ELCA publisher’s new book on LCMS

Usually Augsburg Fortress, the ELCA’s publishing house is in the news for its financial troubles. But I thought some might be interested in this upcoming release:

Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict That Changed American Christianity
by James C Burkee (Author); Martin E. Marty (Author of the Foreword)

Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod follows the rise of two Lutheran clergymen—Herman Otten and J. A. O. Preus—who led different wings of a conservative movement that seized control of a theologically conservative but socially and politically moderate church denomination (LCMS) and drove “moderates” from the church in the 1970s. The schism within what was then one of the largest Protestant denominations in the United States ultimately reshaped the landscape of American Lutheranism and fostered the polarization that characterizes today’s Lutheran churches.

Burkee’s story, supported by personal interviews with key players and church archives sealed for over twenty years, is about more than Lutheranism. The remaking of this one Lutheran denomination reflects a broader movement toward theological and political conservatism in American churches—a movement that began in the 1970s and culminated in the formation of the “Religious Right.”

With a product description that biased, I assume its only readers will be the still surviving folks who left for Seminex. So maybe this post is about the financial troubles of the publishing house. Oh, I kid. Let us know if you read it (released Feb. 1) and if there’s anything worthwhile in it.


ELCA publisher’s new book on LCMS — 33 Comments

  1. Wow, after crawling through the Fortress Press material on this book, I really want to read it, but I don’t want to buy it. What to do, what to do…

    Thank you for the alert, though!

  2. Old Time,
    How about the members of John the Steadfast buy just one copy and then we can pass it around so all can read it but we don’t enrich Fortress Press.

  3. The book appears to be based on James Burkee’s doctoral dissertation, “Pastors and Politics: The Conservative Movement in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, 1956-1981” (Northwestern University, 2003). You can read for free the Proquest Preview of the first 24 pages of Burkee’s dissertation.

    Matthew Becker reviewed Burkee’s dissertation in his article coincidentally titled, “The Preus Brothers, Herman Otten Jr., and the Purge of Missouri: A Review of James Burkee’s Doctoral Dissertation.”

    Becker’s initial concern was whether Burkee in his dissertation showed left-wing bias (such as in Becker’s title), which Becker claims he didn’t find, leaving the origin of any biased comments contained in the review to have been spun by Dazedstar Becker himself.

  4. In 2008, Burkee ran for the House of Representatives from Wisconsin on the Republican ticket.

    In 2009, Burkee, along with fellow Concordia-Wisconsin professor (but Democrat) Jeff Walz, published the LutheranSurvey Results on political leanings of clergy and laity in the LCMS and ???A. Mollie Hemingway discussed the Survey in her October 9, 2009, BJS post, “Survey Says?.”

    From the survey results measuring Lutheran positions across the political spectrum, the ???A clergy appeared to be predominantly card-carrying Commies (well… almost, anyway). 😉

  5. Sounds like a “rush to judgment” to me. Now I’m not one to quote “Judge not, etc., etc.”, a practice I consider reprehensible, error-filled, and judgmental. But these posts so far give me pause.

    Let’s read the book, and go from there. I have to admit, the spin-meisters at Fortress certainly give us a biased overview, and the defnite impression that “conservative” is just a shade above a four-letter word. I’ll even go so far as to say that it smacks a bit of a liberal version of ecclesiastical McCarthyism.

    But please, brothers, and sisters, let’s read the book, then publish, blog, and otherwise air our opinions. Herman Otten graciously gave Burkett almost unlimited access to his voluminous files, something he didn’t have to do. I’m very curious to see what this book has to say about us right-wing, hyper-Euro-Gnesio-Lutheran , knee-jerk, confessionalist, reactionary conservatives. (Ooops, forgot curmudgeonly)

    Johannes (conservative curmudgeon)

  6. Johannes,

    Yes, that’s why I focused on the product description. It’s not uncommon for authors to have their work made to sound less fair. I probably won’t read this book right now, as i just don’t have time. But I do hope some others do and we can get some reviews.

  7. Well, he certainly does raise some interesting questions.

    The main one that I saw in his introductory material is whether this theological turmoil would have arisen without all of the political turmoil around the same time.

    I don’t know what his answer is, but I know what mine is. Mine is that there were a lot of serious theological issues that predated the 60’s. The St. Louis seminary started changing the teachings of our church in an insidious way long before that. And they lied about it. Flat out.

