Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sabre of Boldness Goes to Jeff Horn

 The 2015 Sabre of Boldness was awarded to the Rev. Jeffrey Horn, Theological Educator to Papua New Guinea, at tonight's 20th annual ceremony in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

The ceremony was held after the Concordia Theological Seminary Symposia banquet in the seminary's commons area.  Chaplain Jonathan Shaw opened the ceremony with an explanation of the award in its 20th year, the Sabre itself, and the significance of the award. He then introduced the editor, whose remarks are below. The nominees were then announced and the recipient gave a marvelous off-the-cuff speech on the situation of our suffering fellow Christians in New Guinea and elsewhere. We hope to publish those remarks in the future.

Pastor Horn was selected for boldness in confessing Christ in the mission field in spite of harassment and slander from opposing factions in the PNG church and government. He did so in spite of health issues that burdened his family.

Pastor Horn gratefully accepted the award, acknowledging the support of fellow LCMS missionaries on the field, Julie and Anton Lutz. He also gave thanks to God for the faithfulness of Bishop Nicodemus, and the pastors of the Good News Lutheran Church in PNG who have shown great courage in preaching Christ. They are examples to Christians around the world of endurance in the work of the Gospel. He thanked God for the national leaders in the PNG government who stood up to help the missionaries in time of need. He also gratefully acknowledged the work of Rev. Chad Trouten and Bethany Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, IN, who provided abundant mercy work to the Horns. Please join in praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ in PNG as they endure challenging times, that Jesus’ little sheep would always be well fed with the Word and Sacraments.

The other nominees for the 2015 Sabre of Boldness, all of whom we deem worthy of the award, were:
  • Rev. James Schulz, A WELS pastor for 10 years, Pr Schulz temporarily resigned from the Office of the Holy Ministry over concerns about WELS theology regarding the relationship of justification-sanctification, and the unit principle of fellowship.  Our Lord called him back to the pulpit and altar, however, and down a road yet untrod as he contemplated his confessional subscription and Scripturally convicted conscience regarding the doctrine and practice of the WELS.  By 2012 Pr Schulz found himself increasingly at odds with WELS theology and practice.  Labeled a "heretic" by his WELS winkle for suggesting they read and discuss the Lutheran Confessions together in mutual conversation so as to contemplate the doctrine of justification, Pr Schulz began to seek consolation and comfort from another mother, that is to say, Missouri.  But colloquy was temporarily denied him, to hate mail received from former WELS members, pastors, and seminary professors.  Several in his circuit wrote letters of support for Pr Schulz, and Pr Schulz continued to move through the process, undergoing a rigorous oral interview by the colloquy committee.  Upon approval he was welcomed into the LCMS, his congregation and he became members of the IN District. Since then, many of his members, including his church musician, have transferred out of the congregation and into LCMS congregations who have jettisoned the historic liturgy, practice open communion, and slander Pr Schulz and his diminishing congregation.  Two large, suburban, non-confessional LCMS churches established mission/satellite plants within one mile of Pr Schulz's congregation.  His congregation, with limited aid/advice or help from the district, has finally voted to dissolve her constitution and bylaws, and has been forced to the difficult decision of closing her doors next month, a move that will move him to C.R.M. status. In all of this Pr Schulz has remained steadfast and faithful.
  • Rev. Seth Mierow, whose ministry in Indianapolis, Indiana includes a campus presence at Butler University, leading to the opportunity for him to make a bold confession of faith on a panel discussing the freedom of religious expression, in which he, as a lone voice in the wilderness—the only voice on the side of the truth—explained the importance of the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision, and explained with eloquence and simplicity the role of the US in protecting religious freedom.  Pastor Mierow provided a strong confessional witness in spite of ridicule and scorn, not returning reviling for reviling, but pleased to have been given the opportunity to give a defense for the hope that is in him.
  • Pastor Olle Fogelqvist, of Sweden, who has been serving in Löftedalens Pastorate, a group of several congregations south of Gothenburg, who has been defrocked for teaching that the ordination of women is wrong. If the decision is upheld on appeal, it implies a significant tightening of restrictions on those who dissent from the radically liberal path chosen by the politicized Church of Sweden leadership, as well as an elevation of current policy choices above faithfulness to God’s Word. The Gothenburg Consistory alleges that Pastor Olle Fogelqvist said in an August 2013 sermon that rejecting ordination of women was a requirement for salvation. Pastor Fogelqist has said that he simply explained what First Corinthians 14 actually says, where Paul talks about women in the congregation, and denies making salvation dependent on rejecting women’s ordination, or any point of doctrine. He had said, instead, that deliberately violating God’s commandments, including St. Paul’s admonitions regarding the service of women in the church, was a serious sin that could separate one from Christ because it meant turning one’s back on God and walking away from salvation. 
  • Pastor David Emmons, of Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, has been pastor of Zion and Immanuel Lutheran churches, congregations that had a long, unbroken history of short term pastors who were forced out of their office one way or another. The ruling majority felt that the congregations must be foremost a venue for the community. This meant that they participated in all ecumenical, syncretistic and unionistic events, that weddings should be held for anyone who wanted to married at the church and that the services should be planned by the couple not the pastor, that confirmands should not be asked to do memory work, and, of course, than everyone, regardless of confession or even in the case of open, unrepentant sin should be communed. Pastor Emmons engaged a course of gentle teaching but was met with great resistance and hostility. Not only did the congregation attempt to force him to participate in unionistic services and other bad practices, which he refused, but he was banned from attending LWML meetings, banned from writing letters to the newspaper, and banned from speaking about Islam and other religions.  His wife also received hate-mail. His children were slandered and defamed and even suffered public harangues and shame from members. The congregation attempted and sometimes succeeded at participated in unionistic activities without Pastor Emmons and without his knowledge and the elders refused to allow Pastor Emmons to address the situation. With over eight years there, Pastor Emmons has out-stayed all his predecessors and the pressure for him to leave is increasing. Members repeatedly complain to the elders with false accusation. Each year his salary has been cut and at times he has been banned from speaking at the voters’ meetings. His salary was taken down to $830 per month in 2013. He was told that if he didn’t leave soon they would find a way to make it zero. Pastor Emmons continued to faithfully preach the Gospel and serve them despite their ill treatment of him and his family. Rather than leave them, he took a job at the US Post Office and two part-time jobs. They did not see this as a sacrifice that he made for them but were angry that he had found a way to stay as their pastor. This past December, they voted to remove him from his office without cause and apart from the normal procedure.


