Investigative Reporting on “Issues”

M. Z. Hemingway, who wrote that Wall Street Journal piece on the “Issues, Etc.” controversy is now blogging at Augsburg1530 on the subject, with much more to say.

Save the LCMS crunches some disturbing financial data.

Great lines from Anthony Sacramone at First Things:

It takes a lot to get Lutherans to shift into activist mode. We pretty much believe if you’re agitated about something, you’re probably a Baptist. And any kind of ventilation (like breathing) is frowned upon for fear of a charismatic renewal. So believe me, Issues, Etc. is going to come back in some form, somewhere. It’s just not a good idea to get Lutherans angry. Last time this happened, historians ended up calling it the Thirty Years War.

And Kelly draws a simply devastating cartoon.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com Kevin N

    The cartoon is fantastic.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com Kevin N

    The cartoon is fantastic.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    What’s so disheartening is that the issue isn’t just Issues, Etc., but the Walk Together, period. Cancelling the show and clearing the invaluable archives has simply made it personal.
    But that’s a good thing, I suppose: we laity are paying attention, and, ultimately, we’re rallying for the confession of the LC-MS, and not just for a favorite radio show.
    It was–is–a beloved radio show, presented by two beloved men. That much has not been cancelled, for certain.
    I enjoy reading the names and comments on the petition, and I urge people to sign for the cause of the truth of the faith. That’s what this is really about.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    What’s so disheartening is that the issue isn’t just Issues, Etc., but the Walk Together, period. Cancelling the show and clearing the invaluable archives has simply made it personal.
    But that’s a good thing, I suppose: we laity are paying attention, and, ultimately, we’re rallying for the confession of the LC-MS, and not just for a favorite radio show.
    It was–is–a beloved radio show, presented by two beloved men. That much has not been cancelled, for certain.
    I enjoy reading the names and comments on the petition, and I urge people to sign for the cause of the truth of the faith. That’s what this is really about.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    It appears ‘they’ have no intention of answering to our satisfaction (a satisfaction which is not unattainable).
    I imagine all the investigative reporting and all the leaking of all the documents would still not move ‘them’ to come clean, and certainly not to re-instate Issues, Etc. as it was known and loved.
    I can’t help but think all this noise, no matter how long it continues and how loud it grows, is going to be acknowledged, let alone actually and honestly heard and listened to.
    Folks, we’re being stiff-armed. No doubt.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    It appears ‘they’ have no intention of answering to our satisfaction (a satisfaction which is not unattainable).
    I imagine all the investigative reporting and all the leaking of all the documents would still not move ‘them’ to come clean, and certainly not to re-instate Issues, Etc. as it was known and loved.
    I can’t help but think all this noise, no matter how long it continues and how loud it grows, is going to be acknowledged, let alone actually and honestly heard and listened to.
    Folks, we’re being stiff-armed. No doubt.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    The Augsburg1530 blog is quite good. On that blog is a link to a letter-writing campaign. Here’s the text I sent along to the leadership targetted by the campaign:

    “I recently joined the LCMS specifically because of the openness of the people I have encountered in my LCMS congregation, and because of the deep confessional integrity of Lutheran theology. The cancellation of Issues, Etc. has me questioning both the openness and the integrity of the LCMS leadership. The statements emerging from the LCMS headquarters regarding Issues, Etc., frankly, make no sense. They raise more questions than they answer. I encourage LCMS leadership to create an open forum where concerned laypersons such as myself could ask questions freely and receive real answers about this decision and the overall ecclesial direction of the synod, in the name of fairness and transparency and general human decency.”

