CSL sends letter of rebuke to Wyoming and South Wisconsin District Pastors

This past Friday the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis sent a letter via email to every pastor in the Wyoming District (81 of them by a quick LCMS locator count).  A similar letter was sent to the pastors of the South Wisconsin District (372 of them by a quick LCMS locator count).  These letters were in response to resolutions passed by pastors conferences of both districts in regards to a recent Concordia Journal Article.  This post is a “just the facts” posting.  Commentary posts will likely be coming in the following days.

Here is the introductory body of the email to the Wyoming District pastors:

Brothers of the Wyoming District,

Greetings in Christ! We, the faculty of Concordia Seminary, have spent many hours the last weeks discussing and deliberating about the resolution you adopted in your most recent pastoral conference. The attached letter, adopted unanimously, reflects our concerns about the substance, approach and potential consequences of your action. We ask that you give it your careful and prayerful attention and consider a course of action that would benefit and strengthen the ministry of all the congregations and pastors of the synod and respect the commitments we have made to each other.

Fraternally yours in the service of our only Savior,

The Faculty of Concordia Seminary

As attested by,

Paul W. Robinson, Dean of the Faculty

Dale A. Meyer, President

 

Now here is the letter they sent:  [PDF] Letter to Wyoming District Pastors 12-1-17 (1)

An Open Letter to Our Brothers in the Wyoming District

December 1, 2017

Dear Brothers,

We are writing to you with regard to our life together as fellow pastors in the ministerium of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

We were greatly saddened to receive word of a resolution adopted by you at the fall district pastors conference Oct. 4, 2017, regarding the article by Dr. John Jurchen entitled, “The Age of the Earth and Confessional Lutheranism,” which appeared in the summer 2017 issue of our Concordia Journal. Two concerns came to mind upon reading your resolution.

Our first concern is with how we relate to one another when we run across statements in writings that seem to be unclear, confusing, questionable or perhaps even wrong. Should we immediately assume the worst and conclude that the author is promoting false doctrine that must be condemned – even when the author or publication has not provided cause for such a reading? And should our first response to error – perceived or actual – not be to seek clarification or correction from the author? A resolution that states, “Wyoming District Pastors Conference condemn this article for its false doctrine and for sowing discord among brethren” and then calls upon a number of others to issue “the same condemnation” at the very least leaps to a judgment that may not be warranted when a conversation may have made any such action unnecessary. This is a sad commentary on our life together as a Synod and our respect for one another as brothers and co-workers in ministry.

Our second concern is with the treatment of the issue itself. Dr. Jurchen clearly states at the beginning of his article that he is attempting to answer in a responsible way questions raised by a parishioner, paying attention to statements the Synod has made on the issue. Did the article receive a fair reading and a thorough discussion at your conference with regard to its purpose, thesis, arguments and conclusion? Were questions raised and discussed about the Synod statements that Dr. Jurchen cites and why they are not more explicit about the issue he was addressing? To us, these seem to be important questions. After all, there is no church like the Lutheran tradition that seeks to be fiercely textual (as a colleague puts it) so as not to say less than Scripture says but also not to say more than Scripture says.

At this juncture, we are primarily concerned with how we may best live together as a church and with one another as brothers in the church’s ministry. This is not to say that false teaching is not a serious matter. Of course it is! And it is not to say that we should not deal with it appropriately – especially when it is persistently promoted and defended. Such a practice is the model set for us by the Preface to the Book of Concord whose authors stated about their own condemnations: “it is our will and intention thereby to condemn only the false and seductive teachings of the stiff-necked teachers and blasphemers of the same…” [italics added] (Par 13, Kolb-Wengert edition), that is, those who refuse to engage in conversation, to reconsider or refuse to reconcile.

