No Skin In The Game

No Skin In The Game

[Ed: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified a church Ben Meyer worked with, and drew false conclusions a result. That content has been removed, and I apologize to Ben for the error.]

Hypocrisy is rightly reviled by pretty much everyone, regardless of his moral standing or religion. It is unprincipled behavior where selfish gain trumps Truth. Play to what the masses agree with publicly, all the while enjoying some benefit from living part of your life out of sight in the opposite way. This playing to the masses is a worldliness to which our pastorate has fallen victim by an astonishing degree. Jesus warns us, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” And again,“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” And yet today, more and more Lutheran pastors choose to measure their fidelity to the Gospel by how much they can make their moral pronouncements sound like MSNBC so that the crowd will like them.

The Spirit of This Age

There is no more glaring and destructive example of this worldliness than how the LCMS has begun talking about race. Moral pronouncements that must necessarily damn all of our Fathers in the Faith are the norm from the top down. This egregious 5th and 8th commandment violation from a recently-minted CSL pastor is horrifyingly typical across the “political” spectrum of the LCMS.

Luther is declared 500 years later to have been wicked. He never repented of the theological conclusions he reached about Don’s ancestors. Will the two men meet in Heaven? It’s not a joke question. If Luther and Walther and Chrysostom and basically every other significant Church figure for 1900 years said and believed things that MSNBC calls wicked, are they in Hell? It isn’t enough to point to the precious Blood of Christ, while hand-waving their blatant lack of repentance. We also have Daniel Ross, CSL ’11 here echoing Matt Harrison’s blasphemous pronouncement two weeks ago.

The LCMS, in a heartwarming hands-across-America moment, tells the world that Chrysostom, Luther and Walther, and 1900 years worth of Christians—our own blood—are unrepentant murderers. Jesus is an unrepentant murderer too in Daniel’s religion. Here is the actual “Jesus the Christ in His earthly ministry”:

Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.”

Jesus dehumanized her, comparing her to a dog. And of course we all know that in those cultures, particularly in that day, this was an especially vehement racist epithet He leveled. What happened next? She agreed, and God told her that it was because she did that He healed her daughter. Jesus is a racist. Jesus is a murderer. Jesus is unrepentant. Matt and Don and Daniel and MSNBC tell me so. Paul soon joins Jesus (and I guess the Holy Spirit?) in damnation with this unequivocal racism.

One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.

Ben Meyer (CSL ’05) definitively answers my question in the affirmative: Paul and Luther are roasting in Hell. “Racists would hate Heaven [but they’ll never see it.]” Thank you, Ben for your bold defense of your religion. Your eternal reward awaits you.

So I ask you again, are these false teachers right that these men are all in Hell? Do we have a God who ignores gleefully unrepentant murderers like our Fathers in the Faith? Forget for a minute the bigger question of whether Jesus is damned for His own Personal sin, or the Holy Spirit for His blasphemous utterances against God's eternal Will. How about everyone else who was wicked, as this new religion these men champion declares? If Luther isn’t burning in Hell with all the other wicked, unrepentant murderers, by what soteriological mechanism did it occur? There is no possible answer other than either full-blown antinomianism or even further down the path to some flavor of Universalism.  This is not what the Word has revealed. This is not Christianity.

You Hypocrites!

Jesus employs this denunciation nearly two dozen times in the Gospels. I’m just a simple cavelayman, but that might mean it’s theologically important. Check it out:

Wow, sounds like God isn’t a fan of hypocrisy either. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. No one should ever attempt to make a theological point based on how an isolated word is translated into English. It’s a surefire way to make a huge mess of things, and violate the 2nd Commandment—as these men have—in the process. Strong’s defines the word thusly:

Here’s what the CPH Matthew commentary says on the Matthew 15 passage:

15:7 ὑποκριταί—The Greek noun ὑποκριτής [hypokritēs ] has been transliterated into English as the noun “hypocrite.” In current English usage, “hypocrite” tends to connote an intentional dissembling or deception; a hypocrite is someone who, more or less consciously, pretends to be something that he or she is not. However, this was not necessarily the case with the usage of ὑποκριτής in the first century AD. What is key for the Greek word is the contrast between authentic, true behavior and teaching versus that which is false.
ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταί—[Oh, you hypocrites] The first-century denotation of the term “hypocrite” does not necessarily include purposeful feigning of false motives. Someone can be a hypocrite without knowing it. The key ingredient is the contrast between authentic and inauthentic behavior or teaching. “Hypocrites” can be such and yet not be consciously aware of their errors and their motives.
France, Gospel of Matthew, 581 aptly comments: “The accusation is not so much of conscious deception as of a fatally distorted sense of priorities in the service of God.”

This adds a great deal to color to the term that is necessary for understanding when it applies. The first hypocrites were literally actors (not coincidentally a class properly reviled by the Church until the past century). A hypocrite is a performer, one wearing a mask to appear as another. As mentioned at the top, it is rare indeed to find someone who “says one thing but does another” where the mask does not serve to elevate his status in the eyes of the world. And as the commentary notes, it isn’t necessary that they be aware of their own deception. Let’s take a look at a few recent public examples of LCMS pastors wearing the mask of anti-racism, while exhibiting behaviors in their own lives that clearly meet the definition of racist in the world with which they so dearly desire accord.

The Actors

The bona fides of the anti-racist crusaders above are well established, and indeed, a matter of great personal pride for each. This single issue inspires more passion in these men than almost anything. That is a noble service to their religion—in public. But how does it play out when they’re privately making decisions that affect their personal comfort and their family’s safety? Have they sought out neighborhoods that reflect the sort of demographics they idealize for our grandfathers’ church?

There’s a magic trick that dissidents have been performing for years that rips the mask of hypocrisy from the faces of these racial virtue-signalers. You simply plug their zip code into recent census data and see whether they have put their own skin in the racial game they want the rest of us to play. Hint: virtually all will fail. It’s a surefire way to illustrate clearly that the man calling you racist—by the definition of those who invented and weaponized that secular concept against us—is himself a hatemonger, a racist, a murderer in spirit. These men excoriate their opponents within the Church for “not loving your neighbor if he has a different ‘skin color.’” Meanwhile, they choose to live in places where virtually all of their neighbors share their own race. Let’s see the trick in action.

Don

Don has a great deal to say about racism. He thinks it especially important that we love our neighbors without regard for the “color of their skin” [sic].

Let’s take a look at the color of the skin of the neighbors Don chooses for his family. These are the racial statistics for Don’s zip code.

Wow! 93.3% White, only 2.7% African. That’s hard to do in a country that’s down to 55% White and a state that’s only 61.4% White. But Don pulled it off. The man surrounds himself with neighbors who look just like his family, and lectures the rest of us to the world about racism. Zip codes are pretty small, so let’s zoom out a bit. This animation shows the racial composition of Don’s chosen neighbors. The results might surprise you.

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Well, golly. What a sea of White faces. Beloit, which has some vibrant, diverse neighborhoods, is only ten minutes north. And Rockford is only a 20 minute drive south, where Don could have enjoyed a home in a number of predominantly African or Mexican neighborhoods. This is his first Call, which is of course assigned. Don had no control over where God sent him. But he had plenty of control over where he chose to put his family. And he chose to racially sequester them. In all seriousness, this was the wise and commendable choice. A father who would endanger his family is unworthy of any other office.

Daniel

Daniel has been on an anti-racist tear this year, both in public and behind the scenes. He is personally seeing to it that racists are excommunicated from their LCMS congregations, consistent with his religion. Let’s see how anti-racist his neighborhood choice is.

At least he’s got Don beat at only 84.9% White, but that’s still way ahead of the state average of 73.2% White. Of course Oklahoma was Indian territory longer than most places, and plenty ended up there. Like Don, Daniel only has a 1:37 chance of any random neighbor being African. The people who invented and weaponized racism as a tool against us certainly call him a racist. Who am I to question BIPOC voices? A friend who lives in the area pointed out that the Mustang area is famously, conspicuously White, even in Oklahoma. God really did a number on Daniel by sending him there and depriving him of any enriching diversity. Let’s zoom out and see what sort of options he had for finding neighbors that don’t look like him.

