an apology to the church

With the permission of the author, a faithful and articulate pastor whose name I won’t list here {lest the Interwebs unleash their worst}, I post the following, which ought to be shared far and wide, on blogs and in church newsletters. You’ll see why. Shoot me an email if you want his contact info for reprinting purposes and I’ll send it your way. 

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If you are one of the multitude that calls yourself “Christian” but believes that attending the services of God is not necessary, that it’s optional, that’s its only for those who want to go to church or like church or get something out of church; if you’re one of the multitude that thinks church is nice for women and children, for youth groups and potlucks, but not for men or for those with common sense and American morals; if you’re one who thinks the Church is little more than a comfort center to give spiritual hugs, then the Church owes you a big apology.

The Church needs to heed the Word of the Lord spoken to the prophet Ezekiel: “If you do not warn the wicked in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his guilt, but his blood I will require from your hand” (Ez. 3:18).

So, as a servant of the Church of Christ, and in holy fear of the Lord, I hereby apologize to you who have been so misled.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that the Church allowed you to believe that attending the service of God in His House is optional; that going to church is not a matter of salvation but one of personal choice and preference.  I’m sorry the preachers of God have let you believe that you can love God, even please Him, and not gather to His Son.  I’m sorry the Church failed to impress upon you the words of Jesus, “Whoever does not gather to Me scatters” (Matt. 12:30).  I’m sorry that the Church has not paid as much attention to your salvation as she has to your sensitivities and personal tastes.

I’m sorry that the Church has let you believe that as long as you’re a good person, as long as you don’t intentionally hurt others or are otherwise uncouth, that you have nothing to fear from the Lord.

I’m sorry that those who are to preach the Word of the Lord seem to have failed to preach the whole council of God that not only says, “God loves you,” but also says, “The Lord rebuke you,” and “Come unto me.” I’m sorry that we have let you believe that you can gather to Christ in your heart, even though that is not written anywhere in the Scriptures that we are supposed to be preaching.  I’m sorry that the Church has let you believe that your faith is nothing but a spiritual matter; that it means little else than how you feel about God and yourself.

Repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:14).  Turn from the path that leads to death and follow Christ into eternal life.  Be gathered to Christ, holding fast to the promise of God in Christ that for His sake you are reconciled to God.  Do not turn a deaf ear to the Lord but hear the Word of the Lord.

The Son of God suffered and died and was buried that you would be reconciled to God.  God is not at enmity with you.  He does not hate you.  He does not want you to be separated from Him.

He sent His Son to redeem you, to buy you back from sin and death.  Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, has purchased you with His precious blood and with His holy and innocent suffering and death.  He has purchased you that you may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom.  He has earned eternal life for you.

Gather, therefore, at the House of the Lord for He gathers those whom He has chosen, gathering them out of the world that they would not be destroyed with the world.  For the Christ will appear again, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him (Heb. 9:20).

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23 thoughts on “an apology to the church

  1. In Growing up in a MSLC you would hear God’s word , and Hear God’s passion for us . His Requirement was to gladly hear an learn his word . at 61 years I have just began to learn .

  2. Hello from sweden with peace in joy to take my joy to reach too in to you with blessing and to be thankful for your the works for Christ and sometime we enter into be make misstake and sin but God wil forgive us inlove with te lord in his blood washing away our sin and give new the power to move on in glean hearts thanksgiving ,thanks and bless,keijo sweden

  3. Please send contact info. It’s time for us to have this apology published in our newsletter.

    Thanks!

    Pastor Joel Vano

    Sowing the Good News of Jesus Christ!

  4. This is a wonderful piece written by this pastor and I would appreciate his address so that I may ask his permission to use it to send to all our inactive members, which it seems applies more so to than to the those who faithfully attend.

  5. While the content of this message is of course right on the money, its presentation here is not helpful in two ways. First, one pastor should not be apologizing for the “church’s” sin in this way. It comes of as if in his mind he is the one faithful pastor apologizing for the apostasy of the rest of the church. If a pastor wants to confess his own sins in this area (and who doesn’t need) that is great. But it really comes off as a self-righteous rebuke of his fellow pastors rather than a true rebuke of the sins mentioned. Secondly, without a name and face, the whole thing seems very passive aggressive, like the pastor who finally says what he has been thinking in his last sermon before leaving for a new call. As pastor in Kansas also, I likely know whoever wrote this and would welcome conversation with him at any point. There is no doubt we need to make clear that to not be gathered to Christ is deadly to faith but I am not sure this is the way. Passing it on would simply seem to be another act of passive aggression, this time on my part.

