Friday, May 15, 2009

Neumann endorses Augsburg Confession!

The local left has launched a preemptive strike against Mark Neumann's candidacy for governor based on his membership in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. I am not a member of the WELS and disagree strongly with many of its positions. I have certainly not committed to supporting Mark Neumann for Governor. Choosing between Mark and Scott Walker will be like deciding whether to pitch C.C. Sabathia or Tim Lincecum. Difficult but fortunate.But this "controversy" is silly.It begins with Cory Liebmann going after Neumann for concerning himself with whether legislation is moral. We certainly can't have that. I'd rather have my public officials limit themselves to consideration of the naked self interest of any combination of groups that can deliver reelection. Who needs right and wrong?Cory is also upset because Neumann prays about major life decisions and believes that he can discern what God is calling him to do. This apparently turns him into some kind of religious fanatic. Perhaps, in Liebmann's world, it does. He ought to get around more. Michael Leon thinks that Neumann must be a "Mean Machine" because his church, like almost all within the Abrahamic tradition, believe that homosexual conduct is sinful. Leon undoubtedly opposed the elevation of the Roman Catholic Nancy Pelosi to the speakership. He opposed Joe Biden for VP and campaigned against John Kerry. He must believe that Jim Doyle should resign.But, no, he would say, because Pelosi and the others have made clear that she rejects her church's teaching even while seeking to claim an affinity with her co-coreligionists. The upshot is that those who adhere to traditional Christian and Jewish and Muslim learning on human sexuality have become outsiders - beyond the pale of polite discourse. Good luck with that and, all you all, stop harping on the evils of religious tests for public office.There is, according to Neumann's critics, a hostility to the papacy and Roman Catholic doctrine within the WELS. And so there is. On a variety of theological issues, there are sharp differences. On matters of policy, there are none - or at least none of dispositive significance. In the view of Liebman and Leon, conservative Catholics ought to ignore important issues regarding the family, the sanctity of life and religious liberty because the WELS thinks that the Roman Catholic Church is too attached to salvation by works and the veneration of Mary and the Saints. Why worry about school choice and abortion, when we can vote on transubstantiation and apostolic succession.I would worry that these guys are injecting religion into politics, but they say they aren't. So ....


Amy said...

THANK YOU! I've been flabbergasted and mystified when I ran across the blog posts you mention in recent weeks.

Anonymous said...

'Difficult but fortunate?' Oh my, that's more like trying to figure out the lesser of two evils. You may want to review both of their histories. I certainly would not want Walker being the governor of the state! Take a very good look at what he has done ro Milwaukee County.

Cory Liebmann said...

You are misrepresenting what I actually said.

He was not just talking about “morals” in general (they do exist apart from faith by the way). He was speaking in the context of his own rigid religious beliefs. That is where I have a problem…not that he has some “moral” test for public policy but that it must pass his own personal religious test first. Even before the good of the country (as he put it). He was not elected to be a prophet or as an enforcer of his own religious beliefs.

I don’t care if he prays about major life decisions or anything else for that matter. I just get annoyed when politicians start making comments as if Jesus is their campaign manager and somehow has endorsed their campaign. Actually I think that suggesting such things is itself trivializing of religious belief.

Anonymous said...


Give me an example of something you would vote for that you don't believe in.

Rick Esenberg said...


Don't bring that weak stuff around here. He said, first, he would ask if there was a "moral or ethical reason to vote in a particular way ...." The "context" of his supposedly "rigid religious beliefs" is your gloss. He mentioned abortion and deficit spending as being moral issues and admitted that his Christianity speaks to them. Somehow I managed not to recoil in horror.

Dad29 said...

not that he has some “moral” test for public policy but that it must pass his own personal religious test first. Even before the good of the country (as he put it).So.....

If he voted against waterboarding, is he still a pariah, Cory?

One more question: under what regime do 'morals exist outside religion'?

Anonymous said...

No. It is not that Neumann endorses the Augsburg Confession. It is that he is a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. This group of people subscribes to this day to the belief that "[t]he characteristics of the Antichrist as presented in Scripture have been and are being fulfilled in the institution of the papacy. We reject the opinion that the identification of the papacy with the Antichrist was merely a historical judgment valid at the time of the Reformation."
"This We Believe," Article IX, para. 6 (available on the WELS Website).

