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Lutheran Hour Ministries And Mission U: The Eleventh Hour Before Widespread Deception In The LCMS Eastern District?

The idiom "At The Eleventh Hour" denotes a time that is "At The Last Possible Moment" or "Just Before The Last Clock Hour, 12 Midnight" and I found myself thinking about it just a few moments ago.

Now, as I'm sure you know, in order to be "at the eleventh hour" there has to be some kind of pending doom. Trust me, there is, and as someone who recently escaped American Evangelicalism to embrace becoming a Confessional Lutheran, that's not hyperbole either.

In this particular case, I'm left wondering if my District (LCMS Eastern District) is on the cusp of experiencing widespread deception that could lead to apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3) if not the promotion of a false gospel causing many to "shipwreck" their faith (1 Timothy 1:19).

In fact, I will even be so bold as to suggest that it's entirely appropriate for us to ask, "Is The LCMS Eastern District At The Eleventh Hour Before Widespread Deception Thanks To Lutheran Hour Ministries?" since some disturbing news indicates that we are perhaps reaching a point in time where contending for and defending "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) is going to become a mere afterthought rather than a rallying cry for the faithful on this side of the cross.

To put it another way, given what's been going on at my own church the past several months that we've written about here, and now the discovery of what's going on throughout the entire Eastern District itself, this appears to be the last minute before the Confessional Lutheran faith is finally escorted out of the building while a blended "CoWo-Church Growth-Emergent-Purpose Driven-Radical-Relevant" faith is welcomed with the full red carpet treatment.

Of course, this isn't all that surprising when the Eastern District's proud "vision" that's emblazoned on all their advertising and marketing materials has absolutely nothing to do with Christ and everything to do with us.


EASTERN DISTRICT VISION:

We desire...

HEALTHY LEADERS vigorously

EQUIPPING God's people to

PROMOTE KINGDOM GROWTH


But that's nothing new so why all the fuss on my part, you ask?

Well, I thought I'd take a look to see what's new at the LCMS Eastern District's website today following my recent discovery of their tacit approval of the Liberal Post-Modern Priestess, Rachel Held Evans, last month and low and behold I noticed a couple of Calendar items courtesy of Lutheran Hour Ministries that caught my eye.

First, pay close attention to the type of language being used to promote one upcoming event.


FEBRUARY 22, "CHARTING A PATH FOR OUTREACH"

St. John Lutheran School
6950 Ward Road
North Tonawanda, NY

Looking for a little help in your outreach planning? If so, join the LCMS churches in Niagara County for an opportunity to share idea and learn:

> The habits of growing churches of all shapes and sizes;
> How "inreach" affects your ability to do "outreach";
> How to motivate an elephant (came and see)

To register, email L.H.M Regional Manager Bruce Sutherland
bruce.sutherland@lhm.org


Ok, that's obviously not good, but it's hardly anything new.

So, again, why all the fuss? What's the big deal?

The last item on the Calendar is what caught my attention.



MARCH22 - "CHRIST ALONE IN A COEXIST WORLD"

St. Paul (Batavia, NY) @ 9:00 am

St. Paul's will be hosting the Mission U event "MU-301: Christ Alone" in a Coexist World on Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 9:00am to 2:00pm. Location is in the basement at 31 Washington Avenue in Batavia, NY 14020. You may register by calling the church office at 585-343-0488.

What in the world is "Mission U" and should I be concerned given the "coexist" coded language here? Yes, you better believe I should be concerned!

This is where our story begins. Apparently, "Mission U" is a ministry of Lutheran Hour Ministries.




About Mission U

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
(Romans 10:13-15).


One in four American teens and young adults claim no religious connection whatsoever. How will they hear the message of salvation through Jesus Christ if no one reaches them? As a follower of Jesus, you have been commissioned to make disciples of all nations. Become equipped through MISSION U to help you fulfill your mission with boldness to the diverse mission field around you.

MISSION U is Lutheran Hour Ministries' new witnessing training program. It is designed to give you the tools and training to confidently accept your mission: reaching people with the real news of Jesus Christ.MISSION U provides multiple course options addressing topics that meet your congregation's specific witnessing-training needs. By participating in MISSION U courses, your church will gain tools that sharpen and enhance your witnessing efforts to reach people of all ages and backgrounds.

The style and format of MISSION U mirrors a 21st-century university classroom - sequential yet flexible that offers personal training from speakers and additional online instruction.

