Great Stuff Found on the Web — Carl Braaten’s Open Letter to the Editor of the ELCA’s magazine “The Lutheran”

For those interested in following what is going on in the ELCA and its recently-formed splinter groups, Carl Braaten’s recent “Open Letter” is enlightening. Those of us at BJS particularly appreciate this comment from Carl Braaten: “Is there something un-Lutheran about raising voices in protest and criticism of false teachings and practices going on in the church? That’s what theologians do. Lutheran theologians have been doing that from the get-go. Understandably, then and now the church politicians don’t like to hear it.”

Here is the link to the posting of the letter, by Paul McCain, at the ALPB website.


Note: frequently for me I get a blank page with clicking to a specific place on ALPB. If you hit refresh (or hit F5 on a Windows platform) it usually brings up the message.


About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Great Stuff Found on the Web — Carl Braaten’s Open Letter to the Editor of the ELCA’s magazine “The Lutheran” — 26 Comments

  1. I’m very pleased that Dr. Braaten wrote an article for our forthcoming book, Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal (Concordia Publishing House, January, 2011). In fact, I am very pleased with all of our LCMS, SELK, ELS, NALC, and ELCA authors who wrote for this important book.

    Robert at

  2. Pity Braaten didn’t discover Lutheranism [if that’s what he’s done] B/4 he and JensOn wrote that _Dogmatics_ to contribute to the destruction of several synods [and my alma mater].

  3. @Helen #3
    You easily dismiss Braaten, but while he says many things that are not confessional according to the Bible and the boc, he does still make many valid points.

    “You ask “why would the magazine assist with highlighting an event aimed at distracting, if not undermining, the ELCA?” What do you know about the aim of the theological conference? The brochure states the aim this way: “This theological conference will reaffirm the original aim of Lutheranism to be a reforming movement within the whole church that is both evangelical in preaching and orthodox in doctrine. Each of the presenters will focus on a particular article of faith at risk in Lutheranism today and spell out what we confess on the basis of Holy Scripture, the ancient Creeds, and the Lutheran Confessions. We invite all Lutherans in North America to come together to reclaim the great tradition that witnesses faithfully to Jesus Christ, builds his Church on earth, and proclaims the Gospel of salvation to the nations.” Those are scary words, but only to heterodox revisionists moved by a different spirit and loyal to different principles and standards.
    More than eight hundred persons attended the theological conference. You were invited too. Editors from non-Lutheran magazines chose to attend, for example, Christianity Today, Touchstone, inter alia. You chose not to attend, even though it was a major theological event within the orbit of the ELCA. There is a reason for this, and we know what it is. Lutheranism began in history as a movement of critical theology, biblical and dogmatic. The lackeys of the church bureaucracy at that time were opposed to Luther and his reforming and renewing efforts. They could not tolerate criticism. All the theologians who spoke at the theological conference in Columbus, 2010, are responding to the theological crisis in American Lutheranism. They have been critics of various aspects of the ELCA from its earliest beginnings, for example, the quota system, radical theological feminism, antinomianism, etc. The two “Call to Faithfulness Conferences” at St. Olaf College in 1990 and 1992 put the spotlight on a number of critical theological issues. Those who have ears to hear heard, and the rest plugged their ears.”

  4. I don’t think it is fair to compare the CORE/NALC to Martin Luther when they have no problem accepting false doctrine about women’s ordination. They want to pick and choose which errors are acceptable and which ones aren’t. They didn’t realize that once you compromise away one part of scripture, everything else becomes negotiable.

  5. @Andrew Strickland #5
    “You ask “why …

    Braaten asked I didn’t.
    Nobody with a majority of relatives, a ‘birthright’ congregation and a much loved college, that was Lutheran once, in e__a “easily dismisses Braaten” [or JensOn].
    My parents, grandparents and teenage sister are buried in Mn.; it was an ALC congregation. My plot is there but not for me because the church has put a woman in its pulpit. unbelievable!

    JensOn was a year ahead of me at college. He was brilliant and the darling of the classics professor, whose chair he usurped when he came back after seminary, still brilliant but lost to the liberal ideas of the East.

    Braaten evidently regrets some things; [if JensOn does, I haven’t read it.] But not enough and too late to put Lutheran Christianity back where I found it.

