Friday, July 12, 2019

Journalistic independence. . .

Questions have been raised throughout the silly season of campaigning and electing the Synod President.  Some of those revolve around his access to the official media of the Synod and, in particular, to the fact that the official periodicals of the LCMS report to him.  It is the inevitable complaint of outsiders attempting to unseat incumbents that they, as incumbents, can count on all sorts of free publicity in the official media.  It is the same in politics everywhere and not merely in the Church.

It would be good to be reminded that the actual structure of our church body was adopted against the advice of the current Synod President -- a structure that puts just about everything under the office of Synod President.  So if it were a structural problem, it was not one of the current SP's making.  That said, it does bring up an interesting question of the journalistic independence for official church periodicals.

While I do not think church periodicals should be the press office for the current occupant, who else but the Synod President is ultimately responsible for the communications that go out under the stamp of the Synod and under its doctrinal imprimatur?  While clearly his role as ecclesiastical supervisor does not mean that the press of our church body functions as a public relations office designed to make him look good, it would be impossible for him not be the center of our communications since the Synod President is the focus of our identity as a church body apart from the time when we are assembled in convention.  Even then, he chairs that convention and can certainly appear to be prominent no matter what.

Why do we have church periodicals?  We do not have them to serve as agents of dissent or investigative bodies to sniff out corruption or scandal or as objective voices to evaluate our leaders, our structure, or our programs.  We have church periodicals to promote our church, who we are and what we are doing.  We have church periodicals to promote what it is that we believe, confess, and teach before the world.  We have church periodicals to present our doctrinal stance and to promote our doctrinal unity -- even to promote unity of practice that flows from doctrine and witness.  We have church periodicals to raise the level of awareness of those in the pews and pulpits of our church body as to what it is that we believe, what we confess in witness before the world, and what we are doing as congregations walking together.

Far from having a lack of eyes looking over the shoulders of our leaders and structures, we live at a time when everyone is a critic and everyone has access to the wider world through the means of the internet and social media.  Our leaders and offices and programs are under constant scrutiny by those who have different ideas, different agendas, and different confessions.  This does not merely happen during the silly season of electing a Synod President and in the form of electoral politics but all the time.  The Missouri Synod has a history of inventing means of agitating for one side or another, from the old warhorse Christian News to its competitor in Missouri in Perspective to modern day forums like Facebook groups, blogs (yes, even mine), and user forums like the ALPB Forum Online or its nemesis LutherQuest.  For pete's sake, how many second guessers and naysayers and opponents can we survive?

I find our church periodicals to be informative and faithful, graphically appealing and relevant, not political (in American or church politics) or sectarian and certainly not PR offices for any one person.  I wish they had more reach and more people were informed by them (The Lutheran Witness, The Reporter, Engage, etc...).  We have email and online sources to supplement the snail mail versions and they are staffed by faithful, gifted, talented, and earnest individuals who are doing a mighty fine job.  To task them with being watchdogs would put them at odds with their purpose as resources for the church and spokespeople for LCMS faith, practice, and work would neither inform us any better or equip us any more about our church.  I have always found them to be people of integrity and believe them to have the highest of motives -- not perfect nor do they claim to be but more than competent and doing a bang up job for the sake of the Kingdom.


James Marshall said...

The ALPB has been reduced to a mere shell of its former self. The publication of the delusional article about a "Machine" and a nefarious "Main Nag" drove away responsible participants on their online forum, and it is reduced now to mostly 70-75+ year olds comparing notes, pining for the mythical glory days of Seminex and the like.

LutherQuest is mostly a bunch of crazies that like to hear themsevles pontificate, speculate and conspiracy theorize together, therefore it amounts to nothing. Christian News has no influence anymore, and has not for years. With the death of Otten it is even less of an interest. His obsessive posting denying the Holocaust destroyed any little credibility he had left, except of course for his hard-core groupies.

