Why I won’t listen

People are accusing this simple country parson of being unreasonable. I won’t listen to the sermon, (except for a few words I heard when getting the screenshot – which was way more than enough) yet I am calling on the man who preached it to repent.

In our modern American culture, that seems unthinkable. Even pastors are suggesting I am not being fair. But I’m not interested in fair. I’m interested in faithful.

Back in my sem days, a friend was placed in a tiny town in Minnesota. One day, as he was working around the house, the JWs stopped by. The pastor told them that not only would he not hear them, but no one would, and they needed to leave. They told him it was a free country. On they went to the next house. It being Minnesota, it was one of his elders. They knocked. The man opened the door, and the pastor (clad in his paint-covered work pants and torn t-shirt) said, “As your pastor I am telling you that they are going to speak damnable lies to you, and you need to shut the door for your own good.” “Ok pastor.” End of conversation. I think they tried one more house, with similar results, before they got in their car and left town.

The pastor and members did not need to hear the false teaching to know that it was false teaching. As a pastor, people (generally not members) often give me books to read. The Secret, 40 Days of Purpose, Your Best Life Now, etc. “That’s heresy”, I say. “Oh, you really need to read it.” I am told. “Don’t judge before you look at it.” I do judge. I don’t look. I don’t have time to read every new heresy fad that comes down the pike. I would spend my whole ministry just listening to new heresy fads. That’s not only a waste of time, it’s downright dangerous. If you’re always working with hazardous substances, so much so that you don’t have time to nourish yourself with what is nutritive, you will die.

In Wyoming, we have some fairly large prairie dog towns. I’ve been told that rattle snakes live in the prairie dog holes. I’ve never seen one. But I always manage to give the openings a respectful distance. I warn others, even though I have not personally seen one. Why? Because it’s dangerous to get bitten by a rattlesnake. I don’t need to go through the experience to know how to avoid their homes. Similarly, I know the mess that cow pies can make of your boots, even though I have never stepped in a fresh one, and feel no need to try.

What happened in the seminary chapel was an offense before God. Jesus  tells the people “You don’t give holy things to dogs, or pearls to pigs, so don’t bother giving the things of God to people who will despise them.” He was using hyperbole, it is true. But that only works if we have a common understanding about how inappropriate it is to give holy things to a dog. Saying, “He was talking about people, he was only using dogs as an example” is to miss that the dogs are an example because they are unclean, can not enter into the holy places, and can not be given the holy things.

I did hear about two sentences of the sermon when I was getting my screen grab. He was telling the seminarians that they needed to be more like the dog. Here’s the thing – dogs and wolves may have separated into wild and domesticated, but genetically they can still breed. They are of the same scriptural “kind.” On the ark there was a pair of primitive dog-wolves, from which all modern dogs and wolves are descended. Scripture tells us that we are to be shepherds, not hirelings. We are to defend the sheep from the wolf, even at the risk of our lives. This hireling literally told the men that they need to be more like the wolf. I don’t need to listen to more words.

He brought something that is unclean – cousin to a wolf – into the house of God, before the altar of God, and used it as an example of what pastors are to be. That’s so far out of bounds, I don’t know how to describe it properly. I’ve tried here. Because people are not used to hearing that anything is wrong. My task is to distinguish between the holy and the common, the clean and the unclean, and to teach the people. This was unclean, and people pretended it was holy. That is not profaning. It is defilement.

Peter had noble motives when he said he would not let Jesus be killed. You can even quote the fifth commandment from the catechism, or the book of James, that we can’t just let our neighbor die. We have to help him in every bodily need. And yet Peter was not speaking a word of God. He was acting as Satan. That same thing happened in the seminary chapel this week. Men were told to go out among the sheep, and behave more like wolves. That is not how this works. It is an offense before God. There will be judgment.

I will not listen to such heretics. And my advice is, do not listen to them yourselves. It’s not safe. If you want a word of the Lord to support that, how about this one from Jeremiah 23:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” (ESV)

To put that in more modern lingo:

God will judge. And unless we repent, we’re really asking for it.

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10 Responses to Why I won’t listen

  1. Rev. Roger D. Sterle says:

    Tried to listen but just could not keep going!!