That Neumann continues to belong to this group is a legitimate consideration for people who are deciding whether or not to vote for him. I would certainly want to know if a candidate for public office belonged to an organization, for example, that held that "Negroes are an inferior race." I would not vote for such a person.

Catholic voters: Mark Neumann belongs to an group that believes the Pope is the Antichrist. (Is that overstating it? Or is it saying something different to say that the institution of the papacy today is identified with the Antichrist, and fulfills the characteristics of the Antichrist?) Now, do you want to vote for a guy who believes that?

jvc said...

Like a decent portion of Protestantism, WELS is seriously crazy. It's craziness, though, fortunately, has absolutely no bearing on American politics.

Get a life, libs. No one would even know these things if you didn't breathlessly obsess over them. It's hilarious to see atheists hot and bothered in defense of Catholics.

jvc said...

By the way, anonymous, by refusing to vote for politicians who believe that blacks are inferior, are you saying that you never vote Democrat?

illusory tenant said...

The WELS refers continually to "the Antichrist" in its literature but its so-called scriptural authority for condemning the papacy is derived from "the son of perdition" in 2 Thessalonians 2, which is quite a bit more disturbing than the characteristics of the "antichrists" (plural) mentioned in the Johannine Epistles, who are simply non-Christians.

And it's not just the papacy but its acolytes. According to the WELS:

"The followers of this Antichrist would become so blind that, even when they clearly see the truth of God's word from the Bible, they don't believe it but choose to follow his wicked, destructive doctrine instead."

Disturbing for those who tend to be disturbed by such things, that is. I suppose it's of some interest to folklorists. And maybe Catholic voters.

Also, Dad asks: "Under what regime do 'morals exist outside religion'?"

Answer: Morality.

Anonymous said...

So far the Republicans are bringing forward Jim Doyle's dream team.

On the one hand you have a nut case who will get dragged through the mud with his nutty views on social issues and on the other you have someone who will be easily tarred with everything seen as wrong with Milwaukee around the rest of the state.

Not to mention the mouth-breathers from Citizens for Responsible Government, one of the finest collections of knuckle-draggers ever assembled.

How lucky can Jim Doyle get?

jvc said...

Illusory tenant is similiarily hot and bothered by the legitimate craziness of WELS.

But why do we never hear from liberals protests against the atheists who want to impose their religious views, that is, the religion of socialism with it's god the government, on our lives?

In a way, it's the standard case of liberal projection. Imagine in your mind that your opponents are doing exactly what you are trying to do. Namely, forcibly impose your religious views on others.

Even if those views are the psuedo-religion of atheism and socialism.

illusory tenant said...

Hot and bothered? Hardly. It's a curiosity imported from one ancient tribalism to a more contemporary milieu: American politics. It's interesting for that reason alone. I could scarcely care less which sect believes which other sect worships a boogeyman.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Brian, you're wide of the mark on that one. When one of the nut-casae atheists (and they are nutty!) runs for Governor, you folks will take care of him or her just the same.

Dad29 said...

Answer: MoralityOh?

Morality exists because it is morality, eh?

See if you can get your tricycle out of its circular pattern, IT...

How does one discern "morality"? You imply that "morality" is a universal, 'pre-existing.'

So tell me how that came to be so, IT.

Clutch said...

Don't bring that weak stuff around here. He said, first, he would ask if there was a "moral or ethical reason to vote in a particular way ...." The "context" of his supposedly "rigid religious beliefs" is your gloss.-

LOL @ ridiculous evasion.

It's right there in the interview. It could not be more obvious, from the long, long surrounding context in which he, e.g., talked about drawing support, in his various stands, from a voting bloc of 25 or 30 representatives identified as united by their Christianity who "furthered their values and beliefs" by standing together. Or used "ethics", "morals", and "Christian morals" interchangeably. Or explained himself by quoting scripture. Or appealed to the will of God. (Luther's, presumably, and not Benedict's.)

Whether you think it's fine to make one's political representation a matter of theological position (you seem to), it's certainly a crass falsehood to claim that Neumann was simply talking about morals, as if you somehow could have failed to notice the scriptural citations, the relentless explanations of his morality as Christian morality, or, golly, the religious interviewer, host, website, and the frickin title: "Faith in the Political Arena".