The real chattering classes hang out on Facebook groups and that's surely a mixed bags of ignorance and misinformation as well.

Most of us have just tuned out and turned it off and stick with reading reported facts. We do not wait for self-proclaimed experts, or prophets, or critics to help us make up our minds.

That's my take on it.

Anonymous said...

The implosion of ALPB, a mouthpiece for the ideology of liberal ecumenism, higher criticism, and high church snobbery, is a good thing. LutherQuest is fashionably described as "mostly" crazies (so called because they are backward, unreconstructed bronzies who express themselves bluntly and vociferously in the manner of Paul McCain in his glory days). Pastoral Meanderings has some of the liturgical schwärmerei of Gottesdienst and the ALPB, yet without the biblical scepticism. Father Peters seems content to barrage his readers with the happy notion that Roman Catholicism really isn't so bad, and that the future of Lutheran identity always lies with an eye towards the preeminent example of Rome. It is a clerical future, replete with dreams of finery, that relies on the visible Church and her ecclesial polity as the focus of our efforts to reclaim the correct practice of the one, holy, catholic, apostolic church. This vision is largely a pleasant, academic chimera. Real Lutherans do not self identify as Catholics, nor do they pine for mitres, dalmatics, and magna capas. Real Lutherans in Augsburg built a baroque church that looked exactly like the Roman Catholic baroque church in town, but with a self-consciously chosen different colored stone. Lutheranism will stand, nonetheless, on the rock of Jesus Christ and the pure, biblical confession of the Gospel. That we spend so much time and energy in anguishing over our desired image these days is sure to be viewed by future historians as a uniquely American concern.

Carl Vehse said...

The sharp reduction in posts on various LCMS-related blog sites was especially noticeable after a revised Bylaw 1.8, implemented at the 2016 LCMS convention, forbid members (e.g. clergy) from publicly criticizing any doctrinal statements from the LCMS before going through a labyrinth of requirements.

Under Bylaw 1.8 the Synod may toss violating pastors out of the Synod on a procedural violation instead of having to deal with whether the Synod was actually contradicting a doctrine exposited in the Lutheran Confessions.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Vehse, I think it is not that, but simply that "blogs" are pretty much passe compared now to the rise of Facebook and the groups created there. That's where most former blog-commentators hang out now. "Confessional Lutheran Fellowship" on Facebook is probably the largest conservative Lutheran group and has about 20,000 members and is extremely active. "Forums" and "Blogs" are pretty much relics at this point. Facebook is where the real action is.


Anonymous said...

LOL...I'd love to see Richard Strickert on the "Confessional Lutheran Fellowship" Facebook group trotting out all his typical canards and foolishness. They would eat him for lunch and spit him out. I don't think the old guy has the guts to join CFL. Bring it on Dick! Come on and join us and try your nonsense there.

Carl Vehse said...

Given the radical left politicization of Facebook by its administrators, one wonders why so-called "confessional Lutherans" use Facebook for their discussions. It would be like holding a Lutheran conference in a brothel or a San Francisco bathhouse.

Anonymous said...

And there he blows!

Dick Strickert knows he would not stand a chance on any group that would call him on his BS.

Come on Strickert. Join up with Confessional Lutheran Fellowship and show how courageous you are when you post the kind of crap you do.

You won't last a moment.


Hugs and kisses.

Carl Vehse said...

I don't do Facebook. Try Luther Quest.

James said...

Where to start? I get tired of the politics. It seems everyone is arguing nonstop while the Church continues to struggle and shrink. So many of these Lutheran social media groups and websites are simply internet expressions of the infighting happening within the fractured LCMS since the beginning of Seminex. By contrast, I like the fact that traditional church journals tend to be proactive instead of reactive.

I was a member of the Facebook group "Confessional Lutheran Fellowship" for years. I got tired of countless group members lurking there looking to start petty arguments, so I left. "Orthodox Lutheran Fellowship" is much better. However, to rely on such a shallow forum such as Facebook for deep theological discussion is a fool's errand.