    I hope that this book does not conclude and does not argue that theology is not important to the laity. We all know better than that! And I hope that this book does not conclude and does not argue that the conflict was more about US political divisions rather than LCMS theological divisions. That would be condescending and inaccurate. We have a strong strand of hands-off adiophora teaching in our church, and we have for as long as I can remember.

    We’ll have to wait and see.

  8. For just a few bucks more, one could buy Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal, which has detailed first-hand accounts, perspectives, and critiques of the ELCA’s 2009 Summer of Strange Sexualities.

    Simply look here: http://bit.ly/d4qYHs.

    And, one would be supporting the Synod’s Publisher, and not that other place, in the process. 🙂

    Robert at bioethike.com

  9. One can certainly point out the radical leftist bias in the book’s press release, with phrases like “Seized control,” “socially and politically moderate church denomination,” “drove ‘moderates’ from the church,” “fostered the polarization.”

    Someone at Fortress Press seems to have a hate-mongering case of PDS (Preus Derangement Syndrome).

    BTW, one can read the book’s Preface here.

  10. I am anxious to read the Forward by Marty Marty… who is generally an outstanding historian. I wish I could say the same for his theology…

  11. The blurb is certainly biased, and rather mildly amusing too; ‘drove the moderates from the church.’ and ‘the remaking of this one Lutheran denomination.” I suspect there are plenty of people who lived through those painful days that wish both of those statements were true, not the least of which would be Herman Otten.

    If you haven’t already read it, I’d recommend “Is the ELCA Lutheran?” by Christine Larsen Goble. If you have a Kindle, or the Kindle ap you can download a free sample. Since the last ELCA CWA much of her comments are water under the bridge, but it is a clear and concise overveiw of how a denomination gets taken over and remade in the leftward direction.

  12. From James Burkee’s Preface, in discussing his 20-church political debate tour in 2004 on the presidential candidates with Democrat Jeff Walz:

    “I spent much of my time defending Jeff, who argued with an emotional and often disagreeing crowd that one could be both Christian and Democrat. The evening ended with a pastor telling Jeff of his genuine concern that Jeff was risking eternal damnation for supporting a Democrat. At another LCMS church we polled those in attendance and found seventy-eight Republicans and two Democrats (one of whom was not a member of the church). The pastor reported that after the debate two people left the congregation. One was the only Democrat and the other was a conservative outraged that the congregation would let a Democrat like Jeff speak. We found slightly more balance in ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) congregations, but Jeff spent a good deal more time defending me in these more left-leaning congregations than I did him.

    “We inhabit an age of rigid partisanship that has transformed society and our churches.”

    Burkee’s’ reference to finding “more balance” in the ???A congregations is like claiming to find “more balance” in a meal of chateaubriand mixed with some fried roadkill.

    Burkee’s reference to his “LCMS grandfather was more likely to vote Democrat than Republican” was likely made before the Democrats sunk to support murder-by-abortion.

  13. This books looks like it offers more proof of LCMS’rs propensity to elect sinners as their presidents. Good thing the pastors and laymen aren’t that bad. 😉

  14. In a Fortress Press interview , James Burkee stated:

    “Just about everything written about the schism comes from people who were partisans in the conflict: Marquart, Danker, Tietjen, Baker, the Seminary Board of Control, and—most recently—Zimmerman. As a historian, I teach that there is no such thing as pure objectivity, but it is still something we can strive for. So we can’t expect that the people who led one camp or another could provide anything resembling an objective account of the conflict.

    “I was an infant when Jack Preus took power in 1969, and barely into grade school by the time the conflict had ended. I knew none of the participants and have no personal stake in how the story is told. If anything—as a professor at a Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) university—it is in my self-interest to tell the same triumphalistic tale told by the victors.

    “The story I tell is anything but triumphalistic—if anything, it’s tragic. But it needs to be told now. The LCMS has been in decline for almost forty years, and I don’t know that American Lutheranism has been the same since. The victors in this conflict shaped today’s LCMS, while those who were driven from it helped shape today’s ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). On both sides of that Lutheran divide, we need to evaluate our past honestly if we’re going to provide any real direction for the future….

