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6 Years Ago Today Issues, Etc. Died. I Thank God He Resurrected It!

I want to say at the outset that I'm not looking to open old wounds and then pour salt into them. Not at all. However, I would like to commemorate this day, if I may, and get us all to take a moment to simply stop and say, "Thank You Lord! Thank You for Issues, Etc.!"

The name and radio program that I have taken for granted since becoming a Confessional Lutheran several months ago almost didn't make it. In fact, it was almost destroyed by the very people who should've been its most vocal protectors and supporters.

I only recently learned about the controversy that "killed" Issues, Etc. back on this very date in 2008, or a full 6 years ago today.

Radio Silence

What's It All About?

Dr. Veith: 'Issues' No Longer

O How The Mighty Have Fallen

The Beast And The Beauty

Issues, Etc., The Metaphor

Dr. Rod Rosenbladt Congratulates Issues, Etc.

A Very Good Thing

Pictures From The Issues Etc. One Year Anniversary

In short, if you're unfamiliar with the history like I was, then you might be wondering why in the world the LCMS leadership would even get to a point where they decided to cancel a popular program like Issues, Etc. (and that they did so without warning too!).

Simply put, Issues, Etc. may very well have been canceled because it could not exist in the same synodical factory with a Church Growth Movement worldview. That the Church Growth Movement and Confessional Lutheranism are so far apart as to be called differing worldviews is no exaggeration. They are as far apart as Reformed Theology is to Lutheran Theology. They are as far apart as the Theology of Glory is to the Theology of the Cross, and in fact, that is in many ways what each represents. Let me be clear. I am not talking about Church growth, but rather a certain type of "mindset" which I call Church Growth Movement philosophy. Everyone wants to see the Church grow, but there are many who don’t want to see the Church grow at any cost, and especially not at a doctrinal cost.

*- Scott Diekmann

I'm sure I still don't know the whole story, haven't been able to identify all the key players involved, and probably never will (not that any of that even matters at this point in time), but I am 100% positive that I will be eternally grateful to Issues, Etc. and everyone who's associated with the program (those who work both behind-the-scenes and publicly) for delivering faithful Lutheran content to a new Confessional Lutheran layman like me day-in-and-day-out.

Seriously, I cannot even begin to put into words what a true blessing that show has been in helping me find my way from American Evangelicalism back to "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

I wouldn't even know where to start! From the LIVE broadcasts daily, to the Archive that can be accessed at a moment's notice, to numerous articles that I can read, share, and save for later use -- ALL FREE OF CHARGE TOO! -- I'm so grateful.

How in the world did the LCMS leadership ever think it would be a "good" thing to take this away from God's sheep who require being fed the pure, unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ!?! It just blows my mind. I now have a much better understanding of the politics behind the decision at the time and can see how the Lord used it for good (Romans 8:28). 

What many people may not know (I had no idea about this either) is that the entire controversy with Issues, Etc. back in 2008 actually gave birth to an entire radio station.

Cancelling A Radio Program Launched An Entire Radio Station

One year ago this week my phone rang. The caller ID said that it was Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller who was calling me. I love talking with Pastor Wolfmueller! Not only is Bryan smarter than I am he is funnier than I am. But, when I answered the phone Bryan’s voice didn’t sound right. The tone that he was using was the same tone that people use when they call to tell you about a death in the family. In this case, there was more than a death in the family, there was a murder.

Bryan asked me if I had heard the news.

“What news?” I asked.

“The synod has cancelled Issues, Etc.”, Bryan stated rather flatly.

“What!?!? They cancelled Issues, Etc.! It’s Holy Week!! What!?!?! Are you sure?!”

“It’s all over the internet and the Wittenberg Trail”, said Bryan.

I felt like I had been punched in the face. Issues, Etc. had been a lifeline of sanity and sound doctrine for me. Issues, Etc. was the only program I’d ever heard that unashamedly, day after day, proclaimed Confessional Lutheran doctrine and Christ crucified for our sins. I couldn’t imagine any sane Biblically grounded Lutheran leader canceling Issues, Etc. What Pastor Wolfmueller was telling me just didn’t make any sense.

