Why is The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Instructing its Pastors to Ignore Me?

If you follow this blog you know that I recently read and reviewed a book written by several LCMS theologians entitled, “Making the Case for Christianity”.  The primary purpose of this book is to reassure Christian laypersons that atheist and liberal Christian Bible scholars such as Bart Ehrman are wrong in their skepticism of the historical reliability of the Bible.  These LCMS theologians give “evidence” to reassure nervous conservative Christians that the New Testament is a reliable source of historical information in particular regarding the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

What is their evidence?  Their evidence is presented primarily in chapters two and three.  Chapter two consists almost entirely of fringe scholarship such as that Papias was diligently recording eyewitness testimony in 80 CE (most historians believe Papias was born in c. 70 CE, so that would have made him TEN years old when he was doing his “diligent” recording), and, that the Book of Acts was written prior to the Apostle Paul’s death in 65 CE so therefore the Gospels of Luke and Mark were written even earlier.

This is FRINGE scholarship, folks.

The third chapter is written by an LCMS attorney who makes the bold statement that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is as solid an historical fact as any other fact of Antiquity!  Wow.  He goes on to claim that he could easily win a court case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus based on the overwhelming evidence presented in the Gospels, sources which have been shown (in chapter two, using fringe scholarship) to be primary sources and therefore reliable sources of testimony.  Problem is, he fails to mention that the majority of experts believe that the sources for this story, the Gospels, are NOT eyewitness accounts, and therefore not primary sources!

I have brought this issue to the attention of the President of the LCMS, to many of the district bishops of the LCMS, to many of the pastors in my LCMS district, and to other prominent pastors in the LCMS.  THEY DO NOT WANT TO DISCUSS THIS ISSUE.  I was sent an email by one LCMS pastor in my local district that all LCMS pastors have been notified (he didn’t say by whom) to ignore my communications.

Why?

What is the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod afraid of?  Is this why Dr. Adam Francisco, the primary author of “Making the Case for Christianity” has cut off all communication with me and has failed to fulfill his promise of reviewing Richard Bauckham’s book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” with me on this blog:

Dr. Adam Francisco,  November, 2016:  “His [Richard Bauckham] book [Jesus and the Eyewitnesses] has made quite a splash; some says it’s paradigm shifting. (I’m not an ancient historian, my knowledge of Greek is pretty slim, so I need to rely on an expert. I suspect you aren’t an ancient historian and have limited knowledge of Greek, too.) We could look at each of the pieces of evidence Bauckham provides and assess it based on our own research of the primary sources. What do you say?”

Gary:  I started the review in November, 2016.  Dr. Francisco commented on the first review (here) and has not been heard of since.  Has he been silenced by the LCMS or is his silence his own choice?

Why can’t the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod just admit to its laypeople and the world that its supernatural beliefs (the Virgin Birth, the deity of Jesus, and the bodily Resurrection of Jesus) are based on faith and not on good historical evidence?

The LCMS should stop burying its head in the sand and just admit the truth.  Ignoring former members like me who have discovered the truth is not going to make the truth go away.  The Internet will not let that happen.  The truth is as accessible as the closest computer keyboard.

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16 thoughts on “Why is The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Instructing its Pastors to Ignore Me?

  1. Gary, haven’t you figured it out by now? Whether it’s Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, CoC, Holy Roller … it matters not. To all believers in the Big Guy in the Sky, Faith IS Truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Then they need to stop telling the “faithful” that their religion’s supernatural claims are “as historically solid as any other fact of ancient history”. I want them to admit that their supernatural beliefs are based on faith which is nothing more than wishful thinking.

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  2. Hi Gary,

    How did your discussion, over a beer, go with John Bombarro the other week? Did he give any ground to you? Or was he instructed by his superiors to cancel your meeting?

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

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    1. He did meet with me. It started contentiously but ended cordially. We will see if we choose to meet again. I subsequently sent him my thoughts regarding scholar Gregory Riley’s views on early Christian perspectives on the concept of “resurrection”. I haven’t heard back from him. I plan to let him initiate any further contact.

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  3. The authors of “Making the Case for Christianity” believe that Acts was written prior to Paul’s death in circa 65 CE, the Gospel of Luke before that, and the Gospel of Mark even earlier. Conservative Christians are always pushing for the earliest dates possible. I joke that there are some conservative Christians who believe that the four Gospels were written within forty-five minutes of Jesus’ ascension!

    An early date for the writing of the Book of Acts is certainly possible, but the majority of NT scholars believe it was written decades later, circa 80-85 CE. The majority of experts on any subject can of course be wrong, but more often than not, they are correct. This is why most educated people in western societies defer to “expert opinion” on matters in which they themselves are not experts. I suggest we defer to the experts on the dating of the books of the New Testament as well.

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    1. Gary,
      I like that you make an extra effort to talk to lcms people about this stuff, but when you do, I don’t want you to get stuck on less relevant stuff.
      Example:
      Let’s say there was an empty tomb, the gospels were written by eyewitnesses, and it was all written before 70 ad. Would that objectively prove Jesus bodily reenlivened and ascended?

      I Love your pursuit, but don’t want you to get bogged down debating unnecessary details. Try meeting them on their own terms and premises as much as reasonable.

