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. Whenever an article is published, whatever it says on the articles of faith, becomes a public teaching. If it has not received proper theological review then this needs to be addressed. This is what the church, made up of every baptized christian, has the right through its Pastors, to rebuke and correct, as the ministry is what the church votes to call into said ministry.

    To state that a public rebuke is not right when false teaching is expressed, which could lead souls into a downward turn from Gods healthy words that make up our saving doctrine clearly spoken by Christ Himself, also concerning this specific article of creation in the Gospels.

    Well done SWD and Nebraska Dist.

  2. I was subjected to this false teaching at a Lutheran school c. 1975. This has caused or at least contributed to significant problems which exist to this day. While we are all tempted to doubt and unbelief, the proper response to such a question is: God’s word states it, therefore we believe, teach and confess it, followed by incessant prayer. Theistic evolution is not “the best of both worlds”. It ultimately results in nihilism.

  3. This has got to Stop. The Wyoming and South Wisconsin District had ever right to address what was published. IF they (CS) has issues with the what the districts, then they need to look in the mirror and address the article itself.

  4. It is a well-worded response from the Seminary. The Concordia Journal, while an excellent publication, has allowed for some sloppiness here and there. The article mentioned is not amazing but hardly an open endorsement of something we as a Synod reject, namely evolution/Big Bang, etc.
    The Wyoming (and every District) has a responsibility to review and discuss any publication of the Synod. This is how we get opportunities to learn, grow and even clarify. The CSL letter attempts to clarify. It would be interesting to see if members of the Wyoming District can glean any form of valid rebuke, or not. I’ll pop some corn and observe. 🙂

  5. How could the Seminary faculty and president ask a pastors’ conference to retract a moved, deliberated, and passed resolution sent to the District or Synod Convention after the conference is already adjourned? Is this even possible?

  6. The CSL response states, “…we are aware that some of the points [in the article] could have been stated more clearly.”

    So it seems that any fault lies with the editors of the Concordia Journal rather than with the brothers of the Wyoming and South Wisconsin Districts.

  7. Yes sir! This is where the battle must be fought. Quadbillions of years sent us packing from an LCMS school. Come on, if I want an eon infested flying singularity monSTAR, we’ll go to the government/freemason school down the road and learn about it while singing “If I had a hammer”.

  8. @Deacon Brian Hughes #2

    Brian, you gave congrats to the South Wisconsin and Nebraska districts. Nebraska didn’t send anything in, that was Wyoming. We’ll see what – if anything – the Nebraska district does about this.

  9. I went and read the article. It’s odd that they identify the author as a member of the Gideons International. Isn’t that the organization that promotes decision theology?

    The article cites a 2004 synodical resolution that synod educational institutions should properly distinguish between macroevolution and microevolution. This seems to be be the reason for the article, but then the author focuses on a comment from the CTCR that no Synod resolution ever defined creation as six days of twenty four hours. He then concludes that it isn’t required to be taught to new members. So much for Holy Scripture, eh?

  10. Is the CSL faculty debating over whether or not the confession of a literal six day creation is necessary in order for one to be considered an orthodox Christian?

  11. Just for the record, Dr. Jurchen’s article encouraged me greatly!! I am one of those laymen who is struggling with the “age of the earth/universe” issue, despite being a lifelong Lutheran. His article, as the CSL letter states, was about how to pastorally address concerns like mine “in a responsible way.” Thank you, Dr. Jurchen!!!

    I also totally agree with the main point of the CSL letter: those pastors in Wyoming and Wisconsin were way out of line. They were way too eager to drop the hammer on anyone who even questions the 6-24-hour-days viewpoint, or even wants to give people with such questions room to think about it! They (and, sadly, a lot of people on this website) want to take a hard line that would make Ken Ham proud.

    And, although many on this website deride 8th-Commandment concerns as “excuse-making for heresy,” they are not showing a lot of love or concern for those wrestling with this issue. I’m sure some of my “friends” here will tell me to “Repent!”

