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Messages - David Becker

Possibly rude, but accurate.

Engelbrecht wrote on January 26, "We had a new user post here write that Mr. Turnipseed is a real person rather than a pseudonym. What evidence is there?"

Engelbrecht could have used an Internet search engine to make an effort to find out.  I think it had already been stated on ALPB Forum that Turnipseed is a real person named that.  Dave Benke even apologized (while at the same time allowing that he disagreed with Turnipseed, which is fair).  One can easily find his Linked In account noting that Turnipseed is a student at Oklahoma State University.

I don't agree with everything Charles Austin but even he rightfully called out laziness in effort several days ago.
Oh yeah, here's another one, from "Occupy Democrats," praising Matt Harrison and the LCMS for their courageous stand, noting that "We commend him for his leadership":
Here's another relevant link, among other things taking Edward Engelbrecht to task for his laziness in not trying to find out who college student Ryan Turnipseed is.
Corey Mahler said on Twitter four minutes ago:

"It has been brought to my attention that Rev. Maanum [his Knoxville, Tennessee pastor who announced last week that Mahler was placed under church discipline] has been admitted to the hospital. Whatever our current differences may be, he is a husband and father to five children. Please include him in your prayers this week."
Mahler's pastor said that the unnamed man (Corey Mahler) was "under discipline for bringing harm and division to the body of Christ."  He didn't say that Mahler was excommunicated but that more would be shared in the coming days.  Was Mahler carrying a gun or some other weapon on the church property?  Posting provocative zingers (some of which I would indeed disagree with) on Twitter and other social media?  Presumably we will find out.

Andy Ngo's book Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy America, was a best seller, and I encourage those interested in the subject to read it.  I did; Ngo basically treats Antifa as synonymous with Communism.

In Mahler's statement, he made reference to "Super Lutheran," and several days ago Charles Austin asked about Blake Kilbourne (who is reportedly the blogger and podcaster "Super Lutheran.")   I have never met or contacted Kilbourne, but I offer the following as factual background along with some commentary.

Kilbourne was at an American Association of Lutheran Churches church in Bremerton, Washington and went through a process to become ordained as an AALC pastor but was denied.  Mahler defended Kilbourne in a video now posted online.  AALC leader Jordan Cooper was involved in the process but has stated on Twitter, "For those who know, a current article going around regarding myself and the AALC in a particular situation of a ministry candidate in 2021 is almost entirely false in its claims. In a situation of discipline of the AALC, it is not our procedure to share any charges public information came from the AALC."  (Joshua Torrey responded to Cooper on Twitter: "really?  I thought the evidence linking you to Antifa was very compelling").

Kilbourne then had a brief affiliation with the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations and was briefly pastor at the AFLC church in Dickinson, North Dakota.

The official AFLC magazine, Lutheran Ambassador, which is accessible for free online, notes the following:

"Pastor Blake Kilbourne has accepted a call to serve Our Saviour's Lutheran, Dickinson, N.D. Kilbourne has also been placed onto the AFLC fellowship roster. – Lutheran Ambassador December 2021

"Pastor Blake Kilbourne was installed Jan. 2 at Our Savior's Lutheran, Dickinson, N.D., with Pastor Korhonen [note: Lyndon Kohornen is the presiding pastor of the AFLC] officiating. – Lutheran Ambassador February 2022

"Pastor Blake Kilbourne has been removed from the AFLC fellowship roster by members of the Co-ordinating Committee, who believe the ministry he is involved in would be better operated from a context other than congregational ministry. – Lutheran Ambassador May 2022"

In January 2022, Antifa researchers quoted statements and activities from "Super Lutheran" and his wife and identified him as Blake Kilbourne.  This was picked up by the local newspaper, The Dickinson Press.  This may be easily found online by searching "Blake Kilbourne Lutheran."  Subsequently a vote was held and he was removed as pastor (I called the church and the lady who answered the phone told me that).  Any documentation that he was ever associated with the Dickinson, North Dakota church was removed, as noted in the more recent Antifa research piece on Mahler.  It sounded like that church and the AFLC in general were unaware of Kilbourne's activities as "Super Lutheran."  (If that's truly the case, he should have told them.)