Golly, when you take all that into account, the whole thing about there being a context of his religious beliefs there was just a gloss that Lieberman crazily read into this!

illusory tenant said...

"You imply that 'morality' is a universal, 'pre-existing.'"

No, I don't. You do.

jvc said...


So, newsflash, Neumann is not a political philosopher. He can't recite Aquinas or Locke when it comes to weighing political issues. We don't always get what we like ... I'd prefer in an imaginary world to have Chris Wolfe running for governor myself.


If you examine issue by issue, he beats the alternative, which is more forcible coercion on the everyday lives of citizens through taxation, regulation, etc. When it comes down to, "Do you believe the government or you should run your own life?" there's only one choice, and it ain't Doyle.

Clutch said...

Brian, you think quoting Aquinas would be less religiously doctrinaire than quoting the Book of James?

I take it you haven't read Aquinas' political philosophy.

But that's neither here nor there as far as what I wrote. Naturally, being sensible, I don't think one has to be a political philosopher to be capable of addressing one's ethical claims to the highest common factor of good citizens, rather than just Christians, or Muslims, or theists. But my point in this case was even more straightforward: Liebmann said Neumann was making morality a matter of his specific religious beliefs. (Besides making such borderline delusional claims as that Jesus willed him to seek political power... what would be a red flag, one wonders?). Liebmann was correct. Esenberg attempted to massage these facts into a shape that would enable a favorite dreary canard of his -- Boohoo, persecuted religious folk can't even talk about morality! -- and he got caught.

Dad29 said...

Still waiting for a response which is substantive, IT.

"Morality exists outside of religion under the regime of morality."

That's what you've asserted. All I asked was "what makes that so."

Your answer?

jvc said...


Ok, I picked two political philosophers out of a hat. Two on the opposite side of the Christian denominational divide, I might add. The point is that his philosophising may be poor, but you lefties are just using his religion as a weapon against him instead of debating the real issues like JOBS, transportation, education, crime and the like. Does it matter if Neumann can't come up with better-sounding answers about how he reaches political conclusions? It doesn't to me, and I think his denomination is a tad bit cooky. Why doesn't it matter? Because in the end, whether I agree or disagree with his public policy proposals is all that matters in terms of whether I would theoretically vote for him or not. Not whether he arrived at those positions in some intellectually incomplete manner or not.

jvc said...

Look, let me expand on this ...

I could not care less if Neumann arrives at the ideas of more freedom and less government coercion because he thinks space aliens kidnap him in his sleep and tell him to believe so or if he had spent 5 years getting a doctorate in political philosophy studying my personally favorite political philosophers.

Similarily, I could not care less how the Democrats first came up with their cooky ideas about the centralization of education and health care, the return to thrown away transportation systems from the 1800's, the wild printing of money to finance government, etc.

Because as far as I am concerned, the Democrats' ideas may as well have been told to them by space aliens, they are so ridiculous and antithetical to common sense.

MAL said...

You suggest the tenets of many faiths if followed to the letter and applied to public policy would result in objectionable politics to some.

So what’s the problem with Mark Neumann and WELS vis s vis Catholicism and Pelosi and Biden, you ask. Fair point.

But the response is that Neumann himself has to an extraordinary degree publically noted his religion as the foundation upon which he formulates his politics which are uncontroversialy right-wing.

And the WELS dogma as well as Neumann’s politics are exclusionary, I think hateful, and unusually hostile to other religions and in great detail.

These are not mere “sharp differences” with other faiths.

Whether they are ugly and mean is subjective.

But c’mon suggesting that the Pope is the Anti-Christ and criticizing the “Jews and their lies” I think has to give voters pause when considering whether to elect someone citing their church as a qualification for office and a central aspect of their life.

Examples from WELS:

- "We recognize the Pope as the Anti-Christ by his false teachings and by his matching the traits of the Anti-Christ as revealed in Scripture, not by the alleged symbolism of something he wears or carries.”

- "Christians must take care during their lifetimes not to regularly associate with any group or organization that would take their focus off Christ alone as their salvation.