    Three-and-a-half years ago, a Bible-class teacher at my church told me 90% of the scientific evidence supported a “young earth.” I researched his statement, and found it to be simply not true. Quite the opposite: the evidence for an ancient earth/universe is simply overwhelming.

    Luther once said that the Bible clearly stated the sun moves, not the earth; hence, Copernicus was wrong. We have moved beyond that. Christendom has accepted heliocentrism, and the sky has not fallen.

    I think the age-of-the-earth issue is like that. Many think “six days” and the OT genealogies added up rule out millions of years. Maybe we need to rethink our interpretation of Scripture, as we did about heliocentrism.

    What do the “six days” mean? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure anyone (but God) really knows. There are several interpretive options out there, for anyone with gumption to investigate.

    Ezekiel says that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Tyre. As Horace Hummel said in his Concordia Commentary, there’s just one small problem–history tells us that didn’t happen. So–we look for interpretive options. Maybe God changed his mind, as he did with Jonah and Nineveh. It’s not a sin to let “secular” learning help guide our interpretation of the Bible. Maybe we should let science help guide us on the age-of-the-earth issue. I know–many heads just exploded. Too bad.

    Lots of people are going to say, “An ancient universe means death before the Fall!” For animals, sure. Look at the fossil record. But where does the Bible say Adam’s sin brought death to animals? Nowhere. It says “death to all men.” It also says in Job 39 that God made the ostrich so she would treat her young cruelly, and the Psalms tell us how God gives lions their prey. His ways are not ours.

    Plus, saying “X can’t be true because of the theological consequences” is kind of like Job’s friends saying “God would never allow an innocent man to suffer like you, so…” If something is true, it’s true–the implications are something we have to wrestle with, not use to deny what is palpably true.

    If God took billions of years to make the world, it is still his handiwork. And, I think that’s exactly what he did.

    So–as Jack Jones used to sing, call me irresponsible…

    P.S. Fun fact: the “Brief Statement” was largely the work of Francis Pieper–who was a geocentrist!

  12. If God really created the world in “billions of years”, then he deceived Moses when he inspired him to write down “six days”. (God knew Moses’ knowledge of “days” was 24 hour periods.)

  13. THE FOLLOWING COMMENT HAS BEEN EDITED BY A MODERATOR

    @James Gibbs #14

    James –

    We share a name. Nothing more. You don’t seem to care about the testimony of Scripture, but only, your own opinion.

    If God . . . how do you purport to know? You don’t. Admit you are guessing. You sound like Carl Sagan and his “billions of years.”

    I love pretend genuises.

  14. @James Gibbs #14

    I’d actually appreciate a well-reasoned Scriptural answer to the bit about death as it relates to both men AND the animal kingdom. Honest inquiry ought not to be met with such hostility-not every question is a deliberate attempt to insidiously undermine Scripture in an effort to win theologically liberal friends. 🙂

  15. @LG #15

    “LG,” one school of thought says the “6 days” are 6 days of visions, during which God revealed the Creation to Moses. Food for thought.

    Christ told the church in Smyrna (Rev. 2:10) that they would suffer persecution “ten days.” A very conservative LCMS commentary I read years ago said this is probably symbolic for “a limited period of time.” Maybe the “6 days” of creation mean something symbolic as well…

    Jesus said he would be “in the heart of the earth” for 3 days and 3 nights. By the traditional reckoning of the Passion, it was really 3 (2 of them partial) days and 2 nights. I think Jesus would not want his words taken super-literally. Again, the main point of Creation is that God made all things, not the exact stopwatch reading.

    I also think people need to stop saying, “So, was God lying when he said…” I never said God lied, and I would never say that he lied. I merely disagree with the 6-24-hr.-day interpretation of Gen. 1. “So, was God lying when he said…” is a loaded, when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife type of hypothetical.

    I could apply your argument with equal force to Joshua’s prayer making the sun stand still. “God knew Joshua’s knowledge of ‘sun stand still’ was the sun actually standing still”–but very few people have a problem with a “phenomenological” interpretation of Joshua.