    I mean, seriously, why not just set up a time on KFUO where the people in charge of this fiasco can make it a little less fiasco-like and take live questions from people concerned? You might not change many minds, but at least you wouldn’t look implacable or sinister.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    The Augsburg1530 blog is quite good. On that blog is a link to a letter-writing campaign. Here’s the text I sent along to the leadership targetted by the campaign:

    “I recently joined the LCMS specifically because of the openness of the people I have encountered in my LCMS congregation, and because of the deep confessional integrity of Lutheran theology. The cancellation of Issues, Etc. has me questioning both the openness and the integrity of the LCMS leadership. The statements emerging from the LCMS headquarters regarding Issues, Etc., frankly, make no sense. They raise more questions than they answer. I encourage LCMS leadership to create an open forum where concerned laypersons such as myself could ask questions freely and receive real answers about this decision and the overall ecclesial direction of the synod, in the name of fairness and transparency and general human decency.”

    I mean, seriously, why not just set up a time on KFUO where the people in charge of this fiasco can make it a little less fiasco-like and take live questions from people concerned? You might not change many minds, but at least you wouldn’t look implacable or sinister.

  • Maggie

    FYI: Rev. Matthew Harrison’s 31 Issues’s Etc. appearances are posted and available for download in a nice, convenient place on the LCMS World Relief and Human Care website. Check out: http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=13296

  • Maggie

    FYI: Rev. Matthew Harrison’s 31 Issues’s Etc. appearances are posted and available for download in a nice, convenient place on the LCMS World Relief and Human Care website. Check out: http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=13296

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Robert Talbert:
    I’m well into the process of thinking they don’t care what we think or how they look to us. And, adding in past divisive events during Kieschnik’s time in office, it shouldn’t be the shock and hurt it still is.
    I’m reading lots of good letters like yours, that state reasonably and clearly why what they did was wrong, and how much Issues, Etc. meant to everyone.
    I just wonder if they’ve really read those letters. There’s no indication they’ve given any consideration to anything anyone’s said or written, except for Mollie Ziegler in the Wall Street Journal.
    I firmly believe they think we’re only beating a dead horse, and that our doing so is our problem, not theirs.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Robert Talbert:
    I’m well into the process of thinking they don’t care what we think or how they look to us. And, adding in past divisive events during Kieschnik’s time in office, it shouldn’t be the shock and hurt it still is.
    I’m reading lots of good letters like yours, that state reasonably and clearly why what they did was wrong, and how much Issues, Etc. meant to everyone.
    I just wonder if they’ve really read those letters. There’s no indication they’ve given any consideration to anything anyone’s said or written, except for Mollie Ziegler in the Wall Street Journal.
    I firmly believe they think we’re only beating a dead horse, and that our doing so is our problem, not theirs.

  • Bill

    The disturbing thing about the general population response to “Issues, Etc.”, is the personal attacks against individuals (Kieschnick, et al). Even Mrs. Ziegler’s site referring to the IC as the place where the suits live. And routinely the comments on religious site after religious site spew hatred toward one or two individuals, with little to no information warranting such. While I enjoy your blog and read it frequently, it is at times like these I would expect an intervention of sorts. The bearing of false witness runs rampant in situations like these, all in the name of Jesus. Very, very sad.

  • Bill

    The disturbing thing about the general population response to “Issues, Etc.”, is the personal attacks against individuals (Kieschnick, et al). Even Mrs. Ziegler’s site referring to the IC as the place where the suits live. And routinely the comments on religious site after religious site spew hatred toward one or two individuals, with little to no information warranting such. While I enjoy your blog and read it frequently, it is at times like these I would expect an intervention of sorts. The bearing of false witness runs rampant in situations like these, all in the name of Jesus. Very, very sad.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Bill #7,

    I don’t think I perceive hatred being spewed against the “suits” at the “Purple Palace”. I think I do perceive a sense of disgust at a church which should always behave in an obviously Christian fashion, with openness; and leaders, with a pastoral heart; but instead at least appearing to behave in a way which we would question the direction and motives of our beloved Synod (hope that long sentence makes sense).

    You’re right that we should all pause to examine the way that we speak to one another and do the best we can to be kind and put the best construction on everything as we are reminded in the 8th Commandment.