  6. Yes, Dr. Braaten makes good points and other points that sound good but are not which belie the false foundations of ‘his theology’: he does not want to be identified with “biblical fundamentalism” of the LCMS, as the reviewer phrased it in his review of Braaten’s autobiography in the recent issue of First Things. The following good sounding, churchy, phrase in this quote in particular stands out as I have heard and read it now ad nauseam:

    “The brochure states the aim this way: “This theological conference will reaffirm the original aim of Lutheranism to be a reforming movement within the whole church that is both evangelical in preaching and orthodox in doctrine.” This was Fr. Neuhaus’ line as well that Lutheranism is a “reforming movement”. A dear mentor and friend +Lou Smith once said to me, “Mark, the problem with that is that I was not baptized into a ‘reforming movement’.” None of us were.

  7. Will Braaten and Jensen stand before Christ at His coming and present to the Lamb of God their Dogmatics, and expect what?

  8. @helen #12
    Yes, we all will stand before Christ, but some of us with the Lutheran Confessions as the unvarnished truth of God taken from the font of Israel, the Word of God, and others with a dogmatics text inimical to the truth of the Word of God.

    Let us not be coy here, as a professing lutheran theologian as those two are, what will be their defense, we cannot speak out of both sides of our mouths and not expect judgment.

  9. It is worthwhile to parse that phrase “reforming movement”. First: “Movement” just smacks of the ’60s and it was usually used in regards to the “anti-war movement”. If I remember correctly, many identified themselves as part of the “Movement”. And needless to say it meant one was a radical. This would mean the use of “reforming movement” in regards to Luther et. al. is quite anachronistic. And Krauth’s magnum opus’ title fits as contrary to that “The CONSERVATIVE Reformation”. Second: “reforming”: Eighteen years ago I took a week long seminar course on Luther the Pastor with Timothy Wengert in Philly. If memory serves, Wengert said that in his writings, Luther hardly ever used the verb “reform”, or it’s cognates, in relation to what 16th century priests, monks and theologians were doing because their understanding was that the Lord alone reforms His Church through the Gospel and would do so. So to say that sometime after October 31, 1517, Luther and company said, Let’s start a reforming movement to whip the Church into shape, and so this was the “original aim” of the reformers does not cut it. They preached, taught, wrote, debated, administer the Sacraments, prayed, but they did start a 16th theological caucus or movement. And the use of “reforming movement” sure fits neatly into the 60’s character and time frame of both Dr. Braaten and Fr. Neuhaus.

  10. @Helen #7
    “but lost to the liberal ideas of the East.”

    That is a funny statement! 🙂 They say the same things about western ideas! 🙂

  11. You know, folks, Carl Braaten, despite where you or I may disagree with him, has been one of the few–wait–perhaps the only Lutheran theologian of recent memory, regardless of synodical affiliation, who has vigorously defended the Lutheran teaching about natural law.

    He’s in his 80’s, as I understand it, and is still trying to argue sensibly about very important matters within the ELCA. He also defends within that denomination the traditional and biblical understanding about marriage and human sexuality.

    Now that’s got to be a tough gig. Perhaps a little charity is in order?

    Robert at

  12. @Robert #20
    if he’s doing that, he’s doing something

    [that ‘dogmatics’ of theirs didn’t get written w/o encouragement from many others who are less well known outside e__a.]

  13. In his letter, Dr. Braaten says, “There would have been no schism except for the ELCA assembly decisions in Minneapolis, August, 2009.”

    I disagree. This schism has been a long time coming, and rearing its ugly head. I believe that the decision to ordain women was the beginning of this schism. The arguments used for ordination of homosexuals are the same as those previously used for ordination of women. And apparently with great effect.

    It is tragic that so few could or would see this coming, and did nothing about it. That includes Dr. Braaten.

  14. @Johannes #23
    “It is tragic that so few could or would see this coming, and did nothing about it. That includes Dr. Braaten.”

    One wonders if lcms can pull back from “licensed” laymen in the chancel or if that will someday be referred to as ‘the beginning of schism’. [It has been more political than “necessary” as the number of ordained men left w/o a call at various stages from graduation onward proves.]

  15. @Matt Jamison #6

    > no problem accepting false doctrine about women’s ordination

    MO has changed its doctrine on the roles of women in the church.

    Did Scripture change?

    Where’s the great scholarship that justified the change?

    Within a massive secular current of feminism, where’s the burden of proof.

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