  2. You are being neither fair nor faithful. Jehovah’s Witnesses are one thing. They proudly wear a label that marks them as false teachers. As for the books you listed, based on their authors we know they contain false teachings – but only because you, or others, have already heard these teachings and refuted them by the Word of God.

    I personally think pastors do a disservice to their members if they are unwilling to engage these writings because in doing so they help the members of their congregation grow in discernment. It’s not just a matter of Mormon’s teach X and JW’s teach Y, but also why X and Y are contrary to Scripture and therefore false.

    However, your accusation of false teaching against a district president is not the same as that. You have judged a fellow pastor, a brother in communion with you not based on his membership in a heretical group – for he is not part of one – but on a few words out of context and an image that you saw.

    Would I have brought the dog upfront (or even into the sanctuary), probably not. But the sermon? The sermon was down-right God-pleasing. And you should be ashamed of yourself for accusing DP Lueck of false teaching without listening to it.

    • Country Preacher says:

      It was not an image I saw, as if somehow that was torn out of context. It was a dog, brought into the holy place, and then set as an example of conduct for pastors. It was in direct violation of the Word of God “Do not give what is holy to dogs”. It was a violation on its face. If someone makes racist comments and then punches a minority person in the face, I do not need to hear the words to know a sin was committed. Even the heathen understand this. It was a violation of God’s word, regardless of what was said. I am not only not ashamed, I am going to continue speaking against it, as one who speaks with the voice of God.

  3. jb says:

    Brother Winter –

    You legalist – you!

    Heh! Jes’ kiddin.’

    Despite Marty Noland’s intervention at BJS re: service dawgs, the issue has been glossed over, as was the neo-old-earth business of recent postings here and at BJS re: the CJ/CStL piece.

    I watched the late 70’s and it’s “Explosion”, as St. Kurt entitled his book, happen as a very young man; I did A2 and especially Da Fort in its hey-day (I was there ’82-’86), saw Bohlmann’s unjustified take-down of Saint Robert, the resulting chaos and Robert’s death, and the incredibly, p a i n f u l l y s l o w exodus back from the wilderness. AB was there to help rectify things, and was a saintly man, but he all-to-quickly followed his bride to glory, and we got?

    _________

    Fill in the blank! Either the name, or proper epithet. Ooooh! My bad, except – not really.

    There has been a shift under Matt. Not tectonic by any means, but we passengers can sense the ship seeming to be in a wide turn. Having the multiple (all but one false) rudders Ole Mo has trying to turn her these days, getting the right compass heading is indeed very difficult. We can only pray the compass reading/heading is ultimately correct.

    I have retired from my Weird Collar Wearing days in an active sense. Being faithful to Holy Writ and the BoC is, in some quarters, to invite “career obliteration.” I can speak to that first-hand. I hit the right age for retirement at just the right time, so I am essentially on the sidelines per se. But I am encouraged by your engagement and that of others over against TPTB.

    Our Holy Office invites ridicule and scorn, so – as Jesus said – “Blessed are ye when men’shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake.”

    Take heart. “Be of good cheer – the ‘I am’ has overcome the world!”

    Pax tecum

    Rev. Jeff Baxter, Em.
    Houston

  4. IrishRovr says:

    Being faithful does not lead a person to sin against the commandments. By judging without knowing all of the facts – in this case the actual content of the sermon that was preached – are you not breaking a commandment?
    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
    What does this mean?
    We should fear and love God so that we do not misrepresent, betray, slander, or defame our neighbour, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.
    Just sayin’….

    • Country Preacher says:

      “Do not give what is holy to dogs.” We not only do that, we have now declared the dogs themselves holy. It doesn’t matter what words were used to defend an aberrant practice. It is godless by definition.

      • IrishRovr says:

        You can repeat that mantra until the proverbial cows come home and it still does not relate to the subject at hand nor does it answer the question I posed. In the first place no one gave anything holy to the dog nor did anyone declare the dog holy. In the second place it appears that you also don’t listen to/read even what Luther has to say. It’s a shame that you have nothing better to do than to misrepresent, slander and defame another based on nothing that you have heard or read. Pastor, do you not have any work that needs to be done for the benefit of your congregation or the church at large instead of stirring up division within the church for no good reason?