- "(Luther) had hoped that the Reformation with its clear preaching of the pure gospel would convert the Jews. Luther himself provides examples from the Talmud in 'On the Jews and Their Lies' (Luther's Works 47:226-228): 'Their Talmud and their rabbis record that it is no sin for a Jew to kill a Gentile, but it is only a sin for him to kill a brother Israelite. Nor is it a sin for a Jew to to break his oath to a Gentile. ... "

Anonymous said...

Was it WELS or the Missouri Synod which nearly excommunicated the #2 person in its North American church for participating in an ecumenical service at Yankee Stadium following the 9/11 attacks? The person's "sin" was to participate in a religious ceremony in which leaders from other faiths (Muslim and Jewish) were present.

Pardon me if it was Missouri Synod and not WELS, but this illustrates how nutty some of these people can be when they take their faith too literally.

Put up Neumann and you will get some of the same backlash which Steele noted with respect to Romney. Right or wrong, it's out there, and the people for whom this kind of thing makes a differemce can find some scabs to pick at. Neumann provides some of the fodder with his own words.

Anonymous said...

IT is an atheist who wants you to believe there is no such thing as an anti-Christ. I guess that type of reasoning is how he became an atheist.

Anonymous said...

"Put up Neumann and you will get some of the same backlash which Steele noted with respect to Romney. Right or wrong, it's out there, and the people for whom this kind of thing makes a differemce can find some scabs to pick at. Neumann provides some of the fodder with his own words."

Well said anon 6:54.
I have been waiting for the IT response to DAD29. The morality that fits best with atheism is moral absolutism, which would be very hard (as hard as many mainstream religious beliefs)to defend in any sort of non-theoretical application (I think. That is why I am waiting for IT's answer)

Morality outside of a specific framework, whether religious or absolutist, would end up being whatever was popular with the people or its current leaders at the time, wouldn't it.

It seems to me, that this is what is happening today. Obama has decided to directly redistribute money from investors/creditors to his voters in the union. The only defense I have heard of this is: "Bush did illegal things too." Political morality changes constantly. IT, is that the form of morality you prefer?

Dad29 said...

We'll have great-grandchildren before IT responds, Tuerq.

Either morality is relative or it is absolute. But "absolute" morality must be based on the truth, or it is not absolute--it is relative.

And yes, Obama & Co. will not recognize truth, thus they advocate 'relative' morality, which is determined by voting.

In the secular realm, that's what the Bill of Rights was written to prevent; specifically, the religion, speech, RKBA, self-incrimination...etc.

Anonymous said...

I really fail to see where being a member of the WELS is an important issue in American politics. After all, the WELS does not, as a church, hold to certain political positions. (Members do however.) Just because the WELS teaches that the Pope is the Antichrist, does not mean that a WELS politician should use that as part of their political platform. The doctrine of the Antichrist is meaningless to the running of American politics. The doctrine of the Two Kingdoms is more important. That is (in a nutshell) the Church exists on earth to proclaim the Gospel, the State exists to secure public peace and protect its citizens. The State is not to further the Gospels cause and the Church is not to make laws for the state (ie force faith on anyone). [NOTE: Faith and morals ARE two different things. If someone says that making abortion illegal or defining marriage as a life-long union between one man and one woman is an imposition of religion fails to see that these issues are moral issues and not religious issues. Marriage is a public deal, otherwise the government shouldn't be involved at all. Abortion deals with one's right to life, otherwise murder should be permissible. Yes, you read that right. Abortion is murder. Since this is the case, then "regular" murder would also be permissible if abortion were legal. No, I am not crazy.]
BTW, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America all teach this very same teaching in some way or another. The ELS is in doctrinal agreement with the WELS. The LCMS proof of this doctrine is found here: . The ELCA proof is found here: . (Note: "This church accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely ... the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise ... as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church." These two documents are very explicit in their declarations that the Pope is the Antichrist. Debate all you want about whether or not the ELCA teaches this. The fact that they hold these documents as "valid interpretations" of Christian doctrine should be proof enough that they accept the Lutheran doctrine of the Antichrist, even if only in part.)