There are plenty of Mexicans just down the road whom he could have enjoyed as neighbors. His call put him as far as possible from the African part of town, but that was in God’s hands. May His next move surround Daniel’s family with the aliens he loves more dearly than his own people.

Ben

A fellow behind-the-scenes demon hunter with Daniel, Ben is a passionate anti-racism advocate. Let’s see where he sequestered his family.

97.6% White! Why, Ben managed to find a neighborhood even Whiter than the LCMS. As an aside, it is humorous and revealing how often these guys claim the LCMS is 98% White. We’re not; we’re 95-96% White. They’re thinking of ELCA, a place where they would all be much happier. Let’s zoom out on Ben’s area.

The red circle is where Ben lives and works. What makes Ben special is that pink circle down in the diversity. In 2016, Ben took a call to 77% White Ohio in a place where there are so few Africans that the Census error bars admit there may not be any. So like any good Christian pastor, he set about evangelizing his neighbors whom God ordained in his case are all White, right? Now I have no reason to doubt that he serves his congregation faithfully, so do not misunderstand. I am asking if he is loving his neighbor through sharing the Gospel with those nearest to where God placed him.

The pink circle is the home of Ebenezer Ethiopian Lutheran Church, a recent LCMS plant 45 minutes from Ben. Starting sometime in 2018, Ben began talking a great deal about his work with this Ethiopian church. As you can see from his tweets, it quickly became his main focus for missions. When district funding for Ebenezer came to an end last year, Ben laudably kept the ball moving. By spring, he had established a new organization to seek another shot at funding. The goal is to reach the massive number of Ethiopian and Somalis being imported into the greater Columbus area. What is interesting is how those people are portrayed in this fundraising:

Gospel sharing – we have some of the least evangelized people groups from around the world living among us. God has literally brought the unevangelized world to our doorstep.

This is fascinating for several reasons. First, Ethiopia is a Christian country, one of the oldest on the planet. As I mentioned in an earlier piece, prior to Colonialism, virtually the only sub-Saharans in Paradise were from Ethiopia and Sudan. To this day, Ethiopia remains majority Christian. And when you look at frequency of church attendance, they stand head and shoulders above the US. Note that this map is “worship attendance,” not church, so it does include the 34% Muslim population. But even if every single Muslim was in a mosque each week, that would still put Ethiopian Christians well ahead of the US.

Are we to believe that Ben’s description aptly describes the Ethiopians we’re importing? That hardly seems plausible. Sharing the Gospel is wonderful in any circumstance. And turning more Christians into Lutherans is almost as good. But we are being gaslit in a coordinated effort by these men into believing that “missions” means “reach people who don’t look like me” without regard for any actual facts on the ground.

So how does Ethiopia’s 56% Christian population and 82% attendance compare with Ben’s actual neighbors, and not the 50,000 souls he drives 45 minutes past to get to these aliens? The truth is that Ohio is substantially less Christian than Ethiopia. Self-reported “worship” attendance, including all false religions, is only 38%. And there is evidence that the actual numbers tend to be nearly half of what people will admit to pollsters. So in reality, 20-25% of Ohioans might make it to church on a given Sunday. That’s at less than half of Ethiopia. This is not the contrast we want to talk about, but it is the conversation we need to be having. Our own neighbors are going to Hell, while we put on a woke mask and march past them all to find the nearest dark-skinned “refugee,” who in Ben’s case is twice as likely to be Christian as his own White neighbors.

But we aren’t simply a generic Christian church. We are the Evangelical Lutheran Church of old, or at least still pretend to be. Why does it matter? If the Word is not rightly preached, and the Sacraments are not properly administered, we do not recognize that place as a faithful church. This is obedience to God and Truthful speech, not sectarianism. Holding to sound (Lutheran) doctrine saves souls that can otherwise be lost through the Devil’s snares. Being Lutheran matters. So how is Lutheranism faring in Ohio? Given all this anti-racist energy Ben is pouring into his mission work, Ohio must be one of those Midwestern bastions of Lutheranism.