      • Country Preacher says:

        I do have work to do in my parish, and this is doing it: I write for my members about various issues in the church, encouraging them in what is good and noble and true, and warning them against false teaching. Sadly, the current incident falls into the latter category, for the reasons I have indicated. Sorry you can not see that.

  5. IrishRovr says:

    SMH

  6. Wayne Schwanke says:

    Normally I do not read or respond to blogs. I try to take President Lueck’s admonition to the candidates and pastors to heart, “You need to know your sheep and you don’t get to know them by sitting in front of a computer”. However, a colleague brought your post to my attention. Once having read what you wrote and the accusations you’ve made, I felt the need to respond.

    First, I find it sad that in the Body of Christ, we sometimes, perhaps all too often, find it necessary to criticize and accuse with what appears to be malice and anger in our hearts. I realize that we are contending for the truth of God’s Word and the manner in which that Truth is communicated to God’s people. Certainly this is God pleasing, honorable and necessary in the darkened and deceptive world in which we live. However, we are reminded by that very Word of God to speak the truth in love, and as Luther (and the IrishRovr, who responded earlier) reminded us, “to put the best construction on everything” especially when dealing with a brother or sister in Christ.

    Second, when anyone is speaking toward an issue or offering an argument for or against something, it is imperative that you have the best possible understanding of what your are promoting or opposing. Using your own example about replying to Jehovah Witnesses, earlier in my ministry, when I was confronted with the false teachings of the Jehovah Witnesses in my community, I first read what the Lutheran theologians and dogmaticians had to say about the JWs; then I read JW propaganda, and finally I read parts of the deliberately deceptive and falsely translated New World Translation. The best way to speak against falsehood and to proclaim the truth is understand the falsehood and to know the truth. I encourage you with all sincerity to listen to President Lueck’s sermon before you judge him or his words. You called him a “hireling” who told the Candidates to go out and act more like wolves. Those were absolutely not his words nor is that what Scripture says. Then you added, “I don’t need to listen to more words”. Sadly, I doubt that listening to his sermon will change your mind. Sadly, someone may read your blog and think it is gospel when it couldn’t be further from the truth. When you set out to publicly accuse in the name of God and His Word, integrity requires that you be accurate in what you say, or you are being a false witness. Perhaps you should read the verse you so love to quote in its context, especially the verse before it. You owe your brother in Christ, President Lueck, and those who read your blog that Scriptural decency.

    Third, if you were to listen to the sermon, you would learn that is Christ-centric throughout. Law and Gospel are proclaimed. The Gospel is by far predominant. Yes, dogs were mentioned, but only as an illustration – an illustration easily and powerfully understood in our day and age. Jesus used everyday illustrations in His teaching and preaching, including an illustration of a dog. This illustration didn’t destroy faith or give a wrong impression to the woman with whom Jesus spoke, rather it emboldened and promoted her faith. Surely the Holy Spirit worked through Jesus’ illustration of a dog. Why is it then not possible for the same Holy Spirit to work through President Lueck’s illustration of a dog or do you presume to know what the Holy Spirit can and cannot do?

    Fourth, there is a great difference between President Lueck using a dog as an illustration or even as an object lesson and your quoting Mathew 7 against him and his sermon. His dog illustration emphasized faithfulness and loyalty to the Shepherd, protection and care of the sheep, and tireless service to the Shepherd and those in His care. It’s merely an illustration. Never did President Lueck claim or imply that dogs were holy. They are merely portrayed as faithful servants of their shepherd. What about that is offensive? However, by quoting Jesus’s words in accusation against President Lueck, I wonder if you truly realize what you are saying. You are, as a matter-of-fact, calling those who heard his sermon “dogs and pigs’ – unclean, unholy, apart from God. You are not using an illustration, you are pronouncing judgment. Your judgment condemns not only President Lueck of sinful, inappropriate use of God’s Word, but it also declares that the Candidates, their families and friends, the Seminary professors, the Synodical representatives – all the brothers and sisters in Christ, who heard, listened to and took that sermon to heart – are in fact unclean and unholy dogs. I pray that is not what you wanted your blog to state or imply. In God’s own accomplished reality, those present and those who heard the sermon are His Baptized children whom the Holy Spirit has sanctified in their faith and life. Be careful, my brother, where you are treading, for what I hear in your blog is a stubborn promotion of your own truth. Jesus reminded the Pharisees and Sadducees who opposed Him with their self-righteous understanding of the Law and Prophets that they neither understood God’s Word nor His power. The Lord also once reminded Peter, “Do not call anything unholy that God has made clean.” I believe it is well that we all humble ourselves before the Lord and heed His admonitions.