At MISSION U the focus is equipping you, God's chosen ambassador, to carry His message of hope and salvation into a world urgently in need of good news.


Let me start by stating what I hope is obvious here.

There's no question that the men and women behind Lutheran Hour Ministries and Mission U are passionate, sincere, and well-meaning. However, if we've learned anything by now it's that sincerity does not automatically equal Biblical truth.

So, while they are all sincerely concerned about what they perceive to be a major problem within the Church today -- a lack of Apologetics teaching and resources (in Lutheran language, a lack of catechesis and unity in our Confessions) -- they fail to acknowledge some key truths at play here.

Look, I like that Lutheran Hour Ministries wants to motivate and teach Lutheran youth how to confess their faith to their family and friends who are unbelievers (this incessant obsession the contemporary Church has with the youth aside). Again, their hearts are in the right place.

Clearly, we certainly need more training (a.k.a. catechesis) in this area for our youth. We all know that our youth are bombarded daily by many false messages in this world and they need good, solidly Lutheran, tools to use in responding to those messages.

It's like I say every week on the podcast -- it's not enough to know WHAT you believe, but WHY you believe it, and HOW to confess it to others in your various vocations. It's the "Lutheran" and "vocation" parts that they get completely wrong because both are completely missing from their plan-of-attack as far as I can tell!

See, what Mission U (and, by extension, Lutheran Hour Ministries) does not provide our youth and other laypersons is precisely everything they need the most -- distinctly Lutheran teaching, which is to say distinctly orthodox Christian teaching that is Christ-focused!

Where is the emphasis on Christ being the One who will build His Church? Where is the talk of the importance of the Word and Sacraments? The Office of the Holy Ministry? The Doctrine of Vocation? All are missing in this rip-off of any number of "School of Evangelism" so-called "ministries" that are out there today.

I should know because I recently left American Evangelicalism just a few months ago and there was a time when I promoted such classes myself in an effort to create "Soldiers For Christ" who would boldly and courageously preach the Gospel to the nations...except we always left out the "baptizing" part from Matthew 28:19 for some strange reason (as it appears Mission U does too).

My point is that I know the kind of sweet-sounding false doctrine that tickles Old Adam's ears when I hear it, read it, and see it (2 Timothy 4:3-5). Be not deceived, my dear brothers and sisters!

With that in mind, what I find especially disturbing is the complete arrogance and ignorance of God's Word when those with "Lutheran" in their name should know better.

For instance, those who complete this "Course Training" will receive this "diploma" (sorry Pastor, but we don't need you anymore I guess!) with the words "Lutheran Hour Ministries: Bringing Christ to the Nations -- and the Nations to the Church" across the very bottom.

Oh, really? We are the ones who bring the nations to Christ Church, huh? Someone might want to tell them to read their Bible. There are many passages that readily come to mind that seem to contradict that line of thinking. Here are a few of them...



Matthew 16:18 (ESV) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

John 6:44 (ESV) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

1 Corinthians 3:7 (ESV) So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.


Ultimately, the Lutheran Hour Ministries/Mission U folks possess a wrong understanding of what the Bible tells us and it's that incorrect view of Scripture that is fueling this false gospel.

It reminds me of a series of posts by Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer's in the form of a book review of Pastor John Kieschnick's book The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth.


He hints at confusion between the office of the public ministry and the priesthood of all believers as he falls into the CGM trap of talking about all believers not as servants of the gifts the Lord has given but as "ministers," e.g. music ministry, etc. He further applies 2 Corinthians 5:20 as each and every Christian being equally "an ambassador" rather than as it correctly should be to the called and ordained servants of the Word. They are charged with speaking the Word for Christ, they are the sent ones. This is the "Everyone A Minister" dilemma that has been brought into the LCMS from without and continues to be falsely spread. This confusion of who and where speaking for God is to occur confuses everything. I myself am into imploring all Christians to seize opportunities to witness and share their faith when God presents the opportunities (Colossians 4:1-6) but I do not encourage this by saying falsely that everyone is a minister and everyone is an ambassador. These are not our calls for the taking, but God's for the giving.

This again like most of the previous comments on this book are a mixed bag. I am all for every Christian being a 24/7 believer, and sharing their faith when given opportunities and serving the Lord with all their time, talents and treasures, but Kieschnick in this chapter has not come as clean with all his comments thus far on witnessing. He is committed and passionate about his sharing Jesus with all that he comes in contact with and encourages the rest of us as Jesus' disciples to do the same. However, he mixes this with troublesome confusion about ministry. We continue to struggle in our confessional body with these doctrines and terms, confirming evidence of this is his chapter opening Scriptural quote of 1 Peter 2:9.

