Thursday, August 14, 2008

Texas DP's "Commercial" for Higher Things

The Texas District President's slippery, bureaucratic response to criticism regarding his district's own published reports of allowing a woman pastor to serve as "lead worshiper" (later downgraded to "song leader") might as well be a full-blown endorsement of Higher Things as a superior alternative to the "official" LCMS youth events.

If you want to send your children to hear "songs" performed by a woman Pentecostal pastor that are somehow acceptable as hymnody for Lutheran worship, if you think "the awesome responsibility of nurturing the faith of young people" at a Lutheran gathering should include speakers and musicians "of another faith tradition," by all means, send your children to this event.

But it is hardly baffling that Higher Things gets bigger and bigger as more and more people become disgusted at what goes on at the "official" youth gatherings. In fact, this evasive and misleading communication from the Texas District President (as well as the entire debacle) serves as a de facto commercial for Higher Things.

I'm going to comment within the context of the statement itself in red.

The District President's original statement can be found here.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We’re very excited about the upcoming youth gathering, GLORYbound,
happening in the Texas District November 28-30, 2008. In the past week,
however, a number of emails and blogs have been forwarded which have
stated that a woman was going to be serving in a pastoral role at
GLORYbound. We want to let you know that these rumors are completely
untrue. The Texas District upholds the LCMS' position regarding women as

I challenge President Hennings to reveal these "emails and blogs." I
challenge him to produce a quote that a woman would be "serving in a
pastoral role." That is a straw man that simply does not exist. What
I wrote, and what others picked up on, are the following facts:

1) Kari Jobe had been listed on the GLORYbound website as "Lead Worshiper"
and given top billing.

2) In response to the criticism, her title was changed to "Song Leader" and
she was given less prominence

3) Kari Jobe's church lists her as an "associate pastor."
4) Kari Jobe's church openly denies baptismal regeneration and the Real
Presence in Holy Communion - which means these profound theological truths
central to Lutheran worship will be unconfessed in any of her band's songs.

5) None of this was based on "rumor" - but rather the actual published websites
of the Texas District, Miss Jobe, and Miss Jobe's Church.

Here are the facts: Kari Jobe and her band are leading the music at the
gathering but she is not a speaker or presenter. The planning committee
asked her and her band to play and sing. Their role is to provide
music—more akin to a church organist than a pastor or liturgist.

And yet, Kari Jobe is not just "Kari Jobe," but "Rev. Kari Jobe." Somehow,
I doubt that the Texas District would allow, say, a Wiccan priestess,
for example, to have a band perform at the youth gathering, even if her
repertoire had been "vetted" by the appropriate committee. Women's ordination
is repugnant, an antichristian rebellion against Scripture. To shrug this
terribly scandalous fact off is basically to say "it's not that bad." The
Texas District President is defending the placing of an "ordained" female pastor
in the front of a crowd of LCMS young people. This is offensive, and the fact
that the President doesn't even acknowledge that this is scandalous is itself

Throughout GLORYbound's many year history in the Texas District, there
have often been musicians who are Christians of another faith tradition.

There is a difference between a guitar player who is "of another faith tradition"
performing in a concert vs. a woman pastor out front singing her own music, her
own proclamation of her own religion at a worship event for Lutherans. She is
not a lay organist playing Lutheran chorales behind the scenes.

All songs are vetted by the planning team for content. LCMS pastors and
church workers lead and supervise every aspect of this gathering. An
LCMS pastor is leading and preaching at the Sunday morning service.
Another LCMS pastor is one of the speakers. An LCMS Vicar and former DCE
is serving as the Bible Study leader. As in past GLORYbound events,
there are several other speakers who are not LCMS.

The fact that it has been done in the past doesn't make it more acceptable now.
This is a red herring.

The communion policy of the event has also been questioned in these
blogs suggesting that GLORYbound will have open communion. This is also
untrue. The communion policy which will appear in the Gathering Book has
been used for the last nine years of GLORYbound events as suggested to
us by the Secretary of the LCMS when it was requested in 1999:

The celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday of GLORYbound will be a
significant part of our gathering. St. Paul Lutheran Church, Ft. Worth
is serving as host congregation for the Worship Service and Holy
Communion. Those who have been instructed in the teachings of the
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and believe in the real presence (body
and blood of Christ is in, with and under the bread and wine for the
forgiveness of sins) are invited to come with a penitent heart to
receive the sacrament.