    Fifth, I am fully aware that dogs are not favorably spoken about in the 40 references in which they are mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. God uses dogs and their natural behavior as an illustration of what is unclean, unholy and repulsive to Him. Doesn’t He do the same of us, declaring that all our righteousness is as “filthy rags”. While dogs cannot be God’s redeemed creatures, they can become instruments both of His judgment and His mercy. In I Kings 14, I Kings 16, I Kings 21, I Kings 22, and II Kings 9, dogs are used as part of God’s judgment against idolatry and wicked, unbelieving, unjust rulers. Interestingly, through the Prophet Isaiah, the Holy Spirit uses dogs as an illustration of God’s unfaithful servants – the false prophets and greedy priests [Isaiah 56:9-12]. In fact, in verse 11, Isaiah brings shepherds and their sheepdogs together, in the same overall illustration, not unlike President Lueck’s illustration in his sermon. According to Isaiah, one can be a both a bad shepherd and a bad sheepdog at the same time. President Lueck’s message to the Candidates was that God calls and sends them to be both good under-shepherds and good sheepdogs at the same time. It’s an illustration that the Holy Spirit used once before.

    Sixth, I believe the Holy Spirit and God’s Word has something to say and teach in other illustrations and events that take place. Yes, a dog was brought into the Sanctuary during a worship service as an object lesson. I am sure, in fact I can testify to the fact, that this was not the first time an animal was brought into church, nor will it be the last. But was that a sin or the horrendous act that you claim? Interestingly, the comfort dog’s name was Noah. It was God who created all animal species and it was God who chose to bring them, including dogs and all unclean species, into the ark of Noah’s day, to spare their lives from the consequences of man’s sinfulness. On their release after the Flood, God blessed them to be fruitful and multiply in their new life. Is not the Flood a picture of Baptism, and is not the ark, a picture of the Church? Can not God declare clean what was once unclean; cannot God use what was once unholy and separate from Him and use them for His purpose? Wasn’t it God, who once spoke His Word from the mouth of donkey? Wasn’t it our Lord who shared His birth place with cows, donkeys, and oxen? Isn’t it possible that the Shepherds who came to see God’s gift of a Savior, brought a sheepdog with them? Wasn’t it Jesus, who rode a colt, the foal of a donkey into the city of Jerusalem? We need to be careful not to declare impure what God has declared clean. We need to be careful not to put ourselves under the covenant of the Law, less we minimize or negate the new covenant of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

    Finally, who can forget the account of Lazarus and the rich man? When a man who should have known better, did nothing to help his suffering and dying neighbor, Jesus said, “even the dogs came and licked his sores”. The dogs were doing what dogs naturally do, but even as dogs they were befriending, possibly providing some relief to this suffering beggar, doing what should have come naturally for the rich man as one of God’s chosen members of Israel, but which he so terribly failed to do. Is it not possible that God can and often does demonstrate His compassion and mercy through the use of dogs and other animals? I have been in Chaplaincy for 23 years and served in congregations before that. I am familiar with comfort dogs and the good they bring into people’s lives – people dying of cancer, veterans with PTSD, the elderly lost in loneliness, the mentally ill caught in anxiety and fear, handicapped persons battling physical challenges and low self-esteem. I know of police dogs who search out drugs, weapons and explosives to save lives; fire department dogs who find and help rescue trapped individuals, and military service dogs who fight side-by-side with our soldiers. In the cemetery at the Veterans facility where I serve as Chaplain, we have a dog who was wounded in defense of our nation, and laid to rest with his comrades. Is it not possible that God declares clean what sin has made unclean and uses what He has cleansed for His higher purposes of mercy, service and love? It is truly sad if you cannot see or acknowledge that. There are plenty of wolves, thieves and robbers in the world who only come to attack the flock and destroy it. The Church would be blessed if more pastors acted as good shepherds and yes, even as the Shepherd’s good sheepdogs. The Lord bless our Candidates as they receive their calls, follow Jesus, our Good Shepherd, and be faithful in their service to God’s lambs and sheep.

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