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What Luther Says

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.


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.

"...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." 
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!


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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