Nevertheless, the AFLC Co-ordinating Committee, while removing Kilbourne from the AFLC roster, was considerably more restrained and nuanced than Harrison's hair on fire statement about similar situations.  Presumably the AFLC group personally met with Kilbourne.

(Kilbourne is mentioned near the end of this report on "This Week in Fascism" from Antifa.  It observes that Kilbourne "has produced 191 episodes full of racism, anti-Semitism, and queerphobia."

Kilbourne ("Super Lutheran") puts out a podcast called "The Godcast") along somebody named Myles Poland (which also seems to be a pseudonym).  Because I believe in doing first hand research, I listened to several episodes some time ago.  Mahler was a guest on one of the episodes.  Among other things, I heard Kilbourne state emphatically that he absolutely is accountable to others.  My general reaction was that although they said some things that were questionable and wrong, other things were very right.  "Super Lutheran" viewed the podcast as a ministry to the "far right," something echoed by Mahler and even the AFLC committee.

The link to Kilbourne's podcast is below (it also includes links to his account on the fringe Twitter-like social network

Kilbourne also does a solo podcast on Sound Cloud called "The Very Lutheran Project."  Here is the link to that:

He also has a web site called "The Very Lutheran Project" which he describes as "Lutheranism That Means It," which includes the announcement: "23 February 2023: Welcome all LCMS refugees.  We at the Very Lutheran Project shall not judge, condemn, nor expel you for holding fast to God's Word."  Links to the Soundcloud podcast are there.
Pastor Michael Slusser, it should be noted that Dr. Jordan Cooper has disputed what is said about him by Mahler.  (I saw that on Twitter.  Like others, I have mixed emotions about Twitter and other such media, but it's kind of key in seeing what's going on about all of this and so I consult it.)  To the extent that people from the TAALC were involved, it involves someone else.  (The information can easily be found if you try hard enough.  I've looked into this myself but will avoid comment on that separate situation, which is somewhat complicated.)

Early on, I saw it said that Corey Mahler had no connection with anyone in institutional LCMS.  I don't think that's really the case.  He worked on the Book of Concord web site with the late Paul T. McCain, who held a number of high positions with corporate LCMS in St. Louis.  Mahler says that McCain was aware that Mahler self-identified as a fascist and didn't agree with that, but overlooked that because his work on the Book of Concord website itself was excellent.  Later when Mahler became more radioactive for lack of a better term, he started a new Book of Concord web site.  Mahler tells of his side of the story of al this here:

The Book of Concord web site run by self-identified fascist anti-Communist Mahler is here:

The Book of Concord web site run by "organized conservative" LCMS company men is here:

In the link shared earlier by Pastor Don Engebretson, Mahler stated that several weeks ago he was investigated by his church and was allowed to continue there at that time.  Mahler and some of his sympathizers are very active on Twitter and other social media.  It's hard to keep up with it all and by reporting these points I am by no means endorsing all of it.  But I think it is very naive to think that denominational bureaucrats are going to be able to control this regardless of Matt Harrison's released statement.  A lot of the communication energy comes from Mahler's side.

Also, while I again wish to make it clear that I am by no means endorsing every statement by the so-called "alt-right" Lutherans, should not even self-described fascist Lutherans be afforded church disciplinary due process?  It will presumably be known how that goes in the days ahead.

Below is a new "report" from a right-wing site.  It somewhat exaggerates the situation though it does seem to be the case that Antifa researchers have been focusing on Mahler and Harrison and others reacted to their activity.  Whether one likes it or not, this is the type of article that the LCMS will be faced with going forward.
Pastor Sauer, thank you for your response.  I will offer a brief response to your points.  In full disclosure, although I subscribed to LF for two years recently, I did not renew my subscription as I did not find to be of sufficient value to me, so I did not see the most recent contributions from Prs. David Benke and John Hannah.

