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The Gospel According to the Lutheran Hour: "You're Fired"

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(Or: "Human Resources Seeks A More Convenient Savior") The Lutheran Hour loves Jesus so much they fired their own Speaker for telling the truth about Him.

Love makes people do crazy things. When that love is directed toward God, the level of crazy can go way up, even though the professed object of their love, God, is the ultimate of good and perfection. This has nothing to do with God, but it has everything to do with human nature. God, after all, has told us all we need to know about Himself in Scripture, and even given us lots of hints in the Created Order. It's not His fault when we twist and pervert what He says about Himself, and about what Christ has done for us. Martin Luther talks about this in the Large and Small Catechisms. We are always making up our own idols, our own gods, and trying to call them the True God. At its most extreme, this can become obvious even to the casual observer, and to those who profess little or no belief. As someone has remarked, if your god commands you to fly an airplane into a building to kill thousands of innocents without provocation, you probably will join your god in his heaven. Sadly, that will not be the True God, and your heaven will be a very hot place.

The problem is that we can twist and pervert both God and love, and the consequences can be devastating. Combine this with noxious elements like utopianism and materialism, and you can have, variously, the Revolutionary Anabaptist killings in Muenster in 1534, or the more modern Marxist and Communist regimes which have murdered, indirectly or directly, millions. Contrary to what the modern culture would have us believe, the Communists (followed by the National Socialists) seem to have kill far more people than any religion. But at least the Communists did not claim to be commanded by God to commit their barbarisms (cold comfort, of course, to their victims). This makes them no less evil, but perhaps more clear about their evil.

Within Christian Churches, those who claim to love Jesus the most are often the most willing to ignore the totality of what Jesus actually said. Because they love so much, and they need to reach the lost (or the straying, or the poor, or whatever term is needed to make the excuse look good), they can ignore what Jesus has said about both doctrine and ethics. Since what they want to accomplish are good things (which no one disputes), the ends justify the means, which is another way of saying morality and ethics do not apply to them, just to others. This is, of course, totally contrary to what Jesus said about Himself, when He said If you love me you will hold fast to my word.*
* Or, as John 14:15 is often rendered, keep my commandments
This suggests that those who are ablaze with love and zeal for missions (or the poor, or growth, or multi-cultural-ethnic-diversity outreach, or whatever the flavor of the month might be) might be ablaze mostly about themselves, or their ideas about God, or Jesus, or the Church, and entirely cold about what God has actually said about Himself and His Church. There is, after all, no way to be ablaze without attracting attention to oneself, which seems, well, selfish, especially when we should be directing our attention and the attention of others toward Our Savior, His Words, and His Sacraments.

Among those who love too much, Lutheran Hour Ministries has recently distinguished itself by firing its own Speaker for holding fast to the words of the professed object of their love, Jesus Christ. A very old and venerable organization officially affiliated with the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, the Lutheran Hour (and its parent, the International Lutheran Laymen's League), has apparently been made crazed by love, or perhaps being ablaze has burned away their doctrinal and ethical scruples. As Moses learned before the burning bush, God is the only One Who can burn ablaze without being consumed. For the rest of us there are serious consequences. Shakespeare's Othello comes to mind, the one that loved not wisely but too well,*
* Othello, Act 5
which is how Othello describes himself after he murders his own wife (because, like the Revolutionary Anabaptists, he loved her). If Othello had had a Human Resources Department, he could have done the deed by referring to a policy manual (unlike us, the Elizabethans never did get around to replacing common sense and moral judgements with an employee's policy manual).

Desdemona (Othello's wife), may have seen it coming, but the Lutheran Hour Speaker, Rev. Schulz, seems to have been blind-sided. Before he had completed the adjudication of the decision that made him so unpopular (dare we say unloved?), the ILLL Executive Committee, as late as Feb. 19, 2002, had written to Dr. Schulz that Your decision, either way, will in no way affect the good relationship we share with you nor the respect (confidence) we have for you as a person or in your role with Lutheran Hour Ministries. Within six months the Executive Director and President of the ILLL has asked Schulz to resign, evidently because of the very decision referenced above, which Schulz was obligated by his Church to render.

We're only guessing about Othello, but it appears that Lutheran Hour Ministries does have a Human Resources Department, because their ostensible reason for firing their Speaker, Wally Schulz, was that he violated their policy which requires employees not to engage in activities that bring significant controversy to the Lutheran Hour. The activities for which Rev. Schulz was dismissed were those required of him exactly because he was (and is) an officer in the Church whose doctrine and practice the Lutheran Hour has promised to honor and uphold. It's hard to imagine a more absurd course of reasoning: an arm of the Church fires an officer of that same Church for doing exactly what the Church required him to do.