    “Finally, and sadly, what has shocked me the most is the absence of repentance. I try to be as self-reflective as possible, as sure as can be of actions I take yet not always fully convinced that I am right. What I encountered in interview after interview, document after document, was people on both sides of the divide so sure of their rightness, so positive that the other side bears total culpability for the disastrous outcome. I suppose that’s the nature of war—and this was a war. But unlike most conflicts, we’ve not seen honest self-reflection, repentance, and healing.”

  15. I’ve been surprised at how many former LCMS pastors I’ve encountered in the ELCA. I think it’s true to say that they must have had a profound impact on what the ELCA became. I do think the whole story is sad but I must admit I’m thankful for how the LCMS survived something that terribly afflicted many other denominations. The bad part of it is how our fight with those who wanted to water down our confession in the “Battle for the Bible” sort of obscured that confessional Lutherans were also surrounded by those that adhere to a more generic American Protestantism.

  16. Dr. Jim Nestingen, when he spoke at an event at CUI a few years ago, commented that the part of the ELCA that had the most problems with sexual sins among pastors was in the ones from the AELC, i.e., the congregations that had been LCMS, but which left in support of Seminex. He had had to deal with a lot of these problems.

  17. Answer may be found on page 9 of the PROQUEST PREVIEW, link provided by Carl Vehse in message #4

  18. @Carl Vehse #16
    Perpaps we the LCMS and ELCA can evaluate our past honestly by beginning with a serious discussion about the teachings of Rudolph Bultmann, CH Dodd, and other form critics, as well as Marxsen, Conzelmann and the redaction critics. This is what did not happen back in 1972, and as I understand it not because President Preus did not want to, but that the faculty majority believed they had the upper hand, and were more interested in political posturing than theolgocial debate and reconciliation.

    The absence of repentance is not that surprising, the faculty who walked out believed they were right, and still do the faculty who remained and the officers of the church at the time knew they were right and do not believe they have anything to repent of either. I would never say never to repentence and healing, but the seeds of Seminex were sown, grew to maturity and have born the fruit we saw last year at the ELCA’s churchwide assembly. While Missouri has struggled to remain faithful to scripture and confessions, the ELCA has gone farther afield from both year by year. It is disingenuous to imply that the gulf between our two Lutheran bodies is all Missouri’s fault, or that it all started with the hard line position of President Preus. The division started better than two decades before that, and those who were pushing for change didn’t get it, and took their modernity elsewhere. Did everything get handled in a God pleasing manner? No, but it was a power play to lead the LCMS down the path that the ELCA has now gone, we didn’t want to go there then, and we don’t want to go there now.

  19. @Mollie #17
    I think your observation is right on target. I was LCMS, then AELC, then ELCA, and through Scriptural and Confessional conviction and Colloquy, LCMS. Some of the most liberal pastors I have met are either former LCMS or active. My opinion is that they want to show how “open” they are by out-doing other liberals in their new found ‘orthodoxy’, ie, we are not conservative. I have been told, by pastors who were directly involved with the Commission for the New Lutheran Church or who knew that commission,that it was the AELC participants, for instance, who did not want trinitarian language in the new constitution.

    And you might find this quote interesting. It is from an article, ‘Dismal Thoughts on the LXX at Columbus’, dialog, Winter 1984, by then editor, Robert W. Jenson, remembering that the ELCA officially came into being January 1st, 1987:

    “Another bet on which one should now accept shorter odds is about the shape of the new denomination that will finally emerge. It will be—it seems more and more likely—an hypertrophy of those that now exist. It will have the same general sort of regional units, with the same general sort of pseudo-bishops. It will have central bureaucracies controlled by no one but their professional ideologies. It will shape the ordained ministry as an all- purpose cadre of professional religious entrepreneurs and functionaries. It will be sectarian in its structural relation to the rest of the church. The LXX representative to a recent meeting of synodical personages insisted that they were too going to be creative: the new church would be ‘inclusive’.”

  20. @Rev. Allen Bergstrazer #22
    The division started better than *4* decades before Preus’s election in Denver, 1969. Yes, actually, a literal smoke-filled room, in New York City. At least, that is what my dad told me a prof of his at St. Louis said in one of my dad’s STM classes in the early 70’s, pre-Walkout (not realizing that he had a student that was not sympathetic to his liberal theology sitting in front of him). There apparently really was a meeting with a general plan laid out to “bring Missouri into the 20th century”–theologically speaking. And one of the key first steps was the election of Behnken over Pfotenhauer, and then, the “upgrading” of the Sem profs’ credentials via liberal European university doctorates.