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  4. Gary –

    Self-validation of one’s self importance is has little weight or credibility..

    One – as I made clear to you three years ago – the Resurrection is a primary – perhaps the premier – Article of Faith. What you or John (Hey, John!) think or say to the contrary, is of little import to us.

    Two – we are not hierarchal in structure. We don’t take “orders from on high.” It might be interesting if you asked your pastor “mole” to publicly identify himself and provide you with a copy of “the letter” as verification. Now that would cause you and Nan to truly turn blue – waiting for that kind of verification. In my 35 years, I have never heard of, or received, any letter of that nature.

    Pax –
    Rev. Jeff Baxter

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    1. If only all conservative Christians believed like you, Pastor Baxter.

      If conservative Christians promoted their supernatural beliefs based on faith alone, we skeptics would simply shrug them off. It is the fact that conservative Christians such as the LCMS authors of “Making the Case for Christianity” make outrageous claims of fact about their supernatural beliefs that spur skeptics to call them out for their preposterous hubris.

      “The fact is that the evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is as complete and as sound as any fact of the ancient world.” —Craig Parton, p. 82

      Yet when conservative Christians make such ridiculous claims and are criticized by non-Christians, they suddenly develop a persecution complex. Here is Dr. Adam Francisco in the conclusion to “Making the Case for Christianity”, p. 199:

      “They [non-Christian groups]…denounce Christianity as a not so cleverly devised myth or just some story that Christians continue to tell themselves for existential comfort. To shrink from apologetics in this environment is suicidal and as JP Moreland puts it, a betrayal of the Gospel: [It} is a form of intellectual pacifism that, at the end of the day, recommends backgammon while the barbarians are at the gate…

      …It is the immoral, coward’s way out that is not worthy of a movement born out of the martyr’s blood.”

      Gary: So appeals to faith are the coward’s way out, at least in the view of JP Moreland and Dr. Francisco.

      Dr. Francisco continues on page 200:

      “Hopefully this volume will provide some small impetus for a recovery of renewed emphasis on engaging those who have rejected the Christian faith, with the goal of persuading them that their doubts or objections to the Gospel are unfounded.”

      Gary: I am disappointed that although Dr. Francisco, in his book, encourages engaging those who have rejected the Christian faith, in practice he has failed to fulfill his commitment to do just that here on this blog. After responding to my criticisms of his book, he encouraged me in November, 2016, to read NT scholar Richard Bauckham’s “paradigm shifting” book, “Jesus and the Eyewitness”. He suggested that we read the book together and that we could review it and discuss it here on this blog. That was November of 2016. He left one brief comment then and has not communicated with me in any form since, not even responding to a “Merry Christmas” wish. It is now almost February of 2017. If Dr. Francisco’s goal was to “persuade” me and other skeptics who read this blog that “our doubts/objections to the Gospels are unfounded”, his behavior has had just the opposite effect. It has given us the impression that Dr. Francisco has discovered that the strength of the conservative Christian evidence for the truth claims of his Faith isn’t as strong as he thought it was. Maybe instead of battling the “barbarians” with evidence using apologetics, Dr. Francisco has now chosen to base his supernatural beliefs on faith alone…and prefers not to debate that fact. If so, I wish him the best.

      But if he ever writes another book claiming that the evidence for the reanimation of a first century corpse “is as complete and as sound as any fact of the ancient world”, he can expect that skeptics will call him out on it…again.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Hi Jeff,

      Glad to hear from you again. I hope that your wife is making some progress on recovery from her health problems.

      I, like Gary, would have no problem if LCMS and other conservative pastors were to publicly state that their position is based on faith, and not on convincing evidence, rather than them using outdated biblical scholarship to support their views and to try and hoodwink the laity in their churches ( in many cases, this attempt to “hoodwink” is not done deliberately. Some are very sincere in their views,).

      Of course, I think I understand why they do this. They see their whole edifice falling to the ground if they admitted the majority view among scholars on eyewitness evidence and on the date authorship and composition of the gospels and NT letters.

      Peace and well-being to you and your wife.

      John Arthur

      Liked by 1 person

    3. JB,

      One more piece of evidence that someone in the LCMS hierarchy sent out a message suggesting/instructing LCMS pastors/bishops to ignore me: When I first started emailing pastors and district presidents I received A LOT of replies. After about a week, ALL, and I mean ALL, replies ceased even though I was emailing the same letter to new pastors and new district presidents. From many replies to zero replies cannot be a coincidence.

      And I wouldn’t consider the LCMS pastor who informed me a “mole”. This is what he said, “I wouldn’t waste your time sending out your emails. We have been advised to ignore them.”

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Well, well. I say that I am not receiving any communication from LCMS pastors and bishops and what shows up in my mail today but a letter from an LCMS bishop! I am going to publish it as a new post.

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  5. Gary – not nearly everyone was so notified. Again, sans a letter, you’re lacking, as you might say – evidence..

    John – I appreciate your well wishes. Unfortunately, Lou went to glory on December 28th. She is safely home, but I miss her very much.

    jb

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    1. No, I don’t have the smoking gun, just the gun smoke.

      I have a suggestion, JB. Next time you speak to your District President (bishop), ask him if he was notified and let us know.

      Like

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