Here's a list of those who are members of these Lutheran churches in politics (as far as I can find) Neumann should not be singled out [If any information can be proven wrong, please let me know. I apologize for any mistakes]:

Michele Bachmann (WELS; Rep. MN-R)
Ron Kind (WELS; Rep. WI-D)
Allen Quist (ELS; candidate for Congress MN-R)
Lois Capps (ELCA)
John R. Carter (ELCA)
Norman Dicks (ELCA)
Stephanie Herseth (ELCA)
Darlene Hooley (ELCA)
Tom Latham (ELCA)
Zoe Lofgren (ELCA)
Collin Peterson (ELCA)
Thomas Petri(ELCA)
Dave Reichert (LCMS)
John Shimkus (LCMS)
Bill Shuster (ELCA)
Tim Walz (ELCA MN-D)

And reply to earlier question: The errant Lutheran pastor who participated in the Yankee Stadium 9/11 service was LCMS.

MAL said...

An "important issue": Yes, partly because Mark Neumann says so himself. If I may:

"Asked how he made his decisions in Congress, Neumann replied, 'What we did in our office, and Sue (wife) helped me a lot with this, we established a checklist, so to speak, on any bill that would come before us. And we'd ask ourselves first, 'Is there a moral or ethical reason to a cast a vote in any particular way.' And if there was, it didn't' matter what anybody else said to me, we were going with the morals and ethics first."

A principled man? Yes. His principles are based upon his religion and the "good Lord," per his own words. See for example,

Anonymous said...

Okay then. If Catholic shouldn't vote for a Lutheran because of the Lutheran doctrine of the Antichrist, then why should a Lutheran (or any non-Catholic really) vote for a Catholic?

Consider the following quotes from sources sanctified by the Roman Bishop himself:

"[S]ince communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches ... these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense."

The Roman Pontiff has accepted this statement in the document "Dominus Iesus," written by then Cardinal Ratzinger and approved by John Paul II in 2000. Essentially this says that Lutherans (really anyone who rejects papal "authority") are not really part of the "holy catholic and apostolic Church," as confessed in the catholic creeds. Time and time again over the course of history the Roman bishop has demanded that he be the sole head of the Church, supposedly as Peter's successor. [Boniface VIII "Unam Sactum"; Vatican I Dogmatic Constitution "Pastor aeternus")

Also: "If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema." (Council of Trent; Session VI; Canon 9)

The Roman Church has condemned Lutherans (and others). Despite the dialogue that took place between the Pope and the Lutheran World Federation, these statements still stand as authoritative. The Pope wants you to believe that he is speaking on Christ's behalf, as if he were divinely inspired like the writers of the Holy Scriptures.

Lutherans do not deny that there are Christians that are part of the Roman church. They subscribe to the Apostle's, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as truth. These creeds define what it means to be a Christian. Since the Roman church accepts these creeds, they are part of the "holy catholic and apostolic Church." [There are Christians who don't like "creeds" but are still Christian because they confess to the doctrine of these creeds.]

Now, based off of the information that I have given you, why should a non-Catholic vote for a Catholic, if a Catholic should not vote for another [i.e., a Lutheran] because of a particular doctrine [that of the Antichrist]?

Yes, Lutherans condemn the pope as the Antichrist. The Pope condemns Lutherans for not accepting his "authority." [This is not a game of "well they did it, so I can too.] Since it was established by some to be an important issue, then tell me why should I vote for Pelosi, Doyle, Mark Green? They're all Roman Catholics. Their public confession as such indicates that they agree with their church's teachings (even if they act contrary to said teachings).

Do you see the folly of considering religious belief as a litmus test for public office? Unless one is planning to bind another's conscience to a particular faith, then religion really has nothing to do with politics. (Abortion, Gay Marriage, Education, etc. are not part of the "religious" sphere. They deal with civil and/or moral matters. The Church's mission is to save souls. The State's mission is to preserve peace as much as possible [by means of law and order].

Anonymous said...

Luther's doctrine is not always Lutheran doctrine. Luther's views on the Jews in later life and some other matters (such as purgatory earlier in his life) do not dictate Lutheran doctrine. Holy Scripture dictates Lutheran doctrine. Lutherans subscribe to the Book of Concord because it is the correct exposition of the doctrine of Scripture that it teaches.