    “And it would’ve worked, too, if not for those meddlesome kids!” (Or something like that.)

  21. @Carl Vehse #16
    He mentions Marquart as a “partisan” in the conflict. I thought *he* wrote “Anatomy of an Explosion” precisely because he wasn’t even in the country when the Walkout took place, so he was *not* a party to the actual events–he was in Australia, wasn’t he? Certainly, Marquart’s book made it very clear where he stood, (with the Scriptures, of course!) but he wasn’t directly involved until after the fact. Perhaps his earlier association with Otten is what Burkee’s talking about.

  22. @Rev. David Mueller #24
    ‘if not for those meddlesome kids!” and a well educated laity. I recall Ralph Bohlmann mentioning something about there being a plan laid out in black and white in a convocation at the Sem when I was a student there.

  23. Rev. Mueller #25:

    “He mentions Marquart as a “partisan” in the conflict. I thought *he* wrote ‘Anatomy of an Explosion’ precisely because he wasn’t even in the country when the Walkout took place

    Yes, in 1961 Marquart accepted a call to congregations in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia (where the deadly flooding recently occurred). In 1975 Marquart came back to the U.S. to become a professor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield (later Fort Wayne).

    Perhaps an explanation for the interview statement is that if an author wants to claim the bookshelf of nonpartisanship, kicking out any other books that might already be sitting there allows more room for his soon-to-be-published dissertation-turned-into-a-book.

  24. With regard to the development of heterodoxy in the LCMS, Pastor Allen Bergstrazen(sp?) observed that “The division started better than two decades before [the election of JAO Preus Jr. as LCMS president in 1969?]” and Pastor David Mueller mentioned “One of the key first steps was the election of Behnken over Pfotenhauer [in 1935.]” I commend both pastors for these observations about LCMS history. The LCMS DID win “the Battle for the Bible” in the 1970s by the “exodus” of the CSL “faculty majority” and their supporters from the LCMS and the approval of “A Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles” to confirm the synod’s adherence to the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, which had been threatened by developments in the Missouri Synod since the 1930s.

    But are LCMS “conservatives” today aware of the fact that the “battle” was NOT “won” over two “fruits” of the period of the development of heterodoxy in the LCMS PRIOR to the “exile” of the CSL “faculty majority” and their supporters from the synod in the 1970s, namely, the LCMS adoption of a heterodox doctrine and practice of fellowship, which led to the termination of fellowship with the LCMS by the Orthodox Lutheran Conference in 1951, by the ELS in 1955, and by the WELS in 1961, and also by the approval of woman suffrage and office-holding by the same 1969 Denver synodical convention which first elected JAO Preus Jr. as synodical president? These “high places” have not YET “been removed” from the synod; rather, they have been affirmed by the synod in convention and even supported by synod “conservatives” since the “conservatives” took back the leadership of the synod in the 1970s. The question remains, WILL the LCMS FINALLY deal with these “fruits” of the development of heterodoxy in the LCMS, or will they continue to separate the synod from its former sister synods in the Synodical Conference and those who left the synod to continue the orthodox doctrine and practice of the Brief Statement? Will the LCMS be satisfied to continue to remain “merely conservative,” or work to return to true orthodoxy? President Harrison’s acceptance of the call to serve as the assistant pastor of a local congregation was a fine “first step” in the direction of a return to true orthodoxy by the synod in the face of the false “new” doctrine of the Church and the Ministry by the WELS and ELS and the “WELSian” practice in the LCMS since the LCMS synodical constitutional amendment of 1962 which separated the Office of the Public Ministry from the local congregational pastorate as confessed in the Brief Statement #31.