In the interest of leaving no doubt as to where we stand and what we teach on the subject of creation, we can unequivocally state that we hold to and teach in accordance with the Brief Statement’s paragraph on creation, both its thesis and antithesis, which reads:

We teach that God has created heaven and earth, and that in the manner and in the space of time recorded in the Holy Scriptures, especially Gen. 1 and 2, namely, by His almighty creative word, and in six days. We reject every doctrine which denies or limits the work of creation as taught in Scripture. In our days it is denied or limited by those who assert, ostensibly in deference to science, that the world came into existence through a process of evolution; that is, that it has, in immense periods of time, developed more or less of itself. Since no man was present when it pleased God to create the world, we must look for a reliable account of creation to God’s own record, found in God’s own book, the Bible. We accept God’s own record with full confidence and confess with Luther’s Catechism: “I believe that God has made me and all creatures.”

This is a wonderfully crafted statement that begins with a confession of God as creator of heaven and earth and then concludes with its significance for us as expressed by Luther’s catechism. In other words, what do we confess with the affirmation that God is creator? We confess, “I am God’s creature!” (LC II 13).

We recognize the article in question has generated concern regarding some of its statements and conclusions, some of which our faculty shares, and we are aware that some of the points could have been stated more clearly. In fact, the article has generated discussion within our faculty, and we are looking forward to continuing that conversation with the entire Synod. As a beginning toward that end, and in the interest of strengthening our life together and clarifying our witness to the world, we are preparing a series of posts that provide an orientation to the debate currently taking place in evangelical circles along with an assessment of our Lutheran take on these issues. These will be posted on concordiatheology.org.

Given these acknowledgements, we respectfully request that you retract your resolution and engage the author and us in conversation. It is difficult to see how such an overture as has been adopted will not cast a cloud of suspicion over the author, Concordia University, Nebraska, and the seminaries (particularly Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in whose Concordia Journal this particular article appeared). Luther calls us to something higher when he teaches us not to slander or defame our neighbor but instead to honor God by “speaking well” of our neighbor and “explaining everything in the kindest way.”

In Christ,

The faculty of Concordia Seminary

 

Now here is the Wyoming District Fall Pastor Conference resolution, which includes pertinent quotes from the Concordia Journal Article (adopted unanimously) [PDF WY District Resolution CSL2017]:

Resolution of the Wyoming District Fall Pastors’ Conference, Casper, WY, 2-4 October 2017
Concerning the recent Concordia Journal article, “The Age of the Earth and Confessional Lutheranism,” by Dr. John Jurchen (Summer 2017, Volume 43, Number 3, pages 64-74).
WHEREAS  the pastors of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are bound to Scripture in order “to give instruction in sound doctrine, and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:0), as also articulated in Romans 16:17, Ephesians 4:11-16, Titus 2:1, and 1 Timothy 4:6; and
WHEREAS  serious concern has arisen among the pastors of the Wyoming District following the recent publication of the Concordia Journal article, “The Age of the Earth and Confessional Lutheranism,” by Dr. John Jurchen (Summer 2017, Volume 43, Number 3, pages 64-74), as published by Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in conjunction with Concordia University Nebraska, Seward, Nebraska; and
WHEREAS  the Scriptures do not allow for old-earth creationism, including interpreting the word “day” (yom) in Genesis, chapters 1 and 2, as an extended period of days or years or as anything but the twenty-four hour day as is experienced (Genesis 1:5, 14; Exodus 20:8); and
WHEREAS  The Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod (“Of Creation,” 5, 1932) rejects that the world came into being “in immense periods of time”; and
WHEREAS Dr. John Jurchen, associate professor of chemistry at Concordia University, Nebraska, asserts in Concordia Journal, Volume 43, Number 3, pages 70-71, “As long as parishioners are able to accept the historicity of Adam and Eve, the corrupting influence of sin, and the gospel of salvation, they can expand the days of the creation week to encompass unspecified periods,” and page 71, “Adherents [of Old Earth Creationism] can accept the standard, secular interpretation of the geological record while still holding to an exegetically credible six-day (yom) creation, the fall of an historical Adam and Eve, and redemption through Jesus Christ.” and page 73, “[W]e must not present the appearance that the age of the earth is a ‘litmus test’ for orthodoxy”; and
WHEREAS these words of Dr. Jurchen contradict the Holy Scriptures, deny their clarity, and are not to be tolerated in the Church of God, much less excused or defended; and
WHEREAS  Concordia Journal, in which the aforementioned article was published, lists Dr. Dale Meyer, President of Concordia Seminary, as the Publisher, and Dr. Charles Arand as the Executive Editor and Dean of Theological Research and Publication; and
WHEREAS  Dr. Dale Meyer, as president of Concordia Seminary, “shall serve as the spiritual, academic, and administrative head of the seminary” (Bylaw 3.10.5.6); and Dr. Brian Friedrich, as president of Concordia University, Nebraska, serves in a similar role; and
WHEREAS  Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, according to Article XI.B.1-3, shall supervise, admonish, advise, and reprove in order to “promote and maintain unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of Synod” (Article XI, B, 3); and, according to Bylaw 3.3.1.1, the President of Synod “shall supervise the doctrine taught and practiced in the Synod, including all synodwide corporate entities,” which includes Concordia Seminary and Concordia University, Nebraska; and
WHEREAS  Dr. R. Lee Hagen, President of the Missouri District, is the ecclesiastical supervisor of Concordia Seminary’s faculty (Bylaw 2.12.1.5); and the Reverend Rich Snow, President of the Nebraska District, is the ecclesiastical supervisor of Concordia University, Nebraska; and
WHEREAS  the Board of Regents of Concordia Seminary, as elected by Synod or variously appointed to the board, “shall consider as one of its primary duties the defining and fulfilling of the mission of the seminary within the broad assignment of the Synod” (Bylaw 3.10.5.1), and is “subject to general policies set by the Synod” (Bylaw 3.10.5), which include Article II, Confession, of the Constitution of Synod; and which also the Board of Regents of Concordia University, Nebraska, are subject to the same general policies of Synod, therefore be it
RESOLVED that the Wyoming District Pastors Conference condemn this article for its false teaching and for sowing discord among brethren, and be it further
RESOLVED that the Wyoming District Pastors Conference implore Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; Dr. Dale Meyer, President of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, and Publisher of Concordia Journal; Dr. Charles Arand, the Executive Editor of Concordia Journal and Dean of Theological Research and Publication; Dr. Brian Friedrich, President of Concordia University, Nebraska;  Dr. John Jurchen, Concordia University, Nebraska; Dr. R. Lee Hagen, President of the Missouri District; the Reverend Richard Snow, President of the Nebraska District; the Reverend Shawn Kumm, Chairman of the Board of Regents of Concordia Seminary; Mr. Paul Schudel, Chairman of the Board of Regents of Concordia University, Nebraska to issue the same condemnation, and be it further
RESOLVED that the aforementioned administer discipline in accordance with the Word of God (1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:3-4; Tit. 1:13) and the bylaws of the LC-MS, and be it further
RESOLVED  that the Wyoming District Pastors’ Conference entreat Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, to convene a meeting with Dr. Dale Meyer, President of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, and Publisher of Concordia Journal; Dr. Charles Arand, the Executive Editor of Concordia Journal and Dean of Theological Research and Publication; Dr. Brian Friedrich, President of Concordia University, Nebraska;  Dr. John Jurchen, Concordia University, Nebraska; Dr. R. Lee Hagen, President of the Missouri District; the Reverend Richard Snow, President of the Nebraska District; the Reverend Shawn Kumm, Chairman of the Board of Regents of Concordia Seminary; Mr. Paul Schudel, Chairman of the Board of Regents of Concordia University, Nebraska; and any other persons necessary for an amicable and informed discussion, and be it further
RESOLVED  that the aforementioned persons embark upon a theological discussion concerning the referenced article by Dr. John Jurchen and published by Concordia Seminary, as to its faithfulness to Scripture, and the article’s theological appropriateness, merit, and affect upon the faith of and witness to the pastors and members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and beyond; and be it further
RESOLVED  that President Matthew Harrison propose and enact a course of action which is Scripturally faithful, and which edifies and strengthens the faith and witness of the members of the Synod concerning the creation of the world in six twenty-four hour days; and be it further
RESOLVED  that President Matthew Harrison issue a final report of resolution, correction, and action to the Wyoming District Convention, to be held May 3-5, 2018, in Casper, Wyoming; and be it finally
RESOLVED  that the pastors and the parishes of the Wyoming District and the aforementioned persons “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2), especially praying for the LCMS; Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; Concordia University, Nebraska; the above mentioned individuals; and the pastors and parishes of the Wyoming District, with the result that all can exclaim with the psalmist, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
Adopted by the Wyoming District Fall Pastors’ Conference
Casper, Wyoming
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Here is the overture passed by the South Wisconsin District Pastors [PDF South Wisconsin District Overture]