  16. I am presently in the Nebraska District, and this is first that I have heard about this controversy.

  17. Thanks for the information. The journal article was quite disturbing and the response of the seminary was not encouraging. They had to know that such an article would get a significant amount of negative feedback.

  18. @jb #16

    “jb,” why so angry? Why the profanity? (Website editor, where are you?) Even to an unbeliever (which you seem to think I am), why such hatred? Why would an unbeliever be drawn to your religion, if that was how you treated him after he expressed concerns or questions similar to mine? “They will know we are Christians by our love,” right?

    If I didn’t care about the testimony of Scripture, why would I be taking literally years out of my life in struggling over this issue? Why would I be discussing the interpretation of a Bible I didn’t respect? Why would I even be wasting my time going to church?

    I am actually not guessing. To give just one bit of testimony, Dr. G. Brent Dalrymple of the U.S. Geological Survey once stated under oath during the McLean v. Arkansas case in 1982, “I’d put [creation scientists’ assertions of a young earth] in the same category as the flat earth hypothesis and [geocentrism]. I think those are all absurd, completely disproven hypotheses.” Check out the transcript of his complete testimony.

    I could refer you to numerous books and websites, if you are interested (which I doubt). The antiquity of the earth and universe are as uncontroversial in mainstream science as the fact that the earth is round. The evidence really is that overwhelming. I used to accept a young earth, too–until I started checking things out for myself. Christians who rely on “creation science” to “prove” a young earth are leaning on a weak, weak reed. Maybe God is telling us something through creation itself, as well as through the Bible…

    Thanks for the comparison to Carl Sagan–he was a very smart man, indeed. He was an unbeliever, yes–but he did know his science. And, no, he wasn’t guessing about that. We can’t just dismiss everything a non-Christian says, just because he’s an unbeliever, just as we shouldn’t accept everything a Christian says, just because he shares our faith. Christians can be just as dumb as the next guy!

    I never claimed to be a genius–far from it. But, I do know how to read, and add, and think–and I have the right to speak without fear and to stand for what I think right. Even if a guy like you thinks I have gone over to the camp of the enemy.

  19. @Rev. Robert Fischer #9

    The districts publically called out the simple sloppiness (i.e. NOT an error) as heretical teaching – would this not be false witness?

    Also the grievance should have been brought up in communication with the seminary, as the seminary letter clearly suggests, as Matthew 18 would attest to.

  20. All the Jurchen article says is that you can honestly be a member of the LCMS even if you have doubts about 6×24 Creationism. This is true. Resolutions that argue this _shouldn’t_ be the case are beside the point of the article.

  21. @Chad #28

    What part of Mt 18 is to be interpreted as having to do with a public journal article sent to thousands in the church (if a brother sins against you sounds rather interpersonal and not very public)? What do you say about the Large Catechism section on the 8th Commandment which says that public error MUST be met with publicly as to guard others?

    Also, there has been very official effort with the seminary to address this (and there are still such efforts underway). The Open Letter rebuke has damaged that from happening in a fruitful way.

  22. @James Gibbs #20

    I appreciate it, truly…but I won’t be sticking around; this site has increasingly become determined to make a very small group even smaller-not so much by the information that it seeks to supply, for I do agree with much of that-but by the ever-increasing snark, derision, and outright disregard for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who may be struggling with this or that issue. truly, it has left me too cold on more than one occasion, and it has gotten to be more than I am willing to continue to bear. As I’ve noted here previously, honey isn’t all that draws flies.

    And, for the record, slapping someone on the wrist for “language” (thanks, Cap!) isn’t even really the point; if the moderation considers this more offensive than an honestly-asked question or a friendly attempt to dialogue on a given controversial subject, then it’s quite frankly no better than the comments over at Breitbart, HuffPo, or any other rancid political forum full of various vulgar horrors.

    Keep circling your wagons, BJS. Strain out the gnat, but make sure you leave room for that camel.

    See you at the resurrection of all things. 🙂

    I’m out.

