I continue to be shocked and saddened that the institution that taught me to flee from the tactics and practices of Pietism is now not only promoting it’s chief tool (small groups) but is also spitting in the face of one of orthodoxy’s chief tools by replacing chapel worship with these ecclesiai in ecclessia (churches within the church, i.e. small groups).
Here is the notice that was published in the seminary announcements:
Chapel Small Groups
On Tuesday, October 12, there will be no daily chapel service. Everyone is encouraged to participate in a small group which will use the devotional tool SOAP: Scripture-Observation-Application-Prayer. The intention is to provide opportunity for life together and community formation flowing from a different practice of piety. The Word of God and prayer will serve as the primary avenue for reflection and encouraging one another in Christ. You are encouraged to participate in the group as you are motivated to do so. Students, staff and faculty will have predetermined groups. Lists with your group number, location, and leader will be posted on campus and distributed by e-mail.
Dean Burreson (10/12/2010)
In less than one generation Concordia Seminary – St. Louis has gone from teaching seminarians to flee Pietism to embracing it.
I ask Dean Burreson and the other faculty members to explain what has changed. What was wrong with the position taken by professors Nagel, Feurhan, Kiehl, Hummel, Johnson, Klann, et. al? I also ask why is it that professors Raabe, Bartelt, President Meyer, et. al. who were professors alongside the aforementioned, are now accepting this shift of thought? Were they just holding back their support for pietiesm in those days and now that their aforementioned peers are gone they are free to express it? Have their views changed? If so, they owe it the LCMS to let us know what has changed. This is rather confusing to say the least.
And what of professors Arand, Biermann, Peter, Lessing, Utech, Schumacher, et. al. who studied alongside me and were taught by these same professors of old? Is that teaching passe now? Were we misled by the likes of Nagel, Hummel, etc? Are professors Arand, Biermann, etc. possesing of a higher knowledge that now trumps the teaching of our fathers who rejected Pietism and its harmful practices?
Another question – why is such a major change like this not publicized anywhere? If it were not for the daily announcements and the students’ grapevine, we would not be aware that such a major shift is taking place. Please correct me if I am wrong but I can find no evidence of this on the CSL newsreel on their website. Other than Dean Burrson’s signed announcements I see no evidence of letting the church know that the teaching on small groups from the last generation of faculty has now been rejected.
Hats off to the Jesus First and the PLI gangs, the progressive ecclesia(s) in the LCMS ecclesiai. They lost at the convention but they are winning at the St. Louis seminary. Small groups and contemporary worship at the seminary Walther founded are huge steps forward for their progressive agenda for the LCMS.
It’s usually fun and exciting to go outside the boundaries and experiment. That is most likely part of the mystique of these things for the St. Louis faculty. We humbly but assertively ask them to return to the teaching of their fathers – Nagel, Hummel, Johnson, Klann, et. al.