Burkee reviews are in

March 25th, 2011 Post by

A few months ago we discussed the publication of a book about Seminex. Reviews of that book are in. You should read all of Martin Noland’s take, but here’s the ending:

I was disappointed by this book. Burkee makes an almost convincing case that secular politics is what drove the conflict in the Missouri Synod, but those of us who lived through it know better. It will only convince the ignorant. With regard to his argument that characters on both side of the conflict were fighting for personal power and prestige—I have no doubt of that. That happens in every church fight, even at the congregational level. But I know many of the characters personally. The majority of them got involved only to defend their church and the Word of God; a few had less noble motives.

Finally, it appears that James Burkee, his dissertation readers at Northwestern University, Martin Marty, and the editors at Fortress Press were so committed to discrediting the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod that they set aside the normal rules for the historical criticism of sources. No small irony there.

Here’s David Ramirez‘:

James C. Burkee’s recent book, Power Politics and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict That Changed American Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2011), has received a fair amount of attention in American Lutheran circles. It is not a definitive or comprehensive history of the struggle within the Missouri Synod during the mid-twentieth century, nor does it seek to be. It is best considered a supplemental text for those who wish to study the conflict. It is certainly not going to change American Lutheran history, or how we view it. Prof. Burkee is to be commended for the hard work and long hours that went into researching, studying primary documents, and interviewing key players in the conflict. However, it is a work weak in analysis with little proof for its many sweeping assertions.






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  1. Our God Reigns
    April 10th, 2011 at 16:09 | #1

    Curious here, does writing E__A mean that we are saying they are no longer Lutheran? I can agree with that if that is the case.

  2. Jason
    April 10th, 2011 at 16:33 | #2

    @Our God Reigns #151

    Yes. A number of us here do not consider that group Lutheran, so we drop the “L”. And a few of us have gotten perturbed enough that we wonder how orthodox Christian they are, so the “C” also gets left out. I have even on occasion seen the “E” replaced.

  3. helen
    April 10th, 2011 at 18:18 | #3

    @Our God Reigns #151

    @Jason #152

    A “Lutheran” church in pulpit and altar fellowship with several reformed groups,
    “agreeing to disagree” on such basics as the Real Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Sacrament is an oxymoron. [They have to fudge on the meaning of baptism, too.] And on the other hand they have engaged in an exercise in semantics with the Roman Catholics to claim agreement where there is none. How can you swallow all that and subscribe to Scripture and the Confessions?

    Answer: they pick and choose what suits their convenience to “believe”.
    No, the church I grew up in is no longer Lutheran; it can’t even confess the Small Catechism!

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