    I was recently thinking along these lines and have concluded that Rev. Pastor President Kieschnick must be a Confessional Mastermind. He has done everything he could possibly do to get our confessional rears up out of our chairs and ready to do something with our radical faith, such as share it and our concern over the future of authentic Lutheran Christianity. Well done.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Bill #7,

    I don’t think I perceive hatred being spewed against the “suits” at the “Purple Palace”. I think I do perceive a sense of disgust at a church which should always behave in an obviously Christian fashion, with openness; and leaders, with a pastoral heart; but instead at least appearing to behave in a way which we would question the direction and motives of our beloved Synod (hope that long sentence makes sense).

    You’re right that we should all pause to examine the way that we speak to one another and do the best we can to be kind and put the best construction on everything as we are reminded in the 8th Commandment.

    I was recently thinking along these lines and have concluded that Rev. Pastor President Kieschnick must be a Confessional Mastermind. He has done everything he could possibly do to get our confessional rears up out of our chairs and ready to do something with our radical faith, such as share it and our concern over the future of authentic Lutheran Christianity. Well done.

  • http://augsburg1530.wordpress.com/ Mollie

    Admittedly I’m an advocate of a livelier writing style. So I understand that sometimes my writing has an edge to it that turns people off (and excites others). But “suits,” to me, is not a derogatory word. Is there something I’m missing? While I don’t think the folks in St. Louis are my bosses, I routinely refer to my own bosses in the secular world as “the suits” — and I am pretty sure they’ve always taken that as an informal term of respect.

    I am extremely upset with the cancellation of Issues, Etc. and the lack of transparency coming from church headquarters. And I want to hold the proper people accountable. But I do not bear any ill will or hatred toward the people responsible. Far from it. My pastor leads us in prayer for our local and national synodical authorities at least once a week.

  • http://augsburg1530.wordpress.com/ Mollie

    Admittedly I’m an advocate of a livelier writing style. So I understand that sometimes my writing has an edge to it that turns people off (and excites others). But “suits,” to me, is not a derogatory word. Is there something I’m missing? While I don’t think the folks in St. Louis are my bosses, I routinely refer to my own bosses in the secular world as “the suits” — and I am pretty sure they’ve always taken that as an informal term of respect.

    I am extremely upset with the cancellation of Issues, Etc. and the lack of transparency coming from church headquarters. And I want to hold the proper people accountable. But I do not bear any ill will or hatred toward the people responsible. Far from it. My pastor leads us in prayer for our local and national synodical authorities at least once a week.

  • Richard Lewer

    Bill,
    Sadly, the witness happens to be true.

  • Richard Lewer

    Bill,
    Sadly, the witness happens to be true.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I can only add that Todd Wilken himself has been a consistent practitioner of good manners, graciousness, proper ettiquette, etc. (reference intended), when engaging man-to-man those with whom he disagreed.
    But he was certainly no weenie in the process.
    I marveled at his aplomb. Etc.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I can only add that Todd Wilken himself has been a consistent practitioner of good manners, graciousness, proper ettiquette, etc. (reference intended), when engaging man-to-man those with whom he disagreed.
    But he was certainly no weenie in the process.
    I marveled at his aplomb. Etc.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Y’all, I can’t comment on whether what’s being said is true or not, but I do know “acting like Baptists” (I am one) when I see it. Please, be careful about airing your dirty laundry in public–it causes resentments that can take a LOT of time to heal, and can split churches.

    (BTW, thankfully the “acting like Baptists” is just a stereotype, but there is an underlying reality that dealing with things this way is really cancerous….it damages the Body of Christ.)

    Object in a letter to Ablaze? Fine. Have a congregational vote to request that church funds provided to HQ not be used for certain things? Absolutely.

    But let’s make sure that we don’t choose a way of communicating that flat out humiliates and denigrates those who, despite the faults we think they have, are still brothers and sisters in Christ. Please.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Y’all, I can’t comment on whether what’s being said is true or not, but I do know “acting like Baptists” (I am one) when I see it. Please, be careful about airing your dirty laundry in public–it causes resentments that can take a LOT of time to heal, and can split churches.