  23. @Wyldeirishman #31

    I am sorry our moderation methods don’t meet your needs for moderation. Perhaps you should compare comments from five or six years ago until now and see the difference. I moderated out the cuss words from the comment and put the writer of it on notice. If the pattern continues I will put the author under moderation or ban him.

    Speaking of snark, you got some snark there. Your comment is technically called “Flouncing”. Urban dictionary has a good definition of it here.
    https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Flounce

    Seriously, if you want to go – that’s fine. Feel free to keep reading the articles if you like as well – some folks do that and don’t read the comments.

  24. @James Gibbs #14

    What an unlovely attitude you display toward your brothers and sisters in Christ. You don’t appear to “struggle” with the age of the earth. Your mind is made up and now you enjoy “making heads explode.”

    Very sad indeed.

  25. @Harry Edmon #27

    I read it and noticed an unbiblical argument I have heard during other LCMS feuds that goes something like this: “We need to put the best construction on everything and trust each other” or “you need to trust us.”

    Does CSL seek koinonia by being trusted because they are men of a faithful institution or do they want to gather around God’s trustworthy Word to find true koinonia?

    According to a pastor from the Wyoming district it is the former.

    “In response to this article, the Pastor’s conference of the Wyoming District, after much discussion, passed a resolutian which noted the false teaching in this article, noted where the synod had previously identified it as such, and called on the various officials to respond and correct this false teaching each according to their office. The resolution was sent to the respective institutions, and we agreed not to give publicity to it until the affected parties had at least had a chance to see it. We did not want to blind-side them.
    Weeks passed, and we remained silent to allow the process to work. To their credit, Concordia Seward showed great concern, and we are hopeful that the issue there may soon be successfully resolved.
    However, the response from the seminary in Saint Louis was less encouraging. Meetings were agreed to by some faculty and administrative members. But initial impressions were that they would be difficult meetings.
    Last Friday, the Wyoming District pastors were shown how very difficult those meetings would be. A letter was received that rejected our call to confess the truth so clearly laid out in Holy Scripture. They called us to repent for breaking the 8th commandment (there was no public statement of this before their letter, so that charge is false on its face), and to retract our resolution.
    This we can not do. We can not retract our resolution, lest it give aid and comfort to heretical teachings. We continue to plead with them that they affirm the truth of scripture and renounce error. We pray that they would do so, that the church would be kept from division and that God would deliver us from the due consequences of our sinful pride and our denial of his Holy Word.”
    https://predigtamt.wordpress.com/2017/12/05/res-ipsa/

  26. Feel free to call me a skeptic, but I’m sticking with authenticating matters of science via real commercialization. The Wright Brothers had hundreds of thousands of people flying 50 years later. Almost 50 years after the Apollyon missions, the freemason boys at NASA have us excited about a dozen folks orbiting at less than 1 percent of the distance to the moon. And btw, you really should stop using the term ‘light year’ since every good astonomer knows the preferred term is ‘parsec’

  27. @LW #21

    “LW,” spare me the slippery-slope nonsense. “If Genesis isn’t historical, nothing in the Bible is”–that’s your argument. First, I do think the Genesis creation is historical–it really happened. I just don’t think it happened in 144 hours. Second, your point is another version of “When did you stop beating your wife?” Old-age creationism can and does co-exist with belief in a real Adam, a real Garden, etc. You are just trying to tar me with the brush of “liberalism”–if I don’t subscribe to your narrow definition of Biblical creation, I must be a denier of every doctrine of Christianity. Of course, that’s absurd.

  28. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #26

    Pastor Scheer, you’re welcome to my honest thoughts. Not that you really want to help me figure things out, as people like Dr. Jurchen do.

    Of course, what you mean is that I am proof that the “heresy” of accepting an old earth is “out there,” and needs to be extirpated by the likes of you. You can use my sincere questions and concerns as ammunition to attack Dr. Jurchen, CSL, and anyone else you dislike.

    Then, after you have driven yet more people out of the LCMS, and its numbers continue to shrink, you can comfort yourself with the thought that “numbers don’t mean anything–only ‘church-growth’ people care about numbers.”