Notice that the President doesn't say that only those in communion with the LCMS
would be permitted to commune. This wishy-washy statement means an ELCA member
who used to be LCMS can commune. It means an Episcopalian or Roman Catholic who
attended a Concordia University can as well. This is not "closed" or "close"
communion. This communion statement makes a mockery of the work other LCMS
professional church workers - who have worked so hard to achieve altar and pulpit
fellowship with our sister churches. Instead, it reduces communion fellowship to
something flabby and fuzzy untied to the public profession of one's church.
What a disgrace.

The GLORYbound team has carefully planned this event for two years
keeping in mind the awesome responsibility of nurturing the faith of
young people in the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are fine church
workers and I thank God for them along with all other professional
church workers in our District.

In closing, let me encourage each of you to renew your commitment to our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to work to advance the saving message
of our Savior throughout Texas and the world.

You're in Christ,

Ken Hennings

There you have it. Pure bureaucratic gibberish. Isn't it interesting that you
don't get this kind of circumlocution and "synod-speak" from HT?


Steven said...

This wishy-washy statement means an ELCA member who used to be LCMS can commune.

or someone who has been excommunicated. (I know that doesn't happen anymore.) Apparently, the unbaptized are allowed to commune as well.

Lutheran Student said...

Is he sure that they will be nurturing them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Because it sounds more like they will be "nurturing" them with the "Gospel" of their own "commitment to our Lord and Savior." I smell a wolf.

Rev. Shane R. Cota, SSP said...

You don't get that kind of talk from Higher Things because Higher Things is actually Lutheran. And Lutherans are clear and straightforward in their Gospel proclamation and say what they really mean because a theologian of the cross calls a thing what it is. Real Lutherans, as per the Confessions, seek to be unequivocal in their preaching and teaching.

Synodicalist wishy-washy nonsense-speak is the language of unoffensive sell-outs. They'll only do anything "bold" under the table and behind the scenes, and only with worldly power-play behavior, to silence the theologians of the cross.

And the only reason they're all down on blogs (just like the Orwellian advocates of the "Fairness Doctrine") is because they can't get away with all their shenanigans so easily now. Apparently, the way synodicalists spin things, no truth can be told on blogs or on e-mails. I guess we can only depend on the Reporter and the Lutheran Witness for that. What a scary mindset they have!

Mike Baker said...

Saying the equivelant of "we've done this kind of thing before so you can rest easy" is not a valid defense.

Pastor Kari Jobe is an enthusiast anabaptist whose senior pastor is on the record supporting the work of the Purpose Driven movement which enslaves sheep in the error of legalism and helps non-Christian religions increase their membership. How can she lead our children in worship when her church teaches that the vast majority of those kids were improperly baptized?

Telling me that the same people who selected her as a good choice for this "Lutheran" conference have checked her songs for content and will be making sure that everything is done right makes me more upset and concerned rather than less.

In a state with heterodox mega-churches in every major city taught by the likes of Bishop Jakes, Pastor Osteen, and Pastor Hagee, the smart decision is to error on the side of confessionalism rather than unionism.

I may have only been confirmed by the LCMS a few years ago, but I did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday. This is not the first time that I have been gravely dissapointed at the theological anemia put forth by the elected leadership.

Please tell me that the inmates are not running the assylum in my district!

Anon Omous said...

Isn't it interesting that if they were to actually follow close communion, then their song leader and other non-LCMS speakers would have to be refused communion?

That fact alone ought to speak volumes on whether they should be asked to lead or teach in ANY capacity.

Lastly, I find it pretty odd that anyone would want to ask speakers to come in order to teach/lead and then say, "Oh and by the way, you cannot commune with us." Most "other faith traditions" find close communion pretty offensive.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

This double speak corporate stuff is over, dear LCMS. Trying to blame "blogs" is pathetic, and if your mindset is so archaic, why even bother reaching the youth?

It's over. Stick a fork in it.