    (BTW, thankfully the “acting like Baptists” is just a stereotype, but there is an underlying reality that dealing with things this way is really cancerous….it damages the Body of Christ.)

    Object in a letter to Ablaze? Fine. Have a congregational vote to request that church funds provided to HQ not be used for certain things? Absolutely.

    But let’s make sure that we don’t choose a way of communicating that flat out humiliates and denigrates those who, despite the faults we think they have, are still brothers and sisters in Christ. Please.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Beware the broad brush, Bike Bubba.
    As for airing dirty laundry–this ‘public’ place is basically Lutheran, so…there’s no one who’s not welcome, but we Lutherans have pretty much resigned ourselves to the idea we’re talking amongst ourselves.
    and as for church’s splitting: well, that happens, and sometimes for unworthy reasons, sometimes without forethought or intent (pretty much the Reformation itself), sometimes of necessity.
    Sometimes, though, it doesn’t happen when it should.
    Whatever happens, it takes time and best efforts to avoid its happening, but it shouldn’t be avoided just for the purposes of saving face.
    It’s none of the public’s business because it’s not a public (civil) matter. But the action that occurred, that precipitated all this ‘dirty laundry’ suddenly coming out, was a publicly-performed act. So we’re going to talk about it.
    It’s a big deal. It wasn’t a favorite radio show being sent down some chute. It was a light on the airwaves/internet/ipod; it was a life-giving radio show.
    And it didn’t just affect us listeners and not even just us Lutherans. It affected the world, really. Still does, in fact.
    The parties responsible for the cancellation are not responding to the outcry, made thru the petition, thru emails, phone calls, and letters, maybe from pulpits even. And it’s not the first time this sort of action and non-response has occurred. You’ve only seen a few pieces of the dirty laundry. There’s loads yet.
    We should not pass on irresponsible information or call people names or presume motives we don’t really know.
    But we don’t need to be idiots either. We’re the church militant, contending not for a favorite radio program or its ‘stars’, but for as faithful a proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as you could ever hope to hear over the public airwaves. An apology without apologizing for it.
    It’s just a shame that our militancy has been required against the actions of our own brothers in faith.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Beware the broad brush, Bike Bubba.
    As for airing dirty laundry–this ‘public’ place is basically Lutheran, so…there’s no one who’s not welcome, but we Lutherans have pretty much resigned ourselves to the idea we’re talking amongst ourselves.
    and as for church’s splitting: well, that happens, and sometimes for unworthy reasons, sometimes without forethought or intent (pretty much the Reformation itself), sometimes of necessity.
    Sometimes, though, it doesn’t happen when it should.
    Whatever happens, it takes time and best efforts to avoid its happening, but it shouldn’t be avoided just for the purposes of saving face.
    It’s none of the public’s business because it’s not a public (civil) matter. But the action that occurred, that precipitated all this ‘dirty laundry’ suddenly coming out, was a publicly-performed act. So we’re going to talk about it.
    It’s a big deal. It wasn’t a favorite radio show being sent down some chute. It was a light on the airwaves/internet/ipod; it was a life-giving radio show.
    And it didn’t just affect us listeners and not even just us Lutherans. It affected the world, really. Still does, in fact.
    The parties responsible for the cancellation are not responding to the outcry, made thru the petition, thru emails, phone calls, and letters, maybe from pulpits even. And it’s not the first time this sort of action and non-response has occurred. You’ve only seen a few pieces of the dirty laundry. There’s loads yet.
    We should not pass on irresponsible information or call people names or presume motives we don’t really know.
    But we don’t need to be idiots either. We’re the church militant, contending not for a favorite radio program or its ‘stars’, but for as faithful a proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as you could ever hope to hear over the public airwaves. An apology without apologizing for it.
    It’s just a shame that our militancy has been required against the actions of our own brothers in faith.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I do beware the broad brush–admitting that it’s only (thankfully) a stereotype. And I hope that I can merely take your word when you say that there is “loads more” dirty laundry that needs airing.