  29. @James Gibbs #36

    OK. Forget my question. I’m just trying to figure out your argument and what you believe about God and his word. If science makes it so difficult to trust a literal reading of the creation account in Genesis I can’t imagine what it must do to the Lord’s Supper or Christ’s resurrection not to mention all of his other miracles. I have to admit I’m a bit confused about the meaning of Old-age creationism. I’m guessing it’s not theistic evolution, but what exactly is it? Is it that God created the earth in six days but made it look like it had been around for billions and billions of years? It’s been a while since I’ve studied this topic so it’s time to for me to brush up on it. To old earthers is a Genesis day a day or is it something else? Does it depend on what the meaning of the word “is” is? 🙂

  30. I think you should read Professor Armand’s posting again. Personally I find him apologetic, and well aware of how sensitive this issue is in the LCMS. I see no reason to doubt his statement that the faculty rejects the “day-age” interpretation of Genesis 1. I also look forward to the paper he mentions he is preparing with Dr. David Adams.

    Has the faculty of CSL handled this in the best way? The answer to that is no. But I think Professor Armand’s posting has a different tone to it. Let us pray that we can all come to a God pleasing solution to this conflict that reaffirms the proper understanding of Genesis 1 and 2 according to our Synod’s doctrinal statements.

  31. @Bart Nielsen #33

    Bart Nielsen, by the “heads exploding” comment, I meant some folks will argue you can never, never, ever use anything outside the Bible to help interpret it; i.e., the “infallible Bible vs. fallible human reason” argument. Well, that’s silly. Dr. Arndt’s classic book on Bible difficulties has numerous examples of various ways Christians have tried to find ways to reconcile “secular” knowledge with Scripture. Even Luther did this–he used to re-interpret numbers in the OT for the size of armies to fit reasonable assumptions about military logistics. The “infallible Bible vs. fallible human reason” argument is a rhetorical trick designed to rule out any input from extra-Biblical sources on any Biblical issue. Not a fair tactic, in my (fallible) opinion.

    As far as my mind being made up, it pretty much is on the age issue, yes. But–how does that fit with Scripture? I’m not sure. There are a host of issues related to Gen. 1-11 that I am not sure of, either.

    I know the Bible is God’s Word, and that what it says is true. I am just not sure (sometimes) about every detail of what it teaches. I think everyone can identify with that!

    Sorry to sound abrasive, but I have been treated harshly by many on BJS, so I feel pretty truculent myself. I don’t want only one side to be heard on issues I care about.

  32. Mr. Gibbs,

    I would be rather interested in your view of how death came into the world if not through the Fall. If all creatures died- except humans until Adam, I would also love to hear your Scriptural basis for such belief, as I have looked in the Scriptures and the Small Catechism for such and have yet to find it. I have found passages that state that the wages of sin is death, which I am assuming you believe only relates to humans. I am curious then, how the animals would die, since the first shedding of blood of animals is recorded after the Fall. Humans and animals have been known to share diseases. Are you suggesting that the humans were immune to such things until after the Fall, and if so, how were they carriers?

    For me, this line of reasoning doesn’t make much sense. It actually makes much more sense that there was *no* death before the Fall. Likewise it doesn’t make much sense that there would be no death *and* the critters would live for millions of years. If the only critters alive were rabbits, and they all lived for millions of years without death, well, you can see where I am going with this. We would all be knee deep in rabbits. Unless you think that death is a creation of God and then I would ask why would God create death?

  33. @James Gibbs #37

    It doesn’t seem like you are interested in discussion at all. You are making some pretty settled statements for yourself and your beliefs. You also seem to know my innermost thoughts. This would fit from a man who has already made his reason a god to also begin to pretend to have godlike qualities like omniscience.

    What you don’t like is the conviction of knowing that your beliefs do not line up with the plain words of Scripture. This creates guilt because it’s sin (Second Commandment). You can either handle guilt by: repentance unto life OR defensiveness and all sorts of accusations.

