Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.
The following paragraphs quoted from an article by Paul Proctor should resonate with anyone familiar with what is going on in the LCMS. For our exercise, wherever you read the word, "church," think "synod."
The author may need a little Lutheran education in regard to the Church, but what he writes is dead on given a proper understanding of Church as not only a gathering of the elect, but the gathering of the elect around Christ and His means of grace for the salvation of souls.
ARE YOU A CHURCH WORSHIPPER?
By Paul Proctor
August 11, 2009
"Well, another Leadership Summit has come and gone at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois - a yearly conference led by its senior pastor and Willow Creek Association's Chairman of the Board, Bill Hybels. . . .
". . . There are a lot of misguided Christians today who have a misplaced faith and hope in their church. This makes them easy targets for church growth consultants who know all too well how to play on the egos, ambitions and insecurities of both laymen and staff wanting their church to be bigger and better than the one across town.
"When we covet the 'success' of others, we make ourselves vulnerable to smooth-talking opportunists who will gladly step in and exploit our weaknesses and shortcomings upon invitation. The result is that we end up depending on them and their programs, techniques, strategies and surveys instead of God and His Word. . . .
". . . The church growth movement, you see, worships a two-headed god called 'Results' and 'Relationships' where nothing gets in the way of either - even God's Word. It was first encountered in the Garden of Eden. . . .
". . . why should you and I rest our hope in a local church - especially in the compromised, corrupt and declining state that many of them now find themselves? . . .
". . . . What I am saying is that we need to stop putting our hope and faith in people and their self-exalting, self-justifying, self-serving organizations and institutions, local or otherwise. It's time to start reading, learning, obeying and proclaiming God's Word - all of it - instead of snappy slogans, corny clichés, vain visions and the silly strategies of men. . . .
". . . Today, many trained facilitators in leadership positions have infiltrated the church and convinced gullible and covetous Christians that if they rely on market principles and surveys, they'll get the Results they're after - which may or may not have anything to do with the Word and Will of God."
To read the entire article, go to: http://www.newswithviews.com/PaulProctor/proctor186.htm
Does all of this sound all too sadly familiar? If so, why? When will we have had enough? And why did congregations and pastors who consider themselves to be Lutheran ever buy into this chicanery in the first place?
Oddly enough, a former U.S. president, Herbert Hoover, may give us a clue. He once wrote, "Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of 'emergency'. It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini. . . . And 'emergency' became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains."
Why have LCMS congregations and pastors taken a dive into Willow Creek? The Trojan horse of souls being lost every time a facilitator snaps his fingers in front of a gathering of guilt -ridden, unsatisfied Lutherans desirous of growing their church like the local "Christian Life Center" packing them in just down the road a piece. That and some sort of ecumenically enlightened disdain for the very confession that makes them Lutheran--like the explanation of the Third Article of the Creed in Luther's Small Catechism.
But here I may be jumping to an unwarranted conclusion based upon an unkind construction. In order to disdain something, you have to have some idea of what it is. How many of those who have jumped into Willow Creek have taken the time to plumb the depths of the Small Catechism and examine the riches of the rest of our Lutheran Confessions? Don't you think it rather a panic to abandon the ship of things Lutheran to float down some upstart polluted, though popular waterway before even cracking the surface of that which has been keeping believers with Jesus Christ in the one true faith for almost 600 years—indeed even since the time of the apostles?
In the vast landscape of the LC-MS, what is much, if any different than what Luther found previous to his authorship of the Small Catechism? Read Luther's Preface to his Small Catechism. Then you tell me. He writes in part:
"The deplorable, miserable condition which I discovered lately when I, too, was a visitor, has forced and urged me to prepare [publish] this Catechism, or Christian doctrine, in this small, plain, simple form. Mercy! Good God! what manifold misery I beheld! The common people, especially in the villages, have no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine, and, alas! many pastors are altogether incapable and incompetent to teach [so much so, that one is ashamed to speak of it]. Nevertheless, all maintain that they are Christians, have been baptized and receive the [common] holy Sacraments. Yet they [do not understand and] cannot [even] recite either the Lord's Prayer, or the Creed, or the Ten Commandments; they live like dumb brutes and irrational hogs; and yet, now that the Gospel has come, they have nicely learned to abuse all liberty like experts.
"O ye bishops! [to whom this charge has been committed by God,] what will ye ever answer to Christ for having so shamefully neglected the people and never for a moment discharged your office? [You are the persons to whom alone this ruin of the Christian religion is due. You have permitted men to err so shamefully; yours is the guilt; for you have ever done anything rather than what your office required you to do.] May all misfortune flee you! [I do not wish at this place to invoke evil on your heads.] You command the Sacrament in one form [but is not this the highest ungodliness coupled with the greatest impudence that you are insisting on the administration of the Sacrament in one form only, and on your traditions] and insist on your human laws, and yet at the same time you do not care in the least [while you are utterly without scruple and concern] whether the people know the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or any part of the Word of God. Woe, woe, unto you forever!
"Therefore I entreat [and adjure] you all for God's sake, my dear sirs and brethren, who are pastors or preachers, to devote yourselves heartily to your office, to have pity on the people who are entrusted to you, and to help us inculcate the Catechism upon the people, and especially upon the young. And let those of you who cannot do better [If any of you are so unskilled that you have absolutely no knowledge of these matters, let them not be ashamed to] take these tables and forms and impress them, word for word, on the people, . . ."
Perhaps if we listen to our namesake, and more importantly to the one true faith he handed down to us, we might find what has really never been missing at all among true Lutherans—our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit He has sent to baptize, preach, teach, and commune souls in the forgiveness of sins that is the only way we have been given to save the lost.
Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.
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