1.   Thanks for the reference to your "about" page.  For reasons of charity, I will not mention the name of the author but one of the worst commentaries I've ever read in my entire life was in the January 2021 FL where one of the major ALPB writers droned on about how one of his relatives was a mainline Protestant and another was Roman Catholic and how that relates to the continuance of ALPB.  That was an epic fail as to explaining why ALPB should still exist.  Also, while I would give Dr. Richard Johnson's ALPB book five stars in terms of telling the history of an organization, I felt it was weak in presenting a vision for ALPB.
2.   Okay, Delhi is farther away (158 miles) from New York City than I realized it was, but still, I think it's fair to associate ALPB with the Big Apple, given that Benke and Hannah are in the area, as was Neuhaus.  But not a major issue to argue.
3.   Major concern is the ALPB flirts with universalism as was evident in numerous articles in Lutheran Forum.  To me, that's a denial of the words of Christ and we're not supposed to be ashamed of the words of Christ.  Also, while generally pro-life, ALPB published an article by a retired LCMS pastor as something less than prolife.  Also, the generally LCMS-ELCA nature of ALPB makes it lukewarm in my opinion.  Also, ALPB Forum discussions frequently make me think of Acts 17:21, "(Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)"
4.   In my book review of the Neuhaus biography, I noted concern about "stands on purgatory, indulgences, sacrifice of the mass, the papacy... etc."  Simply put, ALPB leaders show by their actions that these are not major things to get excited about.
5.   If you say that the ALPB publication apparatus "remains the largest independent Lutheran journal in the United States," okay.  Not sure how it compares to Christian News, Logia, Gottesdienst and others.
6.   My comment on ALPB influence was not data driven.  It was in part a provocative statement designed to get a reaction.  However, I would argue in general that universalism friendly or tolerant religious groups generally don't grow in membership for obvious reasons.  I'm not saying ALPB is universalist.  But articles in Summer 2020, Winter 2020 and Fall 2020 suggest that maybe it's an option.  Or maybe not.  Thus, ALPB (in my opinion) is lukewarm, something that Jesus sternly and earnestly warns us about.

Thanks again for responding and for giving me the opportunity to post this brief rebuttal.
Early this morning, on my Facebook page, I posted the below review of Randy Boyagoda's 2015 biography of Richard John Neuhaus.  Observations about the ALPB are included.

* * *

Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square, by Randy Boyagoda, was a 2015 biography of Neuhaus (1936-2009).  The book received numerous endorsements.  I had occasion to correspond with Neuhaus a few times in my life, and also heard him speak in person several times.

To summarize in broad strokes, Neuhaus, son of a Lutheran pastor, was raised in Canada and eventually attended Lutheran seminary at Concordia, St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1950s.  He was known as a liberal then.  He always had very high liturgical leanings and became a Roman Catholic priest in 1990.  He was a founder of the intellectual journal, First Things.  It was claimed that he was a "Catholic of the Year," as well as "the Most Influential Clergyman in America."

The book description notes that "Neuhaus' life and ideas placed him at the vanguard of events and debates across the political and cultural spectrum. For instance, alongside Abraham Heschel and Daniel Berrigan, Neuhaus co-founded Clergy Concerned About Vietnam, in 1965. Forty years later, Neuhaus was the subject of a New York Review of Books article by Garry Wills, which cast him as a Rasputin of the far right, exerting dangerous influence in both the Vatican and the Bush White House."  Neuhaus was on the political liberal and then political conservative side.

Neuhaus edited the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau's Forum Letter for years until he became Roman Catholic.  The New York City area-based ALPB is a lackluster pan-Lutheran group that can barely if at all articulate why it continues to exist.  The ALPB is pretty lukewarm doctrinally (AND IT'S NOT GOOD TO BE LUKEWARM – Revelation 3:16). Several other ALPB leaders joined Neuhaus in becoming Roman Catholic.  Like Neuhaus and First Things, ALPB can have its moments, but not very often.  It's barely hanging on.  Membership in churches can increase or decrease for good or bad reasons, but the member numbers of ALPB-influenced Lutheran churches have been dropping like a rock and figure to continue to do so.

