In a letter (copy below) to Texas District pastors Vice President Linderman wrote about me, “I don’t think we need a carpetbagger theologian to come to Texas and tell us what it means to be a Conservative Lutheran.”
I wish that Linderman would have mentioned my being raised in New York City. “Carpetbagger” is so generic. Linderman and the other Texas Vice Presidents and the District President all seem to have no trouble inviting northern Church Growth carpetbaggers like Bill Hybles and Michigan Church Growth consultants from Church Consultants Group to reorganize their District. They don’t want any carpetbaggers telling them how to be Conservative Lutherans but they beg and plead to get the “Church Growth” carpetbaggers to tell them how to grow their churches with entertainment and how to get more bodies and more money. Yes, more, more, more. My problem must be that I’m not charging a big enough fee.
Why go to Texas? Well, first it is there.
Second, the challenge of speaking about the need to maintain a consistent witness to the Gospel with the three Creeds and then publishing the statistics about the Texas District from the Lutheran Annual in Texas, and the possibility of being denounced by Texas District officials for daring to make these issues public was more tantalizing than I could resist.
Third, Texas is so much like the Michigan District but not quite as thoroughly advanced in the same Church Growth/ Leadership Training disease promoted by “the Michigan 102”. “The Michigan 102” are a group of pastors and lay delegates who issued a signed manifesto to the 1997 Michigan District Convention supporting the kind of “Church Growth fanaticism now spreading in Texas. Like so many other LCMS Districts, the Texas District Office and Convention have bought into the New World Order, secular humanism, New Age, transformational dialectic processing, manipulation techniques, and universalism of the Church Growth Movement and Leadership Training. These are all promoted by Fuller Theological Seminary, Willow Creek, The Leadership Network, Peter Drucker, Harvard School of Business, Covey, and hundreds more Church Growth consultants.
Fourth, lining up a series of speaking events where I can gain lots of enemies by insisting on the confession of the three Creeds in the Missouri Synod and tour Texas for five days before Lent at the same time is a little more thrilling Mardi Gras.
Fifth, and most directly, my goal is to promote the passage of two resolutions at the 2001 LCMS Convention. The first is to reaffirm “Walther’s Church and Ministry” as the official position of the LCMS. The second is to return all full-time District Presidents back to being full-time congregational pastors. Let them learn to delegate as they did in the first century of the LCMS when the Synod experienced its greatest growth. We must cut back the bureaucracy.
Sixth, there is also a much more important reason to go to Texas and speak at Arlington, San Antonio, and Houston. In spite of the domination of Church Growth advocates on every Texas Board, the District Office, the offices of the District President and all four District Presidents, Texas also has a small but vocal minority of confessional pastors. In fact there are more confessional pastors who also support C.F.W Walther’s Church and Ministry and who will stand up and be counted in Texas than in any other LCMS District.
While in San Antonio for the first time on Feb. 15th, I visited the Alamo. It is something we heard about on Walt Disney back in New York City in 1956. In Mrs. Howell’s fourth grade class in P.S. 77 we all sang “Davey, Davey, Crocket....” However, you never get the sense of what really happened there till you actually walk into the Alamo. It’s a large stone mausoleum in the shape of a church for the nearly 200 men who died there for, of all things, principle. There are flags there from every state in the Union where these men came from. They gave their lives for an ideal and belief in something that was worth dying for against impossible odds. The emotion of it all as you walk in is overwhelming.
It was at the Alamo that I realized why Texas had more confessional Lutheran pastors who will stand their ground for the use of Lutheran hymn books, catechisms, agendas, the Creeds, and the name Lutheran, than any other District in the Synod. They know what it means to stand for principle against insurmountable odds. There was no political solution at the Alamo. The Alamo is not the place for anyone seeking a career advancement.
What contrasts we find in Texas. In each location I spoke a District Vice President stood up on behalf of the District President and explained in public why it was against their principles to answer the written questions about their faith asked by Arlington layman, Jim Runzheimer. It’s a long way from the Alamo to the Texas District Office in Austin.