  25. Approximately forty years ago, the “conservative” ALC group known as Lutherans Alert-National published in their similarly-named magazine the testimony of a “conservative” ALC district president or other official who had been told by another ALC leader back in the 1960s, after the establishment of the ALC in 1960 and the LCA in 1962, that there was going to be an eventual merger of the two synods and that–to the surprise of the “conservative” ALC leader–the LCMS was going to be part of the merger. This was part of the “master plan” of the “liberal” leadership of the LCMS in the 1960s under President Oliver Harms, and of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis under Presidents Louis Fuerbringer and later John Tietjen. By the grace of God, and the good work of such organizations as State of the Synod and Faith Forward-First Concerns, and such leaders as Jacob & Robert Preus, and such publications as Herman Otten’s CHRISTIAN NEWS and BALANCE/AFFIRM, that didn’t happen. I agree with those who have posted that they don’t think that the Burkee book is going to be any less partisan than earlier works on what happened in the LCMS in the 1960s and 70s. As in my previous post, however, the “conservative” movement of the 1960s and 70s did NOT return the LCMS to true orthodoxy, and because of that fact the synod continues to suffer doctrinal problems to this day, especially the “conversion” of “modern” LCMS “conservatives” to positions on fellowship and the role of women in the Church which the orthodox Missouri Synod would never have accepted. Because of this, the LCMS has become the 21st century version of the General Council, a “moderately conservative” church body between the “liberal” ELCA on one side and the WELS/ELS/Church of the Lutheran Confession/”old Missouri” groups on the other. Is this “good enough” for the majority of current LCMS members? It appears to be.

  26. Dr. James C. Burkee’s book, Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod; A Conflict That Changed American Christianity, which is based upon his doctoral dissertation, “Pastors and Politics: The Conservative Movement in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, 1956-1981,” is another contribution to the written history of the conflict within the LC-MS during the 1960’s and ‘70’s. It is not the final word on this conflict, however. There is much that is not covered in its pages: such as the theological issues which laid at the heart of the conflict; the rise of the so-called “Moderates” within the St. Louis Seminary, the Synodical Board of Missions, and the print media of Synod, the Lutheran Witness and the Reporter; and a detailed analysis of the efforts of the Moderates to hold on to their gains over against the efforts of the Conservative Movement to take those gains away.
    The reason for this is that Dr. Burkee has turned his attention solely to the rise of the so-called “Conservatives” and their political efforts to cleanse the Synod of the moderates and their influence. For those of us who lived through this conflict, the thesis that the Conservative Movement was largely political in nature is not new. Moderates within the Seminary, Mission Board, and the Witness/Reporter were eliminated from their positions not through ecclesiastical trials which were based upon theological issues. They were removed mainly by their supervising Boards and officials, who were conservatives, elected through the effective politicking at Synodical Conventions by the Conservative Movement.
    What is fairly new is that Dr. Burkee maintains that this Conservative Movement was not lay-led nor did it rise up from the grass-roots. He convincingly shows that it was clergy-led and did not enjoy a significant support from the congregations of Synod, nor from the laity of the Sytnod. He also tries to show that this church-conflict mirrored the political conflict between conservatives and liberals in America during the same time-frame of the ‘50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. He states that it is not a coincidence that a conservative, Richard Nixon, became President in 1968 and a conservative, Dr. J. A. O. Preus, was elected president of the Synod in 1969. Here lies the contribution Burkee gives to the history of this ecclesiastical conflict.
    In addition, Dr. Burkee gives Herman Otten, the editor of the newspaper Christian News, his due in this story. I cannot remember where I heard or read it, but one Church historian once said that Otten deserves a whole chapter in the story of this conflict. The so-called official record of the Synod – found in the book, Exodus from Concordia, by the Board of Control of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri (1977) and in Heritage in Motion, edited by August Suelflow – down plays Otten’s role, or ignores it. Dr. Burkee does a commendable job of showing the origins of Otten’s “journalistic” tactics and his personality which feels free to attack anyone who dares disagrees with him. Dr. Burkee also shows how Otten was used by the clergy-leaders of the Conservative Movement for their own ends.
    However, Dr. Burkee does not give an adequate presentation of the theological issues which fueled this conflict. Nor is there an adequate analysis of the relationship between the ideological and theological conservatism within the Conservative Movement. The so-called Moderates had the same theological up-bring as did the Conservatives, and yet they became liberal in secular politics. Did they then become more liberal in theology, or did the liberal turn in theology come before and thus produce the liberal politics? Does the conservative, confessional, Lutheran Orthodox faith (which I characterize the faith of the Missouri Synod Conservatives) lead the believer towards a conservative, political stance; or can it still leave room for a more moderate, political stance? These questions are not answered by Dr. Burkee’s study.
    Another analysis is missing from this work. Dr. Burkee clearly shows that Conservative Movement within the Synod had a very shaky union. It always needed a target to unite it. When the target of the Moderates was removed, the Movement fell apart. In the end both Preus brothers, Dr. Ralph Bohlmann, and others became targets of former allies in the Movement. While Dr. Burkee does offer some reasons for this – different agendas, the lack of an agreed upon definition of what is a conservative, and personality conflicts – he does not give a satisfying analysis on why the Movement could not give direction to the Synod. It is this author’s opinion that the conflict answered the question of what the Synod was NOT going to be: liberal in theology, ecumenical, and emphasizing social issues. No one, however, ever asked what the Synod was going to be: conservative in theology, yes; but then what? Dr. Burkee correctly maintains that the infighting that resulted from the conflict has produced a Synod that is shrinking in size and is losing the financial support of its laity.
    Because of the narrow focus of the study, the main characters of the Conservative Movement – Dr. J. A. O. Preus, his older brother Robert, Herman Otten, E. J. Otto, Paul Zimmermann, Paul Burgdorf, and others – come off as political attack dogs. I, for one, knew Dr. Jack Preus as a professor and teacher. Here was a knowledgeable theologian and a very personable teacher. Here was the expert on Martin Chemnitz, the “other” Martin of the Lutheran Reformation. Thus, this study does give us a partial picture of these men, and thus, unintentionally, caricaturizes them.
    There is a mountain of material in Dr. Burkee’s study which has never been used before in the writing of the history of this conflict. He had access to the letters and notes of Jack Preus, Robert Preus, and Ralph Bohlmann, among others. He interviewed many who were main characters in this conflict, including Herman Otten. Even the archives of Christian News were opened to him. He well used this material in his study. Now can one only hope that a much needed, and complete study of the entire conflict might be made, covering the missing items in Dr. Burkee’s book.

