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Thursday, August 14, 2008 

District Newsletters And Cynicism

I’ve noticed by reading newsletters sent out by my district that there is no verse in the Bible that can’t be used to encourage the raising money for synodical programs. A case in point might be the recent use of John 21:6 by the Southeastern district which reads;

Jesus said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

The newsletter continues;

Do you ever wonder what happens when the net is thrown out? What about the net of the Southeastern District? You are responding to the call to throw out the net and begin new mission work. Because of your response to Ablaze! for God's Mission (AFGM), new nets have been cast.

So, John 21:6 is all about Jesus telling us that we have to go out and do something fo His Church? Actually, no, that’s not the point of the verse at all. Maybe by looking at the first fourteen verses of chapter 21 instead of just one verse we might be able to get a better idea of what’s really happening;

John 21:1-14
After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

So, Jesus isn’t telling the disciples to go out and raise a bunch of money for the church is He? In fact, the verse is really all about the resurrected Jesus revealing Himself to the disciples. Leave it to a bureaucracy to take Jesus filling the nets with fish and Jesus feeding His disciples breakfast and turn it into something that we can do for Jesus.

Gosh, if a slack jawed yokel like me can understand that it’s always Jesus doing the doing, why is my inbox always filled with emails that say otherwise? Aren’t there trained theologians working at the district and synodical level that can review this stuff over before it goes out?

I recently had lunch with two members of the priestly caste where I was told to beware the perils of blogging. “Ya know Frank, a few of our brothers, who were not always so cynical, started blogging and have become very cynical after doing such. We just wanted to warn you that there are downsides to blogging, like cynicism.”

I'm not too worried about losing my cheerful outlook because of my ranting on this blog. That being said, I’m starting to wonder if I need to stop reading my all my district and synod emails before I do become just a tad bit too cynical.


It's just like you (not that I even know you) to go and read the verse in context. You're ruining it for everyone.

I'm not a Lutheran, so I'm not familiar with Ablaze, but the crap that you're getting from the Southeastern Synod is just that--and I don't think you're wrong for calling it out.

Well, I just checked out the Ablaze movement info from the LCMS site and it sure looks ok to me. Obviously, something has set you off and I'm curious. Have you addressed this somewhere on your blog?

The Ablaze! program has evolved quite a bit since I started writing about it three or four years ago. That’s a whole other post.

I was asked by a reader to give a defense of my criticisms which I did from both a Lutheran Confessional position as well as a Scriptural one. The seven part series can be found by clicking here.

Try this as my link didn't take


if you don't mind, I'd like to interject some of my own cynicism here. You know how liberals and other theological nincompoops like to say that all religions are basically the same. Well, you know they're basically right because most Christians only want to get warm and fuzzy "values" from church, and if there is one thing that Evangelicals know, it's "values" (i.e. law). Every world religion from shamanism to greek mythology or islam knows how to spread law. That's what people want and that's how the other theological nincompoops known as the LCMS bureaucracy want to respond. Screw the (free,true) gospel! The law brings in revenue.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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