To the person who wrote about the Roman Catholic church as a possible "ideal" alternative to Lutheranism for many Lutherans, I give you this Facebook group:

LGBT Catholics and Friends Celebrate Pride Weekend, All Over

Well, so much for Rome being THE centralized, universal Church with top-down authority from the Pope - unlike those fractured Lutheran bodies!

Carl Vehse wrote: "Given the radical left politicization of Facebook by its administrators...."

That is correct. Some of you followers of Pastor Peters may not like Carl nor appreciate his role as "devils advocate", but his citations are pretty good. A current example is below....

Facebook? Facebook groups? YouTube? Twitter? Whoever has been using these venues to promote Confessional Lutheranism has not been paying attention lately. It is only a matter of time before confessional Lutheran voices are silenced from these platforms.

Towards the end of his podcast (beginning at 1:14), Rev. Fisk stated that YouTube has started demonetizing his recent videos - including videos that discuss infant baptism. Fisk has stated in other podcasts that he was trying to figure out the best internet method for getting out his message:

As a result, many content creators who have been demonetized by YouTube and/or have been banned from social media platforms are thinking about using Bitchute instead of YouTube, SubscribeStar instead of Patreon, Minds instead of Facebook, or Gab instead of Twitter. Other content creators are abandoning social media altogether and returning to websites that they own and maintain. There is no freedom of the press unless you own one.

By the way, another popular video blogger was banned by Facebook and Instagram. Confessional Lutheran bloggers should take note:

Daniel G. said...


LGBTQ Catholics and Friends Celebrate Pride Weekend, All OVer

Cheap shot. As they say, “Just because there are a few bad apples ( I admit the current pope seems to affirm them) that doesn’t mean all Catholics are in league with them.”

And if you think all LCMS, ELS, WELS and other conservative Lutheran bodies are immune from such activity as stated above, well then that would be quite naive to say the least.

James said...

Daniel G.,

No Schadenfreude intended.

Many disaffected Lutherans upset with their church body not "walking together" in unison are drawn to Rome with its top-down, centralized ecclesiastical governing structure.

Therefore, such Lutherans naturally assume that behavior wildly inconsistent with Catholic teaching (or even beliefs and practices which oppose the basic tenets of Christianity) would be quickly suppressed.

The reality that Rome tends to look the other way regarding such matters is puzzling.

Regarding the LCMS, the big battles are between the Lutherans who want to restore pre-WW 2 worship and those Lutherans who wish to replace all of historic Lutheran worship with Evangelical (Baptist) theology. Because...."adiaphora" and such nonsense, you know.

Carl Vehse said...

James: "Many disaffected Lutherans upset with their church body not "walking together" in unison are drawn to Rome with its top-down, centralized ecclesiastical governing structure."

This is a shocking statement when its full meaning is realized.

It refers to Lutherans, who were previously asked, "Do you also, as a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, intend to continue steadfast in the confession of this Church, and suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?," and then answered before God and the congregation, "I do so intend with the help of God."

Yet these so-called Lutherans, when "upset" with the antics of their Missouri Synod church body, and rather than continue as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in some confessional Lutheran congregation, forsake their vows to continue steadfast in the Lutheran Confessions and, instead, swim the Tiber to become disciples of the Antichrist, and toy with spiritual death.

The battle in the LCMS is not a "worship" war; it's a doctrinal war.

Anonymous said...

"Carl Vehse" who is in fact Richard Strickert of Austin, Texas. You belong to a congregation that has declared itself in protest to The LCMS. Why don't you work to have your congregation leave The LCMS, to do the right t thing, and stop pretending it is a member of The LCMS. Start your own Synod. Join some other Lutheran church.

But stop with your utter hypocrisy of lecturing people and then not having the courage to leave a church body you guys believe is in error.