The book discusses Neuhaus' relations with the late Herman Otten; Boyagoda interviewed Otten, and quoted extensively from Otten's newspaper, Missouri-based Christian News.  The two men clashed while students at Concordia Seminary.  Boyagoda comments, "Neuhaus played the willing progressive while Otten offered rearguard pushback: in a sense, each young man likely benefited in his development along his chosen ideological line thanks to his encounters with the other. For Otten, Neuhaus was a cosmopolitan 'slick' who heralded a hollowed-out, trend-chasing future for Lutheranism. For Neuhaus, Otten was a parochial reactionary who embodied the inward-focused, stiff-minded past of the Lutheranism he had encountered in various small-town forums..."

When at his best, Otten was a staunch Lutheran who upheld fundamental doctrines.  In 1969, Otten charged Neuhaus with false teaching.  Boyagoda: "The charges themselves were fivefold: Neuhaus 'adheres to and promulgates doctrines which are contrary to Holy Scripture'; he 'does not accept the binding nature of the Lutheran Confessions'; he 'publicly worships with Jews, Religious Liberals, and others who do not accept historic Christianity'; he 'perverts the true nature of the Christian Church' [with respect to his political activity—did Neuhaus truly advocate missions/evangelism?]; and he 'encourages civil disobedience even when the government does not command the Christian to sin.'"  These charges basically went nowhere but I would (without going into exhaustive reasons here) nevertheless defend them as essentially accurate.

Neuhaus did make noises about being more theologically conservative in his later years, though I personally would argue that his heavily Roman Catholic leaning, often philosophical First Things magazine is way overrated in terms of being truly biblical, i.e., advocating for theistic evolution (at least among some writers), etc.  To his credit, he was opposed to abortion throughout his life (though, contrary to some popular belief, by no means is everyone in the Roman Catholic Church, i.e., President Joe Biden and many other government officials).

When Neuhaus died, a number of prominent Missouri Synod Lutherans offered glowing eulogies.  Ironically, then as now, Neuhaus received more praise than Otten did, among this group of Lutherans.  The ALPB's Peter Speckhard, a Neuhaus nephew, gave a presentation (media and text are available on the seminary's web site) at Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne Indiana, "Can the Shoes of Richard John Neuhaus Be Filled?"  One wonders where that seminary stands on purgatory, indulgences, sacrifice of the mass, the papacy (the Lutheran Confessions as well as the 1932 LCMS brief doctrinal statement refer to the papacy as the Antichrist, as do some Reformed confessions), etc., by hosting such an over the top tribute to Neuhaus.  (CTSFW has for decades claimed to be staunchly "confessional Lutheran" and even says on its "About" webpage that it has "the finest theological faculty in the world, bar none"—they have some good professors but how is it possible to quantify that grandiose boast?  Not an accurate boast in my view.)

In terms of telling the story of a life, I gave Boyagoda's 498 page biography four stars when I read it seven years ago.  I think Neuhaus's life is way overblown in its importance, though.  This is not a necessary book for most people to read.  He traveled in political and think tank circles, and his (hardly surprising) move to Roman Catholicism was doctrinally problematic, at best, in my opinion. There are many other Catholics who are more noteworthy and more admirable than he was.
Since June 2021, I've been posting book reviews on my Facebook page.  Given the new attention given Seminex, and given that Dr. Bretscher was a big supporter of that entity that started many decades ago, I'm posting the review here, in that I would consider it a relevant discussion topic.  You will note that I refer to the ALPB as a "lackluster at best" group in the review.

"Christianity's Unknown Gospel," by Paul G. Bretscher Jr., was independently published by former Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod clergyman Paul Bretscher Jr. (1921-2016) in 2001.

