Home > Internet Resource > Warning: The ALPB Internet Forum May Be Hazardous to Your Mental and Spiritual Health

Warning: The ALPB Internet Forum May Be Hazardous to Your Mental and Spiritual Health

December 23rd, 2008
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Some time back I recommended folks give the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau's online forum a try. I now need to withdraw that recommendation. The ALPB forum is very poorly moderated, and when the ELCA moderator actually ever does attempt to exercise some modicum of control, it is generally to slap wrists with a ruler for not being nice, which apparently in the ELCA is a sin far more serious than doctrinal heresy and moral bankruptcy. The forum has reached the point where it is no better than sites like LutherQuest. There are two very liberal ELCA pastors on the board who dominate every conversation to the point of destroying any possibility of reasonable conversation, one in particular is permitted by the site's moderators to question incessantly every major article of the Christian faith. It is a mess. It is actually a bit like watching a train wreck, it is so awful you can't take your eyes from it, but…you really should. I have, and feel much the better for it.

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  1. Michael Zamzow
    December 24th, 2008 at 05:13 | #1

    As part of my Advent discipline, I quit lurking there. I am much healthier — physically, mentally, spiritually. It is especially dismaying that a defrocked practicing homosexual who is allowed to hold the pastoral office in an ELCA congregation is accorded more respect than those of us who left the ELCA because we could no longer in good conscience remain. The sneers and jeers on ALPB Forum are familiar to those who resisted in the ELCA. The arrogance, disdain, and disregard for truth have been running rampant for decades.

  2. wcwirla
    December 24th, 2008 at 13:28 | #2

    There are those who advocate a “techno-sabbath” (http://technosabbatarian.blogspot.com/2008/11/inbeginning.html). They may be on to something, I believe.
    And here I am commenting on a blog on the morning of Christmas Eve. No, I don’t have a problem….

  3. Chryst
    December 25th, 2008 at 14:02 | #3

    A healthier alternative might be the Wittenberg Trail http://www.wittenbergtrail.ning

  4. Don Kirchner
    December 25th, 2008 at 14:02 | #4

    Good advice. And the term “moral bankruptcy” is appropriate.
    I left there shortly after reading the comments by one of the posters you mentioned who, when visited by a couple/members of the congregation to which he is called, who were considering an abortion and sought the Church’s direction, stated: “I neither confirmed their ‘choice’ nor confronted it. The only ‘comment’ I made was to share the ELCA’s Social Teaching Statement on Abortion and said, ‘This is what our church teaches about abortion.’ They took the statement home, read it, and made their choice based on the guidelines in that statement.”
    He concluded his view with the idea that “scriptures is not as clear about ‘not killing children’ (or about an individual’s right to choose) as some people would like to think.”
    Concluding that I was reading true evil, I left ALPB shortly thereafter.
    Don Kirchner

  5. Darrell Wacker
    December 26th, 2008 at 06:52 | #5

    Pastor, I think your description of the ALPB forum is spot on. I must admit to taking offense at one item that was posted in response to your blog posting, however. I know you are a big boy and don’t need defending, but I felt compelled to respond to one assertion, and I quote my posting below:
    That being said, I have found Pastor McCain to be a strong voice for historic, confessional Lutheranism. That he would offend some on this board is no surprise. I don’t believe the reason he left is due to hearing things that challenge his “personal theology or interpretation of our faith” as Mr. Austin suggests. Instead, I would suggest that maybe Pr. McCain is profoundly sad, and at times angry, when he sees folks who are Lutherans, and Pastors to boot, that rely on a “personal theology or interpretation of our faith” instead of the faith and confessions of our forefathers and God’s clear and unambiguous Word to guide them and their church body in their theology and practice. This “whatever is ok for me” way of looking at Scripture is precisely the “train wreck” that we so often talk about.