All Christians need to be encouraged to live their faith out in their vocations and calls and share Jesus with friends, family and acquaintances.


With all of that fresh in our minds, please listen closely to similar language being used by the promoters of Mission U. The Promo Video is slick, but pay attention to the substance and not the style. As Pastor Zwonitzer stated, this is what happens when we promote the "Every Member A Minister" view over and above The Office of The Holy Ministry.

How does such an incorrect view directly (and negatively) impact evangelism? Pastor Wallace Schulz once remarked...


The devil seduced LCMS leaders to believe that Lutheranism was strong theologically, but inherently non-evangelistic. Of course, this was a lie cooked up in the deepest caverns of hell. In actuality, those involved simply did not even begin to understand how evangelistic and aggressive Lutheran theology was from its inception.

...These same, well-intentioned but misguided LCMS evangelism leaders unknowingly brought foreign methodologies into the LCMS as a huge Trojan horse. And, at least to a degree, I participated. ...A new Department of Evangelism was created to breed and reproduce Protestant and Fundamentalist methodology and, by default, its theology. People in these positions of top LCMS missiological influence began visiting and drinking deeply of the man-centered evangelistic techniques of Protestant and Fundamentalist churches and parachurches, thereby integrating them into their personal thinking and also into the Synod at large. ...Ever since, the LCMS has experienced increasing missiological hell!


Here's the "Course Syllabus" (hey, isn't this the kind of thing that Pastors should be teaching their congregation already?) complete with all kinds of talk on the importance of "being relevant" and "having a conversation" since it's a "post-modern" world we live in. You smell what I smell? "Gospel Reductionism" is in the air (Galatians 1:10)!

They're calling it a Lutheran "School of Witnessing" huh? Ok, well then why haven't I been able to find ANY distinctly Lutheran teaching anywhere on the Mission U website when it's a "ministry" created by Lutheran Hour Ministries? I guess the Word and Sacraments aren't enough. We must do something ourselves to help God get the job done down here.

To slap the label "Lutheran" on any of this is a just a disgrace, IMHO. Requiring congregations to pay $600 to enroll in Mission U (and knowing that there are congregations out there who will gladly pay that kind of money for these courses) demonstrates we're in the eleventh hour before widespread deception in the LCMS Eastern District, my friends.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, as Lutherans, we do not believe, teach, and confess the enthusiasm of Mission U and therefore Lutheran Hour Ministries should not be promoting the "ministry" of Mission U and propping it up as an example of "innovative" Lutheran missions work when that is really the furthest from the truth.

Mission U is just another program that is not consistent with Lutheran theology and practice, and it makes no provision for infant Baptism either.

To be sure, those promoting Mission U definitely have a sincere goal to make a difference in the LCMS. I wholeheartedly agree -- Mission U's theology and practice will definitely affect the LCMS, but the potential for making a negative difference is much greater than the chance of making a positive difference.

It's also wrong for Mission U to use "witnessing" as the driving force, or the engine, of a church's Missiology. Sure, they should be highly commended for encouraging all LCMS members to be a witness to Christ whenever and wherever possible. However, simply being a "witness," as important as that may be, "is not the engine of Christ’s Great Commission" as Pastor Schulz once wrote. Historical LCMS Missiology and historic Christian Missiology has always been built upon solid foundation of Christ’s command to preach, baptize, and teach. As noted in Matthew 28:19-20, there is a crucial difference between these activities, a difference glaringly seen when Mission U theology and methodology are compared to historic Christian and Lutheran Missiology.


What our youth need is more steadfast Lutheran theological training and fellowship with those who dare to be Lutheran (as I believe Higher Things rightly puts it in their own motto) and not Evangelical man-centered messages presented by Lutherans-In-Name-Only.

What we don’t need is more "CoWo-Church Growth-Emergent-Purpose Driven-Radical-Relevant" worship and outreach methods promoted in the name of "doing mission" taking our cues from bestsellers written by Evangelical "Celebrity Pastors" instead of from the Word of God written by divinely inspired authors.

In fact, we don’t need any of that at all. What we need is an immediate return to God's Word.

Who's with me? Grace and peace to you and yours.


[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!]


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About JKR

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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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