During the call, Bryan reminded me of a conversation we’d had a few months earlier in Denver. I had travelled to Denver on a business trip and had met with Bryan for a cup of coffee. (Wolfmueller paid for the coffee because of a friendly wager that he’d lost. The details of the wager had something to do with me defeating him during Issues, Etc. Soundbite of the week. But, that’s a different story.) During the conversation I shared with him my advanced plans for starting a Christ-Centered radio station called “Pirate Christian Radio”. On March 18th, 2008 Pirate Christian Radio was still in the Business Plan phase. In fact, PCR wasn’t even close to being ready for prime time. But, Pastor Wolfmueller nudged me, “Maybe you can help bring back Issues, Etc. when you launch Pirate Christian Radio.” At that moment I realized that this was one of those “once in a lifetime opportunities” when a good idea and the perfect moment had providentially found each other.

The months that followed were absolutely crazy. The political fallout from the cancellation of Issues, Etc. was breathtaking to watch. Blogs sprung up out of nowhere. A petition was launched and thousands and thousands of people signed it and called on a deaf synod to bring back Issues, Etc. While all of this was happening, I was working behind the scenes with Todd and Jeff to put together a business plan for the new program. While the plan was being written and revised Todd and Jeff were looking for a place to put their new studio as well as find the funding necessary to purchase the equipment they needed to get back on the air. While the rest of the world was mourning the cancellation of Issues, Etc. I was working behind the scenes to help bring about a resurrection AND launch an entire radio station. It was like flying at mach 5 with your hair on fire.

Few people know that during early planning stages we debated whether or not Todd and Jeff should relaunch their program using the name Issues, Etc. At that time the status of the Issues, Etc. trademark was still being researched by Henry Madsen and we were uncertain if LCMS, Inc. legally owned it. As a result, we made contingency plans to relaunch the program under a different name. (Those of you who are fans of Ablaze™ will appreciate this.) The name that we decided on was “Critical Events”. (Could you imagine the look on President Kieschnick’s face if Issues, Etc. had relaunched under the name “Critical Events”?)

June 30th, 2008 arrived sooner than any of us had expected. Yet, from the moment that the world heard the new music for the resurrected Issues, Etc. it was clear that not only was Issues, Etc. back, but that the LCMS’s decision to cancel the program was the best thing that could have happened. The new program was leaner and meaner than the KFUO version and it became clear that Pastor Wilken was at his best when he was able to speak his mind freely without synodical baby-sitters and restraints.

We not only got Issues, Etc. back, we got an entire radio station. Pirate Christian Radio is doing fantastically well. PCR is listened to in over 60 countries. It is in the top 10 in the talk category on the Live 365 Internet Radio Network and it is sailing circles around KFUO. In fact, Pirate Christian Radio is the most exciting thing to happen in Lutheran Radio in almost a century and none of this would have been possible if the LCMS had not cancelled Issues, Etc.

During the one year CAnniversary celebration I plan to send a Thank You card to LCMS President, Jerry Kieschnick. He might decline the card and claim that I’m thanking the wrong person. But, I know that he’s the one to thank for the actions that took place on March 18th, 2008. It would be wrong of me to not express my deepest gratitude for helping to give us the gift of a better Issues, Etc. and Pirate Christian Radio.

That was written in 2009 on the 1-year anniversary of the LCMS cancelling Issues, Etc. and I can only imagine how much more of an impact Pirate Christian Radio and Issues, Etc. have made upon the world since then, because it's had an incredible impact on me personally.

But don't take my word for it. Read what others have to say about the impact that Issues, Etc. has had upon their own faith too or, better yet, prayerfully consider what one Lutheran layman has learned thanks to Issues, Etc. over the years. Priceless!

In any event, if you haven't listened to Issues, Etc. then please do yourself a favor and check them out right away. And the next time you hear that name, or see them mentioned during one of Rev. Jonathan Fisk's Worldview Everlasting YouTube episodes, please make a mental note to reach out to them to offer your encouragement, prayers, support, and thankfulness since there was a time when that wouldn't have been possible.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, it's like others have said about Issues, Etc. in the past: "This is like a seminary education without the tuition!"

Indeed. Why would anyone want to silence Issues, Etc. in the first place let alone ever again? I pray it never happens, but I trust that God knows what He's doing at all times, especially when it makes no sense to my puny mind.

Lord, thank You for "killing" and then "resurrecting" Issues, Etc. for us!

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. 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 perhaps wouldn't be too 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 interpreting a specific portion of Scripture exegetically, 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!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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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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