  6. Steve Bliss
    December 26th, 2008 at 06:52 | #6

    Pr McCain
    I understand you’re leaving. I myself have not been spending much time there. I had returned for a little while but found that the two posters you referred to were indeed still there and still infecting the discussion. Sadly as a conservative confessional in the ELCA wondering how much longer I can stay, it is a bitter pill to swallow that the bullying and disrespect displayed by those two is reflective of the way the few confessionals in the ELCA are treated by the many revisionists.
    Anyway, when I first came to ALPB you offered me some sage advice in dealing with one of them and I wanna thank you. You also very generously sent me a copy of “Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel” which I can’t thank you engough for as it is absolutely brilliant (which of course you know) and you also generously sent me a copy of Concordia: the Lutheran Confessions, which I already had a copy of but, after running it by you, I gave it to a friend and he absolutely loves it. Thanks again and God bless. Hoping you have a blessed Christmas season.
    Steve Bliss

  7. Rev. Tom Fast
    December 26th, 2008 at 18:02 | #7

    I agree with your post, Pr. McCain.
    I simply refuse to believe that what is posted at the alpb site is a fair representation of those who call themselves “evangelical catholics.” At least I hope not. I certainly understand that there are pastors who are struggling with fundamental teachings of the Christian faith. And when that occurs, there should be conversations aplenty. But the alpb discussion board seems to be more about actual advocacy of such matters more than anything else. Really, it would be more appropriate if those kinds of conversations were not being engaged in a public forum. It would be better if that were a private discussion board.
    With all that said, I came to the conclusion long ago that internet discussion boards are like television and pop music. They’re only dangerous when you take them seriously. The medium is very limiting.

  8. Randy Bosch
    December 26th, 2008 at 18:02 | #8

    Pastor McCain,
    You are to be applauded for “shaking the dust off”. The sustained attacks on the truth of The Word, watering down of the Creeds and deconstruction of the Lutheran Confessions that continue to be propagated in that forum, seemingly abetted by its “mainstream”, evidences either simple lack of willingness to address such errors, or that the “new order” promulgated thereby is the predetermined goal.
    Even those who claim to simply tolerate and encourage “discussion of various viewpoints” thereby allow error to be unanswered and increase, thereby voting in favor of error. You did not tolerate the errors, and so were often patronized, condescended to or disparaged for guarding and illuminating the Truth. When Truth cannot be proclaimed, when error and heresy cannot be addressed without any who turn on the light being rebuked while those who teach doubt, error, heresy and attacks on those who defend the Word, the Creeds and Lutheran Confessions are sheltered and encouraged, it is time to “shake the dust off”.
    Many are inured to, clearly accept, have been made innocent of the errors through poor training. Oh, that the Spirit would remove scales of “big tent” blindness to error and heresy from their eyes. The Forum proclaims itself pan-Lutheran, but appears to prefer that only those in the same church body with certain of its “leaders” have license to respond to their own, thus promoting the goals of the liberal/progressive/revisionists.
    Casting doubt and propagating error have actual and major effect on the lives and potentially the salvation of many people. The results are too often the destruction of congregations, families, relationships and individuals who are recipients, directly or through other parties. The hubristic “riding for the brand” with erring and heterodox teammates found on the Forum has that potential.
    You have already begun to hear the siren songs of “we miss you” or “we really, really, really like you (but back off…)”, or “I dare you to respond to the new attacks”.
    Do not let them draw you back into that maelstrom of chaos!

  9. Rob Moskowitz
    December 27th, 2008 at 02:04 | #9

    Pastor McCain Its always a pleasure : ) Good for you!!
    Well God bless you and the faithfull in the LCMS!!
    Yours In Christ
    Rob Moskowitz

  10. Don Hansen
    December 28th, 2008 at 16:09 | #10

    It gives me hope for American Lutheranism, Pr. McCain, when a pastor takes such a stand.
    I myself left ALPB.org about six months ago, when it was clear that niceness trumped truth. Pastors are sadly and sorely mistaken, if they think that what people most want from the church, is niceness. We can get niceness from secular sources everywhere — we don’t need the church for that. What the church has to offer, is Truth. If the church doesn’t ultimately stand for The Truth, then it is worthless. Absolutely, positively worthless.
    Which is all the more disappointing when so many pastors posting at ALPB.org, seem to feel the need to put the word truth in quotation marks, every time they write it. I asked, countless times, why they do that, but never got a response. Never.
    One possible response is that truth is something we pursue, but never can be sure we’ve attained it. But that changes nothing. The *pursuit* of truth demands two things:
    1) The acceptance that there is a singular truth to which we seek to discover (not multiple truths).
    2) That the tools we have at our disposal of pursuing Truth not be violated.
    On ALPB.org, I found that both of those were violated:
    1) There is no need for quotation marks around “truth” if #1 is accepted.
    2) My greatest aggravation with the poster there (and the moderators): That the truth-pursuing “tools” of logic, consistency, clarity, etc., were constantly violated, and that behavior was not only allowed, but moderator-protected from anyone pushing the point (niceness trumps all). Once discussion is unhinged from such restraints, it is pointless, other than as a playground for intellectuals, and I have better things to do with my time and efforts.