    That said, there comes a point where, if indeed things are so bad, the proper, Biblical route is not to air things out on the Internet. It is to–if your church polity allows–remove those who are soiling the family linens (rhetorically speaking) from vocational ministry because that’s not how Paul describes the qualifications for deacons and elders in 1 Timothy and Titus. It is to remember Matthew 18 in what must be a sad time.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I do beware the broad brush–admitting that it’s only (thankfully) a stereotype. And I hope that I can merely take your word when you say that there is “loads more” dirty laundry that needs airing.

    That said, there comes a point where, if indeed things are so bad, the proper, Biblical route is not to air things out on the Internet. It is to–if your church polity allows–remove those who are soiling the family linens (rhetorically speaking) from vocational ministry because that’s not how Paul describes the qualifications for deacons and elders in 1 Timothy and Titus. It is to remember Matthew 18 in what must be a sad time.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Why is the internet out of bounds? Should we instead be burning up the phone lines or cranking out fliers?
    Think of 95 these nailed to a door. Only there’s no hammer necessary in this day and time.
    Little that’s being said that I’m aware of is off-base or in bad taste. As for the means of cleaning house–well, that needs to be done by proper means as well, IF that’s what’s necessary. Mind if we talk about it? We don’t wish to simply fly blind or off the handle. We wish for a good, Christian resolution. It might take a while; it might not happen to our liking. but, pardon us while we reach out to one another for information and solutions.
    I don’t quite understand what you think we ought to be doing; only what you think we ought not to be doing.
    But, here we stand, doing just that.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Why is the internet out of bounds? Should we instead be burning up the phone lines or cranking out fliers?
    Think of 95 these nailed to a door. Only there’s no hammer necessary in this day and time.
    Little that’s being said that I’m aware of is off-base or in bad taste. As for the means of cleaning house–well, that needs to be done by proper means as well, IF that’s what’s necessary. Mind if we talk about it? We don’t wish to simply fly blind or off the handle. We wish for a good, Christian resolution. It might take a while; it might not happen to our liking. but, pardon us while we reach out to one another for information and solutions.
    I don’t quite understand what you think we ought to be doing; only what you think we ought not to be doing.
    But, here we stand, doing just that.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Matthew 18, dear sister. You confront those who are sinning privately, get the facts out, and raise the ante up to public excommunication.

    As the Pope of the time was the one selling indulgences, it was not to be thought that Luther had this opportunity. 500 years later, I would have to assume that the same ought not apply to the LCMS.

    (if it does, there are far deeper problems than a radio show or whatever)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Matthew 18, dear sister. You confront those who are sinning privately, get the facts out, and raise the ante up to public excommunication.

    As the Pope of the time was the one selling indulgences, it was not to be thought that Luther had this opportunity. 500 years later, I would have to assume that the same ought not apply to the LCMS.

    (if it does, there are far deeper problems than a radio show or whatever)

  • Susan aka organshoes

    That last statement is quite accurate.
    Except for the ‘whatever’ part.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    That last statement is quite accurate.
    Except for the ‘whatever’ part.

  • Joe

    Bike – (and pastors correct me if I am wrong on this) a public sin does not require a private confrontation. A public sin maybe, and most often needs to be, confronted in public. That is the way Lutherans have historically understood Matthew 18.

    The removal of a radio program and the refusal to offer any actual explanation is a public act; it does not require a private meeting. That said, there have been emails, letters, phone calls, etc. made by many individuals. The Synod’s response was a public statement. So even if a private meeting were required the Brothers who have sinned have taken it public and no meeting is required.

  • Joe

    Bike – (and pastors correct me if I am wrong on this) a public sin does not require a private confrontation. A public sin maybe, and most often needs to be, confronted in public. That is the way Lutherans have historically understood Matthew 18.

    The removal of a radio program and the refusal to offer any actual explanation is a public act; it does not require a private meeting. That said, there have been emails, letters, phone calls, etc. made by many individuals. The Synod’s response was a public statement. So even if a private meeting were required the Brothers who have sinned have taken it public and no meeting is required.