The Texas President and the four Vice Presidents all signed a statement explaining why they couldn’t answer 10 simple questions about their faith. The following are just 4 of the questions. 1. (yes) (no) I support Walther’s Church and Ministry as the only correct teaching and practice for all Texas District Congregations. 2. (yes) (no) I oppose the confession of any manufactured creeds and statements of faith in place of the three Ecumenical Creeds in all Texas District Congregation worship services. 3. (yes) (no) I believe that the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds are correct statements of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and agreement with them, without addition or deletion, is necessary for membership in the LCMS. 4. (yes) (no) The only way to heaven is by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We ask 13 year old confirmands to say they would rather die than give up the confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as stated in the Lutheran Agenda and then they confess the Apostle’s Creed. But these men can’t even agree to sign these simple questions from a Lutheran layman. When I asked Linderman why he couldn’t answer number 4 he responded that there might be a trick in it.
Well just suppose there is a trick. What do they think it is? After giving 8.7 million dollars in 1997 to the Texas District Office the Texas lay people can’t even get their President and Vice President to answer question number 3. I tried to make it easy by not including the Athanasian Creed but they would not even agree to the Apostles’ or Nicene Creeds. What do they think would happen? Would they be shot? Would Santa Anna then burn their bodies if they agreed to question number 3?
Quite frankly, I came down to Texas to stand with and fight along side some pastors who possess a rare quality in the LCMS, a quality I can’t find in Michigan, men who will stand their ground for the Gospel of Jesus Christ at any cost, men who are proud to be Lutherans, men who hold to their principles and will not bow down to the Church Growth Movement, men who are not afraid to answer questions in writing.
Linderman and the others certainly expect all the pastors in the District to fill out long forms explaining their beliefs and practices to keep on file at the District Office. However, they themselves are not accountable to a lay man who dares to ask them simple questions about their faith. Did the blind man in John 9 meet any better at the temple? One should read Linderman’s attack on Jim Runzheimer in this issue for daring to ask him questions.
There are other reasons why I came to Texas that I will not share. But let me assure you that the Lord gave me a great opportunity to meet and surpass every objective I hoped to accomplish. He gave me a letter signed by the Texas President and Vice Presidents, handed to me the first night I was in Texas, that explains why they will not answer any questions about their faith.
May God preserve the pastors and congregations in their struggle against the Texas District Office, President, and Vice Presidents.
The Lutheran Church-Missoui Synod
7900 E. Highway 290
Austin, Texas 78724-2499
February 25, 1999
On February 12, I attended a lecture in San Antonio which was given by the Rev. Jack Cascione from St. Clair Shores, Michigan, which I felt was very slanderous to a number of pastors in our District. In fact, I don’t think he has anything good to say about anyone in the Texas District, starting from President Kieschnick on down.
There were a lot of things about his presentation that bothered me. In general, I don’t think we need a carpetbagger theologian to come to Texas to tell us what it means to be a Conservative Lutheran. The one thing that really bothered me was his using Pastor Delton Weiser from Faith Corsicana as an example of a pastor who has no regard for the Catholic Creeds by showing us a Creedal hymn he has used in his worship services.
I contacted Delton. Being a very conservative pastor, he was shocked to hear that he was used as an example of one who had no regard for the Catholic Creeds especially since Pastor Cascione never contacted him. Enclosed is a copy of the service in which the Creedal hymn was utilized.
As you will note, this is Divine Service III(Lutheran Worship.180), which was designed by the Commission on Worship, The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. I am satisfied that this matter has passed through several doctrinal review boards.
By taking things out of context, and misusing data, Pastor Cascione is presenting a half truth, which is always more dangerous than a lie. I question Pastor Cascione’s motives. Why would a person from Michigan come all the way to Texas to attack one of our young, hard working pastors like Delton Weiser? Who will be next? Where is the love found in the Gospel he claims we are destroying in Texas? I sure did not hear it in his lecture at San Antonio.
I normally do not respond to things like this. I can let all of his other comments pass in one ear and out the other, but I won’t stand idly by and have him or anyone else attack one of our pastors. I’m still waiting for him to send in the bulletin from Prince of Peace Carrollton. It will be interesting to see how that “creed” was used in the service.
God bless you in your ministry. I’m very grateful to be in a church were the Gospel is preached in all of its truth and purity.
Rev. James Linderman
Vice President, Texas District
Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President, Texas District Rev. Carroll C. Kohl, First Vice President Dr. David B. Joeckel, Second Vice President Rev. Donald G. Black, Third Vice President Rev. Jack Cascione
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