OVERTURE adopted at Fall 2017 SWD Pastor’s Conference

To Confess and Reaffirm Six-Day Creation and the Official Position of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

WHEREAS, the Holy Scriptures teach that God is the Creator of all that exists, (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6,9, Hebrews 11:3, Colossians 1:16, John 1:1-4) and

WHEREAS, Genesis 1 details the creation of the world by God in six days, each of which consisted of 24 hours, and

WHEREAS, the Holy Scriptures are inspired by God the Holy Spirit, are without error and infallible (John 10:35, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:21) and

WHEREAS, the Scripture teaches that Adam was a real man and it is the consequence of his sin that death has come into the world, (Romans 5:12-19) and

WHEREAS, theistic evolution or old earth creationism which teaches that God used an evolutionary process to create mankind and that death is a natural occurrence, not the result of Adam’s sin, is in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Holy Scripture and

WHEREAS, the official position of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod regarding creation is, “We teach that God has created heaven and earth, and that in the manner and in the space of time recorded in the Holy Scriptures, especially Gen. 1 and 2, namely, by His almighty creative word, and in six days. We reject every doctrine which denies or limits the work of creation as taught in Scripture. In our days it is denied or limited by those who assert, ostensibly in deference to science, that the world came into existence through a process of evolution; that is, that it has, in immense periods of time, developed more or less of itself. Since no man was present when it pleased God to create the world, we must look for a reliable account of creation to God’s own record, found in God’s own book, the Bible. We accept God’s own record with full confidence and confess with Luther’s Catechism: ‘I believe that God has made me and all creatures.’” (A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod, 1932), therefore let it be

RESOLVED, that the South Wisconsin District Pastors Conference confess and reaffirm that God created the world in six days, each of which consisted of 24 hours, and let it also be

RESOLVED, that the South Wisconsin District Pastors Conference confess and reaffirm that Adam was a real man and that it is the consequence of his sin that death has come into the world, and let it also be

RESOLVED, that the South Wisconsin District Pastors Conference confess and reaffirm that theistic evolution or old earth creationism is in direct contradiction to the teaching of Holy Scripture and let it also be

RESOLVED, that the South Wisconsin District Pastors Conference confess and reaffirm the official position of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod regarding creation, “We teach that God has created heaven and earth, and that in the manner and in the space of time recorded in the Holy Scriptures, especially Gen. 1 and 2, namely, by His almighty creative word, and in six days. We reject every doctrine which denies or limits the work of creation as taught in Scripture. In our days it is denied or limited by those who assert, ostensibly in deference to science, that the world came into existence through a process of evolution; that is, that it has, in immense periods of time, developed more or less of itself. Since no man was present when it pleased God to create the world, we must look for a reliable account of creation to God’s own record, found in God’s own book, the Bible. We accept God’s own record with full confidence and confess with Luther’s Catechism: ‘I believe that God has made me and all creatures.’” (A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod, 1932) and let it also be

RESOLVED, that The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod also confess and reaffirm its official position regarding creation, and let it also be

RESOLVED, that the South Wisconsin District Pastors Conference encourage the seminaries to endorse and uphold Synod Bylaw 3.10.5.7.9, which empowers seminary Presidents and Boards Of Regents to investigate any allegations that Biblical teaching is not being upheld in their institutions and gives specific prescription for how such an investigation should be carried out, and let it be finally

RESOLVED, That the South Wisconsin District Pastors Conference send this resolution as an overture to the 2019 Convention of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Respectfully Submitted,

South Wisconsin District Pastors Conference Pastors Conference

Fall 2017

 