Those with a longer memory may recall another group of Lutherans who loved too much. They practiced what came to be known as Gospel Reductionism, which was aided and abetted by a Higher Critical view of Scripture which held that only those parts of the Bible that contained the Gospel were truly the Word of God (to put it in in overly simple manner). Like their higher critical counterparts, the Gospel Reductionists practiced an art which eventually corroded that which they sought to protect and advance, the Gospel itself. If God's Word cannot speak Law, then neither can it speak Gospel, because God has spoken both. This is one reason why Lutherans have historically embraced the totality of God's Word in both Law and Gospel. Those who are ablaze and love too much may believe they are advancing the Gospel, but ultimately they will arrive at a different gospel, as the Apostle Paul puts it,*
*In Galatians I:6-7
one that presents a Savior of convenience apart from His own Words in Scripture.

The resolution below is a modest attempt to share the love at the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod's convention July 10-15 of 2004, and help the Lutheran Hour and the Lutheran Laymen's League understand love as our Savior understood it when He said If you love me you will hold fast to my word.
* John 14:15; see above
It also shares what is rational and obvious, namely, that an arm of the Church cannot punish an officer or member of the Church for doing nothing more than what his Church requires. Should any voting delegates have an interest, they should feel free to use the resolution below.

This resolution would also give the Lutheran Hour a chance to more fully explain their actions toward Dr. Schulz. It appears that their defense is that Dr. Schulz in essence removed and fired himself by failing to agree to newly imposed conditions upon his position. Dr. Schulz correctly understands that these new conditions make it impossible for him to carry out the duties required of him as on officer of his Church (as they would for any member or officer of the Church). This argument on the part of the Lutheran Hour has generated quite a bit of smoke, and it would be good to have their leadership clear things up, and answer some questions at the podium before the convention, perhaps like these: Does the ILLL intend to conform to Bylaw 13.01? If so, have they corrected their rules, regulations and policies that interfered with and punished an elected officer of the LCMS in performing the duties required by his office, membership in the Synod, and the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod? If so, when will they offer to reinstate Dr. Schulz without stipulations? If not, when will they voluntarily resign their status as an auxiliary of the LCMS? It would be, after all, the loving thing to do.

Memorial and Resolution for the Lutheran Hour

TO ADDRESS CONFLICTS BETWEEN SYNODICAL DUTIES AND AUXILIARY/RSO REGULATIONS
  • WHEREAS Auxiliary and Recognized Service Organizations are described in the Synod's By Laws as arm[s] of the synod that honor and uphold the doctrine and practice of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod as set forth in the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions (By Law 13.01), or engage[s] in program activity that is in harmony with the programs of the boards of the Synod, and respect[s] and does not act contrary to the doctrine and practice of the Synod (By Law 13.03), and
  • WHEREAS members of Synod are required to uphold the doctrine, constitution and by-laws of the Synod and may also be called or appointed by Auxiliary or Recognized Service Organizations (By Law 2.15j), and
  • WHEREAS, The International Lutheran Laymen's League (ILLL) has dismissed Wallace Schulz, an officer and member of Synod pursuant to his carrying out his duties as Vice-President required by the same Constitution and By Laws of Synod, citing the ILLL's own internal rules, regulations and policies,

BE IT

  • RESOLVED that the Constitution and By Laws of Synod clearly and obviously intend that an arm of the synod that honor[s] uphold[s] the doctrine and practice of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod could not and would not dismiss, frustrate, or in any way interfere with a member or officer of Synod in carrying out his duties, obligations and responsibilities required by the same Constitution and By Laws of Synod, and be it further
  • RESOLVED that the actions of the ILLL have violated this clear and obvious intention of the Constitution and By Laws of the Synod, and be it further
  • RESOLVED that the ILLL be encouraged to change their internal policies to bring them into harmony with this clear intention of the Constitution and By Laws of the Synod and offer to reinstate Wallace Schulz to his position with the ILLL, and be it further
  • RESOLVED that should the ILLL fail to make these corrections in a timely manner they be encouraged to voluntarily relinquish their status as an auxiliary organization of the Synod, and be it finally
  • RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of Synod be authorized to revoke the auxiliary status of the ILLL should the ILLL fail to correct its policies, rules and regulations, and bring itself into conformity with the clear and obvious intention of the Constitution and By Laws of the Synod by July of 2006.

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