This one star book is decidedly NOT recommended, as Bretscher was accused of heresy on the basis of the book, but in December 2020 I got a copy to have first hand documentation and to read and evaluate for myself as I generally believe in doing that. Copies are available for purchase at a low price from various outlets,

On the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Bretscher comments among other things, "The miracle of Jesus' resurrection was NOT a resuscitated corpse." "The promises Jesus believed were not about a life-after-death BODY." So, yes, sadly, this is false doctrine. There is a lot of Scripture in the 369 page book but Bretscher clearly holds to a low view of the Bible, imposing historical critical methods of interpreting Scripture.

In a newspaper article from 2002, Rev. Timothy Sims, who was district president of the LCMS Indiana District at the time, stated, "I see him denying that God became incarnate in Christ, and ... he denies the physical resurrection of Christ and he denies the Trinity." Sims said this was both the official view of the Indiana district and his personal view. Bretscher was suspended from the LCMS clergy roster, but Bretscher consistently contended that his detractors were the problem and were the ones who did not understand the Gospel. Bretscher served in ministry in Valparaiso, Indiana, fairly close to Chicago.

When Bretscher died, he received some sympathy on the Internet discussion board of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, a lackluster at best pan-Lutheran organization. He probably also still had some supporters within the LCMS. An LCMS pastor conducted his funeral, according to the ALPB.

It was appropriate that Bretscher underwent church discipline and hopefully he changed before his passing, but it should be noted Bretscher had faced conservative opposition for a long time. Herman Otten in Christian News frequently blasted Bretscher in the 1970s and Harold Lindsell devoted a major section of his 1976 book The Battle for the Bible against Bretscher as well. Raymond Surburg was another conservative who expressed concerns about Bretscher. Based on evidence presented in the 1970s, Bretscher could have been removed from the LCMS 20-25 years before he was. So, on the one hand it was good that it finally happened, but on the other hand one deserves no medals for it taking that long. There are examples in the Book of Acts of immediate things happening.

There might be (and I think, are) similar Bretscher type situations in the LCMS and in other denominations today. Undertaken in the right spirit and on the basis of truth, church discipline is a good thing, contrary to some popular belief. It's thoroughly biblical. It finally happened in this tragic case.

Updated Nov 30, 2021, 5:53 AM
Your Turn / Re: Lutheran Creationists
July 31, 2021, 08:12:49 AM
Dr. David Menton is associated with Answers in Genesis.  I think that he is currently with the Church of the Lutheran Confession.
To the extent that they acknowledge his existence at all, why do so many give the impression that you have go back to 1969 to find anything of note about him?  Did anybody listen to the podcast episode?
The podcast "A Word Fitly Spoken" released an episode last week about Herman John Otten: "We look at the life and work of one of the twentieth century's most influential and controversial Lutherans, Rev. Herman Otten. Pastor Otten served his congregation and his church for more than a half-century and was one of the staunchest opponents of liberalism in the Lutheran Church. Join us for a look at his words, his warnings, and how they apply to our day."

Members of the Otten family have praised the broadcast.  Ruth Rethemeyer wrote: "Thank you very much for doing this and helping preserve many of the facts of my father's life and ministry. His mission in life, by the power of the Holy Spirit, was to try and preserve the Word of God in its truth and purity for all Christians, no matter what the odds were. Three points that I jotted down that you were spot on about him: Encouraging all to read broadly so you can engage with people at their level, it's okay to to talk to people you disagree with and the church is not supposed to be secretive. I also greatly appreciate you ending your podcast with his obituary, another great summation of who Herman Otten really was."

The podcast episode may be found at:

The "Word Fitly Spoken" web site is also uploading sermons of the late Walter A. Maier Sr., famed "Lutheran Hour" speaker from the 1930s and 1940s.
Your Turn / Lutherdom Has Become the Sleeping Pygmy
June 09, 2020, 05:58:57 PM

"Lutheran discussions on the Internet sound like a group of elderly men dosing off as they sip their Ovaltine."
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