Other Resources that are helpful here:
[Offsite link] Genesis 1 (ESV)
[Offsite link] Large Catechism, 8th Commandment, paragraph 284. (The Lutheran Confessions referencing the proper response to public false teaching)
[Offsite link] A view of Seminex from one of the men who walked out (Warning – false teaching abounds in this one and on this site)
[PDF] Luther on evolution by Rev. Paul Bartz
Current Faculty of CSL who unanimously approved the rebuke of these two districts:
David Adams, Charles Arand, Andrew Bartelt, Joel Biermann, Gerhard Bode, Kent Burreson, Timothy Dost, Thomas Egger, Joel Elowsky, Jeff Gibbs, Benjamin Haupt, Erik Hermann, David Lewis, Richard Marrs, David Maxwell, Dale Meyer, Peter Nafzger, Glenn Nielson, Joel Okamoto, Jeffrey Oschwald, David Peter, Paul Raabe, Victor Raj, Paul Robinson, Mark Rockenbach, Timothy Saleska, Leopoldo Sanchez, David Schmitt, Bruce Shuchard, William Schumacher, Mark Seifrid, Laokuoxang Seying, William Thompson, James Voelz

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO.

Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Comments

CSL sends letter of rebuke to Wyoming and South Wisconsin District Pastors — 115 Comments

  1. @Ginny Valleau #92

    Instead of the Seminary faculty demanding that entire District Pastors Conferences retract their resolutions, the Concordia Journal should retract the article.

  2. @JEB #65

    JEB – I’m not the one you’re addressing, but a plain reading of Scripture is EXTREMELY clear that the time frame between Adam and the flood is between 1600 & 1700 years. Do the math! Simple addition gives 1656 years. Adam was created on day 6, and the genealogies give actual numbers of years when a man had his son. If generations were “skipped”, that would mean that there were a particular number of years before he had the grandson or great grandson mentioned, but the numbers would still add up. Even so, I see no reason to assume that generations were skipped here. Some other genealogies in Scripture which don’t give people’s ages seem to commonly refer to a “father” as an ancestor that’s not necessarily of the previous generation, but how (based on God’s revelation alone) can you justify this in Genesis?
    Similarly, Genesis 11 gives a timed genealogy between Noah and Abraham, and everyone seems to agree how long ago Abraham lived, so the current age of the earth is roughly 6000 years. What’s so hard about believing that God meant what He said through Moses? Isn’t it the “millions of years” stuff, which denies Scripture and puts death, disease, suffering, and extinction before Adam’s sin and implies that our God considers such things “very good?”

  3. @Terry A #97

    In response to your que_stion about freemasons running government schools, I’ll focus some on my local situation in Texas. I have six lodges within 8 miles of my house, I see college scholarships by lodges given to some of the local high school graduates, I know this school district has been given land by at least one freemason, and we have lots of uncatechized kids (Baptists, nondenoms, etc) in these schools. Now that doesn’t confirm that freemasons run these schools, but the chances are definitely elevated. Historically, freemasons have shown their enmity to parochial and private schools as well. The Grand Lodge of Oregon was successful in passing a state law that sought to abolish parochial/private schools before the Supreme Court overturned the law. I hope this explains my perspective better.

  4. @Paul Iacio #104

    Paul Iacio, what exactly are the Masons doing in the schools that you find objectionable? I’m not sure what you think they are doing that is bad…

    The Masonic lodges in your area of Texas may, indeed, have a lot of political influence on your public schools–I have no way of knowing otherwise. But I’ve taught in Texas public schools for 29 years, and I have never heard of or seen any Masonic influence one way or the other–other than, as you say, providing scholarships, as many civic organizations do. And what’s wrong with that?

    Another thought: Masons are voters, too, and, if in a particular area, a lot of citizens are Masons, you could argue that there is a lot of “Masonic” influence. But are these voters casting their ballots under the direction of some sinister Masonic plot? I somehow doubt it.

    Masons are often fine people. George Washington was one, and he was a man among men! A math teacher retired a few years ago from my campus, and he was a Mason. Great guy—nothing sinister about him. One of my co-workers right now is a Methodist from Iowa, and several of her family members are active in the lodge–Masons, Eastern Star, the whole schmear. From what I can tell, all of them are solid citizens with absolutely no interest whatsoever in opposing parochial education or “controlling” the public schools.