The Sabre of Boldness 2015: preliminary remarks by the editor

The Sabre of Boldness ceremony has reached its 20th year. A milestone. Twenty years ago, Gottesdienst was still in its adolescence, and many of the people in this room were still in their adolescence. Twenty years ago the there were no pocket cell phones, the dot com boom had just begun, and the Internet had only begun to function. Twenty years ago the Die Hard movies were still being made, Seinfeld was still on, and the Green Bay Packers had not been in the Super Bowl since the Lombardi era. Twenty years ago many Robert Preus had just died, but others we knew and loved at this seminary were still among us, perhaps most notably, Kurt Marquart. Maybe we should have given him the sabre, and things would have been different. Every one of the nineteen honored sabre-bearers is still among us today (and the legend grows).

So here we are at twenty. Now twenty is a holy number. For it is twice the number of commandments, and therefore signifies a new and holy creation. And it is also four times five, meaning that the fulfillment of the Books of Moses has come and is spread to the four corners of the world. And it is 6, 6, 6 + 2, meaning the number of the beast is overcome by the two natures of Christ. And it is one half a generation, putting it at the pinnacle, the height of courage, strength, and boldness. Or, if you prefer, for twenty years we have been engaged in this nonsense. (what were we thinking?)

But in honesty, there is of course a very serious side to this, for we do like to give honor where honor is due, and we do like to acknowledge courage in confession when we hear of it. That’s why we present the sabre: to encourage people, particularly our own people, in their faith and confession, and to tell them that we thank God for it, and for the most holy faith by which they have gained their courage. Nonetheless, as every one we have sought to honor with our little award could likely tell you, this isn’t much, really. And the very fact all those we have honored in the previous nineteen years are still living is a testimony to this, that there are others far more worthy. For there are the real martyrs; martyrs the flame of whose confession still outshines all of ours, martyrs too numerous to count: men, women, and even children who have laid down their lives for our most holy faith. And not only in the centuries of the Church’s infancy, but also in these days. It’s fashionable for religious zealots today to slaughter Christians in the name of their false god and his false prophet Mohammed. Just last December we heard of four children in Iraq, accosted by ISIS and ordered to say that they would follow Mohammed, but the children, all under 15, confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “No, we love Yesua, we have always loved Yesua, we have always followed Yesua, Yesua has always been with us,” and when, after given a second chance to convert they refused, they were all beheaded. These are the ones truly worthy of honor, who have already gained the grace of heaven, of whom we sing:

A noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid
Around the Savior’s throne rejoice in robes of white arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heaven through peril, toil, and pain,
Oh God, to us may grace be given to follow in their train.

2 comments:

  1. Well done, thou good and faithful servant(s).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Twenty is also one-half of the period Israel wrestled with a testing wilderness, the purpose of which was (in part) to teach a dependence on a gracious God, and His sustaining Bread. The failures to learn came easily; the exceptions seem comparatively few (Caleb and Joshua are named). We can expect that our wilderness will continue ... for a "short time," in God's eyes. But these are holy times of God's continuing Presence amongst us, too; and there are the holy men named, and the unnamed (and women and children, too) attesting to that Reality today, with their sufferings and with their lives. "My strength is made perfect in weakness." That is a promise. One day, the supposedly "weak" will arise to see the terrorist sword-swingers, and the pestiferous of whatever stripe, bending the knee to the Peacegiver.

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