Well, no. Not even close. Among the 164 congregations in the state of Ohio (10 English District, 11 SELC, 143 Ohio District), total communicant membership is 46,000 souls. Of those, 12,500 are reported to attend Divine Services on a given Sunday. That is a 73% delinquency rate. Do we consider those 33,500 souls fit for “outreach,” or are we counting on once saved, always saved? Does the power of Baptism overcome apostasy? What does it say about the spiritual health of a church when three quarters of its members are completely absent? Perhaps a little more Christian zeal for these souls of our own brothers in Christ would be in order. To Ben’s credit, his own congregation’s pre-Covid number was only around 50%. Hopefully that has remained or improved.

So how much of Ohio is in a Lutheran pew on Sunday? Drumroll, please… 0.11%. The other 99.89% of Ohioans are either going to Hell, or risking it by ingesting false doctrines from heterodox church bodies. These are Ben’s neighbors. But because they’re all White, he drives right on by to hang out with aliens. But I can see the appeal. He has a nice house in a nice neighborhood with no crime, because all his neighbors are like him. Who would want to sacrifice all of that comfort and safety to go evangelize Ethiopians in the country they've ruined by being Ethiopian? After all, they have an average IQ of 68, and the place is ravaged by Islamic violence. Those are the reasons they’re seeking “refuge” 7,500 miles away. Unfortunately for Columbus, they are bringing those problems with them, because their problem is themselves. But Ben gets to live safely away from the decay and wear his shiny mask of Christian “love for neighbor” while exhibiting the opposite in his actual conduct.

Matt

And let’s not forget the archbishop of anti-racism. For a man who can’t stop talking with and about Africans, our own Synodical presider must live deep in East St. Louis, where the daily missions opportunities are thick on the ground.

Oh nooo, not again. See why this became a favorite magic trick? It nearly never fails. Let’s zoom out to see what sorts of opportunities he’s eschewed by once again hitting that apparently inevitable 2.7% African mark.

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These men are actors who have no skin in the racial game they’re pushing. They call you racist for denying any single point of their egalitarian tabula rasa religion. But by the very definition of the word according to those who take ownership of its killing power, they have just been proven to be hateful racist murderers. According to their own rules, they must go to Hell unless they repent.

Obviously I don’t think these men are “racist” because I know there is no such sin. Take away actual 5th Commandment hate, and all you have left are provable facts about Creation and the very sort of wisdom that Scripture both commands and lauds. Living with your own kind is wise, and it is a blessing from God. And being surrounded by foreigners is literally a Scriptural curse from God. Of course Satan has inverted this in our hearts, as we apostatize. Words like love, hate, and fear are all firmly in the hands of the prince of this age. The more the Church adopts these worldly values in opposition to Scripture, the closer we come to the lamp of Christianity being extinguished entirely. God will not permit that, which means He will lay these wolves low. May that day come quickly.


Your country lies desolate;
    your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
    foreigners devour your land;
    it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
              — Isaiah 1
And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the LORD: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind. You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of it, they are the meat, and this city is the cauldron, but you shall be brought out of the midst of it. You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord GOD. And I will bring you out of the midst of it, and give you into the hands of foreigners, and execute judgments upon you. — Ezekiel 11
“But even in those days, declares the LORD, I will not make a full end of you. And when your people say, ‘Why has the LORD our God done all these things to us?’ you shall say to them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve foreigners in a land that is not yours.’”    — Jeremiah 5
The foreigner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.  — Deuteronomy 28
And now, O sons, listen to me,
    and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
    and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others
    and your years to the merciless,
lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
    and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
and at the end of your life you groan,
    when your flesh and body are consumed,
and you say, “How I hated discipline,
    and my heart despised reproof!
I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
    or incline my ear to my instructors.
I am at the brink of utter ruin
    in the assembled congregation.”  — Proverbs 5
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