    Would I join a lodge? No, for all the traditional LCMS reasons. Of course I can’t go along with sinful oath-taking or unionism of the “All religions worship the same God” type.

    I looked up what you said about Oregon and parochial schools. According to “Professor Wikipedia,” the Oregon Compulsory Education Act of 1922 did indeed require all children to attend public schools, and was indeed an initiative sponsored by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Oregon.

    But the law never took effect. It was challenged in court and struck down as unconstitutional by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1925, Pierce v. Society of Sisters. That ruling has since been cited as precedent in more than 100 Supreme Court cases.

    And, this all happened over 90 years ago.

    It seems, from what I know of U.S. history (I teach it) and what “Prof. Wikipedia” says about the case, that this law was driven by anti-German, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant animus in the wake of World War One–something that was a big problem in America of the ’20’s. The Ku Klux Klan was a booster of the law.

    I think times have changed, attitudes have changed, and we have nothing to fear from the Masons as far as the schools are concerned.

  5. @jb #91

    “jb,” once again, you don’t clash with my arguments. Abuse and insult are your stock in trade. “I really don’t care what you think of me” really means “I can’t answer your points.” Me being “long-winded” really means “Vitriol takes fewer keystrokes than thoughtful dialog.”

    Please don’t insult the Irish by ascribing your rudeness to them. Irish jerks are jerks not because they’re Irish, but because they choose to be. As you are doing right now. But you don’t have to–really! Deciding to be polite is really not that hard, chum! And–guess what? Being nice really, really doesn’t detract from your manliness–try it sometime! 🙂

    And, yes, Luther used abusive language. A lot of people think it’s funny or amusing or justified somehow, but it’s really not. Let’s just admit Luther was a sinner (like all of us), stop making excuses for the awful things he said, and continue to treasure the good things he taught. Like every other great man in history.

    I never questioned the reliability of the Bible. I merely question the 6-24-hour-day interpretation (or “young earth”) interpretation of it. There is a difference, whether you want to admit it or not!

    If you are so well-known at BJS, again–why not use your real name? And, if you are well-known, and the webmaster continues to tolerate your abuses, what does that say about the “steadfast Lutherans” who run this site?

    “Easily offended”? “Tender conscience”? If by those phrases you are saying I don’t care to be insulted for no reason by a no-nothing masquerading as a “hard man” who has “fought the wars” (then why hide behind your initials, tough guy?), then I plead guilty.

    Go back under your bridge, troll.

  6. @James Gibbs #77

    James, I thought your reply to “Tina S” to be very interesting. How would you interpret Genesis 1:29-31, where God gave to humans and animals “every green plant for food?” (To me that’s not “silent on the issue.”) Are you saying that for something as basic as food for humans and animals, God just didn’t happen to mention that they can kill and eat? I understand your “be fruitful and multiply” argument, but in the beginning, the earth was not filled yet. Also, if animals were dying for thousands or millions of years, but only humans were intended to live forever, what would happen when humans overpopulated the earth? Also, aren’t we naturally sad when animals die – especially a pet? Are you saying that in the “perfect” world before Adam sinned, pets could die and both God and humans considered that to be “very good?” Does your argument really hold water here?
    Speaking of water – based on scientific observations in the present world, fossilization occurs during catastrophes such as floods when sediment is churned up and buries a creature. If the global flood was a real event as recorded in Scripture, we would expect to find a lot of fossils, with ocean creatures buried first. Fossils aren’t being made gradually today as creatures die. Also, are you aware of the following facts? If so, how do you deal with them?
    1. Polystrate fossils such as vertical trees without root systems deposited all the way through supposed “millions of years” worth of layered sediments. (We’ve observed in the present day a mechanism at Mt. St. Helens which shows how this could happen catastrophically, but not gradually over eons.)
    2. Dinosaur soft tissue – stretchy and including blood vessels & blood cells within them. In the present world, there is no mechanism for such tissue to be preserved for tens of thousands, let alone millions of years.
    3. 40 feet of finely layered sediment laid down in one day at Mt. St. Helens, which is a very small catastrophe compared to what is recorded in Genesis.
    4. A canyon cut out in one day at Mt. St. Helens. It’s named the little grand canyon because of the resemblance, and there’s a river that now flows through it. We know based on observations in the present world that the river DID NOT cut this canyon. (By the way, water would have needed to flow uphill for thousands of years if the Colorado river cut the Grand Canyon, so it’s a pretty safe assumption that the same is true there.)
    5. Huge waves, sometimes even 90-degree bends, in sedimentary rock layers over 100 feet thick. If hardened before bending, they would break rather than bend.
    I could go on, but why, when Scripture describes a GLOBAL flood that he has promised never to happen again, would a Christian see the need to interpret the geologic record and fossil record in any other way than a sequence of burial during such a flood? The fossil record of death, disease, suffering, and extinction occurring AFTER the fall into sin is consistent with both the holy Scriptures and with scientific observations in the present world. It’s consistent with a God who promises a future no more death or mourning or crying or pain, with original sin, with biblical texts speaking of death as an enemy, with God’s “very good” statement, with our need for a savior and so on.
    It’s also consistent with Luther’s commentary on Genesis 1, “From Moses however we know that 6000 years ago the world did not exist.” and, “But if we cannot fully comprehend the days here mentioned nor understand why God chose to use these intervals of time, let us rather confess our ignorance in the matter than wrest the words of Moses from the circumstances which he is recording to a meaning, which has nothing to do with those circumstances.” Why not apply the same logic to the flood and genealogies as Luther does to the days of creation?

