website. More importantly, it's clear that we both have a concern for those who have left the church, are thinking of leaving the church, and those who have never even set foot in a church before (Millennials or otherwise). In addition, I too think it's important for us as believers to be aware of "our culture and society in all its micro aspects" so that we can perhaps better understand what it is they believe and why and allow ourselves to be reminded of "the audience we seek to communicate the Gospel."

I'm so glad you mentioned that since this is precisely why I also believe in the importance of catechizing our congregations (youth, young adults, and adults alike) long after Confirmation and throughout their lives. Perhaps if we all made a concerted effort to get back to studying and teaching the Book of Concord (our cherished Confessions), studying and teaching distinctly Lutheran doctrine (while explaining why its Biblical and uniquely different from other denominations and movements today), and teaching and studying a proper understanding of the Doctrine of Vocation in our churches again and on a regular basis, then maybe we would be able to "equip the saints" (Ephesians 4:12) better so that they are fully prepared to give a bold confession of faith, proclaim Christ crucified, and have an answer to give to many of the common criticisms, objections, and questions regarding Christianity that they will face in their daily lives within the various vocations God has given them.

Yes, the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) makes it plain that there will be those who will leave the Christ's Church (as does 1 John 2:19), and we know that the Lord will build His Church and add to it as He sees fit, but feeding the sheep sound doctrine so that there can be unity in the faith is the first step to growth of any kind as Christians.

I should tell you that I speak from experience. As a 34-year-old, I may not be a Millennial myself, but I have many family members and friends who are. I recognize the importance of giving them an audience to be heard. I cherish the opportunity that God has given me in my vocations to address what they believe and say by responding with His Word and our confessions since I engage with them often.

Furthermore, within the last year, I have "escaped" the clutches of American Evangelicalism and embraced fully becoming a Confessional Lutheran simply because I have found that so much of what is classified as "Mainstream Christianity" today preaches a Law-Gospel-Law type of message while we Lutherans preach what the Bible already teaches us -- a proper distinction between Law and Gospel, which is so genuine, freeing, and precious indeed!

It's all about Christ, not about me, and all about Him and what He's done and continues to do for me, not what I can do for Him. That's what Millennials need to hear, because that's the Gospel, and that's the truth that will set them free like it did for me (John 8:32). In all of my studies to date since becoming a Lutheran in practice and not just a "Lutheran In Name Only" (like I was for several years I'm ashamed to admit), I have found the Book of Concord and all of our Confessions contained within to be a welcomed breath of fresh air, because they are actually so contemporary and relevant to many of the challenges and issues people (i.e., Millennials) face today.

But this isn't about me. Please forgive me for that little tangent. As you know, it's about Jesus Christ and His Church. It's about not just unity in love all the time, but unity in faith (Ephesians 4).

Finally, I couldn't agree more about "good churchmanship" (as you put it) in this context too. In fact, I recently read Rev. Matthew C. Harrison's Preface to the latest "Study Edition" of C.F.W. Walther's The Church & The Office of The Ministry along those same lines that said: "As I perused the Catechism of the Catholic Church for contemporary documentation of positions of the Roman Catholic Church which Walther addresses and which are the object of Lutheran polemic, I noted numerous points of remarkable convergence of Lutheran and Roman Catholic doctrine on the Office of the Ministry. While we must reject what is false, we can also joyously note what is right -- no matter who says it. It would be worthwhile to evaluate The Church and The Office of The Ministry from the perspective of Lutheran-Catholic or Lutheran-Anglican dialogue, or broader ecumenical perspective. Through such study, we might realize that Walther's (and Luther's) doctrine of the church and the Office of the Ministry are not sectarian, but catholic and Christian."

With that being said, I will continue to reject what is false, but joyously note what is right -- no matter who says it. May God continue to grant us all the grace and peace to always speak "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) as we enter the spiritual battlefield.

Thanks again for your pastoral counsel in this matter and your pastoral insight on this subject. Mr. Wicher, your actions and responses regarding this matter are much appreciated and encouraging to me, because I know that a layperson's concerns do not fall on deaf ears in this District. I also want you to know that I thank you for your continued service and pray for you, for our District, and for our Synod. Sorry about the lengthy response.

Grace And Peace,

Jeffrey K. Radt
Just A Lutheran Layman

I wasn't planning to write such a lengthy response to him, but I certainly wanted to thank him, and also wanted to spend a few moments emphasizing some points that I feel need emphasizing in our District. Case in point, the part of the good Reverend's email signature that I suppose is our District's current "Mission Statement" that reads...

"We desire healthy leaders vigorously equipping God's people for Kingdom growth."

The words "leaders" and "Kingdom growth" always leave a bad taste in my mouth -- especially when they're used in the same sentence.

Baby steps.

This was a victory and I want to take a moment to be mindful of that and thank God for it too.

Yes, I believe we should always be willing to dialogue with others, particularly non-believers and those other Christians we don't agree with doctrinally.

Yet, we need to also remember that we are simply called to give an accurate and pure confession of faith where God has put us. It's not up to us or within our power to change someone or to draw them to our church even. Only God has the power to do that (John 6:44; 1 Corinthians 3:7).

I'm all for discussion and dialogue. Christians shouldn't be afraid of criticisms, objections, and questions. We must be ready to give an account of what we believe and why we believe it (2 Timothy 4:2) and do so without fear (Galatians 1:10).

Still, people on both sides need to acknowledge that only one point of view can ever be right. Sure, theoretically, I suppose both sides could be wrong, but they both can't be right. There is the truth of God's Word and then there is false doctrine/false teaching peddled by the false teachers.

When confronted by outright lies (and especially by a false Gospel), we need to contend for and defend the faith as truth-loving apologists for His glory, His honor, and His praise (2 Timothy 4:2; Galatians 2:5; Jude 1:3).

At the same time, we must remind ourselves that it's not about "winning an argument" either, but about confessing the Gospel to a dead and lost world that desperately needs to hear it.

As scary as it might seem to be the one who calls out false teaching, we are to pray for the courage to be able to do so since that's what the Word of God tells us to do.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, remember Martin Luther.

[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 Lutheran doctrine -- in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word -- so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

1 comment

  1. You know, in hindsight, I wish I would've emphasized the Word and Sacraments in my response much more than I did...


Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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