(Editor’s Note: Norman Teigen’s posts will be archived on the Regular Columns page under the heading “Checking in from the ELS.” The ELS – The Evangelical Lutheran Synod – is a small confessional synod headquartered in Mankato, Minnesota. We here at BJS hope that at least in some small way Norman’s columns will bring confessional Lutherans together. He is not officially representing the ELS so his posts should not be taken as such. For more on the history of the ELS click here.)
On Realignment, by Norman Teigen
Realignment is “a new arrangement or organization.” Within the past day or so I have come across the term in two different contexts. The first context was a story on BBC television news about the need to realign the United Nations. The United Nations charter has been unchanged for 60 years. The countries in power at the end of World
War II, France, England, China, Russia, and the United States wrote the charter to reflect the realities of the time. Now there is a call for the United Nations to reflect the presence of other countries, like Germany, Japan, Middle Eastern countries, in the formal organization. A compelling story can certainly be made for such a realignment.
The second rearragement called for was a realignment of churches, specifically Lutheran churches. The idea is that “synods” are obsolete, that the reason for their existence has long passed. I am a member of a synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. I have been a member of only one other synod in my life, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
My ties to the LC-MS include a 15-year membership in an Iowa District West congregation. While I was in the military I knew and worshipped with Missouri chaplains.
My father was a 1930 graduate of Concordia-St. Paul and a 1935 graduate of Concordia-St. Louis. He was recognized honoris causa by Concordia-Fort Wayne. He received great encouragement from Missouri when he wrote his book on Chemnitz. Sadly, the ELS would not recognize his contribution to theological knowledge and even tried to
stop the publication of the work.
Missouri offered aid and support to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in the little synod’s early days. Sadly, the ELS terminated relations with Missouri in 1955. I remember the time. I was washing dishes in the Bethany cafeteria (Bethany College and Seminary, Mankato, Minnesota) at the time as a teen-ager and knew that a mistake had been made.
Back to the realignment idea. One Lutheran blogger said that the synods should just dismantle themselves. He, for one, would choose to join the Roman Catholic tradition. Others, he said, might join one of the various evangelical circles. Others would regroup in the shattered trenches of Missouri, Wisconsin et al and try to preserve something that had been long lost. (There was no mention of the ELS in this post. We are too small to be noticed.)
So, that is where I am. A mostly life-long member of the ELS with a feeling of gratitude for Missouri. A family member once said to me: “Thank God for the Missouri Synod.”
In the weeks ahead I will write more about this.