  7. @Ginny Valleau #92

    Dear Ginny,

    I don’t see that anyone has answered your question about the ability to respond to Dr. Arand’s blog post. At the Concordia Theology blog, if the author is interested in comments, you will find a comment section at the bottom of his blog post. Those blog posts that don’t have such a comment section are simply one-way communiques, which are congruent with the official policy of that blog. There is nothing unusual about this, because normally an author will offer the opportunity to make comments only if he or she is willing to respond to them.

    When blog software came out years ago, I considered putting up my own blog, but thought I would see what others were doing first. I soon realized that “monologue blogs” saw little traffic, while “dialogue blogs” like the BJS one we are using required a lot of time (or a number of people working on one blog) in order for the author or manager to: 1) edit out slanderous or libelous content; 2) respond in a positive and helpful way to criticism; and 3) answer questions. As a full-time parish pastor, I realized that I did not have the time to do points 1-3, so I gave up on the idea of doing my own blog.

    Arand’s response at the Concordia Theology blog, as I read it, is not intended to initiate a new topic, which might call for responses, but to offer in a prominent way an apology (which is there, by the way) and try to reduce confusion. I commend the faculty and Dr. Arand for their response.

    TO BJS readers: the Lutheran Clarion (www.lutheranclarion.org ) will be publishing a fine article on the topic of the six-day creation by Dr. David Kaufmann, who I believe was a former (or present?) officer in the Creation Research Society (“CRS”). CRS requires of its members that they have, at the very least, a post-graduate degree in some field of science, since one of its main purposes is to publish the results of scientific research that is agreeable to the position of “special creation.” CRS also has a fine “Statement of Belief.” Many LCMS scientists helped start CRS. For more on CRS, see https://creationresearch.org/general-information

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  8. I believe the real offense here is that that Districts in question quoted the sacred by-laws. While Scripture, in so far as creation is concerned, is vague. The sacred by-laws are crystal clear and accusing someone of violating them is serious indeed. For those of you educated in public schools, as was I, this is tongue in cheek.

  9. @James Gibbs #90

    Well said. Apparently some people’s kids never matured past the schoolyard. Probably never will.

    I don’t really get the need to get personal over the discussion of whether an article published in a scholarly journal should be considered for discussion or retraction.