  27. @Warren Malach,

    You write:

    “Because of this, the LCMS has become the 21st century version of the General Council, a “moderately conservative” church body between the “liberal” ELCA on one side and the WELS/ELS/Church of the Lutheran Confession/”old Missouri” groups on the other. Is this “good enough” for the majority of current LCMS members? It appears to be.”

    Sadly, even when a pastor/layperson tries to teach and inform the rest of the congregation/circuit/district/synod of our errors and their danger to the wellbeing of our souls not to mention for missions, the love for the pure Truth which gives salvation (and certainty of it) is growing colder and colder these days among pastors and laity alike. If not mere apathy for such stated concerns, one is met more and more with annoyance, deeming you and the content of your pleas with a “you’re just being political”. Granted, the Scriptures prophecy this, and there is not stopping prophecy.

    Just a note that despite the many problems in our LCMS (a synod comprised of ungodly sinners, albeit justified and forgiven ones), which “should” be contended against constantly wherever and whenever they inevitably crop up (although sadly they are not contended against less and less it seems), I always get a little peturbed when the LCMS, or at least all pastors and laypeople in the LCMS, are posited as “moderate” in their position with regard to their fidelity to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions. I can’t say enough that if I had thought the WELS/ELS were truly being more faithful to the Scriptures and Confessions in what they teach and practice, then I would be in their synod and not in the LCMS. Many in WELS/ELS laypeople are simply taught that they’re the truly faithful Lutherans, and all of us in the LCMS are just a few steps right of the ELCA. This is simply not true. While for lack of time I won’t get into concrete details now, I will say that while there are painful errors in terms of liberalism in teaching and practice among some in the LCMS are undeniably present and should be contended against in a Christian manner (which unfortunately but necessarily means some “politics” in terms of working through the current system of district/synodical conventions, as much as they are increasingly distasteful, or at least have been up to the present), there nevertheless can be painful errors in terms of legalism in teaching and practice among some in the WELS/ELS. Some of us in the LCMS place as the highest priority to be Biblical and Confessional before being “synodical”, and that is precisely one of the reasons why, even apart from the sin of schism (of simply leaving the Synod without suffering the crosses of contending for the faith within the Synod until such time as you’re kicked out for doing so, as Luther was by Rome), there is no sense in leaving one ship which has it’s holes in the hull in certain places for another ship which also has its own holes in the hull in other places, even if they be less evident, at least currently. The grass may be “greener” in some ways/places in WELS/ELS, but unless their grass is perfectly green, I could not in good conscience flee the current LCMS pasture God has placed me in, to contend for the green it is lacking (and by “green” I don’t mean $$–thankfully I’m not part of the beaurocracy, so it is not a temptation I have to face.)

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