I just learned that my old church (technically, my family and I are still "officially" Members there) is planning to begin a new Small Group Series very soon called "The Truth Project" (though it could be just the "Men's Ministry" that's doing it) that's exclusively from the very non-Lutheran Focus On The Family.
Take a look at this...
Each lesson seeks to address a specific question that all Christians have regardless of their denomination in this post-modern world. The ultimate goal is to foster a Christian worldview, which we just wrote about last week.
Wow! That's interesting! You mean, kinda like how the Small Catechism and Large Catechism found in the Book of Concord systematically and Biblically addresses the very same topics? Imagine that!
And yet, one is considered "cutting edge" and "relevant" while the other is looked at as being "boring" and "outdated" we're told. What a shame.
It gets worse.
The Truth Project is the brainchild of a man named Del Tackett. Who is Mr. Tackett? Well, he's certainly no Lutheran!
Dr. Del Tackett is former president of the Focus on the Family Institute and a former Senior Vice President of Focus on the Family. He is also the creator of Focus on the Family's The Truth Project—a nationwide initiative designed to bring the Christian worldview to the body of Christ. An adjunct professor at New Geneva Theological Seminary and Summit Ministries, Dr. Tackett served more than 20 years in the United States Air Force. During the George H. W. Bush administration, he served at the White House, where he was appointed by President Bush as the director of technical planning for the National Security Council. Dr. Tackett later served in various senior analyst and manager capacities at Kaman Sciences Corporation and ITT Industries. He now works with Coral Ridge Ministries as TV co-host for the show "Cross Examine." As a professor, Dr. Tackett has taught more than 30 undergraduate and graduate courses at three different institutions, over a 12 year period. He is also an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. Tackett holds three earned degrees (D.M., Colorado Technical University; M.S., Auburn University; B.S., Kansas State University).
Lovely, isn't it?
I thought we Lutherans left Geneva for Wittenberg long ago, didn't we?
And why the never-ending enchantment with Coral Ridge Ministries too?
Look, I'm not saying that only Lutherans are "true" Christians so I don't want to somehow imply that this man and everyone else affiliated with Focus On The Family are false converts or something. That would be absolutely absurd.
However, I do think that when it comes to the kind of preaching, teaching, and practice you expect to find at an LCMS church, you should be able to expect certain distinct characteristics, shouldn't you?
Otherwise, why even call yourself Lutheran in the first place? What's the point? Why not just change your name to some Non-Denominational "Community Church" or something and avoid all of this trouble then?
I've used this analogy before and it works: It would be like finding yourself starving one day and all you crave is the only thing that will satisfy you -- let's say that's a cheeseburger. Thankfully, you see the golden arches of McDonald's down the street and hurry there. You walk in, walk up to the counter, expecting to take full advantage of whatever specials they have on cheeseburgers at the moment, but when you look at the menu you're not only confused, but you feel an instant sense of dread in the pit of your stomach! Why? Because the menu contains nothing but seafood items as if you had just walked into a Red Lobster instead! Worse, you're severely allergic to seafood and shellfish and could die by ingesting it! Wait a minute -- this is a McDonald's though so what gives!?!
That's what it's like to attend an LCMS church week-after-week only to come home hungry and sick to your stomach due to the fact that you never received any of the things you expected to receive at that LCMS church, namely, His Word rightly divided between Law and Gospel and His Sacraments rightly administered for you.
I would know. I lived it for the last several years.
So, with that being said, can someone please tell me why in the world an LCMS church is willing to commit to a 12-week series called "The Truth Project" (what irony!) from Focus On The Family, but it adamantly refuses to do even a single week study on the immutable truths found in the Book of Concord and our Confessions!?!
See, this is what frustrates and saddens me to no end, because I spent nearly two painful years patiently trying to help my dear brothers and sisters in Christ see that the only thing distinctly Lutheran about our church is that it says "Lutheran" on the sign out front.
In the end, I was treated as though I was being "divisive" and "unloving" and then was told it was probably best if me and my family left for a church that could give us what we were looking for.
Sadly, what my friends fail to realize even to this very day is that the one thing we were always looking for is the one thing they desperately need themselves -- true Christ-centered, cross-focused preaching and teaching on a consistent basis through a faithful handling of His Word and His Sacraments as only the Lutheran church can deliver and historically has delivered them!
Better yet, if they'd only open the Book of Concord they'd immediately realize that we Lutherans already answered these 12 questions to varying degrees and settled these debates hundreds of years ago.
Pastors please remember your Ordination vows in which you gave your word before God to subscribe to our Confessions and teach them to God's people!
Allow me to remind you of just a few of them that are relevant in this particular case...
1) Do you promise that you will perform the duties of your office in accordance with these Confessions, and that all your preaching and teaching and your administration of the Sacraments will be in conformity with Holy Scripture and these Confessions?
2) Will you faithfully instruct both young and old in the chief articles of Christian doctrine?
3) Will you forgive the sins of those who repent, and will you promise never to divulge the sins confessed to you?
4) Will you minister faithfully to the sick and dying?
5) Will you demonstrate to the Church a constant and ready ministry centered in the Gospel?
6) Will you admonish and encourage the people to a lively confidence in Christ and in holy living?
7) Finally, will you honor and adorn the Office of the Holy Ministry with a holy life?
8) Will you be diligent in the study of Holy Scripture and the Confessions?
9) Will you be constant in prayer for those under your pastoral care?
After asked these 9 questions, the pastor answers, “I will, the Lord helping me through the power and grace of His Holy Spirit.”
This makes me so mad, especially since it was announced at a time when we annually celebrate both Pastor Appreciation Day/Month (and such Ordination vows) and Reformation Day.
In other words, Lord, have mercy, because we should know better. There are no excuses.
Bottom line, if you call yourself a Lutheran church, then please make sure you know what it means to actually be distinctly Lutheran, and please be faithful to all the things we believe, teach, and confess.
Is that too much to ask?
Sadly, for this particular congregation it is since this has been occurring for nearly three years now, and I'm truly concerned for the spiritual condition of each and every person there, which is why I will continue to pray for all of them. It's all I can do at this point.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, Lutherans should not be espousing the so-called "truths" proclaimed in the non-Lutheran The Truth Project produced and promoted by Focus On The Family.
This is most certainly true.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Executive Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 2 years ago now. 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 inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. 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 they are not blasphemous/heretical, 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). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!