  10. @Martin R. Noland #108

    Dr. Noland,

    Thanks for your reply. Since I wrote my question, I corresponded with Dr. Arand and he promptly and graciously responded; you are correct that his article was an apology. And a clarification. He said there will be forthcoming articles that will invite comments. I look forward to future conversations.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Ginny

  11. @James Gibbs #105

    First off, thank you for your 29 years of teaching service and your declaration against unionism. I applaud you for both. Now to the subject at hand, one needs to know that Masons filled 80 percent of the Republic of Texas’ higher offices even though Masons constituted less than 2 percent of the population. Also many of Texas’ first grade schools and schools of higher education were operated in buildings owned and erected by Masonic Lodges. Frederick Eby, a professor at the University of Texas, wrote: “The services of the Masonic Lodges in conducting schools and furnishing buildings must be regarded as one of the most important transitional steps toward free public education. A certain parallelism can be noted between the educational program of the Grand Lodge and the later organization of public education in the state.”

    Interestingly, Texas lodges have recorded as many as 150,000 member visits per year to public schools. Currently in Galveston, the lodges boast they have many members active in the public schools. Moreover, the early and enduring Masonic influence is unwittingly recognized every year during Texas Public Schools Week since that was promulgated by W J Burris, Grand Master of Texas and a former school board member.

    On a personal note, I can tell you when my mom (an LCMS member) attended a Colorado public high school, she was invited by a female teacher to join a ‘leadership club’ (possibly Rainbow Girls) and she only need to affirm that she had good moral character and that she believed in a supreme being. My mom told her dad who discussed his concerns but the teacher would not change the Christless criteria so my mom did not join even though some of her friends did. My mom also recounted that at the same school, some of the boys would wear a blue DeMolay jacket every Friday.

    So based on the Masons’ outsized representation in government, their history in public education, their hyperfocus on public education and my mom’s own experience, it’s safe to say the Masons have a concerning level of control on the public schools.

  12. @Paul Iacio #112

    Dear Paul Iacio,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I have a feeling so many Republic of Texas leaders were Masons because political “up-and-comers” saw the advantages of what we would now call “networking” at lodge meetings. So I think a lot of Masons joined for the social/business advantages of membership, and didn’t give a lot of thought to the mumbo-jumbo side of Masonry. Plus–the Republican era in Texas history ended over 170 years ago. How many state leaders today are Masons? Lodge membership in general seems to be on the decline in this country, like most organizations. (My maternal grandfather was an Elk,but no other male in my family was in a lodge that I know of, and most of my relatives are non-Lutheran.)

    I believe President Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol in full Masonic regalia. Does that mean our federal government is under some malignant Masonic influence? I have personally witnessed Masonic funeral rites in Arlington National Cemetery when I was in the Army. Does that mean I shouldn’t have a love one buried there? If the Masons helped build school buildings for our growing state, good for them. That doesn’t mean the building itself has some kind of hex on it. If I eat meat butchered by an unbeliever, does that make it less nutritious?

    Masons visit schools a lot–are they parents? Lodge officers dropping off scholarship forms or checks? Visitors who just happen to be Masons? Hard to tell from the statistics you mention. I’m sure there are a number of teachers who are Masons, such as the gentleman I mentioned in my previous comment. As long as they stick to the approved curriculum (which it’s the job of principals to ensure), I don’t see the problem. I have taught with several Muslim teachers in my building. I cannot agree with their faith, but, as far as I could tell, they taught their subjects competently and did not “push” their beliefs on the kids. Texas Public Schools Week–no offense, but very few people pay attention to ceremonial observances like that. And, just because it was the brainchild of a Mason doesn’t mean it has any sinister purpose. Henry Ford was an anti-Semite, but millions drive and enjoy Ford cars and trucks then and now without imbibing any Jew-hatred.

    Glad your mom did not join the Rainbow Girls. I was asked by a high-school buddy to join DeMolay, and I declined. He was a little disappointed, but that was that. No big deal.

    Again, I see theological problems with Masonry, but the facts you cite don’t seem to add up to “a concerning level of control on the public schools,” as you claim.

    If that were true, how are our schools different because of Masonic influence? Please give me an example of something bad in our public schools that is the product of Masonry.

    Take care, my friend.

  13. @Sean M #110

    Thanks for the support, chum.

    I know there are good, fair-minded people out there reading this stuff. But some folks get transformed into ogres by sitting down to a computer keyboard, just as some do by sliding behind the wheel of a car. Funny how that works, right?

    Take care.

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