  11. Don Whitbeck
    December 28th, 2008 at 16:09 | #11

    Dear Pastor McCain:
    I have always enjoyed your post and your stand on Confessional Lutheran Beliefs.
    I have the highest respect for you and those who stnad on those beliefs.
    I have cut way down on my participation, mostly just reading and not posting.
    Sometimes, I get so mad I just want to scream, and just leave in discuss.
    I would hope that we can start a discussion based on those beliefs, and teachings.
    In Christ,
    Don Whitbeck

  12. Robert Buechler
    December 28th, 2008 at 16:09 | #12

    Well it probably is for the best. I admit that ALPB was good for information, but now that I and my congregations are no longer part of the ELCA it became truly saddening to watch people talk a subject to death without really coming to the point of calling a spade a spade and caring enough to call folks to repentance that leads to life. That seems to be the way things go in the ELCA anyway. Talk and talk and find some “compromise” solution.
    You are well out of there. I too have found much peace of mind since leaving the forum.
    Peace in the Lord!
    Rob Buechler, Pastor
    Trinity-Bergen Lutheran Church

  13. Pastor Jeff Ruby
    December 28th, 2008 at 16:09 | #13

    I doubt you will allow this to be posted, but let me say this: Luther never quit. He was in until they kicked him out. If you really don’t like what is going on at ALPB, post and work to change it. Quitters never win.
    [[[McCain response to Ruby: Jeff, surely you jest, but sadly, I do not believe you are kidding when you seem to be comparing the ALPB online chat as being something comparable, in any way, to the work of Luther and the Reformation. The ALPB forum could be, in some ways, of some use and possibly even something constructive, but due to the near total lack of responsible moderation, chiefly by Dick Johnson, I have found that nearly every meaningful conversation there is reduced to inane chatter thanks to the "contributions" of Stoffregen and Austin. And, finally, there comes a point when a man realizes that verbal sandbox fights are a waste of time and something more appropriate for the kindergarten playground.]]]

  14. Brian Hughes
    December 28th, 2008 at 16:09 | #14

    Well, I can understand going. I’ve come and gone a couple of times from ALPB. As an evangelical Lutheran, I find myself wandering with paradoxically weird company; among the orthodox (with umbrellas opened) when it comes to the main issues flung down into my little corner of the Lutheran alley, cast as they are from open windows above (you do catch the illusion, yes?), while at the same time wandering into some of the pubs along the way to visit with sinners, back-sliders and Baptists.
    So like Hosea, I figure I’m called to stay in relationship with my current, ahem, partner the ELCA, no matter what she seems to be doing. At least for now anyway. Will miss you. Actually I’ll miss even more the routine fits you gave a couple of posters … but I figure I’ll already catch enough grief once you post this … :-)
    Merry Christmas!

  15. Craig
    December 29th, 2008 at 20:04 | #15

    Pr. McCain,
    I have always been concerned about Stoffregen and Austin’s salvation when reading their posts. I had to quit the alpb forum for sanity’s sake.
    Blessings to you and yours! LM

  16. Dave Storhaug
    January 2nd, 2009 at 06:11 | #16

    Pastor McCain:
    I agree with your assessment of Austin and Stoffregen over at ALPB online forum. Their excessive posting is resulting in the hi-jacking of the ALPB form so that it is in grave danger of being an extension of the ELCA bureacracy and no longer a true pan-lutheran forum. And the moderators appear to be oblivious of this situation.
    It is time to search for the light elsewhere.

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