    I appreciate your demonstration of why the Journal article was dangerous. I am afraid it has served to confirm your error. You can get mad at me or Steadfast or whoever, but the fact of the matter is that you are mad at God for what He says in His Word in relation to what your fallen and sinful mind has concluded about the earth.

  34. @LW #38

    “LW,” the Real Presence and the Resurrection are, by definition, miracles in the strict sense. Science has nothing to say about them, so scientific evidence is not relevant to what we believe. No scientist with a microscope can ever “disprove” the heavenly reality of Christ in the Sacrament, and a pathologist can never rule out the Resurrection by studying a million corpses. The age of the earth/universe is something science can have input on, so that’s why I think it legitimate to include that input in our reading of Genesis.

    Old-earth creationism (OEC) usually means God created over billions of years, but living things do not all share a common ancestor (i.e., macroevolution). How this fits with the “6 days” has been looked at in many ways, and I am not sure which (if any) is correct. A good example of OEC today would be astrophysicist Hugh Ross and his Reasons to Believe website. He is a day-age-theory adherent. Another example of another interpretation is the so-called framework hypothesis, which says the “6 days” are a literary device commonly used in the ancient world. An example of someone holding to that view is Charles Lee Irons, who is a “ruling elder” in the Presbyterian Church of America. His website is called The Upper Register. Neither Ross nor Irons accepts macroevolution, although both accept an ancient universe/earth. And there are many other ideas and people out there–it’s quite daunting, frankly, once you start checking things out out there.

    Food for thought.

  35. @LW #41

    “LW,” I know Professor Wikipedia well–one of my favorite “go-to” guys. 😉

    I am frankly unsure of what “theory” of Gen.-1 interpretation I “believe.” See my longer post/reply to you for more on that. I just know that (a) Gen. 1 is God’s Word, (b) it seems patently obvious that the earth is much older than 6,000 years, (c) I don’t believe the Bible can be wrong, so (d) I think the “6 days” mean…something. Not sure what, yet. Sorry I’m not more definite at this point!

  36. @Wyldeirishman #31

    Door – Derriere, etc. And quit giving Irishmen a bad name!

    Josh – my apologies. After these many years of hearing this kind of stuff . . .

    Lived through it last time. Would prefer it were the last time. Apparently not.

    Sigh.

  37. @James Gibbs #45

    Thanks James. Remember your baptism, keep wrestling with God’s word and constantly return to Jesus by staying close to a good pastor and congregation who constantly feed you a lot of Jesus in word and sacrament. We won’t have all the answers in this veil of tears, but Jesus will provide all that we need and He will never leave us nor forsake us until He comes on the last day to take us home at last.

  38. @LW #47

    “LW”, I’m not sure my last response was saved or not, but–thanks for the love, brother. Amen to everything you just said!

  39. @Harry Edmon #39

    I see your point and am inclined to believe what he says about CSL. However, I’m suspicious of our institutions because they are so secretive and for whatever reason they never seem able to admit to mistakes and sin. I know that Dr. Arand is a good man. That said I’ve known a lot of good men and I’ve been called one myself and have learned well we are all very untrustworthy sinners.

    If the institution and her members want to earn our trust they need to be honest enough to admit they’re as sinful as the rest of us and stop their holier than thou charade. If they really seek the truth they better be proclaiming it from the word of God and not be giving us a bunch of opinions of men.

  40. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #43

    Pastor, you don’t know me from Adam (pun intended). I express concerns and thoughts on the topic at hand. You don’t address my arguments at all–all you do is say, “See–here’s proof that old-earthism is rampant in the Synod!”

    Then you play “the God card”: “By rejecting X, you’re rejecting God!” Well, isn’t that kind of begging the question? Has God, indeed, in his Word, unequivocally ruled out a universe older than 6,000 years or so? You think yes, I think no. Let’s all discuss it, not simply assert that the other guy is impenitently clinging to error.

    And please stop with what C.S. Lewis called “Bulverism”: simply claiming your opponent is wrong, and then spend time explaining how he came to be so silly. According to you, I have made reason my god, I know I am wrong, and I am mad at God. Whatever. But–please answer my arguments.

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