    • The above response is wrong in at least two ways.
      First, it assumes that passive-aggressive tactics are somehow inherently wrong. They are not. Just ask Moses and Elijah, and the apostles, especially St. Paul.
      Secondly, it is a mistake to think that the confession of sins is so clear cut as to be mine or others. If I am a member of the church, then I am culpable for what the church (as an institution) does and says; just like being a member of a family.
      So the church should be ashamed and apologize for, say, the Spanish Inquisition. We of modernity were not there, but it is our ancestors of the faith that caused it. We belong to them and they to us, so we bear one another’s burden. I am not responsible for confessing or apologizing for my brothers’ sins, but then I am united to them so that I, too, share their burden. One way of sharing it is admitting that when they sin and I have not corrected it, then I, too, sin.

      Moreover, it will always be seen as a self-righteous rebuke to others when they feel rebuked. But the article takes the first person singular most often, and it would be blind indeed to think that when it is third person plural it misrepresents the truth. Preacher (teachers) are held to a higher standard by the Lord.

    • Pastor Hoppe, I asked the pastor’s permission to post it. He gave me the choice to put his name on it. I chose not to because, knowing my own sinful self, I often judge writing based on what I know of the author, and I didn’t want that to be the case with a very helpful piece that needs to be heard. So if you are frustrated about the lack of a name and what that insinuates, you can blame me for that, not the author. Does that help?

      • Adriane, there is no blame to be placed, certainly not directed to you or the pastor who wrote this incredibly on target message. The issue lies with Pastor Hoppe et al. They can certainly share there thoughts and well, we will just leave it at that

    • Dear brother, are you suggesting that we can know Christ apart from Him and where He has promised to locate Himself?

    • I was going to say the same thing. Last I checked the Gospel freed us from the law. Perhaps good works are now also required. Perhaps grace has been revoked, the Gospel should be repealed, the creeds rewritten to include “and go to church every Sunday”, the law reinstated so that sinless perfection is the only way (since Ezekiel clearly out-ranks the resurrection) , and we should change the name of the church back to Catholic. Now, …how do we rework the Gregorian calendar so we’re not violating the actual Sabbath?

      • The Gospel does not free you from the law, it frees you from the condemnation of the law. The law is still there and still accuses you. One such accusation is this: When you neglect the Word and Sacraments, you have sinned. The Gospel tells you that Jesus had died for this, and so you are not condemned; you are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. He gives Himself for you and to you in His gifts. The New Man earnestly desires to receive those gifts; therefore, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

      • You confuse Law and Gospel if you think the command to gather with the Lord at His sacraments and among His people is Law. It’s gospel because you are invited. And if you resend the invitation you reject the grace of God. Attending the Lord’s gathering and receiving His benediction and blessing through His mysteries is not optional. Neither is it the Law.
        The Gospel is not freedom from Christ. By such logic, faith, too, is a law since you must have faith to be saved. But faith is a gift, therefore it is not the Law, yet neither is it optional.

      • Anonymous, as I’d replied to George, so I also reply to you. Employing the “lowest common denominator” approach to everything the Church would offer, advocate, and, yes, even expect of people, even concerning the very presence of Christ in worship, only serves to give more souls further reason to stay away from worship.

    • Of course he’s not. I do not know the perspective from which you ask this apparently rhetorical question (e.g. if you yourself are found in Divine Service on a regular basis — I honestly CANNOT TELL from your comment), but to state it that overly-simply would only serve to give those who stay away from worship further reason to. As I’d concluded the note with which I’d sent this out to my congregation (so those who scroll down will probably see this also!), far too many believe that faith is a “Jesus ‘n me” thing. To attempt to boil down every last thing we offer, advocate, even expect, etc. to something that “salvation is dependent upon” undermines the very purpose for which our Lord has given us His Word, worship, etc.

  6. Here is my e-mail. Yes, I would like this pastor’s address to gain permission for distribution at Lamb of God.

    PS – the candy was a perfect gift for the bear, Godmother.

    cruxprobatomnia and Christ is risen!

    Sent from Surface Pro

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